main 2News 2Locations 2Funstuff 2ReviewsMusic 2Contact 2

Terry Erdmann and Paula Block are the authors of the ultimate insider's guide to the USA hit television show Monk and its two-time Emmy award-winning character, with commentary from the creators, writers, and actors who make it happen.

MONK: The Official Episode Guide is the ultimate and only fully authorized guide for Monk fans, including an afterword from Tony Shalhoub -- who plays Adrian Monk -- and an exclusive introduction from Andy Breckman, the show's creator and executive producer. MONK features an in-depth look at all four seasons of the hit show. Find out behind-the-scenes secrets about the famous defective detective, Adrian Monk, how he came up with some of his most brilliant deductions, and what makes some of his tics tick. Inside:

* How the show was created: the concept, cast, network, and location
* Adrian Monk: the modern day Sherlock Holmes
* A summary of each episode followed by an in-depth analysis
* What it was like on the set with guest stars such as John Turturro, Sarah Silverman, Larry Miller, Jason Alexander, and Jon Favreau
* How the very successful fourth season premiere, "Mr. Monk and the Other Detective," was inspired by an article that appeared in The New York Times
* Photos from the show

[The proceeding is courtesy of the publisher's publicity, and so is a lot of the following. I didn't write it. I don't know what's in the book yet. I just got it.]

About the Authors:

Terry J. Erdmann is the author and/or co-author of numerous books about the entertainment industry, including The Last Samurai Official Companion, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, and Star Trek: Action! Terry J. Erdmann is a native of Los Angeles and currently lives with his wife in Southern California. Paula M. Block is the co-author of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion and Star Trek: Action!, and is co-editor of the short story series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. She has been a columnist for the Chicago Sun Times and for the past sixteen years she has overseen licensed publishing for a major Hollywood studio. She lives near Los Angeles with her husband.

The Official Episode Guide

By Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block
Publication Date: June 27, 2006
St. Martin's Griffin/ Trade Paperback Original/ $19.95/ 224 pages/

"Mr. Monk and the 12th Man"
The Quotable Monk: "He's brilliant, but he's Monk. He's lost in Monkland." --Stottlemeyer
The Weirdest Clue: Monk notices that the serial numbers on the $10 bill used by the perpetrator of the theater murder are just one digit off from the bill given to the dead tollbooth operator.
Idiosyncrasy of the Week: Monk is compelled to roll Sharona's car backward and forward until he advances her odometer from 99,999.9 to 100,000.0
The Clue that Breaks the Case: Mrs. Ling's unique stitching on the button of the perp's shirtsleeve.

"Mr. Monk and the Three Pies"
The Quotable Monk: "I don't understand. Usually when he does that whole summation thing, it's all over ... we get to go home." --Disher
The Weirdest Clue: The yellow acorns in the back of Van Ranken's truck reveal where he buried his wife.
Idiosyncrasy of the Week: Apparently the rest of the Monk family was as dysfunctional as Adrian. Ambrose's agoraphobia keeps him a prisoner in his own home. No one in the family liked to touch. Mom numbered all the coffee mugs so they could be put back into the cupboard in order. And Dad ... well, we're not sure if he was being quirky or if he was
attempting to salvage his sanity when he went out for Chinese food and never came back.
The Clue that Breaks the Case: Bingo chips flipping through the air remind Monk of bullet shells being ejected from a gun and Monk realizes what Van Ranken's been looking for.

"Mr. Monk Goes to the Dentist"
The Quotable Monk: "I can't even discuss it. I can't even think about discussing it. I can't even talk about thinking about discussing it." --Monk
The Weirdest Clue: The bruises on Jardeen's body are ten inches apart -- and so are the roots on the big plastic tooth in Dr. Bloom's office.
Idiosyncrasy of the Week: Monk describes his fear of dentists as a "super-mega-phobia," ranking wa-a-ay above his fears of germs, snakes and everything else.
The Clue that Breaks the Case: Being kidnapped by a killer dentist is a pretty big give-away.



June 3rd, 2006

MFP: So how did this project come about, Monk: The Official Episode Guide?

Terry: Paula and I became involved with Monk: The Official Episode Guide, which at the time didn't have a title, at the time it was going to be The Monk Book, because we write these other books. The editor we worked with on the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion was working with a woman in the NBC-Universal Licensing named Cindy Chang. Margaret introduced me to Cindy to possibly work on a different book and that project didn't happen. It was a project that didn't get off the ground. But Cindy remembered me and very shortly called and she said literally, "You might be the answer to my problem." She had been given a chance to have NBC-Universal create a Monk companion book. She didn't have an author and wasn't acquainted with an author who did that kind of writing and was pleased to have met me. She just offered me, kind of sight unseen, we met for a little while, but she hadn't really read anything I'd written, and telephoned me and asked me if I'd be available to work on the Monk book. I looked at Paula and just said “Monk?” We love the show. We'd never missed an episode. We just immediately said, “Yes, we'll write it. “What would you like?”

