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Throughout its eight-year run on USA, Psych was a welcome dose of silliness, a snappy and funny example of the network’s “Blue Skies” period, in which it was dominated by shows such as Monk and Royal Pains. Following fake psychic detective Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and his best friend Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill), the madcap series was a stew of crimes of the week, pop-culture references, will-they-won’t-they romantic tension, and a lot of sing-songy catchphrases (“wait for it…”). 

Shawn and Gus return in Psych: The Movie (Thursday, 8 ET/PT, *** out of four) just three years after signing off. And, like visiting an old friend, it’s a little awkward at times, but overall it’s an absolute joy and quintessentially the Psych we know and love.  

More: No psych: ‘Psych’ returns as USA holiday movie

The action picks up three years after the finale, which found most of the main characters relocating to San Francisco and Shawn proposing to Juliet (Maggie Lawson), only to have a thief pluck the ring away just as she said yes. In the movie, they’re still engaged and Shawn is still on the hunt for the ring, and trying to rebuild the Psych agency in a new city (although now it’s called “psychphrancisco,” all lower case, with a “ph” instead of an “f,” all one-word, as Shawn points out multiple times) while Gus continues with a day job. The group gets back together (at Christmastime) to work on a case when a mysterious criminal starts targeting Juliet and her new partner. 

Although the movie never returns to the sunny Santa Barbara setting of the show, it retains the old aesthetic and tone (a pineapple even shows up). The actors all easily slide back into the characters, with Roday and Hill especially remembering every rhythm and beat of the central friendship and their highly choreographed “bits” and inside jokes. The original cast — which also featured Corbin Bernsen as Shawn’s father Henry, Timothy Omundson as Det. Carlton Lassiter and Kirsten Nelson as Chief Karen Vick — returns in some capacity, as do many fan-favorite guest stars.

As is usual with an episode of Psych (and the…