Tuesday, April 1, 2014

TV on DVD Review: psych - Season 8

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Some good episodes, including the finale
Cons: Too much over the top antics; "A Nightmare on State Street"
The Bottom Line:
Shawn's final visions
Some good; some over the top
Ending is perfect

Bit Over the Top, but Ultimately Satisfying End to psych

All good things must come to an end.  The trick for a TV series if figuring out when that end should be.  For psych, that end came with the shortened eighth season.  And while some of us fans definitely think the show went on a little too long, it went out on a high note.

When last we saw our heroes, life in Santa Barbara was changing, and not for the better.  Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson) had been replaced as chief of police and head detective Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) had been demoted to beat cop.  The only person the changes had helped was Juliet O'Hara (Maggie Lawson) who was now head detective.  And our heroes?  There was no place for consultants and especially psychics, so fake psychic Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and his best friend Gus (Dule Hill) were definitely out on their own.

But don't count them out so fast.  Shawn and Gus manage to worm their way into a case when Lassiter gets great news that turns him into a coward.  And when coroner Woody (Kurt Fuller) gets taken hostage, Shawn and Gus are again in the thick of things.  Before the season is out, a new chief of police is named, we meet up with a recurring character in England, Shawn's dad Henry (Corbin Bernsen) sells the house where Shawn grew up, and everyone flashes back to the 1960's to solve the murder of the mayor's uncle.  In one of the best episodes of the season, Shawn and Gus go undercover to find out who killed their favorite food truck owner.  Trust me, this one was hilarious.

The season was mostly enjoyable, but was a bit over the top.  Looking back on the show, the writers have been letting Shawn and Gus's antics get crazier and crazier as the series has progressed.  They are certainly funny, and I enjoy watching them, however, they need to be reigned in at times.  Many of these episodes would improve if they just didn't let the characters get quite so out of hand.

In an interesting choice, one of the first season episodes is remade.  Yes, it is even set back in 2006.  I watched both episodes back to back, and frankly, I'm not sure what the point was.  Again, there were more antics (not necessarily a good thing, although some were amusing), and it was interesting to watch them spin things with a different killer.  A few of the in jokes and stabs at remakes were certainly fun, however.

Another issue the season had was the cast.  I'm not talking about the acting, which was always good.  But Maggie Lawson was just some of the episodes because she had taken a job on Back in the Game on ABC.  Frankly, that hurt because her character often provides some of the much needed grounding of the show.  Likewise, Kristen Nelson's Chief Vick wasn't in enough episodes.

But honestly, to get a good glimpse at this season, you need to take a look at the final two episodes.  The penultimate episode was "A Nightmare on State Street."  I was expecting one of their horror movie spoofs with Bruce Campbell as a guest star.  This episode involved zombies and a mystery that made no sense at all.  Between the dreams and the reality, it was almost impossible to follow any semblance of a story.

Then there's "The Breakup."  The series ender was perfect.  There was a good mystery to solve as everything was brought to a close.  There were some great shout outs to the fans and plenty of good moments between the characters.  The final scene was possibly one of the funniest of the series.  I couldn't have been happier with how it ended.

And honestly, with how this season was structured, I'm surprised it took everyone so long to officially announce this as the final season of the show.  With fewer episodes than normal and an actual story arc to the season, I saw this coming months ago and felt certain of it as the season progressed.  It would have been very hard to keep the series running even if they had cut out the final episode and saved it for another time.  I do think they made the right call.  While I enjoyed most of the season, it is time to say goodbye, and as I said, the finale was perfect.

The season includes all 10 episodes on 3 discs in their native wide screen and surround sound.  Extras include some deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a podcast with various members of the cast and crew on almost every episode.  The biggest surprise to me was the inclusion of the wonderful musical episode that aired back in December.  It was filmed as part of season seven but held until December and then released on DVD by itself.  I'm glad I waited so I can get it as part of this set.  Finally, there's a behind the scenes on the musical and a goodbye featurette.

The over the top antics of Shawn and Gus were a bit too much during the final season of psych.  Still, the loyal fans will be happy with these episodes and happy with how the show ends.  I will definitely be rewatching several of them over the years and will gladly welcome season eight to my DVD collection.

Season Eight Episodes:
1. Lock, Stock, Some Smoking Barrels, and Burton Guster's Goblet of Fire
2. S.I.E.Z.E. the Day
3. Remake AKA Cloudy…With a Chance of Improvement
4. Someone's Got a Woody
5. Cog Blocked
6. 1967: A psych Odyssey
7. Shawn and Gus Truck Things Up
8. A Touch of Sweevil
9. A Nightmare on State Street
10. The Breakup
Bonus: psych - The Musical

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