Interview With Tony Shalhoub and Bitty Schram of Monk
by Laura Tucker
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In tonight’s episode of Monk, Sharona will make her big return to the series, with Monk now being torn between her and Natalie. Tony Shalhoub and Bitty Schram took questions in a conference call this week to discuss tonight’s episode and the remainder of the season, the last for the USA series.
Shalhoub called it fantastic to work with Schram again. “It felt like we just picked up right where we left off and we didn’t miss a beat. And the only difficulty for me was that I look a lot older and Bitty looks exactly the same.” Schram told him he was being too kind and agrees it seemed like she never left. She compared it to the Curb Your Enthusiasm fake Seinfeld reunion, with Jason Alexander making a comment that it’s just like riding a bike.
With Sharona’s return, she’ll have to sort things out with Natalie, and the two become a bit competitive, vying for Monk’s loyalty. She thinks Sharona has always loved him, no matter what. Shalhoub notes they do come together eventually, finding a common ground in their enormous affection for Monk, yet both are also driven crazy by him.
Shalhoub was cagey about what’s in store for the finale, but did say that the writers plan to solve the Trudy mystery and have a resolution. He wasn’t at liberty to give away much more than that, but also admitted that after eight seasons on the show, “It’s had a devastating effect on my memory, so even if wanted to, I probably couldn’t tell you because I really don’t remember how it goes.”
Asked how it feels for it all to be done with, Shalhoub just finished shooting the day before the conference call, so to him it doesn’t really feel like he has left the show yet. He’s not sure how long it will take to feel like he has left, so would actually like to revisit the question in a few weeks. For Schram it’s not hard to say goodbye to the character or the show, as she already did, yet came back. Shalhoub thinks a lot of it is because of the writing on the show, as it just becomes part of them and lives inside of them.
For Schram, she thinks the series is ending really well. Next up for her is something she’s writing herself, a pilot. She’s in the middle of trying to get it off the ground. Shalhoub is just as pleased, especially the last five or six episodes where there are a lot of things revealed. He believes it’s some of the strongest stuff they’ve done. It was “incredibly satisfying” for him and he hopes it will be for the viewers as well. He’s not sure what’s next up for him, other than “stalking Bitty until she gives me a part in her pilot.” The two then did a quick banter/joke about that being the whole reason he arranged the conference call. But more seriously, he has a film coming out this winter called Feed the Fish.
Shalhoub never would have guess the TV show would go on to have the success that it has had. “Sometimes you can do something that you feel is really good and worthwhile and it just for some reason it doesn’t translate or it’s the wrong, it’s ahead of its time or behind its time or whatever and the television landscape is very, very tricky and unstable. So you, when you try to be a realist about it, you just, you have to remain just cautiously optimistic at best.”
Asked what he’ll miss most about not doing the show, Shalhoub replies it’s the people. “It’s always about the people — the crew and the production team and the directors and of course the cast. It’s just, we’ve just all gotten very close and love spending time together. And that’s kind of what gets you out of bed really early in the morning and putting up with these long, long days. You just do it because of the people and for the people and it’s been a great way to keep all these people working.”
Laura Tucker Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack, and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, and is a freelance writer providing reviews of movies and television, among other things, at Viewpoints. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com
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