During the second season, an animated segment was added to the series titled "The Big Adventures of Little Shawn and Gus". Psych debuted on Friday, July 7, 2006, immediately following the fifth season premiere of Monk, and continued to be paired with the series until Monk's conclusion on December 4, 2009. It was the highest-rated U.S.basic cabletelevision premiere of 2006. USA Network renewed the series for an eighth season on December 19, 2012, to include eight episodes, and ordered two more episodes on June 25, 2013, bringing the episode order to ten. On February 5, 2014, USA Network confirmed that the eighth season of Psych would be its last, with the series finale airing on March 26, 2014.
Most episodes begin with a cold open in the form of a flashback to Shawn and Gus's childhood. The flashbacks usually involve Shawn and Gus being taught a lesson by a young Henry Spencer, who wishes that his son would follow in his footsteps and become a law enforcement officer. These lessons often play a role for the climax of the episode. As a child, Shawn was taught by Henry to hone his powers of observation and deduction, often using games and challenges to test him. Each flashback also sets the theme for the episode.
Shawn originally becomes known as a psychic when, after calling in tips on dozens of crimes covered on the news which help the police to close the case, the police become suspicious of his knowledge. The police theorize that such knowledge could only come from the "inside" and they decide to arrest him as a suspect. To avoid being sent to jail, Shawn uses his observational skills to convince the police that he is psychic. The interim police chief warns Shawn that if his "powers" are fake, he will be prosecuted. With no choice but to keep up the act, and having proven himself an effective aid to the police in solving crimes, he establishes a psychic detective agency, Psych, and becomes a consultant to the police. Pretending to have psychic powers allows him to engage in strange and comic behavior as he turns real clues into hunches and otherworldly visitations. He enjoys teasing lifelong friend Burton Guster (Gus), a pharmaceutical representative, about Gus's eclectic interests as they drive around in a blue Toyota Echo nicknamed "The Blueberry" solving crimes.
Head detective Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson), playfully named "Lassie" by Shawn and Gus, quietly respects Shawn's crime-solving skills but doubts his psychic abilities and is constantly exasperated by his antics. However, junior detective Juliet "Jules" O'Hara (Maggie Lawson) and Chief Vick (Kirsten Nelson) are far less antagonistic – with O'Hara expressing belief in Shawn's abilities, while Vick is mum on the subject – and usually willing to give Shawn the leeway he needs to solve cases. Henry and Shawn have a difficult relationship, but despite this, Henry reluctantly helps Shawn on various occasions.
Shawn Spencer (James Roday) is a freelance consultant with the Santa Barbara Police Department who pretends to be a psychic. However, really his exceptional observational skills and eidetic memory allow him to obtain his "visions". He refuses to take anything seriously, but has matured slowly throughout the seasons. He has had romantic tension with Juliet O'Hara since they met, which led them to start dating in the middle of season 5. In the middle of season 6, he tries to propose to her, but finds out that neither of them is ready. Though the two hit a bump in Season 7 when she discovers he's not psychic, they soon reconcile. When she moves to San Francisco to be Vick's Head Detective, he realizes he can't live without her and resolves to move there. In a final effort to "come clean," he makes several DVDs, one of which he sends to Lassiter, upon which he starts to confess the truth to him. But Lassiter breaks the DVD before Shawn can say it.
Burton "Gus" Guster (Dulé Hill) is Shawn's best friend since childhood, as well as business partner. He also is a pharmaceuticals salesman. Unlike Shawn, he takes his work very seriously, playing the "straight man" and usually tries to act professionally, yet in later episodes, he ends up as invested in jokes and snacks as Shawn. He is famous for his many aliases (usually given to him by Shawn), including "Magic Head", "Lavender Gooms", "Ghee Buttersnaps", and "Control Alt Delete". He is known for being attracted to all types of women, who often end up being the criminal. He is also known for his super-sensitive nose, the "Super Sniffer" or "Super Smeller". He is also usually very sensitive (a sympathetic crier) and has a gigantic soft side.
