AUGUST 10, 2007
MR. MONK AND THE BIRDS AND THE BEES
by Peter Wolk
"Birds and Bees" is my third Monk script, the other two being "Mr. Monk Gets Fired" in Season 3 and "Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty," the Season 4 finale. And just like with those episodes, the highlight of the writing experience for me was that week spent in the writers' room in Summit, New Jersey, hammering out the story outline with the writing staff (Andy Breckman, Tom Scharpling, Joe Toplyn, Dan Dratch, Hy Conrad and David Breckman). The writing staff – under Andy's leadership – has been together for a long time now, and the consistently high quality of all the Monk scripts is a reflection and result of their dedication and talent.
"Birds and Bees" is different than most episodes of Monk. It's not a "whodunit" or a "howdunit." It's an open mystery. We see in the teaser who the murderer is (Rob Sherman, named after my best friend from law school) and how he did it. In this sense, it is very much like a "Columbo." Similar to Columbo, Monk first appears in the episode at the crime scene. In fact, the entire "first act" of the show is an extended crime scene sequence, with Monk discovering and uncovering clues which he will piece together later on.
In the script's first draft, the photo of Julie and Tim (with the bad guys in the background) was taken when they went to the Tunnel of Love and the big chase in Act Four was back at the Tunnel of Love. However, it was hard to find a Tunnel of Love and very costly to build one on a sound stage. So we lost the Tunnel of Love and replaced it with exteriors at an amusement park. Those scenes were shot at Santa Monica Pier. Michael Watkins – directing his first Monk – and the entire crew did a fabulous job on those scenes (and the entire episode).
My favorite scene was "the birds and bees" talk between Monk and Julie. Emmy Clarke was terrific, wasn't she? Her character Julie is named after Andy Breckman's daughter Julie. So it seemed only appropriate that her heroic boyfriend was named Tim after Julie B.'s real-life boyfriend.
I'd like to close this blog with a special thank you to Tony. It is incredibly rewarding as a writer to watch him bring to life what's written on the page.