Shawn Spencer & Burton “Gus” Guster (Psych)

Created by Steve Franks

See what Monk hath wrought?

Okay. Psych, which ran from 2006 until 2014 on the USA Neywork,  is not The Rockford Files. It’s not Harry O or Peter Gunn. It’s not even Magnum P.I.

But in those days when those seeking quality P.I. action on the boob tube were growing increasingly frustrate, who was I to nitpick? What the show lacked in grit and drama it more than made up in easy-going affability.

After all, it was the #1 new show on cable in 2006 (I’m told), and there’s no denying it was a passable enough way to kill off an hour. James Roday starred as SHAWN SPENCER, a young not-too-bright slacker/wisenheimer who cons his way into a gig as consultant to the Santa Barbara, California police department, using his highly developed “psychic” powers to crack cases the boys in blue seem to be having absolutely no luck with.

Except that it’s all a crock — Shawn actually has all the psychic abilities of a newt. What he does have going for him, then, are a photographic memory,  some decent deductive skills, a very keen eye (thanks to his cop father’s weird ideas on parenting) and the ability to bullshit like nobody’s business. Of course, some of the precinct detectives are convinced he’s psychic — and he does nothing to set them straight. And the rest of them just think he’s a pain in the ass.

But hey, it’s a good gig, okay?

(It actually all started when Shawn called in a tip on a crime to the police, but was actually accused of committing the crime. To clear his name, Shawn convinced the police that he was a psychic. Things snowballed from there…

Shawn opens the Pysch Detective Agency, and he and his straight-arrow best friend and long-suffering sidekick BURTON “GUS” GUSTER (played by Dule “West Wing” Hill) go into business for themselves, although the always reluctant Gus decides to keep his day job, a vaguely defined position at a pharmaceutical company.

Another highlight of the cast was Corbin “L.A. Law” Bernsen as Henry, Shawn’s crotchety, disapproving father,. The real irony is that it was retired cop Henry who originally urged Shawn to hone his “observation” skills as a child.

Granted, Psych is one of those weird, oddball shows that requires a certain mindset to appreciate. I myself took a while to warm up to it, but the Girl Detective loves it. I’ll admit it — it grows on you. Picture a younger, hipper Monk, with less schtick and more chutzpah, and you’re almost there. Then toss in a barrages of wonky pop culture trivia, references and cameos, fourth wall asides, the nerdy, Abbott & Costello riffing of Shawn and Gus, and a cast that are obviously having a blast, and you’ve got one of the more affable P.I. shows around.


  • PSYCH | Buy the complete series on DVD
    (2006-14, USA Network)
    Created by Steve Franks
    Writers: Steve Franks, Andy Berman, Kerry Lenhart, Anupam Nigam, John J. Sakmar, Douglas Steinberg, James Roday
    Directors: Mel Damski, Michael Zinberg, John Landis, Tim Matheson, Michael Engler
    Theme song: “I Know, You Know” performed by The Friendly Indians
    Executive producers: Steve Franks, Chris Henze, Kelly Kulchak
    Producers: Tracey Jeffrey
    Co-executive producer: Mel Damski(12 episodes, 2006-2007)
    Associate producer: Tracy Hillman
    Consulting producer: Kerry Lenhart, John J. Sakmar, Douglas Steinberg, Paulo De Oliveira
    Supervising producer: Joe Lazarov, Josh Bycel
    Starring James Roday as SHAWN SPENCER
    and Dulé Hill as BURTON “GUS” GUSTER
    With Corbin Bernsen as Henry Spencer
    Also starring Timothy Omundson as Detective Carlton Lassiter
    Kirsten Nelson as Chief Karen Vick
    Maggie Lawson as Juliet O’Hara
    Sage Brocklebank as Buzz McNab
    and Liam James as Young Shawn
    Guest stars: George Takei, Lou Diamond Phillips, Cybill Shepherd, Rachel Leigh Cook, Bruce Campbell, Jane Lynch, John Amos, Mira Sorvino, Martin Mull, Ray Wise, Tim Curry, Ed Lauter, Saul Rubinek, William Shatner, Cary Elwes, Steven Weber, Kerry Washington, Ally Sheedy, James Brolin, Nora Dunn, Jeffrey Tambor, Anthony Michael Hall, Mykelti Williamson, Gary Cole, Jeff Fahey, John Cena, Christine Baranski, William Devane, Lolita Davidovich,

