To celebrate Psych's 100th episode, "100 Clues," which airs March 27, USA Network is letting viewers vote on the episode's outcome as it airs.
What's more, for two weeks leading up to the episode, USA has inundated Psych's 2.6 million Facebook fans and 157,000 Twitter followers with digital content to whet their appetites for the event.
Voting will take place Wednesday night during both the East and West coast broadcasts. As a result, in theory, the show could end up with two different endings - a scenario Colleen Mohan, senior vice president of brand marketing at USA, says the network hopes will come to pass.
In "100 Clues," which USA describes as "a modern whodunit," characters Shawn and Gus are invited to a party at a mansion by a rock icon Shawn sent to prison five years earlier. When a new crime is committed, five potential suspects emerge: the Butler, the Groupie, the Manager, the Author, and the Host.
During the episode, fans will work with Shawn to identify the guilty party. USA says the episode is inspired, in part, by the 1985 film "Clue," and includes guest stars from the film - Christopher Lloyd, Lesley Ann Warren, and Martin Mull - as well as Tears For Fears' Curt Smith and Garrett Morris.
Fans can vote via the Psych website, on Twitter with one of five dedicated hashtags, and via USA Sync, USA's real-time, second screen experience, up through the episode's fifth segment, which begins airing at 10:49 p.m.
While there are five suspects, USA has filmed three potential endings. USA says fans will be able to see two of three alternate endings online and on-demand the day after the telecast. The unaired third ending will be featured as bonus content on the season seven DVD.
As the episode airs, USA will let fans know what percentage of the vote each suspect is getting on-screen and via Facebook and Twitter.
Promotion for the event began March 13 with an interactive countdown calendar on the Psych website that features video, polls, trivia, and challenges. The digital content is sponsored by Dunkin' Donuts and is reflected in the hashtags #PsychWhoDDit, as well as #PsychButlerDDit, #PsychGroupieDDit, #PsychManagerDDit, #PsychAuthorDDit, and #PsychHostDDit. These hashtags are also featured on 100 Clues trading cards, which feature each of the suspects. These cards are available on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Content in the interactive calendar includes: a preview clip of 100 Clues; behind the scenes video with the cast; guest star profiles; video with cast members weighing in on what has happened 100 times on set; polls; and video of what cast/crew would do on their 100th birthdays.
"The Psych fan is really a unique fan," Mohan says. "It's a really unique partnership that you don't see in TV very often - particularly the reciprocal appreciation between fans, cast, writers, and producers. The conversation is two ways. If you look at it in the social sphere, everyone is talking to each other on Twitter. We engage [fans] in conversation and it comes back. The loyalty and passion is amazing."
The promotion will continue on Wednesday. In the morning, Psych will ask fans to tweet the 100 reasons they love Psych. And an hour before the episode airs, USA will engage Twitter users with trivia from the last 100 episodes with the hashtag #Psych100.
"It creates a great pre-party effect and stokes the fire right before the episode," Mohan says.
In addition, USA will live-tweet the episode from both coasts. It typically only live-tweets for the East coast. Content will include the status of voting, trivia, and interaction with fans.
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT