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Friday, 6 September 2013

It's a jungle out there...

Yeah I know it's light and fluffy but I've become addicted to the TV crime series, Monk - I'd never seen the show on the original run  but after picking up the box set of season one on an impulse I've found myself adding seasons two to six to my collection, and as soon as I've got through these (I'm currently half way through season four) I'll be completing my collection with seasons 7 and 8. A visit to the Monk Wiki page tells me there were 125 episodes in total and that the show ended in 2009. I can't get enough of this show and even the loss of the Sharona character in the middle of season three could not put me off the show. I did think the show lost something when Sharona (Betty Schram) who played Monk's assistant cum nurse left but after a few episodes I was able to accept her replacement Natalie (Traylor Howard) as the new sidekick to the dysfunctional detective, Adrian Monk.

The much missed Sharona
For those of you not familiar with the show (and there can't be many of you) Monk is a genius detective, often referred to as being, like Sherlock Holmes, which is hardly an original premise since the spawn of Holmes are many, but Monk's twist is that he's suffering from OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder. Apparantly he's always been obsessive but after the murder of his wife, Trudy (an occurrence that happened before the show started) he's gotten worse and his phoibias, of which there are many, have come to the fore. He fears all the usual things - heights, spiders, enclosed spaces - and also a few that are decidedly unusual - milk, puppets and feet. He's been struck off the police force and now makes a living by hiring himself out as a consultant to the San Francisco police force when they find themselves stumped with a particularly baffling case.

There is much humour gained from Monk's obsessions - one episode found Monk reacting quickly by picking up a grenade that had just been tossed through a window and throwing it into a refrigerator, however he then opened the fridge again to make sure the grenade is standing upright before then closing the door and....Boom! In fact Monk is often tampering with evidence so that it all fits into his neat, well ordered idea of the world.

The crimes Monk investigates and usually baffling - quite often variations of the traditional locked room mystery. One particularly intriguing episode saw Monk have to prove how a man could carry out several bombing attacks while laying in a coma, another saw a billionaire Bill Gates'alike computer genius suddenly turn to mugging, and yet another saw a man shot seemingly by his pet chimpanzee. And in one episode Monk even had to clear country singer, Willie Nelson of murder. The denouncement of each story is usually perfectly logical although they do on times stretch credibility. Not that it matters since it is the portrayal of Mr Monk by character actor Tony Shalhoub that makes the show so compelling. Of course the strong supporting cast also helps with the chemistry between Shalhoub and Ted Levine as the police captain is a particular highlight.

According to the Wiki page for the series the plots follow one or other of the following formats:

  • The killer is known, and how the crime was committed is known. The episode is spent trying to find evidence to arrest that person, and these episodes are hence patterned similarly to many episodes of Columbo.
  • Monk knows who the killer is, and knows what the motive is, but the killer has a seemingly air-tight alibi. The episode is spent trying to break that alibi and find out how the killer did it.
  • In a number of episodes, the plot involves trying to find out the killer, how the murder was done, and why.
  • In some episodes, the killer's M.O. is known, but not who did it or why.

I've still got a few more seasons to go and apparently the finale will see Monk finally solve the mystery of his wife's murder and also bring both of Monk's assistants Natalie and Sherona together on screen. I'm looking forward to getting to that one but in the meantime I've got some great viewing to get through.

If you've never seen this show then catch up with it on the re-runs. It's certain to become a favourite. It's drama, it's comedy and contains some truly beautiful moments

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