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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on July 2, 2004
I will admit it, right at the beginning, that it would be very difficult to disappoint me with anything MONK-related. Nevertheless, this DVD set of the first season is so entertaining and interesting that I was glued to the set for hours. As a collector of all-things MONK, I was ecstatic to receive 2 shows (Marathon Man and Red-Headed Stranger) that I had never seen before. The additional featurettes were excellent and I even learned some new things about MONK and OCD I never knew before. All the MONK characters are so excellent and the shows so well-written that they can be watched again and again. Yay Tony Shalhoub (he is great in EVERYTHING he does) and YAY MONK
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on July 14, 2004
The episodes were immaculate- good writing, excellent ensemble, interesting plot twists. However, there is an inherent problem with Disc 4 - as noted by other reviewers- the extras were produced with no sound except music so there is NO extra material. I bought the set and then ordered disc 4 through Netflix- same problem. I don't know how else to inform the DVD producers but they will have to replace all Disc 4's in all sets sold. Wait to buy until the replacement discs have been made- then ENJOY!!! sarah in TX
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Sherlock Holmes, Columbo, Hercule Poirot -- genius detectives are usually a bit quirky. But no other is as quirky as Adrian Monk, the obsessive-compulsive detective.

And the first season of "Monk" succeeds in bringing an odd twist to the traditional detective TV show. Tony Shalhoub shines as everyone's favorite obsessive-compulsive detective, solving the case with his gift/curse and his willingness to go anywhere... that doesn't have germs.

Adrian Monk's wife Trudy was killed in a car-bombing, and the devastated detective fell apart completely and had to leave the police force. Years later, Monk (Tony Shalhoub) is partially recovered, but he still is obsessive-compulsive and has dozens of phobias. The only way he manages is with his assistant Sharona (Bitty Schram) babysitting him.

When a politician is nearly killed in a mystery shooting, the police are baffled. So Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) reluctantly calls in his old pal to solve the case. From then on, Monk is called in for dozens of bizarre, baffling cases. His excellent memory and his OCD ("It's a gift.... and a curse") allow him to see patterns and details where other people see nothing.

The cases that follow are no less confounding -- Monk must deal with a supposed psychic, a grotesquely obese financier who is unable to get out of bed, a stabbing on a Ferris wheel, a murder in an asylum, a billionaire mugger, a marathon alibi, a vacation gone wrong, an earthquake, a date, a murderous Frenchman, and a murder seemingly committed by Willie Nelson.

"Monk" is the sort of show that usually gets cancelled after five episodes -- it's well-written, amusing, and smart. So by TV standards, the fact that it lasted even one season -- let alone several -- is nothing short of miraculous. The first season is not quite the best, but it's a thoroughly solid basis for this comedy/mystery series.

There are gunfights and pperwork, like on any cop show, but the main focus here is on detecting. And the writers are skilled at coming up with all sorts of bizarre or unsolvable crimes, which only Monk could unravel. Not to mention the dialogue, which leans heavily on dry humour ("You've got to be a little skeptical, Sharona. Otherwise you end up believing in everything -- UFOs, elves, income tax rebates...")

But the series wouldn't be what it is without Tony Shalhoub. He played weird roles in movies like MIB and "Galaxy Quest," and so he knows how to balance out Monk's weirdness and genius without leaning too heavily on either. And he does a brilliant job with Monk's devotion to his late wife Trudy, which is so strong and pure that you'd never known years had passed.

Schram serves as the Watson to Monk, and her hard-edged New York single mom is a nice foil -- especially since it's her job to keep him in contact with reality. And while Levine and Jason Gray-Stanford seem rather cold to Monk initially, once they warm up they become excellent police counterpoints to Monk, as genial police chief Stottlemeyer and his earnest (if slightly goofy) sidekick Randy Disher.

The first season of "Monk" is a solid start to a smart, unique comedy/mystery serie, with plenty of unsolvable crimes and strange problems. I's a gift... and a curse.
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on July 13, 2004
Monk's first season is some of the best comedy/drama that has been on TV in years. Tony Shaloub is a gifted actor, and breathes life and believability into the character of Mr. Monk. Monk's daily struggle with OCD is at time funny and because of Tony Shaloub's portrayal, touching. We can see that Monk hates being trapped by his OCD, even if the disease is a contributing factor to his Sherlock Holmesian power of observation. All of the episodes in season one are enjoyable. Watching Monk chase a suspect through a sewer in "Mr. Monk and the Candidate" is hilarious. The interaction between Monk and his nurse/assistant Sharona is fun to watch. In episodes "Mr. Monk takes a Vacation" and "Mr. Monk and the Airplane", the back and forth between the characters is a riot. I think the highlight of this box set is "Mr. Monk and Red Headed Stranger". Some of the subtle jokes about Willie Nelson are great!! And the ending of that episode is very touching. Ted Levine, the actor who played the serial killer in "Silence of the Lambs" plays Detective Stottlemeyer (sp?), and is really good at playing the straight man to Monk.
If you enjoy mysteries, that don't involve shoot outs and soap opera (NYPD Blue), or mysteries that don't just pander to the geriatric set (Diagnosis Murder & Matlock), then Monk is for you. With outstanding writing, and a great cast Monk: Season One is Highly Recommended!!
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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.
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on September 5, 2011
My husband and I don't have any stations on our TV, just a DVD player. We gave up on TV programming a few years back. My mother told me to watch Monk. So I got the first season. I was so surprised by what we saw. Adrian Monk is likeable. He is is not screwing around on his wife, killing people in his spare time, or mean to people just for the fun of it. Nothing like most of our TV "heroes" of today. He is however OCD and that is where both the humour and the moments of sadness come in. It really is, as Mr. Monk says, a blessing and a curse. Although I would consider this show adult it is not sleazy. My husband and I have now watched all four seasons. I can not believe the acting skills either. Very good.
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on July 11, 2004
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.
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on July 10, 2004
What can I say, this is a great show. The mysteries are interesting but it's the cast that's great! Tony Shaloub deserves an Emmy every year and so does Sharona. The Season One finale Mr. Monk and the Airplane was hilarious; you forget that he is trying to solve a murder. Let's make this a bestseller, so the corporate powers-that-be will release the second season, sooner than later.
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on May 23, 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.
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