Category Archives: TV Comedies

Comedy with a side of Crime: Psych

Comedy with a side of Crime: Psych
See all 3 photos

A Real Fake!

Psych debuted on the USA Network in August of 2006. At the time, it got little promotion or attention outside of the channel. However, it ushered in a new era of character focused dramas and coming Fall 2012, it will premiere its seventh season. I have been a loyal viewer and fan since the beginning, but unfortunately since it is not as well-known as other crime shows such as The Closer and NCIS, I have a hard time finding someone to talk about it with. So I decided to dedicate this hub to the genius of the show and why if you haven’t seen it already, you might want to.

Psych centers around the hi-jinks of Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and his lifelong friend Burton Guster, better known as Gus (Dule Hill). Shawn convinces the Santa Barbara Police Department to hire him in order to help solve a string of crimes only not just as any consultant, but a Psychic one. His dad, Henry (Corbin Bernsen), finds this out and tries to convince him to back out. Gus, a dedicated pharmaceutical sales representative and straight-laced individual doesn’t want any part of it either but of course Shawn with his charm and insightful observations wins them over.

In the pilot episode, Shawn immediately clashes with Head Detective Lassiter, affectionately known as Lassie by Shawn (Timothy Omundson), but charms Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson) into working with him. Originally cast as Lassiter’s partner was Anne Dudek as Det. Lucinda Barry in the pilot, but once it is revealed she is having an affair with Lassiter, she is canned and replaced by Det. Juliet (Jules) O’Hara in the second episode.

Shawn manages to fool everyone into believing he’s a psychic except his dad and Gus, who both are well aware of Shawn’s antics. He’s on the verge of being found out by Lassiter, O’Hara, and various associates who serve as guest stars throughout the entire series but has yet to be caught.

Relationships and Revelations

We learn alot about Shawn through his relationships. One of the deepest relationships he has is with his divorced father with whom he has a particular disdain for. It’s revealed in several of the show’s opening flashbacks that Henry was a strict father and a dedicated cop. This is in opposition to Shawn’s free-spirited and whimsical outlook which prevents him from growing up in practical ways such as having a serious relationship, getting a car, or having a real job. As the series develops, Shawn and Henry develop a mutual understanding for each other and Henry even assists in a couple of cases. In season five, it is revealed that as much as Henry loves helping his son, he loves working for the Santa Barbara Police Department even more so he returns as a consultant who helps determine rather or not it’s ok to hire Shawn and Gus out for cases. This occasionally causes conflict as Henry sometimes sides with the department instead of Shawn.

Shawn and Gus are lifelong friends who couldn’t be more different. Aside from the obvious fact that Shawn’s white and Gus is black, their respective families are revealed to be different as well. Unlike Shawn, Gus does not come from a broken home and still has both parents who are happily married living in his childhood home. Gus also attended college and has a steady career as a pharmaceutical sales representative, while Shawn decidedly saw the world and traveled until coming back home. Gus possesses a more realistic outlook on life while Shawn seems to be eternally twelve. With all of these differences aside, they complement each other well. However, in season two it is revealed that he was once drunkenly married on spring break to a bartender (Kerry Washington).

Gus helps Shawn with hard evidence by accessing various files using his computer or PDA. He also supplies his car as the transportation since Shawn only has a scooter. Gus also has what is known as a “super smeller” which helps detect mysterious odors in some cases. They both do share a mutual love for all things 80’s pop culture, making quirky references in almost every episode. Shawn and Gus also love food and women, but still struggle with the ladder. As much as they fight and banter, they really do compliment each other.

Shawn’s relationship with Det. O’Hara (Jules) is the most dynamic. It’s like any other will-they or won’t-they couple in television history (see: Ross and Rachel, Sam and Diane, etc.) but they still maintain the ability to work together. Throughout the seasons, each appear to be involved with other people while the other secretly pines for a chance at romance. In season five, the writers finally give us what we want and Shawn and Juliet begin a relationship. This is to the chagrin of her partner Det. Lassiter, but so far it has not hindered their ability to work together or the show dynamic.

Shawn’s mom, Madeleine (Cybill Shepherd) makes her first appearance in season two. Oddly enough she is a psychiatrist who possesses the same kind of memory as Shawn. Shawn was closer to her in childhood and at the beginning of the series maintains a real relationship with him. Madeleine also is rather friendly with Henry and they even share a few moments together, as if to spark a potential reconciliation.

