Throwback Thursday: Psych

Psych. Where to begin with Psych. This show is fandom heaven. The gags, the actor’s involvement, the contests, the Fan Appreciation days, the running jokes, the guest stars, the homage episodes, the musical. This is the kind of fandom that every fan dreams of having one day. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Psych aired 8 seasons and 121 episodes from 2006 to 2014.  The show focuses on Shawn Spencer, fake psychic detective,  and Burton “Gus” Guster, best friend and unwilling (sometimes willing) pawn in Shawn’s antics. Shawn’s father, Henry, was a police officer who raised Shawn to be hyper vigilant with keen observation and deductive skills. Think Sherlock Holmes with a major case of ADHD and a diet of pixie sticks and soda.

Shawn hit a rebellious streak in his teenage years that probably is still going on, and has had 57 jobs since graduation instead of the police force work his father set out for him. As an adult, Shawn takes to calling in tips to the Crime Hotline after watching the News and spotting tells/clues. He ends up being called in to the station where he is accused of being an accessory to the crimes, even though he tells them the truth. As a last resort to avoid being arrested, he lies and says he is psychic by using some of the clues he picked up while observing the station. The interim police chief asks him for help on a kidnapping and tells him that if it ever comes out that he is lying, he will be prosecuted.

With no choice but to keep up the pretense, Shawn enlists his childhood best friend to be his partner as consultants to the police, even though Gus already has a job as a Pharmaceutical Representative. Shawn uses the psychic pretense to live out every childhood dream he has ever had (except for riding a dolphin. That one sadly never comes to fruition), much to the chagrin of Head Detective Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter and bemusement of Junior Detective Juliet “Jules” O’Hara.

Now that we’ve covered the plot of the show, let’s talk how this show managed to create one of the best fandoms in tv history.

The gags/running jokes: The cast had such a bond that you immediately knew that they genuinely were a family on set. You only have to watch one episode to see this. This level of camaraderie and friendship lead to them constantly goofing off on set. Just watch this 2 and a half hour video of all the psych outs and bloopers. Psych outs are what the network called the bloopers that were shown at the end of every episode beginning season 2 or 3. The cast ended up having running gags that were soon written into the show. One of the most famous of these  was between James Roday and Dule Hill (Shawn and Gus respectively), and is only two words: Suck It. Fans to this day still say Suck It as a reply to pretty much everything. We also have the running gags of Gus’s fake names, “Gus don’t be a …”, “I’ve heard it both ways”, and “have you heard about Pluto?”. Of course we can’t forget the most important one. The pineapple.

The pineapple: While the pineapple is a running joke/gag, it deserves it’s own paragraph. It started out in the first episode as an ad-lib of Shawn asking Gus if they could split a pineapple in the car. The ad-lib was left in, and the cast and fans loved it. Almost every single episode has a pineapple in it, be it an actual pineapple, pineapple upside down cake, pineapple statues, or just an image on a water bottle label. It even became a fandom game called “spot the pineapple” and was used as a contest on the networks site to win prizes and props. It is such an icon that almost every piece of merchandise has a pineapple on it. *If you want to know where every pineapple is, check out this website.

The cast/network involvement: This show was one of the first shows to have the cast live tweet episodes and interact with fans online during the broadcast. They had myspace pages for every main character, and used fans as the top 8 friends. During hiatuses, countdown calendars were posted by the network and each day would reveal a clip, a trailer, character resumes, behind the scenes pictures, etc. The network ran contests to find the biggest fans and would give them shout outs during the show. Leading up to season 6, they even had a Psych Fan Appreciation day. It was a comic con just for Psych and included watching the premiere, a Q&A, on stage competitions between the fans, and the cast singing random songs (they do this all the time. It’s pretty much 25% of the bloopers and the inspiration for the musical episode).

The guest stars: This show has the best guest stars of all time. To  name a few: Molly Ringwald, Cary Elwes, Jane Lynch, Tim Curry, Ally Sheedy, John Cena, Kerry Washington, Kenan Thompson, Judd Nelson, Freddie Prince Jr., Mena Suvari, Wayne Brady, Anthony Michael Hall, Christopher Lloyd, George Takei, and William Shatner. A fuller list can be found here.

