TV Review: Hit USA Show ‘Psych’ Has Average Season Start

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CHICAGO – Television reviews of shows with as loyal an audience as USA’s “Psych” can be a tricky business. The show already has a devoted following and it’s unlikely that you haven’t sampled it by this point and decided for yourself if this sometimes-clever mystery series is worth your coveted Season Pass space. So the question for a season premiere like tonight’s episode is simple — does it mark a significant difference from last season? Is it any better or worse? Nope. Those not yet in love with Shawn and Gus won’t find anything new here to suck them in but hardcore fans are unlikely to be overly disappointed. The premiere is a pretty standard episode of “Psych” with some clever moments, entertaining performances, and another under-written mystery. TV Rating: 3.5/5.0
TV Rating: 3.5/5.0

The sixth season of “Psych” premieres with “Shawn Rescues Darth Vader,” an episode that opens with, well, Shawn rescuing Darth Vader. Shawn & Gus (Dule Hill) have taken a job from a teenager who wants his toy back from a wealthy brat who stole it. Shawn (James Roday) breaks into a lavish mansion during a party and nabs the toy but he’s spotted by security and forced to hide under a bed. He’s not alone. There happens to be a dead body under that bed and Shawn cleverly uses his “psychic skills” to bring the cops to the location and the real meat of the episode begins in earnest.

Photo credit: USA

It turns out that the home is being occupied an Ambassador (Malcolm MacDowell), who immediately becomes a target of suspicion regarding the dead body under the bed. Of course, as with all good mystery series, the suspects begin to line up, especially after the victim’s history with a controversial murder case is revealed. Can Shawn & Gus solve the case? Have you seen a show like this before?

Photo credit: USA

Meanwhile, there’s a bit of personal drama back at the station as Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) grills Juliet (Maggie Lawson) as to whether or not she’s in a relationship with Shawn. He even hooks her up to a lie detector test, a twist which cleverly comes back into play later in the episode. Corbin Bernsen and Kirsten Nelson co-star in typically strong supporting roles.

The premiere of “Psych” perfectly captures what works and what doesn’t about this show. Roday and Hill have developed stellar timing together, brilliantly riffing off each other in ways that still feel fresh and funny even in the sixth season. The supporting cast is strong (Omundson and Lawson, in particular, do good work in the premiere) but this show belongs to the two male leads. They’re the reason the program is as popular as it is. And it’s easy to see why people have fallen for them.

But why are the mysteries almost always so dull? There’s SO little interesting about the mystery in the premiere of “Psych” that even the great Malcolm MacDowell can’t save it. The living legend looks bored half the time. The show comes to life when the two leads are allowed to just do what they do best but could you imagine if they actually had an engaging, interesting mystery to solve?

Of course, not much is going to change on “Psych” or any other USA show right now. It’s the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” argument. The network is huge, delivering some of the most notable numbers of the Summer 2011 season. They are at the top of the cable game and “Psych” may not be their most-buzzed show but it is one of their most reliable. Based on the premiere, that’s not going to change any time soon.

The sixth season of “Psych” premieres on USA Network on Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 at 9pm CST. It stars James Roday, Dule Hill, Corbin Bernsen, Timothy Omundson, Maggie Lawson, and Kirsten Nelson. content director Brian Tallerico

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