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HTF DVD REVIEW - Psych: The Complete Second Season

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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted August 09 2008 - 05:23 PM



Studio: Universal
Original Broadcast: 2007-2008
Length: 11 hours 26 mins
Genre: Crime Solving Comedy

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Color/B&W: Color

  • English Dolby Digital 5.1

    Subtitles: English SDH

    Rating: Unrated (TV-safe crime scenes & violence)

  • Release Date: July 8, 2008


    Starring: James Roday, Dule Hill, Maggie Lawson, Timothy Omundsen, Kirsten Nelson and Corbin Bernsen

    Created and Executive Produced by: Steve Franks

    psych: The Complete Second Season is a 4-disc DVD collection of the most recent season of the USA Channel series starring James Roday as Shawn Spencer, a gifted detective who pretends to have psychic abilities. Released in time for the now-airing 3rd season, this set includes all 16 episodes of the prior year, along with a considerable amount of bonus features. The typical episode has our hero “psychic” get called in to solve the usual puzzle, only with the twist that he pretends that his natural detecting abilities are psychic premonitions and “feelings”. Things tend to stay on a very lightweight level, with a smattering of 80’s pop trivia references and the usually quirky character interactions. I must admit I’m not as big a fan of this show as many friends of mine. I simply find a lot of the humor forced beyond my ability to follow. But I can see how the show can be a fun diversion that doesn’t push the viewer too much while giving them a pretty simple puzzle to solve with each episode.

    The DVD set comes loaded with additional features, including scene-specific commentaries on most of the episodes. A bunch of these commentaries are listed as “podcast commentaries”, which leads me to believe they were initially available at the show’s website, but I couldn’t find them during my visits there to research the show. There is also a collection of deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a few clip collections including a pineapple obsession and a few of the show’s trademark “psychout” moments. And they’ve thrown in the animated “The Adventures of Lil’ Shawn and Gus” webisodes for good measure. If you’re a fan of this show, they’ve certainly provided an appetizing package here. My one caveat here is the book-type DVD holders. It took me a little time to figure out how to open the darn things – they open from the binding side and I worried I was going to tear one of them off trying get to the disc... And as is typical with these season sets, the individual episodes have four chapters each, but no menu to tell you where they land. If you leave an episode in the middle, you may need to bump your way to the nearest stop and then fast forward the rest of the way.

    As with my earlier series reviews, I will take the discs in order, detailing what episodes and features can be found on each. THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE, in the interest of letting fans of the series know where they can see key developments.


    This disc contains the first four episodes of the season:

    “American Duos” – The series opens its 2nd year with its take on American Idol, with Tim Curry playing the role of the rude host who’s in mortal danger. John Landis directs this segment, which also features a cameo by Gina Gershon playing a completely whacked out celebrity host. (This episode comes with a group audio commentary by Steve Franks, exec producers Chris Henze and Kelly Kulchak, and James Roday and Dule Hill.)

    “65 Million Years Off” – Shawn investigates a situation where a man may have been murdered by a dinosaur. Tim Matheson directed this episode. (This episode comes with a group commentary by Franks, Henze, Kulchak, Roday and Hill.)

    “Psy vs. Psy” – Lou Diamond Phillips guests as a treasury agent who gets involved in a case and brings along his own psychic. (This episode comes with a commentary by Franks, Henze, Kulchack, Roday and Hill, this time joined by producer Andy Berman, who wrote the episode.)

    “Zero to Murder in Sixty Seconds” – Shawn investigates a mystery involving a chop shop. (This episode comes with a podcast commentary by co-exec producer and writer Saladin Patterson, along with Steve Franks and Steve Franks’ assistant, Jason Berger. Franks isn’t listed on the liner notes, but he’s there)

    All four episodes have a few deleted scenes available for viewing in full-frame format.

    Gag Reel - (7:34, Full Frame) – A few minutes of gag reel footage is included here in full-frame format. It’s the usual crack-up moments and alternate line readings you’d expect. There’s some good stuff here, amid the usual mess-ups.

