Psych Season 3, Episode 09 "Christmas Joy" (currently streaming on Netflix)
When I think of Christmas, my mind jumps to many things: gifts, ugly sweaters, Chevy Chase, Elizabeth Kaitan’s non nude role in “Silent Night, Deadly Night part 2,” Elizabeth Kaitan’s very nude role in “Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity,” Elizabeth Kaitin’s general whereabouts, why she retired, etc., etc.
So after I fixate on the star of Vice Academy 3-6, I often dive into a month long binge session of any and every Christmas episode of classic television programming that I can get my hands on. One of my favorites is an episode of “Psych” entitled Christmas Joy from Season 3. This episode is all the more special as it is directed by comedy and horror legend, John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Trading Places, The Stupids) and guest stars Keith David (They Live, The Thing, There’s Something About Mary) and Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show, Creed, Ahmad Rashad’s sexy times). Fun fact for all you Psych-Os out there, Keith David actually replaced Ernie Hudson as Gus’ dad in this episode. Two wonderful actors. One fantastic role. Both Christmas episodes. Math.
New to Psych? Here is what you’ve been missing out on, folks. "Psych" is a quick-witted comedy/drama starring James Roday as young police consultant Shawn Spencer who solves crimes with powers of observation so acute that Santa Barbara PD detectives think he's psychic. The series also stars Dule Hill as Shawn's best friend and reluctant sidekick, Gus, and Corbin Bernsen as his disapproving father, Henry, who ironically was the one who honed his son's "observation" skills as a child. Rounding out the series regulars are Timothy Omundson, Maggie Lawson and Kirsten Nelson.
Over the years “Psych” had made a name for itself as a great gimmick show. Every episode has many in jokes, nods, and draws inspiration from all things 80s pop culture, and Christmas Joy is no different. I like to pop it on during the holidays, because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to solve a mystery while decorating the Christmas tree. Christmas Joy also has four stories playing out through the entire episode, yet doesn’t feel overly complicated.
Our B story finds us in the midst of a French Bedroom Farce, and its pure John Landis firing on all of his late 70s, early 80s cylinders. In this episode we meet Joy, Gus’ sister, for the first time in the series. When Gus and Joy find out that Shawn has nowhere to stay this Christmas, they invite him back to their parent’s house for the holiday. Uh-oh! Apparently in the past Shawn and Joy were hookin’ up on the side, and Gus would not be very happy if he were to find out. Oh, did I mention Keith David is Gus’ dad? And Mrs. Huxtable his mother? Shawn best not piss off this family, Am I right?
Our 3rd story is short and silly, but without it, the third act doesn’t work. So tuck in as Shawn discovers Gus’ dad has been camping out in the garage while telling his family that he has been switched to overnights for the last month. Whoops. Like I said, you need it for the third act to play out well, and it’s a great opportunity for Roday and David to play around with some well-timed comedy.
Our D storyline is another setup for the 3rd act Christmas morning with the Guster’s. While Shawn tracks some leads in the main story, he finds himself questioning a bookie in a seedy Irish bar. Upon his exit he runs into Gus’ mom whom has lost all of the money she had for presents.
So there are a lot of moving pieces in this episode. I love it. And it’s great how it doesn’t feel cramped or rushed. Landis, nothing more than a hired gun, guides the cast throughout the scenes with prowess. There isn’t a single wasted frame in Christmas Joy. Every piece meticulously spliced together with precision, carving out 44 minutes of fantastic holiday television for you and yours to enjoy on a snowy, or sunny, Christmas Eve night while taking a much needed break from TBS and their 7th run of A Christmas Story.
In summation: Christmas Joy is perfection. ‘Cause “God don’t like ugly.”
Acid Pop Cult