Season One (Universal-2004)
Tony Shalhoub plays Adrian Monk, “the defective detective.” He is a brilliant sleuth; however he also is obsessive-compulsive, germ-phobic, afraid of heights and afraid of crowds. The San Francisco police use him because of his skill as a crime-solver, but he makes everyone around him crazy. Particularly Sharona (Bitty Schramm), who was hired as his nurse but finds herself on call nearly fulltime caring for him. She deals with his many quirks because she loves the adventure of working on mysteries.
What’s Good About It?
The cast is very strong right down the line. Beyond the others just mentioned, there is stellar supporting work by Ted Levine (probably still best known for playing serial killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs.) As the chief stuck with dealing with Adrian, Levine has a wonderful slow burn, a self-depreciating wit and a surprising depth of feeling. There are some hip (and not-so-hip) guest stars. The show can also have post-modern fun with itself. Monk saves country star Willie Nelson from a murder rap. Shalhoub’s Wings co-star Tim Daly guests as himself in one episode and Monk insists he’s never heard of him, nor seen his show. The same episode also boasted cameos by Garry Marshall and Brooke Adams. Some people may question if that is a plus, but I say definitely it is.
What’s Bad About It?
With such quirky characters and interesting writing, the actual murder mysteries on display here are a little disappointing. They seem to be on the level of a show like Murder She Wrote or Diagnosis: Murder. I’d hate to think that the show blows its creative wad on Mr. Monk’s idiosyncrasies and can’t come up with some more intriguing puzzles to put him through.
Very little in the way of extras. Just a few small interview sections about the show, the cast and crew, the ideas behind the show and Monk’s phobias. The interviews can be watched one after the other and they all last about a half hour. Some interesting stuff, but there could be a lot more.
PopEntertainment.com final grade: B
This is far from a perfect series, but it is a compulsively watchable one. Since Monk airs on USA network, there are only 13 episodes in the season, so the show is over long before it has worn out its welcome. It leaves you wishing for more Monk, which I guess is one of the best recommendations I can give a show.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2004 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 15, 2004.