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Psych (2006-2014)

Psych (2006-2014)

The Adventure of the Speckled Bandwidth

I was assaulted by multiple episodes of this on a transatlantic flight, and got sick.

It is typical TeeVee fare in the way it reduces possibly complex dynamics of all kinds to billboard simplicity. Abstraction is always the game with theatrical presentation, but it can be executed in such a way that it sharpens and enriches. Here, it just flattens into a cartoon for people to relax in front of. The recurring characters are in relationships that are shaped by juvenile concepts.

The motives and movements of the criminals being investigated are a step simpler; they almost vanish.

What‘s interesting is how this fits in the family tree. Conan Doyle invented Sherlock Holmes within the context of a war over worldviews. Some in London society, inspired by Darwin and later Freud believed that a rational science of human behaviour was just around the corner. Someone like Sherlock could some day apply the scientific method to see to the very core of the human. Doyle, as it turns out, was himself in the opposing camp. He believed in spiritualism, ghosts and psychic abilities.

From those short stories, a whole tradition of an in-story observer developed and by a rather direct route emerged the greatest American invention, the conventions of noir. Probably two thirds of all films today have some basic narrative device that depends on this noir dynamic, and many directly use the tension between the two sides that Doyle opposed.

That is to say that there always has been this notion that the apparently logical detective was psychic. So one could have predicted this result: a comedy where the apparently psychic detective is logical. Other symmetries must be reversed: the Watson is not the friend, here a modern, uncontroversial version of buffoonish stepenfetchit. Instead, it is a reluctant policewoman. I understand that in later episodes, a romance develops. (The actors are lovers.)

Posted in 2011

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.

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