Question: Wow, it seems like yesterday that I enjoyed the season premiere of Monk, and now here's the season finale. I know I have to wait until the beginning of 2006 for new Monk episodes, but I would like to know how you think this season is progressing. I still miss Bitty Schram (Sharona), but I feel that Traylor Howard (Natalie) is doing a great job.
Answer: I'm not a constant watcher of the show anymore, but I watched some of the highlights of the summer season — the John Turturro episode, the one where Monk thought his dead wife had returned — and still find it diverting but hardly essential entertainment, boosted by a great lead performance and character but hindered by routine plotting. I still miss Bitty Schram, too, and think the new sidekick is doing as well as possible under the diminished circumstances. The change certainly hasn't ruined the show, which was always uneven but still has its modest pleasures.