Shawn and Det. Lassiter have a love-hate relationship that eventually becomes one of respect. As much as Lassiter detests Shawn’s antics, he eventually hires him to rescue a childhood hero in season two. Lassiter doesn’t believe in Shawn’s methods but accepts his results as they usually lead to arrests. As the seasons continue, this is one relationship Shawn has that doesn’t seem to change.

In each of these relationships, Shawn exposes himself to be a complex person. Selfish and selfless. Whimsical and wounded. Bright and befuddled. However, it does give the show a great layer of vulnerability.

See all 3 photos

What’s Old is New

As I mentioned earlier, this show begins in flashback mode usually and features Gus and Shawn between the ages of 10 and 14. Shawn is about to do something and gets caught by Henry, talks Gus into doing something, has to solve one of his dad’s many brain teasers or some combination of all three. It usually refers to something relevant to the case that the episode centers on.

Gus and Shawn frequently mention their childhood and adolescent escapades, especially in episodes where they encounter old schoolmates like Freddie Prinze, Jr. in season five or their high school reunion in season three featuring Shawn’s future girlfriend Abigail Lytar (Rachel Leigh Cook).

Pop culture comes in to play a lot and they both mention their love and admiration for various musical acts and actors. For instance in season two, they decidedly go undercover for the show American Duos and in turn audition as the Ebony and Ivory version of Tears For Fears. In season five, they meet one of the members (Curt Smith) of TFF and somehow manage to jam with him.

They also have various icons of the 1980s and 1990s serve as guest stars. For instance in season four Kenan Thompson and Jaleel White play buddies of Gus from his college a capella group. One of season five’s episodes, Dual Spires feature the cast of the cult classic Twin Peaks in a send up of sorts.

This show is definitely for any kid who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s or the young at heart. Even older fans will recognize some faces. Shawn’s dad who is portrayed by Corbin Bernsen became well-known on the classic 1980s drama series, LA Law. There was also an episode in the fifth season featuring seasoned actors William Devane and Carl Weathers. Gus’ uncle was portrayed by John Amos. So there’s bound to be someone you recognize in some respect if you watch long enough.

See all 3 photos

You’ll Laugh till You Cry

What I love about Psych is how funny and interesting the episodes are. While it does have the markings of a typical procedural, the cases aren’t all the same. One case involved a telenovela, another involved a serial thief, another a zealous Bollywood fan and a couple of Shawn wannabes.

It’s also witty in how it addresses fellow shows such as The Mentalist. It’s almost like the writers don’t fear being compared to another show that’s supposedly of it’s ilk. But my favorite part is the Psych Outs.

Psych Outs are the outtakes or bloopers that air at the end of the show and usually feature Shawn and Gus with someone else rather it be a regular cast member or a guest star. Unfortunately, I think they haven’t been as memorable in recent memory since there is probably someone mad with them singing actual songs and not paying royalties, but nonetheless it’s awesome.

If you’re quirky, love nostalgia, or just don’t understand your parents’ deranged sense of fashion, Psych is the show for you. It has the fast-paced dialogue of Gilmore Girls, the silliness of How I Met Your Mother, and the heart of the Wonder Years.

Why this show hasn’t garnered more awards and accolades, I don’t know. It’s unique in it’s approach, the writing is intelligent and the promotions are excellent. They always feature a catchy song and the cast in zany getups from an actual music video.

So if you’re not doing anything be sure to catch Psych on Wednesday nights at 10pm or on Hulu anytime. Believe me, you’ll like it.

Fun Facts

James Roday and Maggie Lawson who finally got together onscreen last year have been a real life couple since 2006.
Dule Hill is real-life friends with Deon Richmond, the actor who portrayed Bud on the Cosby Show and Jordan on Sister, Sister and is said to look like him.
Timothy Omundson also starred on the long running series Judging Amy.
Corbin Bernsen’s character may love Santa Barbara, but in real life he’s an alumni of UCLA.
Roday and Hill both serve as producers on the show. Roday has even directed a few episodes in recent seasons.

Catchphrases Galore!

Okay so, I know this is getting a little long but give me this one last caveat. This is my favorite part of Psych: the catchphrases and gestures.

