Psych, Season 7, Episode 1: Santabarbaratown Part II, Review

Psych is back for Season 7 on USA Network with the entire crew ready to rock 'n roll.


Finally! Shawn and Gus are back after a yearlong layoff and a doozy of a cliffhanger that left Henry Spencer shot in cold blood by an old cop friend on the take. In the show’s absence I really discovered how beloved and loyal the PSYCH-otic fans are through all of the social media outlets and message boards dedicated to my favorite show. Not only are we ready for Season 7, but USA has already green-lit Season 8 making Psych the USA Networks longest running original series. I can now return to obsessively watching and memorizing the dialogue of the misadventures of the greatest crime-solving duo since Batman and Robin. The whole gang is back; Jules, Lassie, Woody, Henry, The Chief and all sorts of good stuff is planned for Season 7. As you can tell I am all kinds of excited and after watching the episode several times, I feel hopped up like I have been drinking rich Columbian coffee all day as I counted down for the premiere. Pineapple Power people!

Psych picks up right where they left off last year as Henry is gunned down on the beach by retired cop Jerry Carp (Max Gail of D.C. Cab fame). Carp turns out to be the third man they were trying to catch in last year’s season finale. On a tip from Buzz (McNabb), Shawn arrives on the beach just as Carp is getting away after putting a slug in Henry’s chest. Instead of giving chase, Shawn gets Henry immediate medical attention. Shawn is clearly in a manic state at the hospital; terribly scared that his Dad may not make it. He manages to muster, “I love your—-your French toast” to the unconscious Henry. Even in such dire times, Shawn is uses humor as his defense mechanism. To me that is what makes him such a likable character. James Roday embodies Shawn Spencer and “brings it” every episode full force. Jules shows up at the hospital to lend support and the relationship between her and Shawn has never been stronger. They are in that phase of a relationship where they end their phone conversations by saying “Big Fat Kisses” to each other. I try not to laugh but they do it so deadpan that it has me rolling.

Gus and Shawn begin to investigate the shooting and after breaking in to corrupt cop Jerry Carp’s house, Shawn goes a little haywire, smashing glass everywhere. I love the new “Psychic” effects that they use for Shawn’s hyper-attentive skills including super slo-mo and a cool raised image of what he is focusing in on instead of the old highlight effect. Jules and Lassiter catch the sleuths poking around and Shawn finds Carp’s secret cache of hi-tech weapons including a MK-367 Russian land mine that fascinates Lassiter. Lassie’s fascination with weapons and military history is always a gas and he demonstrates how the land mine works to the gang as they worriedly look on.

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The duo head to the Red Chief gun range based on a long shot tip that Carp is a silent partner. Shawn and Gus use the pseudonyms Shawnaise and Gurn Blandstein, Seattle based entrepreneurs who want to open a gun range for kids, to gain entry to the grounds. After getting the name of the real owner of the range, the instructor gives Shawn a semi-automatic gun and he hysterically shoots up the entire range yelling “Wolverines!” Classic. As he is being escorted away by security, Shawn goes boneless. Even the classic Psych gags feel fresh as ever. Former on the take and in custody Detective Jack Atwater is the owner of the range and is the other dirty cop Henry put away. When Shawn and Gus approach him for information during a routine prisoner transfer, he is assassinated as he is being put into the squad car. Loose ends are being tied up. Someone is trying to keep secrets of the SBPD hidden.

Back at the station, Chief Vick gives a comeuppance to all before dismissing everyone but Shawn. In not so many words she tells him that he cannot go rogue but he is the only one who can bring Carp down. It is a well-orchestrated scene as the Chief and Shawn have developed a rapport over the years when it comes to Shawn’s well intentioned crime fighting efforts. The guys return to the gun range and Shawn puts his fake beard on pretending again to be homeless vagrant “Soupcan Sam” (see Season 5, Episode 4 “Chivalry is not dead…But someone is”) and Gus takes on the role of “Satchel Gizmo.” Since they only have one beard, they cut it in half and hysterically have to walk a certain way so that it looks like they both have beards. It is a super clever sight gag that you have to see because words do not do it justice. They procure the name James Earl “J.E.” Vest as an award winning shooter at the range and one of only a few people who could make the killing shot that took out Atwater. Vest is in private security and is working for the “Feed Everyone” charity run by philanthropist Julian Drake. Shawn approaches Drake at a book signing and gives him “Everybody Poops” to autograph instead of his own book. Drake says “This is Everyone Poops” and Shawn quips “except my girlfriend.” Shawn divulges what he knows to Drake and his two bodyguards (J.E. Vest and Jake Busey) throw them out of the store. Right away I got the sense that Busey was an undercover agent of sorts and my TV instincts proved correct.

Back at the Psych office Gus, always the worrier, is telling Shawn how far off the grid they are with this case and repeatedly says that they are in way over their heads. At that, Shawn pauses and records into his phone: “Over our Heads; great title for a movie about two short guys who pretend to be one tall guy to get a basketball scholarship.” Shawn is prepared for Gus’ overreaction and has prepared him Jerk Chicken apology nachos. Gus accepts the offering and they both sit on the office couch only to hear the distinctive “clicking” of the Russian land mine from earlier. If they get up, the mine will be activated. Worse still is that the nachos are on the table and out of their immediate reach. Jules, Lassie and the SWAT team send in a low tech robot and Shawn zings a riotous “Johnny Five” Short Circuit joke before they are able to secure the mine and retrieve the nachos.

Investigating the “Feed Everyone” warehouse, the guys stumble upon crates of food for the poor that are actually full of arms being smuggled to war-torn nations. FBI Agent Mack (Busey) pulls a gun and exposes himself as a Fed to the guys just as Lassie arrives. A comical exchange plays out as Gus “goes low” to get the government agent’s identification out of his pants. Back at the SBPD, Agent Mack lets Chief Vick know that Shawn and Gus have ruined six months of undercover work, but not before Spencer eyes one of the Fed’s files with properties where the gun running operation may be located. There are a lot of nods to the Lethal Weapon film series in this episode and after scoping out the compound, Shawn takes a note from Lethal Weapon 2 and chains the house to the Blueberry. I do not want to ruin the ensuing hilarity of what happens to Gus’ beloved little car.

Lassie picks up Shawn and decides to help him out knowing that nothing was going to stop him from avenging Henry’s shooter. For the first time in seven years, the two adversarial colleagues have a laugh out loud heart to heart that Shawn purposely makes awkward. Gus shows up with his loaner car that he has dubbed “The Cranberry” and the guys go into action. Shawn cuts the power to the massive house and corners Jerry Carp and for the first time in Psych history, Shawn points a gun at someone; the man who shot his father. A melee ensues with the baddies and Jules saves the day, proving to be the best girlfriend ever.

Overall the seventh season opener was an absolute blast for all devoted PSYCH-O’s. It was a long layoff but well worth the wait and the running jokes and callbacks just keep on working under the smart directing by Psych veteran and Executive Producer Mel Damski. Creator Steve Franks wrote the script for the premiere episode and you can just tell when it is a Franks’ written episode. He knows these characters so well and his words capture everything that Psych is all about. Props to Woody (Kurt Fuller); his episode long gag of showing up everywhere with a body bag cements his welcome wackiness as a full-time cast member. Next week, Gus finally gets a love interest but lets just hope it’s not Mira.

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