Tony Shalhoub and Randy Zisk and Jeff Wachtel all paid their annual visit to the MONK writers' office in Summit, New Jersey yesterday and the visit went swimmingly, as it usually does.
We were mainly in the writers' room, all of us sitting around the big table as Andy Breckman (my brother and, as MONK's creator and showrunner, also my boss) walked the three of them through most of the upcoming episodes of our eighth and final season. Andy gave them a detailed description of the first nine shows, thumbnail summaries of five or six more -- the ones we haven't "broken" yet -- and not so much as a peep about the finale.
Andy held forth. We writers chimed in occasionally. And Randy, Tony and Jeff all scribbled continuousy in their legal pads, asking good questions and (bless their hearts) laughing in all the right places.
(Aside. A short prayer: May all of my future employers, assuming I even have a future, be half as bright and decent as these three guys. Ain't holding my breath, though.)
Andy joked that because this was to be MONK's final season it was also surely Jeff Wachtel's last visit to New Jersey ever. Jeff laughed as hard as the rest of us but did not contradict him.
At two o'clock all of us put our coats on and trudged up the street to Brick's, one of the better lunch places in town where we always go whenever the "grown ups" come to visit.
Tony sat at the head of the table and seemed happy. Jeff was smiling, too. Inference: They dug the new episodes. Randy told me stories about directing a certain legendary Diva on GREY'S ANATOMY three weeks ago that jibed with stories I'd been hearing about her my whole life. High maintenance? Think Mt. Kilimanjaro. Which is all too bad since I've always admred her work. And in her day? She could stop gay traffic.
Back at the office, I got hit with some good news and some bad news.
The good news: It was now official. I was slated to be directing another MONK this year. Probably episode seven. I felt like dancing.
The bad news: Randy wasn't directing the show that I was writing this year: MR. MONK AND THE FOREIGN MAN. Dammit! He'd already fallen in love with a different episode: MR. MONK'S FAVORITE SHOW.
Gotta love the irony there, right? "Mr. Monk's Favorite Show". Randy's too, I guess. These things happen. And at least the good news outweighed the bad.