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Thursday, July 13, 2006

"Psych": I'm Predicting a Hit

As I’ve said before, sometimes I feel like the critics and I are watching different shows. But when a show gets such unanimous praise, it’s hard not to check it out.

Fortunately for me—and USA viewers—“Psych” is as good as advertised.

“Psych” stars James Roday as Shawn, a twenty-something slacker who has never managed to hold down a decent job. When Shawn was a boy, his dad honed his photographic memory and attention to detail to make him an excellent police detective (like his dad). But Shawn and his dad became estranged after his parents divorced and Shawn went his own path. However, the skills his dad taught him allow him to call in tips to the police because he solves the crimes before they do.

When Shawn comes to the station to pick up his reward money for his latest tip on a robbery, he’s arrested because the detective thinks he was the robber’s accomplice. Shawn can’t explain why he knows so much about the case, so to keep from spending the night in jail, he claims to be psychic. Detective Lassiter isn’t buying it, until Shawn tells intimate details of two officers’ lives (that he got from observing them) and deduces that Lassiter is sleeping with his partner. Shawn’s gift sparks the interest of Interim Police Chief Vick who asks Shawn to help out with a high profile kidnapping. To help him with his charade, Shawn enlists his pal, Gus (Dule Hill), a pharmaceutical salesman.

Shawn is able to track down the missing person (while falling for his sister), but when he leads the police to him it turns out to be a murder. And to help solve it, Shawn is forced to turn to the one person he’d rather avoid—his father, Henry (Corbin Bernsen). Of course, Shawn does solve the case through his “psychic” abilities and is so inspired by the work that he decides to open his own detective agency with Gus’s help called Psych. Plus, he comes to an understanding with his dad after Henry doesn’t rat him out to the chief.

Though the show is labeled a comedy, there’s just enough crime solving in it to please the procedural lovers. We follow the clues along with Shawn and his observations are highlighted for us so we can see what he’s seeing. But before the show can get too serious, Shawn breaks into one of his “psychic moments” and begins flailing around and “talking” to the dead.

Roday is totally charming and funny and as much as I dislike Dule Hill (thanks to his annoying performance on “Celebrity Poker Showdown”) he works well as the straight man to Roday’s comic antics. And Corbin Bernsen is perfect as the tough and disapproving dad (who you just know is going to get involved with the police chief).

You don’t have to be a pretend psychic to know this one’s going to be a hit.

“Psych” airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on USA. You can watch the pilot episode in streaming video at