I have been enjoying our free preview of Amazon Prime, including watching TV series, both new (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) and old (Psych). While watching Season 2 of Psych, I noted a library scene in episode 7, “If You’re So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?”
First things first. If you’re not familiar with the comedic TV show Psych, here’s the basic premise:
Shawn Spencer (played by James Roday) has amazing powers of observation — and uses that power to pretend to be psychic. Why? So that he can solve crimes with the police, alongside his best friend, Gus (played by Dulé Hill). Corbin Bernsen plays his crotchety father, Henry Spencer, a retired cop.
Here’s a trailer for Season 2 of the TV show:
And here’s the basic plot for the “If You’re So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?” episode, which first aired in August 2007:
A group of genius teenagers go to the Psych office claiming their teacher is a murderer.
School library scene
The scene occurs 9 minutes into the 42-minute episode. Shawn and Gus arrive at the school, going undercover as guest lecturers for a paranormal studies class. The headmaster gives them a tour of the school… which apparently starts in the library! I like this school. 😉
Headmaster: Personally, I’m not sure that I see the merits of a class in paranormal studies, but we do let the students choose one guest instructor a semester.
[A student walks past, carrying a thick book, joining a table of other students with their noses in books.]
Shawn: What is this? Like a study hall?
Headmaster: Oh, no. Recess.
Shawn: [Sniffs] Does it smell like teen spirit in here?
Student: [Walks by] Shhhhhh!
Gus has to hold Shawn back from going after the kid!
The school library
The library looks to be a pretty large space, with lots of windows and light and yellow-painted walls. I’m not sure where they filmed this scene, but I do know that the series filmed primarily in Vancouver, Canada. You can read about other filming locations featured on the show via the Movie Maps site.
There are different kinds of resources in the library, including books and computers. Furniture is also set up for different kinds of learning activities, including tables, computer desks, and bookcases, both small and tall ones. This furniture is used to break up the library into different spaces.
And as Shawn and Gus walk through the library with the headmaster, we also see glimpses of various students working hard at computers and other students working in groups. The library is also quite full — at recess, as we learned! — and the students range in ages, genders, and ethnicities.
The only thing missing in this scene? A librarian! 😉
Why a school library scene?
The scene lasts a total of 30 seconds, and it is the only scene in the episode set in the school library. What purpose does this brief scene serve? It primarily serves to provide as not only an introduction to the school for Shawn and Gus, but also as an introduction for the audience. We have been informed already that this is a school for geniuses — what better place than a library to reinforce this concept?
The scene starts with a closeup of thick books, a bookcase of atlases. This shot efficiently establishes the setting as a library without having to actually say the word.
This scene also efficiently reinforces the vibe of the school and the priorities of its students. They are serious, focused, and not afraid to stand up to authority — even shushing adults. This scene is so efficient — and the students themselves are so self-sufficient — that there is no need for a school librarian!
This also sets up a conflict in the episode, because if you’re a fan of the show, you know that Shawn jokes all the time and rarely takes anything seriously. As the audience, we are already looking forward to the students pushing back during Shawn’s upcoming lecture. After all, Shawn may be able to hoodwink the police about his “psychic” abilities… but will he able to convince these genius students? Or will the students call his bluff and shush him out of the school? 😉
“If You’re So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?” Psych. USA Network, 24 Aug. 2007.