No seriously, how can you not love Psych? I've already discussed the theme song which, by itself, may be enough of a reason to watch the show, but last night they referenced the Kevin Kline-Sigourney Weaver film, Dave. That's right, Dave, the film where the guy who looks like the President has to step in and pretend that he is the President. I still, on a fairly regularly basis, sing the shower version of "Hail to the Chief" that Dave sang in that film ("Hail to the chief / He's the one we all say 'Hail' to. / We all say 'Hail' / 'Cause he keeps himself so clean! / He's got the power, / That's why he's in the shower"). You should give it a try some time, it really is quite fun.
You may not like Dave – a foolish decision to be sure, but possible – but the referencing of it was great. Psych, as well as any show on television, comes up with potentially obscure but great semi-pop culture references. But, perhaps more importantly, the show doesn't do that at the sacrifice of story or plot. Psych isn't Hamlet, but it is intelligent and fun, and I think that's why it works so well.
The show was, as you may remember, initially paired with Monk, and the notion was that this series was the perfect complement to that one – that the feel and tone were similar enough to allow them to pitch Psych to audiences in the traditional "if you like 'x' you'll love 'y'" kind of way. It's perfectly true, the two series do have similar notions behind them – mysteries solved in a funny manner. However, I've always felt a little bad about the pairing as I think that it means that Psych has had an awfully big shadow that it has had trouble getting out from under.
Monk was always both critically well received, as well as an Awards favorite (at least for Tony Shalhoub). The show had a serious dramatic backbone to it – it was about this detective, the greatest detective ever, who lost his wife in a murder that he was never able to solve and that crushed him. That serious undercurrent is something that helped the series' reception on the critical/awards level, and is something that Psych lacks, which again places the series under Monk's long, dark shadow.
I hate to rail against something as being unfair — it is true that life is unfair — but to me this whole thing has always felt unfair. USA Network at this point has a pretty decent stable of original, hour-long scripted programming which fits under their "Characters Welcome" branding. I wouldn't say that Psych is the least respected of the those series, that's a game I'd rather not get involved in, but it certainly isn't the most, and that's a shame, because of the original programming that currently airs on USA, I think Psych is the best show they offer. Neither Shawn (James Roday) nor Gus (Dulé Hill) have that same scarred history that Adrian Monk had on that series, but they both, when the script requires (and it does require it from time to time), ably perform dramatic parts.
Psych is a smart show, one that weaves pop culture references into mysteries and almost without fail manages to create a compelling story complete with interesting questions and more than a few laugh-out-loud moments. It's got great characters both at its core and on the periphery, and everyone on it seems to be having a great time with it. Its season finale is coming up on March 10, and I promise that even if you haven't watched the show yet, if you sit down with the finale, you'll enjoy it (though I'm betting it'll be darker than usual). Of course, you could just watch a full episode right now on Hulu instead: