Do We Even Need a Psych Movie? 5 Things the Writers of Psych Can Do Differently

Hey, all you Psych-o’s out there! The news is for real. A Psych movie is happening and according to several news sites it will air in December. Not much has been shared about the plot of the movie, but we can safely assume it will take place after the show’s final episode. Whether we will learn if Shawn managed to catch the thief who stole the engagement ring seconds before Shawn was about to slip the ring on Juliet’s finger has not been announced, but, hopefully, the movie will satisfy the loose ends left by the show’s final episode. This brings me to a point of concern: For its last few seasons, the writing of Psych went downhill and due to what I felt was poor plotting and characterization, the final season was the show’s weakest. If we get more of the same from the Psych writers, will the movie even be satisfying?

Creating a good Psych movie that will please fans of the show, me included, is possible if the writers pay attention to what went wrong with the final season. Here’s what I think will make a good Psych reunion movie.

1. Return to the compelling characterization of the earlier seasons.

While it was airing new episodes, Psych was my favorite show on TV. It still is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. It was funny and, at times, very compelling entertainment. The first episode that pulled me into the show was “An Evening with Mr. Yang,” which solidified the show as an intriguing mystery series with colorful, likable, even quirky characters. I immediately bought the first three seasons on DVD and got caught up (was Netflix even around in 2009?). I began to care about the friendship between Shawn and Gus and love their banter, I wanted Shawn and Juliet to get together and I wanted Shawn to wipe the smug smile off Detective Lassiter’s face. I liked the lessons taught to Shawn by his father Henry and I enjoyed the unique way Shawn solved murder mysteries and the hijinks that ensued as Shawn and Gus worked together for a common goal (Gus’ nicknames by Shawn were a personal favorite). When the fourth season ended, I immediately bought it on DVD to add to my collection because it was the best season I thought the show had produced. With the fourth season finale, “Mr. Yin Presents” (one of my two favorite episodes), almost every character got a moment to shine and display the best characterization the show has to offer. Shawn gets to play the hero and rescue his girlfriend Abigail, Gus picks up a gun and boldly chases Juliet’s kidnapper down a dark tunnel, Henry comes out of retirement to return to the police force, and Lassiter comforts Juliet after she’s rescued from Mr. Yin. I could not wait for season five.

When it premiered, I was devastated. Gone were the brilliant one-liners and interesting relationships between the characters. It seems that, in an attempt to increase the comedy between the two leads, the writers decided to dumb down Shawn and Gus. I later learned that the show had hired a few new writers for season five, which contributed to the downfall of my favorite show. This continued for four more seasons, with a good episode airing infrequently, and the result was very average television. I’m actually surprised the show lasted eight seasons because I think that it should have only lasted six with the poor writing that ensued.

Shawn and Gus stopped growing after season 4 and even regressed into children. They  were suddenly reduced from brave detectives who narrowly escaped from Mr. Yin at the end of season four to infantile morons who can barely solve their cases without help from the Santa Barbara Police Department. Shawn, who always had a bit of a selfish streak, became an arrogant child who threw tantrums when he didn’t get his way and constantly belittled poor Gus.

And Gus, who until season four had been a stalwart, responsible adult of the two leads, diminished into a caricature of his former self. He became a cowardly sidekick who frequently stood by Shawn, only occasionally uttering a line of dialogue. He was reduced into standing in Shawn’s shadow. Even when the writers decided to give him some character development in season seven by giving him a girlfriend with a school-age son, they squandered this plotline by having the girlfriend, Rachael, break up with him off-screen. Gus’ character development in the following final season was non-existent. Why didn’t they wrap up the Gus/Rachael plot in the season eight premiere? Last time we saw her, Rachael went to London to renew her Visa. Shawn and Gus were in London and Rachael wasn’t even mentioned, which seemed like a missed opportunity by the writers.

The secondary characters of Juliet, Henry and Chief Vick were given very little character development, playing second fiddle to Shawn and Gus, with the exception of Lassiter. Lassie was actually given some of the best character development of the entire series in the last three seasons. It’s strange that Lassiter grew so much, while the leads gained an arrested development and even character regression.

2. Drop the catch phrases and tired jokes

Unfortunately, the show fell into the trope that a lot of long-lasting shows fall into: giving each character their own catch phrase that they spout off when the writers can’t think of anything original for them to say. Since the inclusion of these catch phrases (around the time of season six), I grew so tired of hearing them. If you’ve seen the show, you know what I’m talking about: “C’mon, son,” “Suck it,” etc. These are what contributed, for me, to the show tripping and falling flat on its face. In addition, such jokes that were once funny, like Gus’ high-pitched scream whenever he was scared, became over-used, even added into the show’s title sequence in the final season. The writing became tired and just, flat-out bad in season eight. These were all weak and cheap attempts to induce humor, rather than stemming from the characters themselves.

3. Focus more on creating a compelling mystery and less on gimmicky plots

Episodes became focused on what wacky adventures Shawn and Gus could get up to this week, not the compelling mysteries of the past. The show worked best when the comedy accompanied a good mystery. The mysteries from the first four seasons were interesting and introduced some great villains for the show. I’m looking at you, Scary Sherry.

In addition, episodes ripping their plots off movies like The Hangover, Police Academy, and Bad Santa don’t offer any character development and, despite offering a few laughs, were examples of lazy writing. I just didn’t think these ones were that good.

4. Have all the regular cast members return

Halfway through the final season, Juliet and Chief Vick left Santa Barbara for jobs with the San Francisco Police Department. This left a void in the cast until their return in the final episode. Juliet and Vick’s disappearance contributed to a strange final season. The show introduced a new junior detective who was so forgettable I can’t even remember her name or the actress’ name. I think she had an accent? Why did Jules and Vick, both key characters, both leave the show so soon? Sure, they returned for the finale, but it wasn’t the same. Sadly, Tim Omundson, who plays Detective Lassiter, suffered a stroke in May. Fortunately, it sounds like the Lassiter character will have a presence in the movie and I hope it'll be more than just a cameo. I can't imagine Psych without him.

5. Give Gus a steady relationship.

Seriously, this guy is good boyfriend material. It was an insult to the character that the show ended without him finding a lady. The show introduced a female detective in season eight who had chemistry with Gus, but she never returned after her one episode. Although she is not returning for the movie, actress Jazmyn Simon  has been cast as Gus' love interest. I hope they have chemistry. If Simon's character responds positively to Gus' signature Pluto pickup line, she's a keeper. 

And that’s it! If the writers implement these elements into the movie, I will have hopes that the show I once loved will be great again. I’ll certainly tune in when the movie airs.