Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – “Ion Television – Positively Entertaining”

I usually dedicate each Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday post to a particular television show.  But not today.  Today, I want to feature an entire channel.  A channel that has dubbed itself, “positively entertaining.”   And they’re right.

IonBorn as PAX TV in 1998, Ion Television has since rebranded and changed its name twice.  But the programming has remained the same—reruns and mini-marathons of some of our favorite older series.

I started frequenting Ion Television about a year ago.  When I found a “new” channel airing reruns of one of my favorite shows, Criminal Minds, I kept an eye on the network’s TV schedule.  Between CBS, A&E, and Ion, I can pretty much watch the BAU Team solve cases any night of the week.

But Criminal Minds isn’t the only show the channel airs.  Every day/night of the week, Ion plays a different series from my past… sometimes two episodes, sometimes four, and sometimes as many as fifteen.  A few of those programs include:

Flashpoint

Law & Order: Criminal Intent 

Without a Trace

House

Up until recently, I would flip the TV to Ion on Saturday afternoons and leave it there until around three in the morning.  Why?  A Psych all day marathon.  It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen Shawn and Gus solve a crime, I can watch those episodes over and over again.  And what made it even better was the fact Ion aired the series in order, one episode sequentially followed by the next, without jumping around like other channels do.

Psych’s Saturday marathons are over now, and I can’t help but hope they return to Ion soon.  But in the meantime, the day now belongs to Monk.  I loved the obsessive-compulsive detective when USA aired new episodes years ago; but surprisingly, I don’t find myself tuning in as much on Saturdays to watch him as I did Shawn and Gus.

Now I’m glued to Ion on Fridays.  Why?  Cold Case.

I watched this series on CBS (its original home) from pretty much the beginning… 2003-2010.  Cold Case wasn’t the average police procedural.  Instead of solving a crime that recently occurred, the team of detectives took on cold cases from before their time, sometimes decades earlier, and solved the cases, bringing closure to any living friends and family members today.  The show featured a series of flashbacks, showing viewers the days leading up to the victim’s death, and oftentimes the motives.

But perhaps my favorite part of Cold Case, and the reason I tune in to Ion every Friday from noon until 2AM, is the music.  The series featured tunes specific to the decade and year of the cold case the detectives were working, making the music a big part of the series.  And for me, it still is today, particularly the episodes solving murders from the ‘80s and ‘90s.

So, if anyone is lying around the house with nothing to do or watch, search the TV guide for Ion.  It is “positively entertaining,” any night of the week.

Do you watch Ion?  What other channels do you love that air reruns of older TV series?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Tele-Tuesday: Tour de Psych

One of Tele-Tuesday’s favorite programs returns this week – the USA Network’s Psych.  What is Psych?  This one hour television series masterfully combines the classic police procedural and detective drama with quirky laughs and top-notch pop culture references.

To celebrate the mid-season premiere, Tele-Tuesday has decided to list our top 10 Psych episodes to help everyone get ready for the much-anticipated return of “psychic” Shawn Spencer (James Roday), his right-hand-man, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill), Detectives Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet “Jules” O’Hara (Maggie Lawson), and Shawn’s retired detective father, Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen).

This selection process was difficult, considering how many times the Psych writers and actors have knocked the ball way out of the park.  But we selected our top 10, nonetheless.

Sit back, relax, and grab a cup of coffee or another favorite blog reading snack – this is a long post, but couldn’t be avoided.  Enjoy!

*****

10. “Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part” (Season 5)

Because we love our readers, we have to rewind to season four for just a minute.  In “Extradition: British Columbia”, Shawn and Gus begin tracking an art thief (Pierre Despereaux played by Cary Elews) in Canada; an art thief that Lassie has tracked for years but never successfully captured.

Fast-forwarding to season five, Despereaux needs Shawn and Gus’ help and pays for them to travel back to Canada, just before his extradition to the United States.  In the meantime, the suave criminal escapes prison and is wrongfully accused of murder, leaving Shawn no choice but to investigate.

