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Back to the Psych Ward

by Zach Oat January 8, 2009 11:08 am
Back to the <i>Psych</i> Ward

America is going crazy over the fake psychic who solves crimes! ...Except they've been going crazy about this guy's show for three seasons already. USA's detective comedy Psych returns on Friday with new episodes, and we got the chance to talk to stars James Roday (Shawn) and Dulé Hill (Gus) about what's coming up in terms of romances, guest stars and possible references to a certain other psychic investigator.

Quite a few people have noticed similarities between the new CBS show, The Mentalist and Psych. Have you seen the show? What's your take on that?

James Roday: I mean, there's no point in trying to pretend the show wasn't influenced by us. Mimicry is the most sincere form of flattery, and I think the fact that someone saw something in our show that was worth reproducing on a much larger scale, I think it's kind of cool. But look at every show on television; it's derivative of another show that came before it. It was only a matter of time. So all you Mentalist fans, it's okay to like the show, but don't be in denial of where it came from. Friday nights, USA, basic cable-style baby.

Dulé Hill: Yeah, hats off to Steve Franks, because he's the one who created Psych. Obviously, someone picking up on your idea a little bit, to me that would be an honor. And I think we could probably have some fun with the idea of The Mentalist being on TV. You'll probably see Shawn and Gus make some references to it.

How much fun do you have making all of the pop-culture references on the show?

James Roday: You know, Dulé and I are kids of the '80s and '90s, and so are Shawn and Gus. The show is a reflection of what these characters grew up with. And it's basically just a free-for-all, like, "What's the most obscure thing you can come up with?" and you just put it out there. It's like a natural sort of Ginkgo biloba, because as I get older I'm losing track of all that useful information that I used to have at my fingertips. And, you know, half the time Dulé doesn't even know what I'm talking about, which is fun, because it becomes an education for him and a trip down memory lane for me.

Dulé Hill: I would say like 83.2% of the time I have no idea what he's talking about. I have to get the explanation afterwards. But on-scene, I act like I know exactly what he's talking about.

Roday: He commits to it and it's genius. And you buy it and it's awesome.

Do you guys joke around on the set a lot?

Hill: Pretty much from the time we get to work to the time we leave, unless we start getting tired, we're joking or having some fun somewhere.

Roday: Dulé likes to hide equipment, too, I would say.

Hill: I'm good for hiding the boom from Jon Lavender -- he's a boom operator on our show. And the focus puller, he has a little gadget to, I guess, focus the camera, and I'm good for putting that in a drawer somewhere if they put it down and they look away.

Roday: The slate. You like to hide the slate.

Hill: Yeah, the slate. I'm good for that, too. If you put something down and you look away, I'm taking it and I'm going to hide it.

James, what's it like working with Cybill Shepherd?

Roday: Once you get past the whole multiple personality disorder thing, she's an absolute doll... I'm kidding. She doesn't have multiple personalities. That was an old TV movie from the '80s that I was riffing on. Cybill is a pro, man. She's an iconic figure. And any time you work with that, you have to get over that initial sort of phase of, "Gosh, that's Cybill Shepherd. Do you think she'll let me touch her?" And then you realize wow, she's really jazzed to be up there with us and she thinks the show is fun. She bought into our vibe and our sort of silly self-image right away. Thumbs up for Cybill Shepherd.

Any more guest appearances we can look forward to before the end of the third season?

Roday: Ted McGinley came up, and his hair is just as ridiculously awesome as it ever was. Mykelti Williamson came up -- he's playing a quarterback, which for me it was like it might as well have been 1986. I was in the theater watching Wildcats with popcorn. Who else did we have? Mackenzie Astin, Justine Bateman... We have a return appearance from Rachael Leigh Cook. Yeah, read into that what you will. And let's see, we're forgetting... oh, Jonathan Silverman, who was one of the nicest guys in the business that you will ever meet.

Hill: He likes to be called Johnny Silver.

Roday: Johnny Silver, the Streak.

Between Shawn hooking up with Gus' sister in the Christmas episode this year, him getting friendlier with Juliet and the return of Rachel Leigh Cook's character, are there any plans for a substantial romance on the show?

Roday: You know what, I think you might just see something like that happening sooner rather than later. I mean, the idea of Shawn trying to negotiate a relationship with a woman is brand-new territory. I have no idea how it's going to go, but I do have a feeling that we're going to sort of scratch at something like that, as you'll see, if you can make it to the fifth season. If I were to list five options -- E being all of the above, hello? -- Juliet would be in there and Abigail, which is Rachael Leigh Cook's character, would be in there. But, you know, we might throw you a couple of curve balls along the way, too.

What is it about the show that keeps people in the house on a Friday night?

Roday: The short answer is Dulé's head, and he has the longer answer.

Hill: I just think that, you know, it's a great show that after a hard workweek you can come home, take it easy. You can be with your family. It's an adult show or a children's show. I think the show kind of brings people back to memories of their childhood. I mean we're pretty much two geeky kids in a candy store and who can't relate to that?

Roday: You know, there are probably some people out there that found out very early in life that they might have been diabetic or couldn't eat sugar, or whatever. And those people probably can't relate to being kids in a candy store, and I just want to put it out there that we're not discriminating against those people. They probably are able to enjoy the show in a different way. I just wanted to put that out there for our fans' sake. We love all of them, whether they could eat candy as a child or not.

Catch the return of Psych this Friday, January 9, at 10pm on USA.

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