Question: With college football and new TV shows looming on the horizon I am positively giddy, but I am curious. In one of your comments on a show, you said it was diverting but hardly essential entertainment. What to you is essential entertainment? Isn't it in the eye of the beholder?
Answer: You should know better than to ask a critic such a leading question. But to your point: I believe I was responding to a question about Monk, and much as I enjoy that show when I watch, the reason I don't consider it "essential" is that, with rare exceptions, I don't really feel I've missed very much if I miss an episode. The "essential" shows for me are those I make a point to watch as they air, or record and watch as soon as possible, and fret if my machines (or I) screw up and then make a great effort to get my hands on a tape. And yes, making this sort of distinction is very much in the eye of the beholder — there are several million Monk fans who wouldn't dream of missing an episode — but I