… Tony Shalhoub, Actor
With the premiere of the 8th (and sadly final) season of Monk last Friday on USA, everyone’s favorite OCD detective slipped back into our television sets and our hearts. We had a chance o sit down with Tony Shalhoub to talk about the falling curtain… and what he wants us to remember as we say goodbye to Mr. Monk.
TheTwoCents: What was the deciding factor to make this season the final season?
Tony Shalhoub: Well, I think there were a lot of things at play there. I mean, long conversations that I had with Andy Breckman, you know, one of the co-creators and the main writer. We’ve been talking all along about how many seasons to do, how many episodes that he had in him, you know, as the writer. He, at one point, said that he didn’t think really he had more than six seasons, and then he kind of got a gigantic second wind, and we did the seventh, and we weren’t sure when we were doing the seventh if the network was going to go with us on the eighth. But to make a long story short, we all kind of agreed that the eighth season would be it for all of us. I think it will have 124 episodes by the end of the eighth season, and I think we’re all ready to resolve the storyline and move on to other things. We certainly don’t want to go too long and have the quality start to wane and just limp to the finish line. We want to go out while we’re still really, we feel really that we’re doing great work and delivering really strong episodes. We want to go out on a high.
TTC: Now just because USA is bringing the series to an end, it doesn’t mean another network down the line wouldn’t pick it up. Is this a choice that you’ve thought about? That maybe you would contemplate a return to the character down the line in a couple, three years perhaps?
TS: You know, I’ve given that a lot of thought. I feel like I’m ready to put this character to rest, but by the same token, I never say never, and circumstances could change, and I could change my mind. Certainly I’ve been known to change my mind. I just think time will tell. I would never ever rule something like that out. I hope that answers your question.
TTC: Do you have a particular favorite episode of Monk?
TS: Man. This is so difficult because I have so many that are just so near and dear to me. I kind of will reframe the question in the answer, I think. The ones that – I will say the ones where I think we did, where we’ve done the best, in other words, those episodes where we did 100% of what we set out to do or 100% of how we imagined the show should be in a perfect world when we’re doing our job – just the best. Those episodes would be, I would say, the first John Turturro episode where we meet the character of Ambrose. That was called Mr. Monk and the Three Pies. Another favorite of mine was Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine because it was a chance for me to do this character almost as a different character – see a different part of him emerge. We did an episode that we just shot in the first part of season eight, which will be airing in about a month. It’s called Mr. Monk is Someone Else, and it’s an episode where it’s basically … assume this character of a man who looks just like him, but the character happens to be a professional hit man for the mafia, and this character dies, and Monk is asked to take on, you know, to take this guy on and become him. And so those opportunities to kind of transform within the character are really, really challenging and satisfying
TTC: How is the final season structured, in terms of wrapping things up?
TS: Excellent question. What the writers have in mind is to do, you know, as you said, our normal standalone episodes for the first, I would say, 11, because we’re doing 16, as usual. So the first 11, I would say, are going to be standalone, and then the last 5 is when we’ll be kind of connected. They’ll have a connected tissue, and we’ll start to get into the wrap up, not just of Monk, but of some of the other characters as well. Then what they want to do is the final two episodes, number 15 and 16, it’ll just be one story, a two-part, you know, aired in two segments. Just to follow – that episode, I mean that two-part will involve the wrap up of Trudy’s murder, you know, the solving of Trudy’s murder.
TTC: What’s the lasting impression you want audience members to take from watching your show and watching you?
TS: That’s a great question. I think, if I had to choose one thing, I would say that I would want people to take away this idea that sometimes people’s problems or neuroses are really the things that are kind of a blessing in disguise, and even though there’s, you know, sometimes there’s pain associated with these things that sometimes in the face of adversity with obstacles to overcome, people can really kind of soar and find their higher selves and I think that’s what we’ve tried to do on the show is we’ve portrayed this character as someone who turns his liability, his liabilities into assets per his life. And that there’s – and I hope that when we get to the end – I don’t know this for sure, but I hope when we get to the end of season eight that we’ll have seen some real healing from Monk, and I believe in that. I believe that there is healing and that there is change, and that all of those things are – they are just really, really key to all of our lives.
Don’t forget to catch Monk Friday nights on USA and to check out our Recaps and Reviews the very next day!