MFP: Sort of a dream job?

Terry: Right.

MFP: How long did it take you to write it?

Terry: It took about….

Paula: I think six months.

Terry: About six months, maybe seven months.

Paula: It had to be done fast.

Terry: Yeah, it had a deadline on it from the beginning so we had to hurry.

Paula: They actually extended the deadline, because they wanted to include the fourth season in the book, the whole fourth season.

Terry: That's right. It actually was going to be five months but we were expecting at first to include three and a half seasons of the show in the book. For the second half of season four we thought we might have to just do little tiny summaries, because we thought we would have to turn the book in before those episodes had actually been shot. They were able to work it out with St. Martin’s Griffin, the publishers, to shorten their publishing schedule. You know they have a lot of work to do at the publishing house. They squeezed their schedule a little bit so that we could actually see the last few episodes and write about them before we had to turn in the book. So the book includes four seasons.

Paula: We actually saw the last half of the season before they were aired, because the producers were nice enough to share the early rough cuts of the episodes.

MFP: So they gave them to you ahead of time so you could make the deadline?

Terry: Yeah, we felt real privileged. Other than the people in the editing room and at the studio, no one had seen the shows except Paula and myself. We felt pretty lucky.

MFP: So the rough cuts, they're without music and everything in them?

Terry: Yeah, they're without music. If there were any kind of visual effects they weren't there. So they may have had scenes that were....

Paula: Sometimes they had some markers for where they were going to put in a different effect.

Terry: Sometimes if they were just going to have an insert shot like a picture of somebody's hand or something like that, they shoot those things later. They wouldn't be there; there would be a little card that said, insert here. They're very rough and there's no music whatsoever. The dialogue was real rough. The dialogue hadn't been straightened out, so that sometimes it would be too loud, sometimes it would be gruff. Sometimes you could hardly understand what they were saying. When they call them rough cuts, they really mean rough.

Paula: But it does make you appreciate what goes into the final....

Terry: The post production.

Paula: Yes, into post production. You suddenly realize what all those people do behind the scenes, how they balance out the sound in addition to everything you'd kind of expect. Well, you know, they add special effects, but you never think about what the person who mixes the post production sound does.

MFP: Right. There’s a lot of work after the actual filming.

Terry: Yeah, a lot of work. There's a lot more to it then just the actors going on stage. There are those people, those behind the scenes names that you see. They're incredibly talented people as well. We tried to cover a few of them in the book, by the way. I tried to interview as many people as we had time to in the constraints we had.

MFP: What will the format of the book be?

Terry: We cover every episode of every season. There's a synopsis of the episode, followed by a behind-the-scenes section. At the beginning of each season we have a long essay about changes that may have happened from the season before. The book starts out with an introduction that explains how the idea came about, how David Hoberman and Andy Breckman created the character. We talk about casting. Then, the way we worked, Paula did the synopsis. Together we watched every episode probably five times. The producers gave us all of the scripts. So we read all the scripts at least a couple times a piece. Then we had the scripts laid out while we were writing, but Paula did the synopsis. You want to tell her a little bit about how you synopsized the episodes?

Paula: Well you know, it's kind of well, how do you synopsize? You just sit down and you try to hit all the high points and get the detail in, but it's hard to describe exactly how you do that. If you remember back in grade school when they taught you how to outline, it's sort of like that. You just want to get everything down there without taxing the reader's patience, but getting all the good stuff in.

Terry: And they all have to be the same length. They all have to be about a page and a half long. Something like that. Then I did all of the interviews. I went to the set quite a number of times. I went on the set almost every day while they were shooting several episodes. Which is quite a lot of driving and a lot of time, because they were going on location. They go on location so often. So I couldn't just drive to the soundstage everyday. I had to drive wherever they were shooting, sometimes many miles out of town. I would introduce myself in the morning and ask people if they would have time to speak with me some time during the day.

Then I went in and interviewed the actors and the directors and the producers and the wardrobe people etc. and then went to the studio afterwards and talked to the editors and even talked to a couple of the musicians. I went to Jeff Beal's studio and talked to him about writing the original theme song.

Paula: And he still does the episodic music.

Terry: Yeah, Jeff still does all the episodic music during the show everything other than the theme song now. Then we come home and, as you know, we together would transcribe the interview tapes, which just take so much time.

Paula: We would kind of just split it up. Terry would write up the whole behind-the-scenes section at the same time I was working on the synopsis.

Terry: Paula's an excellent editor so she would rewrite what I wrote and make some suggestion about, hey, wouldn't it be good if we could put this part in? She would read the transcription and nudge me a little bit if I had missed some cute little quote. We tried to keep it cute and funny as much as we could.

Paula: Terry’s good at noting when I repeat phrases too often. He says, “Did you know you used this word five times on the same page.”

