"I feel like I've been incarcerated in a blueberry."
- Nigel St. Nigel (Tim Curry, Clue) in American Duos, the first episode in Psych: The Complete Second Season.
"We're addicted to your citrus," says Shawn.
"Peaches aren't citrus, Shawn, they're stone fruit," Gus replies.
Shawn protests, "It's the same thing."
"No, not the same thing. They have pits. Peaches, cherries, plums, and apricots."
" I can't do this with you right now," Shawn finishes.
These two items are examples of the everyday flow of the show, though one quote is slightly more extravagant, of course, and probably confusing, if you've never watched the show. In the word of Psych, Shawn Spencer (James Roday, Beerfest) and "Gus" Burton Guster (Dulé Hill, The West Wing) are a psychic investigative team. There's only one problem, Shawn's not really a psychic, he's just super observant, a skill that happens to come in handy while working for the Santa Barbara Police Department, where he schmoozes with and tries to impress Detective Juliet O'Hara (Maggie Lawson, Pleasantville), Lead Detective Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson, Judging Amy), and Chief of Police Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson, War of the Worlds). Last but not least, is Shawn's unemotional retired police father Henry (Corbin Bernsen, L.A. Law).
Shawn is very high energy, the kind of guy who crosses the street before he looks. Gus, on the other hand, is scared of many things (mummies especially), drives a tiny blue car (hence Curry's "blueberry" comment), and has another job as a pharmaceutical sales representative, an occupation he rarely gets to pursue when Shawn gets his way, although, his medical knowledge does come in handy when they are up against a case involving poison or other medication.
As for the second quote, that comes from "65 Million Years Off," when Gus slaps Shawn with some fruit knowledge. Steve Franks, the creator and executive producer of the series, would like you to know that this is a show where you're going to learn something. Yet it's only right that a huge Psych fan get to reap all the rewards of possibly the most complete DVD set in recent memory. But let me give you a quick listing of the 16 episodes on this four-disc set:
65 Million Years Off
Psy vs. Psy
Zero to Murder in Sixty Seconds
And Down the Stretch Comes Murder
Meat is Murder, But Murder is Also Murder
If You're So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?
Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy
There's Something About Mira
The Old and the Restless
Lights, Camera ... Homicido
Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion
Shawn (and Gus) of the Dead
Season Two of the popular show found on the USA Network is chock full of great writing and fun cases. The über-observant Shawn finds himself in several cases that seem out of the norm, like a man being killed by a dinosaur, a mummy walking out of a museum, competition in the psychic area, and meeting Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba), who guests as a detective from the Treasury Department. Of course, Shawn is surprised the government has a department just on treasures. There is no doubt that the series has a long life ahead of itself due to its anti-CSI nature. The dramatic tension here wouldn't fill a quarter of the typical Law and Order episode, but instead is lighter fare and perfect for the summer.
Psych comes to DVD in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, similar to it's high definition presentation. Having said that, this isn't a high definition set, and grain is present on many episodes. The Santa Barbara locations look all nice and purdy, and for a television set, it works.
The main soundtrack is a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround presentation. There are a couple of times where the subwoofer fires and makes me happy, along with the occasional panning activity, but for a show about a so-called psychic in a "whodunit" setting, everything comes from the front speakers and sounds as clear as it's going to get.
So many times, in so many ways, DVD sets disappoint in the extras department. The creators, actors, and writers all collaborate for months and months, and often, anything not absolutely essential in order to push out the DVD, gets thrown out. I am happy to say, this is far from the case here. There are so many extras in this set that you may actually forget there are episodes to watch.
A few general notes on the commentaries, they each begin with the participants (well, the ones with Roday and Hill) making up names for themselves. And they're fantastic. Not the names. Well, they're okay, but the commentaries are great. I listed to a few commentaries and Franks is in almost every one, and he seems to get along with the series' two stars very well. It would also seem that Roday often adds material to the script in one way or another.
