Thursday, January 28, 2010
Not psyched about last night's Psych
Do y'all watch Psych? Did you see last night's episode? Did it make you feel as stabby as it did me?
Let me qualify what I'm about to say. Normally I'm a fan of the show. Yes, it's mindless entertainment, but it's FUN mindless entertainment. I dig the '80s pop-culture references and the banter between Shaun and Gus. It is normally a pretty funny show that follows USA's well-estbalished hour-long comdey/drama format. That is, most of the characters are completely incapable of doing or seeing or whatever anything that the main character is supposed to be able to do. Even if it makes them look like total buffoons. It's the main gripe I have with USA's shows. They don't hire really good writers to make their lead characters extremely brilliant or find really clever ways to solve issues. They just dumb down everyone else. Sometimes the formula gets tiresome - many episodes of the last two seasons of Monk suffered. But I digress - last night's Psych:
As I see it, there were three main problems - John Cena as an actor, the writer's complete lack of knowledge about how the military does anything, and them forgetting plot points they'd made earlier in the show. The first one's kind of easy - um, John Cena is a large, charasmatic wrestler in the WWE. If you watch wrestling at all, you probably have your opinions about him. If not, well, he's a likable enough guy, but he's no actor. He's got the range of a light switch. He's serious or not, and that's about it. However, you can overlook a lot of that. The problem is that they didn't play to his strengths - beating people up and doing action sequences - they actually tried to portray him as some kind of super-spy. In a move akin to trying to squeeze gravy from a kidney stone, they actually tried to get him to display emotion. The writers would have been far better served by just setting him in the mode he does best: Kick Ass.
Point the second: I can normally forgive a lot of military ignorance. If you haven't lived it, or done a good degree of research, you normally don't get it. But there's a difference between faking it well and what Psych did last night. I facepalmed about every five minutes. "Late at night, he snuck off base ..." There are many problems with that statement alone. "What are you doing out after lights out?" THIS ISN'T BASIC TRAINING Psych writers. "You civilians don't have authroization to be on this property!" If you're in the Army in Psych world, you live in a constant state of basic training, as a seasoned officer, you constantly talk about your experiences in war allegorically to current situations and you swallow your dog tags when you commit suicide. Just ugh.
Point the last: The climax of the ep totally ignores the character establishment throughout. SPOILER ALERT:
So, throughout the show, Cena is portrayed as some kind of military super spy taking orders from some shadowy figure. It's obviously government. Yet, at the end of the show he's about to take out the bad guy - as he's been ordered to do - and is confronted by the Psych crew who try to stop him from doing it. Not in a, "You don't have to do what your bosses tell you" kind of way, but in a "don't murder him" kind of way. They go as far as to arrest him for "attempted murder." Dumbasses. Even if the situation could have possibly been misconstrued as that (they made a point earlier in the show of basically saying he has a license to kill), later they have a scene where he's supposed to be carted off to a holding facility and he's mysteriously disappeared. Um, again dummies, he wouldn't have made it to the PD without an MiB there to "clear things up."
Look, it's not like I expect great things from the show. I realize, like I've said, that it's mindless entertainment. What upset me so is that they obviously thought they could tackle a more complex plotline and they proved they suck at it horribly.
God let's hope they get back to doing what they do best - making mindless fun.