Carlton Jebediah "Lassie" Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) is the head detective for the Santa Barbara Police Department. He is skeptical of Shawn's psychic abilities, and is extremely annoyed by Shawn's comic antics. However, he once secretly confessed to Shawn, while drunk, that he respects him and because of this, he occasionally comes to Psych for help with his more difficult cases. During season 7, Lassie married his girlfriend, Marlowe. In season 8, they find out Marlowe is pregnant. In Psych's final season, he is promoted to Chief. When it doesn't work out for Juliet to be Head Detective, the mayor hires someone else. At first Chief Lassiter just wants to get rid of her, but the more he learns about his new head detective, the more he realizes he has in common with her.
Juliet "Jules" O'Hara (Maggie Lawson) is a junior detective for the Santa Barbara Police Department, and is Lassiter's partner. She joined the SBPD after Lassiter's old partner got transferred after the pilot episode, and was originally a cop in Miami. Throughout the series she and Shawn share constant romantic tension. The two start dating in season 5, but hit a bump when she discovers his secret in season 7. The bump is only temporary, though, and the two resume dating near the end of season 7. When Lassiter is promoted to Chief in season 8, he wants Juliet as Head Detective but is told he can't have her. So she instead accepts a job as Vick's Chief Detective in San Francisco. In the final episode of the series, "The Break-Up", she accepts his marriage proposal right before the engagement ring Shawn inherited from his grandmother is stolen.
Chief Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson) is the SBPD Chief. She is tough but fair, usually reluctant to hire Shawn and Gus for cases, but almost always gives in. She respects Shawn's help and input, but firmly keeps him in check (as much as she can) when he pushes the limits of the law or her patience. She is temporarily suspended at the end of season 7, rehired in season 8, and resigns later that season to accept a job as chief in San Francisco.
Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen) is Shawn's uptight and precise father and a former police sergeant. He trained Shawn on everything about being a detective, going so far as teaching him to remember the layout of a room with his eyes closed and beating a lie detector. He is usually visited by Shawn with questions about various cases but is also usually reluctant to help. He has been rehired to the SBPD to be in charge of the department's consultants, much to Shawn's chagrin. At the end of Season 6 in a cliff-hanger ending, Henry quit the SBPD and then was shot by a former police partner after finding out he was being paid to cover up cases for criminals. In the Season 7 premiere, we learn that Henry survived the shooting and is making a recovery. In spite of no longer being part of the SBPD staff, he still helps Shawn with his cases. He becomes a criminology professor at the local college and at one point saves Shawn right before he gets shot by the bad guys he is chasing. At the end of the series, he takes over the Psych office that Shawn and Gus vacate to join Vick and O'Hara in San Francisco, though it is unclear what he will use it for.
Young Shawn (Seasons 1–5:Liam James; Seasons 5–6:Skyler Gisondo) is the younger version of Shawn Spencer. He is shown at the beginning of most episodes in flashbacks to the late 1980s and early 1990s, usually learning a life lesson from his father, which helps him later in the episode. He has also been portrayed by Josh Hayden (in the pilot episode) and by Kyle Pejpar (in the episode "Spellingg Bee").
Young Gus (Carlos McCullers II) is the younger version of Burton "Gus" Guster. He is shown at the beginning of various episodes in flashbacks with Shawn. He was also portrayed by Isaah Brown during the first season.
Buzz McNab (Sage Brocklebank) is a naive but lovable cop who often provides Shawn and Gus with clues. He takes every case given to him by Lassiter and Juliet with a polite, optimistic attitude, despite both Lassiter and Jules finding said case to be menial. Shawn gives him a "little boy cat" (that is actually a girl cat) that once helped him solve a case in season one. In "Shawn Gets the Yips" (4.05), McNab is severely injured when a bomb went off in his mailbox while he was getting his mail. Later in the episode, he returns to work with a severe concussion and on crutches, remarking to Shawn and Gus that he had lost part of three toes, and when Shawn coughs, he immediately begins to go get Shawn a drink of water before being told numerous times that he should rest. He has occasionally pulled Shawn over for various traffic violations only to realize that it is him and apologize. In the fourth season finale episode, "Mr. Yin Presents..." (4.16), McNab is attacked and knocked unconscious by the unseen killer. He returns in season 5. In season 7, he appears as a male stripper at the hotel where Marlowe has her bachelorette party, attended by both Juliet and the chief. He is fired by Harris Trout at the end of Season 7 but is rehired by Chief Lassiter during Season 8. During the series finale, Lassiter's new head detective (Betsy Branigan)) wants McNab to be her Junior Detective. Lassiter is hesitant about this at first because McNab scored so low on the detective's exam, but Branigan insists, and Lassiter finally assents.