Fist Bump- Before our dear president and first lady picked up on this craze, Shawn and Gus had it down pat.

What?!- It doesn’t matter what happened, it just matters what the response is. This never gets old.

Gus being Introduced As…- Yeah, this is never going to stop being awesome!

That’s What I’m Talking About- Oh Gus, if only you had another way to prove your swagger. That’s okay, we forgive you.

Can We Get Something to Eat?- Even though they are about 10 years past eating like frat boys, it’s still sweet to know they like to put it away.

Random Dancing at the End of Cases- So immature, but so silly.

Okay I’m really done now but you get the picture :)!

Season 7 Updates and Information

In the season six finale, we were left with quite possibly the biggest cliffhanger in show history. While working a case that involved former colleagues and friends of Henry Spencer, he was shot and left for dead. Shawn had only figured out his father was at the very end and was racing to reach him but we will have to see how things ended.

But there is good news, Psych fans there is something to look forward to this fall. Season seven is about to air and there is some great news ahead. Show creator Steve Franks confirmed there will be a two hour musical episode and more big guest stars.

Some of the confirmed guest stars include Parminder Nagra (ER) and Garcelle Beauvais (Franklin and Bash) who both play romantic interests for Gus which means he may no longer be No Game Gus any longer.

While season seven is confirmed, season eight is still up in the air. As of now, Psych is officially the longest running show on the network now joining the ranks of fan favorite Monk.

Show Quirks

This part of the hub focuses on the little things we love about Psych and things that have changed over the seasons.

Skinny Shawn vs. Chubby Shawn- As much talk as there is about weight among women in Hollywood, James Roday is a highly unique and visible case for men battling the bulge. Generally you know the episodes with a slimmer Shawn are for seasons 1 and 2, while starting in season 3 he picks up a few more pounds.
No Game Gus- If you notice, there’s at least one episode each season where Gus falls for the absolute wrong woman. And we’re not just talking incompatible emotionally but also slightly crazy, widowed, murderous, or criminally minded. I’m still holding out hope for him.
Parental Partners- In recent seasons, Shawn’s mom has made a cameo at least once a year. And it seems with each situation, she and Shawn’s dad almost get close to a reconciliation. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
Cop Consequences- There always seems to be an episodes where someone lets a criminal or witness go, mostly Jules or Lassie but sometimes the patrol officer on duty.
Family Affairs- Most seasons feature an episode with everyone’s relatives. From the awesome Jane Lynch as Chief Vick’s super competitive older sister to William Shatner portraying Juliet’s long lost dad.

That’s all for now, but I’m sure there are more I’ve yet to touch on.

[VIDEO] Psych Musical Episode – Plus, Does Someone Get Engaged In Season 7? – TVLine
You’ll never guess what I saw when I looked in my crystal ball today for Psych scoop: an episode of Glee! The long-running USA Network satire plans to stage a two-hour musical episode during its upcoming seventh season, series creator Steve Franks co
Psych – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Comedy Television Series and Mystery TV Show – Psych TV Series – USA Network – USA Network
Psych – comedy and mystery TV series on USA Network, features a sharp police consultant and reluctant sidekick, solving crimes. The Psych television show brings mystery to a comedy base, only on USA.
Psych –
Psych: Fake Psychic. Real Detectives. Shawn Spencer has developed a keen eye for detail after being instructed by his police officer father to note even the…

Cheers and Frasier and Everything In Between: A Double Review

Cheers and Frasier and Everything In Between: A Double Review

A Few Necessary Notes

I was introduced to the show Frasier when I was young, and even though I enjoyed it, there were nuances that went over my head. Some of them were pop culture or political references that I wouldn’t have understood at my age, but most of them were because of the subtle and not-so-subtle references to the previous show Cheers.

The two shows are inevitably connected with the character of Dr. Frasier Crane as he moves from Boston to Seattle. Both shows are humorous and timeless, with witty banter and strong character development. While Frasier most certainly holds merits on its own, it becomes stronger with the reference of Cheers when previous characters reappear and references to the bar surface.

