You will be redirected back to your article in seconds


To adore "Monk" is to adore Tony Shalhoub, a leading man like no other who has carried this USA fave through some of the most ridiculous plot resolutions TV has seen in some time. Shalhoub's phobic detective has become a critical darling, but the skein would be a lot better if it wasn't so attached to dopey, Encyclopedia Brown-ish endings.

Adrian Monk - Tony Shalhoub Sharona Fleming - Bitty Schram Leland Stottlemeyer - Ted Levine Randall Disher - Jason Gray-Stanford

To adore “Monk” is to adore Tony Shalhoub, a leading man like no other who has carried this USA fave through some of the most ridiculous plot resolutions TV has seen in some time. Playing the phobic detective as a teddy bear eccentric, Shalhoub has become a critical darling while crafting a characterization that will surely go down as one of the most memorable sleuths to whom the tube has ever been introduced. That said, skein would be a lot better if it wasn’t so attached to dopey, Encyclopedia Brown-ish endings.

Of all things, the second season’s only notable change is that the catchy instrumental theme song has been replaced by a less impressive ditty from singer-songwriter Randy Newman. Not a huge deal, but ask any of the fans who have become devout “Monk” followers — there are many — and they’ll all say it’s the classy opening which hooked them last season. (It now plays over end credits only.)

As for the actual episodes, nothing has shifted at all. Second year’s kickoff is titled “Mr. Monk Goes Back to School” and it features neuroses galore, a murder and no possible way in which the potential suspect could have actually committed the crime. At least until Adrian Monk arrives to tie the facts together, tick people off and flinch his way through the myriad of possible situations.

In this hour, a popular high school science professor (Andrew McCarthy) is having an affair with an English teacher, but she turns up dead while he’s proctoring an SAT exam. Not to worry: Monk devises a preposterous chain of events — and boy, is it outrageous — that places the prof at the scene of the crime thanks to some eyeglasses and a clock tower.

Supporting characters stay within their comfort zones quite nicely. Bitty Schram is a delight as Monk’s savior Sharona, a realist who understands how psycho her boss is but loves him anyway; Ted Levine is spot-on as the police chief who now just gives up whenever a case feels like it’s solved … since it really isn’t; and Jason Gray-Stanford is likably innocent as the Young Turk who’s trying so hard to make a name for himself among the ranks.

Talk about pressure: Production shifted from Canada to L.A. all to satisfy Shalhoub’s schedule, but the production is no worse for the move; show always comes off as a breezy shoot with below-the-line elements not particularly noteworthy. Even if they were, this is Shalhoub’s stage all the way.


USA; Fri. June 20, 10 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Los Angeles and San Francisco by Mandeville Films in association with Touchstone Television. Executive producers, Andy Breckman, David Hoberman, Tony Shalhoub; co-executive producer, Randy Zisk; producer, Phillip Goldfarb; director, Zisk; writer, David Breckman.

Crew: Camera, Hugo Cortina; production designer, Chuck Parker; editor, Michael Matzdorff; music, Jeff Beal; casting, Lieberman/Patton, Sandi Logan. 60 MIN.

Cast: Adrian Monk - Tony Shalhoub Sharona Fleming - Bitty Schram Leland Stottlemeyer - Ted Levine Randall Disher - Jason Gray-Stanford

More TV

  • 'Brexit' Review: Benedict Cumberbatch Stars in

    TV Review: HBO's 'Brexit'

    The announcement of the film “Brexit” — which aired in the U.K. on Channel 4 before its HBO bow on Jan. 19 — engendered serious criticism from the British, and understandably so. The film, which looks at recent history in the manner HBO productions like “Game Change” and “Recount” had done, takes on a story whose very [...]

  • 'Fyre Fraud' and 'Fyre' Reviews: Behind

    TV Review: 'Fyre Fraud' and 'Fyre'

    It seems in retrospect unavoidable that the week of release for a highly-anticipated documentary about a scammer began with an attention-grabbing stunt. On Monday, in advance of the planned Friday drop of Netflix’s “Fyre,” Hulu executed a surprise release of its own “Fyre Fraud”; both films assay the failed 2017 gathering Fyre Festival, a would-be [...]

  • Deadly Class Review

    TV Review: 'Deadly Class' on SyFy

    High school, according to TV and movies, is either the best or worst thing that can happen to a person. It’s almost always depicted as the most fun a kid can have, or a horrifying hellhole from which there’s no escape. “Deadly Class” is decidedly in the latter camp — and despite its edgy attempts [...]

  • Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn amazon series

    Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn Start Casting for New Amazon Series

    We’re getting a few more hints about Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn’s top-secret fashion project for Amazon Studios. Casting calls have gone out for designers interested in being a part of the unscripted series, which is set to shoot in Los Angeles in June and July. The casting notice mentions the “potential for additional travel [...]


    'Trial and Error' Canceled After Two Seasons at NBC

    “Trial & Error” is officially done. The true crime spoof had effectively been canceled last year when NBC did not exercise its option to renew the show for a third season. Studio Warner Bros. TV had been trying to find it a new network home, but that search has come up short. The series took [...]


    'Ellen's Game of Games' Renewed for Season 3 at NBC

    NBC has renewed the competition series “Ellen’s Game of Games” for a third season. Season 2 of the show officially launched on Jan. 8, though a preview aired on Dec. 12. Ellen DeGeneres serves as host and executive producer of the one-hour show, which includes supersized versions of some of the most popular games from her [...]

  • Paul DeBenedittis Named Nickelodeon Programming, Content

    Paul DeBenedittis Named Nickelodeon Exec VP of Programming and Content Strategy

    Paul DeBenedittis has been named executive vice president of programming and content strategy at Nickelodeon. There, he will lead content and programming strategies, partnerships, acquisitions and media planning for the flagship network as well as Nick Jr., Nicktoons and TeenNick across linear television, digital, branded apps and video-on-demand channels, among other platforms. DeBenedittis will report to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content