I figured Andy Breckman would have big plans tonight given that the television series he created, and for which he wrote the final episode, will get its curtain call. But it sounds like there will be more excitement at my household of "Monk" fanatics than his.
"This will disappoint you," the series' creator and executive producer warned when we spoke on Thursday morning. "My wife Beth wanted to invite friends over. We have precious few friends, but she wanted to invite them over. And I sort of nixed it. I think I just wanted to watch the show alone with Beth, and I have an older daughter Julie who will probably come by. You'll be having more fun than I will."
"It's not sad. Maybe that's just my temperament. I just didn't want the focus of the night to be on me. It would be one of those things where people would be watching the screen and glancing over at me and seeing my reaction. I guess the bottom line is I wanted to relax."
Breckman, 54, said he was pleased to hear that "Monk" was a favorite amongst my wife and me, and our three young sons and a college daughter. He said he strived to make the show an "oasis."
"I love to hear that families watch the show together. That means a lot to me, and we worked hard to make it a family-friend show, an oasis, a safe harbor for families," he said.
Tonight is the night "Monk" aficionados learn who murdered former detective Adrian Monk's wife Trudy in a car bombing fifteen years ago. And while not giving away the ending, Breckman revealed to me that closure was very much on his mind when he wrote the two-part series finale. He's a fan of David Chase and the Sopranos, he said, but felt like "one of those conceptual, sort of abrupt endings" wouldn't work for the audience his show has built. "I don't think my audience knows exactly what they want from this finale exactly. My job was to figure out what the audience wanted and satisfy them."
Breckman's biggest challenge in ending the series? Solving his own crime. "When I wrote the pilot and I wrote that Trudy, Monk's late wife, died in a car bomb some years earlier, to be honest with you, I never expected in a million years I'd have to solve that damn crime," he said. Breckman told me he never counted on the pilot being produced or the series being green-lighted and long running. He thought doing so would be "foolhardy" - until the second or third season, he said, when he realized he'd have the chance to end the series on his own terms.
"I will say, I believe the producers of 'Lost' - if they were honest or drunk enough - would say the same thing. Or many shows with these series-long arcs. I think if they were honest, they would say, 'You know, when we started this, we didn't really have a clue.'"
I told him that there is a raging debate among "Monk" fans with theories as to how the series will end. Some think Adrian Monk, played brilliantly by Tony Shalhoub, will die. Others yearn for a reunion with his deceased wife Trudy. I told Breckman I was privately rooting for Monk to hook up with his assistant, Natalie, which looks dubious, given that a love interest for her was introduced in part I of the finale.
"All I can say is we worked hard to end the show on exactly the right note and to satisfy everyone. And I think we've come close. As a writer, it was the biggest challenge of my life, and I did my best for you."