Honestly, there are way too many detective/cop shows on TV, especially those that are rough, brutal, and too adult for younger generations. But Monk (2002-2009), a delightful, funny, and realistic TV series, changed the formula for the typical police procedural and gave it a refreshing (and mostly family friendly) makeover. It also introduced the world to the most unlikely of heroes: a charming but extreme OCD-afflicted, former police detective named Adrian Monk.
The amazing Tony Shalhoub (who won three Emmys for his work as the title character during the series eight-season run) brilliantly embodies the intelligent but seriously phobic and personally traumatized Monk. Due to the untimely death of his wife Trudy from a car bomb and experiencing a nervous breakdown, he suffers from severe OCD and refuses to leave his home. But with the help of his sassy, and infinitely patient, nurse/assistant Sharona (a wonderful Bitty Schram, who unfortunately left the show around season three) and dedicated therapist Dr. Charles Kroger (the late Stanley Kamel, who unfortunately suffered a fatal heart attack between seasons six and seven), Monk is able to go out into the world. He become a consultant for his unwilling former friend/colleague Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and young, naive Lieutenant Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) because of his extreme memory and brilliant attention to detail.
Although he always helps solve cases, much to the usual chagrin of both Stottlemeyer and Disher, he’s never too occupied with his obsessive search and investigation into Trudy’s death, which becomes a very important arc throughout the entire series.
During season one, you’re introduced to many of Monk’s sometimes silly but not-so far-fetched phobias: germs, heights, crowds, ladybugs, harmonicas, messes, frogs, and milk, among other things. Some of these fears seem odd, but a lot of people really do suffer from them. This is one of the reasons why the series struck a chord with viewers (and myself). It didn’t make fun nor mocked Monk’s condition. It thoughtfully showcased how OCD can affect those that have it, as well as those around them.
Another reason the show was so beloved is because of the instant chemistry between Shalhoub and Schram, Shalhoub and Levine, and Levine and Stanford. They all play off each other very well and can insult each other without going too far. Chemistry is also apparent with the many guest stars that appear in the first season: Brooke Adams (Shalhoub’s real-life wife), Adam Arkin, Tim Daly, Garry Marshall, Stephen McHattie, Kevin Nealon, Willie Nelson, Gail O’Grady, Amy Sedaris, and many more.
I really enjoyed Monk: Season One and am looking forward to the later seasons. And if you loved the series as well, then owning this new four-disc Blu-ray from Kino Lorber is definitely a must, although I wished that they would have just released the entire series in one full Blu-ray box set. We just have to be thankful that this iconic show is available at all.
The first season special features includes five featurettes: Mr. Monk and His Origins, Mr. Monk and His O.C.D., Mr. Monk and His Fellow Sufferers, Mr. Monk and His Emmy Award-winning Performance, and Mr. Monk and His Partners.