Terry: So we edit one another as we go along.

MFP: That must make it a little easier.

Terry: It's nice to have someone that you can count on to slap your fingers and say, "Don't do that." It's kind of nice.

Paula: Every now and then one or the other of us would kind of press our lips together kind of tightly and say, "But I like it like that." And then we'd have a discussion about it and decide whether it really worked or not. There were never any big arguments about how something should sound.

Terry: Part of the fun thing in the book we decided early on, and this was a joint idea and actually I think maybe Paula suggested it first and then I jumped right on it, we have a little section at the end of every episode where we picked out the clue that breaks the case

Paula: That was your idea.

Terry: That was my idea?

Paula: Yeah.

Terry: See we don't even remember. That's what collaboration is, we don't even remember who did what. We did the clue that breaks the case, the Monk idiosyncrasy of the week, you know, the quirk that he did that week.

Paula: The quote of the week.

Terry: The quote of the week

Paula: Or the Monkism of the week.

Terry: The Monkism of the week.

Paula: Sometimes it wasn't even Monk who had the quote, because if somebody had a really good quote that seemed really memorable we'd let somebody else be quoted that week.

Terry: Yeah, we tried to mix it up. Some of them are from Stottlemeyer, some of them are from Natalie some are from Sharona.

Paula: In early episodes Sharona says to Disher "Bite me!" and it was so typical of her character that we just had to use it.

Terry: But in order to do those things we didn't just pick one out. We actually listed them as we watched the episodes. We would write down everything cute that they said. Then between the two of us we sat down and discussed it: "Is that one cute enough?" and we'd cross them off and finally come to a consensus of, this is the essentially our own favorite one of the episode. So when it says, you know, the best quote of the episode, it's Paula's and my favorite quote. I'm sure that the readers, and Teresa yourself, you might say, "No this other one was better," but we really carefully pared them down. We started with a long list every time and pared it down to what we thought was the best one.

Paula: Yeah, so if they ever decide to do a Monk quote book, we have all the other quotes for it.

Terry: Yeah we have many notes of things that couldn't go into the book. There are parameters in the publishing industry. You are given an approximate number of pages that the book should be, because of cost and time and everything in the publishing stage. So we knew the length that the book was going to be. I mean for us. We sent in about 300 pages, typed pages. The book will probably be.... I don't know how many pages the book will be. But we were asked for 100,000 words and so we gave them about 100,000 words.

Paula: I think it was originally about 80,000. We were running in to trouble because some of the things were running over and the editor said, "all right it can go up to 100,000." So we were very relieved

Terry: Yeah, the show is too good. To have made the book shorter we would have had to leave out so much wonderful stuff. So we have many things left in our interviews, that we could actually write a couple more essays and that sort of thing. So it's kind of fun. Even though the book is finished we're certainly not finished writing about it. There's a lot and we think about it all the time. We just love the show.

MFP: We know there are going to be at least two more seasons, so is there going to be a revision on the book later?

Terry: You want to talk about, is there going to be a second edition of the book?

Paula: Well, we don't really know that. I think it probably depends on if the book sells well. I'm sure the publisher may think about that down the road, but it always really depends on how well something sells. The people associated with the show were really cooperative. Terry and I have worked on a couple of different episode guides and behind-the-scenes things. How good a book turns out really depends on how cooperative the people are behind the scenes, how much they want a book like this to happen. There are some things we've worked on where the people immediately involved with the show might be cooperative, but sometimes the people higher up at a studio aren't as involved and aren't as cooperative. In this case everybody was from the top down. You know, some of the nicest people Terry talked to were at the very top over at NBC Universal and USA.

MFP: Everybody's really proud of the show, aren't they?

Terry: Yes, but there's a question about the value of these books. The fans like to have them and some members of the general public find them, but this type of a book doesn't make the best seller list. There have been behind-the-scenes books done on the biggest hit shows and they don't make the best seller list. But the publisher, of course, is in business and he has to have his profit margin in order for it to be worthwhile to do another one. So it entirely depends on how many copies sell. If in fact they wanted to do a second edition or an extended edition with seasons five, six, seven, eight, season 15. Who knows? We could only hope, right? We would happily jump right in and continue writing, but that's always a question of economics.

MFP: Why do you think they chose to do the book now, at the end of the fourth season?

Terry: The earlier seasons of shows are always the most popular and you have to start writing a book while people remember. If I were to go on to the set of a show on season seven and say let's start writing a book and then asked them questions about shooting the first episode, nobody remembers for several reasons. It's very likely that the behind the scenes people, you know, the wardrobe crew, the make-up crew, the sound department could be 100 percent different people. They weren't even there, because behind the scenes crews, those 150 people behind the scenes, don't stay with a show the entire time. They come and go. The personnel change rapidly, you know, greatly. So either they don't remember or they weren't there. You have to start early and four seasons is really pretty good. Four seasons is about the right time to do the first issue of a behind-the-scenes book.

