What you get when you take a hyper-observant slacker, his pharmaceutical rep best friend and a pair of police detectives and throw them all together? Turns out, you get Psych, one of the USA Network’s best shows! I know you know that I am telling the truth!
With the news yesterday that Psych was coming back for a 2-hour holiday special this December, I took the opportunity to begin a ranking of the show’s 8 seasons on the USA Network. You can read part 1, featuring the bottom four seasons of the show, right here.
This time around, we’ll look at the cream of the crop!
4 – It Finally Happened: Season 5
Shawn spent the first part of the fifth season being mopey because of a break-up (more on that later) and finally worked up the courage to ask Juliet out. But he waits just a bit too long, as he’s forced to watch Jules end up dating another Santa Barbara Police Department consultant with his own secret. The frustration in stretching out the will-they, won’t-they was tempered by the powerful payoff of the two of them finally becoming a couple after capturing Pierre Despereaux (Cary Elwes).
Thankfully, the show didn’t suffer for the culmination of the romantic build-up, as the focus of the show remained on solving crime and not on Shawn and Juliet’s relationship.
Not Even Close… Encounters – Freddie Prinze Jr. guest stars as a childhood friend of Shawn and Gus who has a secret he’s been hiding from his hot wife – he’s a giant nerd. The episode’s story revolves around an alien abduction and a shared love of Battlestar Galactica. I really wish Prinze came back for more episodes, as he fit perfectly into the show.
Viagra Falls – Shawn’s dad, the SBPD’s chief of consultants, challenges the Psych team with another team – a pair of former detectives (played by Carl Weathers and William DeVane) – to solve the murder of the former chief of police. The interactions between the older and younger teams is first rate as Shawn and Gus get a glimpse into their futures.
Dual Spires – Co-written by James Roday, the episode was an homage to cult classic TV show Twin Peaks. The episode – which sees Shawn and Gus being lured to the small town of Dual Spires to solve a murder – features several members of the Twin Peaks cast in guest appearances.
3 – Hitting Its Stride: Season 2
One of the best things about Psych was the guest stars the show managed to bring on, and the second season kicks off with one of the best – Tim Curry, playing a prickly judge on a singing competition show, American Duos. The hits kept coming with guest spots from Lou Diamond Phillips, John Amos, Kevin Sorbo, Ernie Hudson and Phylicia Rashad. Three of those guest stars played characters related to Gus.
After a fairly strong first season, the sophomore effort proved the show had some staying power and could be a powerful part of the USA Network lineup.
And Down The Stretch Comes Murder – A former bully-turned-jockey that used to torment Shawn and Gus hires Psych to figure out why his horse is suddenly losing. The team hangs around the racetrack to solve the case, which turns out to include murder. Plus, we get more of Shawn’s relationship with his dad, Henry, which is greatly expanded on this season.
The Old and The Restless – Another Henry-centric episode, where Shawn and Gus get him into a retirement community to buy them some time to solve a missing persons case.
Lights, Camera… Homicidio – There’s Psych’s usual level of absurdity and then there’s this episode, where Shawn ends up acting on a Spanish telenovella to solve the murder of one of the show’s stars. For the record, he was trying to sound like the El Pollo Loco guy.
And now, with the last two seasons, it’s like trying to choose which of my children is my favorite. But since I have to choose…
2 – Wait For It: Season 3
The third season is bookended with Shawn starting to show some emotional growth, as he comes face to face with the one that got away during his high school reunion, in the season’s second episode. There was considerable teasing toward a relationship for Shawn and Juliet, as the two got closer over the course of 16 episodes.
But the show swerved us with the season finale, the first of the Mr. Yang Trilogy, as Shawn went after the one that got away instead of asking Juliet out. The finale, An Evening With Mr. Yang, the first appearance of Ally Sheedy as Yang, was one of the best hours of television the USA Network has ever produced.
Murder? … Anyone? … Anyone? … Bueller? – The high school reunion episode was a pastiche of John Hughes’ 1980s movies that highlighted the importance of Shawn and Gus’ friendship.
Disco Didn’t Die. It Was Murdered! – Henry takes Shawn and Gus back to the 1970s when he case he worked on when he was a cop gets reopened. From the outfits to the nicknames (Methusela Honeysuckle and Old Scratch Johnson) to Pookie (guest star Ted Lange), this episode kept me in stitches.
Tuesday The 17th – An old high school friend buys a camp and invites Shawn and Gus up. Things, of course, go awry – or do they? – in a fun riff on Friday the 13th.
1 – The Best: Season 4
There is so much about this season that I love, from the regular appearances of Rachel Leigh Cook as Shawn’s girlfriend Abigail to the guest appearances to all the additions to the Psych lore. The fourth season was Psych at its absolute best.
Bollywood Homicide – Lassiter sets Shawn up with a case – an Indian man (Heroes’ Sendhil Ramamurthy) thinks he’s cursed because all his girlfriends have bad things happen to them. Though Shawn has Abigail along with him for the case, when Juliet gets used as bait to solve the issue, Shawn’s jealousy starts to show.
Let’s Get Hairy – The wonderfully funny Joshua Molina guests as a man who thinks he’s a werewolf. And Gus lets his goth side fly, as he becomes enamored with the werewolf’s sister, played by Larisa Oleynik.
You Can’t Handle This Episode – The suicide of an army soldier brings the SBPD and Psych to a military base, where more is happening than it appears. WWE Superstar John Cena guest stars as Juliet’s military man brother, in another episode that deserved to have more follow-up.
Mr. Yin Presents – The second in the Yin trilogy, which I think is the best of the three, brings Ally Sheeda back when YANG seeks revenge and pits the Psych team and the SBPD in a Hitchcock motif to try and catch him.