'Psych' Catches 'Idol' Fever
"There's no fun in television right now," Franks says. "It's all death and dismemberment, torture. I have no desire at all to do any of the grim."
Franks and Roday, who plays faux psychic (he fakes it with finely honed powers of observation) and private investigator Shawn Spencer, joined forces to co-write the "Psych" second-season premiere, which airs on Friday, July 13, on USA Network.
On this day on the show's Vancouver, Canada, sets -- where palm trees are trucked in to complete the illusion of being in Santa Barbara, Calif. -- the cast and crew are celebrating co-star Dule Hill's birthday.
They're also still coming down from the excitement of the previous episode, when film director John Landis ("The Blues Brothers," "Animal House") dropped by to direct the season opener, "American Duos." It's a send-up of "American Idol," guest-starring Tim Curry as the Simon Cowell-esque British judge Nigel St. Nigel, and Gina Gershon as wild-haired, out-of-it ex-pop star Emilina Saffron, who may or may not be based on Cowell's fellow judge, Paula Abdul.
To discover who's trying to kill Nigel, Shawn and his best friend and partner, pharmaceutical salesman Burton "Gus" Guster (Hill), go under cover as "Duos" competitors, with a little dance coaching from Detective Juliet O'Hara (Maggie Lawson).
"It was such a fun episode for everybody," Lawson says. "It was wild. It was insane."
"It's the most production value our show has ever had," Roday says. "They coughed up a few extra bucks. It's big. The scope of it is big; the comedy is big." As for her part, Lawson says, "I will say that I do some dancing. That's all I'll say."
"You dance the hell out of some stuff," says Tim Omundson, who plays O'Hara's partner, Detective Carlton Lassiter. "There's some interesting '80s wardrobe." "There's some," Lawson admits. "Let's say it's more off the shoulder."
Roday was recently listed as one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People (he says he has "large, buttery hair" in the photo), and the accompanying text says he and Lawson are dating. It's hard to tell that from one little exchange.
"I'm going to skate," Roday says, "so you guys can talk."
"Thank God he's gone," says Omundson, who's sitting next to Lawson on the police-station bench.
"Thank God he left," she replies. "There was nothing we could say with him standing there that wasn't awkward. Did you hear me? I was like, 'Maggie, bite your tongue, bite your tongue.'"
Says Omundson, "It's like, jeez, you wrote two episodes already. I can come up with my own stuff to say."
"Exactly," Lawson says. "He's got to be right there all the time."
Hill is hanging out in his trailer (complete with fake fireplace) before shooting his one scene of the day. That, he says, will be followed by dinner with wife Nicole Lyn and heading home "to watch the two-hour 'Grey's Anatomy' special."
He has the People magazine at hand, and says, "I was giving James a hard time last week. Every time I walked by, 'You're beautiful. It's true ...' "
The director for the episode currently in production -- which finds Lassiter on an incredible crime-solving streak -- is Tim Matheson, who played the vice president on Hill's previous show, "The West Wing."
"I enjoy having Tim around," Hill says. "Don't really call him Mr. Vice President."
But coincidentally, Hill just got a call from former "Wing" chief executive Martin Sheen.
"When I call him back," Hill says, "I will mention that Tim is working here."
Everyone gathers to sing Hill "Happy Birthday" when he comes on set, and there is talk of cake. One of Franks' inspirations was "Moonlighting," and while there were rumors of tension on that set between stars Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd, none can be felt at "Psych."
"Other shows," Franks says, "they're all gloomy and depressing. We're here trying to figure out how to have fun and yet having character moments and yet doing a little bit for the environment, something for humanity."
And, apparently, Franks also wants to do a bit for fellow "Moonlighting" fans.
"We drove John Landis crazy," Franks says, "because he kept asking the origins of jokes. He's like, 'Really? There's three guys in a basement in Milwaukee who think you're hilarious.' And we said, 'Yes.'
"There's a reference in this show. Lassiter solved all these cases, and they remember one, the DeShano case. The DeShano case was the one that David Addison, when he was out screwing around on 'Moonlighting,' claimed he was working on.
"No one's going to get that reference, except for Glenn Gordon Caron and maybe Bruce Willis."
In terms of "Psych" trivia, fans may want to start with a very familiar set of fronds in the pilot.
"We have seven palm trees," Franks says. "They're very tatty. They're borderline terrible. But they do a good job. On the pilot, it was the same one, out the same window. We wanted to put a line in the show, like, 'That tree is following me.'"