Season 3 Episode 10

Mr. Monk and the Red Herring

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Jan 21, 2005 on USA

Episode Fan Reviews (12)

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out of 10
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  • Monk's Back

    After a mid-season hiatus, brought in partly because of Bitty Schram leaving the show and partly because of USANetwork's wacky scheduling (although it's becoming more common to have two half-seasons with longer gaps on cable), we get the new episodes.

    This is almost like a new season opening, since not only do the credits have to change to reflect the addition newcomer Traylor Howard, but they take the chance to put in some new footage as well. The theme song remains the same.

    This episode is primarily intended to get the character of Sharona and her son out out and new Monk Assistant (tm) Natalie Teeger and her daughter Emily in. The producers and writer/creator Andy Breckman take no chances (Breckman has not surprisingly been responsible for some of the show's best episodes) and pull out all the stops. Natalie is put in danger but also gets to show her toughness by kiling her attacker. The only gripe here is that even in the opening sequence, there's a bit too much focus on the significant "clue" of the episode.

    We then get caught up on Sharona - naturally, they can't show her since Bitty Schram left the show for whatever reasons *ahem*, but semi-regular Dr. Kroeger brings us up to speed. Fortunately, we're spared the last three months of Monk's easily-imagined panic. Unfortunately there's no good way to explain Sharona's departure - the fact she'd just leave Monk and head off with her louse of an ex-husband just doesn't work. However, there's probably not a better explanation that could have worked - there's nothing else quite so life-upsetting that would have caused her to leave.

    Moving along, Monk gets introduced to Natalie and her daughter. It's not quite clear how distinctive Natalie is from her predecessor, which is further hurt by the fact she has to do and serve some of the same functions that Sharona did. She has to be tough both to deal with Monk and the folks they go up against when Monk can't. She has to have a kid so the writers can do the occasional Monk-as-father-figure bit.

    Overall, the two actors mesh pretty well- as noted, the writers pretty much toss in everything but the kitchen sink so Natalie gets the viewers' sympathies. The bit with the science teacher is about the only time they go a bit overboard, even it eventually pays off providing the solution to the mystery at the science fair.

    Tony Shalhoub reigns it in a bit so we don't have some of his more annoying "Monk-isms." He doesn't collapse into a sobbing fit or freeze in panic or anything and he has some moments of inspired "heroism" as far as saving the fish and all.

    Ted Levine and Jason Gray-Stanford are in good form here, even if they don't have a whole lot to do. But they do provide a good solid backboard for the main characters of this episode. The whole Stottlemeyer-thinks-Randy-is-a-dope thing is getting a little old - if he doesn't think much fo Randy's intelligence, why does he keep him around? They don't seem to be buddies or anything.

    The mystery isn't too mysterious, in part because director Randall Fisk focuses on the "big clue" a bit too much, and in part because probably they didn't want the mystery to detract too much from the story they wanted to tell - getting Sharona out and Natalie in.

    Overall I'd give this pretty decent marks. They're going to have to do a bit more work with Natalie to make her a character in her own right - she seemed a bit too Sharona-esque and not so much her own woman. Say what you will about Sharona's...'unique' dress style, at least it made the character stand out. Natalie didn't really have anything to latch on to here, but they can do more and hopefully they will.
  • Exit Sharonna, enter Natalie


    It is quite stunning how hard the ratings have sky rocketed with Natalie's debut and not without reason. Throughout the whole episode there is an energy and livelyness that is new for Monk. Instead of the passive role Sharonna displayed, Natalie seems more of an equal to Monk. She seems strong, confident and isn't afraid to confront Monk. This I also consider the downside of their relationship. Although I never really liked Sharonna, who struck me as incredibly shallow with Meets the Godfather as an ultimate low, she did care for Monk alot which made me appreciate the character. I'm really looking forward to seeing Natalie's and Monk relationship develop and hoping for that same friendship portayed by Sharonna and Adrian.

    Natalie's debut is ofcourse the most important aspect of the episode and thus the mystery itself wasn't al that interesting and, even by Monk standards, very predictable. However that doesn't matter at all. There are a number of very funny moments, the fire extinguisher scene killed me, and the writers did very well introducing all the changes. What really set this episode apart for me were the dramatic scenes. The parrot scene is easily one of my favorite and most touching Monk scenes so far and the choise between the rock and the fish was some very good writing.

    The first 2 seasons of Monk were very dissapointing and it baffled me that this show made it to 8 seasons but now I can see why. Season 3 has been consistantly good and with the introduction of Natalie I'm sure Monk will keep going strong.

