7.13 – “Nip and Suck It”
The past few episodes of Psych have been like high school in late May. You’re still supposed to go, and pay attention to your teachers, and turn in assignments. But you’re really just sitting around waiting for summer.
It sort of seems like that is what is going on right now. While I argued against and complained about the Shawn-Juliet storyline earlier this season, which was abruptly resolved this week, at least it was interesting enough for me to whine about. As much as I want Gus to have his own long-term relationship, just because it’s depressing for him to be alone all the time, I actually had to look up the name of the British girl he’s dating (it’s Rachel) because she was pretty much forced upon us.
It’s like they realized the show is probably going to end soon and they didn’t want him to end up alone, so they were, like, “British accents are cute, they’ll like that” and so they hired the girl from Bend it Like Beckham and hoped for the best. I don’t dislike the character. In fact, I think Parminder Nagra is actually doing a pretty great job and that she has decent chemistry with Dulé Hill. But, much like the Shawn-Juliet breakup storyline, it feels very forced. Psych has always struggled with making character transitions seem natural, whether it’s due to James Roday’s overacting in serious moments or the writers’ ongoing struggles with balancing the way each character is utilized.
Seriously, I can’t think of any show that I’ve watched consistently that has had as much variability in screen time for its characters with an almost completely stagnant cast. Except for adding Kurt Fuller on a gradually-more-often recurring basis (especially in the past few years), the main players have stayed consistent in billing but not in screen time over the past seven years. Chief Vick seems to be absent more and more as time goes on, and the teaser for next week suggests a change at the top for the Santa Barbara Police Department. (And the end of Psych? GASP!)
*AUTHOR’S NOTE THAT HE COULDN’T WORK IN ORGANICALLY: At this point, I seriously cannot decide who is my favorite recurring character on television. It’s either Doctor Krieger on Archer or Woody on Psych.
Sometimes I wonder if Corbin Bernsen likes not having to shoot more than a scene or two for each episode, or if he is upset that he doesn’t have a larger role. I think of a show like Arrested Development that so perfectly integrated its cast for three seasons, and feel like it’s a terribly difficult thing to do. Even in an hour-long comedy, where every member of the cast can have a role in solving the weekly cases, it’s almost impossible to include everyone organically.
Even Lassiter, who for years was a necessary part of the show, has now mellowed to the point where he fulfills a different role. He’s not there to keep Shawn and Gus from interfering, because they have grown to understand that they exist in harmony with one another and therefore have a certain degree of mutual respect. Which is great for the characters, but it means that even Lassiter and Juliet have to be inserted into the plot in the current iteration of Psych. It’s like as the characters grow, they actually need each other less. This is a very troubling problem to deal with, because it means that it becomes harder and harder to figure out where everyone belongs in any given script.
The premise shouldn’t really matter – in fact, the show is sort of designed that way. They aren’t taking on social issues. They aren’t providing a commentary about the world, or about specific subjects. It’s just good sitcom/procedural/whatever-genre-you-want-to-put-it-in fun, and that’s okay. But I can’t help but feel let down when there’s nothing really memorable about an episode. Sometimes you just want more, which is Psych’s fatal flaw. It can only do so much. I will always laugh at Gus being insecure and deciding to have a quack plastic surgeon inject his forehead with unknown chemicals. I will always laugh at Shawn covering his face with a newspaper to go incognito in a place where no one would recognize him anyway. But I’ll also take a more outlandish plot over one that fizzles because those are the ones I remember.
Ben Wachtel likes baseball, the Boston Celtics, pancakes, tacos, and swam collegiately at Purdue University. You can follow him on Twitter at @benwachtel24.