The homage episodes: You just have to google homage episodes and the first few results are Psych related. This show set the standards on how to do an homage episode correctly. Some of the homages we had: John Hughes, Twin PeaksClueIndiana Jones,  Nightmare on Elm StreetOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestSliding Doors, The Shining, Friday the 13th, The Hangover, American Idol, Hitchcockand Psych itself (during season 8 they remade a season 1 episode).

The fans themselves: All of the above lead to the fans being loyal because the cast and crew went above and beyond. We once had a 10 month hiatus and the show did not lose viewers. Instead, we became even more loyal and used the time to bring in new fans. This fandom loved one another, and I cannot remember any fandom drama. The only thing that even stands out is when Shawn and Jules got a serious girlfriend/boyfriend that were not each other. The fandom was torn over liking them or hating them. What set this fandom apart from others is that at the end of the day everybody agreed that Shules (Shawn and Jules) was endgame and that a girlfriend or boyfriend billed as a guest star was not going to last forever. The fans never got into wars, and all you had to do was say you watched/liked Psych  and you were welcomed with open arms and hugs for the long hiatuses.

Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu (Watch the Trailer)

Where to find the fandom: While a large portion of the fandom petered out a year or two after the final episode, new fans still have access to all the fandom goodness.  FanfictionPsychficLivejournalAO3USANetwork, Tumblr: Psych TagPsychUSA TagPsychfanaticsthelittleboycatpysch

 

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TV Talk: Lucifer – Season One Review

Lucifer is a show that surprises me. When I say surprise now, I mean I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did by the time the season was up. Not to say I thought it would be terrible but given the amount of shows on television these days I prefer to watch TV that completely captures my attention and Lucifer may have taken a few episodes but now I am fully on the ride (pun not intended I promise haha).

The premise is fairly simple, the Devil decided to take a vacation to LA (city of angels don’t you know) and he meets a homicide detective Chloe Decker who quickly intrigues him being immune to his unique gift of drawing the desires out of humans while she investigates a shooting in front of the nightclub he owns. Tom Ellis plays the hell out of this role (no I’m not doing this on purpose) and he has wonderful chemistry with Lauren German who clearly is enjoying her character and bringing out all the wonderful facets of a truly good human in the face of a man who only looks for the sinful side of life.

Over the course of the season we get into the world building introducing off the bat Mazikeen, or Maze – a demon who’s very loyal to Lucifer, Amenadiel – Lucifer’s angelic brother, Dan and Trixie – Chloe’s estranged husband and daughter, and Dr. Linda Martin – a therapist whom Lucifer starts seeing.

What I like, and certainly what improved on the show, is that it hones in on building the characters’ relationships with each other in between the murder investigations and procedural element rather than the focus being the other way around since frankly there’s a LOT of procedurals out there we don’t need just “another” one.

As the story gets in deeper I found myself even more interested in the characters as they mix and matched throughout the stories and murders. I found interactions I didn’t expect to like let alone love (case in point Maze and Trixie at the bar was adorable and classic). The biggest draw is of course the banter and slowly deepening friendship between Chloe and Lucifer and how he comes to terms with his identity from being exposed to someone who makes him vulnerable or rather “human.” For all her skepticism at his open admission of being the literal “Devil” its adorable to see these two vastly different people find common ground and comradeship through murder investigations while navigating their very different lives.

Leading up to the final episodes, I love seeing how Lucifer struggle with his identity crisis culminating in a wonderful season finale (the showdown with Malcom, a deal with his Dad to save Chloe – cue the I’m dying of feels moment) and finally that blew the doors wide open on the mythology of the world. I mean seriously….MOM?! I did not see that coming. I was honestly expecting some famous demonic or angelic figure but that was a cliffhanger. I cannot wait to see how next season handles this wonderful ensemble since the Devil now has a true friend (that I am dying to see develop further; what can I say? I’m a shipper), a brother he loves to fight with, a demon who snarks as well as he does, and a wayward parent he’s terrified of but must take back to Hell where she belongs….is it Fall yet?

