Psych Season 6 Review

  • Series Title: Psych
  • Season: Season 6
  • Episodes: 16 Episodes
  • Discs: 4
  • Network: USA (Universal)
  • Cast: James Roday, Dulé Hill, Timothy Omundson, Maggie Lawson, Kirsten Nelson, Corbin Bernsen
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

Psych is a fun show. Psych, along with shows such as Monk, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, and White Collar were part of USA Network’s character-centric set of series. All these shows emphasized characters, and had less emphasis on plot, which gave them a very 1980s-feel. I was a fan of Psych when it started, and only lost track of it during the last few seasons because my family switched satellite TV providers and I lost several episodes with the DVR then lost track of where USA Network was on the new system. Throw in USA Network’s unconventional scheduling and the show disappeared off the radar for me. But I always liked it.

I finally decided to sit down and watch Psych, in part because I was in the mood for exactly what this show offered – something light and fun, and character-driven. And Psych delivers – this show is fun, just plain fun. If you’ve never seen it, Shawn Spencer was raised by his divorced father, a cop for the Santa Barbara police department. His father, Henry Spencer, was tough but fair, and taught his son to be incredibly observant – as well as to be analytical. Shawn puts his skills to good work, well, sort of – no one would believe he was simply “observant”, so on his first case he tells the police he’s a psychic. This, six seasons in, Shawn’s psychic visions are accepted by the Santa Barbara police department – namely Police Chief Karen Vick, and the two detectives Shawn helps: Carlton Lassiter and Juliet O’Hara. As season six opens, Shawn and Juliet are now openly dating. Gus (Burton Guster) is Shawn’s best friend, since childhood. Shawn and Gus also operate a “Psychic Detective Agency” called “Psych”. Shawn’s father, Henry, still working as a detective for the SBPD rounds out the cast. The show also uses flashbacks to Shawn’s childhood. This season features one episode with flashbacks to Juliet’s childhood, as it brings in Juliet’s father played by William Shatner.

Psych is highly episodic – you coud dip in at any point and not really be confused. I started with this season, having not seen the show for a few years, and I really wasn’t confused at all. Season 6 is also the Season of Guest stars, with a number of well-known actors showing up. However, the series seems better in episodes without famous guest stars, when it focuses on our core characters. This season also takes Shawn, Gus, Juliet, and Lassiter to a number of different settings or movie-related themes: a triple-A baseball park, a murder committed in front of a murder mystery bookstore, Shawn going undercover in a psychiatric hospital to discover if a suspect found “not guilty by reason of insanity” is faking or not (answer: it’s complicated), a vampire case (not really), references to Indiana Jones, references to The Shining, and the final episode, Santabarbaratown, among others. Lassiter meets a woman on a case and falls for her – despite having to arrest her as an accomplice to burglary and manslaughter.

The final episode, Santabarbaratown, feels like a New-Noir story, involving one of Henry’s old cold cases. It gets into Henry’s past as a cop, his former partners, and other cops. And it ends with not-going-to-spoil-it cliffhanger last scene for the season. Needless to say, it’s brilliant.

Overall, Psych is always fun to watch, and this season is no different. Bringing in lots of well-known guest stars feels like a bit of a cheat – a way to bring in new audiences, but the show is still enjoyable. As I said at the beginning of this review, the USA Network character shows feel like a show from the 1980s – episodic, fun to watch, character-driven; but unlike the shows from the 1980s – USA Network’s shows have at least some diversity with women and minorities in the casts; maybe not as much diversity as on the CW, or as we would like, but it’s better than the all-male casts of the shows I grew up watching, like The A-Team, Magnum, PI, and Riptide. Season 6 of Psych is Recommended.

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Book Review – Wonder Woman: The True Amazon

  • Title: Wonder Woman: The True Amazon
  • Author: Jill Thompson
  • Artist: Jill Thompson
  • Characters: Wonder Woman
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 1/14/2017

**Spoiler Alert** Wow, just wow. This graphic novel blew me away. It is myth. It is fable. It is a beautiful story – beautifully written, beautifully illustrated. Just… Do yourself a favor and run to your local comics shop and get a copy then read it – you won’t be disappointed. This book is written and illustrated by a woman – Jill Thompson.

This story gives us the reader the background of the Amazons from soldiers of Hera to their war with men who are jealous of their abilities, to their “rescue” by Poseidon, and gift of their new home of Themyscira. There, the Amazons build civilization dedicated to art, culture, learning, and athletics. The women are happy and satisfied with their lives but the Queen, Hippolyta, wants a child. Every night she makes a baby out of sand on the shoreline and sings to it a lullaby. This leads to intervention by mermaids, Poseidon, and even the gods themselves, resulting in the child being given life. Hippolyta names her Diana.

Diana is loved by all, especially her mother. She is doted on – and, as with many children, she is spoiled, indulged, and given no limits. Diana grows up but never quite learns the consequences of her actions. Well…

This is myth, it is fable, you may suspect their would be a lot of foreshadowing of tragedy to come. And though there will be tragedy, the story doesn’t constantly hint at it – there’s a bit of undercurrent that things may not go well – but there’s no constant over-foreshadowing. Soon the time comes for the Commemorative Games remembering the Amazons’ war with men. The women compete anonymously, and Diana enters the competition – hoping to impress the simple stable girl who is the one person on the Island not impressed with her. During the games, Diana begins to learn she isn’t quite as good as she thinks – and has to work to win, rather than it coming easy to her. And then, through her own decisions, and lack of forethought – tragedy strikes. It is a disaster – and I’m not going to spoil it by going into details. But every great myth, and every great superhero story has at it’s origin a personal tragedy in the life of it’s hero – Why should Wonder Woman be any different? Superman lost his planet (something that also happened to The Doctor in the new version of Doctor Who); Batman lost his parents; The Flash lost his mother; heck even Spiderman lost his Uncle and adoptive father. It’s part of the superhero trope. Yet Wonder Woman’s origin usually has her choosing to leave Themyscira as escort to a crashed pilot – at least in the versions of the story I know. I was much, much more happy with the version of Wonder Woman’s origins. And it hit home – thus the fable description of this brilliant story.

