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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Psych climbs Twin Peaks

     I wish I had watched Twin Peaks back in the day. Of course, I was seven years old when the show premiered, and nine when it was canceled, so I certainly missed the boat, age wise. Still, watching this week's episode of USA's Psych, I can't help but long to see the series that was once wildly popular, and then was pulled after only two seasons. As a non-fan of Peaks, I only caught some of the many, many references I am told were packed into last night's episode. And most of the things I did catch, I assumed were there to be caught, without really getting where they came from. The cinnamon pie, the Log Lady, a burned down mill, Ray Wise's suddenly white hair, the owl, Lodge Blackman, crazy dancing, donuts, a redone theme song. They were all obviously supposed to mean something, and I hope they did for the legions of former Peaks fans out there.

     The episode was called, appropriately enough, "Dual Spires", and is widely reported to be a James Roday passion project. Roday stars in the show as faux-psychic detective Shawn Spencer. In this week's episode, he gets a mysterious e-mail that leads him to a town where a young girl's body is found in the water and wrapped in plastic, a homage to Peaks. The hour (plus eight minutes) also featured seven of Peaks's former stars, including the aformentioned Wise (returning as a character he played on Psych last year), Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn, Dana Ashbrook, Catherine Coulson, Lenny Von Dohlen, and Robyn Lively. A huge number, that easily explains why the episode ran longer than in normal weeks.

     As a Psych episode, it was fairly standard. Good movie references, Shawn referring to Gus (Dule Hill) by a name that wasn't his, a murder that must be solved. There were no big developments for the regular Psych characters. It was a love letter to a show from long ago, and that was the entire point. In that regard, I believe it succeeded, although, again, I'm probably not the best person to make that call.

     This is not the first time Psych has done a themed episode, or deviated from the normal season arc. It may be the entry that required the most work, though, with everything that went into it.  Watching the episode, it's impossible not to be impressed with everyone involved, and how such a fine episode came together, staying true to Psych, but honoring a television legend such as Twin Peaks.

     Even though the Twin Peaks references are done, there is still plenty of Psych.  The show airs new episodes of its fifth season Wednesdays at 10pm on USA.

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