26 May 2006

Skeptical television -- at last

The three-minute preview of USA Network's new dramatic comedy series "Pysch" doesn't offer enough evidence to pass judgment on its merits as entertainment. But I, for one, am looking forward to television that offers a skeptical view of the supernatural.

Pysch premieres on July 7, and a week earlier on the network's new broadband channel (the sure-to-be-renamed Character Clique). It features a young amateur detective with unusually well developed observational skills that he decides to pass off a pyschic powers. Sounds like fun. Here's the description of what I expect to be the primary comic relief:
Retired cop Henry Spencer makes no bones about his contempt for Shawn's new business venture. After years spent training his son to observe and analyze like a detective, Henry can't believe that Shawn would squander his enormous talent only to take his place at the bottom of the law enforcement food chain ... as a psychic. To Henry, it just completes the long spiral of disappointment that has left his relationship with his son strained to say the least.
It's been a long time since TV drama has embraced skepticism. Instead, almost every depiction of the supernatural in recent has been far too open-minded. "Medium," for example, claims to be based on the true story of woman who can communicate with the dead, even though the "real life" inspiration has been unmasked as a fraud. Then there's "Supernatural," "Ghost Whisperer," and "Ghost Hunters," among other intellectually insulting offerings now on the tube. "Lost" offers hints of skepticism, but the intelligent smoke a few episodes back suggests the writers haven't quite embraced the field.

So the advent of a series that makes fun of psychics rather that glorifying them has to be good news. I am cautiously optimistic. The actors are a pretty-but-not-too-pretty, experienced-but-not-overexposed group, including a bald Corbin Bernsen as the cynical dad and Dule Hill, late of the West Wing, as the sidekick.

Finally, something other than the Discovery Channel's hit-and-miss "Myth Busters" for those us who have little patience for quackery. Plus, it's filmed in Vancouver, so my wife and I can once again play Spot the Cleverly Disguised Vancouver Landmark.