One of my guilty pleasures is the USA Network show Psych. It’s about a late-20s slacker named Shawn Spencer (James Roday) who was taught to be hyper-observant by his police officer father (Corbin Bernsen). After Shawn solves a series of crimes in his native Santa Barbara by finding overlooked clues in newspaper photos and TV news reports, the police suspect him of committing the crimes. Under questioning, he pretends to be psychic to get the police off his back. After he solves yet another crime, he forms a “psychic detective agency” with his best friend, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill), and the two work as police consultants.
If it sounds like The Mentalist… well, that’s because the two shows are quite similar, although Psych was on the air first, a fact that’s occasionally joked about on the show. But what makes them different is that Psych is much funnier and is aimed at a younger audience. Almost every episode is packed with 80s and 90s pop culture jokes. Even better, there are theme episodes: Psych has spoofed everything from Alfred Hitchcock and John Hughes films to Mexican telenovelas.
But one of their best homages aired two days ago, when Psych played tribute to the great early 90s show Twin Peaks. There were a references aplenty throughout the episode, and I thought I’d write up a quick post summarizing them.
To begin with, original Twin Peaks stars Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer), Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne) and Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs) are featured prominently in the episode. Catherine Coulson (the Log Lady), Lenny Von Dohlen (Harold Smith) and Robyn Lively (Lana Milford) also have cameo roles. Ray Wise, who played Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks, also appears as Father Westley, Shawn and Gus’ parish priest, an occasional role he’s had in Psych since season four.
Psych frequently changes their opening sequence for themed episodes or special guest stars. For instance, Christmas episodes usually have a “jolly” version of the theme song. And earlier this season, guest star Curt Smith (of the 80s band Tears for Fears) also did his own version of the theme. This episode was no exception: Julee Cruise, whose music featured prominently in Twin Peaks, did her own version of the Psych theme. The video isn’t quite a shot-for-shot remake of the Peaks opening sequence, but it’s pretty close:
So… let’s begin the big list o’ references. Keep in mind that Twin Peaks in italics refers to the show, while Twin Peaks in a normal font refers to the fictional town:
– The episode begins with Shawn surfing the Internet, reading a story about a woman who invented silent window shades “in Washington in the early 90s”. In Twin Peaks, Nadine Hurley was obsessed with creating silent curtain runners. She spent several episodes working on the problem, and finally came across a solution when her husband Ed accidentally spilled grease on some cotton balls she was affixing to the runners.
– There’s a chocolate bunny on Shawn’s desk. In Twin Peaks, Agent Cooper frequently dictated his thoughts into a microcassette recorder for his unseen secretary Diane. He famously began an entry by saying “Diane, I’m holding in my hands a small box of chocolate bunnies”.
– Shawn and Gus learn about the city of “Dual Spires” thanks to an email Gus receives on his laptop. The email is from “firstname.lastname@example.org”. In Twin Peaks, the killer left clues in the form a single, typewritten letter jammed under a fingernail of each victim.
– The email asks “Who killed Paula Merral?”. Twin Peaks made the phrase “Who killed Laura Palmer?” a catchphrase of iconic proportions. Folks in the early 90s had “Who killed Laura Palmer?” t-shirts and bumper stickers.
– Dual Spires’ local newspaper is called The Great Northern, which was the name of the hotel in Twin Peaks. In real life, the hotel is known as the Salish Lodge & Spa, and it’s located in Snoqualmie, Washington. Here’s their website.
– Dual Spires’ town sign looks a lot like the Twin Peaks town sign:
– RANDOM TRIVIA: The Twin Peaks sign originally stated the population as 5,120. For some reason, ABC was convinced that was “too small” a town, so a “1” was added at the end.
– One of the first places Shawn and Gus stop in town is “The Sawmill Diner”. In Twin Peaks, the sawmill was the largest, most important employer in town. As diner owner Robert Barker explains, Dual Spires’ sawmill burnt down and its remains were converted into a diner. In Twin Peaks the sawmill was also maliciously burnt down.
– Robert Barker says “you can call me Bob”. BOB was, of course, the ultimate bad guy in Twin Peaks.
