This review contains spoilers.
6.4 The Amazing Psych-Man & Tap Man, Issue #2
We’ve had a brief look at Psych’s superhero credentials before in the Comic Con-themed episode Shawn Vs The Red Phantom, but that was way back in the show’s first season – half a decade ago. Still, with recent trends indicating a rebirth and a swift putting-down of the TV superhero genre – including No Ordinary Family and The Cape (six seasons and a movie!) – it’s clear that a show as prone to pop culture ribbing as this one couldn’t be expected to pass up another chance.
The result is yet another strong episode (the third in a row, after the middling season opener), which shows that the cast and regular writer Saladin K Patterson – most recently seen penning last year’s Christmas special, The Bipolar Express, with James Roday – have lost none of their edge.
It’s the stupidest, simplest jokes that get the biggest laughs: the spinning iPad-newspaper pastiche, the live-action onomatopoeia of the climactic fight scene, the “I know you know I’m not telling the truth… I know… you know…” shout out to the show’s theme song.
It’s witty, it’s self-aware, and it’s utterly, utterly shameless – precisely the traits that make Psych’s sense of humour so infectiously involving. Even in its non-meta moments, Issue #2 is one of the funniest episodes of recent weeks – possibly even seasons – and lines such as Shawn’s description of Gus as “Benedict Arnold Jackson” deserve to live on in perpetuity.
For more obsessive fans, there’s even a callback to Ed Lover’s appearance two weeks ago (the “Come on, son!” back-and-forth between Shawn and Gus), as well as a rare Double Pineapple: on the comic book logo during the (exceptionally well-done) rewritten theme song, and as a condiment bottle during Shawn and Juliet’s date.
The mystery itself is unusually involving too, (mostly) setting aside murder for vigilantism with a neat little twist to help get around the fact that Santa Barbara couldn’t possibly have a masked guardian running around saving the city on a weekly basis without making the SBPD pretty much redundant. The identity of the ‘villain’ – scare-quotes entirely justified – isn’t the trickiest guess in the world, but there are a couple of nifty sidesteps along the way that make it very easy to stay entertained. All in all, it’s a well-balanced episode, and with the exception of much in the way of the Shawn/Juliet subplot, it manages to tick all the right boxes for longtime fans.
But onto the negatives. For some reason, I’m still not quite sold on Skyler Gisondo as Young Shawn, as much as I’d like to be. The flashback sequences always used to be one of the best elements of the show, and it seems that a lot of that is down to the natural charm of Liam James – the previous Young Shawn, who seems to have flown the Psych-nest in favour of a role on the US remake of The Killing.
Unfortunately, Gisondo doesn’t seem to have quite the cheeky enthusiasm of his predecessor, so – at least until he grows into the role – it seems that Psych’s historical trips to the 80s and 90s are going to feel a little flat.
Next week, we’ve got another chance to go over old ground – a phrase I mean in no derogatory sense – as Shawn, Gus and Danny Glover give us another sports-based episode. Historically, the sports episodes have been kind of a mixed bag (Talk Derby To Me, And Down The Stretch Comes Murder and Any Given Friday Night At 10pm, 9pm Central, to name but a few), but with the past two episodes being as stellar as they have been, it’s perhaps not too much to hope for that this one – if you’ll pardon the expression – manages to knock it out of the park.
You can read our review of season six episode three here.