The Boyfriend of the Week

February 9, 2009 [comment on this write-up]

In case you haven't noticed, there's a new "trend" in television crime shows -- a trend I like to call the "über-observationalist" trend. You know how, for a long time, crime shows were dominated by lawyers (Law & Order and all its many variants, e.g.)? And then we got CSI and suddenly they all involved DNA, blood spatter, and geeks? Now, the most successful new drama of the year is The Mentalist, a show about an extremely annoying ex-fake-psychic played by Simon Baker who goes around being a snooty show-off-pants and solving crimes by, like, paying attention to detail n' stuff. There's no science. There's no legal wrangling. There is only observation -- of a scene, of a suspect, of a victim, of his own genius (oh, shut up, Simon Baker!).

You know what we call this year's #1 new drama at my house, though? We do not refer to it by its name, oh no, but instead by the math equation that best represents it:

The Mentalist = Psych - Funny + Smug

And of course, as is true of all algebraic equations, you can reconfigure that one to also define the TV show Psych thusly:

Psych = The Mentalist - Smug + Funny

However, that second expression leaves out one important aspect of The Mentalist, which is that it's totally a rip-off of Psych! Minus the funny, plus an extremely smug Simon Baker! I mean, I used to love Simon Baker -- now I watch that show and spend the entire hour wanting to boot him in the keister. I can't help it; he just drives me bananas. Yuck, I say.

And you? Well, I already know what a lot of you say -- we've had this conversation before. A lot of you are not fans of Psych. You watched the first few episodes and decided it was overly-schticky and too cute for its own britches. You people? Are not incorrect.

The thing is, if you stick around long enough for the schtick and cuteness to precipitate (first math, now chemistry!), what you have left is a solution of creamy goodness (first math, now chemistry, now dairy!). And as that nerdy tee-shirt at says, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate." Or whatever I mean by that.

I will confess that when the show first started up, I almost didn't stick with it myself. The first half of the first season was only so-so and even though I enjoyed each episode for the most part, I wasn't exactly dying for more. But some time early last year, this series got absolutely ridiculously awesome. And it has been steadily getting better ever since. (Even my husband thinks it's funny, and he never thinks ANYTHING is funny. Grumpy old man! (Hi, honey!))

The premise, for those of you who don't know, is that there's this guy named Shawn Spencer (this week's co-Boyfriend James Roday) who is super über-observant (and yes, I know that "super über" is redundant -- I did that on purpose for effect, see?). His father, played with balding panache by Corbin Bernsen, was a cop when Shawn was a kid, and his way of "bonding" with his son was to grill him incessantly about every scene or situation they were in. What did the guy at the bar have on? What color was the waitress's belt? How many beers did that dude have? Grill, grill, grill until Shawn could walk into a room and subconsciously make a mental note of just about everything therein.

Despite this talent, however, Shawn grew up to be somewhat of a. . . hmmmm. . . how best to describe him? How about this: doofusy flake. He bounced from lame job to lame job until, one day, his true calling came calling -- CRIME-SOLVING.

Of course, there was no way he was actually going to join the police force, as that would require actual WORK, not to mention inordinate amounts of danger. So, instead, Shawn decided to become a private investigator. And to help him stand out from the crowd, he decided to pretend to be a PSYCHIC while he was at it. He recruited his best pal, Gus (this week's other co-Boyfriend Dulé Hill), and the two of them opened a "psychic detective agency." Named "Psych."

After a little pestering (okay, a lot of pestering), Shawn and Gus managed to get the local cops to take them more or less seriously (okay, mostly less seriously), and they've been solving murders, thefts, and the occasional sorority house haunting ever since. Shawn sees more than most, and uses that observational knack to make brilliant deductions. People think he's seeing visions. But in reality, he's just seeing EVERYTHING.

The part that makes this show fun, though, is less the schtick and more the banter. First of all, I love sarcasm, and Shawn and Gus do sarcasm super über-well. Second of all, I loves me some 80's references, and a good chunk of Shawn and Gus's dialogue in every episode features something iconic from my youth. Finally, I also loves me some nicknames. Why do you think I like Sawyer the best on Lost, after all? Just because he looks good without a shirt on? (Okay, well, you know -- that too, of course.) Shawn is also a genius with the AKAs, and is forever introducing Gus to other people using fake names, some of which are just absolutely hilarious.

Now, I know -- I KNOW -- that some of you guys are not Psych fans and you are resistant to the very idea of ever becoming Psych fans. And if you had a nickel for every time I suggested you should be Psych fans. . . And for the love of Pete, would I please shut up about Psych fans?! I've heard it all before: it's inane. It's childish. It's over-the-top. For you people, there is always Psych - Funny + Smug, starring Simon "The Smirk" Baker.

But if you haven't tried this show since season one, it's definitely worth dropping back in for a few episodes (even better, go directly to the "Murder? . . . Anyone? . . . Anyone?. . . Bueller?" episode from season three, an absolutely brilliant send-up of John Hughes movies from the 80's). Psych's gotten a lot better of late, I'm sayin'. Better stories, better banter, better jokes, better character development. Better, better, better. So do me a favor and go forth and check it out: Fridays at 10pm on USA Network (right after Monk).

But fine, let's just say for some bizarre reason you refuse to take my word for it (whatev', man -- after all this time together, you still don't trust me?). In that case, you have, well. . . sorry. . . pretty limited options for experiencing the awesomeness that is James Roday. Luckily, the outlook for investigating a little Dulé Hill action is much brighter. Read on.