– In Psych, Robert Barker’s wife is named Michelle. In Twin Peaks, “Bobby” and “Shelly” were a secret couple.
– Shelly was also a waitress at the Double-R Diner in Twin Peaks. In Psych, Bobby and Shelly end up owning the Sawmill Diner.
– It’s perhaps a stretch, but Michelle’s sister is named Lucy, the same name as Twin Peaks’ ditzy police receptionist, Lucy Moran.
– The Sawmill Diner in Psych has the best apple cider and cinnamon pie; the Double-R Diner in Twin Peaks had the best coffee and cherry pie.
– Dual Spires’ sheriff is Andrew Jackson; Twin Peaks’ sheriff was Harry Truman.
– Dual Spires’ mayor is named Douglas Fir. He is a bumbling old man who bears a striking resemblance to Twin Peaks’ mayor, Dwayne Milford. Agent Cooper was very impressed with all the Douglas Fir trees around Twin Peaks, and repeatedly asked townspeople about them.
– The Cinnamon Festival mascot is Leo the Owl. Leo Johnson was a bad guy in Twin Peaks, and owls prominently figured in the show. Most importantly, there was the iconic line “the owls are not what they seem”, which The Giant tells Cooper in a lucid vision after he (Cooper) is shot at the end of season 1.
– The “king” of the Cinnamon Festival wears a crown; in Twin Peaks, the mentally-challenged Johnny Horne wore an Indian headdress. He was also tutored by Laura.
– When we first see Randy Jackson win his Cinnamon King crown, he’s wearing a high school letterman’s jacket. Bobby Briggs, Laura Palmer’s boyfriend in Twin Peaks, was often seen wearing his, although if I remember correctly Twin Peaks High School’s colors were crimson and silver. Bobby’s jacket obviously also had “TP” on the chest instead of “DS”.
– The missing person is the Barker’s niece, Paula Merral… an anagram of Laura Palmer.
– One of the running gags on Psych is that Shawn will introduce Gus using an impromptu nickname. In this episode, he introduces him to the Barkers as “Lodge Blackman”. In Twin Peaks, the White Lodge and Black Lodge were extra-dimensional representations of Good and Evil.
– Paula’s best friend is named Jack. Jack is blind in one eye and has 30% vision in the other. In Twin Peaks, “One-Eyed Jacks” is the name of a casino\brothel just over the border in Canada. Laura Palmer worked there for a time, and Audrey Horne went undercover there for Agent Cooper for a time.
– RANDOM TRIVIA: One-Eyed Jacks was also the name of a 1961 film directed by (and starring) Marlon Brando. It was the only movie Brando ever directed, and was the inspiration for the name in Twin Peaks.
– When we first see Jack, he’s riding a bicycle. His Twin Peaks equivalent, James Hurley, rode a motorcycle.
– The scene where Paula’s body is found is almost a shot-for-shot remake of the Twin Peaks original, complete with the body wrapped in clear plastic sheeting, the moody music and over-the-top crying.
– Gus seems to cry any time someone else does in this episode… not unlike the lovable but hopelessly dorky Deputy Andy Brennan in Twin Peaks.
– One deputy in both Dual Spires and Twin Peaks is a Native American with mystical connections to the land. The deputy’s name in Twin Peaks was Hawk, but in Psych he is “Deputy Frost”; Twin Peaks was created by David Lynch and Mark Frost.
– In the opening credits, a white horse is seen. One of the most obscure “characters” in Twin Peaks was a white horse.
– Back at Santa Barbara police department headquarters, Jules (Maggie Lawson, Shawn’s love interest and real-life girlfriend) and Henry Spencer (Shawn’s dad, who has came out of retirement to consult with police) stare in wonder at a giant stack of doughnuts. Similar stacks were often seen at the police station in Twin Peaks.
– Not a Twin Peaks reference per se, but according to the sign outside her office, Doctor Donna Gooden is Dual Spires’ general practitioner, psychiatrist, pediatrician, optometrist, gastrologist, podiatrist, dermatologist, orthodontist, forensic specialist, veterinarian and lawyer.
– Laura Palmer’s best friend in Twin Peaks was Donna Hayward, the same first name as Sheryl Lee’s character in Dual Spires.