  • Following the resignation of Sharona; Monk has to solve the mystery of a double break - in and find a new assistant.

    You say yes, I say no You say stop and I say go go go, oh no You say goodbye and I say hello Hello hello I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello Hello hello I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello.

    Sorry, i can't discuss the replacement of someone without bringing up that song by the Beatles. Anyway, over the past 38 episodes of the acclaimed series Monk; we've gotten to know Sharona Flemming quite well: She cared for Monk and despite having a nasally New Jersey accent that could strip wallpaper, she was a valuable cast member. In this episode Sharona has left the defective detective leaving a feeble letter that she's got back together with her ex - husband. Following a period of wallowing, Monk is approached by the sweet and widowed Natalie Teeger who's been broken into twice for unknown reasons and with the hope that she'll fill the position, Monk takes on the case. This episode is considered a rebirth for Adrian Monk; after having a nurse for many years and still showing no signs of improvement, it's time for him to progress beyond a babysitter and to an actual partner. The mystery for the episode takes a backseat to the introduction of the Natalie character and her gradual bonding with Monk. What makes her persona different to Sharona's is her marriage ended in divorce which gave her a prickly manner but Natalie's ended in tragedy as her husband was killed while fighting in the Army which gives her a fragility and earnestness that wasn't found in the former. The mystery itself is a basic red herring plot device where one particular character is described or emphasized in a way that seems to throw suspicion upon that character as the person who committed the crime: later, it develops that someone else is the guilty party. Tony Shaloub has well and truly mastered the role of the agitated and lonely Adrian Monk but this time emphasizing that he really is nothing without Sharona by his side. Traylor Howard has the visual and audible upper hand over Bitty Schram who played Sharona but Schram really got lost in the role and the chemistry with her and Monk was natural while Howard often gives the sense that she's taken this role to make a few bucks, i hope she consolidates her performance in the future. This is a good opening chapter in the new life of Monk.
  • New Character!

    Natalie Teeger is one of my favorite character. She is so tough woman, single mom. She didnt complain about money or anything. Shanoonna is so fussy and complained lot about bills, moneys, and everything. I dislike Shannona very much. Natalie is good role model for young adult or single moms. She tried to get Monk to be tough for his age. I love this episode and I started to watch Monk lot cuz Natalie is new cast of MONK. I love her character. It make me calm and spirited. I learned that Natalie is widow and teenage daughter. Great Episode! love it!
  • Not bad, not great.

    The case itself was interesting enough, the job interviews were funny. That said, the "explanation" for Sharona's exit is pathetic. She goes back with her ex-husband? What is that? We never saw anything to suggest they were on good terms again. The only substantive interaction we ever saw is the last time they were going to back together and his only real motivation at the time was to get back into the good graces of a rich uncle who'd cut him off. Now she's moving cross-country to get back with him? For what? As for Traylor Howard, if someone has to replace Bitty Schram, I guess she's okay. Natalie Teeger on the other hand is completely uninteresting to me.
  • where did that come from????????!

    sharona was actually a very good actor but as they switched people to natalie the ratings just boosted up from 6.0 to 9.0!!!! that is unbelievable. i understand why natalie is a better actress than sharona but. i just dont get why the ratings with her were so horrible, even the one with the last season the ratings dropped a little when sharona was in it with natalie. i just cant believe the monk episodes got so much better than the first few seasons. and ive got to say that the mysteries are getting better and the plots have alot more meaning than the last few with sharona, but i do like episodes with her though
  • The show starts with a break in at Natalies house and she gets in a fight with him and kills him. Monk is trying to find a new assistant since Sharona left and is having a hard time doing it.

    I saw a video interview with Taylor Howard and she said this was her favorite episode as it was her first on the show and how happy she was to be on the show.
    I just got into this series recently and have seen all the episodes now, originally I was a huge Sharona fan and could not imagine her being replaced. They introduced Natalie and she has a lot of respect for Mr. Monk, she never calls him Adrian. It took a while for me to grow to like her and now in retrospect I actually like her better.
    This was a great start of a wonderful partnership and a episode that should not be missed as it starts it all.
  • Mr. Monk is back, and with a new partner!

    Mr. Monk is in search for a new partner when he gets a visit from Natalie, a woman who just killed an intruder in her home. Mr. Monk quickly gets on the case. After some investigation they finally reached the conclusion. A tour guide in a museum hid a very valuable moon rock in an aquarium Natalie's daughter, Julie, had bought.

    I felt a little bad for Julie, believing that her fish was the same one her father got her six years ago. Apparently, Natalie kept changing it for a new one every year, so that Natalie won't think that it died. The fish was the last thing Julie had from her father.
  • Why didn't he get the bird?

