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.
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.