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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
Having rewatched a classic fan favorite anthology series with two characters that lasted five seasons and a more modern but less watched one season highly serialized series with a decently large main cast and a sprawling set of recurring characters, I’m going to split the difference.

Monk debuted on USA in 2002 when the network was still getting off the ground. They had some success with other shows, including continuations, but nothing that was really their own lasting more than three or four seasons.

The series would be headlined by star of stage and screen Tony Shalhoub. As Adrian Monk, he was a former policeman deeply affected by obsessive compulsive disorder. Bitty Schram was Sharona, his nurse/assistant. Ted Levine is supporting as Captain Leland Stottlemeyer while Jason Gray-Stanford is Lieutenant Randy Disher in the San Francisco Police Department. Whenever a crime happens that they are unable to solve, Monk is only a phone call away.

One of the main elements of each episode was how the crime was revealed to us. Generally, Monk would say “Here’s what happened” and we would get a flashback to what happened under Monk’s narration. This would become a calling card of the series.

Lasting a total of eight (albeit shortened) seasons, Monk would usher in a new wave of programming for the network such as The Dead Zone, crated by Michael and Shawn Piller and Psych, another series with an interesting twist on the detective plot. One could even see how this led to other networks developing content of their own.

So we’ll rewatch Monk. You can expect the following sections as appropriate:

We’ll Need Some Help: An episode summary.

This Week’s Compulsion: Issues Adrian Monk has on display.

White Courtesy Phone: Assistance offered by Monk’s assistant.

Captain Moustache: The trials of Captain Leland Stottlemeyer

Dishing it Out: Randy Disher’s tribulations for the week.

Let’s Talk it Out: Discussions with Dr. Kroger, Monk’s psychologist

The Innocence of Youth: Observations by the youngest member of the recurring cast.

It Recurs to Me: Fun facts of recurring characters

Let’s Up the Rating: Sexy bits

Here’s What Happened: Interesting things that occur in this feature.

One More Time: A quote from the episode.

Dear Genre: A guest star who is familiar to your humble rewatcher.

The Rainbow Treknection: Someone from the episode who is from the hallowed halls of Trek.

Trivial Matters: Other fun things that don't fit into any other category.

It’s a Jungle Out There: A review.

We’ll start next week with Mr. Monk and the Candidate.
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By winterflames (Derek Marlar)
 - Delta Quadrant
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
Master thread:


Season One
Mr. Monk and the Candidate
Mr. Monk and the Psychic
Mr. Monk Meets Dale the Whale
Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival
Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum
Mr. Monk and the Billionaire Mugger
Mr. Monk and the Other Woman
Mr. Monk and the Marathon Man
Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation
Mr. Monk and the Earthquake
Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger
Mr. Monk and the Airplane
First Season Overview

Season Two
Mr. Monk Goes Back to School
Mr. Monk Goes Back to Mexico
Mr. Monk Goes to the Ballgame
Mr. Monk Goes to the Circus
Mr. Monk and the Very, Very Old Man
Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater
Mr. Monk and the Sleeping Suspect
Mr. Monk Meets the Playboy
Mr. Monk and the 12th Man
Mr. Monk and the Paperboy
Mr. Monk and the Three Pies
Mr. Monk and the TV Star
Mr. Monk and the Missing Granny
Mr. Monk and the Captain's Wife
Mr. Monk Gets Married
Mr. Monk Goes to Jail
Second Season Overview

Season Three
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
Third Season Overview

Season Four
Mr. Monk and the Other Detective
Mr. Monk Goes Home Again
Mr. Monk Stays in Bed
Mr. Monk Goes to the Office
Mr. Monk Gets Drunk
Mr. and Mrs. Monk
Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding
Mr. Monk and Little Monk
Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa
Mr. Monk Goes to a Fashion Show
Mr. Monk Bumps His Head
Mr. Monk and the Captain's Marriage
Mr. Monk and the Big Reward
Mr. Monk and the Astronaut
Mr. Monk Goes to the Dentist
Mr. Monk Gets Jury Duty
Fourth Season Overview

Season Five
Fourth Season Overview]Mr. Monk and the Actor[/url]
Last edited by Faithful Reader on Sun Apr 21, 2024 10:52 am, edited 65 times in total.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
"Mr. Monk and the Candidate"
Season 1 episodes 1 & 2
Written by: Andy Breckman
Directed by: Dean Parisot
Original Air Date: July 12, 2002

We’ll Need Some Help: A dozen police are staring at former detective Adrian Monk as he observes a crime scene. He expresses concern about his stove, but his assistant, Sharona, repeatedly assures him that it is off. The officials consider it a robbery gone wrong, but Monk reads the scene and tells them otherwise. He schools them making amazing observations that they did not notice after examining the scene all day. Monk and Sharona depart leaving the rest in awe and supposition.

Monk goes to meet with Dr. Kroger, who can make a recommendation for Monk to be reinstated full time. The session starts off well as Monk has prepared. He talks about his wife of seven years, Trudy. He also notices a pillow askew in the office and puts it in place while also unconsciously touching a floral arrangement.

We see a man in a painting outfit go into a hotel room under renovation, but it becomes clear he is smuggling in a rifle. Warren St. Clair is running for Mayor of Sacramento as a progressive candidate. His wife, Miranda is getting tired of smiling but their strategist, Gavin, tells her to keep it up. As the event proceeds, the music starts playing, the balloons go up and shots ring out. The St. Claires are fine but one of the people involved in the campaign is hit.

Lieutenant Frank Disher talks to Captain Leland Stottlemeyer. A member of the press is there and Stottlemeyer is ready to address her. Disher has no additional news. One of the mayors’ aides comes in and says that the bodyguard didn’t make it. Stottlemeyer has all his officers on the case, but the aid, Sheldon, wants ‘your old friend.’

Sharona drives Monk to the St. Claire war room and the mood is awkward as Sotttlemeyer took Monk’s badge away years ago. Sotttlemeyer makes it clear that Monk is there on invitation of the mayor and is a civilian. Things go further south when Monk realizes, and verbalizes, that Stotttlemeyer and his wife are on the outs.

Stottlemeyer tries to get some information and unfortunately, Warren has a lot of enemies and he is darn proud of it. Monk begins removing the color-coded push pins, to the annoyance of Gavin. They go flying as the board is adjusted but Monk remembers where they all go. As he puts them back, the campaign discusses Monk’s basic competence, and we find out Trudy was killed with a car bomb four years ago.

At the crime scene, Monk notices that the window blinds were used to steady the shot. He finds similarities to the case we saw earlier, including the height of the suspect. Stotttlemeyer does not want to go arresting tall people in the city though there are a small percentage who are the specific height.

At the funeral, Warren delivers the eulogy while Sharona and Monk are in the balcony. She suspects Warren has some involvement, but Monk dismisses that. He searches for his keys which he finds but they fall into the casket as he fumbles with them. He fashions a hook to retrieve them but catches the hand instead which moves up out of the casket when Warren salutes.

Miranda is furious but Warren is more forgiving. Suspecting a connection, Monk asks both about Michelle Vazques, the victim from the teaser. There is no recognition though Miranda assures him that if Warren wins, Monk will never work in the town again. At the station, Disher and Stottlemeyer get the ballistics report, but it is not much to go on. Monk suspects a connection, but Stottlemeyer thinks otherwise.

Monk visits Miranda who is reading a book to small children, but those little germ factories push Monk to the limit. Speaking privately, Monk notices she is fond of Jesse, a relatively new aid. She is adamant about her love for Warren and ends the interview.

Another relatively new aid, Jake has some information for Monk and drives to his house. On the way, Jake is stopped by a window washer who commandeers the vehicle which is later found in a ravine. Stottlemeyer considers it an accident, but Monk sees enough details to peruse the truth.

Monk gets a breakthrough while watching the news and immediately informs Sharona. Unfortunately, she is on a date and Monk derails it. This pushes Sharona over the edge, and she quits. We get the feeling this happened before but there is a finality to this time. Her son, Benjy is growing up and she needs to get a ‘real’ job.

At the lab, Disher finds what Jake was taking to Monk. Vazques was a former volunteer, so her name did not appear in the database. Stottlemeyer is amazed at what Monk can do but Disher reminds him that Stottlemeyer leads the department. They try to reach Monk but with Sharona quitting, there is not much they can do. Sheldon offers a favor and Sharona gets it, no questions asked.

Monk is at Trudy’s grave, having poured over the details of her death the night before. Monk is back on the case and Sharona tells him that Gavin had a fall from grace after some campaign funds went missing. Monk and Sharona visit and there is no information about either victim, though Monk heard reports of Gavin and Vazques talking. He also puts some shredded documents together and sees that Miranda purchased a ticket to Chicago. They interview Jesse who also went to Chicago, and he confirms that they were an item but broke up. Jesse was perturbed but did not try to kill Warren.

