It is always nice to see your favorite hour-long TV series reach a milestone like the century mark. That’s right Pineapple People; Psych has been around since 2006 and reached a level most shows wish for: 100 episodes in the can. We have watched the show grow from its infancy into a bona fide cult hit with devout followers and a Con-culture cultivated audience. All that good stuff aside, Psych goes into uncharted territory taking on the classic Jonathan Lynn 1985 laugher Clue based on the board game of the same name. While it is definitely an homage to that brilliantly executed film, the commercial bombardment of cable TV advertisements ruins what I was praying to be an awesome Centurian episode.
Right out of the gate any Psych fan worth their pineapple juice knows that Tim Curry was used up as guest-star bait way back in the second season premiere as Nigel St. Nigel. Curry hammed it up doing his best Simon Cowell for the “American Duos” talent competition in that classic episode. That being said, any chances of a Wadsworth style hyper-urgency as the butler in this big mansion murder mystery is dashed. Instead we are left with a second-rate Garrett Morris as Clizby, proprietor and butler of a mysterious Santa Barbara mansion whose roots are shrouded in secret. While it is a good enough doppelganger for the sprawling Clue estate, the space does not capture that oddly claustrophobic state that the wide open space of the original did. A group of people tied to a five year old case involving a metal band are assembled at the estate for a murder mystery dinner.
While it was a coup to nab original Clue cast members Lesley Ann Warren, Martin Mull and Christopher Lloyd, none are given that much to do and the absence of Madeline Kahn hits you squarely in the gut letting you know that her comic presence is indeed gone. The first third is fun, as Shawn and Gus arrive at the mansion eager to gorge themselves on six courses and fill their pockets with licorice pastels like five year olds upon entering the grand foyer. After Clizby tells the guys of the long dead chocolatier owner of the mansion and the secret chocolate room, the dynamic duo break into their instant classic “Chocolate Dance” that had me rolling. It’s those small moments that Shawn and Gus have that stick out through the years. As the rest of the guests arrive they are met by their host played with British punk enthusiasm by character actor Steve Valentine playing a rocker wrongfully incarcerated in the slaying of a hot groupie. Oh and what would the episode be without Tears for Fears’ own Curt Smith playing, well, Curt Smith.
While the trap is set for the guests, the inevitable blackout scene leaves everyone guessing just who did what to whom. Lassie and Jules arrive on the scene and there are some definite positive overtures that do the movie proud, but the “umph” is just not there for me. I would have loved to see Woody the Coroner in a plum spot in this yarn and even a breath of Henry or the Chief would have been of help. Hijinks ensue and Shawn does his very best to do Tim Curry’s manic ending wrap up scene of the possibilities and outcome of the murder. The rub is that via social media, you the viewer gets to decide the ending by voting in a possible three different outcomes of the episode. It felt like a gimmick and just had me soured on the whole idea of which ending to pick. I knew that they would all be equally fun, so gimme all three.
For me the highs of the episode were finding out about Gus’ sincere terror of toupées and the fun nods to mansion movies with secret chambers and grand chandeliers, candles and giant stuffed wild game adorning the walls. It’s not that the Psych -O’s are not up to the task of handling such broad comedy, absolutely they are. The guest stars feel like they are there just to do that; be there. That’s it. No real pomp or circumstance. Even the gang’s kookiest episodes do not fall into this kind of parody that while funny, misses its mark by showing a commercial every time the plot starts to chug along. I have gotten so spoiled by one-hour shows on cable and the void of commercials. Face it Geeks, we have become a little entitled in our new VOD culture.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Psych more than I love peanut butter and I would eat Nutella wrapped bacon in peanut butter if it were socially acceptable. I was just half-baked with this episode. I guess I built it up to be this big event but it’s just business as usual. And if you are going to have business as usual, have it at the Psych office or the SBPD station, neither of which we have seen much of this year. Still the guys racked up some more Geek points by continuing to reveal more minutiae about their characters and long-standing friendship. They earn a well-deserved fist bump for this one but more for the achievement of reaching 100 episodes than it being a standout episode.