Calling All Monk Fans
December 9, 2006 6:48 AM   Subscribe

Help me find more shows like Monk.

A couple nights a week we have about an hour of family tv time, where family = two adults, a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old. We don't have cable so we rent shows on DVD. Monk has been perfect for us, because its interesting and funny to both adults and kids, wholesome enough so that everyone's comfortable, but its not a kid's show per se and thus doesn't condescend. Alas, we've gone through all the seasons on DVD.

Any suggestions on what to try next? We tried Desperate Housewives, but the kids found it too risque; also Kung Fu, but they found that boring (though I'm still hoping it will grow on them). I'm thinking Columbo but if I recall, the episodes are two hours long, which doesn't work very well.

Thanks for any leads.
posted by king walnut to Media & Arts (48 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I was a teenager when Remington Steele was on and it was my favorite show. All season's are out on DVD now. I thought the mysteries were well done, it had a pretty low violence level, and Pierce Brosnan was a charming rogue. I'm not sure how the feminist ideals of Laura Holt hold up, but it should be a good choice.
posted by saffry at 7:02 AM on December 9, 2006

I thought that Psych, also on USA Network, had a very similar feel.
posted by mhz at 7:06 AM on December 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

I second Psych - it was heavily promoted as the yin to Monk's yang when it was first released. It can be more risque as it skews a bit younger (the main characters are early 20's), but I don't recall anything more than innuendo. Only problem is, I don't think the first season has finished yet, so it isn't out on DVD. USA's site used to have the full first episode up, so you could go ahead and preview it to see if it'll work for your family whenever it comes out, though.

My youngest siblings are the same ages as your kids, so I'm actually quite interested to see what people suggest!
posted by sarahsynonymous at 7:11 AM on December 9, 2006

One of the reccomendations for people who like Monk on Netflix is Lois and Clark, which has four seasons available on dvd and seems family-friendly.

For some reason, I can't think of any recent shows that fit the bill (except maybe Ugly Betty, which isn't available on dvd yet, and is certainly more risque than Monk, but is far less risque than Desperate Housewives). Would stuff like Moonlighting, Remington Steele, Magnum PI, and Scarecrow and Mrs. King be too cheesy?

Maybe Gilmore Girls? Or reality shows like The Amazing Race or Project Runway?
posted by amarynth at 7:11 AM on December 9, 2006

I also love Monk and Columbo. Some shows that I can think of that are kid appropriate and in my opinion, good:

The Bob Newhart Show, Barney Miller, The Amazing Race, Poirot, Haratio Hornblower. The HBO series ROME was great too. A lot of people like the show Scrubs on NBC, but I keep forgetting to watch.

Arrested Development
and BBC's The Office are fantastic, but might be a bit too mature for 11 and 14-year olds. Maybe you can pre-screen. Both are available to rent on DVD.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:14 AM on December 9, 2006

How about Freaks and Geeks?
posted by interrobang at 7:14 AM on December 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

I second Lois and Clark.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:14 AM on December 9, 2006

Oh, Quantum Leap seems to fit all of your requirements, too.
posted by amarynth at 7:15 AM on December 9, 2006

They found Kung Fu boring? What about Kung Fu: The Legend Continues? Did you do the "if you can catch this pebble from my hand grasshopper..." thing with them?

How about they have to watch Kung Fu until they can grasp the pebble out of your hand? I remember watching that show with my dad and loving it when I was growing up.

The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman are family friendly from the 90s. I would second Remington Steele from the 80s too.
posted by banished at 7:20 AM on December 9, 2006

Oh yes, I remember watching Lois and Clark when I was younger, and it was quite wholesome.

My younger siblings dig The Office (especially the 14-year old), but the questionable content varies wildly in each episode; you might want to preview ahead of time. I also might get stoned for this, but I would recommend the US version over the UK one, as the young ones (as well as the adults!) may get frustrated by the frequent British cultural references.

How about Doctor Who? I am admittedly only familiar with the most recent versions, but it is a whole lot of fun and quite family-friendly. I know that the series with Christopher Eccleston is out on DVD, and I think the David Tennant series is out soon.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 7:24 AM on December 9, 2006

gawd, back again. I third Remington Steele. That was my favorite show back in the day. I think I was around 11-12 when I was in love with this show. I also loved, loved, loved PBS's Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea with Megan Follows. It is a beautifully done, fantastic series. When you think of Anne of Green Gables you might think girl, but it's so well-done that the entire family would enjoy.
posted by LoriFLA at 7:31 AM on December 9, 2006

Absolutely Freaks and Geeks. When that show was canceled I took it as society's personal attack on who I am. I would also say Arrested Development and both versions of The Office but those shows are a lot more risque than Monk. They're amazing, but a different attitude. Veronica Mars is about a detective the age of your kids! Some episodes are quite good, and it deals with some mature topics more directly than Monk does.

