On Sunday night, Psych-Os finally had the long awaited opportunity to watch the two-hour musical episode, appropriately titled, “Psych: The Musical.” The plot is centered on Z (Anthony Rapp), a playwright who was wrongfully accused of murdering a theatre critic, leaving it up to Shawn to prove his innocence. The case was met with the typical obstacles you would see in any Psych episode, Lassiter’s disregard of Shawn’s antics, and a changing list of suspects. The only difference, it’s set to music.
The show’s opening number was the most complex, obviously serving to enlighten people on the crime-fighting duo, a useful tactic for those unfamiliar with the series. The “Santa Barbara Skies” performance certainly accomplished that goal. In fact, the image of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots in the foreground of the first shot effectively illustrated the main character’s immaturity, before Roday uttered his first note. As the song continued, we were met with the first of three continuity errors throughout the musical. In season 7 of Psych, Juliet learned Shawn isn’t a psychic, a storyline the writers incorporated into several of the season’s episodes. Since Juliet was still in the dark during the musical, we also know Lassiter had yet to wed Marlowe. These continuity errors, however, can be forgiven, since the musical was originally going to air mid-way through season 7.
Hill immediately showcased his dancing and singing abilities in the first number, which he continued to do throughout the musical. No surprise, considering the actor has an extensive background on Broadway, and has been practicing dance, particularly tap, since he was a child. While Roday doesn’t have the musical background of his co-star, he equally shines in his performance with strong vocals and chorographical execution.
Perhaps the most anticipated musical number, “I’ve Heard it Both Ways,” introduced us to Omundson’s deep voice and Lawson’s soft tone. The most memorable moment of the segment was the Tango, shared by Shawn and Lassiter. The tango was one of the highlights of the musical, because it brought two polarizing characters together, in a way one never imagined. The “I’ve Heard it Both Ways Reprise” was equally as satisfying, with Shawn and Lassiter passing Juliet back and forth through dance, while their egos clashed.
One cast member who should have played a larger role in the musical was Kirsten Nelson. Her performance of “Santa Barbara Skies Reprise” with Lawson and Omundson was one to be commended. She was able to hit the high notes and was clearly in her element, considering her background in music, specifically as a young adult. Series creator Steve Franks, however, admitted he should have used Nelson more throughout the musical. The best part of Nelson’s presentation was how she stayed in character, keeping a stern exterior, while still incorporating a bit of witticism into the song. There were a couple of other notable performances, one being that of Kurt Fuller (Woody). The coroner, who always pushes boundaries, did so by singing in one of the morgue rooms, of course, amongst a dead body. Ally Sheedy, who reprised her role as Yang for the musical, was an interesting touch to the performance, with Woody having an apparent attraction to Yang.
While I was thrilled to see the return of Yang, I feel the iconic character of the series deserved a better sendoff. Yes, we were given a gripping duet with Sheedy and Jimmi Simpson (Mary) as Yang met her demise, but her death wasn’t addressed well with the main characters. For instance, even though Yang tried to kill Shawn’s mother, it was obvious she still had a special place in Shawn’s heart, hence his reaction to her at Willowbrooke Psychiatric Hospital. Instead of seeing Shawn or Gus formally acknowledge her passing, we simply see Shawn carrying her urn, intent on honoring her last wishes. It was also important to address how Juliet felt about Yang’s death. After all, she did go through an emotional battle during the Yang trilogy, after being kidnapped by Yang’s father.
One other detail the musical was missing was a duet with Shawn and Juliet. They are the main couple on the show, and it’s something I expected to happen. Shawn did sing a breakdown of the case to Juliet, on the phone, but her words were only spoken. Lawson proved in the earlier performances of “Under Santa Barbara Skies Reprise” and “Making up a Song,” that she has impressive vocal skills. That faculty should have been utilized more, and I know fans would have applauded a duet where Roday and Lawson’s talents were highlighted together.
Some other nice moments in the musical were an attempted relationship talk with Lassiter and Juliet, and the resurrection of Gus’ pick up line, regarding Pluto. The musical did end on a high note with the performance of “Jamaican Inspector.” Throughout the musical, Gus was determined to earn the role of the inspector in “Jack the Ripper.” He gave a quick, impromptu performance, while getting stage fright, which was an ironic juxtaposition to Hill, who we all know is comfortable on stage. Finally, we see the entire performance of “Jamaican Inspector” at the end of the musical, and it was definitely worth the wait, with Hill delivering one of the catchiest songs of the episode.
Overall, was this my favorite addition to the “Psych” franchise? No, but it’s definitely something for Steve Franks to be proud of. He wrote each original song, which was paired with amazing choreography, and keen editing of each musical number. I knew the cast of Psych was talented before I watched the musical, but I have to applaud each one for their sheer talent and the willingness to sign on to such a large project. Truly “astoundashing” work.
Be sure to watch the premiere of “Psych” season 8 on January 8 at 9/8c on USA network. And yes, characters and Psych-Os are welcome.