    -When this disc is initially put in the player, you can see non-anamorphic trailers for seasons of Monk, Eureka, Life: Season One, House and the film In Bruges.

    There is also a “Previews” menu, which brings up non-anamorphic trailers for the season sets for Battlestar: Galactica, Coach, Crossing Jordan, Eureka, House, The Incredible Hulk, Murder She Wrote, and Quantum Leap, along with a combined trailer for The A Team, Knight Rider and Miami Vice.


    This disc contains the fifth thru the eighth episodes of the season:

    “And Down the Stretch Comes Murder” – Shawn and Gus work for their one-time bully from school, now working as a jockey. (There is a podcast commentary with Franks, Berger and co-exec producer Josh Bycel, who wrote the episode.)

    “Meat is Murder but Murder is Also Murder” – Shawn and Gus work a case where a food critic has been poisoned. John Amos guests as Gus’ Uncle Burton.

    “If You’re So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?” – This one involves students claiming that a phone call means that one of their instructors is a murderer. (There is a podcast commentary with co-producer Anupam Nigam, who wrote the episode.)

    “Rob-a-Bye Baby” – Shawn and Gus are assigned to find the Chief a new nanny. (There is a podcast commentary with Franks, Berman and writer Tim Meltreger.)

    All four episodes have a few deleted scenes available for viewing in full-frame format.

    The Name Game - (1:45 Total, Full Frame) – Here are two collections of moments where Dule Hill and James Roday say each other’s characters’ names, both in jest (when Roday does it) and in seriousness (when Hill does it) .

    Where’s the Pineapple? - (3:35, Full Frame) – Here’s a series of full-frame moments from various episodes where James Roday finds a way to incorporate a pineapple into an otherwise unrelated moment.


    This disc contains the ninth thru the thirteenth episodes of the season:

    “Bounty Hunters!” – Shawn and Gus track an escaped murderer, only to find out that he’s innocent, but there’s a bounty hunter involved... John Badham directed this episode. (This episode features a group commentary with Franks, Henze, Kulcheck, Berman, Roday and Hill.)

    “Gus’s Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy” – Ernie Hudson and Phylicia Rashad guest as Gus’ parents, in an episode where Gus’ father is accused of murder. The main theme gets a Christmas reading for this holiday episode.

    “There’s Something About Mira” – Shawn learns about a secret woman connected with Gus.

    “The Old and the Restless” – Shawn and Gus investigate a man who goes missing from a retirement home. (There is a podcast commentary with Nigam and Meltreger).

    All four episodes have a few deleted scenes available for viewing in full-frame format.

    Psychouts - (3:23, Full Frame) – A few of the series’ trademark “psychout” moments have been included here, including discussions of pineapple (again!), mock confessions, and one heck of a rendition of “Deck the Halls” a la A Christmas Story.


    The final four episodes of the season are presented on this disc:

    “Lights, Camera, Homicidio” – Saul Rubinek guests in this episode about murder on a Spanish soap opera. The main theme for this episode is sung in Spanish! (There is a group commentary with Franks, Henze, Kulchak, Roday and Hill, along with Berman, who wrote this episode.)

    “Dis-Lodged” – Shawn investigates the death of a local lodge member. (There is a podcast commentary for this episode with Frank and Meltreger.)

    “Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion” – Shawn and Gus decide that in order to investigate two deaths at a fashion house, they’ll go undercover in the most inconspicuous manner possible – as models. (There is a group commentary with Franks, Henze, Kulchak, Roday and Hill.)

    “Shawn (and Gus) of the Dead” – In the final episode of the season, Shawn works the case of a mummy who may have walked out of the museum where he (it?) was to be displayed. And strangled the night watchman along his way... The season ends on Shawn’s face as he meets a major family member for the first time in the series. (There’s a group commentary with the usual suspects for this episode, culminating in the cliffhanger moment where someone shouts out “And it’s Ruby Dee!”)

