MR. MONK AND THE GARBAGE STRIKE
by Jerry Levine
I am one of the Directors of MONK. It has been my privilege to direct episodes that include Stottlemeyer interrogating a chimpanzee, a killer dumping a Volkswagen out of the back of a dump truck onto a highway causing traffic to back up for miles, a killer who can read lips from across the street, a guy with a screwdriver in his ear, Monk as Santa Claus, Monk hiding from neo-Nazi's in a clothes dryer while in jail, electrocuting victims in bath tubs and filling the tub with ice to disguise the time of death, dozens of ketchup bottles hanging from the ceiling, while Monk is convinced the killer is a man who was in a coma during the time of the murder, and most recently a major garbage strike in San Francisco.
Now some of you MONK fans may not be aware that the writing staff for the show creates these stories from a safe and loving environment in the beautiful garden state of New Jersey. While production for the show is actually done in Los Angeles. This creates an interesting dynamic.
Here's the thing ... we will read these scripts in Los Angeles and wonder whether or not our writers have finally gone off the deep end. Most of the time they are not with us on the set as we attempt to bring their words to life.
How do they come up with this stuff? Sometimes we wonder if it will work. What does that mean? Will it be funny? Does it stay true to the tone of the show, and the nature of the characters. It's scary for us. We want to get it right.
Most recently we had the challenge in THE GARBAGE STRIKE episode of something called a "whisper spot." Monk and his colleagues were to stand obliviously in front of a sign that reads "WHISPER SPOT" and discuss some highly confidential information while a group of news reporters stand across the rotunda just out of ear shot.
Now, our heroes are not stupid. They know that due to the physics of the rotunda ceiling, the sound of their conversation could be heard by the reporters across the expanse of the rotunda. Hence, the famous "whisper spot." This is where the challenge begins.
How will our actors find a way to justify their behavior, and stand directly in front of the sign, completely oblivious to the gigantic letters which spell "WHISPER SPOT." No small task. Needless to say we were concerned.
But our fearless leader Mr. Andy Breckman asked us to trust him, and assured us that if we could find a way to get to that spot, it would work. Our brilliant actors thought about it, talked about it, argued about, and ultimately found a way to do it.
Recently I was informed that a group of students at USC screened the latest version of MR. MONK AND THE GARBAGE STRIKE, and as soon as they saw the sign which read "whisper spot" they began to howl with laughter because they knew -- even before our heroes entered the scene -- that they were about to witness another classic moment of hilarious MONK comedy.
They couldn't have know exactly how it would play out, but they knew there was comedy in the air. So did Mr. Breckman. This is common on MONK.
So now if Andy Breckman dives into an empty swimming pool ... I will probably dive in right behind him. No questions asked.