- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2005

More ‘Monk’

It’s not easy warming up to an obsessive-compulsive detective.

Audiences did just that when “Monk” debuted in 2002 on USA Network, and now the same viewers will have to get acclimated to a new woman in Adrian Monk’s life.

Tony Shalhoub, who won an Emmy for his work as the title character, is sharing the screen these days with Natalie, a single mom played by Traylor Howard (“Boston Common”). His old partner, Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram) left at the end of season two.

The scrappy single mom helps Monk deal with Sharona’s absence in the third-season opener, which kicks off at 10 tonight with guest turns by James Brolin, comic Larry Miller and the rock band Korn.

Mr. Shalhoub says his character needs someone in his life to fill “the obvious gaps in his brilliance,” during a recent teleconference to promote the season.

“There’s a real difficulty for Monk wrapping his mind around bringing in a new person in his world, but he knows he really needs it,” Mr. Shalhoub says.

Miss Howard may be new to the weird world of “Monk,” but it sounds like she’s a quick study.

“He definitely has a little ‘Monk’ in him,” Miss Howard says of her co-star.

‘Extreme’ HDTV

HGTV trots out its first HDTV broadcast at 8 p.m. Sunday with a special look at seven “Extreme Homes of Europe” in all their idiosyncratic glory.

Host Ruth England visits the Butterfly House, inspired by the life cycle of the butterfly, and Spitbank Fort, off the coast of Britain, as well as a home in Ireland made of straw. The best may be an English castle whose owner doesn’t even know how many rooms the building has.

‘Dream’ nuptials

NBC’s “American Dreams” celebrates a key wedding this weekend as J.J. (Will Estes) and Beth (Rachel Boston) head down the aisle.

The show airs Sunday evening at 8.

‘Wired’ dealers

Count Baltimore’s drug dealing community as one of “The Wire’s” most loyal demographics.

The dealers in question aren’t watching the HBO drama just for the sly characters and plots. Real life detectives in the Charm City say the local dealers pick up tips from the cable drama, Associated Press reports.

The show, a fictional account of a police investigation of Baltimore drug dealers, gave dealers the idea to switch cell phones often to evade electronic eavesdropping, according to Baltimore police officials.

“Believe it or not, these guys copied ‘The Wire,’ ” one of the investigators, Sgt. Felipe Rodriguez, said at a news conference last week to announce a cocaine ring bust. “They were constantly dumping their phones. It made our job so much harder.”

While doing business by cell phone, the suspects often spoke to each other about “The Wire” after it aired on Sunday nights. Some of the officers listening to them also were fans.

“If we missed anything, we got it from them Monday morning,” Sgt. Rodriguez said.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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