Phil Rosenthal, the Creator/Showrunner of the long-running, award-winning television series Everybody Loves Raymond, has mentioned in various interviews over the years an experience he had before ELR, while working on another hit show making its network millions of dollars at the time.
One day, the show’s staff got a memo saying, “We noticed some of you are coming in in the morning and putting milk on your cereal. The milk is for coffee. The cereal is for snacks. We do not provide breakfast for you.” He decided right then and there if he ever wound up running his own series – which he did with ELR – everyone involved would always have milk for their cereal.
The cost of just about everything in the world went up significantly in 2022. We’ll see how 2023 plays out.
In the meantime, my belated New Year’s Wish for everyone…milk for your cereal.
If we characterize something as silly or goofy, I don’t think it’s much of a leap to say it is also close to entering the realm of immature or even childish. Yet, that’s the very successful vibe the television show Psych was known for giving off during the eight seasons it aired on the USA Network. And even though its original run ended back in 2014, I think in this ever-so-too-serious time we often find ourselves in these days, there isn’t a better time for newbies to join the cult following known as “Psych-O’s.” Psych currently is available on platforms via subscription, and reruns air on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel as well.
The synopsis for the show is fairly straightforward. Shawn Spencer (James Roday Rodriguez) has an uncanny power of observation courtesy of his no-nonsense dad, Henry (Corbin Bernsen). Henry was formerly a police officer on the Santa Barbara police force, and back in the day he taught young Shawn to take in even the tiniest of details from his surroundings. When “adult” Shawn has called in one too many knowledgeable tips to help the police force solve crimes, and they threaten to prosecute him for them, he then manages to convince the cops he’s a psychic. Shawn’s childhood bestie, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill), who knows how Shawn’s talent really works, ultimately gets caught up in aiding and abetting his buddy’s psychic detective agency. He reluctantly starts helping Shawn help the police solve crimes.
Roday Rodriguez and Hill form one of the craziest, funniest, wackiest duos ever to operate in the ultra-serious, quite-mature space of crime investigations. Comedy momentum is hard to maintain over a thirty-minute episode, let alone an hour-long format like Psych, but when there are no rules and mayhem is the norm it’s easier to achieve. Pop culture references from the 70s and 80s abound, as well as stand-out, laugh-out-loud physical comedy. Yet, there are on occasion dramatic, intense scenes where the laughter is much more restrained and stakes could not be more serious. The stellar cast ensures when throwing that switch from manic to menacing it feels quite natural to the audience…not forced.
Creator/Showrunner Steve Franks created wonderful characters who have garnered so many fans there already have been three Psych movies since the series concluded. There is little doubt Franks, the cast, and the crew enjoyed making this show. The performers look like they’re having as much fun acting it out as the audience watches it play out. Episodes feel spontaneous not only because of the talent involved, but because the stars clearly had the freedom during filming to make the script theirs to run with. There is a current podcast called The Psychologists Are In hosted by co-stars Maggie Lawson (Detective Juliet “Jules” O’Hara) and Timothy Omundson (Chief Detective Carlton “Lassie” Lassiter) where each week they go in-depth on a rewatch of each episode, sharing behind-the-scenes info and hosting drop-in visits from Franks, cast and crew, and even guest stars (Psych attracted as impressive a list of guest stars as you’ll ever find). You can hear the genuine excitement and pride from those who made Psych as they riff about the no-limits, creative process of bringing each episode to life.
And then there are those pineapple sightings.
In nearly every episode of Psych, a pineapple is either referenced or in view. That all started with an unscripted line from the pilot episode where Roday Rodriguez picked a pineapple up and asked, “Should I slice this up for the road?” The pineapple was there only as a prop, but the moment resonated with both he and Franks as a fun one, and it became such a hit with fans the USA Network once had a Spot The Pineapple sweepstakes.
USA recognized from the start they had something special in Psych, launching it while their other oddball-detective show – Tony Shalhoub’s award-winning Monk – was at the height of its popularity. They not only aired commercials which advertised both shows at the same time, but scheduled Psych to immediately follow Monk.
It’s a feel-good show which will entertain you and leave a smile on your face whenever called upon, starting with its catchy earworm of an opening theme song. Highly recommended if you’re looking for some silly, goofy, immature, childish, adult-ish fun.
My brain – more specifically memories within it – never ceases to amaze. Every once in a while, words or phrases come out of my mouth I haven’t uttered in ages, and can’t for the life of me ascertain how I came to utter them now. Perhaps on occasion your brain has provided these kind of surprises as well.
My most recent example? A few evenings ago, Mrs. Chess asked me my thoughts on what seemed like three different discussion points simultaneously, and I wanted her to slow down just for a moment so I could thoughtfully consider my response to each…and proceeded to blurt out, “Hold on there, Murgatroyd!”
At which point both of us stared at each other not knowing where THAT response came from.
She then asked me where THAT response came from.
I told her I knew “Murgatroyd” had something to do with a cartoon character from my childhood, but I still had to reach out to The Google to confirm which one it actually was. Many moons ago, there was a Hanna-Barbera character named Snagglepuss, who was a pink lion prone to break the fourth wall and address the audience. He most often appeared in a regular segment on The Yogi Bear Show back in the 60’s. Snagglepuss was known in part for quickly departing any scene referencing a stage direction such as “Exit Stage Left.” Or Right, Up, or even Down. Specific to the discussion Mrs. Chess and I now found ourselves in, Snagglepuss was also known for whenever coming across something he couldn’t believe…instead of saying “Heavens to Betsy!” he used his catchphrase “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” Ironically, from my little bit of research the origin of using “Betsy” appears to be just as mysterious as “Murgatroyd.” I also learned the Canadian rock group Rush named their second live album Exit Stage Left in tribute to Snagglepuss. And saving the best discovery for last…there is a brand-new Snagglepuss Hanna-Barbera cartoon series in the works with Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) set to provide his voice.
Once I relayed all this to Mrs. Chess – who wasn’t as familiar with Snagglepuss – she was now not only more aware of my cartoon past, but somewhat reassured I wasn’t having a medical emergency.
I don’t know why my mind brought forth memories of Snagglepuss. We’re talking a cartoon character from sixty years ago…cartoons I hadn’t seen in fifty. Still, I do embrace rediscovering this little piece of my childhood, and who knows what my brain will un-file next? Until then…
Exit Stage Left.
Pictures Courtesy Wikimedia Commons/USA Network/National Geographic/Hanna-Barbera