Everyone who leaves a comment today will be entered in a drawing for a free copy of Mr. Monk in Trouble by Lee Goldberg.
Two more episodes, and Monk will be TV history. On December 4 we’ll say goodbye to this most unlikely of heroes, a phobic, obsessive-compulsive, self-absorbed, grief-wracked detective who somehow manages to be both lovable and admirable.
When the series started eight years ago, I didn’t think it would last long. Who could bond with a character like Adrian Monk? Who would want to watch him struggle with his demons week after week? I could and would, as it turned out, along with plenty of other people. Tony Shaloub’s unique creation has fascinated, exasperated, amused, and charmed us. The show’s web site caters to a legion of fans with Monk games, an interactive section for those who
want to try solving the murder of Monk’s wife, a Monk-fan-of-all-time contest, a Monk lookalike contest, quizzes to test your knowledge of the show, an Ask Randy Disher blog, and products such as videos, books, mugs, tee shirts, and hats.
As the show winds down, questions that have tantalized us for eight years are being answered. Last Friday’s episode, in which Monk’s desperate wish to return to the San Francisco Police Department was granted, ended exactly as I knew it would, with Monk realizing that he prefers to work freelance, with Natalie by his side. (Frankly, I’ve always wondered how he made it onto the police force in the first place. I can’t picture him, with his lifelong tics and phobias, getting through police academy training.) The final two episodes will settle the mystery of who killed Trudy. Then it will be over, leaving us with reruns and fond memories.
The episodes that stand out for me are the most poignant, when Monk had to cope with the death of the psychiatrist he relied on and when a Trudy look-alike surfaced to break his heart all over again. I loved those moments when Monk confronted criminals and displayed the tough, resolute cop side we seldom saw. He could subdue a suspect and use a gun when he had to. It was a kick to see Monk go undercover as a surly mob boss. The appearance of John Turturro as Monk’s brother was brilliant. An agoraphobic trapped in his own house with mountains of old newspapers, he made Monk seem well-adjusted by comparison.
I never liked his first assistant, Sharona (Bitty Schram), because I thought she bossed Monk around too much. I’m a big fan of Traylor Howard as Natalie, and now I get irritated with Monk when he mistreats her. Ted Levine as Captain Stottlemeyer is always pitch-perfect, and Jason Gray-Stanford as Lt. Randy Disher is a treat to watch, even when Disher is singing his dreadful songs.
I have a feeling these characters will stay with me. I’m always going to wonder what’s become of them, what they’re doing now. Will Monk’s life change after he solves Trudy’s murder? Will he ever find another love? Will Natalie fall in love, marry, and leave Monk? Will Randy ever get a recording contract? Will Stottlemeyer’s new marriage survive his bride’s fears about his work?
Lee Goldberg, who writes a series of books based on the show, will keep fans going for a while. Lee tells me that after Mr. Monk in Trouble, out in December, at least two additional Monk novels will be published. “I hope there will be more,” Lee says, “because I want to write them.” If you need more Monk after the final show, leave a comment today and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a free copy of Mr. Monk in Trouble.
What were your favorite Monk moments? Why does Monk appeal to you? Are you surprised the character became so popular and the show lasted so long? And – the burning question – do you prefer Sharona or Natalie?