Mr. Shalhoub is an enormously talented actor. Anything he has a role in is worth watching just to see him in it. You must watch this great program. 10+/10
PS: ...sorry - I got so involved in Mr. Shalhoub's acting ability that I forgot - major kudos to the writers and supporting cast and the crew. :)
Tony Shalhoub is perfect in this -- every nuance, every moment, every choice is 100%. His empathy with the character is profound, and rather than some quirky stereotype, his Monk is a beautiful, poetic character that will live for a longtime after the petty series characters of modern "hit" television fade away.
Bitty Schram's Sharona is a lovely, warm act of faith, and everyone -- literally everyone -- is perfectly cast.
And along with all this warmth, this is the funniest show to come along in many years.
Ignore the naysayers...watch it.
Sharona is a single mom with a son who is either a genius, or just appears to be a genius because he is just smarter then all the adults in his life. Which is a pallor trick when you live in San Francisco. I would say he is probably a genius if he is that smart and attends public school.
Fans of Sci-Fi's First Wave will be pleased to find Crazy Eddie working as a mayor's aid who mistakes Oreos for homemade cookies.
Hopefully, the regular TV show will continue to be as much fun as the first movie, but with less commercials. And more Crazy Eddie.
The subtext in the series is the mysterious, violent death of Monk's wife, Trudy, in a car bomb explosion and Monk's anguished reaction to it in the forms of obsessive-compulsive tidiness (everything in Monk's house is arranged at right angles, he continually tries to 'straighten up' crime scenes, arranges his meal dishes, glasses and salt and pepper shakers symmetrically when eating),in myriad phobias (heights, snakes, milk, germs, being touched), in odd physical rituals (he must touch parking meters in order, even when being pursued by a killer in a car!)and in his continuing need to solve his wife's murder case--something he seems unable to do.
The combination of all these traits may leave the viewer laughing out loud or near tears. We feel sympathy--and sometimes, profound empathy with Monk when he mistakenly goes to his late wife's old house, now inhabited by strangers, and tries to fix her favorite dinner to celebrate the anniversary of their meeting, or when we find out why Monk keeps his coffee table at an odd angle close to the sofa, in violation of his 'right angle principle' of the rest of the house because Trudy pulled it close to prop her feet up so a tired Monk could blissfully stretch out on the sofa with his head in her lap. We feel a connection when Monk explains murder suspect Dale the Whale's cruel taunt to him about 'bread and butter'--which was a little remark Monk and Trudy made to each other when they each walked a divergent path around an object--something that people who are close often do. These, as F. Scott Fitzgerald said, are privileged glimpses into the human heart.
The strength of Monk also lies in its cast. Tony Shaloub, Ted Levine and Bitty Schramm all have had stage experience, and that makes a better actor, in this reviewer's humble opinion. Shaloub keeps a delicate balance of canny astuteness, minute observation, prodigious memory, funny (or aggravating) foibles and a touch of poignancy in his Monk.
Levine, as Captain Stottlemeyer, often rages at Monk for his maddening ways, but also mentally genuflects to Monk for his abilities. His Stottlemeyer wishes to be merciful--he literally squirms when directly asked by a review board if Monk is fit to be reinstated on the police force. Based on Monk's abilities, he would dearly love to to say yes, but cannot. He knows that Monk isn't stable enough yet to carry a gun. Levine always makes Stottlemeyer's respect, albeit grudging, for Monk manifest.
As Monk's nurse/watchdog, Bitty Schramm's Sharona, seems at first glance to be an airhead, but then Schramm demonstrates that her character is nothing of the kind. Sharona's tolerance, understanding and alertness seem sometimes to be all that stand in the way of Monk's being committed to a mental hospital. (He does manage to end up in one in Season One's 'Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum', but it's only for 48 hours' observation. And, of course, he solves a murder there, too.) Schramm conveys Sharona's intelligence and honesty in such scenes as her conversation with her son, Benjy, about some nude photos she posed for in a more impoverished past and that are now being used to force Monk off a case. Monk often tries her patience beyond endurance (as when he doesn't pay her) and she leaves him, but Schramm compels the belief that it's not forever.
Viewers may find Jason Gray-Stanford's Lt. Disher an annoying character. The most charitable description this reviewer can use is that Disher is inexperienced and has yet little common sense. Disher illustrates Agatha Christie's remark that fictional detectives were once required to have 'an idiot-friend' like Holmes' Dr.Watson--Disher certainly seems clueless enough to be Captain Stottlemeyer's.
Stanley Kamel's Dr.Kroger is Monk's endlessly patient psychiatrist and is quietly humorous. A possibly intriguing addition to the cast is John Turturro as Adrian's agoraphobic brother, Ambrose, who appeared in 'Mr.Monk and the Three Pies'. It will be interesting to see if this character is developed.
No series bats a thousand, and Monk is no exception. But, it is consistently better, wittier and all around more interesting than much of what passes for detective drama today. Monk is close kin to the 'cozy' style mystery and has good acting and generally, good writing.
Closing on a musical note--although this reviewer has nothing against Randy Newman's music, there is a place for everything, but Monk is not the place for this music. The 'Mr. Monk and the TV Star' episode seemed to indicate, in a slyly humorous, self-spoofing way, that they will return to Jeff Beal's gentle and subtle Monk theme in the show's opening and closing. One can certainly hope.
He notices little things. Very little things. That's what makes him such a great detective, and comedian. I highly recommend you watch this. So far from what I've seen I think this is a great family show.