Ms. Howard’s casting was a variation on the understudy-to-the-rescue bit. Midway through the series’ third season, audience favorite Bitty Schram, who played Monk’s no-nonsense nurse/assistant Sharona, made a precipitous departure. Reportedly, there was a contract dispute. […]She got the job as Monk’s aide-de-camp and partner in crime-solving. She also got a cool welcome from a certain number of fans who were no more fond of change than the troubled Adrian Monk himself.
“People would say to me ‘I really didn’t want to like you,'” said Ms. Howard, who understands that they were protective of the show and protective of Monk. “He can be very mean to me. But if I say one little thing to him, people react. When you think about it, he’s very selfish. But he gets away with it.”
She won over the doubters — and the detective — blending firmness with palpable sympathy for Monk’s myriad quirks and phobias