May 30, 2013



Tonight’s Season 7 finale of PSYCH promised at least a bit of a shake-up for Season 8, and even though it looks to be less extreme than it should have been and likely just temporary, it’s welcome.  7 seasons is a long time for any show to keep spinning its tales effectively, even a comic procedural, and Psych has been more than a little settled in its ways this season.

The freshest part of this season was the arc that took place at its center, when Juliet (Maggie Lawson) finally figured out what anyone short of Lois Lane would have realized long ago about the guy she worked alongside and lived with:  Shawn (James Roday) is not, in fact, a psychic detective.  Lawson brought some real emotion to the discovery that she’d trusted and fallen for someone who’d been lying to her since they met, and their break-up had force unusual for a show that mostly glides by on charm and pop culture references.  Of course, this is Psych, so 3 or 4 episodes later she’d forgiven Shawn, and even covered for him with Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson) so that he could go on solving murders, and all was smoothly status quo again.

The season finale, written by Executive Producer Bill Callahan and Carlos Jacott, and directed by Brad Turner, seemed to have a broader revelation in mind when it brought in obnoxious but smart police consultant Harris Trout (Anthony Michael Hall, having a bit of a cable renaissance with this and his recurring role on MTV’s Awkward.), who sneered at the very idea of a psychic detective.  This being a season finale, it looked like we were finally heading for someone in authority registering the fact that Shawn was just a sharp observer who claimed psychic powers.  But the episode itself turned out to be just a gimmicky flashback way of telling a routine story (if you couldn’t guess the big twist by the second commercial break, you weren’t trying), and instead of aiming at Shawn specifically, Trout ended the season by suspending Juliet and her partner Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and declaring that the Santa Barbara Police Department would no longer be hiring Shawn and sidekick Gus (Dule Hill).  Trout took over as interim chief from Vick for a 6-month term, but since the show isn’t about to center on the adventures of Shawn’s father Henry (Corbin Bernsen), and since we’ll next be seeing Psych in a 2-hour Christmas (musical!) episode, his arrival is likely to have little real impact on the series.

The rest of the season followed Psych‘s normal pattern of “Shawn and Gus at ______” episodes, which was the same strategy Monk used to stay on USA’s air for 8 seasons.  We had them in a handheld parody of Blair Witch Project (written and directed by Roday himself), at a circus, in a Clue parody, at a bachelor party, in a Single White Female parody, in a political campaign, etc.  Even when Gus finally got a relatively steady girlfriend (Parminder Nagra, from ER), it barely stirred the surface of the show.  Psych has always been meta, but now it’s practically meta-meta, with jokes about how reflexive its own jokes are.  It was hard to ignore the fact that the show, while entertaining, is getting a little stale.

There’s been speculation that Season 8 will be the last for Psych, especially since Maggie Lawson will now be starring in ABC’s new Back in the Game (different taping schedules will apparently allow her to do both for a year).  The ratings are still fine by USA standards, in the 0.8 neighborhood, but aging shows get expensive to produce, and Psych has already topped the magic 100-episode mark.  It would be a gift to everyone if next season were to be officially declared the final one, allowing Psych to take some risks and allow some real surprises before it heads into the TV sunset.  It’s not so much fun being steps ahead of the show and its own detectives, psychic or not.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."