They had us at Shawn. Everybody’s favorite show about a crime-solving fake psychic (not The Mentalist) returned on Thursday night for Psych: The Movie, bringing blue skies — well, rainy Vancouver skies — back to USA Network for a cinematic event that might even rival Gremlins (Juliet’s “favorite Christmas movie”). Other revivals might buckle under the weight of so many callbacks, but Psych was built for this sort of self-referential fun; the more Pluto pick-up lines, 29-point turns, and harmonized “suck it”s this movie gave us, the more it felt like Psych. Like the show, the movie was delightfully, rebelliously unconcerned with bringing in new audiences, so your mileage may have varied depending on how much “fries quatros quesos dos fritos” means to you. But for fans, Psych: The Movie was a two-hour detour out of 2017 and back to something closer to 2007, and that’s a holiday gift we shouldn’t take (Mary) lightly.
It’s been three years since Shawn (James Roday) followed newly minted SFPD Head Detective Juliet (Maggie Lawson) to San Francisco and asked her to marry him — mostly him, but also sort of Gus (Dulé Hill). Since then, Shawn has opened a Gremlins-inspired Psych office with a mouthful of a name (Psychphransisco), Gus has found a stable office job and embraced the local sourdough scene, and Jules has continued to thrive in the sweet loft she shares with Shawn, despite the fact that he literally still hasn’t put a ring on her finger. He’s on the hunt for his grandmother’s ring, which was nabbed mid proposal, but even a wanted criminal can see that he’s also using the stolen heirloom as an excuse to avoid commitment.
The action kicks off when Juliet’s partner Sam (Sam Huntington) is shot in his seasonally festive apartment by a bottle blond named Billy (Zachary Levi), who’s styled himself as David Bowie’s Thin White Duke persona. There’s plenty of debate among the characters over whether his accent is authentically Bowie (nobody sounds like David Bowie except, Shawn argues, possibly Jemaine Clement), but to my mind it’s closest to that accent Justin Theroux did on Alias. In the spirit of Psych, that’s a reference for about 12 of you.
Shawn and Gus insert themselves into the case, and a tip from Nick Conforth (Ralph Macchio) helps steer them to an abandoned mental hospital, where they find computers with access to SFPD files, including Juliet’s personal info, surveillance photos, and a scanned document entitled “The Crimes of Juliet O’Hara” (“a killer title for a Hallmark movie”). The guys manage to sneak out before Billy and his goons can catch them; in the process, Shawn adorably “liberates” Billy’s guard dog (“Rescue dogs don’t have ugly hearts!”), names him Morrissey, and gifts him to Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson). It might be the most unforced delight in the whole movie.
Juliet’s been doing her best to handle things on her own, but after one of Billy’s goons — whom the guys dub “Heather Rockrear” (WWE superstar Charlotte Flair) — slips into the hospital and finishes the job on Sam, Jules finally comes clean. She admits to Shawn that her “crimes” were all cases she cut corners on in order to put away guilty criminals. Exactly what protocols did she fudge here? Unclear. But she didn’t do anything illegal, right? Vague nod.
Shawn, who lies for a living, isn’t throwing any stones from his glass house. Lassiter (Timothy Omundson, making a heartbreaking-yet-inspiring guest appearance not long after suffering a stroke) tells Juliet over FaceTime that he has her back — he does whatever it takes to get home to his daughter. But this is the one element of the movie that I just can’t give up and embrace; this is an especially not great time to shrug off a cop getting creative to make an arrest. 2017, get out of my Psych movie!
Anyway, Shawn figures out that Juliet’s snitch is to blame; after he helped her, she sent him to jail anyway. Her snitch, obviously, is Billy, who kidnaps the chief’s daughter Iris (Emma Tremblay) to lure the chief to him. By extension, he lures the whole gang, including Woody (Kurt Fuller), who’s been demoted to coroner’s assistant thanks to an unfortunate chili dog incident, and Henry (Corbin Bernsen), who wears scarves now.
(Recap continues on page 2)