I've also just recently gotten into Dr. Who, also the new one, and I like it.

If you were willing to try Housewives maybe you'll try "Stargate SG1", or "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", or even the two best TV shows ever made "Firefly" and "Battlestar Galactica" (though Galactica is almost definitely too violent/mature for what you want.
posted by Science! at 7:39 AM on December 9, 2006

Walker, Texas Ranger was good, clean, kick 'em in the ass fun, with only a few episodes excepted.
posted by The Confessor at 7:39 AM on December 9, 2006

posted by Science! at 7:49 AM on December 9, 2006

If you can get past the schmaltz factor, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman is pretty good, although the DVD sets cost an arm and a leg compared to most other series.
posted by The Confessor at 7:53 AM on December 9, 2006

Oh, "Scrubs" was mentioned, that's a fantastic show, as is "My Name is Earl" though both shows seem to be hemorrhaging quality this season.
posted by Science! at 7:54 AM on December 9, 2006

Freaks and Geeks is a really wonderful recomendation.
posted by YoungAmerican at 7:57 AM on December 9, 2006

According to Wikipedia, Columbo episodes are between 70 and 100 minutes in length. If you want something shorter, I suggest Perry Mason which is apparently 53 minutes per episode and just as awesome. And then of course there's Quincy, ME but that's a bit longer again.
posted by teleskiving at 7:59 AM on December 9, 2006

The X-Files!
posted by phrontist at 8:03 AM on December 9, 2006

The problem with Kung Fu, is that it moves too slow (it's age/shooting style/editing shows.)

Any of the "mystery/problem" of the week shows would suffice (if it was semi-well written).

I'd have suggested Veronica Mars, but it's a bit too adult.

Try the Pretender
posted by filmgeek at 8:05 AM on December 9, 2006

Midsommer Murders - Mystery show that takes place in a slew of quirky small English villages.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:23 AM on December 9, 2006

Maybe you'd like Northern Exposure. It's witty and has a nice ensemble of characters.

I'm currently trying to get my Monkophilic mother to try it, and it looks like she's going to.
posted by Sallyfur at 8:36 AM on December 9, 2006

nthing the recommendation for Freaks and Geeks.

I watched Monk with my mom every summer while I was in high school. We watch Desperate Housewives together too, but we've also enjoyed Gilmore Girls (all the seasons on DVD; anything where the Palladinos were on board). I would recommend House, too, but it's scary for squeamish people, and may still be inappropriate, though probably less risque than Desperate Housewives.
posted by scission at 8:44 AM on December 9, 2006

Gilmore Girls, definitely. Even my then-preadolescent brother was hooked on the first few seasons. I would similarly suggest Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was a huge bonding experience for me and my dad when I was little. I also second The Amazing Race and Scrubs.
posted by posadnitsa at 8:47 AM on December 9, 2006

I'm nthing Firefly, Freaks and geeks and Northern Exposure for the fam. We're Monk fans too.
posted by artdrectr at 9:18 AM on December 9, 2006

Law and Order: Criminal Intent is a great detective show.

As for previously mentioned shows: Gilmore Girls, Firefly, and Freaks and Geeks are all great shows. I'd recommend Scrubs as well, although I don't know how appropriate it is for your 11-year-old. I've been watching all of the episodes in syndication on Comedy Central and the humor is quite adult-oriented at times. I'm a huge X-Files fan, but again, it can probably get a bit freaky for a young 'un.
posted by puritycontrol at 9:31 AM on December 9, 2006

Nero Wolfe, a detective series by Rex Stout, was made into a tv series by A&E for a couple of seasons. My wife and I enjoyed them a lot. I think they're reasonably family friendly, insofar as murder is family friendly, though I can't recall precisely.
posted by claxton6 at 9:38 AM on December 9, 2006

Gotta love "Monk."

Strongly seconding "Poirot" with David Suchet, especially since it has the detective/mystery angle with its adaptations of Agatha Christie stories. And you won't have to worry about anything being too risque (at least, not up to the 2003 shows -- I haven't seen the newest ones). I loved the series when it first aired, and years and years later I still enjoy watching them every so often. Definitely start with the DVDs of the earlier series episodes done in the late '80s and '90s. They can be quite suspenseful but the earlier ones can also be lighthearted and fun at times.

Tapping into the British dramas again, you might also try "Jeeves and Wooster" with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, based on the satirical, humorous stories by P.G. Wodehouse. Unquestionably family-friendly. It's more banter-and-shenanigans-driven drama/comedy.

For tongue-in-cheek action and sci-fi-ish suspense, there's also the 1960s series "The Avengers," but I'm not sure whether the kids would want to watch something from that far back, especially when the earlier episodes were shot in black and white. Might want to skip over "A Touch of Brimstone" if it's too risque, but otherwise, compared to TV now, the show's pretty tame. My favorite years are the ones with Diana Rigg.