Madeleine Spencer (Cybill Shepherd) is a police psychologist who is Shawn's mother and Henry's ex-wife. In the episode "Ghosts" (3.01), she tells Lassiter that she has eidetic tonal memory, which is like Shawn's photographic memory but with sound. She also appears in "Murder? ... Anyone? ... Anyone? ... Bueller?" (3.02), "An Evening with Mr. Yang" (3.16), "Yang 3 in 2D" (5.16), and "Juliet Takes a Luvvah" (7.02). She was portrayed over-the-shoulder by a different actress in "Shawn (and Gus) of the Dead" (2.16). Psych is partially inspired by the 1980s hit TV series Moonlighting, in which Shepherd plays the lead character, and Madeleine Spencer was made to symbolically "give birth" to the lead character of Psych.
Abigail Lytar (Rachael Leigh Cook) is Shawn's high school crush, whom he let get away when he moved from, then back to, Santa Barbara and his parents got divorced. She first appears in "Murder? ... Anyone? ... Anyone? ... Bueller?" (3.02) and returns in "An Evening with Mr. Yang" (3.16), "He Dead" (4.02), "Bollywood Homicide" (4.06), and "You Can't Handle This Episode" (4.10). In "You Can't Handle This Episode", the winter half premiere of Season 4, Abigail departs for Uganda. However, she returns in the episode "Mr. Yin Presents..." (4.16). After being kidnapped by Yin and saved by Shawn, she tells him she does not like danger and breaks up with him after the two share a final kiss.
Winnie Guster (Phylicia Rashad) is Gus' mother. She appears in the first two of the series' Christmas episodes, "Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy" (2.10) and "Christmas Joy" (3.09). She later appears in "Nightmare on State Street" (8.09) in one of Gus' nightmares.
Bill Guster (Ernie Hudson, Keith David) is Gus' father. Although the character of Gus' father appeared in the first two Christmas episodes, Bill Guster was played by Ernie Hudson in "Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy" and by Keith David in "Christmas Joy".
Mr. Yang (Ally Sheedy) was a serial killer, first appearing in "An Evening with Mr. Yang" (3.16). She returns after a decade-long absence to target Shawn in her deadly game of cat-and-mouse. In the season four finale, "Mr. Yin Presents..." (4.16), Shawn and Gus visit her in prison. She seemed to have a deeper connection to Shawn, as the last scene of "Mr. Yin Presents..." shows Yin, Yang's partner, looking at a picture of what is presumably a younger Yang, standing next to young Shawn. Her help is enlisted again by Shawn and Gus in "Yang 3 in 2D", the fifth season's finale, in which it is revealed that she is actually Yin's daughter. She later returns in "Psych: The Musical" (7.15), in which she is stabbed to death by the eventual murderer.
Woody the Coroner (Kurt Fuller) is a police coroner with whom Shawn shares a mutual respect. His wife cheats on him with multiple men, some of whom he has approved. He is also apparently wanted in the Philippines. He first appeared in "High Top Fade Out" (4.07).
Mr. Yin (Christopher Turner, Peter Weller) was a serial killer who was actually responsible for the Yang murders. He is also Yang's father. He first appeared in "Mr. Yin Presents..." (4.16) targeting Shawn, and later returned for a second round in "Yang 3 in 2D" (5.16), in which he is murdered by his daughter.
Pierre Despereaux (Cary Elwes) is an extremely elusive Canadian art thief, first appearing in "Extradition: British Columbia" (4.01). When Shawn and Gus travel to Canada on a ski trip they end up catching him; however, it is revealed that he, in fact, is simply an insurance fraudster. Despereaux returned in "Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part" (5.10), in which he was accused of multiple murders after his escape from prison; he is later cleared of the murder charges and finally extradited to the United States. He returns in "Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger" (6.10), in which he races with Shawn and Gus against a gang of art thieves to find an old dagger; while he is seemingly murdered and the SBPD believe him to be dead, Shawn and Gus know the truth. He finally appears in "Lock, Stock, Some Smoking Barrels and Burton Guster's Goblet of Fire" (8.01)where he is revealed to be Royston Staley, Deputy Director of Interpol. He claims Pierre Despereaux was created as an elaborate undercover operation, although Shawn and Gus are divided over whether this is the truth or part of an even bigger con.