Shawn, Gus, and Despereaux

The Despereaux storyline is a fun one to return to, but “Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part” is perhaps included in the top ten because Shawn finally professes his love to Jules at the end of the episode.   And when we say finally, we mean finally.  It took us five seasons for him to admit his feelings for her.

9. “Last Night Gus” (Season 6)

“Last Night Gus” (Psych’s version of The Hangover) may have been one of the most enjoyable hours of the first half of season six.  After a night of apparently partying too hard, Shawn, Gus, Lassiter, and Woody (the coroner) wake up not remembering the night before.  Why is Lassie’s gun missing bullets?  Why did Henry wake up across town in a hotel room, sans pants?  What is the white powdery substance on Woody’s face?  Why is Shawn wearing a dead man’s sandals?  Why is “The Blueberry” (Gus’ car) dented?

Using Shawn’s “psychic” ability and Henry and Lassie’s detective skills, the group of men follow one clue after another, leading them to discover what really happened… and that “last night Gus” was a bit out of his element.

8. “The Devil’s in the Details… and the Upstairs Bedroom” (Season 4)

Shawn and Gus take the case of a college girl’s apparent suicide after one of her professors (Father Westley, played by the great Ray Wise) pleads with them to investigate, believing the girl to have been possessed by demons.  Why not?  It’s a Catholic University…

Shawn never believes the girl’s death to be more than suicide, but “plays along” until he actually discovers there was indeed foul play involved.  And when the Father is suspected of killing the girl, Shawn dedicates himself to prove the Holy Man’s innocence.

This was a bit of Heaven for former Twin Peaks fans…  Leland Palmer (Ray Wise), playing a priest, accused of murdering a young girl?  Too fun…

7.  “This Episode Sucks” (Season 6)

What more needs said about “This Episode Sucks” besides: vampires, Corey Feldman, and Kristy Swanson?  Exactly… but we will, just because.

When a body is discovered drained of blood in a parking lot, Shawn immediately believes vampires were involved.  He and Gus dress the part and visit a cult-like bar where all of the patrons dress and perhaps believe that they are indeed vampires.

Shawn and Gus "undercover"

Remember the pop culture references mentioned above?  Again, fantastic writing and attention to detail comes into play as Shawn and Gus approach the bartender to question him regarding the murder.  As the bartender turns to face the “Psych” detectives, “Cry Little Sister” (the theme song from The Lost Boys) plays louder and louder until – Duh Duh Duh DUNNNNNN — Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman) turns to face them.

Also in this episode, Lassie meets a woman (Kristy Swanson) who the rest of the gang believes is involved in the murder.  Is she a vampire?  Probably not… but has Lassie finally found love?  Maybe…

 6.  “Yang 3 in 2D” (Season 5)

The Yin and Yang storyline is hands down one of the top highlights of the Psych era.  Since our first introduction in season three, we’ve watched multiple episodes featuring Shawn’s biggest nemeses.  Sorry to throw a Yang storyline in here at number six (essentially out-of-order if one is not familiar with the series), but we’ll provide more detail below in the top five.

After a woman (Mena Suvari) claims to have escaped the elusive Yin (Peter Weller), Shawn cannot help but investigate, knowing that Yin is responsible for Yang’s (Ally Sheedy) psychopathic nature and her years of tormenting him.  Shawn uses Yang, against everyone else’s better judgment, to face the evil behind the deranged.

Yes, this summary is cryptic but we didn’t want to give too much away…

5. “Murder? … Anyone? … Anyone? … Bueller?” (Season 3)

What could go wrong when Shawn and Gus attend their high school reunion?  Well murder, of course.  But there’s only one problem – there’s no body.  Without the body, no one believes Shawn.  So Shawn does what he does best – he pushes forward until he uncovers all of the necessary clues to solve the case.

Oh, and he reconnects with a girl he dissed in high school (Abigail, played by Rachael Leigh Cook) which begins an ongoing relationship for Shawn.

4.  “Scary Sherry: Bianca’s Toast” (Season 1)

We love when Jules gets more involved in the cases, and our favorite episode of the entire first season follows Jules as she goes undercover in a sorority house.  She invites Shawn and Gus to help as she investigates a series of bizarre events seemingly related to an earlier suicide at an insane asylum.