What Buffy Taught Me

What Buffy Taught Me

My bedroom at university is pretty well decorated with a Jurassic World poster on the wall, fairy lights, and pictures of my friends and I surrounding my desk. However, my favourite decoration in my room is the one my Dad helped me make before I moved away: a gold lettered sign on my wall, right next to my bed, that says “What Would Buffy Do?”

This is the mantra I live by. I grew up watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BTVS)- it began on television when I was a few months old and my parents eventually acquired the box sets for me to start watching when I was about seven or eight years old. I was never allowed to watch past season 3 due to ‘adult themes’ (read: Buffy and Riley sex scenes) until I was about twelve or thirteen. I’ve now watched the series a few hundred times and, at the ripe old age of nineteen, I can safely say that BTVS has taught me some valuable life lessons.

#1: It’s okay not to be okay

Buffy has to be one of the strongest characters I have ever seen on television, and yet sometimes she can’t be strong. We see Buffy break down several times on the show, whether it be because she has to kill Angel or because her mother dies. Each of these times humanize Buffy and remind me that it is okay to not be okay, and sometimes you will get sad and overwhelmed, but that’s fine because you don’t have to be strong all the time. Not to mention Buffy crying always ends up with me crying too!

#2: Don’t be a sheep

One of my favourite characters in the BTVS series has got to be Cordelia. She’s sassy, hilarious, and the ‘bully turned friend’. One of the best things Cordelia has taught me is to not be a sheep. Cordy is unafraid to be herself, and she is a very loud and proud, outgoing personality. However, the turning point for her was at the end of the season 2 episode, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, when she stands up to Harmony and her band of ‘sheep’. Cordelia tells Harmony that she is a sheep, and Cordy will wear what she wants to wear and date who she wants to date, even if that guy is Xander.

#3: Everything is better with a little help from friends

Buffy often suffers from what I like to call the ‘hero complex’, i.e. she feels as if she has to do everything alone and by herself so that she doesn’t endanger any of her friends or family. However, the majority of the time she has the most success when she allows her friends to help her in any way they can. This is an advantage of them knowing that she is the Slayer. They often help research what Buffy is up against, find clues, concoct and carry out plans, and be there when it is all done and dusted. My two favourite examples of when they all succeeded together was when they were fighting the Order of Taraka assassins in season 2, each of them tackling one that they had researched. Also, I absolutely loved the season 3 finale, Graduation Day part 2, when they finally all take on the Mayor’s ascension. It is such a kick ass episode, mostly because everyone is fighting and working together to take the big snake down.

Hopefully you guys have watched BTVS, or plan to soon, as it has always been, and will always continue to be, my favourite TV show in the world. It’s funny, witty, dark, stressful, action packed, and it teaches a lot of important lessons through the characters and their ordeals.

I look forward to my 101st re watch!

TV Trivia – Answers

  • What is the link between X-Files and Twin Peaks?
    • Duchovny played a transvestite in an episode of Twin Peaks.
  • On Friends, what was Rachel’s error on her resume in the episode with all the poker?
    • She spelled computer wrong when she claimed she had excellent compuper skills.
  • On the X-Files, what’s Mulder’s nickname?
    • SPOOKY

TV Trivia

Factoids

  • The first broadcasted TV commercial lasted for 20 seconds in 1941 during the game between Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. It was for a clock manufactured by Bulova Corporation.
  • 99% of American homes own at least one television set, and 66% has at least three. More than half pay for cable.
  • First television sets had only modest picture capabilities: 200-400 lines of resolution.

Questions

  • What is the link between X-Files and Twin Peaks?
  • On Friends, what was Rachel’s error on her resume in the episode with all the poker?
  • On the X-Files, what’s Mulder’s nickname?

Answer in the comments below and the correct answers will be revealed tomorrow

Tirade Tuesday: Actors who can’t move their face

I am so sick and tired of actors getting hired who cannot move their faces. Acting is 90% facial expressions, and 10% remembering your lines. Okay, probably not, but from a viewers perspective it is.

