Adrian Monk (Shalhoub), that everything-phobic, obsessive-compulsive former detective who keeps getting called in to save the day, has been critically overpraised as ”TV’s most original sleuth ever.” But for all his quirks and tics, Monk is essentially a latter-day Columbo, nailing a series of smugly superior murderers for their seemingly unsolvable crimes in Monk: Season One. What is original — and splendid — is Shalhoub’s performance as the deeply challenged hero, haunted by his wife’s death in a car bombing meant for him, recoiling from sewer rats, Ferris wheels, handshakes, and nose-picking children as he doggedly channels his manic powers of observation into brilliant deductive reasoning. He’s sweetly comical, and surprisingly poignant. EXTRAS A skimpy menu offers five making-of featurettes that should have been cut together as one so-so doc. But there are occasional revelations, like the news that the Monk character was originally developed with Michael (Kramer) Richards in mind.
We gave it an A-