Paula: When we first came into this book, I think they made the assignment right after the third season ended. I would say we started working on it during the hiatus between third and fourth season. Fortunately, because the seasons for Monk aren't quite as long as they are for regular network shows, we didn't have to go back too far to try and discover all the information. But if you were getting involved in the final year of a show that has been on for six years already it would be really hard to catch up.

Terry: Yeah, you might have to hunt down people. The original camera people, the cinematographer may have disappeared, might have gone off to do another hit show. If you could catch him on the set of the show he was currently working on he would have already put the previous job out of his mind and you can't ask him questions about it. So you have to start early in a series. You know part of the fun of the job…. We knew we had a number of guidelines to do this book. First of all we wanted it to be inclusive and like the show. We wanted it to represent the show. We wanted it to be humorous because obviously the show acts as a comedy, but we wanted it to be suspenseful. In Paula's synopsis she didn't want to break the clues too early in the way she was synopsizing the episodes. So that if somebody had missed one then reads it, they don't find out the ending until the ending.

MFP: They can back out of the synopsis?

Terry: Yeah, they can back out if they want to.

Paula: Although, actually, if they haven't seen the episode, maybe they should only read like the first paragraph.

Terry: That's true. And then we wanted to be a little bit educational. Behind the scenes I wanted to be just as fun as the episodes of the show itself. We tried to be humorous in them. So my interviews I asked questions that would try to inspire the interviewee especially the writers, the writers are so wonderful, to answer in humorous ways. But we also wanted to be educational, so if anybody young is reading it who wants to get into the movie or television industry, they might find it interesting enough to say, “Oh, that's how they do things.” We had a lot of things that we were trying to accomplish in the book. I don't know if we accomplished any or many of them, but it was a lot more fun for us and interesting for us than just, you know, writing down what is.

Paula: One thing that Andy Breckman wanted the book to do, which I don't think that we did, was he kind of wanted it to be critical and he said, "Now if there's a bad episode, I want you to say, 'This is a bad episode.'" And we just weren't able to really do that because there weren't any really bad episodes.

MFP: How do you find a bad episode of Monk?

Terry: Well, there are a couple that weren't quite as accepted by the fans, a couple that didn't quite draw in as large an audience: that weren't quite as accepted by the viewers.

Paula: But because of the way that we were writing it, looking at each episode under a magnifying glass, even if it was an episode that might not be a top episode, there were always these moments that were so good, it just kind of made it one of your favorites automatically, because Monk did something that was just hilarious in one scene and it didn't really matter if say the script for that episode wasn't as strong as the script for the week before.

MFP: What do you think those episodes were that weren't as accepted by the fans? Which ones?

Terry: That weren't as accepted as much?

MFP: Right.

Terry: The one that the people at the network, and the writers and the producers of the show all agree, the least successful episode was "Mr. Monk Takes Manhattan."

MFP: Really?

Terry: That's the episode that got the least response from the viewing public. The writers agree that they made some mistakes and as you'll see in the book, you know, we all have 20/20 hindsight. After the fact, we can tell what went wrong. Essentially what the problem with that one was is that when Monk is in his own home turf, when he's in his own backyard, he's the funniest. The idea of putting him in the busiest, most uncoordinated place in the world, which is downtown Manhattan, sounded very funny. But in reality what happened was when you put him there he was in the same situation as everybody else. Every single person on the street in New York is experiencing how awful the subway ride is, how loud the streets are, how hard it is to walk up the street.

MFP: And it's hard to stand out as crazy in New York.

Terry: So suddenly Monk wasn't unique and special. The things that we see about him that make him unique and special were just ordinary. And it's like Andy Breckman said, you thought that putting him in a busy place would be hilarious, but in fact it just flattened him out, he was just like everybody else. So the episode didn't work as well.

Paula: At least not for the audience, I mean we liked it.

The Monk Fun Page's
International Partner
The German Monk
Fan Site

german site
Where in the MonkWorld
are LisaAnne's Kids?!
Featuring Monk Southern California locations!

LisaAnne's Kids

Remembering Trudy
Set Visit
filming link

Cool Links


The British
Monk Fan Site


sarah silverman

Psych Fun
The Psych Fun Page

psych concentration

Criminal Intent
Now on USA

Burn Notice

The German fan site for

Mystery Net
Contributions from
Monk writer Hy Conrad
Monk Message Board

Click here to join monkfans
Click here to join monkfans
(A Monk Email List)

The Indexed Phobia List:
An indispensible Guide


Dexter on Showtime

If you have a link you'd like to suggest which is even remotely Monk related, drop me an email at

Terry: Oh, we loved it.

Paula: I mean there were things about it that we really liked including the scene where Monk is talking to that guy in the hospital. That was a really great dramatic moment. So if the viewers didn't watch through until the end of the show I feel bad, because that was a really good moment there.

