TV - What If: Monk


Don't worry. It's safe to come out as Steve Taylor-Bryant takes it upon himself to recast the classic American series, Monk...

Recently I found myself at a loose end binge TV-wise. Supernatural season 12 is nearly over, my mahoosive Bones rewatch is now awaiting the DVD release of the final season, and iZombie is now weekly on Netflix (which is incredibly annoying and not the reason we all use Netflix), so I bought an old series to fill the time. I bought Monk. Monk was brilliant, we've all seen it right? Some of you haven't? Okay, a reminder...

Former police detective Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), whose photographic memory and amazing ability to piece together tiny clues made him a local legend, has suffered from intensified obsessive-compulsive disorder and a variety of phobias since the unsolved murder of his wife, Trudy, in 1997. Now on psychiatric leave from the San Francisco Police Department and working as a freelance detective/consultant on difficult cases, Monk hopes to convince his former boss, Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine), to allow him to return to the force... 


It's harmless fun, not at all gruesome, even my family members who suffer from OCD love it, and it was built on chemistry amongst the cast and the ability of great actors to let Tony Shaloub take centre stage and show what a supreme star he actually is. The beautiful San Francisco backdrop makes a nice change from either Los Angeles or New York, and as a television package Monk nears perfection. But what if it had been British? I don't mean recast for a 2017 audience, I mean what if in 2002 the show had been created in the United Kingdom? It would certainly look a bit different that's for sure. Instead of San Francisco we'd have used Bristol I'm sure, living in the area I can confirm Bristol is a beautiful city so this wouldn't bother me, but what of the cast? Who would have been our main four back in 2002? Glad you asked...

Tony Shaloub was astonishing as Adrian Monk, he really was. Soft moments, excitable but contained, sad, happy, constantly in fear, little ticks, there wasn't a part of Monk that Shaloub didn't get completely right. To pull off all these characteristics , no matter how slight they may be, I think we need to bring in a national treasure, someone so widely loved as an actor that come September 2002 you'll be tuning in no matter what. Adrian Monk, otherwise known as David Suchet. Suchet is one of the greatest actors there has ever been, whether stage or big screen he's never had a misstep but has always seemed to thrive on television. Poirot years ago was some of the best detective drama on television and his small stint this year on Doctor Who was looked forward to by millions just because it was him. Now imagine 2002 Suchet taking on the role of Monk? See? I'm right!

Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram) is a whole different story when it comes to casting. Monk only has to be Monk, but Sharona has to be someone to everyone as well as herself. Single mum, broke and living paycheque to paycheque, regional (in the original the New Jersey drawl makes her stand out from everyone else), she has to show compassion to victims, hatred to perpetrators, frustration yet care to Monk, converse with the captain, and banter with the lieutenant. That's a lot to achieve and whilst Sharona's character was replaced I never bought into the new girl. Bitty Schram did a hell of a job so step forward actress extraordinaire Sheridan Smith. Come on, Janet from Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps backed up with undoubted talent (see - Black Work, The C-Word and, importantly for a casting choice coming up, Jonathan Creek). Perfect!

So to the somewhat clown of the piece, the not very bright Lieutenant Randall Disher. I feel sorry for Disher, he tries so hard, fails more times than he succeeds, really wants to impress both professionally and Sharona, and it took a really great characterisation by Jason Gray-Stanford the make Disher believable and not just the butt of the joke. To get the chemistry right for Disher to work well with #TeamMonk, Sharona especially, and my choice for his boss, I've plumped for Alan Davies of Jonathan Creek fame. He's worked well in comedy before, excelled in light drama alongside Sheridan Smith, and has spent the best part of a decade being sidekick to my Captain Stottlemeyer choice in a quiz panel show.

Which leads me to my Stottlemeyer, a man that must step into the exceptional shoes of Ted Levine. How the f&£k do you replace Levine in anything? Even if I recast Evolution or Silence of the Lambs I'd not touch Levine. However, British Monk needs British Captain (with German name) and someone who could stand toe to toe in scenes with Suchet, work a tag team cop buddy thingy with Alan Davies, and still somehow seem authoritative. Stephen Fry. There is no one else.

Add in Hugh Laurie as Monk's psychologist, Dr. Charles Kroger, and a theme tune cover (Randy Newman's Its a Jungle Out There) by Elvis Costello and I think we're all set!



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Image - IMDb