    When Monk and Natalie went to the petstore, Monk was intrigued by the bird, Sgt. Pepper, because it seems that he also going through the same thing that Monk is--losing his great love and is also orderly and neat. The guy was offering it to him for free, so why didn't he take it? In Monk and the kid, Monk considered taking the boy in permanently, and I'm sure part of the reason he considered that was because he behaved like Monk. So why didn't Monk take Sgt. Pepper? Monk could use the company; I mean misery loves company.
  • A pressing question for Monk fans – what's the show going to be like with Bitty Shram and how will Traylor Howard fit

    I normally don't review shows other than brand new shows but, USA Networks sent me a tape of the new Monk episode and it was a chance to address a pressing question for Monk fans – what's the show going to be like without Bitty Shram and how will Traylor Howard fit.

    Monk is an important show for a number of reasons. The obvious ones are that it's a multiple award winner and a ratings success. Monk's success has certainly done a lot to promote the idea that basic cable can produce quality first run shows (never mind the fact that Monk was initially developed for broadcast TV). There are other original programming successes on basic cable but Monk differs in an important way – it's not a niche show. Shows like The Dead Zone, The 4400, Battlestar Galactica are niche shows that wouldn't be expected to draw a huge audience no matter where they're played. Shows like The Shield, Rescue Me and Nip/Tuck are shows that push boundaries of violence, language and sexual content and would never be aired on broadcast TV. Monk is a clean detective show that seems to relate more to Murder She Wrote than to The Sopranos. It's continued success on cable seems to say that there's nothing that basic cable networks can't do.

    The first two and a half seasons of Monk (the new upcoming episodes are a continuation of the third season) have shown the show to be well written and very well acted. You almost can't say enough about Tony Shalhoub's performance as Adrian Monk. In the hands of a lesser actor the character would be an ugly caricature of a mentally handicapped person. Instead Shalhoub has made Monk into someone who is brilliant, neurotic and incredibly sensitive and caring all at the same time.

    The second most beloved character on the show would have to be Bitty Shram's Sharona Fleming. For reasons that aren't entirely clear Bitty and the show decided to part much to many fan's dismay. Stepping into the role as Monk's sidekick/assistant is Traylor Howard. It's an unenviable position – much of Monk's fanbase is predisposed to hate her regardless of her performance. Remember folks, whatever you think of the decision to replace Bitty, it certainly wasn't Traylor Howard's idea.

    Howard is probably best know as the Girl in Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. She also played in the short-lived Boston Common. Neither role would prepare the casual observer for her performance in her first Monk episode Mr. Monk and the Red Herring. Traylor Howard manages to make Natalie Teeger into a character that's intelligent, practical and incredibly sensitive and caring all at the same time.

    Natalie is a widow raising her daughter alone who surprises a burglar in her home and kills him when she stabs him with a pair of scissors. She appeals to Monk who hasn't been working since Sharona left him (to move back to New Jersey and re-marry her ex-husband we're told). The entire episode plays as a long draw out excuse to make Monk dependant on Natalie's assistance and convince the reluctant single mother that she should be his assistant. To put it bluntly the mystery isn't much of a mystery if you pay any sort of attention to the show. It's a shame that the writing has fallen down on that aspect. But what does work is the performances of Shalhoub (Monk is at his eccentric funniest) and Howard. There's a certain chemistry between the actors that wasn't there with Shram and it's somehow more believable both that Monk would be drawn to Natalie as an assistant (she's a much softer character than Sharona) and that Natalie would treat Monk as she does (Sharona often seemed too deferential to his eccentricities).

    While I was skeptical at first I have to admit that I think adding Traylor Howard to the cast could prove to be a good thing for the future of Monk. Fans can judge for themselves when Monk's third season resumes on Friday January 21 at 10pm on USA.
  • Mr. Monk must help a woman solve a case of self defense murder when two intruders break into her house, and its up to Monk to help the woman and solve the case. The woman then becomess Monk's new assistant after this episode when Monk saves her daughter's

    I think this episode is really good. The story is well written but I don\'t like how Natalie Teeger kills the second intruder so the episode has something to do with murder. They could have done something else, instead of self defense killing. This episode should have had something else.
  • A fine way of bringing in Monk's "New Girl" if you will. And I like it.

    "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring" is one of the best episodes of the season. The episode was a great way of bringing in Natilie, she doesn't have Sharonas "Gentle Touch" but Nat has his best intensions at heart by not doing what Sharona did. This episode will go down in history as one of season threes best.
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