Facial expressions are so important in society. We have mirror neurons, neurons that  fire when we perform an act and when we observe somebody else perform the same act. In laymen’s terms, the same neuron is activated  when we are happy and when we see somebody else happy. This is one of the reasons why yawns are ‘contagious’.

This is why actor’s facial expressions are important. For us to fully empathize with a fictional character, to completely understand their actions, our mirror neurons need to be activated. We need to feel what they feel.

When actors don’t move their faces, or they use the same expressions over and over again, we aren’t as connected. Our mirror neurons aren’t activated, and we feel nothing.

For example: Cam and Arastoo from Bones. We are supposed to buy that they are in love, yet their facial expressions say otherwise. Take the pictures below. Her smile does not meet her eyes, so we can automatically tell it is not genuine. His face literally stays in that position 24/7. Something romantic has just happened between them, and yet, where is that expressed in his face? In his eyes?

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Luckily the above are just side characters and not lead characters. When it’s the main character whose face never moves, major issues occur. One such show is Once Upon a Time. The character Emma Swan has no expressions. You can just google image the character, and every picture has her with the same expression. I couldn’t make it past the first episode because I could not connect with Emma. I wanted to feel what she felt, and to all appearances, she felt nothing. I don’t care how good the story lines are, if the actors can’t sell the emotion, you have an unwatchable show.

Some roles require little to no facial expressions. Take Kristen Stewart, one of her first roles was in the movie Speak. The movie focused on a freshmen in high school who was dealing with the aftermath of her rape by not talking to anybody. She was emotionally shut down and had no relationships with anybody. This character was supposed to not show emotions, and Kristen rocked the part.

There is a time and a place for not showing emotions, but sadly more and more actors who struggle with facial expressions are not finding those parts. They are landing parts that require them to use muscles they have no idea how to use.

Casting directors need to start paying more attention to facial expressions and not just  how the actor delivers the line.

Unpopular Opinion: Neglect vs Death

I recently started watching The Walking Dead. Well, right now I’m on a much needed break after binging three and a half seasons of perpetual misery in 72 hours, but I do plan on continuing. Anyway, right around season two and three, amidst the Rick/Lori/Shane love triangle drama, Daryl dealing with his racist brother, Caroyl blossoming from battered wife to badass, and Andrea’s questionable taste in men, I noticed that I knew next to nothing about T-Dogg, our resident man of color. Of course there’s also Glenn, but his neglect lessened once he got a white girlfriend, though I still know more about Maggie than I do Glenn. So, in season three T-Dogg dies. Look, everybody on that show dies. They’d already killed off Lori and Shane and Dale and Merle. Freaking Merle! He was in less episodes than T-Dogg, yet even he had a richer story. And that’s the problem. That’s what made T-Dogg’s death irritating to me, not the death of a POC character in a show that already lacked them, but the blatant neglect. This is what they all have in common.

The death of Abbie Mills from Sleepy Hollow is merely a symptom of a larger problem. They wouldn’t have killed her if Nicole Beharie hadn’t wanted to leave. The problem is, Nicole Beharie wanted to leave because her character had been sidelined. The same goes for Ricky Whittle from The 100, whose neglect only started in season three. Teen Wolf didn’t kill off Kira Yukimura, but they still got rid of Arden Cho after a season of absent episodes. Bonnie Bennett is still on The Vampire Diaries, but if you compare her story to Caroline Forbes…well it’ll make you go hmmm. The Wire killed off several black men, but the cast was full of them, all complex and fully realized. Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s strength doesn’t merely come from the number of POC’s in their cast, but how fleshed out they all are.

And yes, I’m aware of the disparity in numbers, but I don’t think merely holding onto the characters of color you have so they can hover on the sidelines while you meet your diversity quota is acceptable. I’m not asking show writers to give them immunity from death or suffering, just DO something with them. Give them beautiful and complex and heartbreaking stories. Treat them like you do your white characters.Like they’re actual people with actual lives. If history is any indication, progress comes in baby steps. Hey Hollywood, how about you start there?