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Mr. Monk and the Actor

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"Mr. Monk and the Actor"
Monk episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 1
Directed by Randall Zisk
Written by Hy Conrad
Joe Toplyn
Production code #503<ref_name=usa/>
Original air date July 7, 2006
Guest appearance(s)

Stanley Tucci as David Ruskin
Greg Grunberg as Jack Leverett
Susan Ward as Michelle Cullman
Peter Weller as Actor Playing Stottlemeyer
Andrea Bogart as Actress Playing Disher
Carrie Chason as Actress Playing Natalie

Episode chronology
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"Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty"
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"Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike"
Monk (season 5)
List of Monk episodes

"Mr. Monk and the Actor" is the first episode of the fifth season of the American comedy-drama detective television series Monk, and the show's 62nd episode overall. The series follows Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), a private detective with obsessive–compulsive disorder and multiple phobias, and his assistant Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard). In this episode, Monk has to link two different cases while an actor hired to play him in a film emotionally disturbs him.

Written by Hy Conrad and Joe Toplyn, and directed by Randall Zisk, "Mr. Monk and the Actor" guest starred Stanley Tucci. The staff envisioned the episode after imagining the possibility of Monk becoming a famous detective. When the episode first aired in the United States on the USA Network on July 7, 2006, it was watched by over 5.1 million viewers. Critics gave it positive reception, praising specially Tucci's performance. It also led Tucci to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.


While a man, Jack Leverett (Greg Grunberg), is cheating on his wife with a woman named Michelle Cullman (Susan Ward), he finds a hidden camera and, fighting for the camera, kills her. The following day, Monk (Tony Shalhoub) announces to his therapist, Dr. Charles Kroger (Stanley Kamel), he will go on his first vacation since the murder of his wife, Trudy. Later, Monk goes to the crime scene to investigate and is informed by Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Lieutenant Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) that a film about him will be produced. As method actor David Ruskin (Stanley Tucci)—set to play Monk in the film—is there to observe his mannerism, Monk tries to impress him.

The next day, Ruskin follows Monk again as he investigates a case at a pawnshop in which its owner was shot during a robbery. Monk is intrigued as to why the burglar entered through the wall and only stole a small amount of money and a wristwatch. After discussing if Ruskin's presence can harm Monk, Natalie (Traylor Howard) and Monk find the crime's weapon. Monk finds the same glitter he found on Cullman's hair in the gun and argues the thief stole the watch to replace his one, deducing that the same person committed both crimes.

Later, Stottlemeyer and Disher watch the film's shooting and Natalie's prediction is right: Ruskin has impersonated Monk to the point that he is unable to complete the sequence because he is hassled by the setting's disorder. He leaves the studio, goes to Monk's house to know what are his reasons to do his job, and explores Monk's files on Trudy's murder, grieving Monk. An afflicted Monk goes to Natalie's house, where he solves the case when he sees torn paper by Julie to prevent Natalie from reading it. The pawnshop is adjacent to a restaurant, where clients are drawn on the wall. On the crime's night, Leverett and Cullman were sketched and Leverett tried to destroy the evidence.

Meanwhile, Ruskin is at the Trudy's murder scene when a guard, believing Ruskin to be Monk, informs him Leverett is the killer. When Stottlemeyer and Disher arrive at Leverett's car dealership to arrest him, Ruskin has already arrived and is keeping him as a hostage. Monk enters the dealership and stops Ruskin but is emotionally shaken when Ruskin says he could have saved Trudy. At the end, he talks with Dr. Kroger and cancels his trip.


Stanley Tucci, who was "always our first choice for the actor role,"[1] guest starred in this episode. His performance was highly praised by television critics, and led Tucci to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.

"Mr. Monk and the Actor" was co-written by Hy Conrad and Joe Toplyn, and was directed by Randall Zisk.[2] The concept for the episode first emerged while the staff was working on fourth season episode "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut", and they wondered if Monk would become famous. The first idea was to use the same set and actors from "Mr. Monk and the Astronaut" to create an episode in which a made-for-TV film is recorded about that case. It was not done but writers still wanted to create an episode focusing on a TV film, which eventually became "Mr. Monk and the Actor". On its original script, it exceeded the runtime by about six minutes so a scene involving a child mistaking a gun for a toy was cut. It would be the murder weapon, and even though a six-year-old actor was hired for the scene it was not filmed.[1]

Shalhoub and Tucci had been friends since they met each other at the Yale Repertory Theater in 1989 when they acted on John Guare's play Moon Over Miami.[3][4][5] In 1996, they co-starred in the film Big Night,[3] which Conrad said was the main reason Tucci was "always our first choice for the actor role."[1] Tucci said it was a "funny thing" since the role of Monk was offered to him after Big Night but he declined it.[6] Shalhoub affirmed he had requested Tucci to appear on Monk for a long time before this episode but Tucci had theretofore rejected due to scheduling conflicts.[4] Another guest star for the episode, Peter Weller, was on set to direct "Mr. Monk, Private Eye" and volunteered for the role of the actor who plays Captain Stottlemeyer.[1]


"Mr. Monk and the Actor" was first available via video on demand service on June 30, 2006,[7] and its television premiere through USA Network was on July 7, 2006 at 9 pm EST.[2][8] According to an USA's press release, the episode was viewed by an estimated number of 5.3 million viewers,[9] while Nielsen Media Research indicated a viewership of 5.1 million and a 3.89 rating.[8] Gary Levin of USA Today called it a "shy" if compared to season four premiere's figure of 6.4 million.[10] USA, however, said it was the most watched scripted hour in basic cable ever from its time slot.[8][9]

