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! 

Tele-Tuesday: MTV’s Joining the Party

On August 1, 1981, Music Television (also known as MTV) launched with the music video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles, and was immediately a breakthrough success.  MTV changed pop culture forever, and even created what we know as VJs (vee-jay or video jockey) today.

By the 1990s, the network began to drift away from the music videos, and started airing original broadcasts such as Road Rules and The Real World, animations including Beavis and Butthead and Celebrity Deathmatch, and even a few popular game shows like Remote Control and Singled Out – the show that putJenny McCarthy and Carmen Electra on the map.

By 2000, rarely could we flip channels to MTV and actually watch a music video.  Instead, we’d find The Osbournes, and watch Ozzy and Sharon wrangle their children and many small dogs around their house in Los Angeles; or we’d watch Ashton Kutcher play pranks on celebrities on Punk’d; and, sometimes we’d even watch Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica so that we could laugh at just how silly that girl can be.

Since then, MTV has continued to launch more and more reality shows: Laguna Beach, NEXT, My Super Sweet 16, and the craziest of them all, Jersey Shore.  And, who could forget one of the biggest hits of all MTV programming – Jackass?

Where would society be today without Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Ryan (R.I.P.), and Wee-Man?

This summer, MTV gained positive attention with the premier of its supernatural hit Teen Wolf.  Some of us even refer to Teen Wolf as the summer’s The Vampire Diaries – and that’s a huge compliment.

Will MTV be able to do it again with Death Valley, the new half hour horror-comedy premiering later this month?

Death Valley follows the Undead Task Force (UTF) as they protect the San Fernando Valley from the recent outbreak of zombies, vampires, and werewolves.   The UTF, a special division within the LAPD, is tasked with the responsibility of containing or destroying as many of the walking dead as possible, while a film crew follows them documenting each encounter.

Viewers will recognize a few familiar faces on the UTF squad including: Captain Frank Dashell (Bryan Callen from The Hangover); the traditional cop, Joe Stubeck (Charlie Sanders from Funny or Die Presents); the wanna-be-actor Billy Pierce (Bryce Johnson from Pretty Little Liars); the rookie Kirsten Landry (Caity Lotz from Mad Men); the sharp-shooter, Carla Rinaldi (Tania Raymonde from Lost); and, the one who loves to fight, John-John Johnson (Texas Battle from The Bold and the Beautiful).

The trailer looks hilarious and leads us to believe the show will have plenty of gore.  What more could we ask for when watching zombies, vampires, and werewolves?

Zombies, Vampires, and Werewolves – Oh, My!

Death Valley premieres on MTV Monday, August 29th at 10:30/9:30pm CDT.

Will you watch Death Valley?  Or do you prefer that MTV stop trying to compete with the regular network broadcasting channels and go back to playing more music videos?  What’s the first music video you remember watching on MTV? What’s your favorite program of all time on MTV? Do you even watch MTV anymore? I’d love to hear from you! 

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Queue it Up!

Amber West and I are taking this week’s Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in a different direction.  Courtesy of Netflix, many people don’t watch live television anymore, and we’re suggesting a few series that are definitely worthy of queuing up! 

Tru Calling

The series begins with recent college graduate, Tru Davies (Eliza Dushku from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), searching frantically for an internship hoping to get into medical school.  Most of the good placements have already been filled, so Tru takes the only job she can find – at the morgue.

As if working with the dead isn’t daunting enough, Tru must deal with the bodies temporarily awakening and asking for her help.  The very second she receives one of these requests, Tru’s day resets and she must race to figure out exactly what these souls are trying to tell her.

Mostly, when Tru’s day starts over, she tries desperately to stop the untimely deaths of those asking for her help, but messing with fate always has its consequences. 

Trying to manage her daily resets and keep her secret from friends and family, Tru also battles constant struggles with her irresponsible brother, Harrison (Shawn Reaves), her drug-addict sister, Meredith (Jessica Collins, The Young and the Restless), and her boyfriend Luc (Matt Bomer, White Collar), while trying to lead a normal life. 

Despite the chaos, Tru tries to stay grounded with the help of her best friend, Lindsey (A.J. Cook from Criminal Minds), and her boss at the morgue, Davis (Zach Galifinakis from The Hangover).  Davis may just be Tru’s biggest rock throughout the series, even if he’s a bit odd and awkward. 

Jason Priestly (the original 90210) joined the cast midway through season one as Jack Harper; his primary focus – stop Tru and restore fate.

Typical of shows on Fox, Tru Calling was cancelled before answering all of the ongoing storylines.  This show will always live on my “gone too soon” list, and I proudly own both seasons on DVD.  One of the writers, Doris Egan, shared the remaining story arc in a two-part series via her Livejournal blog.  Without giving away any spoilers, the viewers learn all about Tru’s parents and Tru and Jack’s mentors.   

Egan’s Tru Calling Part One

Egan’s Tru Calling Part Two

Tru Calling earns a MacTV rating – pop some popcorn, grab a blanket, turn off the lights, spark up a candle, and watch episode after episode like a guilty pleasure. 

I hope you especially enjoy a few of my favorite episodes, but before you get started, check out the theme song (Full Blown Rose’s “Somebody Help Me”) for just a tiny taste of what’s ahead.  

Season One
 “Morning After”
“Murder in the Morgue”
“Valentine”
“Two Weddings and a Funeral”

 Season Two
“Grace”
“In the Dark”
“Enough”

Season two also introduced a few familiar faces as recurring characters: Liz Vassey (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) played Dr. Carrie Allen (nothing is ever as it seems – remember!) and Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: Los Angeles) played Jensen Ritchie, Tru’s love interest. 

If you don’t have a Netflix account, don’t worry!  Occasionally, SyFy airs a daily marathon of Tru Calling

Do you subscribe to Netflix? Did you watch Tru Calling? Are you an Eliza Dushku fan? What would you do if the dead asked for your help?  If your days could reset, would you race against the clock to change fate, or leave things as they were?  What are a few of your favorite TV series gone too soon?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and see why she recommends you queue up the science fiction hit – Firefly

Come back next week for another Netflix edition as Amber and I review a few more series worth a queue.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  We’re currently working on our August and September schedules and would love to chat with you!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more

MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies

JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds

SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out

NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer

LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

%d bloggers like this: