The Fall 06-07 television season was absolutely loaded with great shows that I watched. Whether it was the continuation of 24, the debut of Heroes or the eventual cancellation of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, I had a hard time keeping up with all of the new shows last season. It’s no wonder that a few superb shows fell under my radar while trying to keep up with all the new shows (and what ones Fox decided to cancel after four episode runs) and when the press release for Psych’s first season on DVD was release, I knew I wanted to check out the set as soon as I could.
Psych follows the story of Shawn Spencer (James Roday) who bumbles through life, working no job longer than six months, before finally landing in jail—but not for committing a crime. Shawn took it upon himself, more than once, to call in tips to the San Francisco Police Department and after a recent report involving stolen goods from an electronics store, Shawn was taken in as a suspect. While Shawn was not a real psychic by any means, he was trained by his father at an early age to be observant of his surroundings, causing him to learn things about people from viewing them for just a few seconds.
The show is an absolute delight to watch. From the first episode you know that the shows going to be enjoyable to watch, with its quirky writing and lightning fast dialogue. In many ways the show reminds me of Scrubs, both in how absurd it can get and also because of how Roday plays his character. More than once I got a Zach Braff vibe, especially in the delivery in some of his lines, which tend to trail off and get quiet in the same way as Braff’s character on Scrubs gets. However, the similarities end with Roday and the pacing of the dialogue, as the way the stories are told and the supporting cast are nothing like other shows I’ve seen of late.
Not only is the interaction between Roday and Dule Hill (playing “Gus”) in the show hilarious to watch, but the police department is full of great characters as well Timothy Omundson as Carlton Lassiter and Maggie Lawson as Juliet O’Hara. As the series progress they sculpted the characters even more brilliantly, leaving no one a two-dimensional piece in the show. The show is excellently pulled off and there wasn’t a single episode on this set that I didn’t enjoy watching (although the “Who Ya Gonna Call?” episode was, admittedly, quite strange).
The show strikes a great balance between humor and mystery. Predominantly comedic, the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, especially when dealing with people being murder (and with episodes like “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me, Oops He’s Dead!”, it’s easy to see where the writers minds are when writing the episodes). In the end I’d say the show is 70% comedic with 30% mystery, making for a great little viewing. Earlier episodes are harder to crack and whether it’s because you get adjusted to it or the writing simply becomes simpler towards the end, I noticed the stories on the last disc are a lot less baffling to figure out.
Overall, while the second season of Psych has gotten off to shaky start, the first season is nothing but loaded with gems. Highly Recommended.
You may be asking why we’re just now reviewing this title a month after it came out on DVD and the answer is for two reasons: one is that the review copy arrived a bit later than expected and on top of the near twelve hours of just episodes to watch, there were a ton of extras to scope out on the set as well.
Before we delve into the extras though, let’s check out the packaging first. Packaged in a clamshell “book” binding, Psych comes with dual layer digi-pak like trays that fold out on hinges and is, quite honestly, the strangest DVD packaging I’ve seen in a long time. It’s cool, but there’s nothing really keeping it from swinging apart and the outer cardboard is extremely thick. Cool packaging, just a bit on the strange side.
No insert is included (not that there’s room in the packaging, although one advertising the second season of Psych, as well as a coupon for Monk’s fifth season is included as a floating piece of paper) and the disc art is plain and the font is printed in green. Menus are static with music over the main menu only.
Video and audio on this release is absolutely awesome. While it was originally broadcast in fullscreen, it arrives on DVD in a widescreen 1.78:1 transfer along with 5.1 audio. While the video transfer isn’t perfect (there is a ton of grain) it certainly looks better than it was originally broadcast. The 5.1 audio isn’t entirely immersive, but is clean, clear and you couldn’t really ask for more.
Moving onto the extras, we get a healthy serving on the first disc alone. Not only is there an “International” version of the shows pilot, but there is a featurette covering the creation of the show with input from the cast and crew of the show, the audition tape of James Roday (playing the character of Shawn nearly identical to how we see him in the show), character profiles (of Shawn, Gus and Henry Spencer) and blooper reel. The blooper reel is entirely too short (you know there had to be more than what we saw for a show with fifteen episodes) and there is a ton of show footage spliced into the extras to make them longer, which is disappointing (especially in the case of the character profiles, which are easily 70% show footage). In addition all of the extras are in full screen, as opposed to the shows widescreen.
Spread across the four discs is a slew of commentaries and, while not on every episode, all are incredibly hilarious and informative to listen to. While the extras seemed a bit light and fluffy in areas, the commentaries more than make up for it. There’s is a great balance between cast talk and technical discussion, which makes for the perfect commentary track to me. In addition, a lot of the episodes have extended or deleted scenes to them, although most are cut out for obvious reasons (especially in the final episode, “Scary Sherry: Bianca’s Toast” case, which would’ve made the show much less humorous than it was).
The differences between the international and domestic pilot are negligible, with less than ten minutes of difference between them. Alternate versions of scenes and new scenes entirely are added, though why they couldn’t just put them on as deleted/alternate scenes like the rest of deleted scenes on the set, I don’t know. Still, it’s a cool extra to have and it’s nice to see they didn’t completely gloss over Lassiter’s first partner, Lucinda (Anne Dudek) in later episodes (they obviously recast her role to be more close to Shawn’s age and in the process just wrote a new character), as I enjoyed her character too much to completely ignore her existence.
Overall Psych comes with a high level of re-play value even after already knowing how the stories end. It’s because of this that it’s evident the show is more about the characters and the humor, rather than the situations they’re in. Along with the show, this DVD release comes Highly Recommended.
Psych: Complete First Season is now available on DVD.