15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Monk’
Once reigning among the highest-rated shows in cable history, Monk put a fresh comedic spin on the police procedural formula. Tony Shalhoub nabbed multiple Emmys as Adrian Monk, a police homicide consultant with a thing for lamps, with the series balancing its comedic quirks with heartfelt moments as its main character lives with an obsessive-compulsive disorder made worse following the murder of his wife.
Blazing a path for other iconic USA shows like Psych and Burn Notice, Monk has more than earned its spot in television history, which is why we’ve rounded up some series factoids to dive into...
‘Monk’ Tried to Be Accurate About OCD
Even though the character of Adrian Monk was somewhat of a fantastical amalgamation of various maladies, Shalhoub made an effort to spend time with an psychotherapist who specialized in obsessive-compulsive disorder to learn all he could about the affliction. “We’ve been careful not to treat it too lightly, and OCD sufferers and OCD support groups have embraced the show,” Shalhoub explained to New York Daily News. “But this isn’t the Learning Channel. We try to be accurate while still being entertaining.”
How Shalhoub Found His Character
During the first day of filming, Shalhoub had an epiphany when one of the writers asked him how his character felt about a lamp on the set. When asked if he’d like to touch it, a lightbulb went off in Shalhoub’s head. “In that one second (touching the lamp), it was almost like an electric shock; I can’t describe it,” Shalhoub remembers. “It was as if the character just came to me in that second. I got into his skin. A wave just came over me, and it became a kind of defining moment. And then, interestingly, over the next eight years, Monk couldn’t go by any kind of lamp without touching it. And if he couldn’t touch the lamp, he would focus very heavily on it, wanting very badly to touch it.”
The Lost Episode
Season Three would’ve seen an episode called “Mr. Monk Is At Sea,” where Monk solved a murder on board a cruise ship. Except it turns out that no cruise liner wants to be featured as the ship where people get killed or thrown overboard, and the script was never filmed. Instead, it was turned into the novel Mr. Monk Gets on Board.
The Show Almost Starred ‘ Seinfeld’s Michael Richards
Richards, of Seinfeld/racist tirade fame, was originally considered for the role of Monk, which would’ve proven disastrous for the show if events played out the way they did. Richards passed on the opportunity, and a potential crisis was averted.
Shalhoub and John Turturro Did ‘ Waiting for Godot’ Together
The Original Character Was an Inspector Clouseau Type
Shalhoub told Australia’s The Age that the character’s original concept strongly leaned toward slapstick comedy. “But I knew that the show couldn’t lean too far in either a comedic or dramatic direction,” he said. “In early drafts, Monk was more like Inspector Clouseau, more goofy and physical. I thought we should focus on the tragedy of the character, his difficulty after his wife was killed, and let the comedy come out organically.”
Sharona Was Originally Conceived As a Black Woman
Dr. Watson to Monk’s Sherlock Holmes, Sharona was originally written as an “African-American woman,” according to Shalhoub, but Bitty Schram blew everyone away. “Bitty had this great maternal thing crossed with an East Coast-type impatience for other people’s problems,” Shalhoub explained. “They (Monk and Sharona) simultaneously have a child/parent, husband/wife, employer/employee, buddy/buddy relationship.”
The Show’s Creator Was a Sketch Comedy Writer
Andy Breckman started his career writing sketch comedy for major shows like Late Night with David Letterman and Saturday Night Live. He’s also a Hollywood script doctor, and for the longest time, he would only write his outlines and scripts on an old DOS version of WordStar.
Both Its Theme Songs Won Emmy Awards
Fans of Monk were perplexed when the show decided to chuck its Emmy Award-winning theme song and replace it with “It’s a Jungle Out There” for the show’s second season. It didn’t matter though, as Randy Newman’s new Monk opener went on to win an Emmy, too.
The Spin-off Webseries
Before The Big Bang Theory turned their biggest character into a spin-off child prodigy origin series titled Young Sheldon, Monk did it first with a 2009 show called Little Monk. Starring a young Bella Thorne, it followed Adrian Monk and his brother Ambrose solving a bunch of mysteries at school.
How the Idea Was Born
Producer David Hoberman (George of the Jungle, The Fighter) pitched the idea of “a detective with OCD" to Breckman based on Hoberman’s own childhood experience with the affliction, coupled with a variety of phobias. “Hoberman didn’t see it as a big joke,” Shalhoub told Huffington Post. ”He wanted to make sure we were being somewhat respectful to the people who struggle with this disorder. Trying to find the comedy without turning it into a mockery.”
Snoop Dogg Rapped One Episode’s Opener
The doggfather appeared in the episode “Mr. Monk and the Rapper,” doing a cover for “It’s a Jungle Out There.” Snoop also rapped the show’s famous “Here’s what happened…” segment for the episode.
Seth MacFarlane Hosted a ‘Monk’ Reunion During the Pandemic
Introducing Shalhoub as “a guy who played a germaphobe long before it was the key to survival,” MacFarlane hosted Peacock’s At-Home Variety Show with its first episode featuring Shalhoub as Monk adhering to safety protocols by constantly washing his hands and microwaving his mail. The bit was followed by a Zoom call featuring some of the show’s cast members in character, checking in on Monk to see how his anxieties are doing. It ends with a message from Shalhoub, saying, “We’re all Monk now.”
Peacock Is Making a ‘Monk’ Movie
In March, the streaming service ordered a 90-minute film that’s reportedly titled Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie and will see the original cast reprise their respective roles. The case will apparently revolve around Monk and his stepdaughter, Molly.
Fans Keep Giving Shalhoub Wet Wipes
Appearing on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Shalhoub admitted that he’s changed his views on personal hygiene and sanitation since playing the character of Monk. He also said that when folks meet him in public, they’ll try to shake his hand, only to pull back and give him a wet wipe first. “I’ve gotten a lot of wet wipes,” he quipped.