Anyway, so there’s tragedy. (Not going to spoil it here – read the book!) Hippolyta, to give the Queen credit, realizes she cannot protect her daughter, or even make excuses for her, and she asks the other Amazons how to punish her. The shouts from the very angry crowd (and make no mistake – they have reason to be angry, and though you could describe what Diana did as “an accident” technically – it’s the type of accident that she should have thought about and thus not done in the first place – this is one case where the heroine has agency and makes a really bad choice – because of her background and her lack of thinking about possible consequences) range from “kill her” to “burn her” to “destroy her face” to “crush her legs”. It’s brutal. In the end, Hippolyta chooses to exile her own beloved daughter. She dresses Diana first, so the uniform we know so well, with one addition (also evocative of mythology) becomes not something of triumph, or something “honoring” a foreign nation, but rather a constant reminder of her mistakes. That scene alone is beautiful, haunting, tragic, and real. Diana’s journey has just begun and it will be one of atonement.

But for all this talk of tragedy, the book ends on a beautiful note of hope as well. The ending pages of the book are all about hope. And that is a valuable thing.

This book was listed in the Top 25 essential DC Graphic Novels, the only Wonder Woman story to make the cut, I think – though DC’s Novice’s Guide to Graphic Novels (Essential Graphic Novels) has a Wonder Woman section which also lists this novel. It’s an excellent story, something that can be read by children, teens and adults alike. It is empowering for girls, but something boys can learn from too – like the best of stories. And it’s a book that even if one isn’t a fan of graphic novels or comics is worth reading. Because it is beautifully written, the art is gorgeously painted, and it’s just a brilliant, brilliant story. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book!

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Blue Tooth

  • Title: The Blue Tooth
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Discs: 1 CD
  • Author: Nigel Fairs
  • Director: Mark J. Thompson
  • Characters:  Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Shaw, Third Doctor, Capt. Mike Yates, Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart
  • Cast: Caroline John, Nicholas Briggs
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 02/02/2014

Caroline John reads this audiobook by Big Finish, The Blue Tooth, part of the Companion Chronicles line. I thought the storyline would have something to do with alien control of Bluetooth™ technology, however, it doesn’t – though the Cybermen are involved eventually. Dr. Liz Shaw looks back on her time at UNIT, and considers when she decided to quit. She had gone to Cambridge to visit one of her university friends, only to find her friend missing and the friend’s cat brutally slain.

Before long, the Brigadier and Captain Mike Yates arrive, investigating not only Jean’s disappearance but the disappearance of several scientists and even support personnel from Cambridge. The investigation leads to a mysterious blue living metal, a really bad dentist, Cybermats, and a crashed Cyberman scout ship. It’s an intriguing story.

My only qualm about this one was that I found it a bit gross. I know it seems weird to describe a story in audio format as gross – but it is. This story is a bloodbath, in more ways than one. I also found the title a tad too literal.

Anyway, This is still my favorite Doctor Who range, and this story is enjoyable. Recommended, but it’s not for younger listeners.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com

Click the link to order The Blue Tooth on CD.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

Book Review – Batwoman: Elegy

  • Title: Batwoman: Elegy
  • Author: Greg Rucka
  • Artist: J.H. Williams III
  • Characters: Batwoman (Kate Kane)
  • Publication Date: 2010
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/19/2016

Batwoman Elegy is an amazing book – amazing characterization, incredible art, and a new era for the Batman franchise. Kate Kane leaps off the page – strong and capable, with an excellent backstory and a good reason to put on the Bat Symbol and protect the innocents of Gotham. Yet the specific story told in this book – is also well told, with a beginning, a middle, and an end – which I’m not going to spoil.

Kate is the daughter of a military couple. She and her sister have constantly moved around the world as their parents are sent from duty-station to duty-station. Like many children who live a life of constant flux – Kate resents it. However, when she is twelve she, her twin sister, and her mother go out to celebrate – and are kidnapped. Only Kate is found and survives. However, this tragedy makes Kate stronger, and more determined to serve as her parents did. Now raised by her widowed father, Kate becomes stronger – and even enters West Point, where she excels. That is, until just before graduation when she is brought up on charges – of homosexuality. The colonel who asks her about it hints she should lie and deny the charges. Kate refuses to lie, to ignore the West Point cadet Honor Code, and admits who she is – and is summarily dishonorably discharged. Kate tells her father, who surprisingly accepts her – and praises her integrity. This is the stage that sends Kate on her journey.

However, unlike most origin stories which would present this information in order – or many modern Superhero movies that use flashbacks to tell the hero’s story, Elegy starts with Kate as Batwoman, not simply fighting anyone, but in a battle of both wits and brawn against Alice – a psychopath who puts the Joker to shame and is just as terrifying. The background is told in a series of vignettes at the back of the book. This approach means we meet Kate and see her in action, then we learn how she became the Batwoman. Interestingly, her father, Col. Kane is her “Alfred” – the one who develops her non-lethal weapons (using military contacts), and who built her suit.

Batwoman is a really great character, she’s modern and strong, and this book is an excellent introduction to her. The art is incredible – especially the unusual and jagged page layouts – which mirror Kate’s mask. This is an adult book but it is highly recommended.