    • Season OneBuy this season on DVD
    • “Pilot” (July 7, 2006)
    • “Spellingg Bee” (July 14, 2006)
    • “Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Piec” (July 21, 2006)
    • “Woman Seeking Dead Husband – Smokers Okay, No Pets” (July 28, 2006)
    • “9 Lives” (August 4, 2006)
    • “Weekend Warriors” (August 11, 2006)
    • “Who Ya Gonna Call?” (August 18, 2006)
    • “Shawn vs. The Red Phantom” (August 25, 2006)
    • “Forget Me Not” (January 19, 2007)
    • “From the Earth to Starbucks” (January 26, 2007)
    • “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me, Oops He’s Dead” (February 2, 2007)
    • “Cloudy…Chance of Murder” (February 9, 2007)
    • “Game Set Muuurder?” (February 16, 2007)
    • “Poker? I Barely Know Her” (February 23, 2007)
    • “Scary Sherry: Bianca’s Toas” (March 2, 2007)
    • Season TwoBuy this season on DVD
    • “American Duos” (July 13, 2007)
    • “Sixty Five Million Years Off” (July 20, 2007)
    • “Psy vs. Psy” (July 27, 2007)
    • “Zero To Murder in Sixty Seconds” (August 3, 2007)
    • “And Down the Stretch Comes Murder” (August 10, 2007)
    • “Meat is Murder, But Murder is Also Murder” (August 17, 2007)
    • “If You’re So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?” (August 24, 2007)
    • “Rob-a-Bye Baby” (September 7, 2007)
    • “Bounty Hunters!” (September 14, 2007)
    • “Gus’ Dad May Have Killed An Old Guy” (December 7, 2007)
    • “There’s Something About Mira” (January 11, 2008)
    • “The Old and the Restless” (January 18, 2008)
    • “Lights, Camera … Homicidio” (January 25, 2008)
    • “Dis-Lodged” (February 1, 2008)
    • “Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion” (February 8, 2008)
    • “Shawn (and Gus) of the Dead” (February 15, 2008)
    • Season ThreeBuy this season on DVD
    • “Ghosts18” (July 18, 2008)
    • “Murder? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?” (July 25, 2008)
    • “Daredevils!” (August 1, 2008)
    • “The Greatest Adventure in the History of Basic Cable” (August8, 2008)
    • “Disco Didn’t Die. It Was Murdered!” (August15, 2008)
    • ” There Might Be Blood” (August 22, 2008)
    • “Talk Derby to Me” (September 5, 2008)
    • “Gus Walks into a Ban” (September 12, 2008)
    • “Christmas Joy” (November 28, 2008)
    • “Six Feet Under the Sea” (January 9, 2009)
    • “Lassie Did a Bad Bad Thing” (January 16, 2009)
    • “Earth, Wind and… Wait for I” (January 23, 2009)
    • “Any Given Friday Night at 10pm, 9pm Central” (January 30, 2009)
    • “Truer Lies” (February 6, 2009)
    • “Tuesday the 17th” (February 13, 2009)
    • “An Evening with Mr. Yang” (February 20, 2009)
    • Season FourBuy this season on DVD
    • “Extradition: British Columbia” (August 7, 2009)
    • “He Dead” (August 14, 2009)
    • “High Noon-ish” (August 21, 2009)
    • “The Devil’s in the Details…And in the Upstairs Bedroom” (August 28, 2009)
    • “Shawn Has the Yips” (September 11, 2009)
    • “Bollywood Homicide” (September 18, 2009)
    • “High Top Fade Out” (September 25, 2009)
    • “Let’s Get Hairy” (October 9, 2009)
    • “Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark” (October 16, 2009)
    • “You Can’t Handle This Episode” (January 27, 2010)
    • “Thrill Seekers & Hell Raisers” (February 3, 2010)
    • “A Very Juliet Episode” (February 10, 2010)
    • “Death Is in the Air” (February 17, 2010)
    • “Think Tank” (February 24, 2010)
    • “The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Episode” (March 3, 2010)
    • “Mr. Yin Presents” (March 10, 2010)
    • Season FiveBuy this season on DVD
    • “Romeo and Juliet and Juliet” (July 14, 2010)
    • “Feet Don’t Kill Me Now” (July 21, 2010)
    • “Not Even Close…Encounters” (July 28, 2010)
    • “Chivalry Is Not Dead…But Someone Is” (August 4, 2010)
    • “Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)” (August 11, 2010)
    • “Viagra Falls” (August 18, 2010)
    • “Ferry Tale” (August 25, 2010)
    • “Shawn 2.0” (September 1, 2010)
    • “One, Maybe Two, Ways Out” (September 8, 2010)
    • “Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part” (November 10, 2010)
    • “In Plain Fright” (November 17, 2010)
    • “Dual Spires” (December 1, 2010)