See all 2 photos
See all 2 photos

The Summaries


Cheers was produced in the mid-80’s up to the mid-90’s (that’s a total of 11 seasons!) as a situational comedy revolving around the employees and regulars at a Boston bar. There are characters such as Sam Malone, Norm Peterson, Carla Tortelli and Cliff Clavin who remain consistent from the first to last episode, but most characters come and go as appropriate. The series can arguably be divided into two sections: Diane Chambers and Rebecca Howe. When Diane is in the show, Ernie “Coach” Pantusso is a staple character. Certainly there’s no determined cut-off between the original and then newer set of characters, as Frasier indeed appears during Diane’s time as a bartender. His introduction into the show allows him to be a regular that stays through the exiting of Diane as a character and the entering of Rebecca. With the “era” of Rebecca also comes the new bartender to replace the deceased Coach (whose actor unfortunately died, thus dictating his sudden disappearance from the show). Woody Boyd becomes the sort of “younger” version of Coach, and arguably the last major character addition. Indeed Woody’s soon-to-be wife and Frasier’s infamous Lilith play major roles, but their characters are dependent upon the strength and presence of their male counterparts.

The show itself remains almost exclusively within the context of the bar, though as the series progresses the viewer gets a more intimate look at the lives of the characters. Many of the personal dramas and situations that arise are set within the bar and its character conflicts, or they are solved/addressed throughout the episode without much involvement from outside sources. Each character, as well, has their own little personality within the bar’s setting. Norm, while a mundane and unproductive husband at home, has a clever quip to share at his every entrance and can be seen as the permanent installment at the bar’s corner. Cliff is known for his horribly timed facts and his inability to be a normal or competent man. Sam of course is known for being the Casanova of Boston, while Coach and then Woody seem to lack in book smarts and/or common sense. These are just a few of the personalities that appear within the bar – everyone, however, no matter how insignificant to the actual story or how impermanent, has something about them.


Frasier has many of the same qualities that Cheers does, in that sense of strong character development and distinctive personality traits. The major difference (aside from a change in cities) is that events tend to take place in several difference locations around Seattle ranging from Frasier’s home to his radio station, etc etc. The characters also tend not to change quite as significantly.

Frasier revolves around the Frasier Crane from Cheers and his family in Seattle. After his divorce from his wife Lilith, Frasier moves to Seattle to start anew and gets hired as a radio psychiatrist. At the very beginning of the show, Frasier’s family is introduced around the context that his father needs to move in with him. Frasier’s brother Niles Crane, his father Martin Crane, and his father’s health care assistant Daphne Moon are the main characters of the show, along with Frasier’s radio producer Roz Doyle. Although the cast list seems minimal, the show definitely makes use of them and their comical connections with other fleeting contributions. In fact, radio call-ins that occur throughout the seasons can often be recognized as established celebrities.

Frasier takes place most primarily in Frasier’s radio station booth, his apartment, and his regular coffee house that he frequents along with his brother Niles on a daily basis. As the show continues the characters slowly begin to intermingle and take on personal lives independent of their place of work. Daphne slowly becomes a more prominent character, and Roz’s role begins to extend past the walls of the recording booth. Even Frasier becomes more disconnected from his show (in the sense that it is no longer essential for following and relating to his character). All in all, the personal stories of each of the characters develops and expands as the series continues.

Some Interesting Parallels

Roz vs Carla: Both of these characters, while hardly twins, do exhibit similar character traits that make them interesting parallels to one another. Both are known for getting around their respective cities, as well as their harsh and blunt attitudes towards many subjects. The difference of course is the actual content of their life: Roz has always been and remains unmarried while Carla is a divorcee along with a mother of eight who occasionally becomes seriously involved in her relationships. The humorous caricature each adds to their shows, however, is notably similar and neither fail to make the audience laugh as strong, independent female figures.

Vera vs Maris: These two women, though perhaps completely opposite both physically and personality-wise, are strikingly similar in the roles that they play in their respective shows. Both women are profiled by their husbands and the opinions of the characters around them. This makes them unique because of the fact that they are so well detailed and characterized through their contextual significance. There is an odd sense of knowing both women but having no idea about them, an interesting phenomenon that connects the two inevitably. Neither women are actually seen in their series, either, and they are more or less negatively described by their spouses. One of the mysteries that revolves around each of the women is te fact that the overzealous descriptions of their characters leaves the imagination to see physically impossible figures that could never actually exist. In spite of their lack of actual presence, these women are not only characters in themselves, but serve as highlights to their husbands and others that they might have interacted with or that have strong opinions about them.

