Hey, I really, really liked last week’s awesome Halloween-themed Psych. I thought it was an instant classic, with one of the tightest, zippiest scripts we’ve had in a long time.
I mention this mostly because I was a little sour on this week’s episode, and I just wanted to remind myself that I really do love this show.
A masked vigilante known as the Mantis is in Santa Barbara, where he’s been befuddling the Santa Barbara Police Department by repeatedly beating them to crime scenes and apprehending members of the Camino drug syndicate. I don’t want to be too harsh on this episode, because it’s got some shining moments. Case in point: the snazzy revised opening credits, which are illustrated comic book-style.
Full stop, though: How is it possible this episode doesn’t contain a single overt reference to M.A.N.T.I.S., the mid-nineties Sam Raimi-produced FOX series, which starred Carl Lumbly as a vigilante superhero named, yep, Mantis? Under usual circumstances, M.A.N.T.I.S. is exactly the sort of odd pop-culture artifact that would be right up Psych’s alley.
Anyway, Shawn quickly becomes jealous of the attention the SBPD -- and Juliet in particular -- pays to the Mantis. (Naturally, he scoffs at this notion: “How insecure do you think I am? Seriously, how insecure do you think I am? I need you to tell me.”) Determined to uncover the true identity of the Mantis, Shawn initially suspects a new transfer to the SBPD, Officer Scott Reynolds. Hey there, Joey McIntyre! I’ve never had anything for or against New Kids on the Block (nice boys, I’m sure, but they’re no Duran Duran), but Joey, I have to say, looks pretty darn good these days. He’s sort of squandered in this episode, relegated to a not-terribly-uproarious recurring gag where he thinks Shawn is hitting on him (really, Psych, if you’re going to use “It Gets Better” as a punchline, make absolutely sure the joke is worth it) , but I’d be happy to see him stick around the SBPD for subsequent episodes.
There are some Psych plots I will lovingly recap in excessive detail, and then there are some to which I’ll just give a lick and a promise. This falls into the latter category. In brief: In retaliation, the Camino drug syndicate frames the Mantis for murder. In his quest to prove the Mantis is innocent, Shawn uncovers his identity -- the Mantis is Reginald (Miles Fisher), a handsome and distinctly Clark Kentish young reporter. With the help of Shawn and Gus, the Mantis takes down the Camino syndicate… but then absconds with ten million dollars of drug money. Gus and Shawn, disguised as their superhero alter egos Tap-Man (tap dances and throws sand in the faces of miscreants) and The Catch (wears a catcher’s protective gear), manage to bring the Mantis to justice.
There’s a whole lot of funny stuff in there -- for instance, there’s an adorably clever fight scene which takes place in front of conveniently-placed signs reading “POW” and “ZAP” and “BIFF” -- but too many jokes fall flat or, worse, grate on the nerves. You know how ninety percent of the time Shawn’s whole irresponsible man-child routine makes him seem endearingly flawed, but then there’s that other ten percent where he just seems like sort of a douche? Yeah. You can probably see where I’m going with this.
Everyone’s allowed the occasional misfire. Next week, Psych. Next week. Bring your A-game.
Awesome Eighties reference:
Distracted by thoughts of the Mantis, Shawn fails to pay attention to Juliet. Juliet: “I just gave you a setup containing Mr. T, Crockett, and a word that rhymes with ‘Mork,’ and I got nothing. Not even a Battle of the Network Stars joke.”
Lassiter, expressing his reluctance to give Shawn credit for solving the case: “I would rather spend the rest of my life in Lilith Fair.”
Gus’s fake name: