Monk TV Series, Season 3

by | Jul 28, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Monk TV Series, Season 3

Starring: Tony Shalhoub, Ted Levine, Jason Gray-Stanford
Studio: USA Channel/Universal
Video: 1.78:1 widescreen
Audio: DD 2.0
Subtitles: Spanish; Captions: English
Extras: Favorite scenes of cast and crew, Conversation with Tony
Shalhoub, “Life Before Monk,” Profile of Natalie Teeger, “Quirks” (on
Monk’s phobias)
Length: 11 hours, 45 minutes for 16 episodes
Rating: ****

This is a gem of a TV series – clever, intelligent, humorous, quirky
and free of gratuitous violence which is on the increase in most of
today’s crime and police shows. I greatly enjoyed the first episodes I
saw on one of the major networks, but when it moved to cable I lost it.
The setting of the show in San Francisco is also a plus for me as a
40-year former resident in that area. But Monk is a long, long ways
from The Streets of San Francisco!

If you’re Monk-challenged, dig one of the most unusual detectives in
fiction: He’s brilliant, often using psychic and sensitive abilities –
including a photographic memory –  to solve crimes.  But the
problem is he’s seriously suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder
(OCD), which was somewhat under control during his marriage to his
understanding wife Trudy.  But when she was killed by an unknown
assailant employing a car bomb, Monk came apart at the seams and became
so quirky that the SF Police Department had to dismiss him, and hired
him back as a civilian expert assistant. He was assigned a nurse for a
time to aid his often helpless condition, and now his co-cops Sharona
and Natalie often fulfill the nurse’s role.

The examples of Monk’s OCD are carefully researched and integrated into
the plots.  Often his strange behavior has the rest of those
involved tearing their hair and giving up entirely, while Monk has in
his own odd way is actually solving the crime. Those of us who thought
we knew about OCD may learn some examples of it we never expected. The
biggest running gag has to do with Monk’s ever-present hand wipes,
which he requires whenever he shakes hands with someone or touches most
anything (germs, you know). But there are many others, such as the fear
of heights, of stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, seeing unbalanced
sets of objects – such as the little girl skating with only one red
mitten because she lost the other (he makes her put the one mitten in
her pocket). The stories are all great and not your usual policier
content either.  Even when the crime and its solution enter
familiar territory, the presence of the defective detective at the
center of things ensures that you won’t be seeing the same old same
old. One episode concerns a criminal living under an assumed identity
who wants to prevent the public seeing him in closeup in the audience
of a Willie Nelson TV show, and so keeps blowing up power stations to
cause San Francisco blackouts whenever the program is telecast. Another
concerns drug side effects when Monk tries a new medication to reduce
his OCD, but it turns him into a wild egomaniac who totally lacks his
former sleuthing skills.

The SF scenes are varied and less hackneyed than normally seen; the
image transfer of the widescreen format is excellent, with rich color
and fine detail – unlike the somewhat soft focus of many TV series on
DVD.  The stereo sound is also good and works well when run thru
Pro Logic II processing for surround effect. The production is so good
that without the commercial breaks one tends to forget this is a TV
series and not a feature film.

The 16 Episodes: Mr. Monk Takes Manhattan; Mr. Monk and the Panic Room;
Mr. Monk and the Blackout; Mr. Monk Gets Fired; Mr. Monk Meets the
Godfather;  Mr. Monk and the Girl Who Cried Wolf; Mr. Monk and the
Employee of the Month; Mr. Monk and the Game Show; Mr. Monk Takes His
Medicine; Mr. Monk and the Red Herring; Mr. Monk vs. the Cobra; Mr.
Monk Gets Cabin Fever; Mr. Monk Gets Stuck in Traffic; Mr. Monk Goes to
Vegas; Mr. Monk and the Election; Mr. Monk and the Kid.

– John Sunier

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