'Monk' shines in new summer season

The comedy detective series "Monk" (9 p.m., USA) enters its second season, and immediately provides an oasis of TV intelligence in this summer's desert of vast inanity.

Star Tony Shaloub won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of former San Francisco police detective Adrian Monk, a brilliant sleuth who has suffered from an obsessive-compulsive disorder since the murder of his wife some years back. Bitty Schram ("A League of Their Own") co-stars as Monk's no-nonsense nurse, Sharona, a tough cookie from New Jersey who serves as Doctor Watson to Monk's dotty Sherlock Holmes.

Set in San Francisco, "Monk" has more than a few parallels to Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1958 thriller "Vertigo" -- except that "Monk" is played for more whimsy than terror. Tonight's season-opener also makes a few nodding glances at Hitchcock's film, and opens with a woman's apparent suicide jump from a private high school's Spanish-style clock tower.

  • Do you, or someone you know, have what it takes to be a sportscaster? ESPN is turning its hunt for a new "SportsCenter" anchor into a "reality" audition series called "Dream Job." The eight one-hour episodes will be aired Sundays beginning next February.

Sportscaster wanna-bes can submit an audition tape of up to five minutes beginning today. Instructions on how to submit taped auditions and other information are available at ESPN.com (do a search for the term "dream job").

  • The hidden-camera shock series "Scare Tactics" (9 p.m., Sci Fi) returns with nine original episodes. Hosted by perennial TV bad-girl Shannen Doherty, this amusing guilty pleasure combines the pranksmanship of "Candid Camera" and the hand-held shockumentary style of "The Blair Witch Project." Tonight's best bit concerns a would-be nanny interviewed by two yuppie parents who moonlight as cannibals. It's pure dumb fun.
  • Scheduled on "On the Record with Bob Costas" (10:30 p.m., HBO): an interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger and a panel discussion on the 25th anniversary of the film "Animal House" with stars Tim Matheson (Otter) and Peter Riegert (Boon), and director John Landis.

Tonight's other highlights

  • A terror attack rocks the morgue on "Crossing Jordan" (7 p.m., NBC).
  • On back-to-back episodes of "Fast Lane" (Fox): Billie fights for the Candy Store (7 p.m.), and faces trumped-up murder charges (8 p.m.). This marks the final airing of this canceled series.
  • Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto and Jane Seymour star in the 1973 James Bond adventure "Live and Let Die" (7 p.m., UPN).
  • Scheduled on "Dateline" (8 p.m., NBC): an interview with J.K. Rowling, author of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
  • Scheduled on "48 Hours Investigates" (9 p.m., CBS): A 4-year-old witness accuses his father of murder.
  • Scheduled on "20/20" (9 p.m., ABC): an interview with Johnny Depp; surgery that makes women "virgins" again; first responders prepare for weapons of mass destruction.

Series notes

TV becomes depressing on "Baby Bob" (7 p.m., CBS) ... Tom Bergeron is host of "America's Funniest Home Videos" (7 p.m., ABC) ... On two episodes of "Reba" (WB): a time capsule (7 p.m.), Brock's big secret (8 p.m.).

Controlling the playground bully on "Yes, Dear" (7:30 p.m., CBS) ... Playing hooky on "What I Like About You" (7:30 p.m., WB).

John helps a stranger retrieve his stolen wedding ring on "Hack" (8 p.m., CBS) ... An hour of improvisation on "Whose Line is It Anyway?" (8 p.m., ABC) ... Lily's spending spree on "Grounded for Life" (8:30 p.m., WB).


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