Let’s face it. This may be the most difficult weekend of the year. First of all, the weather is like a dancer at a gentleman’s club – teasing you with the possibility of exciting things but ultimately still quite cold. Second, Daylight Savings Time is about to start and that means you lose a very valuable hour of rest and relaxation. And finally, spring is close enough that you have to get off the couch and start the annual, laborious household cleaning process.
There’s only one way to deal with all this stress, and that’s too ignore it all for a while and watch many hours of TV instead. And not just any TV. You need some light, fun TV that also manages to work in a good distracting mystery at the same time. The sidewalk may need shoveling. You may need to go to bed early. And that linen cupboard isn’t going to clean itself. Nonetheless, indulging in a few episodes of these bright and breezy dramas will help you make it through.
Any show that manages to work in tributes to everything from “Twin Peaks” to “Chinatown” to ‘80s New Wave bands has to be doing some right. And “Psych” does that on a regular basis. In theory, this is a show about a private eye (James Roday) who pretends to be a psychic in order to solve crimes with his buddy Gus (Dule Hill). In reality, this is a show that’s about their incredible chemistry and their ability to banter back and forth with the cultural references of a late night talk show comic and the manic energy of a caffeinated squirrel. And that’s a very good thing. There’s so much humor packed into the dialogue here that you’ll need a third or fourth viewing of an episode to catch it all.
If TV has conditioned us for anything (other than that the use of the words “star” and “celebrity” have very flexible meaning when it comes to reality shows), it’s that detectives are supposed to be tough guys. They carry guns. They get beat up. They fight back. They ultimately get the girl. “Monk,” however, completely rewrote those rules. This detective, Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), had as much trouble battling OCD as he did battling criminals. Still, it was that constant worrying about just about everything that made him both more entertaining and more human than most TV crime solvers. Combine Sherlock Holmes in his prime with your mom sending you off to third grade during flu season and you get the idea.
Maybe viewers were confused and thought this was a series about the board game of the same name. Whatever the reason, even though this series was on the air for two seasons, it never did get nearly the attention it deserved. Rectify that injustice now by catching up with this tale of a mercurial cop (“Homeland’s” Damian Lewis) sent to prison for a dozen years for a murder he didn’t commit. He’s emerged from the experience as a Zen-centric guy who wins his old job back, along with a massive settlement for wrongful imprisonment. He solves cases as he tries to find out who framed him, and the result is one of the most unusual yet fascinating cop shows in years.
Remember that scene at the end of “Raiders Of the Lost Ark,” the one with gigantic room where history’s most important artifacts have been tossed as if they were your kids’ old clothes chucked into your attic? Well, that final moment is essentially the beginning of this long-running, long-entertaining series. Historical artifacts, from Edgar Allen Poe’s quill to Timothy Leary’s glasses, have been stored there, over the years. And subsequently, many have now gone missing and fallen into the hands of people who don’t know the dark power they can wield. Which means that federal agents Myka (Joanne Kelly) and Pete (Eddie McClintock) must track the items down before too much harm comes from them. Their cases are sometimes comical, sometimes compelling and always have a way of making history more entertaining than it ever seemed in school.
During it’s five-year broadcast run, this series was like the perfect kid you loved to hate back in high school: impossibly smart, incredibly witty and so completely cool that attraction was total and instantaneous. The premise might sound a bit too intellectual for it’s own good: a small Northwestern town becomes home to the brightest scientific minds in the country, all working on secret government projects. Still, the frequency with which these experiments went wrong, and the consistently clever ways the characters found to fix them, made “Eureka” one TV’s most genius shows (literally and metaphorically).