I understand why some people don't like "Psych," which starts its new season Friday at 10 p.m. on USA. Well, that's not exactly true. I don't really get how someone could not like the fake-psychic detective comedy. But I at least try to understand the people who roll their eyes when Fridays roll around - especially because I'm married to one of them.
I could just chalk it up to one of those unimportant yet incomprehensible attitudes that you tolerate from your otherwise ideal better half. But I have so much affection for "Psych" that I really want to understand this indifference-verging-on-dismissal. I mean, how could anyone not get a fun giggle or three out of this show? Come on!
Maybe it depends on your sense of humor. "Psych" really relies on our ability to handle so-bad-they're-good puns, goofball dialogue, silly plots and exuberant fizziness on the part of the actors. I refuse to call it hamming, because true hams only perform for their own personal glory. Real hamming involves stealing the spotlight and holding onto it with a death grip.
But James Roday and Dule Hill, who play Shawn Spencer and Burton "Gus" Guster on "Psych," aren't about the ego thing. There's nothing they won't do to make us - and presumably each other - laugh.
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Their own personal dignity is not even an afterthought. At no point do they attempt to appear cool or above it all. It's all about having fun.
And maybe that's part of the non-appeal for the non-fans: I can understand some folks wanting a little more bite with their comedy. Nobody likes sarcasm dripping with vitriol more than I (when it's done right, that is).
But what makes "Psych" a breath of fresh air is that sarcasm and irony abound, yet the show is almost entirely free of mean-spiritedness. Corbin Bernsen adds a nice dose of coiled anger as Spencer's dad, Henry, and Timothy Omundson is a hoot as Carlton Lassiter, a detective who despises Spencer and his weird methods, but otherwise the show drifts along in a sea of silliness. And I'll thank its creator, Steve Franks, not to change that one bit.
Friday's season premiere is especially chockablock with inspired daffiness. As part of an investigation, Gus and Shawn try out for "American Duos," a talent show that looks an awful lot like a certain Fox reality juggernaut. There are the small, perfectly timed funny moments, such as Gus and Shawn's fighting over a plate of corn on the cob during dinner at Henry's or learning some "Flashdance"-style choreography from sweetly earnest detective Juliet O'Hara (Maggie Lawson), and much bigger delights as well.
Gina Gershon is delightful as the only female judge on "Duos": She's a blubbery, incoherent mess with perhaps some prescription medication issues. I can't really guess who she's supposed to be, but I'm pretty sure Tim Curry is playing a thinly disguised version of the venomous Simon Cowell. Of course, Curry's character is named Nigel St. Nigel; just that name makes me laugh a little.
Sure, Curry's a ham (a curried ham?) - I have no problem with designating him as such. But he's such a skilled, enjoyable hambone that every scene he steals is a treat.
Also Friday, "Monk" (9 p.m., USA) returns, with another well-cast guest star. Sarah Silverman plays detective Adrian Monk's foremost super fan, and she was the perfect choice for the role: Silverman is pitch-perfect at playing slightly demented yet determinedly sunny characters. Despite Monk's distaste for his fan's overly enthusiastic ways, he finds there's an upside to having her around: She made him his very own monogrammed anti-bacterial wipes.
"Monk's" pleasures are of a more subtle variety, yet the sight of Silverman's character embracing "Monk" in a "clue hug" is, as so much on this veteran hit, pleasantly amusing.