A Merry Medium
Psych mixes mystery with mischief
If you're looking for a match made in TV heaven, Monk and the new Psych (Fridays at 10 pm/ET on USA) fit the bill. As a Friday-night double feature of lighthearted mayhem (Psych follows Monk), they prove that few places are more fun than a crime scene, if you're in the right company.
"All guaranteed fun" is the operating principle behind Psych, a clever romp about charming slacker Shawn Spencer (James Roday, who should become an overnight star in this role), who solves crimes while pretending to be a psychic.
We learn early on that, as a kid, Shawn's miraculous powers of observation were drilled into him by his gruffly disapproving, now estranged, cop father, played by Corbin Bernsen. (In a neat visual gimmick, objects light up as Shawn absorbs and analyzes all he sees, taking mental pictures that come in handy later.) Shirking adult responsibility but loving the thrill of a puzzle, Shawn regularly phones in tips to the police, until they become suspicious.
Improvising a new identity as a fake psychic is Shawn's get-out-of-jail card, and he leaps at the opportunity to play sleuth, dragging along his skittish best friend, Gus (The West Wing's Dulé Hill), for the whimsically dangerous ride.
Feigning seizures, visions and comical "surprise faces" as he playfully tweaks the skeptical (and, typically, clueless) detectives, this puckish Peter Pan is a delight. So is the show.
Of course, anyone tuning in for an actual mystery may be disappointed. As with Monk, the crime is largely an afterthought. Psych similarly serves up murder as a fluffy soufflé, but what a tasty way to end the week.