Spotlight on: Monk

Oct 28, 2002  •  Post A Comment

If it weren’t for Jackie Lyons, `’Monk” might never have seen the light of day. When Ms. Lyons, who used to develop drama series for ABC Television, jumped to USA Network in November 2000, she brought with her the idea for a series built around a quirky, obsessive-compulsive San Francisco detective.
ABC had fiddled with the concept for two years but couldn’t make a commitment.
“It became a joke over there, with everybody saying, `When are we doing `’Monk”? When are we doing `’Monk”?”’ David Hoberman, the show’s executive producer, said.
ABC’s loss was USA’s gain, however, when the cable network finally put the pieces together over the summer. The two-hour pilot in mid-July drew a 3.5 rating in cable households and ranked among the most-watched cable programs among adults 18 to 49.
“One never really knows when a show will be a hit until you see it in the ratings, but we were all very high on the pilot after seeing the first rough cut. We knew we had something special,” said Ms. Lyons, senior VP of original programming at USA Network.
The numbers have held up well. Season to date, in its original Friday 10 p.m. (ET) time slot, `’Monk” has averaged a 3.3 household rating, representing 4.4 million viewers. The show’s popularity, Mr. Hoberman believes, results from the fact that just about anybody can empathize with the eccentricities of the lead character, played by Tony Shalhoub.
“Everyone has certain neuroses and certain obsessive behavior, no matter how minor they may be, and everyone can relate to this character,” he said.
Not to be left out totally, ABC struck a deal with USA Network to air episodes of the show-in a strange twist on the business-after they run on cable. USA recently signed on for a second season, set to begin in July 2003.