MFP: That's a classic Monk moment. That's one of the moments that define the rest of the series.

Terry: What I found interesting while visiting the set, interviewing and just observing the workers on the show, everyone involved really loved the show. I mean the make-up and hair and camera and the sound and set decoration people, they just don’t go to work every day and do their job; they go to work every day and enjoy doing their best. Everybody that I met there is so proud of working on Monk. They all just know that they have a gem in their hands and they want to keep it polished. It was impressive how every employee that I talked to almost feels honored to be working on this show. They know that they would be employed in the television business because they work all the time, but this is a show that everybody is really proud to have on their resume and the quality of their work shows it. They go to work to do a good job, not just to go to work.

MFP: Do you think there’s any less turnover on Monk with the crew as a result?

Terry: No, there’s a lot of turnover for a couple of reasons. If you get hired on a normal network show, you’re probably going to have 23 episodes a season, but Monk only has 16 episodes a season.

Paula: And they don’t shoot them all the way through the way a regular T.V. show does. They have the hiatus in the middle.

Terry: Right. You know, they shoot nine and then they shoot seven, however it works. So people can’t afford to have all that time off. So during the hiatus period they’ll get hired on to other shows and they disappear. So Monk has to fill the jobs of the people who went away simply so that they could pay their rent. The fact that there are only 16 episodes a season keeps the show fresh and fun, but the downside is that the employees sometimes have to go find another job. You know, you’re not just talking about rich people here; everybody’s a worker. We all know about keeping that paycheck coming in. So there’s a pretty big turnover on Monk, not because people leave the show, but because the show shuts down and they go off and find continuing employment. So it’s a two edged sword that way.

MFP: So did you learn anything that really surprised you about the show?

Terry: Surprised us about the show? I think the fact that none of the writer’s had ever done television before. I mean they had worked on T.V. they had written skits for Saturday Night Live….

Paula. They’re comedy writers.

Terry: Yeah, they’re all comedy writers. They all come from the stand-up comic world. Previously they were more comfortable in comedy clubs then they were in a T.V. studio.

Paula: Or writing like say David Letterman or for Saturday Night Live or something like that. You know, writing shtick for the person to say on stage.

Terry: You know, even though the show is shot in Los Angeles, the writing staff works in New Jersey and they’re 3,000 miles away. So I went to New Jersey for ten days and sat with the writing staff and watched them go through some episodes. I watched them do the entire episode, “Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty.” It’s absolutely evident, even though this was the end of season four, that they’re still writing comedy skits rather than T.V. scripts. I’ve sat in on what they call story sessions on many different television shows and they will put down a list of plot lines. The clues are going to happen here and the murder is going to happen here. And it’s very serious sometimes. But in the Monk writing room, while they were going through the same thing, they figured out the plot line as they went along and they put down the clues. They’ll do this and the murder will happen here. At the same time the writers were telling jokes all the time. You would think nothing would get done because it was almost like just a fun joke telling session. So everybody was always laughing. That impressed me, how talented these guys are. We tried to mention this in a couple places in the book, where a large number of really wonderful jokes were told and then just disappeared, not written down. They just said, “Oh, that won’t work for the episode” and they just disappeared into the air and no one else will ever hear them. Because these are really talented comedians who are writing the show and they’re more comedians than they are not.

Paula: So it’s kind of amazing that the show also has that really strong dramatic element too, considering they mostly come out of a comedy background, but it has a real good core of humanity. But Andy Breckman has written movies and things like that he just never wrote television before, so it could be Andy’s story sense that holds the whole thing together.

Terry: But as several of the writers said, several places, we repeat it I think in the book, when they first started writing the show they didn’t know what the structure of a one hour television drama is and they literally would telephone people and say. “How many acts are we supposed to have?” Because they didn’t know. Where on many shows everybody knows already, because they’ve taken screenwriting classes, they’ve maybe gone to film school. These guys came out of the comedy world and it’s a totally different kind of background and it’s one of the things that make the show really unique.

MFP: It makes it fresh and they’re not in the same rut as all the other television shows.

Terry: Yeah, I think you’re right. It makes it fresh and it doesn’t feel like a show that’s in any kind of a rut.

MFP: So what was the most difficult part of writing the book?

Terry: Transcribing. The most difficult part is transcribing. The most difficult part of the book I think was a number of things. First of all, when I first went to the set the people on the stage, all of the workers from the cast on through all of the support team, suddenly there was a stranger walking on the stage with a questionable position. You know, I’m not part of the camera department I’m not part of the wardrobe department, I’m just this guy. So I had to go in and introduce myself and kind of become friends with people and I thought that would be hard. I thought that I would be looked upon as maybe suspect. You know, you can’t quite trust the press sometimes because there’s gossip and you want to be careful what people say. I was surprised, it only took maybe a half a day and I had friends and people even invited me to have lunch with them. That wasn’t difficult. It went away immediately. So I was very impressed with how readily I was accepted, walking on to the set as a stranger.

