Psych-O for Psych – My Top 15 Episodes, Part 1

One of my all-time favorite programs ends 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 what I consider to be one of the best television shows EVER, I have decided to list my top 15 Psych episodes to help everyone get ready for the end… the end 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 15, nonetheless.

Sit back, relax, and grab a cup of coffee or perhaps a tasty pineapple – this is a long post, but couldn’t be avoided. Enjoy!

And now for episodes 8 – 15…

*****

15. “Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark” (Season 4)

While investigating a case sans Gus, Shawn finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time… and is kidnapped. Not only that, but the bad guys shoot him. As his life hangs in the balance, he uses the skills his father has taught him over the years and he leaves as many clues as possible so his friends can find him. Everyone works together—Henry and Lassie partner up, as do Jules and Gus. Pretending to believe his life is coming to an end, Shawn convinces the kidnappers to let him call his girlfriend; but instead of calling his girlfriend (Abigail, played by Rachael Leigh Cook from She’s All That), he calls Jules.

Granted, this episode takes place before Shawn and Jules profess their love for one another… up until this point, their relationship was a bit of a back-and-forth game with one on board, while the other was not. But this episode gave viewers what they wanted at the time—Shawn’s and Jules’ true feelings were revealed. Very intense episode…

14. “Heeeeere’s Lassie” (Season 6)

When the team investigates an apparent hanging at a local apartment building, Lassie jumps at the chance to purchase the newly available condo. But in a tribute to the 1980 classic horror film, The Shining, spooky things keep him up late at night… including two older twin sisters and a small boy riding his big wheels through the hallways. With Shawn and Gus armed and dressed like the Ghostbusters, they spend the night in the apartment, hoping to rid Lassie’s new place from all things evil. Be sure to pay special attention to Dule Hill and his spot-on impressions of The Shining’s Shelley Duvall…

Need some ‘80s pop culture? Louis Gossett, Jr. (from the popular ‘80s Hollywood blockbusters An Officer and a Gentleman, Jaws 3-D, and Iron Eagle) guest stars as the building manager.

13. “Let’s Get Hairy” (Season 4)

Psych “Let’s Get Hairy” (Season 4)

For the most part, our favorite “Psych” consultants work cases for the Santa Barbara Police Department… but every once in a while, a stranger walks in off the street needing their help. And since Shawn and Gus always need the money, they rarely, if ever, turn someone away—regardless of how crazy the request. So when a man (Josh Malina, Scandal, and also Dule Hill’s West Wing co-star) hires them to watch him transform into a werewolf, Shawn and Gus oblige. Of course they don’t really take him seriously and they fall asleep on the job, literally, only to discover their client missing when they wake up. But it’s not just that—a window is shattered and they discover animal hair.

Psych once again pays tribute to another ‘80s classic (An American Werewolf in London) in this episode with guest star David Naughton (the “American Werewolf” from the 1981 film), as well as the memorable balloon scene from the movie.

12. “Tuesday the 17th” (Season 3)

What do we get when we cross the classic horror films Friday the 13th and April Fool’s Day? “Tuesday the 17th” of course!

Co-written by the man who plays Shawn Spencer himself, James Roday masterfully crafted this spooky episode, combining elements from both movies… from the client, appropriately named Jason Cunningham (played by Mackenzie Astin, from The Facts of Life)—Jason, from Jason Voorhees, and Cunningham, from the Friday the 13th director, Sean Cunningham—to the staged and fake murders that “fooled” Shawn, leading to a big celebration by all involved in the joke… until a “real” body is found floating in the lake. Brilliant episode!

Oh, and keeping with the ‘80s pop culture, Justine Bateman (Family Ties) also guest stars as Lassie’s ex-wife.

11. “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.

The Despereaux storyline is a fun one to return to, but “Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part” is perhaps included in the top 15 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.

10. “Last Night Gus” (Season 6)

Psych “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.

9. “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…

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

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…

8. “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.

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, formerly Buffy the Vampire Slayer) 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…

*****

Come back tomorrow for my top 7 episodes!

Do you watch Psych? What’s your favorite episode? I’d love to hear from you!

*****

Tiffany A. White is the author of the YA mystery Football Sweetheart series available on Kindle and Nook.  She is available for contact via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or via email at tiffany {at} tiffanyawhite {dot} com.

 

A Rerun of the Tour de Psych

One of Tele-Tuesday’s favorite programs returns next 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 new season, USA hosted a six-hour Psych Slumber Party this past Friday night starting at midnight.  And while our household did attend, we only lasted four and a half of the six hours…

However, the slumber party reminded us of all of our favorite episodes we posted last year and gave us a few to add to our list…

So this week, Tele-Tuesday has decided rerun our top ten 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 ten, nonetheless.  And because we had such a hard time choosing only these ten, we’ll be back next week with a few more; maybe not ten, but we’ll definitely include more Psych episodes worthy of a watch!

Sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee, and perhaps a slice of pineapple 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’re going 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 Elwes) 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, Henry, 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) 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.

Sheedy plays a great crazy… I mean, Yang.

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?

Yin’s game – a game consisting of scenes from classic Alfred Hitchcock movies…

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.

*****

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

Remember to come back next week when we add to this list; maybe not ten, but we’ll definitely include more Psych episodes worthy of a watch!