Stottlemeyer found a suspect, Ian, who fits the criteria, but it turns out is in a wheelchair. Apologies are made but as they leave, Monk notices Sottlemeyers shoes are scuffed due to wear as are the suspects. Stottlemeyer organizes a crew to reengage, but Monk sees him go out the back. Monk tires to intercept by going up the fire escape but he is paralyzed with fear. Ian calmly makes his way down past Monk. Stottlemeyer is incredulous but Monk is surprised the Ian did not recognize him, leading to believe there are two people involved. Stottlemeyer pulls Monk form the case.

Monk goes to find solace, but chooses the garage where Trudy was killed. He hears the echo and solves the case, but he is thrown off the force; no one will listen to him. Sharona gives Sheldon a house call. Monk assembles everyone at the crime scene to recreate the incident. He believes that Gavin got sticky fingers and Vazques found out. Gavin approached the victim to commit the crime but was rebuffed. Ian was more agreeable, but they needed to take out the bodyguard. Monk notes that Gavin knew where the shot came from despite there being an echo effect preventing anyone from pinpointing the shot.

Ian shoots Gavin and makes an escape. Sharona is on his trail being in the same building but is quickly taken hostage. Monk follows with a gun he pilfered from Disher. Ian cuts the lights, but Monk gets the shot off anyway. Warren congratulates Monk with open arms. Dr. Kroger is ready to write the recommendation though Monk might need to see another doctor and take some tests. He and Sharona have a meet cute by the bridge.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk’s examination of the crime second scene is thwarted when he sees how high up he is.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona does her best to stay composed while driving Monk to the war room.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer reads Monk the riot act before going to the war room but considers his presence a sign of how serious they are at solving the crime.

Dishing it Out: Disher tells Sottlemeyer about a reporter there to cover the assassination attempt. Sottlemeyer asks if it is the cute one and Disher says no.

Let’s Talk it Out: Dr. Kroger has a pillow askew in his meeting with Monk. It is an open question as to whether he deliberately put it there.

Let’s Up the Rating: Sharona’s date is going well before Monk shows up not knowing that you embellish your resume at the early goings.

One More Time: “That’s the Famous Adrian Monk?” “The living legend.” “If you call that living.”
The detectives discussing Monk after his departure.

Dear Genre: Some guy named Michael Hogan Battles his way to guest Star as Warren.

The Rainbow Treknection: Rob LaBalle is Sheldon but played a couple of Talaxians.

Trivial Matters: This is the only two-hour episode in the franchise. There are other two partners, including the finale but they are split over two weeks.

In the opening credits, Stanley Kamel gets a solo while Ted Lavine and Jason Gray-Stanford have to share credit.

Miranda lists Monk’s phobias, germs heights and milk. Sharona notes they have been making good progress with the last one.

Jason Gray-Stanford is credited as Lt. Deacon instead of Disher. He also auditioned for the deputy mayor and did not get the role but was invited to read for Disher.

Monk quotes the “Follow the Money” line from All the Presidents’ Men and is happy he got to say it out loud!

When being thrown off the case, Stottlemeyer calls Monk a leper. We would get an episode called Mr. Monk and the Leper later.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “How does it feel to always be right?” “Terrible.” This series does not work if we are not sold on Monk’s abilities. Opening on him doing his magic shows us how great he is. It also does a great job at showing his deficiencies. He goes in and out of examining the scene and wondering if he shut his stove off.

As the title character, Monk gets a lot of fun things to do. His appearance at the funeral is questionable but it makes for a fun moment. We learn how great he is, either by direct observation of through other characters but he is amazing and that is important to get out at the start.

Sharona gets a lot of screen time as Monk’s assistant, but she also has some great dramatic beats. We see her being a mother and realizing that being a nurse to is not the best resume builder. She is a loving mother and Monk does ruin her social life. We get a sense of how tough she is when she pulls a favor our of Sheldon.

Stottlemeyer pulls no punches when talking down to Monk. We get a sense of the rivalry and Stottlemeyer makes it clear that Monk is there on a thread. It is made clear that Stortlemeyer is in charge, but you see a different side when Monk turns out to be right on a lot of parts of the case. Disher reminds him that there is more to being a captain than just being able to solve crimes.

The case works well as the large guest cast pulls off their roles. Hogan is great as Warren and Gail O’Grady is mischievous as his wife. The camera work is great with going round and round Gavin in the pivotal scene where e he cannot identify where the bullet came from. There are great shots when Monk is going through his daily routine and the framing at the graveyard is great. This is shot well.

For the most part, the plot holds up. Vazques plays a bigger part in the plot than originally thought. It holds together as a story while also showing us about Trudy in a great sequence.

There is confusion surrounding Warren’s status. He has a line early about coming in and shaking things up as opposed to treading water but acts like an incumbent at the end. This could have been avoided by changing his speech at the top.

The ending features a chase scene which is just here to eat up time. Shaloub sells it as best he can, but Ian dragging Sharona through the sewers could easily have ben cut in half. The time spent on that could be used better especially since we do not really see Monk and Stotlemeyer reconcile. Stottelmeyer called Monk a leper and it is kind of hard to walk that back. The characters are set up and we know Monk will be consulting with Sottlemeyer next week, but it would have been good to have a little closure, even open ended to allow the two to reconnect. We saw Stottlemeyer appreciate Monk, but it was to Disher, not Monk.

Not landing the ending does not distract from an otherwise great pilot.
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By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
"Mr. Monk and the Psychic"
Season 1 Episode 3
Directed by: Kevin Inch
Written by: John Romano
Original Air Date: July 19, 2002

We’ll Need Some Help: Katherine Ashcrombie speeds and frantically calls a man named Harry about their dog who is at the vet due to a broken leg. We see that not only is the pet fine, but Harry has set up some ramps which Katherine speeds down and crashes off the road.

Sharona and Monk are at a police press conference. Harry is the commissioner and his wife, Katherine, has been missing for seventy-two hours. Monk offers his assistance with the case, still just a missing person, and with Stottlemeyer, he is brought on.

Dolly Flint wakes up on a beach and finds the body of Katherine. Flint is a psychic who is known to Stottlemeyer (he arrested her three times) and she is giving notes to Randy on how to write the report. Monk is also skeptical of Flint’s abilities. Harry is soon at the scene and Stottlemeyer goes to give him the bad news. As Flint leaves, Monk notices that she moved her seat forward.

Monk meets Stottlemeyer at the station and is skeptical of Flint’s abilities as this is the first time she was right out of two hundred and twenty. At the wake, Monk runs to the restroom to wash his hands after getting a two-hander- handshake from Harry. He notices several moving boxes and some mud on a pair of boots. Harry interrupts Monk explaining that he is eager to move on. Monk had the opposite reaction about Trudy to the point where he did not even disturb her old hairbrush. Later, he finds an expensive box of perfume that Harry tried to mail but was returned with an underline six times.

Monk and Sharona visit the intended recipient, Jenny. She was having an affair with Harry for five years but she broke it off four months ago realizing he would never leave Katherine. Harry did not love his wife, but she was from a wealthy family. Jenny also suspects foul play. Monk has put a lot of the case together but has no proof. He also does not know how Harry got Dolly involved. He goes with Sharona to a reading.

The reading goes well with Flint seeing a man with a British accent named David or Derek but Monk pries information about the case. Flint took her prescribed medication and went to sleep waking up near the crash. Monk tires to get more information but Sharona licks his hand and sends him out to the car to get a wipe.

Through some comparison of gravel, Monk determines that at some point, Flint’s car and Harry’s were in the same driveway. Monk confronts Harry but there is no explanation though Monk notes there was a multi-million-dollar policy on Katherine. Monk questions Flint on a studio set. She confesses to being a fake psychic but is adamant about being right about finding the crime due to her gift.

Stottlemeyer confronts Monk at the crime scene. Monk wonders why Stottlemeyer did not use the service road which is hard to find but Flint found it in the dark her first time. Sottlemeyer is certain Monk will not have a career after accusing Harry of murder, but Monk believes that Harry was thrown off by the rain. Harry needed the body to be found to claim the insurance, so he arranged for Flint to find the body. Monk needs proof and he asks Stottlemeyer to assist.

Harry comes home to find Flint doing a reading. Jenny has gone missing, and Flint feels the presence in Harry’s house. There are clues in his house leading to a partially buried Jenny in the backyard. Harry exclaims innocence, saying that Flint is a fraud, that he drove her to the crime scene. Jenny wakes up from pretending to be dead in order to get a confession. Monk knows that Harry donned a wig and drove Flint to the scene, even running a red light or two for an alibi.