    • “We’d Like to Thank the Academy” (December 8, 2010)
    • “The Polarizing Express” (December 15, 2010)
    • “Dead Bear Walking” (December 15, 2010)
    • “Yin 3 In 2D” (December 22, 2010)
    • Season SixBuy this season on DVD
    • “Shawn Rescues Darth Vader” (October 12, 2011)
    • “Last Night Gus” (October 19, 2011)
    • “This Episode Sucks” (October 26, 2011)
    • “The Amazing Psych Man & Tap-Man, Issue #2” (November 2, 2011)
    • “Dead Man’s Curve Ball” (November 9, 2011)
    • “Shawn, Interrupted” (November 16, 2011)
    • “In For a Penny…” (November 30, 2011)
    • “The Tao of Gus” (December 7, 2011)
    • “Neil Simon’s Lover’s Retreat” (December 14, 2011)
    • “Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger” (February 29, 2011)
    • “Heeeeere’s Lassie” (March 7, 2011)
    • “Shawn and the Real Girl” (March 14, 2011)
    • “Let’s Doo-Wop It Again” (March 21, 2011)
    • “Autopsy Turvy” (March 28, 2011)
    • “True Grits” (April 4, 2011)
    • “Santabarbaratown” (April 11, 2011)
    • Season SevenBuy this season on DVD
    • “Santabarbaratown 2” (February 27, 2013)
    • “Juliet Takes a Luvvah” (March 6, 2013)
    • “Lassie Jerky” (March 13, 2013)
    • “No Country for Two Old Men” (March 20, 2013)
    • “100 Clues” (March 27, 2013)
    • “Cirque du Soul” (April 3, 2013)
    • “Deez Nups” (April 10, 2013)
    • “Right Turn or Left for Dead” (April 17, 2013)
    • “Juliet Wears the Pantsuit” (April 24, 2013)
    • “Santa Barbarian Candidate” (May 1, 2013)
    • “Office Space” (May 8, 2013)
    • “Dead Air” (May 15, 2013)
    • “Nip and Suck It” (May 22, 2013)
    • “No Trout About It” (May 29, 2013)
    • “Psych: The Musical” (December 15, 2013; two hour episode)Buy the DVD
      I‘m not sure what was in the coffee when they dreamed up this “very special episode,” but the fact they pulled it off shows there may indeed be strange forces out there we’ll never understand.
    • Season EightBuy this season on DVD
    • “Lock, Stock, Some Smoking Barrels and Burton Guster’s Goblet of Fire” (January 8, 2014)
    • “S.E.I.Z.E. the Day” (January 15, 2014)
    • “Remake A.K.A. Cloudy… With a Chance of Improvement” (January 22, 2014)
    • “Someone’s Got a Woody” (January 29, 2014)
    • “Cog Blocked” (February 5, 2014)
    • “1967: A Psych Odyssey” (February 26, 2014)
    • “Shawn and Gus Truck Things Up” (March 5, 2014)
    • “A Touch of Sweevil” (March 12, 2014)
    • “A Nightmare on State Street” (March 19, 2014)
    • “The Break Up” (March 26, 2014)
  • PSYCH: THE MOVIE | Watch it now!
    (2017, USA Network)
    Premiere: December 7, 2017)
    Created by Steve Franks
    Written by: Steve Franks and James Roday
    Directed by: Steve Franks
    Starring James Roday as SHAWN SPENCER
    and Dulé Hill as BURTON “GUS” GUSTER
    With Corbin Bernsen as Henry Spencer
    Also starring Timothy Omundson as Detective Carlton Lassiter
    Kirsten Nelson as Chief Karen Vick
    A “very special” straight-to-streaming reunion of the show, as fake psychic Shawn teams up once again with his best friend Gus when an old case raises its ugly head. Set during the holidays.


  • Psych: A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Read (2009; by William Rabkin)Buy this book
  • Psych: Mind Over Magic (2009; by William Rabkin)Buy this book
  • Psych: The Call of the Mild (2010; by William Rabkin)Buy this book Kindle it!
  • Psych: A Fatal Frame of Mind (2010; by William Rabkin)Buy this book
  • Psych: Mind-Altering Murder (2011; by William Rabkin)Buy this book
  • Psych’s Guide to Crime Fighting for the Totally Unqualified (2014)Buy the book
    Not as thorough as The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook, and containing fewer recipes than The Nancy Drew Cookbook, but this handsome volume nonetheless fills that annoying gap on your shelf between the two, with totally awesome tips on setting up “a bitchin’ detective office, how to pick up chicks at a crime scene and other pointers on achieving crime-fighting awesomeness.” Written by Shawn and Gus from the TV show. Sure.


  • Psych
    The official USA Network site.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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