A month ago today I was making the long, long trek to Vancouver. My bank account wasn’t very happy with me but I wasn’t passing up the opportunity for a second visit to the set of Psych. In case you doubted just how much I love the show and the people who make it happen. Plus, C. Thomas Howell put it best when he said, “It’s one of the warmest sets I’ve ever been on.”
Howell guests in tonight’s summer finale and we got to watch as he filmed multiple scenes with Shawn and Gus and Lassiter and Juliet. The man has been in so many things it’s hard to pick just one of his roles to fangirl about, but I was totally having “OMG it’s Michael Ryan from Secret Admirer” (Give me a break, I had just re-watched the movie so it was fresh in my mind!!) moment as we interviewed him in between scenes.
Which just proves how much I love Tim Omundson because when Howell revealed the role of Lassiter had come down to him and Tim, I was horrified by the thought of anyone else as Lassiter! I’m looking forward to Howell as Federal Agent Driggs and I’m secretly hoping things plays out so that he can be a character that pops occasionally but I just can’t imagine him as Lassie. Plus then it would have deprived Tim of the opportunity to poke fun at him on the set for not getting the role. (Come on, USA, give us one of those moments in the S5 DVD outtakes!)
Meeting C. Thomas Howell wasn’t the biggest thrill of my set visit, that’d probably be the explosion you’ll see during tonight’s episode (and in the promo for the ep). We had just shuffled into the location offices where several scenes were being shot when executive producer and director Mel Damski warned us there would be an explosion in the next shot and not to be shocked. Given the little jumps and muffled gasps of surprise when said explosion happened, not all of us heard that warning! But it was awesome! As much as I appreciate the opportunity to talk to the cast and crew, I’d be just as happy to just spend an entire day observing the filming. There’s an energy on sets that I love and I dig seeing it all come together. The way a crew can move a set around so quickly for the different shots? Amazing.
So, yeah, I was in heaven. And though I suspect I was just reveling in the experience, I must admit I laughed silently every single time they repeated a certain Spies Like Us bit. And was appropriately horrified when Dulé later admitted he has never seen the movie! Come on now, it’s a classic! A must see! And, yes, I did tell him that. Not he cared (“There’s a lot of movies I need to see, trust me.”), he’s perfectly OK with not really getting most of the pop culture references Shawn and Gus throw out. As he said, “Between Roday, and Steve Franks, and Andy Berman who are just very much movie people, I’m very fine with not seeing all the movies.” Alright, I get that but it’s funny and he still needs to see it.
But my favorite part about our talk with Dulé was when he admitted, “I wouldn’t mind being a vampire.” HA! The man has been watching and loving True Blood. We all know I don’t get the love for that show but I do love the idea of Dulé as vampire. If he ever gets his wish, I may just have to break down and watch an episode of True Blood. For obvious reasons, I’d be just as happy if he gets the opportunity to, “Bring some friends, and tap on Glee.” Or to be a guest on Modern Family. Can he be Claire’s secret best friend? Please!
I’m sorry, what was I talking about? You know what we weren’t talking about? How things would go between Shawn and Juliet if she were to find out the truth about his “psychic” abilities. Or, rather, Maggie Lawson was dancing around the issue. I think we all know why now. We’re getting a hint at how she’d react with Shawn 2.0, Declan. Although it’s definitely not the same in my opinion. Declan only lied to Juliet for a short time. Shawn’s been keeping up this pretense for years. But I also liked her take on it, “But I think that somewhere along, like, deep in everyone’s thoughts of Shawn, that they kind of know he’s a fake. I think he’s really good at what he does, but there is an element where we’ve all questioned it at some point like, ‘Really? I don’t know, but I’m going with this because it works and it’s good and you care and you get it done.’” At this point, I think that is probably the only way to look at it for the show not to suddenly drastically change its tone. Which, let’s face it, is not going to happen.