    All four episodes have a few deleted scenes available for viewing in full-frame format.

    The Adventures of Lil’ Shawn and Gus - (6:51, Full Frame) – Here’s a collection of the animated webisodes previously available on the show’s website. (I’m not sure if there are any new ones in here, and I leave that to more hardcore fans of the series to illuminate.)


    psych: The Complete Second Season is presented in an anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer that is pretty colorful, but still has a little grain to it, showing, like other cable series, the limitations of its schedule and budget. There’s a bit of a warm look to the various settings, likely due to the lighting and southwestern motif of the production design. Flesh tones look accurate, though, and even the hairpieces given to Corbin Bernsen are mostly convincing. (And I do mean that as a compliment – it is quite difficult to blend in hairpieces without the effect becoming obvious, particularly on a high definition TV.)

    AUDIO QUALITY: 2 ½/5 ½

    psych: The Complete Second Season is presented in an English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that lives almost entirely in the front channels. Music and a few odd atmospheric sounds go into the surrounds, but the rest of the mix is in the front. Dialogue is fairly clear, and the episodes are pretty easy to follow.

    As I mentioned before, the various episodes each have a few chapter stops, but, as is consistently annoying about most season sets, there are no chapter menus. Subtitles are available in English only.

    IN THE END...

    psych: The Complete Second Season is certain to be a must-buy for fans of the show, given the bounty of extras that come with the episodes. While it’s not my cup of tea, I recognize there are plenty of people out there who really enjoy this series. This season set is a great way to experience it.

    Kevin Koster
    August 9, 2008

    #2 of 7 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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    Posted August 10 2008 - 01:13 AM

    I really enjoy the show for its mapcap sense of humor. The mysteries are feather-light, but the real enjoyment for me is seeing Roday and Hill spar good-naturedly on their path to each mystery's solution. Certainly not a great series but a fun one for me. Thanks for the review, Kevin.

    #3 of 7 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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    Posted August 10 2008 - 01:46 AM

    Agreed, Matt. I never miss an episode and am watching season one again this week. Many hilarious 80's pop-culture references keep the humor fast and mad. Love it. Thanks for the Review, Kevin!
    "Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science" – Edwin Hubble
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    #4 of 7 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden



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    Posted August 11 2008 - 05:38 AM

    Creator/show runner Steve Franks has said that his goal with "Psych" was to create a light detective series along the lines of shows he enjoyed when he was younger like "Magnum PI" and "Moonlighting". In other words, 80s nostalgia is not only an element of the show, it is also the impetus for the show. Posted Image

    Ken McAlinden
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    #5 of 7 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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    Posted August 11 2008 - 11:53 AM

    I would definitely agree that "Moonlighting" was very much a light detective series. But not "Magnum P.I." While the series definitely had lighter moments and the 5th and 6th seasons tended to be a bit jokier, there were plenty of very serious shows. My favorite episodes - "Memories are Forever" and "Did You See the Sunrise?" are solid dramatic pieces. And that's just two out of many - while the series was known for the camaraderie and the Magnum-Higgins feuding, it also had plenty of depth when it needed it.

    #6 of 7 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden



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    Posted August 15 2008 - 12:49 AM

    I did not say "light detective series" in any pejorative context, and it certainly does not imply a lack of depth (that would be a "shallow" detective series). The tone on Magnum PI was usually fairly light, which actually added to its depth by making the episodes and moments where things got more serious stand out in relief. There are not a lot of detective series on the air these days that can actually successfully pull off "light". Regards,
    Ken McAlinden
    Livonia, MI USA

    #7 of 7 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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    Posted August 16 2008 - 05:48 PM

    I'd agree with that. I don't think anyone would say that "NYPD Blue" was anything like "light". And I agree "Magnum PI" took a light tone whenever it could - it just had much more to offer. Psych, on the other hand, is pretty much a full-time "light" series. I'm not putting it down, but I just need a little more meat on the bones to keep me going.

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