James Roday, as near as I can tell, primarily starred in super über-stupid stoner movies before landing his super über-awesome role on Psych. Correction: it was actually only one stoner movie: Rolling Kansas (2002). And then one drunken-party movie: Beerfest (2006) -- close enough. Ooh and then there was that truly heinous-sounding rip-off/update of Weird Science: Repli-Kate (2002), which I posit still counts as a stoner movie inasmuch as no one who was sober would EVER rent a movie named Repli-Kate.

Now, I know my standards are low when it comes to picking out movies to watch, however, even I could not bring myself to put any of these flicks in my Netflix queue. That said, if you are desperate to see what James Roday is like when he's acting like an even bigger idiot than Shawn Spencer, I'm sure any one of those three movies will suffice.

Dulé Hill, of course, will forever be the King of Cool for his role as Charlie Young on 86 gazillion seasons of The West Wing. Remember Charlie Young? Man, he was cute. And sweet. And smart. And nice. And did I mention cute? Those eyes -- sigh. So nice. So cute. So sweet. So smart. Wait, where was I?

Oh yeah: if you are looking for more cute, sweet, smart, and nice Dulé Hill -- like Gus but not quite as goofy -- pick a season of The West Wing and hop to it. You can't go wrong with that one, especially early on in the series.

You can also see Dulé in the movies Men of Honor (2000, Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding Jr. and a bunch of old-fashioned underwater gear), The Guardian (2006, Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Clancy Brown, and a bunch of new-fangled underwater gear) and Whisper, a 2007 thriller starring Josh Holloway (Sawyer from Lost), a stunning amount of lameness, and absolutely NO underwater gear whatsoever.

Whisper is about some bad guys who kidnap a little boy and hold him for ransom in a house in the middle of the snowy nowhere, only to find out they've actually kidnapped, like, Damian from The Omen or some shite. I never bothered writing a review for this movie on the blog because I gave up on it about 2/3rds of the way through. Sorry, Josh, but what the heck were you thinking?

Wait, hah, seriously?? I seriously just asked Josh Holloway what the heck he was thinking in regards to Whisper? And not in regards to SABRETOOTH (source of my favorite "famous last words" of all time: "It could be right behind me, and I wouldn't even know!" *chomp!*)?

Yeah, okay, see above re: super über-low standards.

Lucky for us, both James and Dulé ditched their lame-o movie careers and returned to television, where they now work and play together as two of the most awesomest dorks on TV. The two play off each other brilliantly in Psych, with James being the master of silliness and Dulé the mostly-straight-but-not-always man. Also, you know how I'm forever complaining about the lack of outtakes/bloopers on DVDs? How I think it ought to be a requirement that every movie include bloopers in their special features, even the serious ones (maybe most especially the serious ones, frankly)? Well, guess how every episode of Psych ends. Yep: outtakes!

Man, I LOVE that show!

Okay, let's do a quick biography on Zee Boyfriends of Zis Week: James Roday Rodriguez was born on April 4, 1976 in San Antonio, Texas. He studied theater at New York University's Experimental Theatre Wing, where he got a BA in Fine Arts and (apparently) lost his last name in an extremely unfortunate poker game. Before starting his film/TV career, he acted in several theatrical productions, breaking into Hollywood with his first role in 1999 (as Chad in Coming Soon, a romantic comedy).

In case you doubted my taste in men, I will also now mention that James Roday was named one of People Magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People in 2007. Thank you.

Dulé Hill is actually named Karim Dulé Hill, but he too lost one of his names, this time when a bunch of grade school bullies took it along with his lunch money one unlucky morning at recess. Dulé is from New Jersey and is the youngest of two sons born to his Jamaican parents. Before he was an actor, he was a professional tap dancer, believe it or not, and began attending the Marie Wildey School of Dance in New Jersey at the age of three. He was an understudy and then the star of Broadway's "The Tap Dance Kid" for about two years, and has also danced with Gregory Hines and Jimmy Slyde.

How totally cool is that?

Oh and by the way: Dulé Hill: People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in 2001. WORD.

Dulé's passions include: tap dancing, dominoes, and Monopoly. Thus making him a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a board game about capitalism. Because, like, tap dancing, dominoes, and Monopoly? Had he thrown in "pickles," he could not have come up with a list any weirder. Interesting guy, methinks.

And, the last straw: Dulé is married (since 2004), and James is currently dating co-star Maggie Lawson, who plays blonde detective Juliet O'Hara on Psych and also once made a totally kick-ass Nancy Drew.

Psych, yo. USA Network, Fridays, 10pm. Be there or be Squirts MacIntosh. Galileo Humpkins. Lemongrass Gogulope. Bruton Gaster. Schoonie "U-Turn" Singleton. Gus T. T. Showbiz. OVALTINE JENKINS. (For more ridiculous nicknames, check out this clip from the show: I defy you not to laugh! I DEFY YOU!

MacGyver Factor Score: 98.211%. Points off for James because he hasn't made a single movie I think I could actually sit through. Points back for being totally hilarious and incredibly good looking with stubble (see?). Points off for Dulé because he was in a TV show called Chicken Soup for the Soul, which kind of makes me wanna hurl. Points back, though, for playing a dude named "Roemello Skuggs" (in Sugar Hill, 1994) which is almost as awesome as "Ovaltine Jenkins" if you ask me.

Boyfriend-Related Links

James's IMDb page
Dulé's IMDb page
James Roday Fan
Dule Hill Fan Community
Official Pysch web site (watch episodes online!)

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