Psych season three -- an early look
Let me put one thing to rest before I begin this review in full. For those of you who think Psych is going to get all dramatic and ruin the show with the introduction of Shawn's mom during the season three premiere (Friday, July 18th, at 10:00 p.m.) I want you take a deep breath and relax. There are definitely some serious moments between Shawn Spencer and the rest of his family, particularly towards the end of the episode. For the most part, though, it is the same Psych that fans have come to enjoy over the last two seasons.
Well, almost the same. Maybe it's because it is a season premiere or we haven't seen new episodes of the show since January, but there is a different feel to this episode. Could be that we are seeing some of the main characters in a different light, could be we are introduced to some new locations. It's not anything that will make you sit there and wonder what show you are watching. Rather, it's a progression of the show as it continues its successful run. Having said all of that, it's a good episode to start off the season.
Of course, the big thing that happens during this episode is we are introduced to Shawn's mother, Madeline, who is played by Cybil Shepherd. Since it's a first appearance of the character we don't get to know her that much. What we do know is she is back in Santa Barbara to do some psych profiles for a few members of the police department (one of them very familiar to fans. More on that in a bit.). We also find out that she has an impressive tonal memory -- she can remember everything a person says. Since we know that Henry Spencer was gifted with the ability of keen observation, it makes sense that Shawn's mom would be the one who gave him the other part of his 'superpowers'.
For a woman on the high side of her 50's, Shepherd looks good in her role as Shawn's mother. She still has that radiant smile and glowing skin that the directors over at Moonlighting always framed in blurred light. Like Shawn, Madeline is a calm-speaking and cool individual who can pull out the serious when needed. This is something she does at the end of the episode when she reveals something to her son about her split from Henry.
The scenes between Shawn and her, as well as Shawn and his father, are the most dramatic elements of the season premiere. You can tell that the young Mr. Spencer is clearly happy that his mother has returned, but is upset at the way that Henry is fawning all over her. It gets to Shawn so much that he ends up calling his father a phony. He really expresses teeth-gritting anger -- something we have yet to see from Shawn -- when he spills his feelings for his father to his mother. Little does he know that his anger may be misplaced.
The predicament Shawn finds himself in with his family is certainly not the only thing going on during this season premiere. For the first time in the show's history we finally get to see Gus at more than just his desk while at his day job. Unfortunately, it's not a good time for him. Turns out his new manager is savvy to his job at the Psych Detective Agency and has given him an ultimatum: quit Psych or quit his real job. Since he makes a cool $48 thousand at his pharmaceutical sales job, he wants to keep it. Yet, a meeting from one of the vice presidents of the company allows him to continue his dual life.
We'll see a different Gus in the season premiere than we normally do. This is 'Fearless Gus', who only comes out when his management asks him to perform an investigation. He's so calm, so cool, that he makes Shawn look like a fraidy cast during this episode's mystery. After seeing Gus as the guy running away from everything so many times, it was interesting to see this side of him. I can only hope we see more of 'Fearless Gus' in future episodes.
Detective Carlton Lassiter also has some job performance issues in this episode. After discharging his weapon four times in the last month, once at a cat show, Lassie is up for a psych evaluation to be performed by Madeline Spencer. Unfortunately (fortunately, for us), Carlton doesn't know that the person he is talking to is Shawn's mom, so he ends up spilling his guts to her. I don't know if the breakthroughs he had during this session will alter him in any way for future episodes, but it will be interesting to see.
In addition to all of this character development, there is both a flashback and a mystery to contend with. For the first time since the series began, the opening flashback does not take place during the late 1980s. Instead, it begins in the mid 1990s with a teenage Shawn, a Henry who is now a police detective, and a Lassiter who isn't as sure of himself as the one we know today. The mystery...well, at first it was a head scratcher. But, it all seemed to come together in the end quite nicely.
Compared to last season's premiere (the sub-par "American Duos," directed by John Landis), the third season premiere of Psych hits the mark when it comes to the show that we love. There are some format tweaks, but that's what keeps the show fresh and attracts new fans. Here's hoping that Psych can continue providing us with the mix of comedy and crime for the new season.