You guys, have I mentioned how much I fucking love these people? Sorry. Was just thinking about how this post isn’t doing justice to how much I enjoy interacting with them. Not that I did much interacting. I get quiet in big groups and our group this time was much bigger than last time. But, still, I appreciate how willing this cast and crew is to mingle and talk with us. I’m not sure I’d be as gracious if I were in the same position. Plus, I admit it made me feel good when Mel Damski recognized me from the last set visit and re-introduced himself to me at craft services. I’m not sure if he really recognized me (it was three years ago and we only met for about an hour!) or he knew there were a couple of us who had been there before but, still, it made me feel good that he made the effort to acknowledge me. And, although I suspect he was probably remembering having seen me at other Psych events since then, Dulé also asked, “Weren’t you here at the last set visit?” Nothing like making a girl feel remembered and welcome!
And then there’s Tim Omundson and his freaking adorable dog. I dare you to meet Tim and not love him. Take, for instance, how he started his interview with us (conducted in a conference room on the top floor of the office building where they were shooting on location), “I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve called you all here. There’s been some–well, it’s a downward economic turn, and I’m afraid we’ll have to let you all go. Kidding! I can’t fire any of you.” See? Not possible to resist that. Or his insistence that Lassie should go undercover as a drug lord. Granted, that’s mostly because he just wants an excuse to grow an awesome beard while on hiatus and have them work it into the show. But think of the humor potential in a situation like that?! I’ve seen his work on Jericho; he’d be believable as a drug lord.
Also, can I quote Tim when people ask why I’ve fallen behind on the blog these days? In his words, “You know, nobody blogs anymore, man. It’s all about Twitter.” I know he was only joking about how he only Twitters as Lassie now instead of blogging on the USA site but it still applies! Anyway, the man is great and funny and you should follow him (as Lassie) on Twitter.
What else? There’s no one else on this show is there? Of course we also got a few minutes with James. And I really do mean just a few minutes. Here’s the thing, James is like some kind of crazy multitasking genius. While we were there he was not only filming his scenes but writing and prepping for the next episode in between takes. And probably putting together the draft of his Fantasy Football league too. Ok, not that last part, though he did admit, “Fantasy sports. It’s my only true vice, and it’s a big one. There is no day in the calendar year where I’m not competing, because I go straight from football, to basketball, to baseball, and they cover the whole calendar year. And it’s multiple leagues for each sport, and it’s not just friendly leagues. I play at, like, a national, sort of, high-stakes level now. I’ve gone as far as someone can go as a fantasy sportsman.”
Fantasy sportsman. Every guy I know (except Ducky) is appropriating that term right now. But it is James’ other “vice” that I can relate to the most, “I’m a geek about movies – horror movies probably the most.” Of course when I asked him to pick a favorite horror movie he couldn’t do it. (I can’t either to be honest!) As he says, “That’s a constantly sort of moving, changing thing. There’re so many different types of horror, you know?” He did, however, give me a few of his all-time favorites: Rosemary’s Baby, American Werewolf in London, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the first one, natch), The Shining, and John Carpenter’s The Thing. Can’t argue with any of those. We should all have a James Roday’s horror picks marathon this Halloween!
We finished up visit by heading over to the studio for a tour of the Psych sets. Shawn’s desk was not in his office but I did sit at it and take pictures of what he has in his drawers (oooh! dirrrty!). But then we got to talk to producer Gordon Mark and writer/co-executive producer Saladin Patterson. Which you know was a highlight of the day for ME! (I’ll pause and let you all roll your eyes over my love for TV writers. And I’ll take that moment to also say that both Andy Berman and Todd Harthan were on set that day but things were busy so, beyond a few moments between takes, we didn’t get much time with them. Although, I enjoyed watching them react to the scene as it was being filmed. Also, I have to admit I do love interviews with James as well because he is one of the writers on top of being the star. Beyond his favorite horror movies, it was what he had to say about the writers room* that I remember most from his interview. Wait… Am I still writing in the parens?!)