The episode was well-received; IGN's Colin Moriarty gave it a score of 9 out 10,[11] it was deemed "excellent" by John White of The Digital Fix,[12] and it was elected by The Futon Critic's Brian Ford Sullivan the 49th best television episode of the year.[13] Kevin McDonough, a critic for the United Feature Syndicate, called it "a great episode" and compared it to a Seinfeld episode with a similar premise.[14] Diane Werts wrote for Newsday, "Which one's nuttier? It's a toss-up, and a fascinating one with the terrific Tucci as Shalhoub's emotional tango partner."[15]

Several critics praised Tucci's performance and his interactions with Shalhoub.[16][17][18] A reviewer for Times Colonist commented "Watching Shalhoub pretend to be Monk pretending to be a suave, sophisticated sleuth is a delight in its own right. Watching Tucci take Monk's nervous tics to ridiculous extremes is even more of a delight, especially when its appears that Monk's nervous disorder may be catching."[19] In contrast to other reviewers, Adam Finley of AOL TV elected the best moment of the episode Disher's reaction to the fact his role is played by a woman who dates Stottlemeyer.[20]

Moriarty, Matt Crowley of The A.V. Club and Variety's Paula Hendrickson used it as example of how Monk can fit comedy scenes during dramatic ones.[11][21][22] Ann Zivotsky, a writer for the North County Times, commented, "Watching Tucci and Shalhoub play this for laughs would have been enough for some shows, but the Monk writers take the opportunity to let the movie actor share with Monk the insights he's learned about the detective, which may help, or hurt, Monk."[23] Finley and David Kronke of Los Angeles Daily News also highlighted the line "[Ruskin] wanted to play a character that wasn't so depressing and dark. He's in England doing Hamlet."[18][20]

Criticism to the episode was done by Finley who said, "So much of this show is dependent on Monk's subtle mannerisms, but he exaggerates them to an absurd degree as he tries to impress the actor who's playing him."[20] Similarly, Werts said "Shalhoub pushes a tad too far with the compulsions."[15] Robert Bianco of USA Today was also critical of its "excessive quirks and overall credibility-busting silliness."[24] Although praised Shalhoub–Tucci dynamic, Rich Heldenfels of Akron Beacon Journal criticized it as "the actor-imitating-life thing has been done before on TV and in the movies, and the gag well is pretty dry."[25]

At the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards, Tucci won the award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on this episode.[26][27]


  1. ^ a b c d "Production Blog: Mr. Monk and the Actor". USA Network. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Mr. Monk and the Actor – Credits". USA Network. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Snok, Rave (July 7, 2006). "Monk Star Reunites with an Old Pal". TV Guide. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Goldman, Eric (June 29, 2006). "Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci on Monk". IGN. Ziff Davis Media. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  5. ^ Rich, Frank (February 24, 1989). "Reviews/Theater; An Overstuffed and Uninhibited John Guare". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  6. ^ Smith, Austin (June 21, 2006). "'Monk'-ey Love – After 10 Years, 'Big Nigh' Boys Re-Unite for PI Series' Opener". New York Post. News Corp. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  7. ^ "'Monk' on the VOD Case". Multichannel News. NewBay Media. May 12, 2006. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c "USA's Psych Nabs Record Ratings". Broadcasting & Cable. NewBay Media. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "The Heat Is On: USA Is #1 Again in July". USA Network. August 1, 2006. Retrieved February 22, 2015 – via The Futon Critic. 
  10. ^ Levin, Gary (July 12, 2006). "'Psych' sees 6.1M viewers". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved February 21, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b July 10, 2006. "Monk: "Mr. Monk and the Actor" Review". IGN. Ziff Davis Media. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  12. ^ White, John (August 21, 2007). "Monk Season 5". The Digital Fix. Poisonous Monkey. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  13. ^ Sullivan, Brian Ford (January 1, 2007). "The 50 Best Episodes of 2006: #50–41". The Futon Critic. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Shalhoub, Tucci and mind games on 'Monk'". South Coast Today. Local Media Group. July 7, 2006. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b Werts, Diane (July 5, 2006). "Review". Newsday. Cablevision. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  16. ^ Robinson, Jeffrey (July 11, 2007). "Monk – Season Five". DVD Talk. Internet Brands. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  17. ^ Catlin, Roger. "Tucci Amusing As Mimic `Monk,' While `psych' Fails To Find Same Formula". Hartford Courant. Tribune Publishing. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Kronke, David (July 7, 2006). "'Psych' a Good Fit With Vet 'Monk'". Los Angeles Daily News. MediaNews Group. Retrieved February 22, 2015 – via 
  19. ^ "Odd premise of Heroes makes TV series first-rate". Times Colonist. Glacier Media. September 25, 2006. Retrieved February 22, 2015 – via 
  20. ^ a b c Finley, Adam (July 7, 2006). "Monk: Mr. Monk and the Actor". AOL TV. AOL. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  21. ^ a b Crowley, Matt (February 3, 2015). "Monk was the decade’s silliest—and saddest—Sherlock Holmes". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  22. ^ Hendrickson, Paula (September 4, 2008). "'Monk' mixes humor with pain". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  23. ^ Zivotsky, Ann. "Ever great 'Monk' makes it OK to stay inside". U-T San Diego. MLIM Holdings. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  24. ^ Bianco, Robert (July 6, 2006). "'Psych' just might make believers of us". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  25. ^ Heldenfels, Rich (July 6, 2006). ""Monk"/"Psych"". Akron Beacon Journal. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Monk". Television Academy. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Stanley Tucci: The Best and Worst of Times". CBS News. January 11, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2015. 

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