Monk discusses his disbelief on psychics when Sharona meets a British man named Daniel, right out of Flint’s reading earlier.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk cannot help himself from cleaning the suit being worn by the ‘grieving’ Harry.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona is barred from attending the conference but she points out Monk and they are let right in.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer instantly knows that Monk can empathize with Harry over losing a wife.

Dishing it out: Disher is not enthusiastic about participating in the psychic reading at Harry’s.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy Fleming makes an appearance, officially becoming the first recurring character, although he is played by Max Morrow as he will throughout the remainder of season instead of Kane Richotte who played him in the pilot. He remarks about how odd it is to be out in the middle of the night helping Monk. Later, he gives Stottlemeyer Sharona’s whereabouts while asking about a sleepover.

Let’s Up the Rating: Disher asks Sharona about Benjy in something that might be construed as an attempt a flirting. If it was flirting, it does not work.

Here’s What Happened: We get a Here’s What Happened and a black and white sequence but they are separated by several minutes and an act break.

One More Time: “I thought this was my office. I got confused because my name is on the door.”
Stottlemeyer walking into his office an seeing Monk and Sharona.

Trivial Matter: Hand wipes were seen in the pilot but here we are introduced to Monk’s habit of using them every time he shakes someone’s hand.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “Would you like us to move the crash site a little closer to you?” There are unspoken moments that will speak volumes and we have one early in this episode when Monk volunteers to help with the case. Stottlemeyer knows what Monk went through with Trudy and without batting an eye agrees to introduce Monk to Harry. The two have another ‘breakup’ after the pilot, though Stottlemeyer is on Monk’s sidelater setting up an elaborate sting. You can see Stottlemeyer coming around to Monk, though it does help that Monk was right in the end. Had Monk been wrong, this series is over after three hours. And Monk is the lead character.

The crime does not hold together too well, what with needing someone to find Katherine. Couldn’t Harry have just said that he was on the phone with her when she was near the crash site? Not that the guest cast is particularly notable. Everyone is playing their roles well but even Linda Kash’s mania as Flint is a little too restrained.

Sharonna gets some great moments from having to bring Benjy along in the middle of the night when she cannot possibly find a babysitter to dumpster diving only to find the item is hidden in Monk’s hair. She is put through a lot but finds love at the end. Hopefully it is not too much a spoiler that Daniel is never seen or heard from again.

The writing is solid as we know that Harry is guilty from the teaser, but Monk has to figure it out. There are some great moments as we are reminded of Trudy. This being the second episode, there cannot be huge revelations, but this is enough to keep us interested after a strong start.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
"Mr. Monk Meets Dale the Whale"
Season 1 Episode 4
Written by: Andy Breckman
Directed by: Rob Thompson
Original Air Date: July 26, 2002

We’ll Need Some Help: An emergency operator handles a call from a woman claiming to be assaulted by Dale Biederbeck. The operator is unable to glean much information before she screams, and the line goes dead.

After Monk ruins a game of Clue with Sharona and Benjy, they get a call from Stottlemeyer about a woman murdered at 10:57 the prior evening. The time is precise because she was on the phone with emergency services. The living room is in shambles, but there are some questions about the crime scene. They have a suspect identified on the call, but Stottlemeyer is skeptical that they are the murderer.

The quartet visit Biederbeck, a wealthy man who has a great deal of influence and a history with Monk. Biederbeck is openly antagonistic towards Monk and Stottlemeyer, to the point of repeating Trudy’s last words to Monk. He also has an alibi as he has been bedridden for over a decade. Stottlemeyer is confident that Dale is guilty but is challenged to prove it.

A judge refuses to issue a search warrant. Even though there is sympathy since the victim was also a judge (whose ruling cost Biederbeck hundreds of millions) it cannot be justified. Sharona goes with a backup plan and poses as a nurse. Biederbeck is insufferable with Sharona openly mocking her and relishing in her having to go undercover. He even exposes himself to her to prove his weight. She does find ten videotapes that the victim made on television.

At the victim’s house, Monk wonders why she was cooking before her death since she had eaten the night before, to the point where she brought home leftovers. Sharona finds a picture of Dale’s housekeeper. It turns out Dale offered more money and pried information including where the hidden key was.

Monk and Sharona interview the witness. Who is ten years old. And selling lemonade. Which she forces Monk to buy three glasses of. She confirms that she heard the smoke alarm then saw the murder. The timing seems off, but Monk believes someone was putting on a show for her. They interview Biederbeck’s personal physician, Dr. Vezza, who has a mutual attraction to Sharona. Monk finds an ‘empathy suit’ and realizes that the doctor just had his thirty-seventh birthday. Outside the office, Monk confirms that he knows how the murder happened.

Stottlemeyer serves an arrest warrant to Biederbeck and makes preparations to transport him to custody. Dr. Vezza killed the judge and ransacked the house. He put on the suit and set off the alarm to get an eyewitness. It appears that Dr. Vezza is an alias which Biederbeck found out about and blackmailed for the murder. There is little to tie Biederbeck but ‘Dr. Vezza’ agrees to cooperate with the authorities.

Later, Sharona asks about Trudy’s last words, bread and butter. When they were walking as a couple, anytime someone came between them she would say ‘bread and butter’ as a way to explain that they would be back together in a moment. He believes she said that with her last breath to tell him that it would be all right to let her go.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk remembers the game of Clue from the last time they played, down to imperfections on the cards so he knows who did it.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona invites Monk over for a Sunday Board Game Morning. Like all great nurses do.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer got a call from the mayor to involve Monk on the case but did not object this time.

Dishing it out: Randy is pretty sure that the perpetrator left some rocks out on the lawn for a message. Monk believes he was looking for the spare key.

Let’s Talk it Out: Dr. Kroger’s eating habits during a quick lunch cause consternation to Monk though he helps make a break in the case.

Let’s Up the Rating: Sharona hands Stottlemeyer a contract for consulting services at the start to get the business out of the way. Randy replies that she probably said that frequently. Your humble rewatcher barfed for an hour then resumed watching.

One More Time: “Mom, we’re not exactly normal” “We are compared to some people.”
Benjy correcting his mother and Sharona stealing a glance at Monk.

Dear Genre: Adam Arkin is the son of Alan Arkin.

Trivial Matters: The impression from the teaser is that all operators can listen to a call as there are a good chunk who listen in to assist. Thankfully there are no other issues in the city that require their attention.

As Dale, Adam Arkin gets the coveted Special Guest Star status.

The envelope that the game of Clue has for the cards is … well worn. More like mangled by a wild animal. Man, they must play that game a lot in the Fleming household.

Monk totally calls out some kids on extortion for the lemonade stand. They add sugar by hand without stirring and reach into the cup afterwards. The health department seems like a better call from this end.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “The man who did it couldn’t have done it.” Biederbeck will recur, becoming an arch nemesis to Monk and it does not work that he is obese. With a series built around a man with several disabilities, openly mocking someone for one is not a good note. Mind you, we are not supposed to like Biederbeck, but the script goes out of the way to make him despicable. Adam Arkin does not help matters, not making him a So Bad You Like Him kind of guy.

‘Dr. Vezza’ is not much better. The script needs him to be involved in the murder, but he has a background so bad he needed to create an alias, though with an alias he got a medical degree? And the guilt eats away at him to the point where he will cooperate with the police but has no problem murdering a woman? He is the murderer, and we are not supposed to like him, but we do not know that until the end.

We know that Biederbeck is at least somehow involved in the murder from the start meaning that the fun is finding out how he did it only to determine that he didn’t do it directly. There are some fun moments in the case, particularly with the lemonade scene. Jennifer Pisana and Amber Marshall play their roles perfectly and have fun.

There are also some moments that move the fledging series forward. Stottlemeyer is getting accustomed to Monk, Dr. Kroger makes time to see him, and we get more information about Trudy. It does not overwhelm us or hit us in the face, but they are nice reminders to the larger story being told. Too bad they are surrounded by such a mess.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
"Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival"
Season 1 Episode 5
Written by: Siobhan Byrne
Directed by: Randall Zisk
Original Air Date: August 2, 2002

We’ll Need Some Help: We start, appropriately enough, at a carnival. Stottlemeyer is dropping off an officer named Adam and it is clear that the two know each other. Stottlemeyer would feel more comfortable if Adam had a wire. In the carnival Adam is approached by a man named Gitomer offering to sell some illicit substances. Gitomer agrees to talk further on the Ferris Wheel. While the two are on, Gitomer causes a disturbance and yells that he is in danger. The ride stops and Adam gets off flashing his badge, but Gitomer falls over dead.

With the police and news on the scene, we learn about Adam and a checkered past. Adam professes innocence but Stottlemeyer tells him to keep quiet. There are bruises on Gitomer along with a stab wound leaving Stottlemeyer with no choice but to charge Adam. Disher suggests Monk but Stottlemeyer knows he is going before a review board and a case might perturb him.

Monk handles the review like a champ, despite some triggers. They have a recommendation from Dr. Kroger and will have to interview Stottlemeyer. As they leave, Monk gets into an accident with a pole, but gets called away urgently.

Adam’s bond hearing does not go well, and Monk is skeptical of Adam’s innocence. Stottlemeyer begs Monk to the point of offering a favor. Monk agrees, after feigning an argument with Sharona. Stottlemeyer tells them to be careful about their investigation; internal affairs is all over this and does not want anyone to muck it up.

Monk and Sharona meet with Adam. The press are all over him and Monk was there when Adam was physical with a suspect. Adam will also be testifying against a criminal soon and Gitomer’s murder means they will likely walk. Adam acknowledges his past but is in a better place now and never touched Gitomer.

At theccarnival, Monk and Stottlemeyer find a picture of Gitomer from the night in question, and he is wearing a hoodie in ninety-degree weather. The internal affairs guys come around and Stottlemeyer runs interference while Monk tries to blend in. Looking at the rotating scene of the crime, they find a half Tarot card.

At Gitomer’s apartment, they find that he hit himself purposefully, which would explain the bruising. They also find out from the landlord that he frequented a club. At the club, the card is used to claim a bag in the coat check area.

Stottlemeyer goes before the review board. He testifies to Monk’s amazing abilities, of which the board is well aware, but ask him directly if he would recommend Monk for reinstatement and Stottlemeyer is stymied.

Without Adam being able to testify, criminal Stokes walks free. At booking, Monk reveals that Stokes made calls to Gitomer. They find out that Gitomer recently got out of prison and was in the same wing as Stokes. Before they can make more headway, they realize that Stottlemeyer is testifying. They meet him with Monk in full uniform but realize that Stottlemeyer did not make a positive recommendation.

Disher tries to brighten a crestfallen Stottlemyer but is met with a recounting of his first day with Monk. Monk surveyed a crime scene and determined that it was murder and had evidence despite eight others in the same room.

Sharona and Monk head to the carnival calling Sotttlemeyer on the way. Stokes wanted to get out and the only way was to discredit Adam. Gitomer bruised himself to set up Adam, but the operator (identified with a pin from a support group) stabbed Gitomer. At the carnival with Sotttlemeyer on the way, Stokes stabs the operator and flees. Sharona gets on the Ferris Wheel to find a better view, but Stokes is also there and make his way to Sharona. Monk breaks the wheel while in motion but jumps on. Sotttlemeyer eventually arrives and pulls the plug (literally) and arrests Stokes.

Adam is reinstated and Stottlemeyer tells Monk not to give up. Sharona tortures Monk to find out how he knew the number of jelly beans in a jar at the carnival. He saw the emptied jellybean boxes and took some off figuring someone snuck a few.

This Week’s Compulsion: Bad window blinds, a missed wastepaper basket and spilled water are among the ‘distractions’ Monk predominantly avoids in the review.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona has been coaching Monk for his review, including biting down on his tongue.

Captain Moustache: Monk and Sharona walk away to make it look like they are arguing but not far enough as Stottlemeyer can hear them.

Dishing it out: Disher is absolutely shocked that Adam has to be charged and that Stottlemeyer made that request.

Let’s Talk it Out: Dr. Kroger does not appear, but his recommendation is less than glowing albeit positive.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy wants a book of tickets at the carnival, but Sharona is low on funds, which she blames on Monk.

Let’s Up the Rating: Seeking to get attention, Gitomer accuses Adam of being a little too touchy feely.

Here’s What Happened: The phrase is not said but Monk relays the information to Stottlemeyer while being driven by Sharona.

One More Time: “You can drive when hell freezes over. You know what, I’ll still drive because I don’t want you on the ice!”
Sharona not being happy at Monk’s driving.

Dear Genre: Adam’s last name? Kirk!

The Rainbow Treknection: Stephen McHattie played the bad news finding Vreenak and also the back on the force Adam.

Alan Van Spang would play bad guy Stokes and bad guy Leland on Discovery’s second season.

Oh, and Adam’s last name? Kirk!

Trivial Matters: The board shows that Monk has helped the department with eight cases, though this is the fourth episode. Also, Stottlemeyer says that Monk helped on six cases. Either my math is off, or Monk helped others in the department.

The board also mentions that his phobia prevented one suspect from being caught as we saw in Mr. Monk and the Candidate.

The original idea for this involved a ski lift, but the creators realized it would be hard to justify Monk leaving the area.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “No officer is without fear.” That’s true and we all accept that. As long as his fears don’t interfere with the performance of his duties.” For a show billed as a comedy, this series can have some great dramatic moments. Monk’s reinstatement hearing shows off the dramatic chops of all involved. It is not played for a comedy at all. The directing is point on showing us Monk’s point of view when he is unable to entirely avoid the distractions in the room. We are in his perspective, but he does not flinch.

Stottlemeyer’s scene with the board is a strong one as well. He is proud of Monk’s work but in the end, he is unable to recommend Monk to carry a badge and protect his fellow officers. We do not see the moment, but we get the aftermath. It is telling that we do not see key parts of the story but can fill in the blanks. Siobhan Byrne O'Connor knew we did not need to see everything, and some things are better left to the imagination which lets us see more of the story. While Stottlemeyer is a key part of the story at the end of the day this is Monk’s story, and we see it through his perspective.

The final scene before the end tag is done well with Stottlemeyer speaking about Adam rejoining the force but framing initially as though he was speaking about Monk. Everything will probably not be solved five hours into the first season, but the moments are hit each and every time. There is progress being made and Sottlemeyer knows Monk will get there someday. Overall, this would have been better as a season finale not a third of the way into the first season

The Adam and Stokes plot is a little more haphazard and thrown in. It moves too quickly and takes second stage to the bigger story which is an issue with a detective series. Nothing is off with the actors; it just seems like an afterthought. The climatic action set piece works if you shut off your brain to wonder how Stokes got on before Sharona, how Monk is able to hold onto a moving wheel, how did he get that close to Sharona, etc. The comedy part is also not on point. There is a scene where Monk tries to drive, and it goes on for too long. Worst, he has an accident with Sharona’s car and that is not heard from again.

There are great moments and storytelling in this one, but it is a little too early and there are moments along for the ride.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
"Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum"
Season 1 Episode 5
Written by: Tom Scharpling and David Breckman
Directed by: Nick Marck
Original Air Date: August 9, 2002

We’ll Need Some Help: Monk is getting ready for dinner. He is having problems finding something, so he calls Sharona who helps him find it. Unfortunately, the item is not there because Monk is in the wrong place, confirmed by the caller ID. As he realizes his mistake, officers and a family with a little one approach Monk. The police bring him along with Sharona to the Medford Psychiatric Institute, which is undergoing some renovations.

Dr. Kroger is there to sign some paperwork with Monk having to undergo a forty-eight-hour evaluation. Monk meets with Dr. Lancaster, head of the Institute. It turns out that he was in Trudy’s old residence on their anniversary, and he was trying to cook a favorite dish of hers. Dr. Lancaster tells him not to be a detective while he is there.

An orderly named Oliver shows Monk to his room and gives him a schedule, including mandatory events. He is allowed one phone call every day starting at 11:25. Monk’s roommate is John Wurster, a homicide detective under a seventy-two-hour observation. Monk notes there is a lot of laundry for such a short visit and Wurster gives him the tour, during which he claims to have been in construction. They come across the medical dispensary and Wurster recounts the death of a former assistant director. A client shot the former staffer and took the medication before running off and overdosing.

At art therapy, Manny draws a self-portrait with Santa Claus. Manny waits for Santa every night, which is odd as it is August. Someone has an incident that night and the staff calls Dr. Lancaster on his cell phone. That night, he finds Santa and snaps a picture. At group therapy the next day, Monk recounts how he wound up in the wrong place. Manny tells the group about Santa including that jolly Saint Nick took a call on his cell phone.

Monk asks Manny where Santa was and gets a visit to Manny’s room. Manny wanted that room for a while and was recently granted it. He shows Monk the place where he saw Santa and there is a piece of red cloth dangling.

Mock recreates the murder scene from the dearly departed director, Dr. Gould. Monk deduces that the person who committed the murder was a staff member who had their own set of keys. They are interrupted by Oliver who takes Monk to Dr. Lancaster. As a matter of professional courtesy, Monk is asked not to investigate Dr. Gould’s death any longer. They also find that Monk stole some jewelry and forgot about it.

Dr. Lancaster gives a visiting Sharona an update. Monk is regressing and might need more time, possibly a month. The search for Santa is not in a positive light and the red cloth has gone missing. Dr. Lancaster also wants Sharona out of Monk’s life as that might further his regression.

Sharona leaves but looks into Dr. Gould’s notes. The handwritten document talks about Dr. Gould being up for a promotion, something that would infuriate Dr. Lancaster. Having a realization, Sharona sneaks a message to Monk letting him know he is very much not crazy but is very much in danger and to leave quickly.

For reasons not explained to the viewer, Monk goes to Dr. Lancaster’s office and is sent to a padded cell in a strait jacket for his troubles. Monk effects an escape and goes to Manny’s room to meet Santa, except it isn’t Santa, it is Dr. Lancaster. He murdered Dr. Gould and stashed the gun down a chimney. He has to hurry and find it before the construction crew does. Moving Manny gave him the perfect alibi as long as he put on a costume. Dr. Lancaster finds the weapon and tries to shoot Monk, but after all the years, oxidation has ruined the weapon. The police and Sharona arrive.

Before dozing off, Monk calls Sharona to be sure he is in the right place and to consider her for employee of the month.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk shows Dr. Lancaster how awesome he is by deducing that there was a recent fishing trip to South America.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona confirms that Monk is in the wrong place based on the caller ID. Too bad she didn’t notice it earlier.

Let’s Talk it Out: Dr. Kroger tells Monk to take the situation seriously and establishes Dr. Lancaster.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy has a bit too much fun with glow in the dark paint.

Let’s Up the Rating: Sharona totally flirts with the librarian to get Dr. Gould’s notes. Then is super nasty moments later.

Here’s What Happened: When Wurster narrates a history, we get sepia tone.

One More Time: “This is the Monkey Room. Funny story how it got its name.” “How did it get its name?” “We don’t know. We just know it’s a funny story.”
Wurster and Monk discussing one of the rooms.

Dear Genre: Kevin Nealon of Saturday Night Live and Weeds is Wurster. Dennis Boutsakaris is Dr. Lancaster and Rick Schweikert of Better Call Saul.

Trivial Matters: John Wurster is named after Jon Wurster, episode writer Tom Scharpling’s writing partner of yore.

We find out that Monk is more than afraid of tomatoes, he is downright allergic.

Manny’s room has a map of the world from the North Pole with direct routes for Santa.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “What can happen? It’s a hospital.” There are some things missing from this episode. For one, Sottlemeyer and Disher are nowhere to be seen. Then again, their presence isn’t required and if Dr. Kroger could not get Monk out of the institution, Stottlemeyer probably can’t either.

For another, the mystery doesn’t show up until a good third of the way through. Usually that would be an issue for a detective series such as this, but it works.

Part of the success is the storytelling. We skip a lot in the opening minutes, more than likely due to budgetary constraints but the teaser is a great bit of fun as Monk wanders around a place not his own and is confronted. We next see him being driven to the Institute. Director Nick Marck gave us enough to know what is going on, including the continual construction which is frequently in the picture but does not overshadow. Dr. Kroger helps get him situated and we get introduced to the cast of the week.

A great deal for the success of this episode goes to the amazing Kevin Nealon. Yes, his lines are funny, but you would expect that of a comedian, particularly of his caliber. Tom and Breckman gave him good material to work with. But every great actor knows how to act when they are not given explicit direction. He has a physicality as he follows Monk around during the reenactment and he shines whenever he is on screen.

The best part is that it is never outright stated that Nealon’s Wurster is lying, but so much of what he says is contradictory or unbelievable that there is no way it can all be true. Nealon sells the heck out of the subtlety. His performance is a joy to watch. That is not to take away from Ken Chesseman’s Manny or Eve Gordon’s Janie who are both clearly having fun with their respective roles.

Even Dennis Boutsikaris is having fun as Dr. Lancaster. The first scene with Monk shows a good admiration of our lead character’s abilities. He makes it clear that the Institute is his playpen and Monk should let him do his job. If only Dr. Lancaster had just signed off on Monk in a couple hours, he would have gotten away with it.

A fun episode with great performances.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
Mr. Monk and the Billionaire Mugger
Season 1 Episode 6
Written by: Timothy J. Lea
Directed by: Stephen Cragg
Original Air Date: August 16, 2002

We’ll Need Some Help: A very rich man heads out into the night for a lecture. We know he is wealthy because he has several maids and cars. He pulls into an alley, dons a mustache and hoodie before approaching a couple on their way from a movie and pulling a knife on them. One member of the couple pulls out a gun and shoots their ‘assailant.’

Sharona’s check bounced and she confronts Monk about it, especially since they just helped someone locate a Picasso. Single mother Sharona is ready to quit if one more check bounces. Sharona and Monk go to the crime scene. Stottlemeyer says that William Modine is leaving the movies before getting accosted. He shoots the perpetrator who it turns out is Sidney Teal, multibillion dollar computer tycoon. Stottlemyer has a problem putting it all together. There is also an issue with a police officer witnessing the crime and fleeing the scene.

Teal’s widow talks about how adventurous her husband was becoming. Monk looked at the pictures and doubts he did anything like bungee jumping or skydiving. They talk to the chauffeur and determine that Teal had a gun, though he was reluctant to use it, even at the shooting range. He is stymied by what happened and asks Monk to figure it out.

Stottlemeyer and Disher talk about the runaway officer, or Fraidy Cop as the media has dubbed him. They have a probable route based on reports and believe he went to a bar and made a call to his mother. That would seem to be a great lead if they have access to the call records, but the scene ends there for some reason.

Monk and Sharona interview one of Teal’s colleagues but get no more information. While purchasing a replacement lamp (plus two spares) Monk realizes that Modine and Teal were fraternity brothers. At an interview, Modine admits to knowing Teal, but they weren’t friends. Modine did have a fling with Teal’s future wife. This leads to a press conference laying out the facts and leaving it to the DA to prosecute at their discretion. There are questions about Fraidy Cop, but Stottlemeyer shoots them down.

Sharona wants Disher to pay for services rendered but Monk is not sure the case is solved. Why didn’t Teal use his gun? If he was so concerned about this decades gone affair, why was he planning a romantic getaway with his wife? Sharona quits and Monk is distraught.

While walking home, Monk is the target of a shooting. He is unharmed but sees Dr. Kroger to calm his nerves. Sharona has taken a job at the lamp store but has a revelation while reading Teal’s autobiography, leading her to interview an old flame of Teal’s. At the same time, Monk visits an old friend of Trudy’s hoping for a lead. Unfortunately, is turns out he has done so several times but keeps on forgetting the occasions.

Teal’s acquaintance recounts a time when they were dating and were approached by a mugger with a knife. Teal fought off the assailant and was heroic. She recalls the wielder saying, “Don’t be a hero,” the same thing Teal said before he was shot.

Monk finds Leo Otterman, the man who has reclaimed his Picasso, but the funds are still not available. Monk is referred to the main office to work something out. Sharona comes as Leo leaves and relays the information from the flame, and Monk figures it out.

At the Teal estate, Monks says that in college, Teal was going to date but needed to pump himself up, so Modine decided to pose as a mugger. Decades passed and at a reunion, Modine got friendly with Teal’s wife to the point that they wanted Teal out of the picture. Modine approached Teal about returning the favor. Unfortunately, Teal went too far and hired an actor to pose as a cop and congratulate Modine. After the shooting, the actor fled. As proof, Monk brought the actor to the mansion. The widowed Teal lays the blame on Modine who pulls out a gun to shoot her. Disher tackles him and Stottlemeyer places him under arrest but not before the actor runs off.

Monk and Sharona bring an officer to get the over one thousand dollars they are owed from Otterman who wishes they did not bring a cop to the golf course. It turns out that the cop is the actor who gets recognized and runs off the course.

This Week’s Compulsion: The person who got their Picasso back didn’t have enough liquid funds to pay.

White Courtesy Phone: Not liking a bounced check, Sharona tries to renegotiate the contract with Sottlemeyer.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer is not able to authorize the raise Sharona is requesting. He refers her to someone in another department.

Dishing it out: Randy interviews the witnesses and one keeps interrupting. For some reason, it never occurs to question them individually.

Let’s Talk it Out: Dr. Kroger notes that he has not been paid for nine sessions and Monk fears Dr. Kroger will abandon him, too, to the point where he needs multiple sessions a week to until they get caught up.

Let’s Up the Rating: Teal’s old flame got really turned on by him stopping the mugging.

Here’s What Happened: As Sharona realizes what happened during the interview, we get black and white footage.

One More Time: “What’s the noise?” “The alternator.” “Why don’t you fix it? Oh…”
Monk getting the look form Sharona

Trivial Matters: This episode was inspired by a Saturday Night Live skit featuring David Beckham.

We hear “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood and the Destroyers as Teal drives around.

The movie Modine is walking out of is Hitchcock’s “The Man Who knew Too Much.”

Sheldon Berger from the Mayor’s office gets a name check.

Monk sees Dr. Kroger once a week, though he has to increase it to twice with everything going on.

The scene with Monk visiting Trudy’s friend was shot for the pilot. The clothing is cold for the time of year, and they tried to cover it up with a line on the radio about it getting cold early.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “What am I doing here?” “Here’s the punchline …” There is a great start to this episode, with the crime being essentially solved ten minutes in. Everything seems figured out and there is little for Monk to add.

The solution itself and the case in general are done well. It is a smart plan by Modine with several ways for it to go well and enough plausible deniability for him as well. Were it not for the autobiography, it is possible that Modine gets away with the murder.

Unfortunately, the plotting is so slow it moves glacially. A consequence to the plot is that even though there are questions, they do not go anywhere too quickly. None of the actors are especially compelling. The victim is a public figure, so a lot of the people interviewed are mourning which does not lead to top notch acting.

Furthermore, a great deal of the plot has to deal with not getting paid. This has aged poorly after a recession and lots of people losing their jobs which does not help the pacing or keep interest. There is some fun tuff with Fraidy Cop, but it is not enough to salvage the hour. A decent start but it gets lost in the ether.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
Mr. Monk and the Other Woman
Season 1 Episode 7
Written by David M. Stern
Directed by Adam Arkin
Original Air Date: August 23, 2002

We’ll Need Some Help: Lou Pratt is burning the midnight oil. His assistant leaves and a masked assailant enters, stabs Lou and burns a file. The assistant left her keys behind, so she returns to the office, finds the scene and screams.

Monk has a session with Dr. Kroger which is interrupted by an annoying but small pebble in his shoe. Lou being a friend of the mayor, Monk is called to the scene. He can tell the victims were stabbed, not shot and one was strangled with the phone cord, a detail Disher missed. There is a suspect, Walter Grayson, an ex-client of Pratts. His case was lost a year and a half ago as a long grudge. Disher believes the suspect a fool since they burned Grayson’s file but there are more copies around. Monk is suspicious and asks to talk to Grayson.

Pratt’s death is a surprise to Grayson. His weapon collection is a surprise to everyone else. Grayson, shocked that his lawyer is dead, goes off to walk his dog. Grayson argues with his neighbor, Monica Walters. Grayson thinks Walters’ garage is too big and hired Pratt to sue. The case didn’t go his way and Grayson refused to pay the four-hundred-dollar fee, despite being the owner of a security company. Monk takes the side of Walters, and she is impressed. He takes a look at her garage (not a euphemism, he looks at her garage) and is in a state of ecstasy at how immaculate it is. They agree to have a dinner date.

Monk chooses a restaurant he and Trudy used to frequent. He has no questions for her, and they flirt a bit. She goes to the jukebox and chooses a song Trudy liked.

At Pratt’s funeral, Sharon is impressed Monk and Walters hit it off. Grayson shows up, irritating Sharona but Monk shares his disbelief in Grayson as the killer. As the eulogy is delivered, an elderly man coughs on Monk. Monk asserts himself and the gentleman promptly passes away, days short of his ninetieth birthday. Stottlemeyer arrives afterwards to question Grayson, who ordered knives similar to the one that stabbed Pratt. Monk is still skeptical as Grayson is a collector but there are no other suspects.

The night, Grayson’s dog is inside Walters’ garage barking. The same masked figure that killed Pratt knocks Grayson out with a shovel. Monk has a dream of Trudy but is awakened by a call from Walters, who is being questioned at the station. She has a lawyer but needs a friend. They arrive at the crime scene, but Monk wonders why the assailant smashed the motion detector when Walters would have just turned it off. Sotttlemeyer is unconvinced. A frightened Walters asks Monk to stay the night to keep her calm. Sharona is nervous but helps Monk pack.

Monk settles down in the Walters house seeing that he had a bit in common with her deceased ex. At the station, Disher realizes that Walters’ ex is buried under the garage. Sotttlemeyer wants to sleep on it and let Monk know in the morning. Disher tells him about the sleepover.

Monk comes out of the bathroom for dinner to find Walters claiming to have been waiting for two hours. As she pours him a glass of wine, Sotttlemeyer calls him to get out; she’s the killer. He waits until she sips wine before drinking it himself and tries to avoid eating food she made especially for him. He outright asks her if she will kill him, and she is shocked. Her husband is a schizophrenic and in a hospital in Zurich. They are interrupted by a noise outside, which turns out to be Stottlemeyer. They tell him about her husband and that leaves them without a suspect.

Monk goes back to Pratt’s office. Convinced that the burnt file is a red herring, they look for another file. It could take hours, but Monk deduces the file of Todd Katteskill, their suspect. They go to the reading of the will for the man who died at the funeral where everything is left to an alma mater. Todd is surprised since he thought he would inherit the money. Todd knew he would be cut out of the will, so he forged one, but the notary signatory was on vacation when it was supposedly signed. Todd had to kill Pratt who knew details of the will and burned a file at random to throw off the scent. He would overhear Monk’s suspicions at the funeral and kill Grayson to keep them on that track. Todd is arrested.

Outside, Stottlemeyer apologizes, on the order of the commissioner. Walters approaches Monk. Their time together brought back old feelings and she is going to Zurich so that they can be together.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk really likes his side dishes on the side, asking for an entirely different plate.

White Courtesy Phone: Monk does not want to be in a ‘cold’ crime scene, but Sharona talks him back in.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer is not thrilled that the mayor asked Monk to help.

Dishing it out: Disher is not happy to have Monk around. Until several key clues are pointed out.

Let’s Talk it Out: Dr. Kroger talks about how it may be time for Monk to date again, Trudy having been gone four years.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy does not make an appearance, but Monk says Sharona called about a role he got in the school play.

It Recurs to Me: Stellina Rusich makes several overexposed appearances as Trudy, her first appearance since the pilot.

Let’s Up the Rating: Disher and Sharona are ready to either jump on each other or kill each other.

One More Time: “I promise I won’t be mad but tell me, are you trying to kill me?”
Monk being polite about a possible murder.

Trivial Matters: Adam Arkin, who played Dale Biederbeck earlier this season, directed.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “It doesn’t make any sense.” “Does everything have to make sense, Monk?” “Yeah, it kind of does.” Love stories are tough. They almost entirely depend on the chemistry between the actors and that is hard when one of them is a one-off guest star. Maria De Mar’s Walters has no chemistry with Shaloub. That is an issue in a script where Monk is falling for someone. It is workable but it drags a bit at times. Their friendship is believable, but their romance is not.

Now Sharona and Disher, the two love sniping at each other. Their relationship is more believable than Monk and Walters and it is a brief exchange at the top of the episode. Schram and Gray-Stanford play it off wonderfully.

Not helping is that Walters is supposed to be our red herring. There are certainly enough clues to point to something afoot about her, but it never goes anywhere. We are led down a road of her duplicity but her comments about Monk in the bathroom are out of left field.

The plot takes a bit of head turning to figure out but why was Grayson killed? He is a suspect without whom they have to look elsewhere, possibly at Todd. Grayson was not a nice guy, but his death served little but to bring Monk and Walters closer together.

There is the continuing acceptance of Monk to Stottlemeyer. He outright is not at the crime scene at the start and is pissed that Monk is called in at the request of the mayor. There is an apology at the end but that is only begrudgingly. This is a middle of the road episode in the middle of the season.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
Mr. Monk and the Marathon Man
Season 1 Episode 8
Written by: Mitch Markowitz
Directed by: Adam Davidson
Original Air Date: September 13, 2002

We’ll Need Some Help: We open on the twenty-fifth Chronicle Marathon. One of the runners is retired Olympian, Nigeria’s own Tonday Mawwaka. Sharona and Monk are in attendance, Monk being a huge fangoober of Mawwaka. Unfortunately, Monk misses seeing his idol due to a preoccupation with the lack of successful buttoning on another spectator’s sweater. A woman named Gwen is watching on her television. She is interrupted by a man named Trevor who is wearing a tracksuit. She screams then her body is tossed off the balcony.

Sharona is driving the despondent Monk home when traffic gets into a crawl and thy see Stottlemeyer and Disher, both in their civvies. They tell Monk about the body, but Monk notices her toenails are partially painted, meaning it was definitely a murder. In the apartment, Stottlemeyer gets confirmation that she was strangled before she fell. She has an ex-husband and a sugar daddy. There is a phone with a blank number on speed dial, perfect for a secret lover. They dial the number and call Trevor McDowell.

