The cast and producers of Psych took to the stage at Comic-Con International for a fast-paced and raucous discussion about USA Network’s long-running comedy-drama.
Stars James Roday (Shawn Spencer), Dule Hill (Burton “Gus” Guster), Maggie Lawson (Juliet O’Hara), Tim Omundson (Carlton Lassiter), Kirsten Nelson (Chief Karen Vick) and Corbin Bernsen (Henry Spencer) joined executive producer and creator Steve Franks and executive producers Kelly Kulchak and Chris Henze for a panel moderated by Psych guest star and Princess Bride legend Cary Elwes.
“Let’s hear it for Psych fans!” Elwes screamed as he paced the stage, pumping up the audience. He introduced the cast as if he were a ring announcer at a prizefight. As the actors took their places one by one, they politely pulled out the chair for the person who followed, gave massages and fanned their co-stars. Bernsen couldn’t find his name placard on the table so he took a seat at the edge of the stage.
For the next 17 minutes, Elwes screamed out random, rapid-fire questions that had nothing to do with the show. “Name something you’re afraid of!” “Tell the audience something they don’t know about you!” “Give your character as many nicknames you can think of in 30 seconds!” “What actor would you want to play you in a movie?”
For the record: Omundson wants Hal Holbrook to play him, while Bernsen would like David Soul or Jack Nicholson; Bernsen is afraid of spiders and not having a name placard; and Hill thinks “Bad News Marvin Brown” would be a good nickname for Gus.
Roday then announced that he joined Twitter (@JamesRoday), and sent out his first tweet from the stage: “Suck it.”
Elwes finally got around to questions about the show, asking Franks about the two additional episodes ordered for Season 8. Franks said there was a contest where fans got to vote what they wanted one of those episodes to be, and then turned to USA Network’s Jeff Wattell, who was standing in the audience Wattell reveal that “Dream Therapy” won.
The conversation then turned to “Psych: The Musical”, the upcoming two-part episode that was screened the night before in San Diego. When Elwes asked the audience to show by applause who was at the screening, it appeared as if half the room had attended. He prompted Roday and Hill to sing a number for those who missed it. A short video preview of “Psych-The Musical” was then shown.
Franks said he has wanted to do a musical episode since the first season, but it’s taken a long time. “You have to get it right,” he said. “We started talking about doing it right after the pilot and it wasn’t until the end of Season 7 where I had enough free time to do it.”
“These guys on stage have been saying some very nice things about me over the past day and a half, but this show lives because of their amazing talent,” he continued. “I knew Dule could do it. I knew Maggie had a musical background. James I hear sing when we shower together sometimes. It was the rest of the cast that really blew me away, though.”
An audience member asked whether there are going to be any “themed” episodes coming up this season. “We have not touched Harry Potter, we’ve never gone to London, we’ve never done a Guy Ritchie gangster movie,” Franks replied. “So why not take those three things, roll them into one, and add a sprinkling of Cary Elwes,” he finished, getting a positive response from the crowd.
“There’s also one other high-concept episode that we pulled out of our hats this season,” Roday said. “For the first time in television history, which goes back all the way to the ‘70s, I believe, we remade one of our own episodes.” He said they went back and picked out an early episode that hadn’t reached its “full potential” and recast it with “Psych all-stars” from the past eight years.
Someone asked if Officer McNabb, who was fired at the end of last season, is really fired. “Officer McNabb is not done on Psych,” Roday confirmed.
It was announced that Nelson directed one of the episodes this season. “This episode is going to blow your minds,” she said. “It was a hard, hard, episode, but very joyful. It’s a love song. It’s a love song to Psych.”
A highlight of the panel came when a little girl named Natalie in the audience said she and her family love Psych and have “Suck it” competitions to see who can say one of the show’s signature phrases the best. She asked the panel to give her their best “Suck It.” Nelson asked to hear hers, which generated huge laughter and applause. The cast then broke into “Suck It” songs, which brought down the house.
Hill was asked the difference between working on The West Wing and working on Psych. “In one I say ‘Mr. President’ a lot,” he said, “and in the other I say ‘Shawn.’” He went on to say that on The West Wing, the scripts were written by Aaron Sorkin and were crafted in such a way that the actors had to stick to the words. On Psych there is a lot more improvisation. “They are opposite sides of the coin but both equally wonderful experiences,” Hill concluded. “I am thankful to be a part of both.”
Kulchak and Henze said that meeting the fans and coming to Comic-Con has been the greatest part and one of the unexpected surprises of working on Psych over the past eight years.
Kulchak recalled that the first time they came to Comic-Con and were told they were going to be in Ballroom 20, they were scared and thought only nine people would show up. “When we walked out we realized we’re part of a show that really touches people and gets them excited and makes them laugh,” she said. “This is the most surprising and most amazing. Thank you so much.”
“Psych-Os are the greatest!” Elwes screamed.
Psych returns this fall on USA.