Had I seen it: I’ve definitely seen the show several times before, but I had never seen the pilot before.
What IMDb says: A novice sleuth is hired by the police after he cons them into thinking he has psychic powers which help solve crimes. With the assistance of his reluctant best friend, the duo take on a series of complicated cases.
Why I picked it: USA seems to have a never ending supply of police procedurals with a twist and they seem to do alright, so I thought I’d look at one. Psych was always my favorite. And while I did watch the show regularly for a few seasons, I’m not 100 percent sure if I ever actually watched the pilot, so it’s about damn time.
I remember loving how Psych maintained a fun, comedic tone despite dealing with subject matter usually reserved for heavier shows. Now that it’s been a few years and my critical eye has gotten more sophisticated, I wanted to take a closer look at how they pull that off.
What I liked: James Roday is a gift to humanity who doesn’t get the credit he deserves. When I was younger I don’t think it crossed my mind just how stupid Psych would be without the right cast to pull it off. Roday makes Shawn’s off-the-wall decisions feel natural and almost endearing. We have that sense of “Silly Shawn would con the cops into thinking he’s a psychic. Oh, what hijinks will he get himself into next?” Dulé Hill is wonderful as well and the two have great on-screen chemistry together.
Acting aside, the pilot is good from a writing standpoint too. Before watching the pilot, I had always thought that Shawn just randomly gets an idea to start a psychic detective agency, but the writers are better than that. Instead, he is thrust into a situation where pretending he is a psychic is the only way to avoid jail. By the end of Act 1, it’s already been established that 1) Shawn is a great detective not because he chose to be, but because his father raised him to be one. 2) No one actually believes Shawn is a good detective, making it seem like pretending to be psychic is his only option and 3) If Shawn fails to solve the case of the week, he will be prosecuted. We have a fun, likable protagonist. We have conflict. We have stakes. We have good television.
What I didn’t like: This show isn’t on Netflix anymore so I actually had to pay Amazon $2.99 to watch this pilot. Also, Maggie Lawson isn’t in it. Boo.
On a more serious note, there’s a sense of completeness here that I don’t really like in pilots. Yes, they’re going to keep solving more cases. Yes, Shawn is now a small business owner which could potentially lead to even more conflicts. We also know he doesn’t have a good relationship with his father. But this isn’t enough to give us that “what will happen next?” feeling that say The Americans or even Grey’s Anatomy did. I like when pilots demand that I keep watching but with Psych we have this sense of “and they all lived happily ever after” that doesn’t really suit pilots. This is part of why I usually stay away from procedural shows.
Do I want to watch Ep. 2: It’s a fun show that I might return to if the mood strikes me. But am I going to pay money to keep watching it? Am I going to anxiously wait to watch the next episode while I’m at work? Nope.