Friday, October 17, 2008

Psych: The Complete Second Season (live action TV series)

If you'd like to read more about the premise of this series, please look at my post for the first season.

Just like the first season, there's really no overarching storyline. Every episode (or almost every episode - I wasn't exactly keeping track) begins with a flashback of Shawn's childhood. The flashbacks usually involve either Gus (Shawn's best friend) or Shawn's father. In the present, someone is killed or something is stolen, and the flashback into Shawn's past usually has something to do with some aspect of the present day crime (for instance, child-Shawn once caught his dad watching a soap opera, and then the present day crime involves the cast of a Spanish-language soap opera).

I don't think there's a single episode in this series that isn't self-contained. Although several episodes in the previous season indicated that there might be romance brewing between Shawn and Juliet (one of the cops Shawn often works with), their relationship doesn't actually progress any further in this season. They almost kiss, but that's about it. Shawn's dad starts dating in a few episodes, Gus is revealed to have gotten married a few years ago (his wife shows up asking for a divorce so she can marry someone new), and, in the final episode of the season, Shawn's mother shows up.

There's usually at least one scene in each episode that I really like. I loved Shawn's stint as an astrologer for the local newspaper - rather than taking his job seriously (after all, it was only a cover designed to make his investigation easier), he writes each of his horoscopes for specific people he knows (things like, "The man of your dreams will be wearing an Apple Jacks t-shirt"). I really enjoyed the episode where Shawn becomes an actor in a Spanish soap opera, although I'm sure it might upset and offend some people (when Shawn starts ad libbing, he resorts to a phony accent). I'm amazed that Gus finally got a few episodes of his own - in one his parents are the murder suspects, another involves the woman he married a few years back, and in another one Gus has to pretend to be the psychic detective in order to make one of his relatives proud of him.

There are plenty of extras in this DVD set. Each disk has deleted scenes (which usually didn't interest me, since they weren't always that different from what actually aired), podcast commentaries, and often audio commentaries. I didn't listen to any of the commentaries - there just wasn't enough time (I checked this boxed set out from the library). There was also one gag reel, "Where's the pineapple?" (clips of all kinds of Psych scenes involving pineapples, which can be found, I think, in every episode), "The Name Game" (a montage of clips in which Shawn gives himself and Gus funny names), Psychouts (I think this is some ad libbing by the cast - in my opinion, it's funnier than the gag reel), and "The Adventures of Lil' Shawn and Gus" (cartoons). The cartoons were a little over the top, and most of the other stuff wasn't all that interesting (although the pineapple clips drew my attention to pineapple references I'd missed). However, I always appreciate gag reels, and I really liked the Psychouts.

I don't think I'd ever buy this series, but it's still fun to watch. It worked really well as entertainment while I was packing up boxes for my big move - I didn't mind if I missed some of what was going on onscreen, and the humor worked well to keep my mood light.

Unfortunately, my read-alikes and watch-alikes are the same as the ones I used for the first season - since both seasons have exactly the same feel and neither season has a theme of its own, the same book and show suggestions apply.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Monk (live action TV series) - Adrian Monk is a former cop who's wife was killed. Most episodes of this show can stand alone, but the overarching plot, when there is one, is Monk's attempts to discover who killed his wife. Monk, like Shawn, is excellent at helping the cops solve crimes based on details he can see that no one else does, but he's crippled by his OCD and fear of just about everything. He travels with a nurse so that he can at least function in public and at crime scenes. Viewers who want another humorous and quirky mystery show with interesting characters might like this one.
  • Dexter (live action TV series) - Dexter and his whole family are cops, although he works as a technician specializing in blood spatter. Dexter is also a serial killer. Dexter's foster father realized what he was becoming when he was younger, taught him how to keep from getting caught, and taught him how to choose worthy victims (the bad guys that the legal system can't catch or keep). Dexter now has two lives, his life as a serial killer, and his life as a guy trying to look as ordinary and normal as possible. This show is more graphic than Psych (blood, cut up body parts), has more bad language, and the humor tends to be darker. However, if the thing that most interested you about Psych was the father-son relationship, you may want to give this one a try. Like Psych, Dexter has flashbacks to Dexter's childhood, showing how his foster father molded him into the person he is today.
  • One for the Money (book) by Janet Evanovich - One for the Money is the first book in Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. If you'd like something with lots of humor and quirky characters who manage to bring in the bad guys and solve crimes in spite of their aura of amateur-ness, you might like this book and this series. Although the main character is a woman and doesn't even have anything like Shawn's level of skills, she and her mostly incompetent friends (except Morelli the cop and Ranger the badass bounty hunter with a past) manage to get everything to mostly work out by the end of every book. In the first book, Stephanie, a resident of Trenton, NJ who's desperately in need of money, gets a job as a bounty hunter for her cousin Vinnie - never mind that she doesn't know the first thing about being a bounty hunter and doesn't even own a gun. Her first assignment is to bring in Morelli, a cop who's been accused of murder and the guy who charmed her out of her virginity when she was 16.
  • Burglars Can't Be Choosers (book) by Lawrence Block - This is the first book in Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr series. Bernie is a professional burglar who's intelligent, ordinary, and as honest as someone in his profession can be. In this first book, he starts off on a job finding a leather-bound box in a house. Unfortunately, the box isn't there, there's a dead body in the house, and the police find Bernie in the place and assume he's responsible for everything they find there. Bernie doesn't know if he was set up or not, but he's got to stay ahead of the law and prove he didn't commit murder. If you'd like something with humor and a main character who is both likable and only honest according to a certain narrower definition of honest, you might like this book and this series.

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