James Roday went back behind the camera for this week’s episode of “Psych” — titled “A Nightmare on State Street” — and while it’s not the series finale, it was the very last episode the cast shot.
“The finale, which airs after this one, it’s a finale and it was gonna be sort of emotional enough as it is, so we thought, ‘Hey! Let’s not pile it on. Let’s end with some laughs. Let’s end with some blood and some zombies,’” James told AccessHollywood.com on Monday.
Access has an exclusive sneak peek clip at this week’s episode where Gus (Dule Hill) goes to a dream therapist (Bruce Campbell) for help with his scary nightmares. The nightmares start to feel like reality when Gus and James’ Shawn work to solve a case for SBPD.
Check out the exclusive clip, and read below for our Q&A with James about putting together the episode and gearing up for the final goodbye.
AccessHollywood.com: So if I am correct, this is the eighth episode you’ve directed of the show?
James Roday: I’ll buy that. I’ll buy that for a buck.
Access: This one’s a fun one, not that the rest of them aren’t fun, but what made you want to jump in on this one? There’s zombies and a lot of different things going on in this episode.
James: Well this was the last episode of ‘Psych’ that we ever shot and I knew I was slotted in for that hole, which was going to be bittersweet and involve lots of goodbyes and stuff like that, so I wanted to sort of yuk it up and make it as fun as possible so that we could kind of go out on a high and I’ve … always been responsible for most of our scary episodes over the years, so this was sort of a kitchen sink-er. This was sort of a, check every box I hadn’t checked yet, potpourri, buffet of horror tropes and luckily, because it was the last episode ever, I had a lot of latitude. There wasn’t a whole lot of push back on this one. It was kind of the studio and the network’s parting gift to me.
Access: What was the most fun thing to do in this? Was it being able to boss Mira Sorvino around?
James: First of all, Mira was a lot of fun. What we discovered about Mira is that she actually wanted to be silly and that’s, I think, why she took that part. It was an opportunity to do something different for her that people haven’t seen her [do] a lot of and I think initially we were sort of trying to gently nudge her into our world until she finally just said, ‘Guys, I want to be stupid. Will you give me stupid stuff to do?’ And then we were like, ‘Oh, yes. Of course.’ … But for me, honestly, that episode is twofold. One, it was sort of like the fans voted for that episode — we gave them a poll of like three episodes of what they would like to see and they voted for this so one, I wanted to give them as much bang for their buck as possible. I think I spent more on this episode than I ever did doing anything else on this show, and I was just exploiting the hell out of the fact that it was the last one and asking for all kinds of stuff, and for the most part, I got it. So on the one hand, it was like a final gift to the fans for going along this ride, this sub-ride of, ‘Hey! ‘Psych’s’ gonna do horror episodes once a year and please think that they’re cool,’ and then the second part was, it was kind of one final love letter to my co-star and partner in crime, Dule Hill. I wanted to do one more kind of vehicle for him, because it’s been such a pleasure watching him over the years and he is so damn funny when he is acting scared. So those two things sort of conspired to create this episode.
Access: You said you asked for as much as you could get away with. Give me an example. I want to know what a ridiculous request from you was.
James: Well, we haven’t done a ton of special FX makeup on our show, one ,because it’s time consuming and two, because it’s expensive and you know, I had about 15 featured zombies and another 30, sort of, backup zombies. All those people had to go through extensive prosthetics – some, more than others, including myself. Curt Smith and I both had to get our heads molded. We brought in special makeup artists that weren’t normally part of our team, so the whole makeup department probably quadrupled for that episodes and then, in addition, it was easily the most visual effects that we’ve ever had on our show. I forgot the number but it was definitely the most visual effects shots that we’ve ever done.
Access: Did you get to keep the mold of your head?
James: The mold of my head is in Vancouver in a special effects shop, hopefully, probably sitting next to something way cooler.
Access: How has it been doing this march to the series finale? I know you guys did a signing on Sunday. Is it bittersweet or is it, ‘I know I can go to a bunch of conventions and it’ll be cool and I will always be able to see these people’?
James: I think it’s that. I think it’s knowing that we did something that has some staying power with a very special group of people and as a result, we’re not gonna be forgotten overnight. We’ll be a show that can end and continue to live on in the annals of sort of culty pop culture. That, for me, is so much more gratifying and satisfying than having been on a show that maybe had five times as many viewers, but then people talk about it like ‘I think I sort of remember that show.’ The people that remember ‘Psych’ will really, really remember it and that’s why we love them so much.
“A Nightmare on State Street” airs March 19 at 9 PM on USA. And, starting Friday March 21 USA kicks off “Psych All-Night,” a 6-hour marathon (being called “Night of a Million Hundred Goodbyes.” It kicks off at midnight and will feature six of the cast’s favorite episodes from the last eight seasons.
-- Jolie Lash