USA’s Monk may be leaving the air after its eighth season wraps up, but there is a bit of good news in store for longtime fans.
Monk centers on Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), a brilliant San Francisco detective who has a breakdown following his wife’s murder. After a three-year absence, Monk returns to the force to help do what he does best: solve crimes. Of course, for someone suffering from severe OCD, that’s no easy task — but it’s usually Monk’s OCD that ends up helping him solve the case. Series performers also include Jason Gray-Stanford, Ted Levine, Traylor Howard, Stanley Kamel, Bitty Schram, Emmy Clarke, Kane Ritchotte, and Hector Elizondo.
The show premiered in 2002 and was a surprise hit for the USA Network. One of the most endearing aspects of the show was the close relationship between Monk and his practical nurse/assistant, Sharona Flemming (Schram).
Schram left the series in the middle of season three due to a contract dispute, though producers insisted they just wanted to “take the show in a different direction.” Her spot in the cast was filled by Traylor Howard as Monk’s second assistant, Natalie.
Sharona’s absence was explained by having the character move back to New Jersey with her son, after remarrying her ex-husband Trevor Howe. She is mentioned but not seen at the end of season six when everyone believes that Monk has died. She apparently sent flowers and attended the funeral with her son, Benjy.
In the novel Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants by Lee Goldberg, the character returns to San Francisco after her husband has been accused of murder. Monk eventually clears him and Sharona returns to her husband with the knowledge that her eccentric friend is being well cared for by Natalie. It’s a bit of closure that TV viewers didn’t get — until now.
Schram is reprising her role as Sharona for an episode of the Monk TV show’s final season. It’s unknown how the writers will reintroduce her but one scenario invloves Natalie and Sharona exchanging war stories about the detective.
Shalhoub is excited about his former co-star’s return. The two ran into each other last April when Kamel (Dr. Kroger) passed away.
Shalhoub said, “We couldn’t think of a better way to help wrap up the series than with the return of Bitty’s character. Bringing some closure to Sharona is long overdue.”
Season eight of Monk is expected to premiere this Summer. Shalhoub says the writers are hard at work wrapping up unresolved storylines. It’s unknown where in the final 16 episode run Schram’s appearance will fall but it’s certainly a nice way to help end the series.
Image courtesy USA.