– Also, in Twin Peaks the town doctor was named Doctor William Hayward. He was usually called “Doc Hayward” by the townspeople. If you use the same shortcut in Dual Spires, Doctor Gooden becomes Doc Gooden, the name of a famous baseball pitcher in the 1980s.
– Doc Gooden (Psych) and Doc Hayward (Twin Peaks) both have coconuts on their office desks.
– Anyone know what the significance of Doc Gooden complimenting the exiting patient on “keeping his receipt”? I know that in season 2 of Twin Peaks, secret lovers Bobby and Shelly look for a shoe repair receipt after Shelly’s husband Leo (now a vegetable after getting shot by Hank Jennings) starts moaning about shoes… but I can’t remember if anything came of it (was something hidden in the shoes?)
– The mynah bird in Doctor Gooden’s waiting room is the same type that bit Laura Palmer on the shoulder in Twin Peaks.
– Paula and her secret lover (Randy Jackson, Sheriff Jackson’s son and Cinnamon King) shared a pair of earrings. In Twin Peaks, Laura and her secret lover James split a gold heart locket.
– It’s not a Twin Peaks reference, but when Shawn notes that Bob Barker, Doc Gooden and Randy Jackson all live in the same small town, Gus says that they should pitch the idea to Mark Burnett. Burnett is a British television producer who created reality and game shows like The Apprentice, Survivor and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
– When Shawn and Gus walk upstairs to talk to Randy at his home there’s a stylistic shot up the staircase of a ceiling fan; an almost identical shot was frequently seen in Twin Peaks.
– Randy throws darts at a dartboard when Shawn and Gus ask him questions. His throws are all wide of the mark… until he tells the truth, in which case he nails the bull’s eye. This is similar to an experiment in Twin Peaks where Agent Cooper threw rocks at bottles to help determine which suspects they should interview. When Cooper breaks the bottle, he’s found their suspect:
– There’s another ceiling fan shot as Shawn and Gus walk in to the Dual Spires library.
– Librarian Maudette Hornsby’s name is strikingly similar to her Twin Peaks name: Audrey Horne.
– Hornsby wears an orchid in her hair. In Twin Peaks, Laura Palmer’s meals-on-wheels friend, Harold Smith, is an agoraphobic who cultivates orchids in his home.
– Hornsby asks “isn’t cherry the best?” while seductively drinking a cherry cola from a straw. One of Fenn’s most famous scenes in Twin Peaks involves her tying a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue:
– On Maudette’s desk (next to her computer) is a roll of distinctive green tape, very similar to the kind used by Leland Palmer to tie up Jacques Renault.
– At the library, Shawn and Gus realize that the cryptic text message Shawn received is a call number. They find a book on golfing entitled Putt Your Way to a Better Life by “Earl Wyndam”. In Twin Peaks, Windom Earle is a psychotic ex-FBI agent with whom Cooper has a chequered past.
– In Twin Peaks, Leland Palmer kills Maddy Ferguson (Laura’s nearly identical cousin, also played by Lee). After the murder, Leland is seen putting golf balls around in his living room.
– It’s kind of hard to tell, but the photo on the back of the book jacket does look like Kenneth Welsh, the actor who portrayed Windom Earle:
– Come to find out, Putt Your Way to a Better Life is only the dust cover of the book. The actual title is Reincarnation and Rebirth by Ann Power Ph.D. Rebirth and reincarnation were big themes in Twin Peaks. I don’t think the name “Ann Power” has any relevance; there was a Twin Peaks character called Annie Blackburn, and she is “reborn” as a nun after a painful experience in her past. She’s also “reborn” after she leaves the convent and becomes Cooper’s love interest. However, Maddy Ferguson would have been a better choice, don’t you think?
– When Jules and Lassiter arrive in the town (in suits, like FBI agents), Lassie makes rude jokes about the small town, much like how Cooper’s acerbic colleague Albert Rosenfield (Migel Ferrer) rudely dismissed Twin Peaks.
– A big stretch: Lassiter talks about how sunflower seed shells were found at the spot where Paula disappeared. Sunflower seeds were a trademark of Agent Mulder on The X-Files, and David Duchovny had a small role as a cross-dressing DEA agent in Twin Peaks.