Witty Banter: Both shows are similar in part because of their similar sense of humor. Quick puns, plays on words and speedy reparte make these two shows clever and constantly fascinating. In both shows, each individual character has his/her own strong personality which comes with their own speech patterns and syntactical discrepancies. These, mixed with one another and scripted carefully, collide to make interesting dialogues that stay true to the characters and keep the audience at attention.

The Humor of Miscommunication: This is a tool used universally in sitcoms wherein the characters are involved in an elaborate miscommunication that warrants hilarious results. Cheers and Frasier stand out, however, because of their particular skill in this field. The miscommunication runs from start to finish with each detail of fault being carefully conducted. This ranges from the placement of the characters, the speed of the scenes themselves, the words spoken and the words left out, as well as the dramatic irony the audience is allowed by knowing what is happening while the rest of the cast does not.

Favorite Places: This is obvious in Cheers, considering the fact that the show revolves around this “neighborhood bar”. However, the sentiments continue with Frasier, in which the amount of regular sets increases. While in Cheers the two main places remained the bar and the seafood restaurant that ran above it, Frasier hosts scenes regularly in not only the radio booth but also in the local coffeehouse and in Frasier’s own home. The odd quality of being outside of these sets remains throughout both series, however, and exposure to the outside world is minimal at best, with an obvious digression in detail and personality.

The Transition

The transition from Cheers to Frasier is a relatively smooth one. Although I was obviously not there to actually experience the transference, there still is a strong sense of connection when Frasier becomes the focal point. References to the old bar and Boston life help to build a subtle context that becomes much richer with the background of Cheers to go off of. Thus Frasier feels more like a continuation as opposed to a completely new show, but it still remains independently interesting and holds its own merits. While Cheers perhaps portrayed many of the characters during their 30s to 40s, Frasier appropriately settles down the atmosphere. Cheers’ cast, while generally consistent, underwent some major changes and alterations throughout the seasons that caused a more fleeting effect in a way. Frasier, on the other hand, remains consistent in all major characters and there are few changes to be noted other than secondary or tertiary contributions. Life feels a lot more stable and a lot more settled in, and even as old Cheers characters come into the light, their lives seem more solid as well.

The Compare and Contrast

Both of these shows are ones that I could watch without hesitation several times over.

That being said, I think I’m more inclined towards Cheers. The reasons most certainly are not concrete, but it appeals to me just slightly more. I think part of it is the idea of the slightly more youthful atmosphere of a bar where people more often come and go and no one character is in the spotlight the entire time: each character has a story that holds its own.

That’s not to say that Frasier’s characters aren’t equally as compelling, but they are most certainly more dependent on the context of the main character. Pull away the witty banter and classic humor and Frasier ends up being a relatively static show that focuses mostly on Frasier and lives that have already been established.

Each new permanent character in Cheers is introduced so meticulously as to introduce the audience right away, a method that makes introductions a constant and stimulating quality of the show. Frasier’s newer characters, while dynamic and interesting, are not generally long-lasting. Thus, they are introduced as guest characters with less of an emotional attachment associated with their arrival and sometimes their departure.

A show that revolves around a bar is more interesting to me because everyone has to be well rounded to hold their own, while a show that revolves around a singular character has its limits in character development.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t love Frasier, but I think that Cheers appeals more to me. The characters also seem more relatable than those of Niles and Frasier, whose pretentious natures get in the way sometimes and become an annoyance that never really changes.

Conclusions and Suggestions

I would give the shows, as a coupling, a 9/10. Both have their merits and they serve perfectly together as 22 seasons of humor and drama. The characters are easy to connect with (and just as easy to hate sometimes), and the witty banter never gets tiring or overdone. Neither do the classical comedy scenes of miscommunication and overzealous participation with dramatic irony to serve as a humorous anecdote for the audience’s pleasure. Both shows also move at a steady, believable pace that gives the viewer time to connect with each situation and feel the emotions that come along with it.

I would highly suggest watching Cheers first, and Frasier soon after so that you keep the characters fresh in your mind. As I said, I first watched Frasier without the context of Cheers. While it was still a fantastic show, it is now much better with the history of Cheers to back up some of the more obvious and even some of the more obscure references to Frasier’s old Boston days. The level of consistency between the two stories is also pretty astonishing.