Declan Rand (Nestor Carbonell) is a rich criminal profiler so good at his job that he poses a threat to Shawn. He turns out to be a fake criminal profiler and knows that Shawn is not a real psychic. He briefly becomes Juliet's boyfriend. His first appearance was in "Shawn 2.0" (5.08), and his most recent appearance was in "One, Maybe Two, Ways Out" (5.09). In "Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part" (5.10), Juliet announces that she and Declan broke up. He is considered a fake, just like Shawn. He is compared to Shawn in a few ways, like the fact that both their fathers taught them about the fields that they are working.
Marlowe Viccellio (Kristy Swanson) is a woman Lassiter meets and later marries. It is later discovered that she has been stealing blood in order to help her dying brother, and she is sent to prison. Despite this, her relationship with Lassiter continues. She first appears in "This Episode Sucks" (6.03) and later in "Let's Doo-Wop It Again" (6.13). In season 7 after being released from prison, she and Lassiter tie the knot and later have a baby girl.
Curt Smith (himself) is a British singer best known for his work in the band Tears for Fears. He first appeared in the episode "Shawn 2.0" (5.08), where he had been hired to perform full-time at the estate of Declan Rand. He later performs while intoxicated at the wedding of a friend of Shawn and Gus. In the episode "100 Clues" (7.05), Curt is hired to perform at an elusive party that Shawn and Gus are invited to. However, he is shot in the diaphragm as he arrives. In the same episode, he is attacked (and presumably eaten) by a panther. In episode "A Nightmare on State Street" (8.09) Gus dreams that Smith is eaten by zombies.
Frank O'Hara (William Shatner) is Juliet's estranged father, and also a talented con man who uses his talents to fool the Santa Barbara Police Department. Shawn figured out his schemes, but told him he wouldn't give him up if he mended his relationship with Juliet. Juliet figures it out but he tries to right his wrongs by solving the crime. Juliet is slowly starting to have a better relationship with him. He first appears in "In for a Penny", and again in "Heeeeere's Lassie".
Ken Wong (Jerry Shea) is an Asian American who works for Shawn and Gus, is fired, and is seen working at various places they visit. He is seen in "Romeo and Juliet and Juliet" and "In Plain Fright", as well as "HashTag Killer", an online-only episode. He does not like Shawn and feels that he wants him to be jobless.
Harris Trout (Anthony Michael Hall) is a special consultant hired by the mayor to increase efficiency at the SBPD. He first appears in No Trout About It, the season 7 finale. As a result of his findings, he suspends Chief Vick for six months, demotes Lassiter as head detective, fires McNab for moonlighting as a stripper, and says he will no longer hire Gus and Shawn for any cases. Though Lassiter saves his life in S.E.I.Z.E. the Day, he doesn't give Lassiter any thanks or credit for it. In the next episode of the season, though Lassiter, Juliet, Shawn and Gus work together to catch a bad guy and nab him against all odds, Trout fires Lassiter and Juliet, refires Gus and Shawn, and is in turn fired himself for his recklessness in a hostage situation.
Betsy Branigan (Mira Sorvino) takes over as the new Head Detective when Lassiter is promoted to Chief and the mayor won't let him hire Juliet for the position. Though he tries at first to get rid of her, he is soon forced to admit they have more in common than he originally thought. Shawn describes her as "a female Lassiter." Though she seems hesitant to accept Shawn's gift at first, she soon gets on board with it. She is very efficient, eventually beating Shawn to the punch during an investigation and nabbing the bad guy while Shawn, Gus and Lassiter are still debating how to do it. She selects McNab as her Junior Detective, much to Lassiter's consternation. She appears in the last three episodes of Psych.
^ abThe episode "Psych: The Musical" aired as a special two-hour event at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time on December 15, 2013, outside of the seventh season's primary run.
The show uses White Rock, British Columbia, Canada for its Santa Barbara, California setting.Psych also incorporates Vancouver and various locations around the Lower Mainland of British Columbia as a backdrop. Santa Barbara is on a mountainous coastline without bays and just has the few Channel Islands miles offshore. Many of the overlooking helicopter shots and set up shots (in which the exterior of the Santa Barbara Courthouse is shown) are actually filmed in Santa Barbara. The animated segments "The Big Adventures of Little Shawn and Gus" were created by J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, Inc. The music, effects and sound design for "The Big Adventures of Little Shawn and Gus" were created by Fred Weinberg.
