“Psych” Episode 8.03: (Re)making Television History

Psych-Os finally got the chance to watch one of the most anticipated, most talked episodes for season eight, “Remake A.K.A. Cloudy… With a Chance of Improvement.” Let me start by saying it was certainly worth the wait. To be fair, the original “Cloudy… With a Chance of Murder” from season one was enjoyable. However, writers Andy Berman and Todd Harthan took everything one-step further to create a work of timely, comedic genius.

Let’s start with the impressive list of returning guest stars. Michael Weston (Hornstock) reprised his role as the defense attorney from the 2006 version. He represents the accused, Sandra Panitch, played by Lindsay Sloane. You may remember Sloane as the bachelorette from “Shawn and the Real Girl.” Panitch is accused of murdering the local weatherman, played by Dana Ashbrook, who you should recognize from the iconic episode “Dual Spires.” Ray Wise, also from “Dual Spires,” portrays Judge Horace Leland. On the prosecution, we have Ralph Macchio (Phelps), “Psych” alum from “We’d Like to Thank the Academy.”

In an effort to prove Panitch innocent, Shawn attempts to accuse the news receptionist, Priscilla (Katharine Isabelle) of the crime. Isabelle is also no stranger to “Psych,” after appearing in season two’s “Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion.” Shawn also suspects news reporter Ruben Leonard of the crime, played by Alan Ruck from “Gus Walks into a Bank.” After many twists to the case, Shawn finally realizes news anchor, Morty Camp, committed the crime. Camp, played by Carlos Jacott of season one’s “9 Lives,” plots to kill the weatherman, thinking his wife, co-anchor Connie, was having an affair with him. Janet Varney (Connie) from “Murder?… Anyone?… Anyone?… Bueller?,” completes my list of returning guest stars, at least the ones I recognized.

Another enjoyable aspect of the episode, which all avid fans can appreciate, are the similarities between the remake and the original episode. The remake started in the same way the 2006 version did. We see Henry teaching his son how to examine jurors in a courtroom; however, there was one major difference. Instead of teaching the trademark observational skills to middle aged Shawn, Henry is passing his lessons on to infant Shawn, in the remake. This added more comedy, as did other tweaks Berman and Harthan made to the script. Other similarities to the original, included: Gus’ apparent, vast knowledge of sixth grade law, Hornstock changing his tie to impress a female juror, and a tape being the key piece of evidence, just to name a few.

There were some throwbacks to the original, in particular, that I would like to highlight. In “Cloudy… With a Chance of Murder,” Shawn and Gus proclaimed they were taking the case pro bono, and they used the same tactic in the remake. However, they had a little more fun with Shawn’s misunderstanding of the phrase, leaving Spencer to define them as “professional bonos,” representing a “boner-fied defense team.” Like any other “Psych” episode, this was just a tiny snippet of the sexual innuendo used throughout the remake. For instance, when the sex video was played in the original episode, there was lots of moaning and groaning, typical stuff. In the remake, the sex session sounded inhuman, like rabid dogs in heat. Again, that little difference made all the difference.

The sex theme was also used in a hilarious scene with Woody (Kurt Fuller). In order to exonerate the receptionist, he had to give details of a sexual encounter he had with her, in his airstream. He goes on to discuss what he interpreted as a night of passion, no doubt to the horror of Priscilla, saying she left him “like a blaze of beautiful glory.” Fuller never ceases to amaze me in his ability to make Woody such an odd, loveable guy, and I have to give kudos to Berman and Harthan for making him a part of the episode.

There were so many amazing scenes in the remake, some of which I’ve already highlighted, but three really stood out. I loved how Shawn and Henry were on good terms in this episode. In the original, Shawn had so much animosity towards his father, but he told Henry he taught him everything he knows in the remake. Also, in one of the last scenes, when Shawn solves the case, Henry stops before leaving the courtroom, giving Shawn a wink of approval. It was such a nice father/son moment, and I really hope it is a theme to continue.

Dule Hill also gave a stellar performance when Gus had to stall the courtroom until Shawn could get there. Some of you may know how the phrase “c’mon son” originated on “Psych,” but for those of you who don’t, here’s a bit of trivia. Roday and Hill were listening to Ed Lover during a shooting break, and they became hilariously fascinated with his catchphrase, “c’mon son.” They decided to improv the phrase, and it has become an iconic “Psych” slogan. So, it was no surprise when Ed Lover appeared in the courtroom, as a bailiff, to detain a frantic Gus. As Lover approached Gus, Hill gave one of the best lines of the episode, “Don’t you c’mon son me.” The bailiff proceeded to drag Gus from the courtroom as he delivered recognizable lines from “My Cousin Vinny,” “A Few Good Men,” and “The Verdict.” Dule Hill absolutely nailed the scenes with his spot on dialogue execution.

As a Shawn and Juliet fan, my favorite part of the episode was Shawn’s case breakdown. He spent the entire episode flirting with Juliet, telling her he could see their future together, and he took the opportunity to describe how he envisioned it. Since he was discussing love and the relationship between the two newscasters, he went into serious Shawn mode for a moment. With Juliet intently listening, in a courtroom full of people, Shawn described her as “a little slice of blond perfection.” He admitted he wanted to marry her since the first day he saw her, and have so many children they would need to be put up for adoption. Lawson’s reactions were spot on, and like the scenes with Shawn and his father, the moment was incredibly special. I never thought an episode where Shawn and Juliet were not a couple could deliver in such a sentimental way, but Berman did it once before in the close talking scene from “Bounty Hunters.” I knew he could do it again. Roday delivered the breakdown scene so well, and it was nice to end the episode with everyone coming together, in a sense, to celebrate what “Psych” has accomplished over the past eight years. This episode didn’t advance the storyline, it wasn’t supposed to, but it achieved something much greater. It left fans with an homage to who the characters really are, where they started, and an anticipation for how it’s all going to come full circle during season eight.

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