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TV Reviews

MPAA Rating
Drama, Comedy, Crime
Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk; Traylor Howard as Natalie Teeger; Ted Levine as Captain Leland Stottlemeyer; Jason Gray-Stanford as Lt. Randall Disher
Paul Asay

Adrian Monk is a brilliant detective who, despite being burdened by obsessive-compulsive disorder and a host of crippling phobias, solves a baffling crime pretty much every week. With aid from his faithful and patient assistant, Natalie, Monk battles his own neuroses to help the San Francisco police department bring killers to justice and maybe—just maybe—heal a bit from the death of his beloved wife, Trudy.

Episode Reviews

"Mr. Monk Fights City Hall"

Mr. Monk doesn’t seem like much of a civic crusader. But when the city of San Francisco decides to tear down a parking garage, he goes all "Earth First" on it and chains himself to one of the garage’s concrete pillars. Trudy has to have something to do with this, fans had to be thinking. And sure enough, Monk tells a city councilwoman that his wife died in the garage oh-so-many years ago.

"You just stopped a children’s playground from being built and saved … a parking garage," Natalie says.

"So the system works!" Monk shouts.

But when the councilwoman disappears and is later found bobbing in the San Francisco harbor, Monk has dual dilemmas on his hands: One, he has to help the police find the killer. Two, he has to persuade the councilwoman’s ditzy assistant to take her place in the council meeting and vote to save the garage.

Since 2002, USA’s Emmy-winning show Monk has been one of television’s most reliable forms of comfort food. More Agatha Christie than CSI, the whodunit takes on a stand-alone murder mystery nearly every episode, and even in this, season seven’s grand finale, Monk doesn’t stray far from formula. As Monk says, the system works.

But the show feels gentler than it actually is. And since that may not make complete sense, I’ll elaborate:

A scene featuring the councilwoman’s body floating in the bay isn’t for young or squeamish eyes. Nor is the fact that, while alive, the woman apparently set up a "love nest" with her lover. It’s equipped with incense, French maids outfits and a drawer containing something so shocking (it’s never identified) that Natalie tells Monk to "never, never, never, never, never" open it. It’s suggested that the councilwoman—when she first goes missing—disappeared into some of the city’s mysterious hot dog "meat." And the episode’s language is flecked with mild profanities, abuses of God’s name and questionable euphemisms for Jesus’ name.