The theme song for Psych is "I Know You Know" by The Friendly Indians, series creator Steve Franks' band. Some episodes in Seasons 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 use an extended fuller version of "I Know You Know", consisiting of the first verse and the chorus, but most episodes use a shortened version, consisting of mostly the chorus. In some episodes the theme song is changed, usually as a tie-in to the theme of the episode to come.
The Christmas-themed and Hindi versions of the song also include variations on the main titles. The Hindi and Chinese-themed episodes phonetically translated words into Devanagari and Chinese characters, respectively, in their title sequences. The title sequence in the episode "Dual Spires" (5.12) is an almost shot-for-shot recreation of the title sequence of Twin Peaks. The episode "100 Clues" (7.05) featured an entirely new main title sequence based on the board game Clue. The actor names and title were shown on game cards similar to those of the cards of suspects in Clue.
In the episode "Pilot", James Roday improvised by picking up a pineapple and saying, "Should I slice this up for the road?" Since then, pineapples have appeared in almost every episode as a running gag. The pineapple is a major marketing point for items related to the show on the USA website. There have also been fan movements, such as fan-made websites, dedicated to finding a pineapple or pineapple-related object in each episode.
Series finale post-show
Following the series finale on March 26, 2014, the USA network aired a live post-show. The hour-long special was hosted by Kevin Pereira and featured series stars and creator/executive producer Steve Franks.
Critical reaction and ratings
Psych scored a 4.51 rating and an average of 6.1 million total viewers at its premiere, which made it the highest rated scripted series premiere on basic cable in 2006 in all key demographics (households, P18-49, P25-54, and total viewers), according to a USA Network press release, quoted from the Futon Critic.
James Roday (Miss Match) is utterly charming and delightfully funny as Shawn Spencer (who may not be Psychic but who does have wonderful powers of observation), and he gets fine support from Corbin Bernsen (L.A. Law) as his cop father and Dulé Hill (The West Wing) as his Dr. Watson-esque sidekick.
Psych is one of those happy collisions of an intelligent script and an appealing cast. Roday's a charmer, nice looking but more charismatic than pretty, and ably paired with West Wing alumnus Dulé Hill, who plays Shawn's ultra-responsible childhood friend Gus.
As the show continued to grow, it became a mainstay and the premiere television show on the USA Network. Critics and fans have given high praise to the chemistry between the entire cast, most notably Roday and Hill. The themed episodes and overall creativity have also been received well. Positive critical reception for the show has dramatically increased as the show has gone on. Significant applause has been given to the show for remaining fresh and witty, even as they pass the 100 episode mark, and the online fan community is extremely lively.
Psych was the winner of the Independent Investigations Group Annual Award for "Excellence in Entertainment" for advancing the cause of science and exposing superstition. Accepting for Psych was staff writer Daniel Hsia.
Psych was the winner of the People's Choice Awards in 2014 for "Best Cable TV Comedy."
In July 2011 ION Television announced that Psych will become part of their 2012 broadcast in syndication. During 2012 reruns of the show mostly ran on Saturdays as a marathon. In 2013 ION Television announced the acquisition option pick-up of season seven of Psych. The deal with NBCUniversal Cable & New Media Distribution adds all 16 new episodes of season 7 to ION’s existing library of seasons 1-6 of Psych and includes rights to future seasons. Psych is also aired on the Cloo channel and on the Esquire Network channel.
Seasons one through six are available on DVD in Regions 1, 2 and 4, as well as for online streaming on Netflix and Hulu and online download in the US, Canadian, UK, and Australian iTunes Stores. In addition, the seventh season is available on DVD in Region 1 and in the US, Canadian, and UK iTunes Stores. The episode "Psych: The Musical" is available on DVD in Region 1 and for download in the US iTunes Store, as well as for online streaming on Netflix and Hulu. The eighth and final season is also available for download in the US iTunes Store. Despite being available in HD over streaming and download video services, and seasons four through eight being filmed in HD, no Blu-ray release of Psych exists.
William Rabkin has written and published five novels based on the series. The novels are written in third person narrative style. Additionally, Chad Gervich has published a crime-fighting guide based on methods presented in the show.