Setting up the original interviews I thought would be a little bit hard, but Tony Shalhoub has an assistant whose name is Doug Nabors and I asked him, “Do you think I can get some interviews with the actors within the next ten days?” He said, “I think so.” And he went away and about a half an hour later he came to me and said, “Jason Gray-Stanford is sitting in his trailer right now with about three hours. If you want to go interview him go right now he’s waiting for you.” And he said, “When you finish with Jason go straight over to Ted Levine,” who plays Stottlemeyer, “because Ted knows you’re here and he’ll have a little more time than Jason. So just go straight from Jason to Ted and talk to him.” This was within half an hour after I first requested it. Then when I finished talking to the two of them, you know, I went and sat in their trailers with my tape recorder, and I said “Um, how about Tony?” Traylor Howard wasn’t there that day. So I couldn’t ask for her that same day, but I said, “How ‘bout Tony?” and Doug said, “Tomorrow at noon. He’ll have a couple of hours at noon. You can go see him.” So I was only there for one day. I asked one question about whether or not I could speak with the actors and within a half an hour I had two of them set up and 24 hours later I would finish with Tony. I had interviewed all three of them. The next day Traylor came to work and I approached her myself. I said, “Hi I’m Terry, I’m working on this book. Can we get together?” She said, “Yeah, when I finish shooting this scene lets go to my trailer.” And we did. So within 36 hours after I first posed the question for interviews I had accomplished big interviews with all four of the lead actors. That’s how friendly and accepting they were.

Paula: Oh, and by the way Doug Nabor’s has moved up from being Tony’s assistant. He’s one of the producers.

Terry: Co-producer.

Paula: Uh, not a co-producer. I think he’s like an associate producer. Whatever it says in the end credits on the show.

Terry: He moved up into the production staff now. So everybody was that cooperative and that friendly. So that’s another thing that I thought would be difficult and because sometimes actors don’t want to give up their time. You know they’re in character. They don’t want to, but it was very, very simple.

MFP: Is it hard to get actors to talk about themselves?

Terry: Sometimes it’s hard to get people to talk about themselves. It isn’t because they don’t want to. One of the reasons people become actors is they’re real good at being a different character; they’re not so good at being themselves. So sometimes an actor who can be the most brilliant playing lots of different kinds of people, he can be an Indian or a restoration person or a man can play a female, you know that sort of thing, and yet talking about themselves, being who they are is really difficult for them. So they just aren’t good interviews.

Paula: Some people are kind of instinctual actors. When you ask them what it’s like to do something they can’t really tell you. They just kind of get out there and they do it and they’re great and you really like watching them, but they can’t tell you what went into that performance at all.

Terry: They have no description of their technique because it’s so natural to them. So sometimes actors are, they’re not difficult interviews, because they don’t want to do it, just that tape recorder is so foreign to them. They’re better in front of a camera or on a stage.

So the hardest part was including the second half of season four in the book. I had to telephone the actors at home and they gave me contact telephone numbers which they wouldn’t have had to do. The editors would finish doing a rough cut version of an episode and would make arrangements for us to see it. We couldn’t watch it on T.V. because it wasn’t going to be broadcast for six months. They had to make arrangements for us to get some place where we could look at it. So there was some coordination among a number of people in order to accommodate our need. And everybody just did it. They just did it right away. It was surprising how we were causing them additional stress and effort and everybody just did it. There was never a complaint. The telephone would ring. Randy Zisk is the producer of the show. Randy’s assistant would call me and say, “You can see episode 12 now.” We were on the list of people to be called even though we weren’t really involved with the show. So that was very impressive. So what could have been impossible was hard, but was done with a minimum of effort and really didn’t cause us much stress except for the time.

Paula: And Andy really wanted the book to happen. So Andy always would call around if he thought there was going to be anybody not happy about something. He would call ahead, kind of clear the way and say, “Hey let’s really make this a good book. We want this to happen.”

MFP: Was there anything in particular that you had to leave out of the book that you wish had stayed in?

Paula: Nah, I think it was just a matter of space.

Terry: Yeah, it’s just a matter of space. Probably a lot of the stories that we tell if you extended them a little bit more would start to get boring. You know, a little punchy thing is more entertainment then a long drawn out thing. So even though we have more interview information from the writers and film makers, we probably picked out the best of it.

Paula: Yeah, we cherry picked it. If you were going to try and write another book out of what we had left, it probably would be all that interesting. It’s just kind of extra detail.

Terry: There were several times I would put in some little fact that Paula would say, “That’s not as important as this one.” So once again we would go through the list and cross off things and say it’s more important for them to know that they shot in the country then to know it was a dirt road instead of a freeway. You know, we were careful with that sort of thing. We tried to put the most entertaining stuff in the book.

MFP: What do you think makes Monk a great show?

