Monk fans may be bitter, but Bitty Schram's Sharona has returned to New Jersey and she ain't coming back. If y'all are ready to move on, read on for some scoop on what's coming up when Tony Shalhoub's germaphobic-sleuthing saga returns January 21...
As previously reported, Traylor Howard (Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place) joins Monk's world as Natalie, the widowed single mom who's replacing Sharona as his new assistant. "Initially, there's a real difficulty for Monk wrapping his brain around bringing a new person into his world," Shalhoub says, "but he knows that he really needs it."
What difficulties does the sidekick swap entail exactly? "Monk has certain obvious gaps in his brilliance, and he sometimes loses sight of the fact that [Natalie] isn't familiar with everything she needs to know about him," he says. "So he has certain expectations of what she needs to do for him. It's interesting because she's strange and familiar at the same time. Familiar because of what her job is and strange because he doesn't know who she is."
Neither will most Monk
fans. "Of course there is some concern," Shalhoub admits. "It's going to be an adjustment, especially for people who were on board right from the pilot episode. A certain Monk
world was created... but now that we have two-and-a-half seasons under our belt, it's really healthy for the show to change it up a bit, to give the audience a new relationship to explore. So I'm hopeful people will just adjust and we'll move on."
Among the upcoming highlights: Monk "temporarily adopts" a toddler in one episode. In another, Shalhoub previews, "Monk goes to Las Vegas and we discover there that Natalie had a history with a gambling problem there and a lot of back story gets revealed."
Might we spy some romance betwixt Monk and Nat? After all, she's pretty, he's needy, they're both widowed.... "I would not rule it out, but it's not something we want to rush into," Shalhoub chuckles. "I sound like a typical American male — I can't commit! But I think the door is certainly open for that."