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Psych “Shawn Rescues Darth Vader” 

Photo Credit: USA Network

USA jumps boldly into the fall TV fray tomorrow night with the sixth (I know!) season premiere of Psych, which has heretofore mostly been a summer series. Last year, it wrapped up part two of season five as a late fall/early winter entry in December, but launching it outright in the fall is a brand new ball game. It’s been off the air for ten months (in part to make room for Suits and Necessary Roughness). In other words, it’s about time it’s back!

For anyone who’s never caught an episode, I get it. You’re not sure what you’re getting into. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Is it a crime show? Is it a romance? Is it a mystery series? The answer is yes. It’s a little bit of everything, sometimes all in the same episode. And it is awesomely done. It’s been on the air since 2006 for a reason–there’s nothing else exactly like it. I think if you dip a toe in it, you’ll find it as infectious as we do.

James Roday, who also writes, produces, and directs on the show, plays Shawn Spencer, a con man of sorts who is extremely observant at the minutiae of life—he can recall the slightest out-of-place thing and that makes him an excellent investigator, which is the service he sells as a private detective and a consultant to Santa Barbara PD. He is not, however, psychic, hence the scam, because everyone else believes he is. Everyone, that is, except his inner circle of his lifelong BFF, Burton “Gus” Guster (a genius Dule Hill, who is also now a producer) and his dad, Henry (Corbin Bernsen), a former SBPD detective who pretty much programmed Shawn to be the total recaller that he is.

The rest of the cast includes SBPD detectives Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet O’Hara (Maggie Lawson). Juliet is now finally Shawn’s girlfriend after several seasons of dancing around each other (yay!), a development Lassiter unhappily discovered in the closing moments of the fifth season finale. Their captain is Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson) and she’s often frustrated by Shawn and Gus but they get the job done so she lets them have a pretty large degree of free range. Also along for the occasional guest rotation is Cybill Shepherd as Shawn’s mom, Maddie (also her character’s name on Moonlighting).

The show bounces all over the place in tone—some episodes have been fall-down funny, and others, like the last season finale, have been played fairly straight dramatically with little smidges of absurd humor tossed in. Where else can you look for a strategically placed pineapple in every episode? It’s also bold in its use of guest stars. Who else would use Ally Sheedy as an off-her-nut maybe serial killer? They’ve done some neat tribute episodes, too, including a Twin Peaks-esque riff with many of the TP cast along for the ride, in an episode called Dual Spires. And they’re not afraid of the in-joke. The show shoots in Vancouver, which lent itself to a very funny episode actually set in Vancouver last season.

This season, for starters, Shawn’s going to be called on the carpet about his gift, and Lassiter will have to get over his crush on Juliet. The guest roster includes Malcolm McDowell, Kristy Swanson, John Rhys-Davies, Lou Gossett Jr., and William Shatner. Along with the core cast, who are a very well-oiled machine, it should be a ball. Let the games begin!

A mini-marathon of four season five episodes starts tomorrow morning at 6 am ET (instead of a full day of Shawn and Gus, boo!). The sixth season premiere airs tomorrow night at 10 pm ET on USA. Plan accordingly!

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