Psych 2 is Good For What Ails You

Come on, son.

In the leadup to and immediate aftermath of the launch of Peacock, NBC Universal’s new streaming service, much of the press coverage focused either on the subscription tiers or on high-profile *Peak TV* originals like “Brave New World” and others. What blockbuster catalog movies were and weren’t included and when they would be removed from the lineup of offerings also accounted for substantial amounts of writeups.

That relatively narrow scope meant not much attention was paid to the real best reason to try out Peacock: Psych 2: Lassie Come Home.

If you’re not familiar with the premise of “Psych,” it’s pretty simple: Shawn (James Roday) is amazingly good at noticing and remembering details, a skill drilled into him by his police officer father Henry (Corbin Bernson). He uses that talent to pass himself off as a psychic and partners with his lifelong best friend Gus (Dule Hill) to become consultants to the Santa Barbara Police Department, often working with Detectives Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet (Maggie Lawson).

Lassie Come Home is the second made-for-TV movie since the show went off the air after seven seasons in 2014. Like 2017’s Psych: The Movie, it catches up with the familiar characters and where they are professionally and personally, reuniting the team for a case that’s somehow tied to their past. In this case Shawn, Gus, Juliet and Chief Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson) are out to investigate who shot Lassiter, leaving him severely wounded and with a foggy memory.

“Psych” has always shared more than a small amount of DNA with shows like “The Rockford Files,” with Shawn and Gus often bluffing themselves into situations they then had to fast-talk their way out of, and the latest movie is no exception to that. Just like in the show, Lassie Come Home has the pair taking unnecessary risks, sometimes motivated by a desire to see justice done or to help a friend and sometimes simply because Shawn wants to impress Juliet or Gus is trying to prove how tough he is to a girl he’s pursuing.

What’s wonderful about the Psych series to date is that it’s incredibly light-hearted, never stepping very far into deep pathology or psychosis the way other PI/detective procedurals sometimes do. The jokes are always fluffy and deserving of a chuckle, if not more. The relationships between the characters are clear and free of any massive continuity elements aside from the evolution of Shawn and Juliet’s romance. In that way it’s the perfect show for syndication, with no real long-running arc that gets in the way of watching whatever episode you like or whatever happens to be on while you’re unpacking in your hotel room.

That’s what makes it perfect for right now and why it deserved a bigger portion of the spotlight when it was announced as one of the launch day originals for Peacock. It’s not a show (or movie) that you will have to read 3,500-word explainers about, nor will you have to dissect all the Jungian principles that have been woven into the story by the creators. It is not dystopian or mind-bending and does not demand your attention by virtue of an all-star cast enlisted in the service of a cerebral adaptation of a best-selling novel.

Instead it’s a movie that will make you feel refreshed. It’s not mindless in the way some entertainment is, because you have to pay attention to catch all the rapid-fire one-liners and comebacks. Quite the opposite, it rewards careful viewing since the conclusions to the mysteries are almost always satisfying and consistent with the internal logic put in place by co-creator Steve Franks and others. More than anything, the cast uniformly delivers fun, breezy performances that make it obvious they’re having a good time on set and enjoying being reunited with the others, playing off each other with ease.

Peacock was never going to be a success or failure solely on how well Psych 2: Lassie Come Home delivered on the promise of the series or the 2017 movie. But the good news is that it *does,” in part because the model the creators have adopted means that these reunions/continuations every couple years come without the overwrought expectations and burdens of being a reunion or reboot. It only has to work on its own merits, not live up to the water-colored memories people might have from ~20 years ago.

Not only does the movie play just as funny and whimsical as the show almost always did, but it’s just as true with its feelings as well. Since the plot revolves around Det. Lassiter being shot, it naturally allows for Omundson, who suffered a stroke three years ago but has recovered to a great extent, to be involved and to serve as the emotional core of the story. Everyone is working the case because they owe Lassiter for all he’s done for them and don’t want to let him down while he’s sidelined. Still, he winds up being far from a passive observer to the action and his arc throughout the movie will make fans wonder why it’s getting so dusty in the room.

If you’ve already signed up to try out Peacock and see how it can fit into your streaming lifestyle, do yourself a favor and take two hours to watch Psych 2: Lassie Come Home. Even if you’re not a long-time fan and aren’t someone who watches closely for hidden pineapples, you’re likely to have a good time, one that won’t come with the need to go online and search for “what does X mean” in relation to every single plot point or development.

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