There’s nothing like your first time — at Comic-Con, that is. And James Roday remembers his perfectly. “We got really scared, because we work in Vancouver, and we didn’t really have that great of a sense of how crazy our fanbase was. It was like, ‘This is going to be a nightmare. We’re going to walk out there, and it’s going to be half-empty, and it’s going to be really sad for us.’ And we stepped out onto that stage, and it was at capacity, standing room only, people going crazy, people being turned away. It was the first glimpse that we really got into, like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re, like, a cult show, We’re a cult show! That’s crazy,’” he says. “It was the first chance we got to really interact with our fanbase in that way, and we’ve since embraced that and kind of known what the deal is. But that first year, it was crazy — very humbling and awesome.”
That was three years ago, and this year, he and the cast of Psych will be back to preview some of the geek-centric episodes fans will be seeing during the upcoming season 6 (premiering in October).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What do you think makes Psych a great fit for the Comic-Con crowd?
JAMES RODAY: I think we’re a pretty wacky show. We obviously kind of cater to a niche audience. Our love for the ’80s, I think, is a big part of how we’ve managed to amass this sort of cult-y audience. We have an international symbols — the pineapple — which means people can dress up and bring them. I think it’s just one those shows where we’ve kind of crossed over into so many sort of subcultures, whether it be Star Trek or vampires or werewolves — all the stuff that people love at Comic-Con. I think the flexibility we have with our show has helped us stockpile a lot of elements that are really popular at Comic-Con. We’ve done comic book stuff. We’ve got a superhero episode this season. We make sure — now that we know that we’re sort of an attraction at Comic-Con — we structure a handful of episodes around stuff that we can throw up on the screen and say, “Look what’s coming.” Because that’s what people will be excited about.
So what kind of treats can people look forward to this year?
We do have our vampire episode this season. We’ve got superheroes. We’ve got One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, where Shawn goes undercover in a mental institution — and you get Molly Ringwald doing her best Nurse Ratched. William Shatner is playing Juliet’s father this season, which was pretty extraordinary for all of us — to work with an icon like that. We’ve got Danny Glover in our baseball episode. We’ve got a really funny take on one of those hippie sort of throw-away-all-your-possessions-and-come-live-on-a-farm type of cults that Gus gets sucked up into with Diedrich Bader — he’s in the episode, and he’s very, very funny. We’re going to pay tribute — sort of like we did with Twin Peaks last year — to the movie Clue. So we’ll be doing our Clue episode, and, with a little bit of luck, Tim Curry will be back reprising his role from season 2. That’s a biggie. We have a third installment of Despereaux played by Cary Elwes. We’re only about halfway through the season here. Power-packed, man!
Tell me about the superhero episode!
Shawn and Gus get to live out their alter egos. Shawn is The Catch, and he wears catcher’s gear squats a lot. The power is that nothing gets by me. Then Gus is Tap Man. He wears tap shoes and throws sand at people.
Please tell me there’s sneak peek of that that’s going to be screened.
Yeah, we have a nice little promo that USA’s put together that kind of teases some highlights, and then we’ve got a couple surprises up our sleeves as well, because there are now expectations about a Psych panel. We’ve got a lot to live up to. Last year we had [Tears for Fears'] Curt Smith come out and play “Shout” acoustic, so we’ve got to bring the goods.
I hear you also have an Indiana Jones-themed episode coming up?
Yeah, we haven’t shot it yet, but it’s coming down the pipe soon. We kind of go into that Indiana Jones adventure, and it involves a dagger, I believe, and finding some lost artifacts.
Themes aside, everyone wants to know if Gus is going to get a love interest this season.
Yeah, he’s got two or three [episodes] where he’s the focus of the non-case part of the episode, because Gus keeps trying to get anything going now that everybody’s starting to pair off instead of him. It kind of becomes a sub-theme of the season. I can say yes… eventually he’s going to get his. We’re just making him suffer as long as humanly possible.
Is there any one episode that you’re super-excited about this season? Last season, I could hear in your voice how excited you were about the Twin Peaks episode.
Well, Twin Peaks was four-plus years in the making, so there was a lot for me to be excited about, and it was my favorite television show of all time, so that one’s going to be really tough to top for me. But I am pumped about Clue, and hopefully we can deliver the same way we did last year. I know there are a ton of Clue fans out there. I also directed our vampire episode, which is exciting for me because that’s where we sort of debut this new love for Lassiter. I went into it thinking, “This is our vampire episode, and it’s going to be chock full of vampire bits.” Shawn and Gus both dress up as an iconic vampires, and I’m sure that’s what they’ll use to preview the episode. But what it really turned into was this love story between Lassiter and this character played by Kristy Swanson — obviously, we’ve got to get to original Buffy in our vampire episode. They’re so great together that after the first day, the fact that it was a vampire episode kind of became peripheral for me, and I got really invested in telling this story about two wayward souls that find one another in a really unusual way. So, for that reason, I’m really excited about that episode. It’s always nice when we can feature him or Maggie [Lawson], because they’re both so darn good. It’s great when we come up with stuff where they can flex their muscles and show sides that they don’t usually get to show.
Kristy doesn’t sparkle in this episode, does she?
She sparkles a little! And she shines a little. She’s just fantastic, and together they’re really good.
Great. Well, hopefully I’ll see you out at Comic-Con.
Great! Bring it! Grab me. Hit me in the face with a pie or something. Let me know that you’re there.
It’ll be a pineapple.
Sounds good. That’ll leave a mark.
The Psych panel at Comic-Con will take place Thursday. See the schedule here.