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Friday, July 15, 2005

Monk Is Back—I Mean Really Back

Well, yes, the USA Network mystery series Monk has now been back for two episodes, and the news is good. The first two shows have both been excellent, with all the strengths of the series fully manifest.

Of course, the biggest concern going in to the season was the loss of Bitty Schram, who was abruptly fired at the midpoint of the past season, apparently over a salary disagreement. Many Monkophiles had expressed concern that the new character, Natalie Teeger, played by Traylor Howard, had not been particularly interesting during the second half of last season's episodes, after replacing Schram's Sharona. Of course, it was difficult to know exactly how Howard's character could fit in, given that she had obviously been shoehorned into scripts fashioned for Schram's character. And of course Bitty Schram was one of the many good things about the show.

I am an incurable optimist, however, and here is what I wrote to my fellow Reform Clubbers last week before episode 1 aired:

"I like Traylor Howard more than I liked Bitty Schram, actually. Sharona was fun and Schram just exploded off the screen, but I like to concentrate on the mystery, and Bitty Schram was so relentless in calling attention to herself that I found it distracting. (Shaloub does enough of that, and brilliantly.) Of course, the non-mystery stuff is probably what a lot of people like most about the show, so I'm perhaps in the minority on that.

"However, I thought the big problem with the Howard shows was that the scripts were weak: the mysteries were even more forced than usual, to the point of absurdity in the one where Natalie runs for office. That one was obviously written for Schramm, and is not at all right for Natalie. Bitty Schram helped distract us from the central absurdities of the show in her episodes, but with the more normal character played by Traylor Howard replacing her, it's pretty obvious when the stories are weak. The one that took place in Vegas last season was great, however, because the mystery was good. (Of course, it was easy to solve, but it was fun to watch Monk and Captain Stottelmeyer figure it out.)
"Hence, I have some hope that this season's eps will be better, in that they will have been written with the new character in mind. The fngers are crossed.

So far, my wish has been granted. Monk appears on USA Network Friday nights at 9:00, and is shown several additional times throughout the week.


Kathy Hutchins said...

Thank you for not inserting any spoilers on tonight's episode. I was sitting in the Alexandria Amtrak station, which had been done over as Platform 9 3/4, waiting for 12:01 so my witches-in-training could get their mitts on Half-Blood Prince. I will not be posting a review until later, as I am 4th in line and we only bought two books. From the front-lines of retail absurdity I can report the following, though: the bookstore employees had dressed themselves as Hogwarts characters; at the stroke of midnight Professor Snape ripped open an embargoed box and with great body drama flipped to the last page and read the entire thing, nodded three times, and without a word started handing books to customers. I was hiccuping, I was laughing so hard.

B.R. Merrick said...

♪Bitty come back!♫

Sorry, all I'll ever do is tolerate Traylor. If Bitty wanted more money, they should have given it to her. Howe many more millions do TV execs need, anyway?

Kathy Hutchins said...

OK, I finally saw Episode 2 last night. I unreservedly agree with Sam -- Monk is back on track and Traylor Howard is going to be a gem.

And thank God Monk's seasons run counter to the Big 4. I'm going through serious House withdrawal.

Anonymous said...

A gem??? Perhaps a lump of coal! Traylor Howard is positively uninteresting in her role. Bitty Schramm brought a sparkle to "Monk" that hasn't been--and probably won't be--replaced, especially by Howard. It doesn't matter anymore if I miss the show. The new kid is boring, too.

BKelly said...

GET RID OF HER!! Howard is boring,uninteresting and adds nothing to the show. Firends of mine no longer watch the show thanks to Howard and her character Natalie. Getting rid of Bitty Schram was a huge mistake. TV execs allow their genitals to get involved in contract negotiations where good sense should reign. If the execs couldn't come to reasonable terms with Schram they should have written in a new character that had personality and attitude. I think someone like a black grandmotherly type who is no nonsense and at the same time very protective of Monk.

They also need to improve the writing. Monk's character is supposed to be brilliant but afflicted with OCD and a few phobias. This does not make him stupid or necessarily naive. And yet they write dialogue and behaviors that make him look like a clown. This isn't suuposed to be slapstick. Go back to the lessons of the first 2 seasons.

Guts3d said...

Come on, Bitty was always dressed like and acted like a New York hooker, Natalie is 10x more interesting and honest in her portrayal of someone who plays counterpoint to Monks' idiosyncrasies.

Anonymous said...

I've been Monkish since day one but I must confesses that the series are getting so so boring. The first 4 series were brilliant. By the begining of the 5th and now the sixth I literally struggle to watch it until the end. I think we have seen the best of Monk and unless they bring major changes it will be voted of the air soon.

kas said...

I agree -- Bitty brought a sparkle to the show, and I miss her

Unknown said...

I dont think Bitty was distracting. I think Traylor is prettier but definetely invisible no personality has its character.
No excuse about the script. Mr Editor dont defend a bad decisition
About Bitty looking lke a hooker made her look real. Reality is what people look for NO a nice news lady

Devid said...

The Show is awesome.I love this Show.Monk is the Best character of the show.His gestures and body language is equally humorous as his deeds.One day i was Searched to download monk episodes and i got the Good Stuff and Really that was the Best source for me to watch the show.