"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Monk: Mr. Monk's 100th Case

Too often when a show reaches an anniversary, like say 100 episodes, the producers feel the need to mark the occasion with an extraordinary entry. That was what happened with Monk.

To commemorate the 100th episode, they created Mr. Monk's 100th Case, and using a show within a show format, celebrated Adrian Monk, a modern day Sherlock Holmes. San Francisco's defective detective

Thank goodness it all worked! I was afraid I was going to get a clip-laden, down-memory-lane type of show with nothing remotely intriguing. No, the writers were more clever than that.

Yes, there were memories, but there was also a new case and many of Monk's previous adversaries/killers (guest stars) that were revisited in new filmed scenes! Kudos to the Monk team for getting so many stars to return.

Eric McCormack played an unctuous host of a TV crime docudrama series called In Focus. With a haughty "Chris Hanson style" (To Catch a Predator), the In Focus production focused on Monk solving a serial killer case.

This gave the show a great opportunity to remind viewers about the Monk biography, including a really good recap of the death of his wife, Trudy. It wasn't just the telling of her dying in a car bombing, it was that documentary footage, the interviews with Ambrose, Monk's brother (John Turtturo), and Stottlemeyer, about how her death devastated Adrian.

Then, the question asked by Novak of Monk, "Why do you keep going?" With tears in his eyes, Monk answers, "I can't die until I know." The Trudy connection has never been better explained than that.

There was a good balance between the serious stuff -- Trudy -- and the comic -- Monk's quirks, like what he does with his hands and why. It was an easy get when Monk discovered that the photographer was the link to the killings -- his name was on each photo. But it was good that for once the obvious suspect was the killer, but not the "guy."

You had the feeling that Eric McCormack had to be the "guy." His motivation was a little weak (his wife was going to find out he was cheating), as was his pulling a gun in a room filled with cops -- did he really think he was going to shoot his way out of there?

As I mentioned, many of the stars who've appeared on Monk returned for extended cameos, including Howie Mandel and Andy Richter. My favorites were Angela Kinsey, Sarah Silverman and Brooke Adams. Also, you had to love it when Tim Bagley as Harold Krenshaw, Monk's enemy, was interviewed. I think Dr. Bell and all references to Dr. Kroger were left out because of doctor/patient confidentiality. Would a psychologist discuss a patient with a filmmaker? No.

What was missing was Sharona (Bitty Schram). She should have been one of the interviews.

The topper was the finale, with Monk saying he was going to stop detecting because 100 was a good even number to call it quits. Natalie nicely noted that it was actually case 101, forcing Monk to keep going till he reaches 200 -- or so they said. I guess that'll be up to USA and Tony Shalhoub.

Other points of interest

-- Gillian, Disher's girlfriend is a re-enactor, an actor specializing in shows the re-enact crimes. "She was bludgeoned to death on Dateline," says Randy proudly. Later, when the gun fires and she falls to the ground, it set up a great line: "Sorry, force of habit!"

-- When Natalie warned Stottlemeyer to stop switching over to the basketball game, he snarked at her, "You're not my mother."

-- Loved seeing Kathryn Joosten, "Where's the fiber?" commercial lady and Desperate Housewives' regular (not to mention Mrs. Landingham on The West Wing) as Monk's babysitter from childhood.

-- Monk's TV remote language was great: Picture freezer, picture go fast, picture regular.

-- I liked the Dracula at The Morbid Cafe, the whole idea of that kind of theme restaurant was very funny.

-- Randy's assertion that "If you can name him, you can catch him" about serial killers was typical Disher inanity. The Lipstick Assassin or Mr. Lipstick.

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