“Come on son.”
I love Psych and have since episode one. Now with the release of Psych: The Eighth and Final Season one of my favorite shows of all times comes to a close. This collection of ten episodes contains all the hallmarks of what makes Psych such a special, noteworthy show. Fabulous guest stars; pop culture references from now and that most cherished of decades, the 1980s; and a cast whose work is always on point. These are just a few of the elements which blend to make Psych so beloved. Add in terrific writing, devoted fans and a social media presence other shows would kill to have and you’ve got the recipe for a show which will be sorely missed long after the last credits roll.
Shawn Spencer (James Roday, The Dukes of Hazzard) and Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill, The West Wing), best friends since grade school, have teamed up to run “Psych”, Santa Barbara’s first and only psychic detective agency. They routinely solve cases with the SBPD and are very good at what they do. The catch? Shawn, the psychic half of the duo, isn’t really psychic, just very observant. And that’s been the hook for the past eight seasons, with various characters learning the truth or still being kept in the dark over the years. But what makes Psych so witty isn’t the audience laughing at Shawn and Gus as they pull a fast one over on the cops. It’s how friendships are maintained, created, and tested while doing one’s best to genuinely help people with what is seen as a “gift.” And it’s done with plenty of snark, physical humor and tons of ’80s references. It’s an exceedingly well-written show which has captured a cult viewership on the USA Network, with fans lovingly calling themselves, what else? Psych-Os.
Psych returns with a vengeance in its eighth season. After traveling to exotic British Columbia for a pair of episodes earlier in the series’ run, Shawn and Gus must top themselves. And they do, by hopping across the pond to Merry Old England. With explosions, guest stars and a tribute to Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels it’s clear this last season of Psych is going to stretch the boundaries of what’s been seen on the show before.
The guest stars Psych has been lucky enough to wrangle are always noteworthy, delivering performances which become legendary for the show’s fans. And season eight is no exception, going above and beyond to deliver on the legacy of quality fans expect. Some of the stars fans can squee over include Carey Elwes (The Princess Bride), Mira Sorvino (Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion), Loretta Devine (The Client List), and my personal favorite, Bruce Campbell (Army of Darkness).
Critics of Psych may say Shawn Spencer is yet another socially unaware character in a lead role, a character given to selfishness and a sort of reckless disregard for the rest of the people who populate his world. And to be fair there are plenty of these characters on television, Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, as well as both Sherlock Holmes characters from Elementary and Sherlock to name just a few. However, the reason why these characters endure is their moments of redemption. We laugh at them, yes, but we love them because they have scenes demonstrating a real emotional depth which is usually concealed through choice or chance. And when the character of Shawn Spencer displays an awareness of his own foibles it’s a beautiful thing to witness and helps justify why he is loved by the people in his universe, and consequently, us as well. Shawn has a doozy of a scene in season eight which brought me to tears.
Psych has been a breath of fresh air within the television landscape. Mixing comedy and drama to their best effects, it’s unlike any other show whose absence will be felt a long time to come. It earns its purchase recommendation by virtue of the writing, directing, acting, guest stars, and overall cohesion this last season presents.
I’m thrilled to have these ten (twelve if you count the musical and alternate “A Nightmare on State Street”) episodes spread out across three discs. The episodes and brief descriptions are provided:
“Lock, Stock, Some Smoking Barrels and Burton Guster’s Goblet of Fire”
It’s a dream come true for Gus as the duo travels to Merry Old England for Pottercon. Of course things don’t turn out how he expects.
“S.E.I.Z.E. the Day”
With Interim Chief Trout (Anthony Michael Hall, The Breakfast Club) refusing to hire them, Shawn and Gus must come up with a new business model. But instead S.E.I.Z.E. may help them solve the case of Trout’s would-be assassin.
“Cloudy…with a Chance of Improvement”
Psych boldly goes where no other show has gone: remaking one of their own episodes, season one’s “Cloudy with a Chance of Murder.”
“Someone’s Got a Woody”
Woody (Kurt Fuller, Midnight in Paris) is taken hostage in the morgue and convinces his captor to call Shawn and Gus for help.
When Gus relates to the victim he decides to takes charge of the investigation which leaves Shawn feeling out of his element.
“1967: A Psych Odyssey”
Lassie’s (Timothy Omundson, Deadwood) up for promotion and he decides to solve a cold case to give him the extra edge.
“Shawn and Gus Truck Things Up”
When the proprietor of one of Gus and Shawn’s favorite food trucks is murdered they go undercover to find the perpetrator.
“A Touch of Sweevil”
Shawn is thrilled to be asked to be a part of a panel featuring notable paranormal activists who work with police departments all over the country. But when the moderator is killed it becomes a contest amongst the panelists to determine the murderer.
“A Nightmare on State Street (Original and Director’s Cuts)”
It’s time for an homage to A Nightmare on Elm Street that also contains homages to plenty of other things.
“The Break Up”
The last episode wraps things up in a way only Psych can.
The video transfer is the industry-standard 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer isn’t high definition and it shows, with some grain and the occasional bits of pixelation, most notably around the character’s eyes. It’s a disappointment to be sure, however, Psych is not a show you watch for the technical specs. And I freely accept the criticism I am merely nitpicking here. The audio track is a well-balanced Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.
The special features are an embarrassment of riches, truly. Before we get to what’s actually within the set special mention must be made of something the Psych team did for the fans before this season came out. When the USA Network expanded the episode order for season eight the creative team put a vote to the fans for which as-yet-to-be-produced episode they wanted to see filmed. How many shows are willing to put that kind of power in the hands of their fanbase?
Now then, there are deleted scenes, episode commentaries (they refer to as Podcasts), montages, an alternate title sequence, a gag reel, a music video, and two bonus episodes. There’s the Director’s Cut of “A Nightmare on State Street” as well as the much-lauded “Psych: The Musical.” And let’s not forget some behind-the-scenes stuff. All-in-all it’s a collection of special features going above and beyond what’s normally seen.
I’ll be buying Psych the Complete Series: The Sillypants Jackson Delicious Flavor Edition (Blu-ray) complete with pineapple-scented stickers whenever it’s produced. If you’re a true fan Psych: The Eighth and Final Season is a no-brainer. Until the Blu-rays come out this latest set will stand proudly by the rest of the series’ DVD releases on your shelves. It earns its recommendation.