My current favourite US TV characters are Gregory House MD and Adrian Monk. This is hardly surprising as they are both loosely based on the character of Mr Sherlock Holmes who, even after more than a century, is still the greatest fictional detective of all time, bar none.
However, these two twenty-first century sleuths are very DIFFERENT versions of the Victorian original. While House represents Holmes’ dark side – Monk is a dingbat.
And this is down to the fact that while House has his MD, Monk has OCD.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a term which, until twenty years ago, was unheard of. Which is not to say it didn’t exist (Howard Hughes had it his whole life and it destroyed him, driving him into paranoid reclusion) it just wasn’t recognised. In My Day, we called sufferers “compulsive picture-straighteners”.
Which brings me to Monk’s TIE. Ties are a minefield of loose ends, both figuratively and literally. Some have a label on the back of their front section, which can be used to slide the rear section into. If you don’t use it, the two sections end up forming a distended upside-down “Y” across your shirt-front. But if you DO use it – it’s a bit twee. Then there’s the relative length of the two sections. The back should ALWAYS be shorter than the front. But how MUCH shorter? If it’s TOO short, the front will inevitably be too LONG. But how long should THAT be? Well, if you’re a Shirt-In sorta guy, it should JUST reach your waistband. Any less and you look fat. Any more and you look sloppy. Also, the finer points of the knot must be considered. Due to its construction, it can NEVER be PRECISELY symmetrical. But how TIGHTLY should it be knotted? Too tight looks anal, while too loose looks louche. Then of course, there are the questions of width, texture, colour, design…
No WONDER Monk doesn’t WEAR one! If he did, he’d NEVER LEAVE HIS APARTMENT!!!
But it’s a measure of the quality of the writing of Monk (and the respect the writers have for the fans) that in a hundred and twelve episodes, his umpteen shirts (firmly buttoned to the top) all of the same design and colour have, along with his many other obsessions, been mentioned frequently, but his invariable lack of tie has NEVER been referred to or commented upon.
Given the above, the writers obviously realize that to do so – would be SUPERFLUOUS.