Comparison posts = awesome fun (for me at least; if y’all are getting tired of them, let me know please). This time, I’ll be contrasting two of my all-time favorite TV shows: Monk and Psych. I’ll try to not to have any spoilers throughout, except in the ‘Villains’ and ‘Finale’ category (duh).
This post is probably going to be crazy long, but….you’ll thank me later.
// Premise //
Monk: An former police detective who has major OCD solves crime in San Fransisco, all the while trying to find out who murdered his wife, Trudy.
Psych: A fake psychic and his best friend solve crime and goof off (not necessarily in that order).
// Characters //
Monk: Well, for starters, you’ve got the man himself. Adrian Monk is brilliant, but can often be infuriatingly annoying (he throws away all that food! he tries to fix that curtain when everyone’s stuck in the jury room! and tons of other stuff that I can’t think of right now!) but when the chips are down, he always comes through. With all of his problems, tics, and quirks, it’s only natural that he should have an assistant – first Sharona, then Natalie. Of the two, Natalie is my favorite, with her down-to-earth approach and genuine affection for ‘Mr. Monk’.
As for the other characters, they’re a mixed bag of great (Captain Stottlemeyer, Randy, and Dr. Bell), weird (Harold Krenshaw and Jack Monk, Jr.), blah (Dr. Kroger), and sweet (Kevin, Ambrose, and Trudy).
Psych: Shawn is a five-year-old at heart (and in mind as well). That’s about the best description of him I’ve got. Occasionally, you catch glimpses of his more mature, serious side (usually a feels-inducing moment, by the way) but it’s mainly nonsense throughout the whole show. And Gus is only slightly better. Shawn’s dad, Henry, keeps the two of them grounded in reality at times, but, honestly, it’s a rather futile endeavor.
At the police station, you’ve got the Chief (I like her), Lassiter (close to being my favorite character, even though he can be just plain weird at times), Juliet (<3), Woody (blech), and Buzz (*grins*). Shawn’s mom also makes a few appearances; I love how she calls him ‘Goose’.
// Villains //
Monk: The only major villain (aka, one that appears in more than one episode) in this show is Dale the Whale and he’s gross and I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about him. So I won’t. Patrick Kloster, Steve Wagner, Theresa Scott, Ethan Rickover, and The Great Torini are also notable baddies.
Psych: Okayyyyy. There’s some pretty great villains in Psych (great as in ‘really worthy opponents’). Yin, Yang, and Pierre Despereaux (aka Royston Cornwallis Staley) stand out the most. Yin/Yang are simply freaky. Despereaux (played by a still-adorable-even-though-he’s-middle-aged-or-something Cary Elwes) is debonair and dashing and I love how he kinda sorta turns out to be good in the end, though you’re never quiiiite sure about that.
// Episodes //
Monk: The two-parter, ‘Mr Monk Is On The Run’ is EXCELLENT. All the Christmas episodes are great (especially the secret Santa one) (and with the exception of the one with Monk’s dad). I love the thread of Trudy-ness running through the whole series. ‘Mr Monk’s Other Brother’ makes me grin and ‘Mr Monk’s 100th Case’ is seriously the best for someone new to the show – it explains everything.
Psych: Psych. The Musical. PSYCH THE MUSICAL. Are you hearing this??? There’s a musical! How insanely cool is that?! (Also, they’re coming out with a Christmas reunion movie this year, people.) My favorite part of the series, in all probability, is the Yin/Yang trilogy which is super dramatic and serious compared to the rest of the show. (My favorite of those three episodes is the second one, ’cause the feels are huge and it’s Hitchcock-themed so what’s not to love?). Also, all the parody/tribute episodes are swell. (Like ‘100 Clues’ and ‘Dual Spires’ and ‘Heeeeere’s Lassie’.)
// Theme Song //
Monk: The first season had a jaunty little instrumental theme that played during the opening credits, but season two (and onward) had the Randy Newman song “It’s a Jungle Out There” for its theme. It’s a funny song that accurately describes Monk’s near-constant state of mind, but I usually skip it. It was changed up only once, for ‘Mr. Monk and the Rapper’.
Psych: LOVE this theme. The energy is great and the clips make me grin (especially the Season 6 opener, which I’ve HTML-ed in above). Psych gave its theme song a new twist several times, depending on what the episode was about. You can get a full list of the changes here, my personal favorites being the Christmas one and the a capella one.
// Guest Stars //
Monk: Stanley Tucci, Sarah Silverman, Howie Mandel, Enrico Colantoni, Sean Astin, Jennifer Lawrence (in a very small, maybe even un-credited, role), Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson, Bernie Kopell…it’s a pretty great list, right? (And I didn’t even get everyone!) Probably my favorite guest appearance was Bernie Kopell, ’cause he’s in Get Smart and it’s just so cool, that connection between two of my favorite TV shows (and from totally different decades, at that). I believe Stanley Tucci got an Emmy for his role in ‘Mr. Monk and the Actor’ – he’s my second favorite guest star. However, I don’t think Monk’s Hall of Guest Star Fame can really compare with…
Psych: John Cena, Anthony Michael Hall, C. Thomas Howell, Val Kilmer, Christopher Llyod, Ralph Macchio, Lou Diamond Phillips, John Rhys-Davies, Kevin Sorbo, George Takei, William Shatner, Lesley Ann Warren, Cary Elwes, Curt Smith…and, again, that’s not even half of the great guest stars Psych managed to pull in over the years. Favorite guest star? William Shatner, who’s not just a great actor, but a great character in the show as well (playing Juliet’s estranged dad). But Ralph Macchio is, of course, right up there, too.
// Finale //
Monk: Ohhhhh, man. You’d better have ten boxes of tissues for this two-part end to the series because it’s intense and feelsy and an incredibly amazing/satisfying end to such a good show. To give you an idea of how powerful it is, I’ve got to tell you that I watched the finale quite early in my obsession with Monk and even though I didn’t know the characters all that well, I was definitely moved. I still tear up every time. It’s the show at its absolute best.
Psych: A good finale. It does the job of ending the show in a bittersweet-ish way. But it’s not phenomenal in the way that some TV show finales are phenomenal (Flashpoint comes to mind). The best bits are Shawn proposing to Juliet and the little reference to Monk at the end. LOVED that bit. And Dobson’s identity finally gets revealed, and it’s pretty epic considering all the references the show made to Val Kilmer throughout its eight year run.
// Overall //
As much as Monk will always have a really special place in my heart, the winner of this contest is Psych. The characters are wacky, but I love ’em. The episodes are endlessly inventive. The humor never gets old. Still, several episodes of Monk will never fail to grab me, and the emotions are real. In the end, I’d say that both shows are excellent and highly recommended.