Terry: What makes Monk a great show? Well, four things: the characters are great, the writer’s really write for those characters with their hearts, the actors have become….

Paula: The casting.

Terry: Well, the casting is amazing. They’re perfect for the characters and the actors really put their hearts into being those people. I don’t think you’re seeing Ted Levine play a cop. I think you’re seeing Stottlemeyer and you have to stop and think about the fact that, oh by the way, that’s also Ted Levine. These guys are great. And then the whole production staff, they care so much that they put them self into it just as much as the writers and the actors do. It’s just a really, really great show. It’s a unique premise. There’s isn’t really anything else like it. We have other favorite shows that we would watch and you can kind of compare them, but they’re different, you know.

MFP: So what are your personal favorite episodes?

Terry: Personal favorite episodes? Boy, there’s a toughie. First season I like the Carnival episode. “Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival.” The elephant was funny.

Paula: But the elephant was in the other one.

Terry: No I mean Circus, “Mr. Monk Goes to the Circus.” That was later. That would be second show in the second season. I really liked that. I like every show that has Trudy in it. If one of the two actresses that played Trudy actually has a scene in an episode those scenes just tear me up. I really love it when Adrian is dealing with Trudy.

Paula: I like the odd couple type of episode where Stottlemeyer has to stay with Monk for a couple of days. That was pretty funny. And it has that nice little bit at the end where you find out why the only thing in Monk’s apartment that’s a little bit askew is his coffee table.

MFP: Yeah, that’s beautiful and a Trudy moment.

Terry: Yeah, that’s another Trudy moment. We agree on that we really love the Trudy episodes. And then some of the episodes that had a really good powerful guest star, like Jason Alexander was great as Marty Eels and John Turturro was really great as Ambrose. Some episodes have an element that is so strong that the episode stays in your mind forever. So the Three Pies episode is so good. And the Other Detective episode is really, really good.

Paula: And I’m sure if we looked at a list right now, we’d probably say “Oh, yeah! And that one and that one.

Terry: I honestly can’t pick out a favorite episode. It’s pretty much impossible.

Paula: We need to have the book in front of us and we don’t have it yet.

MFP: When will you get it?

Terry: We are on a list to receive a couple of free copies of the book.

MFP: Well, that’s good.

Terry: Obviously at this point, I mean we’re talking here on June 3rd, right? I’m told by the editor at St. Martin’s Press whose name is Michael Homler. He told me that the book is completed, but needless to say the distributor of the book has to get them to the most important people first which is the bookstores so that they can go to the readers. So we suspect that our names are way down on the bottom of a long, long list of people who get the book first.

Paula: Well, we’ve never worked with this publisher before, so we don’t know how their routing system works. We’ve done a lot of work with pocket books and some other places so we know that the way they do it is when the distribution samples start going out to the bookstore, there’s also a box that’s sent to the editor ahead of the other people on the distribution list and a lot of times the editors at Pocket will send us a copy of the book before they get the box that they’re going to send us later on. So we’re hoping that’ll happen in this case too.

Terry: But even though we haven’t seen an actual physical printed copy of the book, believe me, we know what it says. We have read it. I’m sure that we each read every page of the book, I’m under guessing here, fifty times.

Paula: Yeah, but I bet you’ll still find typos.

MFP: Those can happen after it leaves you, right?

Paula: Well, they can. Let’s think that it’s their fault.

Terry: Well, they could, but it’s pretty unlikely.

Paula: Well, but every now and then, I mean we did you know when we were doing a copy edit on the last one, we were doing the pages section and we found out that a paragraph to two pages past where it should have been.

Terry: Oh, yeah.

Paula: We did catch that and we made them put it back, so yeah some things do happen.

Terry: Electronic things can happen now. Computers haven’t necessarily made things easier. A computer can actually cut and paste without anybody knowing that it was done. And that did happen on a copy of this book that they sent us to proofread. We found that some stuff had been moved. And there are other things that we don’t know how they happened when we read the final book. Instead of quotation marks there might be asterisk or something.

Paula: That’s a programming thing.

Terry: Right. So we have our fingers crossed that they don’t actually end up like that at the printer, but we don’t anticipate that the printing process will have any problems whatsoever.

MFP: So what’s your next project?

Terry: Our next project? Paula you want to tell her what we’re literally at this moment working on?

Paula: Yeah, we’re sitting in the office working on a different project. We got an assignment a while back from the same editor who introduced us to Cindy Chang to do a book that at the moment I don’t know what it will be called down the road, but right now it’s called Star Trek 101 and basically it kind of gives a very user friendly fun description of each show and all the characters in it. It was meant to be something that’s more for the lay person than for the hardcore Trekkie audience, because we’ve written a lot of books for the hardcore people who need to know every little infinitesimal detail about it. But this book was meant more for the general public, you know, something that you might give your father to explain why you’ve hijacked the T.V. so often to watch this show. So it’s about every Star Trek show that was ever done and about all of the movies. The book was actually done before we started working on the Monk book and then they came back to us and said, “Oh, we want to add an extra section. We want a synopsis of every single episode in there.”

