Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Mr. Monk and me
Adrian Monk, if you're not familiar with the series that ran for eight seasons on the USA Network and whose finale in December was the most-watched basic cable original drama series telecast of all time, was a brilliant -- but obsessive-compulsive -- and damaged ex-detective often called in by the San Francisco Police Department to help solve criminal cases.
As a mystery writer, I loved the many quirks of the character and admired his investigative skills. The dialogue and plots were always smart and witty, and the actor who portrayed Monk -- Tony Shalhoub -- could say more with a raised eyebrow or a single look than most people can communicate in an hour of talking.
"Monk" will probably live on forever in reruns on the USA cable network and also on the written page as he's the subject of at least 10 "Mr. Monk" spinoff novels by screenwriter, producer and author Lee Goldberg. But for me, "Monk" will always be synonymous with Shalhoub, who won four straight Emmys for the role. (He also may be familiar to some as Italian cabdriver Antonio Scarpacci in the long-running sitcom "Wings.")
It's no secret that one of my hobbies is "meeting" celebrities ("meeting" sounds less dangerous than "stalking" ) but I never thought I'd get the opportunity to meet Tony Shalhoub, although in a six-degrees-of-separation kind of thing, he's been friends with one of my co-workers since their Wisconsin school days. However, he has yet to visit her at our New Hampshire place of employment and she can visit his bobbing head doll in my office any time.
So I was thrilled to learn he was starring on Broadway in "Lend Me a Tenor" at the same time our children in exile in D.C. recently agreed to meet their lonely parents halfway -- in New York City. We laughed our way through Tony's performance and those of the rest of fabulous cast, including Anthony LaPaglia (TV show "Without a Trace"), Justin Bartha ("The Hangover" and "National Treasure" 1 & 2) and Tony's real-life wife, Brooke Adams ("Days of Heaven").
At the end of the play, I positioned myself outside the stage door and handed the camera to No. 2 son. Tony was the last of the actors to exit the theater and graciously sign autographs. When I told him about my Monk bobblehead, he said, "I'm embarrassed," which I thought was a sweet reaction for someone who probably thought he'd encountered a crazed fan. He graciously posed for the photo above after I mentioned my co-worker, but jokingly said he would only do so if I could get her to go see the show, too.
But what I really wanted to do is to beg him to return to the small screen and continue the "Monk" series. Reruns won't be enough to satisfy me. Sometimes you just love a character so much that you don't want to see him or her come to an end. Are there mystery character(s) that you would like to see continue forever?