In an upscale chain restaurant on a busy road in Manhattan Beach, Calif., not far from the production offices of the USA Network comedy-drama “Psych,” and roughly 1,286 miles from the show’s filming location in Vancouver, Canada, star James Roday and series executive producer Steve Franks get together for lunch with Zap2it to discuss not staying too long at the party.
Obviously not for everyone, because the show airs it eighth-season, and series finale on Wednesday, March 26, followed by the “Psych After Show,” a one-hour special hosted by Kevin Pereira (“Attack of the Show”) and featuring a Q&A with the cast and Franks, in front of a live studio audience in Los Angeles.
For those who need to go do some binge viewing in a hurry, “Psych” features Roday (today sporting a full beard that’s about a half-inch short of edging into Old Testament patriarch territory) as Shawn Spencer, a native of Santa Barbara, Calif., who uses his Sherlock Holmes-level powers of deduction to convince people he’s a crime-fighting psychic.
At his side are his best friend from childhood, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill); his ex-cop dad, Henry (Corbin Bernsen); detective girlfriend Juliet (Maggie Lawson); Police Chief Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson, who directed the show’s musical episode, which aired in December); and idiosyncratic Detective Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson).
So without further ado, here are Franks and Roday on taking “Psych” out on a high note.
On missing Vancouver …
James Roday: “I personally, am not. I love Vancouver, truly, but I did spend, in all, four years over there — a whole presidential term, in hotels and apartments without air conditioning.”
Steve Franks (who has been staring intently at the sound-level indicators on the smartphone recording the conversation): “It also works as a hypnotist’s device.”
On being outlived by “The Mentalist,” which followed “Psych” and was criticized early on for having a very similar but far grimmer premise …
Roday: “They started after us, and they had a zillion viewers a week.”
Franks: “Now, we want ‘The Mentalist’ to go on for 20 more years. We want it to be the ‘Gunsmoke’ of this era.”
Roday: “It’ll just keep us in the zeitgeist with them. People will be saying, ‘Mentalist,’ parenthesis, serious version of ‘Psych.'”
Franks: “So we have nothing but positive feelings.”
Roday: “We got every drop of milk out of that, that we possibly could.”
On feeling good about the end of it all …
Roday: “We’re at peace with the decision to call it a show, because honestly, I feel like we did everything we could think of, just about. I always make a notebook every year of ideas that I want to do every season. I went back, and the ones we didn’t do, I don’t really feel like, ‘Oh, dang, we didn’t do that thing.’ “
Franks: “At the end of every year, James and I would get together, and we would talk about how we were going to push the boundaries of what the show was allowed to do each year. And, if we couldn’t figure out a way to push the boundaries any more, we both said, ‘OK, we’ll be done at that point.”
“And this year, we’re remaking one of our own episodes, and James’ zombie episode is so — it’s just so free. It’s completely free.”‘
On why no time travel …
Franks: “I spun so many writers room wheels for so many weeks each year, thinking I had a new way to make it logical. But the thing is, you can’t do time travel without actually traveling through time, and that was the one thing I couldn’t reconcile.”
On “Let’s Get Hairy,” the 2009 episode (co-written by Roday) featuring “American Werewolf in London” star David Naughton …
Roday: “The werewolf episode was a guilty pleasure of mine. It probably wasn’t the best storytelling we’ve ever done, but the fact that we got Josh Malina in a diaper, in a wheelbarrow, no less. That was pure silliness.”
Franks: “I’m just as happy with an oddball, awkward, weird joke as I am with a big, ridiculous, silly set piece. But silly is one of the many things we go to.”
On going to the zombie well at the end …
Roday: “Zombies was something that was on our board forever, too. To be completely honest, a lot of us finally getting to do zombies has to do with it being the final episode, and me directing, and everybody saying, ‘OK, Roday, you can have zombies.’
“We did not have real zombies, but they looked awfully good. What was cool about it was, it was a taste of zombies. It was a kitchen-sink sort of horror episode, where we didn’t hang the whole thing just on zombies. That probably would have been a mistake. We gave you a little bit of everything.”