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October 13, 2015

Psych: Spellingg Bee

by Richard Keller, posted Jul 15th 2006 8:24AM

James Roday and Dule Hill of Psych(S01E02) Now that the pilot is out of the way and we are into the regular series, we really get into the meat of some of the characters. This week we get more of the history between Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and his dad Henry (Corbin Bernsen).

In last week's pilot episode we saw a bit of the relationship between these two, as Henry taught his son the art of observation. This week, we really get to see what a hard-ass he was, and still is, to Shawn. In order to have one of Henry's friends look at a sample of evidence he found at a crime scene, Shawn must complete a dog house he started many years ago. Why did Dad keep this half-finished house for a dog that was never bought? Why, to prove a point that Shawn never completed anything.

I guess if you took a close look at it, the relationship between Shawn and his Dad reflect the relationship many of us have with our own fathers. In other words: nothing we do is ever good enough for them. For instance, I could tell my father that I was Emperor of Earth and he would probably say 'Why aren't you Emperor of the universe?'. And, I think, this is the same thing that Henry is thinking about his son. He's proud (in a secret way) that Shawn has found a calling for his unique talent; yet, he wants to see something better of him. If it means he completes a dog house that was started while Shawn was still a kid, then so be it.

Like I said, this week some of the characters were fleshed out a bit more. The second case where we see that is with Shawn's friend, and partner in the Psych detective agency, Burton "Gus" Guster (Dule Hill). In fact, we actually open up with a scene of Gus and Shawn as kids, with Gus losing a spelling bee . . . a memory that haunts him to this very day. Unlike last week, where we saw him as just a pharmaceutical rep who knew his medicines, we now see Gus as quite the brainiac. In addition, rather than saying nothing but 'No, Shawn', like he did during the pilot, Gus actually contributes quite a bit to this episode.

Hey, you know, I'm talking about all of the character developments on Psych and I haven't even mentioned the plot of the episode. Well, it was actually pretty unique and highlighted a new competitive sporting event whose popularity has increased over the last few years: the spelling bee. It turns out that someone is sabotaging the 'bee' (as Gus calls it) and the Psych team is called in to investigate. The case turns into a murder when the spell-master dies of apparent poisoning. How do Shawn and Gus solve the crime? Well, I wouldn't want to spoil the ending if you haven't watch it.

While the episode itself was very good, and James Roday did an excellent job, two things bothered me. First, the whole fake psychic concept. Yes, if they get rid of this they can't really call the show Psych anymore. But, it just seems to me that the police, particularly the chief, know that he isn't a psychic at all and just go along for the ride. Would it be too impractical if the police were onto him but he displayed his 'psychic' abilities to non-believers during investigations? I'm not sure, but I'd like your opinion.

The second thing that bothers me is Tim Omundson in the role of Detective Roland Lassiter. Look, we know the guy is a right git, but he just doesn't fit into the whole show. Omundson's makes Lassiter look like a cartoon character, or one of those pompous guys in every bad police drama who thinks he knows everything and believes that no one can pull the wool over his eyes. I hope that the creators of the show have something planned for Lassiter in later episodes. If not, then let him go or change his character.

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I didn't mind this episode--although it seemed to rely more on deduction than on Shawn's powers of observation--but it filled me with Failed Continuity Dread. By which I mean: so we've now established that Gus is a total Bee Geek who obsessively follows Bees to the extent that he knows the Bee-winning word for each of the last 50 years. So, will that ever come up again? Not as a plot point--that's clearly played out--but as a character point? It's when characters have interests or inclinations that last longer than one episode that you know you've got writing that will really hold you.

July 17 2006 at 5:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I found episode 2 to be highly disappointing. Pilot promised action and comedy, ep2 delivered none. I only liked the initial exchange in the café. Too bad. I'm going to give it one more shot next week and if it disappoints, I'm done with it.

July 16 2006 at 6:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes I agree with #1 the replacement of Anne Dudek completely changed the dynamic of the relationship between the police and Shawn (in a bad way).

As for #2 I think they might have been partners before she got promoted to interim chief and he resents her for getting the job over him. It could have included some romantic involvement, but I hope not. Also, he is just an asshole in general.

July 15 2006 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What was the reason for the exchange between Lassiter and the Interim Chief, when he told her to just dump the guy and called her by her first name. Was that meant to imply some old relationship?

July 15 2006 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Toby OB

I was sorry to see that Lassiter's partner and lover from the pilot (I think she was played by Anne Dudek?) was let go when this went to series.

First off, she was pretty but in a "real" way, not in an exaggerated Hollywood way. And I thought there was real possibility in the development of her own relationship with Shawn in both a professional and perhaps eventually even a personal way.

It seemed in the pilot that there was a possibility the show might eventually go in that direction; that she knew her lover was a bit of a putz, and that there was just something charming about Shawn.

But instead, she's the one who got dumped (and within the show, she's the one who got transferred because of the affair instead of Lassiter) and a new actress is brought in to spar/flirt with Shawn and who isn't already allied with Lassiter.

I just hope they keep Kristen Nelson around as the "interim chief", even if it is only on a recurring basis.

July 15 2006 at 10:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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