<EM>Rescue Me</EM> Rescue Me

Does Jason Alexander ever tire of playing schlubs? I'm sure it pays handsomely (note his umpteenth George Costanza revival in the Chrysler ad with Lee Iacocca), but years of doing the same shtick would drive any sane human being to scream, "I am an actor! I've done Broadway! I am not just a SCHLUB!" Then again, he did appear on stage as Max Bialystock in The Producers, so perhaps Big J doesn't mind as much as I imagine. Moreover, he's so appealing as the low-rent would-be Columbo in this whodunit that it's hard to give him a hard time. Tony Shalhoub shrewdly gives Alexander plenty of room to maneuver as Marty Eels, the scruffy private eye who latches onto Monk's investigation of a bloody jewel heist like a barnacle. Even worse, Eels seems to be solving the case! How could this be? "He's cheating!" whimpers Monk, with the petulance of a third grader. Of course Monk's petulance has a basis in fact Eels was cheating. His mom overheard the killer recap his crime over the phone after putting him on hold. I've put people on hold and I've never been able to eavesdrop on them. Neat trick. Now I have to watch what I say when I'm ordering pizza.