It is nearly impossible to escape the common comparisons between Monk and Columbo. But don’t get this show expecting it to be at all like the well-loved bumbling detective played for decades by Peter Falk. The two characters are nothing alike. The comparisons are made because we haven’t had a detective show since Columbo where the quirks and personality of the character himself were more important than the cases he solved.
Tony Shalhoub’s Adrian Monk suffers from a long list of phobias from germs to drink…ng milk. He also suffers from O.C.D. (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). This means that Monk can’t stand disorder of any kind. This, of course, doesn’t help when you consider how few “neat” crime scenes there are. The series uses different writers to bring out the comedy and the mystery elements of the show. Shalhoub is what really makes everything fly. Expect that the show does go way over the top. But it’s all in good fun. On of the big surprises here is Ted Levine as the police captain. Levine, of course, is best known as the killer from Silence of the Lambs.
Adrian Monk was a top San Francisco detective when his wife was killed. This turns out to be the one case he can’t solve. The event triggered a mental breakdown. Now Monk is afraid of almost everything. He also suffers from O.C.D. (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).
Monk is presented with a pretty good Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. There really isn’t much call for an aggressive mix here; Dialogue is usually all that matters, and this mix delivers it solidly.
Each episode of Monk features an impressive 16 x 9 wide screen presentation. This was a pleasant surprise because the USA broadcasts were done in typical full screen. It is nice to see that the show is being filmed with the HDTV audience in mind. Colors are pretty dead on, although there is considerable grain evident on dark scenes. You will also encounter some shimmering and digital artifacts. Unfortunately we should probably get used to this; with just 3 or 4 episodes per disc, Monk does better than most. The trend is to cut down the bit rate and squeeze more episodes on a disc.
I was pretty disappointed in the bonus features. A commentary with Shalhoub would seem to be mandatory here. Perhaps in future seasons. The group of features present don’t add up to more than 30 minutes of material.
- “Mr. Monk and his Origins” is obviously a short talk about how the show came to be. The most interesting fact here is that Michael Richards from “Seinfeld” was originally considered for the title role.
- “Mr. Monk and his O.C.D.” talks about the disorders the character suffers from.
- “Mr. Monk and his Fellow Sufferers” Cast and crew discuss some of their own quirks.
- “Mr. Monk and his Emmy Award Winning Performance” This is a Tony Shalhoub love-fest.
- “Mr. Monk and his Partners in Crime” is a 5 minute look at the supporting cast.
Monk is not really a mystery show. The Charlie Chan reveals are usually less a surprise than formula. Make no mistake about it… Monk is a character study to the extreme. Shalhoub can say more with a silent stare than most actors delivering Shakespeare. What compels us to watch isn’t seeing Monk get his man. We watch to see Shalhoub entertain us with his circus act. “I could be wrong … but I’m not”.
Special Features List
- Mr. Monk and His Origins
- Mr. Monk and His O.C.D.
- Mr. Monk and His Fellow Sufferers
- Mr. Monk and His Emmy Award-Winning Performance
- Mr. Monk and His Partners in Crime