Sarah Silverman as Marci Maven on Monk TV programAs I mentioned in my post last week on the season premieres of USA Network mainstays Monk and Psych, TV series tend to go a bit stale during their fifth and sixth seasons, and smart producers combat the problem by making significant changes while retaining the show’s most appealing aspects.

I stated my hope that Monk would concentrate more on the mystery aspects of the show and less on the kooky character stuff, while of course retaining the core of the concept, Monk’s eccentricities.

Unfortunately, the season premiere episode, while amusing and watchable, went in the opposite direction, emphasizing a goofy character played by comedienne Sarah Silverman.

It was not a good choice, as both Monk and the mystery receded into the background, and the narrative drive of the episode was consequently very weak. The producers really must return to the show’s original blend of strong mysteries investigated by engaging characters, and I for one would appreciate some progress on Monk solving the murder of his late wife Trudy. That plot element has dragged on far too long. The producers would be well advised to get that done and move on.

Even more importantly, they should look into the great Ed Hoch’s huge catalog of mystery stories written over the past half-century—nearly a thousand stories in all, and the vast majority including strong puzzle plots. The producers of McMillan and Wife used some of Hoch’s stories in their 1970s program, and the results were very good indeed.

The producers of Monk would do well to follow suit and bear in mind my dictum that the best thing about a mystery series is the mysteries.