James Roday and Sheryl Lee Tease PSYCH’s Twin Peaks Homage

PSYCH | Dual Spires

PSYCH has done theme episodes before, but none have been quite so hyped or quite so close to James Roday’s (Shawn Spencer) heart as the upcoming Twin Peaks homage “Dual Spires” (named by Maggie Lawson), airing December 1. Twin Peaks is Roday’s all-time favorite show and he said the episode, which he co-wrote with Bill Callahan, has been four years in the making.

Twin Peaks cast members Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn, Dana Ashbrook, Robyn Lively, Lenny Von Dohlen, Catherine Coulson, and Ray Wise all appear in the episode, which finds Shawn and Gus in a tiny and quirky Northern California town after they receive a mysterious e-mail informing them of a cinnamon festival held there. Upon arrival, they are almost immediately thrust into investigating the death of high school student Paula Merral.

Daemon’s TV was there when James Roday and Sheryl Lee (the one and only Laura Palmer) answered questions about making “Dual Spires” while keeping the proper tone, how they chose whom from Twin Peaks would guest star, and what it was like for Sheryl to step back into the Twin Peaks world. James also threw in a couple teasers about the final episodes of the season and beyond. There are a few spoilers about the events of “Dual Spires.”

On what to expect from “Dual Spires”

According to James, “Die-hard Twin Peaks fans are in for 48 minutes of bliss,” while more casual fans will get the bigger references. He stressed that this is also “just a well-acted, well-crafted episode of Psych” that everyone can enjoy and he hopes that people who haven’t seen Twin Peaks before will seek it out after watching the episode.

When asked why it’s a cinnamon festival that involves Gus and Shawn, James answered that they needed a reason to get Shawn and Gus to this town, explaining, “I think it goes all the way back to the pilot, there was a mention of a cinnamon festival. So we piggybacked that idea that Shawn and Gus go around to cinnamon festivals and have never missed one and here’s one that they never knew existed…And it also gave us sort of a natural way to put our own spin on the cherry pie.”

In terms of how the episode came out, James said, “This is easily the proudest I have ever been of Psych.” His only complaint is that because they had so much material, fans won’t be able to see seven or eight minutes of the episode unless they buy the DVD. He also reminded us that the first airing of the episode, on December 1, is the only one that will be super-sized, with an extra seven and a half minutes of story.

When asked why she did this Twin Peaks reunion instead of an actual one, Sheryl replied that any official reunion would have to come from David Lynch and James asked first. James jumped in to say he still held out hope for a David Lynch-led reunion, remarking that they would have to find another character for Sheryl to play, and Sheryl said there already had been one for in case the show wasn’t cancelled.

On choosing which Twin Peaks actors would appear

James explained that thematically, Shawn and Gus were supposed to take the role of Agent Cooper–the outsiders investigating the murder in the middle of the crazy townspeople, even though “combined their intelligence doesn’t come close to Coop’s.”

Ray Wise had already appeared on Psych, so James said, “It was just a matter of figuring out how to fit his character into the action,” and they did that in a big way. James joked, “If not for Ray Wise, [Shawn and Gus] would have burned in the library.”

James has been friends with Dana Ashbrook since Dana guest starred on a Fox show James did “for about ten minutes” and James stalked him, leaving Dana no choice but to appear. James said that from there, they just “spread the love.”

Sheryl Lee and Sherilyn Fenn were non-negotiable. James said he “couldn’t imagine a Twin Peaks episode without Sheryl and Sherilyn, the two most iconic faces that if we didn’t have, we might as well not even try.”

As for the others, James explained, “Lenny Von Dohlen, I thought it was an interesting way to go for the sheriff and Robyn Lively kind of represented a second season of Twin Peaks all by herself. So–and then we had always planned on a cameo for Catherine Coulson.”

On controlling the episode’s tone

It was very important to James that this be a love letter to Twin Peaks, so he made himself the “tone police” during the shoot, explaining, “For me it was all about walking that fine line of being Psych but not mocking Twin Peaks.” He wanted to make sure the actors knew they “were not poking fun. We were embracing this.”

Sheryl said the actors did know that and they appreciated it. “Over the years there have been little things that I’ve been asked to do that would have been a bit like stepping back into Twin Peaks,” she said. “They didn’t feel authentic, though. These guys at Psych did an incredible job. None of us ever had to say ‘This doesn’t feel right.'”

