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Interview: James Roday, Dulé Hill, Steve Franks talk (wait for it) 'Psych The Musical'

by jmaloni
Thu, Dec 12th 2013 11:00 pm
`Psych The Musical`: Pictured, from left: Dulé Hill as Burton `Gus` Guster and James Roday as Shawn Spencer. (USA Network photo by Alan Zenuk)
"Psych The Musical": Pictured, from left: Dulé Hill as Burton "Gus" Guster and James Roday as Shawn Spencer. (USA Network photo by Alan Zenuk)

'Psych The Musical' airs Sunday on USA Network

Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni

Perhaps no show has as much fan trust as the USA Network's hit "Psych."

For seven seasons, creator Steve Franks and his writing team have offered an assortment of zany, hilarious, brilliant storylines - including a "Breakfast Club"-themed murder mystery, Cary Elwes as a master thief, a re-enactment of "Clue" wherein Curt Smith of Tears For Fears was shot (not fatally, fortunately), and an homage to "Twin Peaks."

Of course, this is a show that revolves around a fake psychic detective, Shawn Spencer (James Roday), and his best friend, Gus, a pharmaceutical salesman with an unmatched number of pseudonyms (think Gus "Sillypants" Jackson, Ovaltine Jenkins, Don Cheadle Junior, Gern Blanston, Domo Arigato, etc.)

One look at Twitter and it's clear "Psych" fans would accept any storyline, so long as Shawn and Gus were front and center. In fact, if Franks whipped up an episode involving the "Psych" cast reading the phone book, I'm sure it would be hysterical (and the Psych-Os would watch).

"By the way, we did the phone book once. It was a terrible episode," Franks said. "I think the problem was we did the letter J, which I thought - I was really pushing for Q, but everybody thought it was too out there."

See what I mean?

Now, "Psych" is taking its most ambitious leap yet, with a musical episode set to air Sunday at 9 p.m.

Roday said the two-hour special is Franks' masterwork.

"Steve has been so generous with letting us, and me, especially, and some of the other writers have the autonomy to sort of, you know, do crazy things to his show over the years that it - knowing that this was sort of like his baby. This is his crown jewel. This was like his legacy. If every other episode of 'Psych' somehow got destroyed or locked away in a vault and the only thing that stayed was the 'Psych' musical, I think he could still feel pretty good about it," Roday said. "Like, knowing that that's where his head was at was a no - I mean it was just a no-brainer. ... I mean, he could've told me to jump off of a building. I was Denzel Washington in 'Glory.' I was going to pick up the flag, like, no matter what. No matter how crazy it sounded. No matter how daunting it sounded. No matter how many naysayers or concerns there were, I was going to pick up pom-poms. And if we went down, we were going to go down together."

"I mean we were excited to do it," Hill said. "But as I said earlier, it was daunting because it's a lot like - we're a basic cable show. We don't have all this extra, you know, cash flowing around to, you know, do well what we do. We always fit within our budget, and I didn't know how we were going to do it. And then when I heard that we were doing original songs, not - (we) weren't going to 'Glee' it up - I was like, 'I don't know how we're going to do this.' It was a little daunting, but I was definitely game for it.

"I said, 'You know what? We're "Psych." We always swing for the fences. Let's go for it.' "

Though USA has supported "Psych," the fan base is dedicated and the critics are on board, Franks wasn't taking any chances with his musical vision.

"I think we did something really smart and we - before we (had) a concept or anything locked in, we went ahead and made a big announcement that it was going to happen, which kind of forced everybody's hand - most importantly our own," Franks said. "So, you know, we announced it at Comic-Con in front of a big crowd with the president of the studio there knowing there was no turning back at that point. And so we were able to sort of drum up our own social media support from the stage of Comic-Con.

"Unfortunately, we probably should've had more details worked out before we did it, but I think it worked out great. And our fans do - you know, despite that terrible episode where we did the phone book ... I think our fan base, you know, they supported us when we did 'Twin Peaks.' They supported us when we did 'Clue.' This really seemed kind of safe compared to many of the things we'd done in the past."

"Psych The Musical" airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on USA.

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