Anyway, I loved the interview with Gordon and Saladin because it gives me glimpse at the creative process behind the show. Like the type of scenes Saladin likes to write: “I tend to like playing a new dynamic or conflict between our characters that will allow the audience to see their relationship a little different, and then allow characters to kind of have to act in a way they haven’t had to act towards each other before. … You know, just like putting the characters in different situations where you can see our same characters, but learn something new about them.”
Plus he addressed a question that tends to come up in the fifth season of any show, how long do they want the show to continue, “I mean, again, of course in all honesty, we all want it to go on as long as we can creatively satisfy ourselves and the audience, you know. And right now we feel like we’ve still got some juice left – you know, different things we haven’t played.” Well, I hope so because no way I’m ready to say goodbye to these characters yet!
As always with these set visit recaps, I have to thank everyone over at USA Networks for making it possible. They don’t pay to get us there but they do provide lodging and transportation for those of us coming from out of town and that makes a huge difference in my ability to attend. Of course, a HUGE thank you to everyone at Psych. To the cast (and guest stars!) from taking time out of their day to talk to us, even chatting with us as we stood around gawking at them in between takes. And to the crew for putting up with 20 extra people trampling around the set, raiding craft services, and just generally getting in their way. They are always so nice and truly go out of their way to accommodate us and I appreciate them all the more for it. Then there are the PR folks from USA, Electric Artists, and New Media Strategies who are heroes for pulling the whole day together and keeping us on track! Much love to everyone involved. Thanks for making it a great day for this fangirly blogger.
ETA: The giveaway is now over! Thanks to everyone who entered. I wish I could give all of you a prize! Alas, I had to use random.org to narrow that down to just one. Congratulations to DebraKetchner for winning!
Ok, now that I’ve made you appropriately jealous, let me pay you back for reading! USA gave a little welcome goodie bag and it contained the Psych Season Four DVDs. Awesome, right? Except I already bought them. And I’m a big fan but even I don’t need two copies of the same season on DVD. So I’m giving them away to one of YOU! Plus some other USA swag I’ve amassed over the past year. To enter comment on this post by Wednesday, September 22nd… And since I want you to watch tonight’s summer finale, you get an extra entry if you come back after you’ve seen it and tell me what you loved/hated about the episode. And! You can get ANOTHER entry if you tweet about the giveaway: “I entered to win Psych S4 on DVD over at @raelee’s blog: http://bit.ly/bzdnzu”
* I’m obviously cherry-picking a few quotes from our interviews for this post. Below is James’ comment about the writers room that I referenced above but go check out SciFiChick.com (she’s awesome!) for the full interviews from our visit. [James Roday, Dulé Hill, Maggie Lawson, Tim Omundson, C. Thomas Howell, Saladin Patterson and Gordon Mark]
“You know, it’s weird. It’s, like, some kind of mandate comes down from Steve every year, just because I think he feels like he’s supposed to have one. And it never holds. Like, this year it was supposed to be, “You know, we’re ratcheting up our cases. This is going to be the year of the cool, twisty, well constructed mystery.” I don’t know, we’re on episode nine and I feel like you’re probably way more on base than with the fact that we’re doing funnier stuff again.
It’s such a hybrid show, and it’s such a moving target that – especially on the writing staff. We never really know, like, what the bulls eye is. We’re just throwing tons, and tons, and tons of darts, which is the greatest part of our job is that we have that many darts to throw. But yeah, this year was supposed to be, ‘All right man we’re going to Mamet-ize this thing, you know – knock people out of their socks. Show comedy writers to write mystery.’
It’s, like, no we can’t. What are you talking about? So you didn’t change one person in this room – how are the cases going to get 300% better? But I think you’re right, I think we’re just having – a lot of these episodes that we’ve done really reminded me of stuff we did at the beginning of the series, you know – sort of throwbacks to just Shawn and Gus acting a fool.”