A few years back, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Mind you, it’s not a debilitating issue for me. Everything has it’s right place and when not in the right place, things can get a bit…distracting. This seems absolutely normal to me. If there are two dirty dishes in the sink, wash them! If the sheets aren’t even, straighten them out! If the DVD collection isn’t alphabetized by genre, then by title, then by leading actor…well I just don’t know what to say to you. Actually, this seems perfectly logical, so what do they know with their diagnoses? When I say “they”, of course I mean the royal they.
It was roughly around this same time I was introduced to the television program Monk. My ex girlfriend owned the whole series on DVD and would watch multitudes upon multitudes of episodes in one sitting (obsessed much?). I had only gotten a small taste of the show as I had soon realized how much of a sarlacc pit (there’s a vagina joke waiting to happen) of dysfunction this “relationship” had come and I clamored out with barely my balls in tact.
Not much thought was really put into the show from that point on until roughly three weeks ago when I found the entire series of Monk now available for viewing on Netflix Instant. Since I had watched a handful of episodes back in 2006, I figured I’d just go from Season 7 on. And in my own obsessive manner, I completed the last two Seasons of the show within the span of a week. So I decided it’s only right to start the show back at Season 1.
What the Hell!? It’s a completely different show! Adrian Monk in Season 1 is a sad sad man. There’s a quieter darkness about him in these first few episodes. Lt. Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) and Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) seem to exude a palatable disdain for him. And then there’s Sharona. Adrian Monk’s first assistant on the show was Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram). I’m assuming I wasn’t the only one who found her completely annoying because roughly a few episodes into Season 3, Sharona decides to move back to New Jersey and was quickly replaced by Natalie Teeger (Taylor Howard) who is way better. She just is. She’s better.
And while we’re talking about Season 1, I have to bring up the theme song for the show. I suppose since I really started watching the show in Season 7, I quickly grew quite fond of the intro featuring the Randy Newman song “It’s A Jungle Out There”. Seriously, that song is so damn catchy I’d find myself singing it when I’d wake up in the morning. I’m sure my girlfriend doesn’t need to ever hear me sing in my best Randy Newman voice ever again!
But suddenly, and without warning, after the two part pilot episode, I’m now subjected to a lilting jazz number by Jeff Beal. Don’t get me wrong here, I dig Jeff Beal’s work. His work on HBO’s Carnivale is fantastic. But I had somehow become reliant on the Randy Newman song and I just don’t feel this theme music and intro work for the show. Then again, I had read recently that back when the show was new, people were up in arms about the change from the Jeff Beal theme to the Randy Newman theme. So what the hell do I know anyway?
My good friend likes to tell me how his mother is quite fond of the show implying that somehow I have the taste of a woman in her 60s. Surrounded by fluffy cats that smell like buttholes and flowery embroidered pillows that….smell like bulltholes. Yep, that’s me. (As an old woman, I refuse to bathe my cats!)
But in all seriousness, there was something that immediately grabbed my attention when first watching the show. Before watching Monk, I only knew Tony Shalhoub from Men In Black. He’s a very talented actor but I don’t think a role has really showcased this before he landed this job as Adrian Monk. He brings a very layered performance in every episode which can at times be hysterical and at others heartbreaking. This truth keeps his character quite engaging to watch on screen (for me anyway). And while we’re on the topic here, before watching Monk I only knew Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill from Silence Of The Lambs. So there’s that.
I’ve noticed I tend to be drawn to stories where the main character is some sort of genius but somehow lacks people skills and ultimately marks that character as brilliant but flawed. Gregory House, Adrian Monk, Columbo and Cal Lightman (seriously Fox, bring Lie To Me back. No one likes this Terra Nova shit!) come to mind. They seem ultimately cut from the Sherlock Holmes cloth. (Do we have Edgar Allen Poe to thank?)
The phobias and genius of the constantly conflicted Adrian Monk make for a fine combination that seems to work, even in the less than inspired episodes of the show. I suppose this would explain how Monk was at once referred to as “the highest rated series in cable history” by USA Network.
Well as I write this, I have four episodes left in Season 1. I feel like I’m watching a prequel with every episode. I’ve yet to be disappointed with an episode (“Mr Monk And The Actor” is is my favorite). And it’s kind of a thing with me, I just love seeing Mr. Monk make that face and speak the words “Here’s what happened”.