Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tonight brings us the 4th Season Finale of Psych and it's a doozy of an episode, easily one of my favorite of the series. The episode brings back Ally Sheedy's Mr. Yang, the serial killer that wrought much turmoil in Shawn's life in last season's finale. This is part two of what James Roday calls a "trilogy" so expect to see more of Mr. Yang after tonight.

The episode involves a serial killer with a Hitchcock motif, using scenarios from several Hitchcock films to try and divide and conquer our fearless group of police and fake psychics. The episode was co-written and directed by series star James Roday and features many homages to Hitchcock including at least 4 shots taken directly from famous scenes in the auteur's catalogue. Monday I was lucky enough to take part in an interview with Roday and guest star Sheedy. Keep on reading to find out what Sheedy thinks happened to her Breakfast Club character, Allison, the odds of seeing David Bowie on the show, and much, much more. But first a clip from tonight's episode:

Since Roday had both written and directed tonight’s episode, the conversation quickly lead to him discussing those aspects of the show. I asked James if he drew inspiration from any other directors or if he stuck to Hitchcock when directing tonight’s episode. Roday said “You know, I really do try to stay as faithful to Hitchcock as I could both aesthetically and in pacing and I just shamelessly tipped off four or five shots straight out of his films, quite frankly. It was an homage episode and I’m a Hitchcock fan, and Andy Berman who wrote the episode with me is a Hitchcock fan. As much as we could get away with doing Hitchcock in a Psych episode that’s definitely what we set out to do.”

Roday went on saying “I have always been a Psycho fan. I’m a horror buff. I just think Hitchcock sort of revolutionized the idea of the chiller twist that horror films kind of attempted to be predicated on since Psycho came out. That is the original jaw dropping twist that sort of set everything else in motion. I love that movie, and Anthony Perkins is fantastic in it and it’s shot amazingly and yes, that would be my number one.”

Roday continued to reflect on directing the episode when asked, if like Hitchcock, he did most of his directing in preproduction. “No. Hitchcock, God love him, he’s one of the great masters of all time, but he did used to stick to that whole idea that the entire movie was in his head before he stepped on set for the first day and that never once in his entire career did anything ever change. That’s like the most impossible thing in the world for me to believe if for no other reason than something must have fallen over at some point or exploded or something.”

“We’re a TV show on a seven day schedule so it’s like you want to make people laugh, come in with a plan. Ha, ha that’s very funny. You learn very quickly that if you can get two or three or maybe four of the things right or at least close to what you had in your head over the course of a seven day shoot then you’ve succeeded. That’s a lot to be happy about. The same goes for this episode. I sort of chose my battles and I picked the things that I really, really, really wanted to look like the way that they were storyboarded or the way that they were conceived and everything else you’re just rolling with the punches and collaborating like crazy and hoping that other people will step up and make you look good because you simply haven’t had time to think about some stuff as much as others.”

“For this episode the Hitchcock stuff was obviously very important. We wanted to service that as best as we could and it was a lot. It was a very ambitious episode. Andy and I had sort of looked at each other several times and we were like, gosh, why did we think we could do this? It’s a game and you’ve kind of got to be ready for anything at any time and that’s the fun of it also.”

Roday said that there’s a challenge to acting and directing and surprisingly he finds the acting harder when doing both. “The acting part is more challenging because I just don’t want to think about it. This time I think I was a little more aware of it, but truthfully there are so many things that you’re sort of in charge of and there are so many questions that you have to answer after any given take from the director’s perspective that that’s kind of all you’re thinking about, at least me anyway. I’m just lucky that on the acting side I’m playing a character that I’ve played for many, many years, that certainly helps. Staying in the moment as an actor is definitely the biggest challenge while you’re directing.”

Asked whether he gets his inspiration for his character from the script of someone he knows in real life Roday said that Shawn’s “Peter Pan” and that he doesn’t know “real people like him.” Roday said that if you go back to season one and watch through to the present episodes there is an evolution to the character and “you can see a lot of differences.”

When asked about the feel of tonight’s episode, which is more serious and intense, that most episodes Roday said that although he doesn’t “want to pull the rug out from under the fans every week and slap them in the face...this was a season finale and it was the long awaited return of Mr. Yang...we wanted to load our canon with as much stuff as we could. That’s a fun way to end a season.”
The conversation turned to Sheedy and her character Mr. Yang, Sheedy spoke about getting the call to play Mr. Yang, saying that she heard there was a show called Psych and that “they want you to do a character called Mr. Yang, and could you take a look at the script? I read it. I didn’t know how on earth anybody had me in mind for that part either, not a clue. But as soon as I read it, I thought, okay. This is going to be really, really, really fun so absolutely and jump in. That’s how it went.”