Disc One Extras:
Ten deleted scenes (8:25) that can be played at once, or within their respective episodes, are included, as well as previews for completely random shows, such as Coach, Quantum Leap and nine others. A gag reel is here (7:30), which is so-so funny. Possibly the funniest scene is an extended "we did it/celebration" dance from Roday and Hill, where Hill is dancing like Michael Jackson while Roday is doing some sort of Russian dance. And commentaries, oh the commentaries:
With Franks, Roday, Hill and Executive Producers Chris Henze and Kelly Kulchak. The group actually figured out the idea behind this episode when doing the pilot. They worked really hard on naming the three American Idol-like judges, thinking of a single name for the Spanish character that was eventually named "Zapato." But before he was officially named, they thought about "Licorice" or "Dolce." This is the episode where Gina Gershon (Showgirls), who plays one of the other judges, calls Lassiter "Mr. Bean," when she was drugged out. According to the commentary, a name also considered was "Flat Stanley."
"65 Million Years Off"
With Franks, Henze, Kulchak, Roday, and Hill. This commentary was jovial, there was more than one quite funny moment, including when Shawn and Gus are on a farmer's land and looking at tons of holes in the ground. Shawn says it seems like a certain movie, that one with Jon Voight, and he happens to be referring to Holes, a movie that Hill was in. Also, not included as a deleted scene but mentioned in the commentary was the fact that in one scene, Shawn pretended to be a velociraptor, and after Shawn as the velociraptor touched Gus, he became one as well. I would have loved to see that.
"Psy vs. Psy"
Commentary with Franks, Henze, Kulchak, Roday, Hill and Producer Andy Berman, who wrote the episode. The first episode shot for season 2, there's also a lot of footage for the pineapple upside down cake Bernsen eats.
"Zero to Murder in Sixty Seconds"
Podcast commentary with Co-Executive Producer and writer for this episode Saladin Patterson and Jason Berger, executive assistant to Franks. But Franks also manages to make an appearance.
Disc Two Extras:
Ten deleted scenes (9:00) are included, as well as "Where's the Pineapple?" game, a collection of scenes that happen to include a delicious scaly fruit treat. "The Name Game" is split into two sections, one for each main character. They are quick montages of all of the names Shawn's used for himself, as well as the crazy ones for Gus, while working on cases. This disc includes just three podcast commentaries:
"And Down the Stretch Comes Murder"
With Franks, Berger and Co-Executive Producer Josh Byceland
"If You're So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?"
With Co-Producer Anupam Nigam
With Franks, Berman and Writer Tim Meltreger
Disc Three Extras:
Eleven deleted scenes (13:00) are included, as well as a delightful feature titled "Psych-outs," which are essentially fake scenes. There are only three, but one of them is from the Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy episode with Phylicia Rashad (who plays Gus's mother) and has her saying an absolutely hilarious line, which I can't reveal because of spoilers, and another is from the Christmas episode. This one is really only funny for Hill's Michael Jackson action at the end.
With Franks, Henze, Kulchak, Berman, Roday, and Hill
"The Old and the Restless"
With Nigam and Meltreger
Disc Four Extras:
Eleven deleted scenes (9:30) are here, as well as the "Adventures of Little Shawn and Gus" (six animated vignettes, each approx. 50 seconds) and commentaries for each episode:
"Lights, Camera ... Homicido"
With Franks, Henze, Kulchak, Berman, Roday, and Hill
"Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion"
With Franks, Henze, Kulchak, Roday, and Hill
"Shawn (and Gus) of the Dead"
With Franks, Henze, Kulchak, Roday, and Hill
Podcast commentary with Franks and Meltreger
Here comes the double negative. It's never not fun to watch Psych and with all the extras offered here, it makes it an easy decision for purchase. Did I mention the packaging is quite nice too? A simple book-type packaging, with none of that extra paper. Instead, the table of contents, if you will, is on the back of the case. Although I don't agree with the tag line they've chosen to use for the show's second set, which reads: "All the law. None of the order." I get the reference, but it doesn't tell me enough, and had I not already been an avid watcher of the show, I don't know that that would entice me to turn over the case and read the description. Regardless, there are no complaints here, because finally, a set that actually makes it worth it to purchase. The podcasts are a nice inclusion and should in the future show up other sets that choose not to do commentaries because they can't get people all together.
To sum up, take a break this summer with Shawn and Gus. You can easily leave the show on in the background while you're ironing, cleaning, or putting together a puzzle, but be forewarned, you'll end up watching it and using the rewind feature on your DVR.