– One of the most famous images from Twin Peaks is of Laura Palmer wearing her prom queen crown. The Barkers have a similar picture of Paula:
– “Magic white rocks” (in Psych, crystal meth) figured prominently in Twin Peaks.
– Paula was abused, just like Laura Palmer was.
– Paula had a secret diary, just like Laura Palmer did. Also, in both diaries, people are referred to by initials. Both diaries had someone named “R” and someone else named “J”.
– After the first season of Twin Peaks, David Lynch’s daughter, Jennifer, wrote a book called The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer (link). Interestingly, not only is the book considered “canon” by fans and the shows’ creators, ideas and plotlines from it were actually used in season 2 and the prequel movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.
– The second library scene starts with a shot of Fenn’s legs with jazzy music in the background. This was a repeated motif in Twin Peaks.
– In that same scene, Shawn says that Gus wants to take her to “Betty Boop Night at the Roadhouse”. Although the bar in Twin Peaks was officially called the “Bang Bang Bar”, most townspeople just called it”the roadhouse”.
– Jack says that someone snuck up behind him and hit him on the head. The same thing happened to Laura Palmer’s psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence Jacoby. The character of Jacoby, an extremely eccentric man, was inspired by real-life writer Terence McKenna.
– Randy uses a table saw while Jules waits for his father, the sheriff, to return. The shots of the saw are similar to those in the opening of Twin Peaks.
– Shawn complains about all the “secret relationships” in the town of Dual Spires. While some might have thought that the murder of Laura Palmer was main story behind Twin Peaks, creator David Lynch has repeatedly said that the murder was only a MacGuffin (a plot device) to advance the real story: all the secrets of a small town.
– When the library catches on fire, Shawn and Gus are rescued by Father Westley, who uses an ax to cut through the door. In Twin Peaks, Leo once attacked Shelly with an ax, and tried to break through the door of the bathroom she was hiding in.
– In this episode, Father Westley says that his hair has turned white overnight thanks to an “ill-advised” attempt to dye it. In Twin Peaks, Leland Palmer’s hair also turned white overnight after he murdered Jacques Renault, a suspect in Laura’s murder. I should also point out the obvious: that Father Westley and Leland Palmer were both played by Ray Wise.
– Bob Barker takes Shawn, Gus and Father Westley to a “secret cabin” in the woods. A similar cabin was very important in Twin Peaks.
– The cabin has red walls and red curtains, recalling the “Red Room” of Cooper’s dreams in Twin Peaks.
– Bob says that Dual Spires was founded in part by his great-grandfather, who is seen in a portrait above the fireplace. The man in the painting bears a strikingly similarity to Major Garland Briggs (played by the late Don. S. Davis), an Air Force officer and the father of Laura’s boyfriend, Bobby Briggs:
– In this episode, Bob Barker talks about the three families who founded Dual Spires and how they tried to keep law and order in the town. Shawn then notices the “secret society” ring Barker is wearing. In Twin Peaks, the Bookhouse Boys were a secret society that not only fought the supernatural evil surrounding the town, they also acted as vigilantes against drug smugglers and the like.
– The closing scene is one long tribute to Twin Peaks. Jack wears a red suit, puts money in the jukebox and dances like just like The Man from Another Place. Jack also wears an eye patch, like Nadine Hurley. Lassiter sits at the end of the counter and tries the cider, which he calls a “damn fine cup of cider”, the same compliment Agent Cooper bestowed on the diner’s coffee. The Giant orders three cinnamon pies. Someone wears a football helmet and bangs his head on the counter, much like the mentally-challenged Johnny Horne. Randy Jackson sits at the window and barks at a dog; in Twin Peaks, Bobby Briggs and his best friend Mike Nelson barked at James Hurley when they were all in jail as suspects in Laura’s murder. Also, Bob Barker dances with a picture, like Leland Palmer did in Twin Peaks.
All in all, this was one incredible episode of Psych! I’ve always loved their tribute episodes, but this one was special for sure! I hope I haven’t missed any obvious references, but if you know of any, let me know in the comments!