[Minor SPOILER ALERT] The body of a young girl wrapped in plastic makes a woman scream a few minutes into tonight’s supersized episode of Psych, an homage to Twin Peaks. The moment is rather dark in tone, but Peaks fans won’t be able to subdue their smirk of recognition during the scene. And there’s more where that came from: The episode is so packed with nods to the cult series that it runs almost eight minutes longer than the typical episode. (And an additional six minutes will be added to the director’s cut on the show’s season 5 DVD.) Last week, star James Roday took a break from his Las Vegas vacation to give EW the scoop about “Dual Spires,” including a confession about the one Peaks person he couldn’t bring himself to ask for a cameo.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How’s Vegas treating you?
JAMES RODAY: Vegas is good. Vegas is good.
So it’s being kind?
So far it has been kind. I have to get through 48 more hours so that may change. But right now my head’s above water.
That’s always good news.
So I wanted to talk to you about the episode that some insiders are calling your baby, “Dual Spires.”
Full head of hair. It came out with a full head of hair.
So, tell me, how did you get the idea for a Twin Peaks homage and why did now seem like a good time?
Well, Twin Peaks is my favorite show of all time. This is the 20th anniversary of when it came on the air, and they put out their big gold box of DVDs with tons of extra stuff on it this year. So it did seem like if we were ever going to do it, this was the time to do it. I’ve actually been pushing [for it] since season 1. So it was sort of fortuitous that it took four years for it to actually come to fruition because now we can sort of piggyback on the fact that people are talking about Twin Peaks because of the 20th anniversary.
Now, you also wrote last season’s Hitchcock homage. Which was more fun for you?
Well, I didn’t direct “Dual Spires,” so I would probably say “Dual Spires” was more fun just in terms of the richness of the experience. I had more time to digest it. I wasn’t running around like a chicken in search of my head like I was during the Hitchcock episode. Matt Shakman directed [“Dual Spires”], and he was the perfect choice. He’s every bit as much the fanboy of Twin Peaks as I am, and it allowed me to sort of take a step back and soak it all in. It was truly a remarkable experience. Obviously, because I love the show so much, it was a big part of it [being my favorite]. But I feel like it was an experience within an experience because a lot of these Twin Peaks cast members we had there hadn’t seen each other in 20 years. So it was almost like there was a Twin Peaks reunion happening on the Psych set in addition to these two shows sort of melding together to coexist as one, which could have been a disaster. But because we actually pulled it off — I’m proud to say — it turned out to be a doubly wonderful experience.
When you were writing the episode, did you know you were going to be able to get all these cast members to sign on?
We wrote these parts for them, hoping that we [would be able to]. I’m very good friends with Dana Ashbrook, so I knew he was in.
Or at least he better be.
Yeah. He better be. He had no choice. And we had Ray Wise returning as a character he played last season — and that was good. So we thought, “Well, we got these two in. Hopefully the rest will recognize that not only was this going to be fun, but it was an opportunity to see these people for the first time in a long time.” And that’s exactly what ended up happening.
So was it just these seven roles you wrote or were there more for other characters/cast members you weren’t able to get? (Peaks cast members Robin Lively, Lenny Von Dohlen, Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn, Dana Ashbrook, and Catherine Coulson make appearances in the episode.)
We wrote these seven roles. The only other role that we were talking about and tossing around the possibility of was a cameo for [Twin Peaks creator] David Lynch, and we, quite frankly, got cold feet. At one point, there was going to be a mayor character. He’s actually in the episode. He doesn’t speak, though; he’s a really old guy. But we were going to make it slightly bigger character who presents the Cinnamon Festival and has some dialogue — Mayor Douglas Fir — and we wanted to go after Lynch, but we thought, “What if he hates it? We’re going to be devastated, and no one else will want to do it if they found out David didn’t like it. So maybe we shouldn’t roll the dice.” So we played it safe.
Exactly how many Twin Peaks references are in the episode? I noticed a ton, but I’m sure I didn’t catch them all.
It’s loaded. I had a co-writer on the episode, Bill Callahan, one of our executive producers, whose job it was to [create] some kind of mystery, and my job was to load it up like a baked potato with as many Twin Peaks references as we could squeeze in.
The funny thing about this episode is that I feel like Pretty in Pink got as many references as Twin Peaks. Is that the next homage episode?
We did John Hughes back in season 4 when we went to our high school reunion. But it’s one of those deals where those teen movies from the ’80s — we just can’t let go of them. We gave them a whole episode to themselves, and yet we still find ourselves referencing Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful and The Breakfast Club. They just keep coming back over and over and over again. It’s bigger than us. We can’t stop it.
I think people will like this one.
This Twin Peaks episode is very near and dear to me. In what is already a charmed existence for all of us to get to do this for a living, to have an experience that kind of resonates the way this one did — [it] brought back memories of me as a kid in San Antonio watching television and being completely romanced by it and having my mind blown by this series. Then, 20 years later, you’re on set with these folks — it was really special. I’m really proud we did it. I’m proud of the show, and I’m proud of everyone for being a really good sport about it.