McDowell is recording a commercial for his furniture store, but Monk ruins the first take by walking onto the set and adjusting a lamp. After McDowell excuses his family, he is questioned. He met Gwen on set and paid for her apartment but decided to break it off. His alibi is that he was running in the marathon, something Sottlemeyer notes they have several ways to verify.

Monk and Sharona go to the marathon headquarters where Monk immediately turns heads by wiping his hands after shaking everyone’s hand, as he always does, but the last person he shook was the only African American. They show Monk the trackers they give each racer which makes sure there is no cheating involved. McDowell passed every one, with ‘beautiful pacing.’

Arthur Zalenski, Gwen ex, is brought in. His alibi is less tight as he claims to have been at home alone in bed. Monk tells Sotttlemeyer that McDowell is a suspect. Stottlemeyer is skeptical with the tracker information, unless McDowell gave his to someone else. There is no one who finished at the exact same time, but they find someone a few seconds off, Mawwaka.

Monk and Sharona pay Mawwaka a visit in a fancy hotel. Monk and Mawwaka bond over a passion of running. They note that McDowell ‘s chip was always near Mawwaka’s but while the early and late footage show the two together, during the race, McDowell is nowhere to be seen. Mawwaka gives Monk a pair of shoes he is endorsing. Sharona notes that the tea he gave her is chamomile, the same scent Gwen had in her apartment.

Monk and Sharona go to the racecourse finding a spot where McDowell could have ducked out. There is a trolley nearby which they take. On the way, Monk tells Sharona of his last race in high school. Right before he was going to start a race, he saw that his laces were uneven. He missed the start and never ran since. They run through the detour and the timing works out.

Monk and Sharona confront McDowell at his store. They note that he forgot to turn in his chip at the end of the race but did so later. Also, pictures at the start of the race show a sweat drenched shirt but it is dry at the finish line. Monk figures McDowell wanted to make a clean break from Gwen, but she had other ideas.

Disher reports to Stottlemeyer that Zalenski’s alibi checks out. Stottlemeyer’s kooky theory is that six runners passed the chip back and forth throughout the race. Disher’s kooky theory is that a dog ran the race with the chip.

While watching news coverage of the race, Monk has a flash of brilliance. As Sharona drives him, he tells her that McDowell put the chip on the camera crew covering the race. He ran for a bit but when he took his detour, the chip was still on the course. They go to the TV station as McDowell’s chip is still there as is McDowell to retrieve it after getting a tipoff from the news. Sharona is stuck on the fence, but Monk chases him down. Monk tackles McDowell but in celebratory haste, McDowell manages to throw the chip into the water. Thankfully, it is in a floating case.

Monk and Sharona go to see Mawwaka off to the airport. Mawwaka sees Monk has a drive in him and gives the headband from an early race. Monk is thrilled but Sharona is less so.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk is such a fan he brought two cameras, in case one broke.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona is floored that Monk ran track. She has problems picturing him in gym shorts.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer is pissed that he lost his day off.

Dishing it out: After Monk points out the toenails, Randy quips that it may be the style.

Let’s Up the Rating: After Randy’s quip, Sharona responds ‘Like you would know.’

Here’s What Happened: As Monk narrates his high school travesty, we see footage similar to ‘Here’s what happened.’

One More Time: “We’re not here to shop.” “Although if it does turn out you’re innocent, I would like to talk to you about that recliner.”
Monk being all business, Sharona not letting an opportunity slip by.

Trivial Matter: While The Chronicle Marathon is fictional, there is a San Francisco Marathon., the twenty fifth of which would have been kind of around this airdate. They probably would not sign off on involvement with this plot, though.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “Can’t you just let people be askew? What are you, the askew police?” The eighth episode of the season this is the first without Benjy, Dr. Kroger or any mention of Trudy. Stottlemeyer’s passive aggressiveness with Monk is nowhere to be seen.

And none of them are missed.

There is an enthusiasm to this episode that sets it apart from the others. Gone is the despondent Monk and in his place is someone eager. It helps when your lead character is in high spirits and Shaloub channel’s Monk’s excitement. This is the first time he has gone somewhere not work or Trudy related. He is smiling and got to meet one of his icons. You can tell he is genuinely happy in this hour.

The rest of the main cast is up to the challenge. Stottlemeyer and Disher are not pleased to be called in on a day off and in a nice touch, are in their civilian attire for the first chunk of the episode, a nice nod to continuity.

The supporting cast is strong, but no one really stands out, aside from Zakes Mokae as Mawwaka. A South African himself, this was his final role, and he gives Shaloub more than enough to play off of. The two are great on screen and they share a couple scenes.

The mystery is a fun one and McDowell is done in on his own. Had he not retrieved the chip or taken it out of its case, he would have gotten away with it. The writing is solid with a script by Mitch Markowitz. This a great hour that moves.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
"Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation"
Season 1 episode 9
Written by: Hy Conrad
Directed By: Kevin Inch
Original Air Date: September 20, 2002

We’ll Need Some Help: Sharona and Monk are on vacation. Benjy is bored so he looks in the binoculars. He sees their room; the first room Monk was assigned (the one that smelled funny) and one where there is a murder happening.

Hotel security Rita Bronwyn Monksplains to the hotel manager, Tony Landis, who emphasizes discretion for the guests. There is a bigwig staying at the hotel, financier John Fenimore. They go to the room, but it is pristine. Fenimore comes in having fed the ducks. He and his wife had a fight but have since made up. She also called him earlier.

Benjy is adamant about what he saw but Sharona is doubtful while Monk takes the young man’s side. While Sharona is preoccupied with a tennis match, Monk has Benjy walks him through what he saw. Through the binoculars, the room looks a great outside as it does inside. Monk also sees Fenimore talking with someone not his wife.

Monk calls Disher for information on Fenimore, who has a domestic abuse charge from years back, tingling Monk’s spider sense. Landis is in a tizzy after a housekeeper unexpectedly quits. The remaining four are on overtime. Monk wants to inspect the bags so that the body is not disposed of, but Landis gives them an hour. He also identifies the woman as Fenimore’s assistant Nicole.

Bronwyn and Monk go to confront Fenimore about murdering his wife but as they go into the room, there is a surprise party with the very much alive Irene Fenimore.

Before Sharona leaves for a date, she talks with Benjy about being overimaginative. Bronwyn shows Monk a device that can detect over ten types of bodily fluids. Monk freaks out and calls the housekeeping staff to thoroughly clean his room. While at the arcade, Benjy finds a pair of glasses he saw the victim wearing. Monk approaches Sharona who is on a date but Moon winds up getting roasted by a comedian. Meanwhile, Benjy finds a body in an arcade machine. He immediately runs to get his mom, but when everyone goes to the machine, but it is devoid of a corpse.

Monk and Bronwyn, who escaped an attempt on her life, look at the scene to the dismay of Landis. There is a door nearby, but all one hundred fifty members of the staff have access to it. They also find a powder used to disguise smells. Landis reluctantly keeps searching outgoing bags until noon the next day, coincidentally the same time Monk is leaving.

Sharona is getting fed up with Monk’s investigation and gets an invitation for another tennis match. After he leaves, Monk tells her that the date might be married. Seeing a groundkeeper using the powder, Monk has a talk and discovers that the materials are locked up but accessible via a window. Not just that, but three bags are missing. Monk theorizes there would need to be multiple people to steal the bags, a gang.

As Sharona is relentless with Shawn on the tennis court (not that kind of relentless!) Monk has a heart to heart with Benjy. They remark on how clean the room is and Monk realizes there are four of them, a gang of four.

Monk takes Benjy on a breaking-and-entering excursion in the staff locker room. They find the locker of the housekeeper who quit, and it still has her street clothes. They also look behind a loose tile and find cameras with pictures of financial documents. The housekeeping staff interrupts them, and they make an exit, but Monk returns with Bronwyn only to discover that the locker is cleaned out and the tile is glued back on.

As their vacation nears an end, Monk Sharona and Bronwyn deduce that the housekeeping staff was doing some insider trading. One got either greedy or conscientious and had to be taken out of the picture. The rest of the staff cleaned up. It is a great theory but without a body there is no case.

After a one-minute montage of a twenty-minute search, it is time for Monk to check out or be charged with trespass. Sharona arrives with their pictures and the housekeeping staff wishes them well. They drive ten feet, but then back up. There is an extra piece of luggage in one of the displays compared to when they came, and it holds the body.

While unpacking, Monk comments on how much he loved the vacation while Sharona would rather quit than go on another.

This Week’s Compulsion: When Benjy wants to waterski, Sharona will not let him because it is too scary. For Monk.

White Courtesy Phone: Before going to play tennis, Sharona tells Benjy not to let Monk get in any trouble.

Dishing it out: After an infodump, Disher wonders if Monk is staying at the Bates Motel.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy bet Sharona that Monk would go outside and won.

