142 of 147 people found the following review helpful
I blew it. I didn't start watching this show until it's second season. Little did I know what I was missing.
Tony Shalhoub stars as Adrian Monk, a former police detective no longer on the force because of his obsessive-compulsive disorder and his phobias. He does still consult on some of their most bizarre cases, however. For example, how could an 800-lb. man commit murder? Why was a billionaire killed while mugging a man on a date? Did a fellow airline passenger really kill his wife? How could a man commit murder and run a marathon at the same time?
This series falls into the classic puzzle mystery genre, my personal favorite. Sometimes I have an idea why or how, but it takes the ending for me to know for sure. More often then not, I'm stumped. Along the way, we get plenty of laughs at the various situations we find Mr. Monk in. The obsessive-compulsive disorder and his fears are handled just right. They provide the clues needed and humor without being over the top or annoying.
Of course, the series is helped by its actors. Tony Shalhoub is excellent as Monk with a performance just slightly understated. He deserved his Emmy win for this season. Just as praise worthy is Bitty Schram as Monk's nurse Sharona. She mixes exasperated and compassionate while providing a strong sidekick character that doesn't get lost behind the lead. Ted Levine and Jason Gray-Stanford as the police Monk helps and Stanley Kamel as Monk's shrink are equally excellent.
The writing is sharp and manages to find humor without mocking Monk, a subtle but clear distinction.
This DVD set is great for old and new fans alike. All twelve first season episodes are present, including the previously released two-hour pilot. They're presented in widescreen and look sharp. The sound, while presented in 5.1 surround, is nothing spectacular. Still, it gets the job done. Disc four has some short extras discussing the creation of the show, obsessive-compulsive disorder, the cast and crew's obsessions, the Emmy win, and the casting of Bitty Schram and Ted Levine. I would have loved a commentary track or two and some outtakes, but they aren't to be found here.
While the extras could have been just a tad better, this set is a must have for those who love light mystery. It was nice to catch the cases I'd missed. This is one mystery show you can watch time and time again for the humor and character even if you remember how it ends.
183 of 192 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2004
A funny show where a quirky detective is alternately helped and hindered by his obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and several phobias. The premiere was two hours long and episodes were 60 minutes long. I'm impressed that this is widescreen and DTS! Four discs and running time of 563 minutes doesn't leave much room for the extras, but I haven't been able to find much detail about the extras or their length.
Premiere: 1 & 2. Mr. Monk and the Candidate: Monk works as a private investigator after losing his job on the police department due to his psychiatric problems. Three years later, he gets a call from his old boss who needs his help to solve a murder.
3. Mr. Monk and the Psychic: Monk and a psychic stage a psychic reading to catch a murderer.
4. Mr. Monk Meets Dale the Whale gs: Adam Arkin: Monk tries to prove how a bedridden 800 pound man could have murdered a judge.
5. Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival: Monk tries to discover who murdered a man riding on a ferris wheel.
6. Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum: While incarcerated in a psychiatric facility, Monk learns of an unsolved murder.
7. Mr. Monk and the Billionaire Mugger: A billionaire is shot dead while supposedly mugging a couple outside a movie theater.
8. Mr. Monk and the Other Woman: While investigating the murder of a lawyer and his assistant, Monk is attracted to another woman who understands him.
9. Mr. Monk and the Marathon Man: Monk tries to find out who killed a woman during the San Francisco marathon.
10. Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation: Monk goes on vacation to the beach with Benjy and Sharona. The vacation ends when Benjy witnesses a murder.
11. Mr. Monk and the Earthquake: A man dies during an earthquake and Monk tries to prove that he was murdered.
12. Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger gs Willie Nelson: Willie Nelson (playing himself) is suspected of killing his manager.
13. Mr. Monk and the Airplane gs Tim Daly: Monk's concerns about flying doesn't keep him from investigating what he thinks might be a murder. The flight attendant is played by Monk's wife in real life, Brooke Adams.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2004
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I couldn't wait to get this set. The first thing I did was to watch the extra material. Hmmm. No sound. Well, there was the background music, but couldn't hear the voice track. There was one part of one clip where Bitty's voice came through, but otherwise nada. Amazon sent me a replacement, but it had the same problem. I went through all the episodes, and they worked. But just couldn't get a voice track out of the extra material.
