'Monk' shines in new summer season

Friday, June 20, 2003

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.

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").

Tonight's other highlights

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).