Now that I’ve gotten to season two, I’d like to amend my earlier statements. The show found its footing near the end of season one. The characters’ personalities seem to have worked themselves out and relationships are actually beginning to develop.
It’s also gotten more clever. In the last episode of season one, Juliet O’Hara gets an undercover case in which she must pose as a sorority girl. She finds it hard to turn off this personality when not on the job and while she looks like an adult at the police station, she fits in surprisingly well with the high school crowd. The undercover sorority girl idea is pretty standard (Greek for example) but instead of using the cover to expose the house, the goal is to protect them from what they think is the ghost of a girl who died.
The first episode of the second season starts by making fun of reality tv. Shawn and Gus are watching American Duos, a spoof of American Idol. Shawn watches with obvious disinterest and possibly even disgust while Gus is entranced to the point of shushing Shawn when he tries to talk (I have friends who actually do that…). They’ve included the British crabby judge (meant to be Simon but with the name Nigel, a throw to Nigel of So You Think You Can Dance) and the drunk judge meant to be Paula Abdul. They even maintain the argumentative bicker between the two judges. Simon would kill Nigel’s ability to silence the audience with the raise of an eyebrow.
Part of why the show has gained steam is how much we’ve learned about the history of the characters. Lassiter reveals himself to be more self-conscious and desperate for acceptance than expected, Jules has a history of cheerleading and dance (she got kicked out of the cheerleading camp) and is more “out there” then she seems. She has a Sparky Polastry style freak out when Shawn and Gus can’t seem to learn the choreography. She hits a competitive streak.
Also, the theme song is great.