I remember way back in the day when Psych was still cutting its teeth on the USA Network and thinking that it was a fun source of entertainment, even if the channel it was on seemingly lacked some of it at the time. And while other more attractive shows have come to the Network and others have left it, Psych continues to buzz along, providing arguably the most consistent source of entertainment the channel offers. While sadly the show's seventh season debut has been delayed to February 2013, the show's sixth season DVD release is here for those eyes and ears to enjoy.
For those unfamiliar with the show, set in Santa Barbara, the Psych is Shawn Spencer (James Roday, The Dukes of Hazzard), a detective who claims to be a psychic, but really just has keen powers of observation and memory. He works with Gus (Dule Hill, The West Wing), his childhood friend who keeps him on topic most of the time, or at least tries to. When they do not take on private cases, they attempt to work with the Santa Barbara police department. One detective, Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson, Mission: Impossible III), tends to resist their attempts to help and scoffs at Shawn's abilities. The other, Juliet O'Hara (Maggie Lawson, Pleasantville) is far more accommodating, and even sees Shawn romantically, making the real-life relationship between Lawson and Roday all the easier. Shawn's father, a retired police officer, is played by Corbin Bernsen (Major League), who always has a problem with Shawn's lack of maturity but respects his growing acumen as a detective.
The show's formula is essentially the same as it has been since its beginnings; someone kills someone or steals something, and it is up to the detectives or to Shawn and Gus to find the culprits. Along the way we see Shawn and Gus sometimes bump heads with Lassiter, who Shawn fondly calls "Lassie," other times an episode will be more focused on Shawn and Gus and the chemistry between the two as they try to solve their own case. Occasionally the formula changes up a bit, as "In for a Penny..." introduces us to Juliet's father, played by the Captain himself, William Shatner. And in "This Episode Sucks," we get to see Lassiter with a woman, the beautiful yet deadly Marlow Viccellio (Kristy Swanson, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). It is during this episode where Shawn and Gus dress as well-known vampires Lestat and Blacula, respectively of course.
And it is this love of pop culture and silly references that has helped keep the show going for so long. And with inspired guest stars going along for the ride (this season includes Cary Elwes, Molly Ringwald and Danny Glover, to name some others), the cast and crew make them feel welcome and their past contributions are revered instead of mocked, and they give their respective turns more than one would normally expect. Even on a last-minute 'what the hell is THAT guy doing there?' addition of Mekhi Phifer to "Let's Doo-Wop It Again," the results turn out to be fun. And while more serious procedurals like Law and Order and its various tributaries continue to plug along, Psych does the same, tongue planted firmly in cheek, using a sensibility that is borrowed from the "Encyclopedia Brown" novels and translating that sensibility to more adult situations when it needs to.
For me, that is the charm that Psych continues to have lo these many years. The novelty has not worn off, and that they have gotten more comfortable in their characters as the seasons have unfolded makes the show all the more enjoyable to me. It may not be the most acclaimed show, it may not even be the funniest, but Psych is fun. And fun continues to appeal whether you're six or sixty, which Psych has managed to tap into.
Universal spreads the 16-episode run of Psych's sixth season over four discs and displays them with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation, the results of which are serviceable without being mind-blowing. I'll go out on a limb and presume the show was shot in high-definition, and this standard definition presentation is solid to look at, with little in the way of edge enhancement or image haloing to distract from viewing. Image noise is kept to a minimum and the many interiors and exteriors look good through the course of the show. Definitely as good as I was expecting it to look.
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround for all of the episodes, also not a surprise, and the resulting product comes across as solid. Dialogue is consistent through the listening experience, the low end is robust yet the subwoofer remains dormant for most of the show. Channel panning is present, though directional effects are less so. But what are you going to expect from a television sitcom? Enjoy it and like it.
With Psych running as long as it has and having the following it does, one would expect a consumer-friendly DVD set with each release. But for a sixth season release, the cast and crew put together a pant load of extras, which even for a show of its following is a surprise to me. The show includes video commentaries on each episode which are fewer commentaries and more introductions, with the writer of that episode as they discuss the inspiration for the show they wrote, along with any particular moments they may be proud of or an on-set trivia note that may be entertaining. They may not sound like much, but adding up to almost an hour of material alone (58:52), it's not a shabby extra. Deleted and extended scenes on 11 of the show's 16 episodes are next (64, 1:05:07) and are also not shabby, and include full performances and alternate takes of scenes that are also entertaining.
Those are fairly lengthy in and of themselves, but then you have audio commentaries for eight(!) of the show's episodes, and they include a large group for each. The core group for most of the tracks includes show creator/show runner Steve Franks, executive producers Chris Henze and Kelly Kulchak, along with Roday, Hill, Omundson and Lawson. The episode's specific writer or director will also make an appearance to contribute their insights, and Bernsen joins in for the show's finale. The tracks themselves do not contain a lot of groundbreaking information or trivia, as they are largely spent watching the episodes and laughing at what occurs onscreen. But the commentaries are very friendly affairs, with some joking and teasing of one another occurring from time to time. Franks generally tends to drive the tracks and ask questions of the relevant cast and crew, and with the group (save Hill) all being in one location, the dynamic can certainly be felt when listening to the commentaries. There are even more extras if these do not satisfy. On Disc One, a gag reel (4:12) includes flubbed lines, goofy faces and the usual funny stuff. Disc Two has four montages (5:26) where Gus eats, Shawn's various introductions of Gus to a person and other chuckle worthy things. Disc Three includes something called "Psychouts" (:40) which is quick and forgettable, while "Underground With Psych" (4:05) gives us the expansive set of "Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger" from beginning to end. Again, compare these extras to other shows and this is another reason why Psych is beloved.
Psych continues to get the proverbial job done, providing nice laughs, good entertainment and fun stories through its sixth season. While technically is has nothing special to it, from a bonus material perspective the show's fun factor is clearly obvious when viewing them. It is a nice holding pattern to be in until the show celebrates a lucky seventh birthday.