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''Monk''/''Psych''

By RD Heldenfels Published: July 6, 2006

A new season of ''Monk'' begins tomorrow night, followed by another quirky detective in ''Psych.'' We've got our share of twitchy snoops right now -- ''Monk,'' ''Medium,'' ''The Closer,'' ''Ghost Whisperer'' -- but ''Psych'' may have the ultimate tic: none.


It involves a guy who has been well trained in observation (thanks to his policeman father), so well that he can figure out things no one else can. But, since no one believes you can simply observe the truth -- figure that no one on this show has ever read Sherlock Holmes -- he claims to be psychic. The weird is more plausible.


It's not a bad show, although the 90-minute premiere feels padded and the premise, once established, doesn't have very far to go. I have more hope for the father/son relationship as a reason to watch than I do for the sleuthing itself. Of course, I feel similarly about ''The Closer,'' engaged by the characters even when I'm bored by the mystery. And I always try to watch ''The Closer.''


I don't always watch ''Monk,'' even though I usually enjoy it when I do. And tomorrow night's premiere has some good things in it, notably in the way Monk has to deal with his grief over the loss of his wife, with an unlikely helper -- another version of himself.


That version is played by Stanley Tucci (who, you will remember, worked with Tony Shalhoub in ''Big Night''), as an actor preparing to play Monk in a movie. There's some fun stuff, as Monk's cohorts offer tips to Tucci on being Monk, and in the scenes where the two of them face that old grief. But there is also a lot of predictable material. After all, the actor-imitating-life thing has been done before on TV and in the movies, and the gag well is pretty dry.

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