It's not a detective/mystery show, but for something more recent and set Stateside, I second (er, fifth, on preview) "Gilmore Girls." I prefer the first two, maybe three, seasons, and recommend them heartily. A nice combination of adult and teen characters. The episodes have smart scripts that are quirky and banter-driven, and can range from funny to fun to sad and heartwarming.

And add me to the "Freaks and Geeks" bandwagon, although perhaps it's much funnier if you lived through/went to school in the '80s.
posted by macguffin at 9:41 AM on December 9, 2006

Freaks and Geeks is really the definitive answer to this question. For yourselves, you might check out the BBC Inspector Morse series. Great shows, well done, probably too boring for the 11 year old. Also, what about select episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation? Here is metacritic's list of tv shows on DVD, ranked. Or something. It looks far from complete: All TV DVDs by Score
Arrested Development Season 2 DVD 2005 88
Huff The Complete 1st Season DVD 2006 87
Hill Street Blues The Complete First Season DVD 2006 86
Police Squad! The Complete Series DVD 2006 85
Electric Company, The The Best Of The Electric Company DVD 2006 85
Lost The Complete 2nd Season DVD 2006 85
Grey's Anatomy Season One DVD 2006 83
Over There Season 1 DVD 2006 83
Robot Chicken Season 1 DVD 2006 83
CSI: NY The Complete 1st Season DVD 2005 82
Veronica Mars Season 1 DVD 2005 82
Beavis And Butt-Head The Mike Judge Collection, Volume 1 DVD 2005 79
Family Guy Volume 3 DVD 2005 78
I Dream Of Jeannie The Complete 1st Season DVD 2006 70
Mrs. Harris 2006 70
Fantasy Island The Complete First Season DVD 2005 68
posted by craniac at 10:12 AM on December 9, 2006

Oh, also, what about King of the Hill?
posted by craniac at 10:12 AM on December 9, 2006

I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned BBC's scifi-comedy "Red Dwarf" for this. As with many of the other shows mentioned here, the content (vis a vis sexuality/language) varies a bit between episodes, but all in all, you and your kids will both get a kick out of it.
posted by duffell at 10:13 AM on December 9, 2006

Eureka, from the Sci Fi channel, was good, but it's not out on DVD yet - they did a marathon over Thanksgiving weekend so keep your eye out if they do a marathon again.

Oh, and Mythbusters! Blowing things up in the name of science.
posted by matildaben at 10:32 AM on December 9, 2006

No suggestions to add, except n-thing Gilmore Girls, but a warning about Scrubs because, while its all very light hearted and a GREAT show, it has a lot of sex humor which might not be appropriate for the kids.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 11:28 AM on December 9, 2006

Have to agree with wuzandfuzz about Scrubs being a great show but a bad suggestion for the poster's needs.

Also, someone suggested Rome? Believe me, that is not a show this poster wants to watch with his 11 year old.

I would expect Poirot and Nero Wolfe will not hold their attention if Kung Fu did not.

MacGyver might work - I'm sure the kids would like it, so if it works for the adults it might be the thing.

The Simpsons is certainly enjoyable for both kids and adults. It really is a family show; the family loves each other and looks out for each other even if they disagree. Some people avoid it because of a reputation for vulgarity or Homer or Bart's bad attitude, but the vulgarity is not worse than schoolyard level, and Homer/Bart almost always learn a lesson and/or mend their ways by the end of the episode. You might start with Season 3; they don't need to be watched in order.

The Carol Burnett show.

The British show Jonathan Creek would probably be perfect. Creek is an illusion designer for a famous magician and is called on to solve crimes that appear to have been impossible. It has the same safe adult/kid mix as Monk. It's not as funny, but the problems are super puzzling, so should hold the kids' attention. Available on DVD. Definitely start with Season 1.
posted by lockedroomguy at 11:51 AM on December 9, 2006

What about House? It's a medical drama, but it seems like it may be interesting to an 11-year old, and almost definitely for the 14-year old.
posted by rossination at 11:53 AM on December 9, 2006

Rome is a great show, but I dunno if it's appropriate for kids that age. The violence and sex are farily graphic, but the biggest issue is that all of the sex is by people who are using the person they're having sex with.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:02 PM on December 9, 2006

I love "Arrested Development" but I wouldn't let kids watch it.

I like British stuff. Try some of the "Mystery" series like "Hetty Wainthrop Investigates", "Foley's War" or the Sherlock Holmes or Poirot series.

"To the Manor Born" is a delightful sitcom.