Sorority house, undercover assignment, insane asylum, alleged ghosts – who could want more in an episode?

See, even Shawn and Gus are spooked...

3. “An Evening with Mr. Yang” (Season 3)

We could almost say this episode is where it all begins, but that would be a lie considering we’re in season three.  This is, however, the introduction of Yang (Ally Sheedy).  Yang is a serial killer who has set her sights on Shawn and those dearest to him.  Shawn mistakenly suspects a psychologist (Mary, played by Jimmi Simpson) as Yang, but soon discovers that he is dealing with another deranged madman (or woman in this case) all together.

Things intensify on Shawn and Abigail’s date at the drive-in when Yang kidnaps Shawn’s mother (Madeleine Spencer, played by Cybill Shepherd).  Will Shawn’s astute attention to detail save his mother’s life and allow him to capture Yang before it is too late?

2. “Mr. Yin Presents…” (Season 4)

As reminded by the Ion Television Psych Saturday evening marathons, “Mr. Yin Presents” is by far one of the best episodes to date.  The episode begins when Shawn and Gus are reminded of a former foe – Yang.  After she releases her new book, a book she has written from her new home inside an insane asylum, another familiar face returns (Mary, Jimmi Simpson).  Mary insists that Yang was working with a partner, so Shawn and Gus agree to interview her hoping for answers.

Yang gives them what they ask for – confirmation that she has a partner:  Yin.  Everyone is drawn into Yin’s game – a game consisting of scenes from classic Alfred Hitchcock movies.  Shawn, Gus, Henry, Lassie and Jules are separated into different Hitchcock scenes, when both of Shawn’s loves (Jules and Abigail) are kidnapped.  Who will Shawn choose to rescue and who will die?

Who will Shawn choose - Jules or Abigail?

And Number 1… Drum roll please…. “Dual Spires” (Season 5)

Shawn and Gus travel to Dual Spires looking forward to a cinnamon festival they learned about via a mysterious email, but instead find a murdered teenage girl wrapped in plastic down by the water.  Together they join forces with the town’s sheriff to solve the murder.

We could go on and on about this episode.  James Roday outdid himself writing this piece: he perfected the oddities of the characters from Lynch’s bizarre murder mystery from the ‘90s, Twin Peaks; he mimicked the eerie music and peculiar dancing to a “T”; and he incorporated a few of the Twin Peaks iconic elements such as the diner, the log lady, the caged bird, and the pie.  Even better yet, Psych cast a few of the Twin Peaks alumni for the episode: Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer), Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs), Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), and Sherilyn Finn (Audrey Horne).

Every once in a while, Psych adjusts the opening theme song to appropriately fit the night’s episode.  Needless to say, “Dual Spires” was one of those episodes – and the show’s creators invited Julee Cruise to sing the opening (that’s right!  She also sang the Twin Peaks’ opening).

“Dual Spires” inspired those of us at Tele-Tuesday (me) to write a “thank you” note to the producers of Psych at the USA Network.  While we didn’t hear back from James Roday himself, we did receive an email from one of the producers thanking us for the kind words and assuring us that our note would please Roday, considering this episode was one of his creations.  Maybe she never shared our note, but it doesn’t matter.  We felt better expressing our gratitude for an episode VERY well done.

*****

The mid-season premiere “Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger” airs this Wednesday, February 29th on USA.  Will you watch?  Let’s just say one of our favorite bad guys is expected to return in this special extended episode of Psych, and a familiar face for those of us Twin Peaks fans guest stars.

We’ve already seen so many of our favorite faces from the ‘80s and ‘90s during the first half of season six:  Molly Ringwald (Psych loves the “Brat Pack”, Joey McIntyre, Jason Priestley, Danny Glover, and William Shatner.  Who’s next?

Just two besties playing 'thumb-war'

Do you watch Psych?  What’s your favorite episode?  Who is your favorite guest star to date?  I’d love to hear from you! 

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