Is it just me that had this problem? For me it ruined an otherwise outstanding buy.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2004
Love Monk. Love Sharona. Love the show, the scripts, the music, the cinematography. Love it, love it, love it. VERY glad to receive the first season of Monk -- which I didn't catch on USA Network -- as a present.
So why only four stars? Perhaps I received a slightly defective DVD, but on my player, some of the dubbing is off. Enough that it is noticeable and annoying. Also, the special features portion did not have sound. There was music, but no voices.
Fortunately, I was able to borrow someone else's copy of the DVD to hear the special features. To me, this is one of the greatest things about DVDs -- those special features, and Monk First Season is no exception to this.
Overall, this season is great for your collection, whether you've seen the episodes before or never seen Monk in your life. It is so much fun watching Monk work and "play" that you will be lost in his world. And your problems could never be as bad as his!
My personal favorite episode is Mr. Monk and the Airplane. In this episode, Monk is forced to fly with Sharona. The entire episode takes place on the airplane where his fears, compulsions, and obsessions take full force, and where he manages to solve a couple mysteries. As a person with a fear of flying myself, this episode had me laughing all the way through.
This show only gets better over time. The first season was good. The second season was great! And the third season -- well, you catch my drift. Slowly we learn about Monk's real life -- and Sharona's, too. Will Monk ever solve the mystery closest to him -- what happened to his wife Trudy? I know I'll be trying to solve that mystery right along with him.
Each episode of Monk is only about 40 minutes long without commercials. Perfect!
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2004
Monk is a great show. It's very funny while being a extremely clever mystery. Though the mystery is often not who but how the crime was committed. I knew of Tony Shalhoub from a few TV series and films that he is great in, but almost always a side character. He's really given an opportunity to shine in Monk.
The DVD set is great. The video is wonderful. Very clean. The audio is great EXCEPT for the bonus material. The bonus material suffers from being inversed. Meaning on a four speaker setup the sound is very loud out of the back speakers and very quiet in the front. So if you're running through a receiver with only two front speakers you might hear nothing on the bonus material. It works fine on 2.0 systems like computers. Personally the strange audio isn't a deal breaker for me. I'd still recommend this extremely great TV show DVD set to anyone...but I'm taking off one star for the messed up audio on the bonus material.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2004
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
For years, I had believed that television was dead: Aside from occasionally watching the one sitcom left that was intelligently written, "Frasier," I sadly witnessed that most sitcoms -- such as "Friends" and "Will and Grace" -- were "dumbed down," filmed in 10-to-15 second segments, in order to cater to the ADHD, MTV generation. Even the so-called "serious" dramas, such as "The West Wing" and "ER" are basically a clumsy piling on of stale platitudes and disease and/or crisis of the week ephemeral plotting. As for "reality" shows, I have nothing to say about that sorry genre save that, strangely, I have never been plucked out of my boring life, put on a deserted isle, surrounded by a dozen hot babes while eating worms and maggots, in hopes of working for Donald Trump, should I emerge victorious.
Then, all of the sudden, in the Summer of 2002, my wife and I stumbled across this show, "Monk." What can I say? "Monk" is one of those programs that only comes along every generation or so. It is so gratifying to finally watch a program that mixes light comedy, captivating mystery, taut suspense and intelligent dialogue. Bravo!
"Monk" revolves around its central character, the eccentric savant and super-sleuth, Adrian Monk, played with understated erudition by Tony Shalhoub. Monk, who's been felled by the tragic murder of his beautiful wife, Trudy, has a tough time being reinstated to the San Francisco Police Department because of his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Half Perry Mason and half Felix Unger, he is a walking library of esoteric information hindered by a thousand phobias.
His nurse, gal-Friday and sidekick is the streetwise and sexy Sharona Fleming, who's on hand to help Adrian overcome his OCD and to dispense antibacterial wipes to protect him from viral infection and dangerous human elements after shaking hands. Monk's OCD provides a lot of comedic moments and plot points, but without ever becoming preachy or belittling.