My public library has all of the above.
posted by neuron at 1:41 PM on December 9, 2006

The Pretender and MacGyver and Quantum Leap

(Just to second a couple of the above that appealed to me when I was in that age bracket and interest range.)
posted by whatzit at 2:49 PM on December 9, 2006

"Monk" has virtually the exact same plot as "Murder She Wrote," only instead of an obsessive compulsive former cop it's a middle-aged mystery novelist who solves the misteries. Also: "Poirot," the BBC/PBS mystery series. Now the detective is French! (Which, upon reading through the thread, has already been recommended.)
posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:26 PM on December 9, 2006

This is possibly a bit leftfield, but what came to mind when I read your question was this post on Crooked Timber.

Basically the poster says his kids love Jeeves and Wooster with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, and at least two commenters chime in to say the same thing.

I don't have any personal experience of watching the show with children, but I certainly enjoyed watching it when I was in my teens, as did my parents, and I still enjoy watching it now when I stumble across a repeat.

A lot of the things you highlight about Monk seem to apply - it's not aimed at children so it doesn't condescend, it's pretty wholesome and it can be enjoyed by adults and children. It might well be worth a go.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 4:27 PM on December 9, 2006

You might have some 'splaining to do, but consider Malcolm in the Middle.
posted by rob511 at 4:58 PM on December 9, 2006

If Desperate Housewives was too risque, Buffy (as much as I love it) is right out. At least three season arcs are all about sex and in the first (or second?) season we have sex turning people into demons, sex with demons who want to eat their mates, and a guy who goes jekyll and hyde and beats up his girlfriend. That does even get into the later seasons with the sex frenzy that feeds the ghosts in the house episode, the love em and leave guy episode and the magic-as-a-metaphor-for-lesbian-awakening episode. It's definitely not 11-year-old friendly.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:32 PM on December 9, 2006

Posters are right about Rome. I wasn't thinking too clearly. Violence is predominant, and out of the 12 episodes sex is probably in 3-4 episodes from what I can remember. It is a great series, so save it when they are older if this kind of show is your cup of tea.
posted by LoriFLA at 6:07 PM on December 9, 2006

So you gotta dumb everyone's taste down to where you can enjoy it? Sounds like a lot of fun.

posted by LoriFLA at 7:09 PM on December 9, 2006

I was going to suggest the Ellery Queen TV series starring Jim Hutton and David Wayne, but it doesn't appear to be out on DVD. Drats ! It would have been perfect.
posted by rfs at 7:26 PM on December 9, 2006

West Wing is family-friendly, although not mystery-ous.
I don't think I'd be so keen on House for the kids, the guy is a jerk, and the plots really pretty far-fetched. Plus, he's a junkie, no need to glam that up for the kids. (I watch it, but I think I'm about to lose my temper and quit; I think the plots are too convoluted/improbable for me.)
Columbo and Perry Mason would be good choices for the age group, if pretty old.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 10:48 PM on December 9, 2006

nth-ing Firefly, Lois & Clark, Remington Steele, MacGyver, Star Trek: TNG, and Northern Exposure. Scarecrow and Mrs. King would be great too, but I don't think it's out on DVD yet.

Other big favorites of mine when I was a preteen: SeaQuest DSV and the Young Riders (both out on DVD now). My preteen friends and I also enjoyed Nick at Nite, so some of the all-time classics like MASH or the Dick Van Dyke Show might go over well.

When the 11 yo gets a smidgen older, then definitely check out Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Veronica Mars and Battlestar Galactica. Those 4 shows and Firefly are seriously the reason why [insert deity here] made televisions.
posted by somanyamys at 7:23 AM on December 11, 2006

I'm a Monk fan, my recommendations:

Remington Steele (agreed)

The Closer (A bit more serious than Monk, a good mix of funny and serious)

Midsommer Murders (agreed, but usually 2-hour episodes)

Nero Wolfe (agreed, and I think it's on DVD now)

Psych (agreed)

Inspector Morse (agreed)

Hustle (British show about a team of scam artists. If you can deal with the fact that the protagonists are criminals, it's a clever, funny show with as much comedy as Monk.)

Numb3rs (Slightly more serious than Monk, but still has an emphasis on intelligence and humor rather than straight policework.)

The Pretender (agreed)

Poirot (agreed)

24 (Tries to be far more serious than Monk, but I find it a great unintentional comedy. Maybe too boundary-pushing for kids, but usually violence rather than sex.)

My Name is Earl (not a mystery, but a good mix of adult/kid humor, and as a bonus, there's a moral message of some sort beneath the humor in most episodes)

There are many more great old shows in the comedy/crimesolving genre too: Magnum P.I., McMillan and Wife, McCloud... and most would be "wholesome" by today's standards.
posted by mmoncur at 11:42 PM on December 11, 2006

« Older Changing ibook g4 keyboard language   |   My kid knocked out a permanent tooth--now what? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.