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October 13, 2015

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Five Ingredients That Make USA Network Shows Work

by Rich Keller, posted Apr 14th 2010 3:11PM
The character-driven shows of USA Network...'Burn Notice,' 'Royal Pains,' and 'Psych'
A while back, while announcing the season premieres for 'Burn Notice' and 'Royal Pains', I briefly mentioned the reason why these original USA network programs, as well as their other offerings, work so well. As I thought about it some more, I realized that it wasn't just the focus on characters and the mix of comedy and drama that made these shows click with audiences. There was more to it. In fact, three more 'its' to make a TV Squad list. How's that for ironic!

So, if you'll indulge me for a moment, here are the five things that make USA network shows resonate with viewers.

1. Actual character-driven shows -- When USA uses the tag line "Characters Welcome" they aren't kidding. Every original program since 'Monk' has been character driven. They haven't relied on special effects, or musicals, or unanswered questions that, when answered, produced more unanswered questions. It's characters that drive the shows and move them forward.

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Shawn Says Goodbye to Abigail on 'Psych' (VIDEO)

by Jane Boursaw, posted Mar 11th 2010 6:16AM
Psych, Shawn and Abigail break upAwww ... Our heart breaks for you, Shawn, but Abigail has a point. She can't make a difference in the world if she's dead. She's just not cut out for the type of life you lead.

"Call me if you ever decide to stop chasing psychopaths," she told him on 'Psych' (Wed., 10PM ET on USA). We're guessing that won't be anytime soon.

Watch the video after the jump.

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Shawn Saves an Ungrateful Business Mogul on 'Psych' (VIDEO)

by Jane Boursaw, posted Feb 25th 2010 2:35AM
Psych, Shawn Spencer, James RodayYou can't be too careful when you're trying to protect an ungrateful business mogul. But Shawn does his best on 'Psych' (Wed., 10PM ET on USA), fending off explosive cell phones, unsuspecting maids and even a tiny baby.

But as the guy approaches his car, Shawn does indeed save his life by tackling him to the pavement, averting some bullets headed his way. Who's got the last laugh now?!

Watch the video after the jump.

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Judd Nelson Plays a Quirky Doc on 'Psych' (VIDEO)

by Jane Boursaw, posted Feb 18th 2010 8:07AM
Psych, Judd NelsonWe'll always think of Judd Nelson as the "the criminal" who stole Molly Ringwald's heart (and a few other things) on 'The Breakfast Club.'

But now he's all grown up and showing his quirky side as a kooky doctor on 'Psych' (Wed., 10PM ET on USA). We hope his wish to dissect Shawn's temporal lobe doesn't come to pass. We're ok with the DNA part, though.

Now if only he'd show up on 'The Secret Life of the American Teenager' so he can steal Ringwald's heart again.

Watch the video after the jump.

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TV Squad Ten: The coolest characters on TV now

by Allison Waldman, posted Feb 9th 2009 2:28PM
MargWhat is cool? Can you define that thing, that quality that makes certain characters seem like they're more with it than everyone around them? Maybe cool is a state of being, not a thing you can pick up by wearing Armani or drinking Grey Goose or driving a BMW.

As I was looking around the current crop of television shows, I found ten characters who seem to capture the essence of cool -- whether they know it or not. After the jump, we count them down.

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Psych: Lassie Did a Bad Bad Thing

by Richard Keller, posted Jan 17th 2009 2:01PM

Shawn and Gus encounter a very depressed Lassiter

(S03E11) Detective Carlton Lassiter accused of murder? Say it ain't so!

Okay, it ain't so. How could it be? This is Lassie we're talking about here; not some detective like Vic Mackey! If there ever was a straight (some say too straight) shooting detective it's Carlton Lassiter. He'll do everything legally in his power to catch his man or woman or greasy-fingered monkey and put them away for a long time. And, if he exhausts all of the legal options, that's when he goes to Shawn Spencer and Gus for help.

