Obsessive-compulsive detective Adrian Monk starts 2nd season

By Dave Mason, Scripps Howard News Service
June 20, 2003

Solving murder cases is easy. Everything else comes hard for Adrian Monk, the private detective who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Monk, the highest-rated scripted series in the history of basic cable networks, begins its second season at 9 p.m. today on the USA network. In the episode, Monk investigates the murder of a teacher at the high school alma mater of his late wife, Trudy.

Star Tony Shalhoub does a brilliant job in depicting Monk's insecurities and obsessions. One hilarious scene in the season premiere features Monk painstakingly writing his name on a blackboard when he becomes a substitute teacher for his investigation. Monk insists on perfect penmanship.

"Tony loves that bit," executive producer and co-creator David Hoberman said. "It's all real time. Andy (Breckman, the other executive producer and co-creator) wanted it to go on even longer."

Monk remains afraid of germs and heights.

Hoberman drew from personal experience in developing Monk. He had OCD from ages 11 to 14. "It was hard. You try to hide it or slough it off; you try to downplay it," he said.

Hoberman said he sees Monk as a way of educating viewers. "I hope people will understand people can get on with their lives. You can overcome, whether it's OCD or manic depression; people can function."

But while OCD is a serious matter, Monk is incredibly funny.

"I think one of the funniest moments (from last season) was when Monk dropped his keys in the open coffin," Hoberman said. It happened during a funeral, and Monk was up in the balcony at the time. He used a long string with a hook to try to retrieve it.

Hoberman said the producers plan to keep referring to late wife Trudy off and on. She was murdered, and it's the one case Monk can't solve.

Trudy's death aggravated the obsessive-compulsive symptoms in Monk, and that led to his departure from the police force.

But Monk now works as a private eye, and he copes with a disorderly world with the help of Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram of A League of Their Own), his nurse and unofficial partner in solving crimes.

"He needs her. She's his ballast," Hoberman said. "We try to depict that in one episode.

"He helps her to grow intellectually, just from her being around someone so brilliant.