About Christmas TV History

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Psych (2010)



Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #28 of the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. Each day this month I will be sharing reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies with a IT'S A WONDERFUL SUMMER attitude. Yes--this month I'm sharing brief essays about TV adaptations of the 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life" along with TV programs with significant references to the movie. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition being released soon). 

Psych isn't airing on Ion TV on Saturdays anymore (as of July 2022) but this trailer does capture the tone of the detective series.


Today's discussion is on the humorous detective series Psych and its fifth season episode "The Polarizing Express." In this Christmas episode, police consultant Shawn Spencer is caught on camera illegally obtaining evidence against the organized criminal Czarsky, so the case is dismissed, and the Santa Barbara Police Department fires Shawn. Feeling worthless, Shawn takes a nap after wondering how life would be different if he had never become the psychic police consultant five years ago.  

This series is all about the dynamic between Shawn and Gus who make continuous  pop culture references.


Shawn slips into a dream, guided by actor Tony Cox. Shawn's dream resembles It’s A Wonderful Life--but with even more movie and TV references! Shawn experiences what life would be like for the people who know him if he had never been there to influence them. Realizing that some of them may be better off, Shawn decides to awaken and gather more evidence to put Czarsky behind bars. In the end, the police are able to gather evidence against Czarsky when the city’s residents come together and agree to testify against him. Much like the ending in the 1946 movie, Shawn feels his life has meaning when he witnesses the community spirit to support him.


Shawn and his guardian angel Tony Cox.

The cast includes James Roday as Shawn Spencer, Dulé Hill as Gus Guster, Tony Cox as the guardian angel Tony Cox, and Keshia Knight Pulliam as Gus’ wife, Corbin Bernsen as Shawn's father Henry Spencer, Timothy Omundson as Det. Carlton Lassiter, and Det. Maggie Lawson as Juliet O'Hara. 

James Roday starred in this episode, directed it, and even has a co-writing credit. Whew! I like this adaptation of It's a Wonderful Life because the writing is clever enough to play with the familiar story structure and parody it too. This comedy series grew to be a cult TV hit largely for its humor, irreverence, pop culture and self-referential style, and boldness. This Christmas episode embodies the series' charm to the fullest. Psych has several Christmas episodes besides this one--do you have a favorite?

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

1 comment:

  1. Not sure I have a favorite, but I loved Psych and have been thinking of rewatching. This post makes me even more anxious to! Such a fun show.