January 22nd, 2014, 9PM, USA Network
In a remake of “Cloudy…Chance of Murder” from season one, Shawn’s motorcycle is impounded, which leads to him meeting accused murderess Sandra Panitch at the Santa Barbara Courthouse. Shawn is convinced of her innocence, and he and Gus decide to investigate the murder she’s been accused of-which causes them to run afoul of both the SBPD and a local news crew as well as becoming involved with attorney Adam Hornstock’s defense team.
“Cloudy…With a Chance of Improvement” is an odd episode in the long canon of Psych. The episode veers close to intentional self-parody numerous times, and yet tries to present a straightforward episode of the show with a semi-serious villain and a semi-serious conclusion…well, for this show.
The writing goes all out this time. There are in-jokes about the guest starring actors in this week’s episode (including one very good My Cousin Vinny joke), in-jokes about the regular cast’s previous projects, and in-jokes about the nature of remakes; there’s even several shots that are identical to the ones in the original CCOM episode. Due to the nature of the episode’s ‘flashback’ milieu, the show has to do a lot of backtracking while trying to keep the audience abrest of the plot for newcomers to the series and following the general outline of the original episode. For the most part it succeeds, though tone is a problem and it’s strange to be sucked back into 1996 after last week’s progressive, character-changing episode.
Dule Hill is exceptional this time out, and the episode as a whole underlines the difference between season one and season eight; the first part of the show’s run focused on Shawn and Gus and their relationship together forming a cohesive unit against the normalizing force of the rest of the world. The current version of Psych is as much about their friends and community as about them. It’s frankly a change for the better. That said, Gus’ climactic courtroom speech is much, much funnier this time around, and Ralph Macchio is, as always, a welcome addition as the prosecuting attorney.
The patter is much more rapid than it has been in recent weeks; zingers fly fast and free, and there are beautiful moments of pure slapstick that work better than they have in recent memory. The show has gravitated toward a combination of the physical and the verbal for years, but the emotional impact of the show is set aside for pure humor this time out, and it rollicks from one set- up to another with speedy pep.
The interesting thing about “Chance of Improvement” is that it manages to improve on the premise without really touching on what made the first episode funny in the first place. Had you asked me which episode they should have remade I would have never suggested they touch this episode; I would have rather a remake of Nine Lives or Shawn versus the Red Phantom. The remake and the original episodes each work in their own special way, but the remake is perfumed by a sense of comic urgency that makes it feel fresher. It isn’t the strongest episode of the season plot-wise or in an emotional context, but it’s very, very funny, almost wickedly so.
- And having exhausted their options for younger Shawn actors, in this flashback Shawn is finally portrayed by an infant. For those playing with the continuity gremlin (please don’t, for your own sake), Shawn was born somewhere in 1981 according to this episode. Which doesn’t match any previous continuity at all.
- …And yes, James Roday was in the Dukes of Hazzard remake.
- Gus introduction of the week: Robert Jones, “My black Cameron.”
- Ralph Macchio returns to the show, but in a different role from his appearance back in season five’s “We’d Like to Thank the Academy”. In fact, the entire cast has made appearances as different characters throughout the show’s history, and as part of the episode’s main conceit, portray different characters than they did in their initial runs.
- Next week: Coroner Woody Strode is taken hostage in the delightfully titled “Someone’s Got a Woody.”
[notification type=”star”]98/100 ~ MASTERFUL. Very funny, though not emotionally involving. Psych fans, enjoy counting the intentional and tongue-in-cheek plot holes; casual viewers, enjoy the heartiest laugh you’ve had this season. [/notification]