And, that's what he ended up doing in this episode of Psych. So, let's all turn the page after the tone to see what happened to our favorite detective (well, favorite next to Jules, of course).

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Psych: Six Feet Under the Sea (winter premere)

by Richard Keller, posted Jan 10th 2009 1:00AM

Let's welcome back Shawn and Gus for part 2 of Psych's season 3

(S03E10) NOTE: No sea lions named Shabby were harmed during the writing of this review.

Welcome back, everyone! It's been a long fall without Shawn, Gus and the rest of the Santa Barbara (aka, Vancouver) lunatics of Psych to entertain us on Friday nights. However, they are now back to finish out season three. In the next few weeks, look for the return of Cybill Shepherd as Shawn's mother, some issues with Carlton Lassiter, a potential romantic moment between Shawn and Jules, and a take on the Friday the 13the movie series.

Until then, let's talk about this week's return episode.

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TV Squad Ten: Most outrageous characters on TV

by Debra McDuffee, posted Jan 6th 2009 11:02AM
Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother

Random House defines outrageous as highly unusual or unconventional; extravagant; remarkable. It's as though they've been watching TV, and wrote their definition to fit some of the crazy characters on television shows today.

Oh, don't get me wrong; I'm not complaining. I love these larger-than-life characters, played to perfection by the talented actors who grace these roles. Some fit in perfectly with their surroundings, others stand out like a sore thumb amongst castmates. One thing they all have in common, though, is that watching them is pure entertainment.

Patrick Jane (played by Simon Baker on The Mentalist)

Jane doesn't quite have the social graces to blend into society, and that's why I love him. The frumpy suits, the obnoxious antics, and the constant pushing of the envelope make for some good TV. From card counting in the casino to reading Lisbon's mind; hypnotizing suspects to making a sandwich in a victim's home, Jane's done it all. Unconventional, to say the least.

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Psych: Christmas Joy

by Richard Keller, posted Nov 29th 2008 2:15AM

Gus and Shawn investigate some holiday badness in this episode of Psych

(S03E09) In what is becoming an annual tradition for USA Network, Psych has returned for a holiday-themed episode before it goes back into hibernation once again. Last year's episode introduced us to Gus' parents. This time around, his parents are joined by Gus' sister, Joy, who ends up helping the guys on their current investigation while trying to keep a secret from her brother.

Sounds promising. The only downside is the episode was directed by John Landis, whose Psych record is less than stellar. Come join me after the jump to find out if he redeemed himself this time around.

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Psych: Gus Walks Into a Bank (summer finale)

by Richard Keller, posted Sep 13th 2008 11:45AM

Luntz, Vick, Lassiter, Spencer, O'Hara

(S03E08) "Free hugs. Who's next?" -- Shawn Spencer, after saving his "kidnapper".

Woosh! Feel that? That was the first half of this season of Psych blowing right past us to this week's summer finale. As the show has done since its inception in 2006 it is taking the fall off and, save for a holiday special sometime in December, returning at the beginning of 2009. While one side of me understands the reason for this -- survive the onslaught of the network season premieres -- the other side is sad to see the show go so quickly.

Save for the episode entitled 'Daredevils', the first half of Psych has been pretty good. They've done some experimenting with the format, some character development, but have maintained the light touch that has made this show stand out in the crowd of ever-increasing first-run cable shows. With this week's episode we saw a further example of tweaks to the format as we had an episode that was equal parts drama and comedy.

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Psych: Talk Derby to Me

by Richard Keller, posted Sep 6th 2008 10:04AM

(S03E07) As we sometimes do with our reviews of Psych, let's start at the end rather than the beginning. No, not at the reveal, because that would be utterly daft of me. The end I speak of is the next to last scene of the episode. I don't know about you, but as soon as I saw Shawn wearing skates, waiting for Jules in the empty roller derby rink, my first thought was 'couples skate'. Lo and behold, a couples skate was announced, the spotlight was turned on, and 80s music began to blare from the speakers.

