Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce
USA Network’s hour-long comedy about a fake psychic detective solving real crimes began its fifth season this week, with the first notable guest spots the network promises to be a key feature of this season. As “Sean Rescues Darth Vader” opens, hyper-observant Sean Spencer (James Roday) is shown “James Bonding it up in here” at the mansion of the British ambassador (Malcolm McDowell, Heroes, Time After Time, Star Trek Generations), where a party is underway for an exchange student newly acquitted of the murder of his girlfriend. True to series tradition, Sean’s presence at the mansion has nothing at all to do with any of that–the Psych team has been hired by a kid to recover the vintage Darth Vader action figure the ambassador’s son stole from him.
And, of course, in true Psych tradition, things only get wilder and more ridiculous from there, when Sean stumbles over a murder victim and nearly gets caught by security guards as he flees the mansion. The episode is a classic Psych premiere–slightly more over-the-top than usual, featuring big-name guest stars (McDowell is joined by veteran British actress Polly Walker (Enchanted April, Patriot Games)); a semi-irrelevant plot; silly banter and jackassery by Sean (here his obsession with achieving diplomatic immunity); and verbal sparring between Sean and frenemy Detective Lassiter (Timothy Omundson, Judging Amy, Starship Troopers, Xena: Warrior Princess, Star Wars video games).
Although every cast regular got decent screentime, Omundson probably had the standout role in this episode. Driven by his anger over discovering Juliet’s relationship with Sean in last season’s finale (“Yang 3 in 2D”), Lassiter dials up his determination to discredit Sean, and we see some great funny moments as he administers polygraph tests to Juliet and Sean. In a notable departure from series tradition, the flashback to Sean’s childhood that is typically the opening of each episode was moved to the end, where we saw Henry Spencer training his son to beat a lie detector. I’m not sure such a move was necessary, because the audience already knows Sean is lying, but it did create a moment of outraged suspense, as fans all over were likely exclaiming over the missing flashback sequence. I guess I can’t complain.
According to USA Network, we’ll see lots more guest stars this season: William Shatner, Danny Glover, Jason Priestley, Wayne Brady, Molly Ringwald, and Madchen Amick, among others. We’ll also see the first episode written and directed by James Roday, in which Detective Lassiter finds love. And I’m sure we’re all looking forward to seeing how that plays out.