Today's cuppa: hotel coffee and lots of it

While I slog though the biannual Television Critics Association Press Tour in beautiful Pasadena, Calif., you can take a look at my syndicated feature story on the beginning of the end for USA Network's "Monk" on Friday, Aug. 7 — tomorrow, we take a similar look at the season premiere for "Psych," which airs the same night.

‘Monk,’ phobias

and all, prepares for the end



Kate O’Hare



Monk_Tony_Shalhoub On

Friday, Aug. 7, the USA Network comedy-mystery series “Monk” returns for its

eighth season, which has been announced to be its last. For executive producer

and frequent episode director Randy Zisk, it’s a bittersweet moment.


sweet and sad at the same point,” he says. “I feel like we’re going through

what the show goes through, which is heart and humor, right now.


obviously want to tie up some loose ends, but we also wanted to continue with

what’s worked so well for us, which is having both heart and humor.”


the past seven seasons, Tony Shalhoub has played Adrian Monk, a former San

Francisco Police Department homicide detective who lost his position due to his

obsessive-compulsive disorder.


the unsolved murder of his wife, Trudy, in a car bombing — a crime possibly

aimed at Monk — he had a nervous breakdown, causing his disorder to worsen and

turn him into a recluse.


with the help of his nurse, Sharona (Bitty Schram) — the character left during

season three — and now with his assistant, Natalie (Traylor Howard), Monk has

been able to re-enter the world and help police Capt. Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted

Levine) and Lt. Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) solve crimes as a private



Hoberman is the creator of “Monk,” and he executive produces with Zisk and

writers Andy Breckman and Tom Sharpling.


to how neat a bow he and his fellow producers wanted to put on the end of

Adrian Monk’s story, Zisk says, “Not that neat. Andy Breckman created the

character with David Hoberman and Tony Shalhoub, and the character has really

grown in these eight years, so the one thing that’s consistent is his



got different struggles now, but we definitely want to see a character who

still goes through what everybody else in the world goes through. The stories

are written in New Jersey, and I don’t know — even Tony doesn’t know — exactly where they’re headed.”


“Monk” is shot in Los Angeles (where it headed after a brief sojourn in Toronto), the writing staff is indeed a continent away.


I was first told this is how they want to set up the show, I said, ‘It’ll never

work. I don’t know how we can have you guys so far away from us.’ But in

reality, it’s worked out because Andy Breckman gives us such room to do what we

want on the production side.


scripts are always on time, and they’re always really great. After directing so

many other shows, I realize how lucky we are that the scripts are on time, and

not only on time, but I don’t know how they keep coming up with ideas."


final season comprises 16 new episodes, and fans that have been missing Monk_Bitty_Schram Sharona

will be happy to hear that she returns for an episode later in the season. Fans

may recall that she left to remarry her ex-husband and return to New Jersey with their son.


be directing,” Zisk says. “We’re all excited about that. It’s all being worked

out now. I don’t want to say too much, but what I know of it, it’s going to be

one of the most fun episodes we’ve ever done.


really excited about it. It’s been so great. It’s going to be a blast to have

her back.”


first, there’s the season premiere. As for a hint, Zisk says, “Elizabeth

Perkins plays a TV star who was a child star on a TV series that was Monk’s

favorite show, that he never missed. Now, 30 years later, whatever it is, he

runs into her, and there’s a crime that he’s involved with, and he gets to meet

his childhood star.


called ‘Mr. Monk’s Favorite TV Show.’


will the show’s most enduring mystery be solved?


Zisk says, “the one case he’s never been able to solve is Trudy, his wife. So

we’ll see what happens with that, but I don’t want to say too much.


loves the story line with her, bringing her in for a little bit each season,

and seeing Monk deal with that. People love to see how he still wears his

wedding ring, and how he is still attached to her. There’s something so

endearing and so sweet about that.”


final episode shoots in October.


Zisk, “We’ve had a great run, and it’s going to be very emotional.”


so-called “last” episode of “Scrubs,” which didn’t even turn out to be the last

episode, featured Sprinkles cupcakes on set.


to whether the real last episode of “Monk” will go in a similar culinary

direction, Zisk says, “We’ll make sure to have Sprinkles cupcakes. It’s been a

pretty great run.”

Posted by:Kate O'Hare