Monk and Sharona are definitely television's best couple, even though their relationship is platonic. While he exists almost exclusively in his own cerebral and abstract world, world-wise Sharona provides the intuition to navigate him through the world populated by the rest of humanity. She's also the perfect foil for his awkward personality quirks. Without Sharona, Monk would literally be incomplete.
Ted Levine plays Monk's former boss, Captain Stottlemeyer, with gruff aplomb. Reluctantly, he hires Monk free lance as a consultant when the SFPD can't crack the case. Jason Gray-Stanford gives more comic relief as the boyish Disher, an earnest yet somewhat slow-witted detective on the force who would never solve one of Monk's mysteries, even if given 1000 years.
In this boxed set are 12 episodes from the first season, including the pilot, "Mr. Monk and the Candidate," so buyers, please, you don't need to buy the pilot episode separately, unless you are a completist with OCD, like Adrian Monk. The best episodes are: "Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum," which features an offbeat guest appearance by Kevin Nealon; "Mr. Monk and the Billionaire Mugger,"; "Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation; and, most hilariously, "Mr. Monk and the Airplane," in which our hero manages to annoy all the plane's passengers with his finicky behavior while solving a murder.
"Monk" is superbly cast and brilliantly executed. The photography is gorgeous, the filmstock ripe with rich hues and deep shadows. I disagree with one previous reviewer who implied that the sound "suffices," because it is merely in Dolby 5.1 stereo. I say the sound is perfect: Though in stereo surround, it is never overbearing, never dominating the picture with "whoosh and clang" foley effects.
One little imperfection: "Monk" is supposed to be set in San Francisco, so one would think that our protagonist would take note of the Bell Canada service trucks and phone booths that inexplicably pop up in its episodes. Uncanny.
Unfortunately, USA Network will not be bringing back Bitty Schram as Sharona next season. Monk needs his better half. Save Sharona! Visit the petition to keep her on the show:
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2004
I can't help but wonder....If Sherlock Holmes had OCD, would he have been as funny as Monk?
Surely not. But Monk does owe his outstanding deductive reasoning skills to Holmes and, more directly, to Conan Doyle. The only derivative aspect that marks the show is that very skill. That being said, it is easy to forgive the series this fact. Most modern day mystery minded television and literature nods to Conan Doyle and, beyond him, Poe. And when something works so well and so effectively, why change it? It's still just as exhilirating to have Monk point out the origin of a callus on the left forefinger as it was when Rathbone in the guise of Holmes did something quite similar. As far as I'm concerned, it makes for great television (or film, for that matter.)
But what's the real reason to watch MONK? Because it is undoubtedly one of the absolute funniest television shows that you will ever hope to watch. In actuality there is nothing humorous about OCD. But the show not being reality, and the intelligence, emotion, and determination behind Monk's character, seem to make it okay to laugh. And laugh you will. Not smile, not chuckle, but full on contagious laughter. The kind that creates a well of euphoria in the pit of your stomach after you've finished. The kind that comes forth again when you recall a particular scene or bit of dialogue the next day. And what's even better is that the comedy inherent in Monk owes nothing to the slapstick that always prompted laughter in "comedies" of the past. It's intelligent and thoughtful. And it's carried off beautifully by Tony Shalhoub.
Shalhoub is adorable. He makes you believe in his character and you rally behind him whenever he encounters something he is afraid of. He deserves every accolade he garners for this show. And each of the cast members that surrounds him adds to the overall delight and humor of MONK.
I can only hope and cross my fingers that this show will remain on the air for a long time to come. And that they will manage to keep it as fresh and as funny as it is. My suggestion would be to watch the new season--it's even funnier than the first--at the same time as the episodes included in this first season set. For my family, a week isn't complete without a dose of MONK.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2004
The concept for this series is ingenious. Adrian Monk is a private investigator with a host of fears and obsessions. He used to be on the police force, but when his wife was murdered, he could no longer function. Now with the help of his nurse Sharona, he is working to become reinstated.
Monk works as a consultant on any case that has the police stumped. He simply sees connections the others cannot. We learn that his obsessions are both a blessing and a curse.
This season is a great start, but season two and three are even better. The highlights in this season are:
1. Mr. Monk and the Candidate- the double episode pilot. The tone for this episode is a little darker than the others, but it gets the series off to an interesting start.