Sheedy then talked about playing such a menacing character on such a funny show saying “it’s not hard at all,” everybody is so “whacked out and so extreme” that she doesn’t have to imagine how a serial killer would really behave and she can “sort of swing out there and wing it.” Sheedy said that working with Roday as a director was fun because she “had the feeling like anything [she] could come up with goes. Everything about Mr. Yang is fun for me, everything.”

I asked Sheedy about her character from The Breakfast Club, Allison Reynolds. I conjectured that had she not made friends with the other kids in detention that day, she might have gone crazy, her wheels might have come off, and eventually she might have become Mr. Yang. Sheedy said “Well, I think she has that day with them but I don’t think it means that her wheels don’t come off. I think things sort of go back to the way they were after that. That’s what I think at the end of the Breakfast Club day it’s the way it was before. I have my own ideas in my head about what happens with Allison but I do think the wheels definitely come off at a certain point, yes.”

On working with an 80s icon like Sheedy, Roday said “I’ve been a huge Ally Sheedy fan for a long time and she’s been on our board of people that absolutely must come on the show since the very beginning. It’s surreal. It really is. You grow up and you have dreams of doing this for a living and you have people that inspired you and then you get lucky enough to do it and one day you’re sitting across from them and it’s crazy, but it’s also – it’s unbelievable. All you can do is – you just kind of want to capture these moments in little time capsules. I haven’t been nervous many times on our show, I have to be honest, but I had the butterflies going with Ally.”

James went on to say that while he’d love to have the entire Breakfast Club appear on the show, he feels he’s “got the top two on the list,” saying “Ally was always sort of...number one and then Judd was number two and then there was like a three-way tie with lots of love for the other ones.” Sheedy said she thought Anthony Michael Hall would do the show, but that Molly currently has a show (ABC Family’s Secret Life of an American Teenager), and Emilio is out of the acting game, and currently directs.

Sheedy was asked which Breakfast Club actor she would like to “take down” as Mr. Yang, to which she replied “Oh, I don’t know that I should be answering this question. I don’t want to get – let’s just say I have an idea but I’m going to be in big trouble if I say it.” The questions was changed to which Breakfast Club actor she’d most like to work with on Psych. “One of my favorite people in the world is Judd, but he already did an episode of Psych. I guess my personal soft spot love is for Judd, so there you go.” Roday chimed in saying “So we can bring Judd back and then she can take him down and there you go.”

Some other quick takes:

- Asked about his quest to get David Bowie on the show, Roday said “There is a less than 30% chance it’s going to happen, but we’re going to keep trying.” And said that the closest they got was when they did “American Duos” because John Landis, who’s friends with Bowie reached out and almost made it happen.

- Asked about preparing for the role of Mr. Yang Sheedy said “I just told myself not to get – just to not plan anything ahead of time. It was so funny and wacky so I decided to completely dispense with the creepy dark, very serious and brooding serial killer thing and just like I thought the whole thing was hysterically funny.”

- On the episode being so dramatic versus the usual comedy “We as the cast dig those. We don’t get to do them very often. As much as we love our show and as lucky as we are to do it and still be doing it, any time we can mix things up it’s fun for us because we get to work different muscles and even if it’s just for a week it’s fun to mix things up. Once or twice a year we know that we’ll have these episodes coming up and everybody gets pumped and everybody gets a little extra sleep. We don’t go out as much and we recognize it as an opportunity to do something that we don’t always get to do. “

- Sheedy on Sunday night’s John Hughed Tribute “Really I haven’t seen most of those people for quite a while. It’s bizarre because every time we see each other it’s sort of like not a lot of time has passed. I share this crazy experience with those four people and nobody else in the world. It’s weird. We just share a lot so there is a lot of unspoken stuff that goes on.”

- On their favorite episodes of Psych Sheedy joked that she “love[s] the episodes that have Yang in them.” While Roday said that he’s “always been really fond of the tele-novella episode where we spoofed a Spanish soap opera...called “Lights, Camera, Homicidio,” and that he likes the first half of season once because they “were sort of flying by the seat of our pants and every week was truly a new adventure.”

That’s all for now, but head back here tomorrow to see Part 2 of my interview in which we get into a little more detail about tonight’s episode. Also don’t forget to check out my Psych Grab Bag Giveaway, which you can enter until midnight tonight.


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