December 15th, 2013, 9PM, USA Network
Shawn and Gus try to track down a recently-released mental patient, a playwrite who has been accused of setting the Santa Barbara Playhouse alight and locked a theatre critic he despised inside of it. It turns out the crime echoes a similar fire that occurred at the theatre seven years before during the production company’s previous staging of the same play, a musical about Jack the Ripper that got their suspect locked up in the first place. The path leads to serial murder…and to Yang, Shawn’s old foe. Meanwhile, Gus tries to get himself cast in the play and Lassiter deals with old memories surrounding the theatres’ first fire.
There’s something really sweet about Psych’s take on the musical genre. Steve Franks, the show’s co-creator, said he and co-producer James Roday spent years trying to get a musical episode of the show together. The final result is both a satirical jab at small town theatre, a fond nod toward tropes inherent in every theatrical production from community to big Broadway show, and a tribute to the tropes used in ever big screen musical from the dawn of time.
PTM, as is typical for the series, combines genuine sentiment, moments of suspenseful crime-based procedural drama, slapstick and witty wordplay, and affable humor. They’ve thrown in some memorable, hummable songs (In particular ‘I’ve Heard it Both Ways’ sticks in the mind as a highlight.) and some amusing dance numbers to liven things up and well, make it a musical. The final result is amusing, surreal, and even at times impressive. As in their tributes to the horror genre and to the works of Hitchcock, the show’s cast and producers have a clear love of the musical genre and it shows in the patter, the stage direction, and the lyricism.
Vocal performances range from the good to the bland; Ally Sheedy is a surprising delight as Yang - she sings for the first time onscreen, and does an admirable job. Among the regulars, Timothy Omundson’s chest-rattling bass profoundly surprises and thrills; he should consider taking on the mantle of a character like Les Miserables’ Javert. Kirsten Nelson also surprises with an operatic voice and is used frustrating sparingly during the production. Roday has a playful rock-star growl that works well when the show gives nods to rock operas like Tommy. Dule Hill, the show’s Broadway vet, brings his venerated tapdancing skills to the table and his lovely voice – both have been used to effect in previous episodes. Only Maggie Lawson’s serviceable but very very quiet and reedy (and thus dialed too far down into the mix to be heard well minus a few stand-out moments) underperforms.
Song choices are lots of fun, but it’s surprising that the writers resisted the chance to give us a Shawn/Juliet duet; we get a Lassiter/Juliet moment and even a Shawn/Lassiter tango, but the romantic element is brought in by Woody and…well, you’ll see….in another stand-out number. My only other quibble is that they introduced a thought line for Lassiter’s character and never followed up on it, and points were subtracted for this.
If you’ve been missing Psych during its long winter hiatus Psych: the Musical does everything the show usually does better than ever – and throws songs, surprising plot developments, and even an important character death into the mix. What more could a Psych-O ask for?
- Of all of Psych’s lead actors, only one – Dule Hill – has appeared professionally in a musical, he was a part of Savion Glover’s troop for years. James Roday has been in and out of various bands over time, and Timothy Omundson danced in “Feet Don’t Kill Me Now” back in season five.
- Speaking of theatrical experience, James Roday co-founded the Red Dog Squadron Theatre Company in California, and occasionally appears in their productions. Think he got any inspiration from his time there?
- Ally Sheedy appears again as Yang, the titular villainess of the show’s incomparable Yin/Yang trilogy. And keep your eyes peeled for a special cameo number.
- According to James Roday, they shot the opening sequence in one singular day. Carrie Underwood wishes she could.
- The episode is dotted with a great number of references to musicals, from the King and I to the Phantom of the opera. Spot your favorites; some are delightfully subtle.
- There are a huge amount of callbacks to other episodes; the Yang Trilogy is basically required watching to better grasp what’s going on, but my favorite involved Gus trying to pick up another woman by invoking Pluto’s memory.
- There’s also a large amount of fourth walling; keep your eyes peeled for Shawn’s Iphone case during his Skype chats with Yang.
- Psych will be back with all new episodes in January 8th. I’ll be seeing you in the New Year!