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‘Monk’ exits on record-breaking high

Series finale attracts almost 9.5 million viewers

“Monk,” USA’s long-running OCD detective comedy/drama, is leaving the small screen on a high note.

The USA drama concluded its run on Friday with a series finale that attracted just under 9.5 million viewers — making it the most-watched episode of a regular drama series ever in basic cable.

“Monk” had seen its numbers rise recently as the show headed toward its conclusion after eight seasons. The show’s penultimate episode — part one of the two-part finale — scored 5.8 million viewers, which had been its best numbers in more than 18 months.

“It’s truly gratifying to have been on the air for eight years and to finish the run with a beautiful episode that people wanted to be a part of,” said Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, who was an exec producer on the show. “‘Monk’ has achieved a lot in its eight years on the air — this being one of them.”

Tony Shalhoub starred in the long-running hit as Adrian Monk, a San Francisco police detective who suffers a nervous breakdown after his wife is killed. The show followed Monk as he recovered enough to become a private eye; in the finale, Monk finally solves the mystery of who was responsible for his wife’s death.

Created by Andy Breckman, “Monk” was originally developed for ABC by Touchstone (now ABC Studios) but then acquired by USA. The Alphabet net later exercised an option to air “Monk” repeats, airing them during a lean time before the net’s primetime recovery. Later, USA’s broadcast sibling NBC acquired the rights to “Monk” repeats, airing them (along with USA’s “Psych”) as writers’ strike contingency fare in 2008.

Universal Media Studios (and later, Universal Cable Prods.) eventually took over main production duties on the show.

Breckman and Hoberman were exec producers along with Shalhoub, Randy Zisk and Tom Scharpling. “Monk” starred Shalhoub, Jason Gray-Stanford, Ted Levine and Traylor Howard (who replaced original cast member Bitty Schram).

Shalhoub has received seven best comedy actor Emmy nominations — and has won three times — for his work on “Monk.”

The show has also helped USA launch series including “Psych” and, more recently, “White Collar” — which also hit a series high Friday (5.5 million viewers), thanks to its “Monk” lead-in.

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