2. Mr. Monk goes on Vacation- There is just something funny about Monk lying by the pool while wearing a suit. Benjy witnesses a murder and Mr. Monk is the only person who believes him.
3. Mr. Monk and the Earthquake- When a celebrated philantropist dies in an earthquake can Monk prove that it was actually murder? This episode contains what I consider the best scene in the season. Just imagine Monk's reaction to an earthquake. I won't spoil this scene.
4. Mr. Monk and the Airplane- The best episode in this season. Mr. Monk identifies and solves a case all while on a cross country flight. Has a great scene in which Randy surveys the crime scene with the same mannerisms Monk uses. Gary Marshall plays an extension cord salesman.
All in all, this is a wonderful series.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
It would be hard for me to NOT like MONK since I am autistic hence very much like Monk. Unlike MONK whose focus is crime solving, the focus of my world is computers. I simple live to repair and diagnose unique computer challenges. Like Monk I have absolutely no social life at all.
Funny thing is I suffer from many of his same compulsions MONK experiences however I never saw them as "compulsions" before watching this awesome series. I like Monk because he is like a brother to me. If you have a child with High Functioning Autism watch Monk it might give you a few insights into what makes our kind tick while laughing your self silly in the process as well.
Generally MONK is really funny and yet entertaining. Monk is just a little too timid for my tastes but other than that it is a fine series worthy of buying. MONK is on my to buy list for sure. You cannot go wrong with MONK. If you like LAW and Order and do not mind it mixed with a generous splash of humor you will like Adrian MONK as I do. I agree with Monk dude, "It Is A Jungle Out There!"... The theme song for this show is halarious worth getting the soundtrack.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
We became Monk fans with the Season Two DVDs, a family member having tipped us off to the series. Then, having been effectively and thoroughly hooked, we sought out Season Three and, separately, the premier episode on its separate DVD. Still unsatiated, we finally acquired the Season One set. Taking them in that order creates no real problem, since each episode does stand alone. However, it was interesting to note that Season One's Sharona seemed more compassionate and less bitchy than in later seasons. But, bitchy or not, we still miss Sharona, although Natalie had become more substantial by the time Season Three ended. We are eager for Season Four. Since we refuse to watch broadcast television, the DVDs are our only way to experience the show.
The ensemble cast is great, with Ted Levine and Jason Gray Stanford perfect in their cops-with-mixed-emotions relationship to Monk. The sub-set between Stottlemeyer and Disher--"Are you ready for this?" "Just tell me, Randy!" is delightful, and I especially enjoyed the way it was echoed in the Mexican cops' interplay when Monk went to Mexico.
Stanley Kramer's Dr. Kroger is equally delightful. Having operated in a group setting similar to, but not as intense as Kroger's one-on-one therapy sessions, I feel that his character is authentic.
And the kids--both Sharona's and Natalie's--are excellent.
I do feel that the writers sometimes lose sight of the earlier story when they alter some aspect of the past in a later episode. For instance, in one episode (I forget which one at the moment, but I think that it was in Season Two) Stottlemeyer talks about being a green detective and learning from Monk, but another time his reflection seems to suggest that he was already in charge when Monk started with the department.
Lest it be lost in omission, let it be known that we would never have started with Monk had it not been for the presence of Tony Shalhoub, whose acting we love. From "Galaxy Quest," to "The Big Night" (I still am amazed at how completely Shalhoub disappears in the role of "Primo"), to "Impostors," the man is a delight as an actor. Chicago's Ted Levine was the icing on an already great cake for me. I have grown to appreciate him over the years, although I did not enjoy his Steppenwolf performance in "Buried Child" many years ago.
I think that it is the actors, and their characters' relationships, that makes Monk so great, because most of the cases, in themselves, strike me as highly unlikely, and I especially dislike the many "Columbo"-like openings (I liked Peter Falk, hated the Columbo scripts), where I already know who the killer is. Yet, because of the characters and their interaction, I persist, and am always rewarded for it.
And, this message to the "bosses"--please don't get so tight, fiscally, that you lose more of the stellar cast. Sharona was about all we can bear to lose, I think. Like Monk, we mourn, too.