'Monk' in a New York state of mind

"Monk" (9 p.m., USA) enters its third season with a field trip. The defective detective and his squad venture to Manhattan to interview a suspect who may have clues to Monk's wife's murder. Barely in town for five minutes, they stumble upon the murder of a Latvian diplomat and his entourage.

While Monk's obsessive-compulsive tactics impress the NYPD, the Big Apple's cacophony of sirens and street noise drive Adrian to distraction. The season opener includes several slapstick scenes, the best of which features a jackhammer operator who continually interrupts conversation. The weakest gag occurs when neat-freak Monk joins a Times Square preacher who shouts prophecies of a "great cleansing."

Monk's urban anxiety seems a tad out of synch with reality. It's a little odd that Monk should find Manhattan so disquieting and unhygienic when his character lives in San Francisco, a city that many criticize for its lenient stance on panhandlers and vagrants. For better or worse, New York has been "cleaned up" by Mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg, with strict attitudes toward "quality of life" infractions, smoking and noise that Monk might appreciate.

  • Best known for his bowties and conservative commentary on CNN's "Crossfire," Tucker Carlson launches the new news/talk show "Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered" (9 p.m., PBS). The program will consist of a half-hour of interviews, roundtable discussion and commentary from Carlson.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Scheduled on "Dateline" (7 p.m., NBC): an interview with Ron Reagan, and the disappearance of Las Vegas couple.
  • Scheduled on "48 Hours" (9 p.m., CBS): separated at birth.
  • A sad sack guest (Jon Lovitz) wants to check out permanently on "Las Vegas" (9 p.m., NBC).
  • Scheduled on the season finale of "On the Record with Bob Costas" (10 p.m., HBO): Kevin Kline and David Byrne.


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