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Review: Pysch returns with 'Santabarbaratown 2: Lethal Weapon 5' (Photos)

photos/stills of the USA NETWORK series PSYCH season seven premiere episode SANTABARBARATOWN 2: LETHAL WEAPON 5
photos/stills of the USA NETWORK series PSYCH season seven premiere episode SANTABARBARATOWN 2: LETHAL WEAPON 5© USA Network / A Division of NBC Universal, Inc.

Psych - Santabarbaratown 2 : Lethal Weapon 5

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Tonight, Wednesday, February 27th at 10/9central, the USA Network hit comedy series Psych returns with the beginning of their seventh season episode titled “Santabarbaratown 2: Lethal Weapon 5”. The sixth season ended with a shocking twist of Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen) being shot before Shawn (James Roday) could arrive on the scene to save him. With Henry rushed to the hospital fighting for his life, his ever spiteful son Shawn is seeking revenge against those who conspired against his father. Did Henry survive? Did Shawn get hurt? Did he tackle the scandal? What are the overall/lasting effects for those characters within Psych?

Shawn uses his wits to hunt down his father's killer/shooter
Shawn uses his wits to hunt down his father's killer/shooter© USA Network / A Division of NBC Universal, Inc.

**Warning: very mild spoilers follow **

For those who don’t remember, Psych is a series on the USA Network about a novice sleuth who bumbles his way into being hired by the Santa Barbara police department by conning them into thinking he solves crimes with his psychic powers. With this assistance of his reluctant best friend Burton ‘Gus’ Guster (Dulé Hill) the pysch-tastic duo take on a series of complicated cases.

The season finale was a bit of a shocker especially for those who are fans of the series Psych as the season finale was seen by myself as a possible game-changer in how it approaches itself as a series. For my thoughts on the finale and season six please click here (or visit this URL: http://www.examiner.com/review/spring-finale-watch-psych-visits-santabarbaratown). In the finale, Henry was shot, and tonight we found out if he survived or not. Shawn was able to get there on the beach but not in time to stop Henry from being shot. Shawn though rushed Henry to the hospital where he dukes it out with the grim reaper and quickly wins, though bed-ridden for a bit and with tubes down his throat so he can not talk.

A few days after the review of the season six finale went online last year, (and to note readers, I have not gotten any clearance on posting this so apologies to the actor post-mortem no pun intended), but I received a polite e-mail from Corbin Bernsen himself. And ultimately, I really think it encapsulates exactly what the show is and the dynamic the series has and will continue to have up until the series finale. Here is his e-mail (edited down a bit):

Hey Nick

Corbin Bernsen here. I really loved your review of the show and the series in general. While I can't tell you what happens with Henry, I can say that we definitely try to play what I call the "bass line" (me being being the bass player in the band) which is the relationship with Shawn and Henry – seen more in season one primarily as "set up" to the series. I think our success – with all due respect to myself – is based on the comedic banter between Shawn and Gus and playing that looney side. So while I wish there was more for me to do each episode to reflect a more "serious" tone, I think it's better we do it the way we do it and have it be an occasional "song" from the bass player on the album but not a part of every tune. I mean, they only gave Ringo (drums - same analogy) the occasional song, right?

Rest assured that Henry Spencer survives, minus a gunshot wound and tired ears of a stalker-ish girl, but looking back, I remember replying back with a long-winded response*, afraid I possibly needed to explain more on why I felt the way I did.

(*) - Let’s be honest. It was probably so long-winded and passionately nerdy, I more likely scared the guy and he has better things to do anyway than comfort a big television nerd/fan of the series which ironically are called psych-o’s.

I really didn’t agree with what he said then, I respected it but I wanted Psych to be something it wasn’t. Looking back and re-reading that review a year later, I think what I said before (particularly the third paragraph) really does hit the nail on the head. The general gist was that season six was showcasing on how Psych was finally feeling comfortable in its own skin and doing what it does best: solve crimes with crazy hilarious references without any will they/won’t they drama in the background which can make and then break a show. And season seventh keeps the good times going, perfectly to a T.

For those who have any concept of how television works, most season finales if they end on cliffhangers only shoot the cliffhangers. Rarely do they include the opening moments of the next season. So when the crew and cast return, they pick-up exactly where they left off. More likely the general idea for how Shawn wrapped it up were discussed, but not shot. (There are exceptions and I could be wrong in this particular scenario/series.)

I point this out because sometimes television series take an episode or two or maybe longer to find themselves again after returning from their off-season, especially from a cliffhanger such as this. Lucky for us, Psych picks up not only where the story ended last April, but also picks up the awesome groove the show was on last season. Still following the vibe of the classic film Chinatown, the second part’s full title is called “Santabarbaratown 2: Lethal Weapon 5” which means, yes, they did TONS of references to Lethal Weapon. And honestly, it was dead-on perfect for 99% of it. Roday and Dule were on their game, so was Bernsen, and the rest of the cast such as Maggie Lawson as Juliet O’Hara, Timothy Omundson as Carlton Lassiter and Kirsten Nelson as Chief Karen Vick.

The show also didn’t hold your hand for some of the jokes, which was great. It took me a second to get the weird slow-motion of things breaking was a nod to the Lethal Weapon film series, on top of the Chief telling Shawn to NOT find the killer was in fact her way of using movie logic which Shawn adores to tell him to go get the killer. It was quite genius. It never talked down to me as a similar geek/fan of films and tv references, and sometimes shows explain themselves just in case. To see Psych play it smart and treat me as an equal was beyond enthralling. I’m sure some might have been confused by that, but kudos for Pysch for playing it that way.

Also, “Santabarabaratown 2: Lethal Weapon 5” further showcased my thoughts on that if Psych truly is ending as the hints showcase* after season eight, then Psych needs to be the next Matlock. The show has such a great chemistry and cast, and the show could not run forever, but return in smaller doses, such as a two-three hour USA Network special film event. For those who might be too young to remember, Matlock after running as a series by season nine became a tv-movie-of-the-week-like show.

Also, Psych is consistent in it’s creative ways to reach fans. Last year they did a social media game and it was very successful. They are doing something similar this year as Psych: The S#cial Sector, a new eight-week multiplatform murder mystery is starting back up. Now imagine a social game that affects the end of the Psych tv-movie-of-the-week?

It’d be awesome. Either way, Psych is a series fitting of that kind of legacy, and deserves such.

Overall, “Santabarabaratown 2: Lethal Weapon 5” is exactly what the doctor ordered and features the return of the Psych we all know and love. It features tons of great references (the mine under the couch was a fantastic nod to Lethal Weapon 2). So yes, kudos to the cast and crew of Psych for knocking it out of the park, and here’s to the new few episodes where we will see if Psych continues this amazing trend of bringing the funny in the only way Psych can.

Psych airs on the USA Network which is on Channel 5 on Columbus Insight Communications and Channel 29 for Columbus Time Warner Customers

But what do YOU think, examiners?

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