Mr. Monk and the Parallel Universe

I thought the two-part MONK season finale was great, but it points out one of the pitfalls of writing a tie-in series while the TV show that it is based on is still in production. It means that there are going to be some continuity miss-matches between the TV series and the books…and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

I finished my book MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY back in October 2007 and it will be published in July 2008. In between that time, the MONK writers wrote, produced and broadcast the season finale. I am now well into writing MR. MONK IS MISERABLE, which comes out next winter…by the time I deliver that manuscript, the MONK writers will have just begun writing the season seven scripts. You can see the problem.

Andy Breckman, the creator and executive producer of MONK, knows in advance what I will be writing and approves the storylines. But I certainly don’t expect him or his staff to feel creatively bound to any of the events or details that I create in my books. The show comes first. That said, there are bound to be diehard fans who expect strict continuity between the books and the TV series …and they are going to stumble over a few miss-matches.

Both my book and the finale, "Mr. Monk is on the Run," involve Monk encountering a man with six fingers on one hand. That’s actually okay. A fan could assume that my book takes place before the events in the season finale. In fact, it only reinforces Monk’s attitude towards the "second" man with 11 fingers that he meets.  The book and the episode would fit together pretty well chronologically, "factually," and even emotionally, if not for the last scene of the two-parter.

Oh well.

I have a disclaimer in my books that warns readers that, while I try hard to stay close to the continuity of the show, the long lead time of the books makes that next to impossible (an entire season is produced between when I turn in the book and when it comes out).

I read all the scripts and I talk to Andy about what he has in mind for the season ahead, but even so, continuity problems are bound to happen. Hypothetically, for example, Sharona may come back on the show some day and the story they come up with may have nothing to do with MR. MONK AND THE TWO ASSISTANTS (and, unless they adapt the book, won’t acknowledge those events at all).

I don’t obsess about the miss-matches and neither does Andy. He once said to me that, in his mind, the Monk TV series and the Monk books are separate entities…the same characters in parallel universes…and while they are consistent with one another most of the time, there are bound to be some differences now and then.

There’s the TV shows and there are the books. They are not one in the same.  He is okay with that and so am I. I hope that most of the fans will be, too.

4 thoughts on “Mr. Monk and the Parallel Universe”

  1. I don’t really care.
    I enjoy sitting down to watch the show whenever a new episode is airing or even an episode I enjoyed a few times already. There are often just parts of an episode that I love to rewatch and I think at some point I’ll eventually have to buy the DVDs so I don’t have to wait for USA to re-air the episode I’m in the mood to watch.
    I enjoy your books. They sit on my shelf right next to the Diagnosis Murder books. Just looking at them make me smile and sometimes I’ll open one to go to my favorite part of the book to relive certain lines or a scene.
    I loved the fact you sorta adapted one of your books for an episode. That episode is one of my favorites and I hope it happens again.
    Frankly, I don’t care if they match up or not. Buffy and Angel have a whole line of books that don’t precisely match up to what has already happen or work around the canon that has aired. I read them though. I read them for the characters I loved and I immensely enjoy Monk.
    So, really I should be saying thank you. Thank you for taking the time to write the books with the care and affection any good author should apply to their work.

  2. Any viewer of a TV series knows that there are continuity problems within a TV show. Sometimes, something established in the first season is ignored in season 5. Heck, occasionally it happens in the same season.
    For a show like Monk, that never bothers me. Heck, very rarely do I catch continuity errors unless it’s something like LOST that is supposedly built around minor details.
    So if I catch a small error, I usually note it, figure it’s a mistake or a decision change, and move on to enjoy the franchise I love.
    I do the same with your books. I don’t expect them to be perfect, so I enjoy them for what they are, an extra episode of a show I love.
    Heck, I had a bit of a problem believing Monk would willingly fall into the ocean as easily as he did in the finale.
    Now, if you start having Monk playing mud football every other scene with no explaination, then I’ll be upset. But I doubt Andy would let you get away with that.

  3. What some of the die-hard fans find most-difficult to accept is that the writers (and continuity editors) aren’t as Obsessive/Compulsive about the details as Adrian Monk.

  4. One can always use the “Watson” excuse. Since the Monk novels aren’t written in first person omniscient, we can forgive little “mis-remembrances.” Natalie, as much as we love her, isn’t Boswell.


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