Psych season 7 premieres on Wednesday, February 27 with an episode called "Santa Barbaratown 2, Lethal Weapon 5." Buddy TV was on the line when star Dule Hill and executive producer Steve Franks sat down to talk about the coming season, including their favorite episodes to film, the upcoming 100th episode, and more.
Here are a few things we learned:
Now that they've been picked up for an eighth season, they want to push the envelope next year. Steve Franks: "We haven't even gotten into the writer's room yet [for season 8]. I'm not going to say that we don't have ideas for that but the eight order was something we asked for just so - you know, usually you don't get a pick-up until you've aired and we didn't want to lose our crew and the people up in Canada that we love so much. So we pushed for - 'Hey, give us eight and, you know, we'll see what happens from there.' And we were happy and just really grateful that the network stepped up and did that. And we want to, you know, in season eight, we want to push that envelope a little further. I can't wait for people to see what season seven has in it because it's some of the - I think the ultimate heights that we've reached on this show in several places. And, you know, for the most part I think that the quality has gone up once again. So I'm excited. I think it's a high standard to go into season eight."
Gus gets a girlfriend this season and he's going to be a perfect boyfriend. Dule Hill: "How would I describe Gus as a boyfriend? I would say he's perfect. He's been waiting a very - in my mind Gus is perfect as a boyfriend. He's had a lot of time to think about it, a lot of time to do different charts and do different research about what qualities women look for in a boyfriend and made sure that he has is list and he's checked it twice. So he's ready to take the plunge. Now I don't know what his girlfriend may think about him but I think from Gus's side he's perfect."
The musical episode is coming and it took a lot of work to do. Steve Franks: "From the beginning of the season I tried to get a head start just so I could pull off the whole musical. Unfortunately I didn't get to take time off for my regular job running the show. So I had to do both at the same time so we tried to get a running start with the episodes last year before we even got going. And then there was time for me to go into my office with my acoustic guitar and close the door and try to come up with the songs. And from there it was getting to a script. And then I sat down with Adam Cohen, our composer, and he turned these little acoustic guitar songs and ideas that I had into these marvelous orchestrations."
Dule Hill: "Speaking on behalf of the cast we all were very impressed with how Steve handled everything. Because besides just writing the music and writing the lyrics and writing the episode and directing the episode and obviously dealing with the stuff that was going on back at LA he really knocked it out of the park. We really didn't have any extra days to shoot the musical. It's a two hour episode and we had our normal 14 days to shoot."
Steve Franks: "I've never told this story to the press but there was a really hard episode prior to this one and, you know, it was a lot of work. And we were going down to Whiterock which is the first city over the border to shoot the big opening number, and that's where the Psych office is. And it's about at least 45 minutes from Vancouver. And we didn't have our choreographer yet and we were just going down there to look at it and try to figure out what the whole opening number was going to be and what we could shoot down there.
And we got Dule, who was hiking up to the top of Grouse Mountain coming down - he agreed at like 4:00 in the afternoon to go down with us and it was the turning point of the whole prep of the episode. We went down there and I started saying - and this is the scariest part of the musical - I can't help when I show people what I'm thinking that I start performing some of the dancing. Which as you know at six foot eight of me it's not a good thing to watch.
So I would stand there and go, 'Well, I could do something like this, we could do something like that,' and Dule managed to muffle his chuckling and dug in and in the course of a couple hours really worked out so much of that sequence. And I don't know what would have happened if Dule hadn't been so great on that day."
Dule Hill: "But no, really, I was impressed with the entire cast. I mean, you know, even people who thought that they couldn't sing came in and really did a great job. You know, I was really impressed with Tim Omundson: he had this great baritone voice. Maggie had this wonderful angelic, you know, I guess, not soprano but just alto voice, and then (Kurt Fuller) really came and knocked out his song. And then Kirsten Nelson, you know, she came and knocked it out too. I was blown away by the amount of talent that is in the cast. You know, we fool around a lot and we joke around but things had really come to the set and be ready for a musical, ready to play, I was very impressed. And, I mean, we all know James Roday can sing: that's why I left him out of the praise."
