2004-01-23 18:15:49 UTC
Who'd have thought that Adrian Monk not only had a family, but that he was the
most normal person in it?
In tonight's very funny episode, the second in a seven-week mini-season, the
phobic detective, played with nervous genius as always by Tony Shalhoub, gets a
call from his estranged brother Ambrose, played with equally weird verve by
"We're not close," Monk tells reliable sidekick Sharona (Bitty Schram). "He has
"He has issues?" Sharona asks.
Adrian, it turns out, has held a grudge ever since Ambrose failed to come to
his wife's funeral -- even though Ambrose is an agoraphobe who hasn't been out
of his house in decades.
"You've always been the fearless one," Ambrose insists, before telling Sharona,
"You should have seen him: going into stores and buying things all by himself
when he was 15, driving our car when he was 24, going out on dates -- with
women! -- at 26 years of age!"
The episode does seem to be rewriting the character's history -- originally, we
were told that Monk was a fairly normal guy until his wife's death triggered
his emotional problems -- but the chemistry between Shalhoub and Turturro is so
perfect that it's hard to complain.
The family reunion is triggered when Ambrose thinks he's overheard the murder
of his next door neighbor's wife, "Rear Window"-style. Plot has never been the
series' strong suit -- more often than not, the mysteries are flimsy excuses to
let Monk work himself up into a lather -- but this one's fun in its own right,
involving a raffle, a sack race, a Bingo game and a bunch of cherry pies. The
sheer oddness of it seems to baffle even Monk.
But really, the reason to watch is to see Shalhoub and Turturro get on each
other's nerves, and to witness Monk revisiting his childhood home. He points
out the swing set to Sharona, recalling that the day his father built it was
the happiest of his life. When she asks when Monk last played on it, he says he
"Look at it," he says. "It's a death trap!"
ABC is again rerunning earlier "Monk" episodes, Saturday nights at 10, and it's
another reminder of what a blunder the network made when it passed on the show
in the first place. Why any TV executive would greenlight a "10-8" or "Threat
Matrix" and let "Monk" go is a mystery that the combined brain power of Adrian
and Ambrose Monk would be hard-pressed to solve.