Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Brilliance of Monk

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A few weeks ago I found a hidden treasure on TV that I can't believe I've slept on this long. If you haven't seen the show "Monk" on the USA Network, then you're missing one of the smartest and most creative television series ever created. Tony Shalhoub plays detective Adrian Monk, an obsessive compulsive man who is a genius at solving crimes. With the help of his assistant, Natalie (Traylor Howard), Monk helps the police solve homicides and other crimes on the gritty streets of San Francisco. Monk is a strange character whose Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has a tendency to get in the way, which adds a huge dose of quirky humor to the series.

My eyes have been opened to the brilliance of "Monk," thanks to my Final Cut Pro editing teacher who provided us with clips from the show to use as editing practice. I am now a "Monk" fanatic and have taken to recording reruns (especially the Marathon shows) on my DVR. I'm definitely hooked and you would be too if you watch just one episode of this brilliant blend of comedy, drama, and psychoanalysis.

Check out a portion of the very first episode which ran during the summer of 2002. Ah, what a treat.

OPENING SCENE

An apartment is the first scene we ever witness the detective Adrian Monk doing his thing... He stands there like putting on a show for the attending cops, looking around the room of the murder victim – who is still lying on her stomach on the floor in a pool of blood – Nicole Vasques. He looks up and down trying to size up what he sees. The cops are breathless with anticipation, and there is tension in the air…when finally Mr. Monk at last speaks…

MONK: The stove…

COP: The stove. Over here. It's in the kitchen.

MONK: No, I mean my stove. I think I left it on.

SHARONA: It's okay. I, uh, checked it as we were leaving.

MONK: Are you sure? Did you turn the knob?

SHARONA: The stove. Yeah.

MONK: The little knob, though?

His attending nurse and friend, Sharona Fleming looks mildly embarrassed. A part of her wishes he could once forget the insignificant details for the more important ones at hand. But, she knows that will never happen.

SHARONA: I turned all the knobs. The stove is off, Adrian.

COP: Excuse me, sir, we believe it was a burglary gone sour. She walked in, she surprised him, he panicked…

MONK: No, no. This was no burglary

COP: It wasn't?

MONK: He tried to make it look like one, but this guy was cold as ice.

Now Sharona looks clearly impressed by how the others stand in awe of the detective. This is the man she wants everyone to see.

MONK: He wore her slippers to avoid leaving shoe prints - not something your neighborhood crackhead is prone to do…

Adrian becomes obsessed with a gooseneck lamp near the window, he begins pawing it continuously with his finger. The others seem confused by his actions.

SHARONA: Adrian. Adrian! [Claps Hands]

MONK: He was in here. He was waiting.

COP: Waiting for what?

MONK: You know, for her. He was here at least an hour. He was smoking. You can still smell it on the curtains.

(Adrian goes over and takes one of the curtains over the end of his pen to examine it.)

MONK: [ Sniffs ] Menthols. Salems. Possibly Newports.

COP: Maybe she was the smoker.

MONK: No. No, she was a Dutch Calvinist. They don't smoke. They consider their bodies to be a holy - a holy chalice of - sorry, I'm having trouble concentrating, because I think I smell gas.

(He runs back over to Sharona and is suddenly sucked back into his previous concerns. Sharona looks beside herself as she covers her mouth with her hand. She tries to remain calm. Adrian, on the other hand, is frantic.)

MONK: Did you hear the click? You gotta hear the click, not just feel the click. Hear it.

(Sharona looks at him straight in the eye and gives him a very clear look of anger. He caves at her indication that he’s crossed the line and goes back to his previous train of thought.)

MONK: Anyway, uh, after he killed Miss, uh –

The cop reads off his blotter.

COP: Nicole Vasques, 25.

MONK: Yeah, Miss Vasques, he - he hung around. He was, uh, looking for something.

COP: He was looking for what?

MONK: I don't know. He checked something on her computer. He could have erased

a file.

(Another cop shakes his head in disbelief, he’s quickly writing everything down.)

COP: Anything else?

MONK: Yes, he's tall.

(To Sharona) MONK: Because sometimes it goes out.

SHARONA: The pilot light is fine.

MONK: Do you remember the last time it almost went out?

SHARONA: Do you want me to drive back to the city and check?

MONK: No, no, no.

SHARONA: Is that what you're telling me to do?

MONK: Would you? Could you? Um - That would be great.

(Sharona gives a sign of disgust as she comes up to Adrian and pulls him aside. Putting her arm around his shoulders, she talks briefly to the cops waiting behind her.)

SHARONA: Oh, excuse me, gentlemen. Just one second, okay?

(One of the cops looks at the head cop in confusion, and whispers something to him.)

OTHER COP: Who is she?

COP: Just his nurse.

(Sharona is talking in confidence to Adrian, but her tone is clear.)

SHARONA: Forget about the damn stove, okay? You are on a job here. You're a private consultant.

MONK: I know, but I smelled it and I think –

SHARONA: You gotta shut up. The department thinks you're nuts. You're never gonna get reinstated, you're never gonna get hired again, and we are both gonna be unemployed. Do you understand the importance of what I am saying?

(He grimly nods and turns quiet as he listens to her. He seems like a disciplined little boy for a moment. So she turns gentle.)

SHARONA: Now, pull your twisted self together, concentrate and be brilliant.

(Adrian chuckles lightly at her praise, he’s beaming in pride as she smiles at him.)

SHARONA: You're brilliant!

(His stride is back as he turns to the cops once more and immediately goes back into detective mode.)

2 comments:

Regina said...

I also "found" Monk recently. When we moved to TX this summer I became hooked (I had no internet so I watched TV... a lot)! Any way I LOVE Monk! It is hilarious!

By the way I have an award for you!

Alicia Michele Benjamin said...

Regina,
I haven't laughed so hard at a TV show in YEARS. Shalhoub is really an excellent actor. I can't wait to see what his next project will be.

An award...for me? Do tell Regina, Do tell!!!!