Good news and bad news for fans of USA’s Monk TV show. The network has renewed it for an eight season but has also announced that there won’t be a ninth year of dysfunctional sleuthing.
Monk tells the tale of Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), a brilliant San Francisco detective who, after the death of his wife in a car bombing, has a nervous breakdown. After being a recluse for three years, Monk returns to the force, barely able to control his obsessive-compulsive disorder. Monk’s many phobias make it difficult for him to function but, because he’s hyper-aware of the world around him, he’s an incredibly observant sleuth.
Though they’re often irritated by his disorder, Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Lieutenant Randall “Randy” Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) utilize Monk’s abilities when cases get tough. Monk is helped by assistant Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram) and later by Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard).
The TV show debuted on July 12, 2002 on the USA network. The show began as a modest success and grew its audience to an average of 6.1 million viewers in season six. This year’s episodes have been averaging five million viewers, 40% of which are from the desirable 18-49 demographic. The numbers are even more impressive when you consider that the series airs on Friday nights, a little-watched night of television.
USA has renewed the series for an eighth season of 16 episodes but those will end the series. With the show’s viewership still growing, why finish it now? The decision to end the series is said to be a mutual one between all parties involved. Though they maintain that they want to end Monk while the show is still on top creatively, the reason for the cancellation comes down to dollars and cents. As the seasons have progressed, production costs have increased and the network likely finds it hard to justify episodes’ high pricetags.
USA’s Executive VP of Original Programming, Jeff Wachtel, assures that viewers won’t be disappointed by the final episodes. In a statement, he said, “Our fans have been extremely dedicated, and season eight should prove to be a very satisfying reward.” It’s rumored that the final episodes will bring the character full circle, centering around the killer of Monk’s beloved wife.
A special holiday episode of Monk is slated for November 28th and season seven episodes will continue in January 2009. Monk’s last 16 episodes are scheduled to begin airing sometime next summer. Stay tuned!