Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni
Long before fans found out there wouldn't be a ninth season of "Psych," one thing was certain about season eight: This year has been nothing short of a victory lap for the USA Network's hit comedy.
Just four episodes in, fans have already seen a slew of guest stars (Cary Elwes, Anthony Michael Hall, Vinnie Jones, Ralph Macchio, Alan Ruck, etc., etc., etc.); Gus dressed as Harry Potter; Jules and Lassiter reversing roles; and a flashback where the cast actually redid a season-one episode.
"I say it every year, but this is, I think, the best season yet. I don't know how I keep saying that!" Timothy Omundson said in a phone interview.
Of course, "Psych" teased season eight with its much-anticipated musical episode right before Christmas. Fans loved it, and Omundson and his on-screen partner, Maggie Lawson, couldn't have been happier with the response.
"I'm overwhelmed by it," he said. "I'm overwhelmed by the fan reaction - I think we all are."
"I was overwhelmed," she said. "I think, for us, it was so much fun because we really came together as a group to do that. I feel like it was seven seasons in the making, basically. And I feel like we had such an experience doing it, it was sort of nice that USA made it a big event and it wasn't part of the regular season. It sort of had its own time. I thought that was really cool."
"Yeah, I think our fans really appreciated that, as well, giving them that bridge to the season, and such a big episode to sort of enjoy," Omundson said. "And watching it - it had been so long since we shot it - I forgot how good it was. I'm thinking, 'Wow, we're really pulling this sucker off!' "
When this season began, Lassiter and Jules found themselves working for a new Santa Barbara Police Department chief, Harris Trout. Much to their chagrin, he wasted no time in demoting senior detective Lassiter and promoting junior detective O'Hara.
"For me, that was really fun to play," Omundson said. "It's always fun when you get to play something so different, and that was just a ball."
"You've probably heard us talk about it over the years, about 'Badass Lassiter' and 'Badass Juliet,' and I get very excited when I get to be 'Badass Juliet,' " Lawson said. "It was really, really fun."
Two weeks ago, "Psych" put a different twist on "Cloudy ... With A Chance of Murder" with "Remake A.K.A. Cloudy ...With a Chance of Improvement."
"It was really fun to do the flashback episode and sort of go back to what that relationship was (in) season one," Omundson said. "It was funny to sort of reflect and say, 'Who were we, and how did we play these beats?' Then to have the role reversal now, it was very fun."
Each week, the "Psych" stars have tweeted back and forth with fans during episodes. Omundson and Lawson have become quite popular on Twitter, netting countless mentions from "Psych-Os" each day.
"Oh my god, they mean everything," Lawson said. "They have been the most dedicated, excited, supportive, wonderful group of people, group of fans - or 'Psych-Os,' as they call themselves - that they're just all sort of, I think, part of it with us," Lawson said. "I think Twitter has been fun because we've been able to sort of connect with them, instead of just, you know, say, at Comic-Con, or places where they all a lot of times show up.
"It's a forum where we get to be connected, and we can thank them. I think our marketing team and the people on the social media side of 'Psych' for the show have done a really good job of keeping us all connected."
"We've been able to kind of get to know them a little bit, which I think is really cool," she added.
"We all, everybody associated with the show, realizes that we would not be where we are without this group of people watching the show," Omundson said. "Twitter has been just an amazing thing. Just over the last couple years, when we've all sort of really embraced it - now the fact that even James (Roday) is on Twitter, Hell has frozen over. But, there's something really cool about the instantaneous feedback, and how this social platform has really allowed not only the fans to connect with each other, but to connect with us, and us to them.
"And when an episode airs, to get that instantaneous, you know, almost gratification, satisfaction, that people are digging what we do, that's never happened before. That was impossible. So now, it's a very real thing. It's very tangible. And, like almost everything now is live tweeted, because one of us is going to be on commenting in the back while watching the show - and they're all watching it together, you know, virtually. And it's really been an interesting experience for me. I've really embraced it, and come to like it a lot."
"Psych" airs this Wednesday at 9 p.m. on the USA Network. In the episode, Gus takes lead on a new case, while Shawn is forced to play sidekick.
Following two reruns (thank you, Olympics), the show returns Feb. 26 with a new episode directed by cast member Kirsten Nelson.
For more on "Psych," visit http://www.usanetwork.com/psych.
•Joshua Maloni writes about television shows such as "Psych," "The Black List," "Grimm" and "The Voice." Follow him on Twitter @joshuamaloni.