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Psych: There Might Be Blood

by Richard Keller, posted Aug 23rd 2008 5:10PM

Chief Vick and her sister on the Psych episode 'There Might Be Blood'

(S03E06) "I'm nobody's pawn, Shawn. I'm a queen." -- Gus Guster

Since the third season of Psych began there has been an underlying theme of family. During the season premiere the focus was on Shawn and his parents. Then, a few weeks ago, we got a chance to see the relationship between Shawn and his shifty uncle. With this week's episode we move away from the Spencer family and focus on a member of the Santa Barbara Police Department, Chief Karen Vick, and her older sibling.

Siblings are rare in the Psych universe. We know Shawn is an only child (unless they introduce a half-brother or sister in later seasons) and Henry has a younger brother, and Gus may have mentioned some brothers or sisters in the past, but that's about it. So, when we are introduced to a character's brother or sister it helps to not only expand the character, but it also shows another side to them that viewers may have never seen before. Such is the case of Chief Vick, who showed a mean and petty side to her that we have never encountered in previous episodes.

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Psych: Disco Didn't Die. It Was Murdered!

by Richard Keller, posted Aug 16th 2008 11:00AM

Shawn has a psychic reveal on the latest episode of Psych

(S03E05) Methuselah Honeysuckle and Old Scratch Johnson -- The names Henry Spencer gave Gus and himself while Shawn was introducing them at the DA's office.

Ready for this? We are nearly three-quarters of way through the first half of the third season of Psych. After this week's episode there are only two more left until the season takes a break. Other than the annual holiday special that will air in December the next time we will see Shawn and Gus after the first week of September will be the middle of January. So, enjoy while you can.

Well, I kept wishing for an episode where Henry and Shawn would truly work together on a case. And, I got my wish this week. Not only did they work on a case together, but it was Henry's biggest case while he was still on the police force. So, there was really pressure on both the younger and older Spencer men to solve the case. Of course, this led to some tension between the two.

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It's true! Henry Spencer really doesn't have as many Facebook friends as Shawn

by Richard Keller, posted Aug 15th 2008 9:04AM

Guess who has the most friends on FacebookThere was a time during the early days of television where what happened on a scripted show remained within the confines of the small screen. Then came the wonderful world of the Internet and the amazing potential that it had. Soon enough, reality and imagination began to merge. Now, it's a near given that a TV show will utilize the Internet to maximize its viewing potential.

Take Psych for example. In a conversation that took place during last week's episode Shawn made reference to the fact that his father Henry was angry because he didn't have as many friends on Facebook as his son. Of course, that signaled the purveyors of the World Wide Superhighwaynet to take a look to see if it was true. Turns out, Shawn was correct: he has more friends than his father does. Henry only has two friends -- Shawn Spencer and Shawn Spencer. Poor Henry! Meanwhile, Shawn has a total of 50 friends over two different profiles.

However, neither of them can compare to one Burton "Gus" Guster. When it comes to friends on Facebook good ole Gus has a total of 108 on two profiles. Now we really know who everyone loves on Psych!

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Psych: The Greatest Adventure in the History of Basic Cable

by Richard Keller, posted Aug 9th 2008 1:56AM

James Roday and Dule Hill of Psych

(S03E04) "You keep a stun gun in the birdhouse? What do you keep in the garden gnome? An M-80?" -- Shawn to his dad, Henry, on his choice of weapon storage.

Ah, now the pieces of the puzzle that are Shawn Spencer are coming together! We've known for years that the younger Spencer has gotten his analytical skills from his father Henry. And, in the first episode of this season, we found out that he gained his recall abilities from his mother. Now we know where he got his sense of adventure and his ability to snow others with his "psychic" abilities.

Meet Jack Spencer -- role model, adventurer, historian...and con artist.

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