MFP: It’s going to be a big book, isn’t it?

Paula: In other words, yeah, they’ve really boosted the size of this. There are over 700 episodes of Star Trek that were produced for all the different shows, so right now we’re kind of in Synopsis Hell.

Terry: Not only do we feel that we know an awful lot about Monk, we also feel that we know an awful lot about Star Trek.

MFP: So Star Trek 101 includes all the way through Enterprise?

Terry: Yeah, there are six big sections. The first section was on the original series, the second section is The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise and the animated series.

Paula: And then there’s the section on the movies.

Terry: Oh, the movies! Excuse me seven big sections. So we’ve been looking at a lot of Star Trek.

Paula: Fortunately, we have all of the DVDs now.

Terry: So it’s very enjoyable. It’s just we’ve been doing it now for quite some time.

Paula: It’s time consuming.

Terry: It’s been almost two years that we’ve been working on this.

MFP: So it was kind of nice to take a break for Monk then?

Paula: Yeah, it was actually. That was one of the reasons why Terry and I immediately said, “Oh yeah, Monk, great! A change of pace, yea!”

Terry: Yeah, it was pretty nice to change the subject for a little while.

Paula: Yeah and there are some T.V. shows that you watch and you really get into and you think, I wish somebody would ask me to do an episode guide about this. But as soon as you get the assignment it’s like it’s no longer fun watching that show. It suddenly becomes a job. So you’re kind of glad when the shows goes into reruns, because you think, oh thank god, now I don’t have to worry about being home and taping that and making sure I’ve got every little detail down. It’s in reruns so I can relax.

Terry: Luckily and it’s the feeling that we had when Cindy Chang first mentioned would you be available to write an episode guide for Monk, luckily that was a show that we absolutely love and we said yes immediately because we’re watching Monk anyway and the opportunity to work with it sounded wonderful and was. But you can imagine if you tried to do a similar thing to a show that you really didn’t enjoy then it would be a lot of work. We’ve been lucky to only do this on shows that we’ve enjoyed. We really love Monk.

MFP: So you’re going to be doing some book signings soon?

Terry: Yeah, Lee Goldberg, who obviously you know, Teresa, you’ve interviewed him I believe a couple times, who writes the Monk novels. Lee had arranged a number of book signings for his next Monk novel, which I believe is Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii.

MFP: Right.

Terry: Paula and I have known Lee for many, many years. We coincidentally have worked together from time to time for over 20 years.

Paula: And he lives fairly close by to us too.

Terry: Yeah, a total coincidence that he lives pretty close by to us. So when he realized that his book and our book were being released on the same day, June 27th, he said, “Let’s do some joint book signings.” So he has arranged a number of book store signings. He made the initial contacts with the bookstores and then when they said yes, we confirmed that we could do them on certain dates and then NBC-Universal over there has apparently come up with some giveaway items like some postcards and things that they’ve printed that they will be handing out to make our signings a little bit more interesting for anybody who comes and stands in line and purchases the book for signature that same date. We’re looking forward to it. It sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun. We have four of them set up in Southern California in the next sixty days.

Paula: Yeah, we’re lucky that Lee is such a mover and shaker, because, you know, he likes getting out there. I mean he’s produced a number of T.V. shows and he’s been freelance writing scripts for a lot of them these days. He loves writing these books too and he loves meeting the public and autographing them so. We kind of feel like he’s our agent in terms of setting up these book signings: he says, “Come on! Let’s go down there and sign!”

Terry: Yeah, so we’re riding on his coat tails.

MFP: I don’t know where he gets the energy.

Terry: He has so much energy. He’s a really good guy and you know he’s written a number of Monk episodes so we feel we’ve already said thank you to him for setting up the book signings by writing about him in a couple places in the book, just because we had to.

Paula: But it was easy to get him lined up for an interview at least.

MFP: Well, that’s all the questions I have.

Terry: Teresa, I want to tell you we really like your site. You know the South Park character thing is the first thing that I noticed on your site. Lee actually told us about your site a long time ago. And I turned it on and just kind of dragged down through it real fast until I came upon the South Park characters. And I said wait a minute, this is totally unique and different and I clicked on that and it just grabbed my interest so much that I went back to the top and have gone through you site. We look at the Monk Fun Page a lot.

MFP: Thank you very much.

—The End

[I'll review Monk: The Episode Guide just as soon as I finish reading it. Below are the only two pictures I could find of the authors. Thanks to Abbye Simkowitz for all her help.]

Paula Block with William Shatner,
who's not so easy to line up for an interview
Terry Erdmann

Terry and Paula Go to South Park

Terry SPPaula SP


back to topIndex 2interviews 2