Monk (2002–2009)
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Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger 

When monk's favorite singer, Willie Nelson, is suspected of murdering his tour manager, Monk steps in to clear his name.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jackie Richardson ...
Benjy Fleming
David Anderson ...
Jason 'Sonny' Cross
Terry T
Jay 'Mad Dog' Michaels ...
Bruce McFee ...
Jody Payne ...
Bee Spears ...
Mickey Raphael ...
Jonathan Wilson ...


Country singer Willie Nelson, who portrays himself, becomes the prime suspect when his manager is murdered, but the only witness is a blind woman who claims to have overheard a scuffle and can identify Willie as the murderer by his voice. At first Stottlemeyer (who is on the case despite a broken arm) is reluctant to arrest the famous singer on such shaky evidence, but a video tape convinces him that Willie must indeed be guilty. But for Monk, the fact that a note used to lure the victim to his death refers to him as "J. Cross" while Willie refers to him as "Sonny" casts doubt on the blind woman's story. Determined for the sake of his dead wife, Trudy, a devoted fan, to prove the singer innocent, Monk interviews the blind woman and investigates the manager's less than reputable background, searching for the clue he needs to clear the singer's name. Written by WyattJones

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phobia | See All (1) »


Comedy | Crime | Drama | Mystery


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Release Date:

11 October 2002 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Tony Shalhoub actually plays the clarinet. Though not a clarinetist, he was taught to play the simple piece used in the show's ending. See more »


While Willie Nelson is rehearsing, his pigtails keep shifting from inside his shirt (close to his neck) to out near his shoulders. See more »


Processing guard: [SPOILER]
[a processing guard releases the streaker from jail]
Processing guard: Lady Godiva, it's your lucky day. Somebody made your bail. Lucky.
[the next day, Monk, Sharona, Stottlemeyer and Disher are in the park, watching Wendy Maas]
Captain Leland Stottlemeyer: What's she doing here?
Adrian Monk: I-I asked her to meet me.
Captain Leland Stottlemeyer: Well, do you mind telling me why?
Adrian Monk: You'll see. Just wait.
[the streaker is about to jog by. Stottlemeyer spots him and is visibly angered to find that he's been released]
Captain Leland Stottlemeyer: Sone of a bitch. He's back. Lieutenant, call the 23rd. Get a ...
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References Spartacus (1960) See more »


On The Road Again
Written and performed by Willie Nelson
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User Reviews

Murder, country music and blind witnesses with Mr Monk
12 July 2017 | by See all my reviews

'Monk' has always been one of my most watched shows when needing comfort, to relax after a hard day, a good laugh or a way to spend a lazy weekend.

While not quite "Mr Monk and the Candidate", "Mr Monk and the Psychic", "Mr Monk Goes to the Asylum" and "Mr Monk and the Other Woman", "Mr Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger" is along with "Mr Monk Meets Dale the Whale" and those four as among the best episodes of a very solid and remarkably well-settled Season 1. A season where even the weakest episode, "Mr Monk and the Earthquake", is still enjoyable. There is very little wrong with "Mr Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger", other than the suspect being obvious early and especially when a scene confirmed my suspicions that their circumstances were not what they seemed. It was also rather clear off the bat of Willie being framed.

On the other hand, one of the best things about 'Monk' has always been the acting of Tony Shalhoub in the title role. It was essential for him to work and be the glue of the show, and Shalhoub not only is that but also at his very best he IS the show. Have always loved the balance of the humour, which is often hilarious, and pathos, which is sincere and touching. It is remarkable here that right from the first episode to when the show ended that one likes him straight away, even with his quirks and deficiencies that could easily have been overplayed, and also that he is better developed than most titular characters of other shows at this particular stage. Who can't help love Monk's brilliant mind too?

He is very well supported by a sharp and no-nonsense but also sympathetic Bitty Schram, whose Sharona makes for a worthy and entertaining partner for Monk's sleuthing and somebody with a maternal side. There is always a debate at who's better between Sharona and Natalie, personally like both in their own way and consider them both attractive though as of now leaning towards Natalie as the better acted and more attentive of the two. The two are so enjoyable together and the best detective duo of any show in recent years from personal opinion.

Also by a very amusing, and sometimes even funnier than that, Ted Levine, what a difference from his Buffalo Bill in 'The Silence of the Lambs'. Yes, even with Stottlemeyer having his arm in a cast. He and Shalhoub have some wonderful scenes together and also some equally great moments with Jason Gray-Stanford's Disher. Gray-Stanford is growing in confidence and comic-timing with every episode.

It's not just the cast though. Another star is the writing, which is also essential to whether the show would be successful or not and succeed it does here. The mix of hilarious wry humour, lovable quirkiness and tender easy-to-relate-to drama is delicately done but extremely deft. The character moments are such a joy with the principal cast are always. The real treat was Monk with Willie Nelson (in one of his better acting endeavours, and charming fun playing himself), and we learn more about Monk and from the trivia here learn something new about Shalhoub. Yes, the clarinet is a wonderful instrument and some great music has been written for it like Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, the Cat's music in Prokoviev's 'Peter and the Wolf' and the Brahms Quintet.

The story, despite the obviousness of the killer (not the first time on the show and not the last), is compelling, both as a comedy and a mystery with very enjoyable deductions and how Monk came to the solution, which has always been part of the charm of the show.

Visually, the episode is shot in a slick and stylish way, and the music is both understated and quirky. Much prefer the jazzy Season 1 theme tune to the later "It's a Jungle Out There", which always struck me before as one of my least favourite assets of 'Monk' but has since grown on me, which should have been kept. It's all very capably directed.

Overall, great episode and one of the better ones of the season. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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