The showrunner's frank approach to fate fruitful
“I’ll direct an episode and walk out and say, ‘There’s no chance anything goes wrong today!’ ” he chuckles. “On the pilot, I walked around saying, ‘There’s no way we don’t go five years.’ Now I’m going to have to up it to eight.”
Surprising many, Psych has entered its seventh season to become USA Network’s longest-running original series, with Franks the captain who has steered the ship since day one.
Ever since that day, the budget-crunched show has offered him challenges. Franks — whose first screenplay, Big Daddy, became an Adam Sandler $235 million worldwide hit — has overcome hurdles, including shooting Vancouver for Santa Barbara, with a “film school mentality.” He says building something from scratch “comes natural to us.”
“We’re proud when we pull off a big action sequence or set piece — it’s like, ‘Hey, we strung that together with smoke and mirrors,’ ” he says.
Over the years, Franks has worn many hats: He directs two episodes per season and writes at least two others, while overseeing and sometimes co-writing the rest. “I try to make the show a place for writers to really feel that they’re not looked down upon,” he says.
None of it would work if the casting hadn’t been so spot-on. Franks says hiring Hill and Roday was not just a matter of recognizing talent.
“It was important for me to get to know whoever was auditioning,” he says. “I have to know who you are — we don’t have diva behavior on our show.”
Franks says he’s had wiggle room to develop the show beyond its “one-joke” premise (as one early critic called it).
“If that was all we did — this guy touches his finger to his temple and pretends to be psychic — we’d be over and done,” he notes. Instead, he’s nearly gone through a wish list of episode styles he wanted to do, including kung fu, Indiana Jones adventures, and even a musical (the two-hour special, says Franks, is expected to bridge into season eight).
“There are a few still left on the board, though,” he says. “There’s still stuff I have to do.”