Psych was recently called the most under rated show on television by critics. So, it stands to reason that a lot of people out there have never seen it. I know that when I'm listening to my local radio station spout on about what shows will be on Wednesday nights, I never hear Psych being mentioned. I also find it harder and harder to find reviews of Psych episodes out there which is one reason that I started writing some myself. I think part of what's been dragging Psych down is the fact that it's on cable television and not network. It also has nothing in terms of a regular lead in show. The most consistant I've seen so far is reruns of NCIS. And I love watching NCIS, but if I want to see that many reruns that often, I can just buy the seasons (which I have) or order them on netflix or something of that nature. I think that if USA network really wanted to help Psych get a bigger audience, they'd give it something better to lead in. Maybe they're afraid of putting too much money into Wednesday night. I have no idea why though. There really isn't much competition in my opinion.
Moving on, let's get into some of the actual details of the show for those who haven't seen it. If you've ever seen "The Mentalist", you'll see some similartities right away. Before you start crying "Rip Off", let me just point out that Psych was on the air before "The Mentalist". And in my opinion, Psych is the better show with better actors. That being said, the main premise for the show is pretty much in the title. The lead character "Shawn" pretends to be a psychic and in fact calls the psychic detective agency which he starts up with his long time friend "Gus", "Psych". This is a clear reference to the pair "Psych"ing everyone out with their deception. However, if you go back to the pilot episode, you'll see that this actually was not Shawn's original intent. And I do highly reccommend watching the pilot. The show doesn't really get into its groove right away and there are some areas with plenty of room for improvement. But it sets the groundwork for the entire series.
Shawn Spencer is a very unique man with some unique gifts and a history which is perhaps even more unique. As the son of a police officer who eventually became a detective, Shawn was the object of a father's dreams of a family legacy of sorts. Well, we never hear his father "Henry" put it quite like that, but it becomes very clear early on that he plans to make Shawn into a detective or at the very least some kind of cop when he grows up. We know about this, because most episodes (especially in the early seasons) start out with a flashback to Shawn's childhood. In these flashbacks, we see Henry constantly training Shawn in some unorthodox way or another to be more observant, use deductive reasoning, condition himself to be able to trail criminals, etc. In addition to his upbringing, Shawn has another great advantage when it comes to being a "psychic" detective. He has a photographic memory. And this all started of course before shows like "Unforgetable". This allows Shawn to replay scenes in his mind and some times read documents closer and even flip the print, as in if a paper were upside down when he originally saw it, in his memory. This and Shawn's extremely high level observational skills and all the other things he learned from Henry make his abilities seem almost supernatural. And that's why he is able to pass himself off as being somewhat supernatural himself.
He doesn't do it alone though. His long time friend, Gus is with him throughout. And where Shawn is exteremly gifted and trained in the ways of a detective, he was never the most dedicated of students in school it seems and there are plenty of times where Gus has an expertise in an area which Shawn does not. Gus' "real" job is as a pharmaseudical salesman. This comes in handy in identifying certain drugs or chemicals some times before the police can and then passing the information on to Shawn so that he can "devine" it. Gus is also able to smell things which ordinary human beings may not, using his "super sniffer". Mostly though, Gus serves as a grounding force for Shawn in the early seasons and helps to keep him from getting too far over his head. Henry also is a big part of Shawn and Gus' success in many cases. Having retired perhaps too early, Shawn's dad still has plenty of ability and energy left in him to assist on cases even if it's supposedly unwillingly early on in the series. He eventually even gets reinstated in the Santa Barbara P.D. to a special consultants position to in part help to better regulate the actions of Psych.
That being said, psych does work quite a bit with the local police department. Primarily, Shawn and Gus are paired with the head detective of the Santa Barbara PD, Carlton Lassiter or as Shawn calls him, "Lassie". Lassie is a very straight laced by the book cop who enjoys what he does maybe a little too much. He also thoroughly enjoys shooting his gun. Along with Lassie, there is his partner, the lovely junior detective, Juliet. Juliet is a deceptively competent detective. I say deceptively, but really the only one who under rates her is Lassie. She is also very attractive and Shawn falls for her almost instantly. Other regular characters include Mcnab who is another member of the SBPD, Chief Vic, and Woody the SBPD mortician.
That does it for the main cast and technical premise of the show, but that's far from what this show really consists of. It is at its heart not just a crime procedural, but a genuinely funny comedy. For example, upon introducing himself to anyone new, Shawn cannot seem to help himself from introducing Gus with a completely made up and ridiculous name. One which comes to mind off the top of my head is "Magic Head". Shawn is constantly cracking jokes and making puns everywhere he goes. His greatest challenge may in fact be any time he has to be serious. He's gone so far as to mock someone who is about to kill him. Another great part of the show is just the way that Shawn and Gus' characters play off of one another. Being friends since childhood helps too, setting up all kinds of potential stories which one or the other can bring up at any time to make a point or embarass the other. Added to all of this is the crazy amount of 80s pop culture references made in pretty much every episode. The show is filled with all sorts of hidden goodies for those who care to look. There is even a regularly hidden pineapple in each episode. There's no real reason for it. It's just there. So, watch the show. Give it a chance. I think you'll be glad you did. And happy pineapple hunting.