On favorite Twin Peaks reference or in-joke in the episode

Sheryl couldn’t pick one because she said, “I remember my experience making Twin Peaks but not the show so much.” She mentioned that Ray Wise said something that made her giggle at one point and she looked at him and thought, “There’s my dad from twenty years ago.”

For James, it’s the little moments that he likes best because the episode is so stuffed. “I’m kind of tickled the episode starts by panning off a chocolate bunny on Shawn’s desk,” which refers to Agent Cooper saying to Diane “I’m holding in my hands a small box of chocolate bunnies.” James said not many people got the reference, but he loved it.

The most memorable moment of shooting the episode for James was “the precise moment that Sheryl’s character opens the plastic” because, as he explained, “of the juxtaposition of Laura Palmer looking at Laura Palmer.” He added that a close second would be when Sheryl’s character is in her office talking about opening the plastic.

For Sheryl, that moment on the beach was emotional and surreal. “I did feel like I was out of my body,” she said, but it was the experience of reuniting with her Twin Peaks co-stars that was the real highlight. She called the entire experience wonderful and “an absolute delight.”

On Julee Cruise singing the Psych theme song

“We were sort of swinging for the fences across the boards with this episode and luckily we’ve set precedent with messing around with our theme song,” James explained when asked how they got Julee Cruise, who sang the vocal version of Twin Peaks theme song “Falling” and who appeared on the show as a local singer, to record a version of the Psych theme. James called it his favorite of the different renditions that have been done and said, “Props also goes through our composer, Adam Cohen, who we just sort of said ‘Dude, come up with a Twin Peaks-inspired, slowed down, synthesized version of our theme song. Thanks, bye.'”

On the episode being meaningful

James has already done a lot of press talking about how much doing this episode meant to him, and he continued that here, calling it a “transcendent experience” and saying “This is the closest I will ever come to being in an episode of my favorite show.”

Sheryl called the episode “such an incredible gift that James and everyone at Psych gave us because some of us hadn’t seen each other from Twin Peaks in years and years.” Sheryl called it special to just sit around drinking coffee with them. Shooting her scenes got to her a bit, too. “It touched me deeper than I expected,” She explained. “It kind of snuck up on me.”

On what is most fun about playing Shawn

James loves the improvisational nature of playing Shawn. “No matter what is thrown at him, it’s always jump first, “James explained. “He never has a plan and that’s fun because most of us aren’t like that in the real world. You can’t afford to be because in real life it doesn’t always go your way like it does on a television show.”

When asked why he thinks people enjoy watching Shawn and Psych so much, James answered, “Over the course of the first couple of seasons, we were able to negotiate a tone that stretched the parameters of the show. We’ve kinda become this hybrid show that can do pretty much whatever we want and put it in the box and still have it be an episode of Psych as long as we solve a case.”

On the rest of season 5

James called this last stretch of the season “compact but packed with richness. It smells of deep, rich mahogany.” He directed this season’s holiday episode, which he called “Kinda like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ on acid. Shawn gets a glimpse into what everyone’s lives would have been like if he had never come back to Santa Barbara and we did some pretty crazy stuff there.”

According to James, Ralph Macchio “swung in and did a very funny episode that’s sort of us ripping on ‘Police Academy.'”

The season finale will wrap up the Yin Yang Trilogy with Mena Suvari guest starring along with the returning Ally Sheedy and Jimmi Simpson. About Simpson, James explained, “It’s a testament to our writers that they came up with a way to bring back a character who died.” He also said “all questions are answered and everything comes out in the wash.”

On Shawn and Juliet

When asked if Shawn and Juliet’s promise that there would be no more lies between them meant Juliet would be finding out that Shawn isn’t actually psychic, James answered, “I can tell you it’s not going to happen anytime soon. Shawn’s digging himself in deeper there.”

According to James, while there will be “a little bit of conflict” between Shawn and Gus over the Shawn-Juliet relationship, there will be no major rift and their dynamic will not change much.

On upcoming theme episodes

When asked when the much-discussed musical episode will happen, James said we could probably “mark it in ink” as happening next season because “We’ve dragged our feet on that long enough. It’s time to do our business or get off the can”

James also said there are plans for a vampire episode, though they need to come up with really special for that one since there are so many out there already. Baseball is also on the docket because “With Corbin Bernsen [he was in the film ‘Major League’] on the show, it would be a shame if we didn’t exploit that.”

Psych airs on USA Wednesdays at 10pm/9 central. You can read all our Psych coverage here, and don’t forget to check out the super-sized “Dual Spires” episode on December 1.

You can also join the Facebook campaign to get James and Dule to host SNL.

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