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'Psych' season finale: 'Mr. Yin Presents'... a tired Hitchcock parody?

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Psych wrapped up its fourth season last night, and I swear, Psych fans, I did give this season a fresh look and another try. Much as I tried to muster enthusiasm, I have to say: This was one cheesy season send-off.

The hour was built around a gimmick — someone (supposedly the mysterious “Mr. Yin”) was committing crimes that contained homages to Alfred Hitchcock films. I guess we were supposed to think this choice of director wasn’t random because of a flashback early on, that showed a young Shawn sneaking off to a movie house featuring a Hitchcock festival. And I’ll give the show points for structuring one murder as a salute to a minor Hitchcock, Frenzy.

Guest star Ally Sheedy returned as serial killer Mr. Yang; she was wacko-good. See? I’m trying to be positive. I always enjoy Corbin Bernsen when he pops up as Shawn’s dad, often too briefly. Annnnd…

Well, what continues to irk me is the predictability of the wiseguy patter and the unoriginality of the show. The sarcastic/affectionate byplay between James Roday’s Shawn and Dule Hill’s Gus is old TV stuff; only the pop-culture references they spout are new — well, not new, but recent. And I mean literally old TV: I refer you to (and I’m limiting my examples to odd-couples-solving-crime shows from the ’80s, since Shawn likes to reference that decade quite a bit) everything from Crazy Like A Fox (1984-86) to Tenspeed and Brownshoe (1980) to“> Hardcastle & McCormick (1983-86). And Roday and Hill are surrounded by character-types familiar from other cable shows such as Monk and The Closer, like the dumb, bumbling cops who are alternately angry or amused by the antics of the heroes.

Over the course of the season, there were a few episodes I liked. “A Very Juliet Episode” and “The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Episode” were both cute without being too cutesy, something that practically defines the dialogue in this series. Such as last night’s show, co-written (with Andy Berman) and directed by Roday, which described Shawn as possessing a “snarky eloquence.” See the trick? He says it before someone else (like me) does, so that must mean the show is self-aware, right? Right… self-aware to a fault.

Director Roday staged mini-reproductions of moments from Psycho, The 39 Steps, North By Northwest, and Rear Window. The Birds, Lifeboat, Marnie, and Vertigo were invoked. I liked his pre-credit overhead shot that revealed the murder as a disguised yin-yang symbol.

There was no MacGuffin in the plot, though — Mr. Yin was all too literal a threat. And the whole Abigail being put in danger by the villain was rather botched, visually; if you hadn’t watched the show before, you might not have recognized her initial re-entry into the episode.

Are fans disappointed that Shawn and Abigail seem to be breaking up? You tell me, please.

I’ll keep an open mind, Psych devotees: Count me front-and-center for next season.

What did you think of the season finale?

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