Review: Psych comes out like gangbusters

After Psych’s third season’s finale, An Evening with Mr. Yang, there might have been some pressure for the premiere to balance out The Force, sort of speak. After all, a serial killer coming out of hiding to challenge Shawn (James Roday) on his “psychic skills” while kidnapping his mom and strapping her to a bomb is kinda heavy. And what the show does well is comedy of all kinds so going dark would have thrown off some other shows.

But this is a show about a fake psychic with wit as sharp as cheddar and his trusty straight man with the sweetness.

The Psych premier, Extradition: British Columbia, (airing: Aug 7 at 9 p.m. central) is filled with everything that makes the series a jewel in USA Network’s crown–Shawn and Gus’ (Dule’ Hill) give and take, and take some more relationship, Lassie (Timothy Omundson) annoyance of Shawn-isms, Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen) bailing out his son (literally) and the Shawn and Juliet (Maggie Lawson) teaser. All of it is there making this phrase so appropriate:

They’re back and with more psychitude!

Shawn and Gus are on a ski vacation in Canada when they spot dapper, sauve, and rich (think Thomas Crown) international art thief, Pierre Desperaux (Cary Elwes). With the help of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, (yes, the Mounties) and Santa Barbara detectives Lassie and Juliette, the duo play a mind bending game of cat and mouse.

Expect the premier to continue the Shawn and Juliet storyline from last season in small increments. Roday has subtleties in his performance when it comes to the flirty non-existent relationship. There are longing looks, tongue-tied moments, and even a short deliberately awkward conversation that pushes this storyline forward. Have no doubt that Shawn is still dating Abigail (Rachael Leigh Cook) and that it’s going through its course. That’s a new side for that character, a more grown up stable Shawn. But, unfortunately, (and maybe thankfully) you’re not going to see that in this episode. You’ll see him still longing for Juliet in his own way and Jules taking a higher road, as if she was leading him down a path to a better person. It’ll be interesting to see where that arch ends at the end of the season. This is for certain though, it’s going to be a juggling act to keep that story line going 15 more episodes.

So what’s new? Cary Elwes as Desperaux. His velvety British accent just sold the international art thief role like ice on a hot day. His performance was suave and effortless, a delicious evilness that’s two steps ahead of the Psych gang. His contrast to Roday’s and Hill’s typical crime fighting silliness lifted the show’s stock value for future guest stars performance. Elwes, with just a lift of an eyebrow and a crooked, sinister smile, kept the momentum from Ali Sheedy’s guest star role in Mr. Yang. With one line–“I’ve often fantasized about escaping from prison, you know” — he’s added himself to Psych’s short list of memorable villains. With that line he’s opened the door to return and if I were one of the Psych writers, I’d find a way for him to walk through it.

Elwes is the first in a star-studded line up of guest stars this season. Others include James Brolin (“Catch Me If You Can,” “Hotel”), and Sendhil Ramamurthy (“Heroes”)

At the end of the episode, fans will be excited about the new season. They’ll delight in the premiere. They’ll wonder what adventure is next and see just a bit of growth in their favorite fake psychic. But just enough to solve crimes. It’s not like Shawn’s getting a day job anytime soon.

Well, one can hope not.

What to look forward to:

*Poking fun at the Mentalist
*A Catherine Zeta Jones/Entrapment moment involving Gus and some “coaching” from Shawn
*A non-date date between Shawn and Juliette
*A well placed and deserved Dr. Zhivago reference
*Interesting mystery twist
*Elwes super awesome English accent
*Remington Steele joke for Steele fans
*Singing fat guy, balloon animals, and a mime

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