Steve Franks is hopeful that USA will release the songs from the musical episode onto a CD. Steve Franks: "Well you know I would imagine that they would be the biggest fools in the world not to do that and to put a big push behind that. So I hope so. You know, the musical is - the good and bad of the musical is that - the good is that the network was blown away when we screened it for them. And the bad of it is they said 'This has to happen outside of the regular run.'
The musical episode will be a special two-hour event, not part of the regular season. Steve Franks: "So it's actually not even going to run where it properly should run inside the season so it's going to be a special two-hour event sometime after the season. You know, maybe much later in the year. So at least I'll have time to do that and to put that together but I really think people should be able to have these songs.
And God, it would be so exciting to have an official CD release. I mean, there's - counting reprises and all that - there's 14 little snippets of songs within the episode. So they should be able to do it and I think we should get a bunch of people to picket out in front of USA offices there right in front of Brad Bernstein's office to make sure that that happens."
Hill and Franks each have their own favorite Gus nickname. Dule Hill: "For me it always goes back to the first one, which is 'Gus Sillypants Jackson' because that was like the third episode of the season. And [James] said it and he just threw it out there and then after the take I said, 'What did you just call me?' And it took everything I had not to break up in the middle of the scene. And that kind of started the whole ball rolling, so I've always loved 'Gus Sillypants Jackson.'"
Steve Franks: "I love 'Lavender Gooms.'"
Dule Hill: "You know, 'Lavender Gooms' is actually my great-aunt. A real relative - a living relative in my family right now, and she gets a kick out of it."
Dule Hill's favorite episode to film so far was the 100th episode. Dule Hill: "I would say about so far it's our 100th episode, our Clue episode: 100 Clues, and working with Lesley Anne Warren, Garrett Morris, Christopher Lloyd, Martin Mull. I mean, it was a wonderful experience, being with that caliber of actors with so much of the cast of Clue - who some hadn't seen each other since they finished filming Clue.
It was an amazing - you know and then it just adds on to - that was just the icing on the cake for all the wonderful guest stars we've had over the years. And to be at the 100th episode and have this group of people come together, it was an amazing experience and something that I will remember as an actor for the rest of my life. So I'm very thankful for it. So that probably blows everything out of the water for the season."
Season 7 will have some surprises, including a found-footage episode. Dule Hill: "I think people will be surprised with Anthony Michael Hall and who he plays and how he comes into our world. I think that'll be very surprising to people, as we start to finish out the Breakfast Club group.
Steve Franks: "I think we have a lot of fun and we're taking our character along this sort of their journey this year. And we're sort of moving the story forward a lot more than we usually do. And so I think there's going to be some fun surprises with Lassiter as well and just in terms of the sort of level of difficulty some of these episodes are. I mean, we're doing a found footage episode that James directs that is entirely found footage for the entire - just about the entire episode.
So, you know, I think the drama will be surprising, the comedy should sort of walk up and slap you in the face a little bit, and I think there's just a lot of good stuff in the episodes. And to me the biggest surprise is that after seven years of doing this that it still feels like it's getting better.
And the cast is - nobody's slowing down or getting tired of it. That we're just discovering all sorts of great fun new things to do and, you know, we love getting up to Canada and doing this. So, I mean, I don't know any other shows that far into their run - going into eight years - can say that, but we're happy to do this as long as they'll let us."
Well it definitely sounds like season 7, and the upcoming season 8, are going to be a lot of fun for fans to watch. Now that you've heard from Dule Hill and Steve Franks about Psych season 7, what you most excited to see?
Psych season 7 begins airing on Wednesday, February 27 at 10pm on USA.
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(Image courtesy of USA)