Monday, November 14, 2011

The Best And The Most Mundane: Why Psych Season Four Is Worth Sticking With!

The Good: Some great lines, Moments of story, Moments of character growth and continuity
The Bad: Nothing new or extraordinary on the acting front, Very repetitive plot format
The Basics: A few shakeups in character and plot format make a season of Psych, which is otherwise surprisingly familiar more than simply watchable.

Lately, I've been watching quite a lot of Psych. My wife is a fan and I have been spending quite a bit of time with her. She and I have been going through so much of the series and it has been delighting her. With the fourth season of Psych, I figured the show was simply going into the same territory as the fourth season of Weeds (reviewed here!) where the series just kept doing the same essential plot in a different locale. The fourth season of Psych mixes up the formulaic plot episodes with surprisingly audacious plots and a few character moments that actually resonate for viewers.

While episodes like "You Can't Handle This Episode" and "Think Tank" have familiar forms and will not surprise viewers who have been watching Psych, "Shawn Takes A Shot In The Dark" and "A Very Juliet Episode" shake up the formula. Even "The Head, The Tail, The Whole Damn Episode" has an amusing character reversal wherein Lassiter tries to beat Shawn to the punch by coming up with a radical theory while Shawn does actual detective work on a knife wound.

In this season, the detectives of the Psych agency, go to British Columbia to go after an international art thief and come home to solve the mystery behind a plane crash. When a Catholic school needs an exorcism, the guys are called in to investigate the demonic possessions and weird gets weirder when a man who believes himself to be a werewolf turns himself in. When the police are shot at while in a bar together, Shawn must piece together who the target was and why they wanted to kill one among them.

A medical scientist's attempt to get a cure for a deadly disease goes awry and leads to murder and a shark attack is pegged by Lassiter as being a murder. Finally, the sidekick of Shawn and Henry's most deadly adversary pops up to menace them.

Psych in its fourth season is mostly plot-centered, though when it shakes up the plots, the characters actually develop. Fortunately, the principle characters are fairly interesting. For the main characters in season four, Psych features:

Shawn Spencer - Faking being a psychic, he is abducted by a murderer and shot. While he tries real hard to negotiate with Abigail, whom he is now in a relationship with, he discovers it awkward to be around Juliet. Still, he reaches out to help her when her old boyfriend goes missing,

Burton Guster - Continues to pal around with Shawn with only a few references to his pharmaceutical job or his super nose. He funds a surprising number of the Psych adventures. He loathes going to the brand new, quirky, coroner,

Karen Vick - She shows up and assigns the cases, but does nothing significant this season,

Carlton Lassiter - Continues to try to thwart Shawn and re-establish Santa Barbara's actual police force. Even so, he tries to use Shawn to exonerate an old friend of his who runs an Old West theme park,

Juliet O'Hara - Having gone out on a limb and made a move on Shawn, she finds it difficult to be around him. She has a few chances for love and quietly thrills when Shawn's girlfriend moves away and she has a visit from her Special Forces brother,

and Henry Spencer - Aids the police and Shawn in solving crimes. He hits on an ichthyologist and tries to come to Shawn's rescue when he is captured.

At this point in Psych, the acting is so honed as to be unworth mentioning. Dule Hill, James Roday, Corbin Bernstein, Timothy Omundson, Maggie Lawson and Kirsten Nelson are all spot on with their characters. They approach the detective stories with confidence and clarity that actors in their fourth year of doing the same thing often do. The real challenge is for new characters to fit in. Kurt Fuller, amazingly, steps in to play a zany coroner amazingly well. Outside him, the rest of the guest stars are come and go, with none distinguishing themselves beyond the talents they came into the series with.

On DVD, the fourth season of Psych includes a wide array of deleted scenes, commentary tracks, featurettes, and bloopers. More than any of the other gimmick shows on the air now, this season sells me on the idea that they can be worthwhile instead of beating their one trick to death.

For other seasons of Psych, please visit my reviews of:
Psych - Season One
Psych - Season Two
Psych - Season Three


For other television reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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