*Avast! Episode Spoilers Ahead! Be Cautious!*
Season 7 of Psych starts off where we left it: with a bang. A very literal one, as the episode opens with Sean (James Roday) finding his dad with a gunshot wound. Last season ended months ago with the speculation that Sean’s dad, Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen) might die. I’ll tell you right now that it’s most likely what you predicted.
The episode jumps right into things with a strangely different tone. Psych has always given a sense of occasionally deceiving darkness in tone in its key moments, but still has the restless and playful humor.
But even when Juliet (Maggie Lawson) begs Shawn to not get involved in the case on his father’s shooter, already identified as Jerry Carp (Max Gail), he and Gus (Dulé Hill) go to investigate the home of suspect, and Sean lets his emotions take over the case in a way we’ve never seen before, causing the fake psychic to, as Gus told him:
“We’re redefining the phrase ‘In over our heads.”
“Over Our Heads: Great title for a movie about two short guys who pretend to be one tall guy to get a basketball scholarship.”
It also seems Sean has reached a new low of breaking and entering to keep his psychic schtick up to date with the SBPD and Carp, namely, in breaking windows without a second thought.
There is also a younger girl named Chelsea, who is destructively annoying to the episode’s rhythm. You may remember when she was introduced last season as a stalker of Henry’s. She wastes episode time with her subplot of taking advantage of Henry’s inability to speak, and pretends to be his fiance to spend every waking moment with him. Henry told Sean at the end of the episode, “Two days with her is worse than getting shot.” It s true, it’s damn brutal to sit through, especially when contrasting with a challenge of making Sean act more seriously.
Things tend to pick up when the random dude from Starship Trooper and Lethal Weapon is revealed to be an FBI agent (Jake Busey), as well as a hilarious scene of Sean and Gus sitting on the land mine under their couch, with a delicious plate of nachos staring at them from across the room. Yikes. Luckily, SPBD arrives on scene, and we get to see them rescued by a defusing robot that “looks like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit.”
Not to mention, Gus’ “Blueberry” Toyota Echo never ceases to go through the most torturous matters a hybrid car possibly can, in tonight’s case, it practically got torn in half. Hopefully it will be back in business by next week.
Sean and Lassie (Timmothy Omundson) have as much of a “heart to heart” conversation as humanly possible between the two, and Sean pulls a few Home Alone stunts before he confronts Carp in a very underwhelming conclusion; so the episode wraps up quickly as it, and I suppose any other police investigation show, often does.
As mentioned before, where Sean’s humor usually comes across as cartoonish, Roday honestly should be commended in making the character look, in this instance, drastically eccentric and desperately trying to make light of such a personal tragedy in this episode. His acting almost makes up for the, frankly, lackluster writing for the episode in general by creator Steve Franks and producer Bill Callahan. The humor is as consistent as it always is but, when trying to make our main character turn emotional and go rogue on a case, the script needs to a weight to it, and “Santabarbratown 2” ultimately doesn’t have this. The way I was expecting such a situation to be handled was a very concentrated and very calculated effort from Sean, much like we saw in the series arch rival in “An Evening With Mister Yang,” and “Mr. Yin Presents…” both guest starring Ally Sheedy (The Breakfast Club, The Dead Zone). We don’t get that version of Sean here. Instead, with his dad being nearly shot to death, he muddles around this case literally throwing tantrums.
Some people might say, “Why are you looking into it so much? It’s just a silly cop show on USA.” To that I say, look at any of the favorite episodes of the cast and the fans. The show is capable of a lot of things, and, while every season has its lulls, everyone who is a fan of Psych ultimately will enjoy any episode. My point is that this doesn’t deserve to be one of the shows on television to take advantage of an audience that will watch and enjoy regardless of what is given.
Its a rocky start, but I’m sure season 7 will turn out some classics as funny as the rest.
‘Santabarbratown 2″ – 6.5 Stars
New episodes of Psych air on Wednesday nights at 10pm EST on the USA Network.