Friday, December 04, 2009

The legacy of 'Monk' - Sepinwall on TV

In today's column, I look at how "Monk" helped change the way cable dramas were made.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

Nice column, Alan. I always enjoy Monk (and Psych, Burn Notice, and White Collar) because there is a certain comfort level there. You know what to expect, it's fun along the way, and the characters are well-developed. I also watch edgier stuff (Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, The Shield, Rescue Me, and several HBO and some SHO series), but there's room for both. Thank you for acknowledging the contribution that Monk--and shows like it--have made, especially when the networks are pushing out so much dreck: reality show after reality show, Leno every night at 10:00. I'm glad there's someplace to find quality scripted dramas as except for The Amazing Race and a few other network offerings like Ugly Betty, Big Bang Theory, Cold Case, Bones, Medium, and (most of the time) Grey's Anatomy, I have no interest in most of the network shows. I could live without the networks, sad to say, but cable rules.

cadfile said...

The stories were pretty conventional but the characters make the show and it is an ensemble show. I still can't get over Ted Levine being on the show after playing the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs.

USA and TNT and somewhat TBS found out that good character shows will bring viewers.

ps said...

I really liked Monk. Even though it isn't a challenging show like Mad Men, the writing is still just as good. The dialogue is always clever, and the humor, while not uber edgy, still has some teeth to it, unlike a lot of sitcoms on TV. I'm also always looking for funny shows that aren't mean, as I think mean jokes are kind of lazy.

It's interesting what you say about blurring the lines. I don't watch much TV actually on TV anymore, mainly because my work schedule means I really only have time to watch stuff on the weekends. I mainly watch TV online by buying it on iTunes, and watching it on the various networks' sites. So I haven't noticed this blurring outright, but it's interesting, because on a site like Hulu, all the shows are mixed together, so you don't really see the difference. I wonder if the rise of online viewing has also contributed to such a jumble?

JanieJones said...

Alan,
Thank you for paying a bit of homage to Monk. I enjoyed the show. It is a bit of comfort food. I'm sad that it's ending but I think an end date for the show was important. I'm typically drawn to shows that have an edge and a darker tone, at times, but Monk satisfied me.
I will be very sad when the finale airs tonight.

I think cable has been a salvation to those of us who demand a certain quality to shows. There are shows that I watch on network tv but they do not compare to the amount of shows I watch on cable and premium cable.

The reality shows crammed down out throats (which I do not watch), the laziness of spinning one show into others, I could on but there is a market as evidenced by the numbers of those who watch. Network television is not a complete wasteland for me but as the years pass and the more quality shows that become available on cable and premium cable leave me with little choice because many of those shows satisfy my needs as a viewer.
I've been made fun of for being a fan of Monk and some other shows.
At the end of the day, it's about what the viewer wants and demands.
Thanks for the piece.

M.A.Peel said...

I'm happy too to see Monk get some attention as it leaves. I love the show, but felt that the later episodes weren't as smart as the earlier ones. Alan, I hope you post or at least tweet your thoughts about the finale.

For detective fans, the Paley Center is running a poll for the greatest tv sleuth. Monk is of course on the list. Columbo is winning so far . . .
http://www.paleycenter.org/tv-sleuth-smackdown

Anonymous said...

Never liked Monk but I love Psych so if it exists because of Monk I pay respect to it

Anonymous said...

You are in error when you say Bitty Schram (sharona) was NOT the first Gal Friday to Monk...she was the first...and a very good one at that.

Alan Sepinwall said...

At what point did I mention Sharona? Or Natalie, for that matter?

Hatfield said...

I think Anonymous was just warning you ahead of time, Alan, so you didn't make any embarassing mistakes, um, in your future Monk retrospectives...

Ok, nevermind. For my part, I can always watch this show, and I find myself caring about the people even though I'm not a regular viewer, and that's a good sign. Now someone else needs to hire Ted Levine, pronto!

excentric said...

I've been a Monk fan since the beginning, but what I'm loving most now is that they know how to wrap up a show. Randy and Sharonna, the Captain finally gets a great wife, Julie goes to college, Natalie has a boyfriend, and tonight we're going to get solved the series-long mystery, it seems. Thank you, Tony Shalhoub.

W. Blake Gray said...

It's a minor point, but there is a difference between Burn Notice, which I enjoy, and most network shows: I've never seen it get maudlin, even once. Network shows can't help themselves.

BigTed said...

The final two episodes of "Monk" were exactly like the earier ones: enjoyable but completely predictable, with "mysteries" so simple that the audience could have fun figuring out the answers long before the great detective did. Last week, as soon as the well-known guest star appeared we knew who killed Trudy; this week, it became clear in the first half hour what the final "surprise" would be. That's not a criticism -- although it might have been nice to if they'd changed things up now and again, this show became a comfortable way to watch characters we liked act exactly the same from week to week and year to year.

Pamela Jaye said...

I've only seen a few eps of Monk. When I decided I wanted to watch it, I could get lots of eps, but I could never get early one - and being slightly Monk-ish, I like to watch things in order.
I had the pilot, but just as Trudy showed up, the DVR switched from ep 1 to ep 2 and cut out most of the scene.

Last week on Twitter, Melora Hardin mentioned that "the mystery of Trudy (me) [would] be solved.
So yup, I watched this one.

Nice ending.

Tracey said...

Monk proves that there are people out there -- a lot of people out there -- who are still interested in quality scripted programming. Not pseudo-reality, not game shows, not shock value for the sake of shock value, but good old-fashioned scripted television with characters you care about solving interesting problems. There is far too little of that on TV these days.