Let’s Up the Rating: Fenimore says that he made up with his wife after their fight. Twice. Also, this hotel has many extras is swimwear.

One More Time: “What about that bathing suit I bought you?” “I’m wearing it. Underneath.”
A bikini clad Sharona to a fully attired Monk.

Trivial Matters: Despite getting credit, Ted Levin’s Stottlemeyer is not present making this the first episode without the core cast.

When flirting, Shawn says he wanted to call Sharona’s room with the song ‘My Sharona.” He is cute enough that Sharona shrugs it off.

Bitsy Scharm is an avid tennis player, to the point where she got a scholarship. The scene where she elts her date win has some truth to it.

It is mentioned that the Hong Kong markets will not open due to Liberation Day. There is no such holiday let alone Bank Holiday in China.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “Why do girls do that?” “You’ll understand someday. When you do, call me.” Benjy has always been there for a line or two. Child actors can be rough especially in this series where they replaced one after the pilot only to swap back for reasons unbeknownst to us. There are several restrictions on filming with children to the point where many shows will avoid the issue entirely if they can.

Monk went the opposite direction. Max Morrow is more than up for the task. He has acting beyond his years and is believable. Writer Hy Conrad has the wherewithal to have Benjy spend time with Monk and the pairing works amazingly. Shaloub knows how to work with an assortment of actors, and he elevates Morrow. It is a great performance to see.

Thankfully the criminals are silent for the most part, so we get to spend time with our main characters. The exception is Bronwyn played with excellent Pistache by Pam Draper. Between her and Graham Harley’s Landis, they leave no scenery unchewed. Draper and Shaloub also play off each other well. Sharona got a chance to actually be on vacation with a few dates of her own. Schram also gets to show off her athletic abilities and instincts both maternal and romantic. We never get a follow up on Shawn though, which feels like a loose end. No deleted scene or anything.

The writing is great and does not miss a beat. The location shooting is done well by Kevin Inch up to and including Monk’s wordless pointing to the picture and the display. It shows that they can do more with Benjy and Morrow is up to the challenge.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
Mr. Monk and the Earthquake
Season 1 Episode 10
Original Air Date: October 4, 2002
Written by: Tom Scharpling and David Breckman
Directed by: Adam Shankman

We’ll Need Some Help: Henry Rutherford and his wife Christine have the most awkward morning conversation ever. As he leaves to go to work, there is an earthquake. He calls her under the doorway and a bunch of stuff falls off the shelves. As they assess the damage, Henry notices a crack in the wall. Christine picks up a bust and hits Henry over the head before using a crowbar to topple a bookcase onto him.

Sharona has Benjy stay with a friend while she checks on Monk. For his part, Monk is fine despite the chaos of the scene. He is also speaking gobbledy-gook. Dr. Kroger has a technical explanation, but Monk Is speaking jibberish and should not be left alone. A local newscast talks of Henry’s death and Sharona worked with the philanthropist for a month. They go to provide solace.

Father Hatcher Is there to comfort Christine as well. Monk offers his condolences but between his words and desire to clean, Sharona asks him to go into the foyer. He straightens a few frames and then looks around the room. His suspicions bring him out of his malady.

Monk has some very good indications that Christine took advantage of the situation. Unfortunately, Sotttlemeyer is swamped and cannot spare anyone, though he has Disher take Monk to the scene.

Sharona’s apartment is out of commission for a couple days. As she and Benjy figure out their next steps, they meet handsome journalist Darryl Wright. Little do they know Darryl is Christine’s lover and he is tasked with keeping tabs on Sharona.

Gail Fleming is more than happy to let her sister and nephew stay, but Sharona has to call in a favor for Monk. The two sisters argue to the point where Benjy asks if he has to separate them while Monk calls Disher to get background information on Christine.

Monk and Sharona visit the church that Henry was funding the renovation of, and Monk questions the visiting Christine. For her part, she admits to getting indicted with her second husband though Henry, being a Deacon, would not be able to marry her. As she leaves, Darryl enters. Gail gave him the tip and invited him to dinner, though he does not talk about the flirting he did.

Darryl makes small talk over dinner with his journalist stories and humbly brags about his Pulitzer. Monk singly handedly ruins charades and while both sisters try to cozy up to Darryl, Christine calls asking for progress in getting to Sharona’s apartment. Being one sided with his responses, Darryl says he is working on it. Sharona hates Monk pointing out the flaws in Darryl (considering the Pulitzer is an American prize and he is Australian) and Gail trying to steal him away. For his part, Darryl lifts keys from a handbag. Going to Sharona’s apartment, none of the keys work and the keypad is a struggle. Darryl is interrupted by a repairman whom he quickly dispatches.

Disher and Stottlemeyer find the electrician the next morning. Realizing he was moved, they find that the last known location was near Sharona’s.

With Sharona out with Darryl, Disher delivers papers to Monk who is indisposed. Gail flirts with Disher and takes the files. Darryl talks Sharona into going to the apartment for a spell. He secretly takes a knife when she isn’t looking. The documents Disher dropped off were phone records. Christine called Sharona before the emergency. Monk realizes that Darryl knew Christine. The phone lines are back up and Sharona checks her messages. One is Henry as he was being hit. She wants to call Monk, but Darryl takes her away at knifepoint.

The Fleming apartment is under surveillance by the authorities, so Darryl has her swing around back. Monk calls the station but there is another earthquake, a minor one this time. Monk tells Stottlemeyer what happened, though he is aphasic. Gail determines there is something with Sharona and they are off.

Christine comes just as Darryl and Sharona at the apartment. They enter and take the answering machine. As they argue about how to dispose of Sharona, the ruptured ceiling gives her inspiration. Sharona shatters a ceiling light and most of the ceiling on them. Darryl tussles with Monk but Sottlemeyer punches him out.

Three weeks later, Monk’s home is repaired. Sharona shows him a note he wrote while under the influence. She also mentions not being paid which triggers another episode.

This Week’s Compulsion: Needing a bath, Monk uses every bottle of water Gail has.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona and Gail argue over who had caller ID first.

Captain Moustache: With the cleanup effort, Sotttlemeyer puts everyone on the clock to fix things.

Dishing it out: Right when he is assigned to escort Monk, the fire extinguisher Disher is working on sprays him.

Let’s Talk it Out: Dr. Kroger makes an appointment with Monk for the following day feeling that the dissociative episode will pass by then.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy is a Spider Man fan.

Let’s Up the Rating: Gail and Sharona quickly talk about their respective love lives.

Here’s What Happened: As Monk recounts what happened, he is under aphasia, so it makes no verbal sense to us.

Trivial Matter: Monk’s gibberish is the second time Shaloub has done so on screen after the film Quick Change.

One More Time: “We’ll have to stay at Aunt Gail’s.” “Why can’t we stay with Mr. Monk?” “Because I’ll go crazy slower at Aunt Gail’s.”
Sharona telling Benjy the joys of family.

Dear Genre: Amy Sedaris plays Gail and is also Pier Motto on Tatoonie in the Star Wars Franchise.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “Where’s he from?” “Neptune.” Just as The Next Generation had an aptly named Disaster episode, the word ‘mess’ is the perfect descriptor of this.

We can start with knowing what happened during the teaser. Having the mystery solved takes some wind out of solving it. It can be a good thing when done well but what follows is not that great. The only crumb we are left with is why Darryl is after Sharona. We know he is but not the why. As charismatic as Cameron Daddo is, it is not enough to carry a story.

Thankfully, we have Bitsy Schram and Amy Sedaris who are two New Yorker sisters, and you can tell by all their fights. You are sold their relationship, their sibling rivalry. It is great to see them on screen and they are great anytime they are together from their arguing and Gail trying to steal a man..

Of course, nothing compares to Monk speaking gibberish. He knows what he is saying but no one else does. There are some great funny moments, particularly in a cab. The ending tag could use some work. It is also good to see Stottlemeyer handling the crisis that is an earthquake. He is in his element and knows how to get things under control.

There is a lot of mess with this aptly themed disaster episode but there are good point that emerge from the rubble as the episode more of less meanders around.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
"Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger"
Season 1 Episode 11
Written by: Andy Breckman and Tom Scharpling
Directed by: Milan Cheylov
Original Air Date: October 11, 2002

We’ll Need Some Help: Willie Nelson is doing a sound check for a concert. He is concerned about the balance, but they figure it out. After a check in with a manager who confirms the radio interview the following day and congratulations that both shows are sold out, Nelson approaches an accountant. There seems to be a four hundred fifty dollar discrepancy. The accountant, Sonny, wants a bit more time but Nelson is reluctant to give it.

Sonny goes to the radio station (for reasons not explained to the viewer) and is detoured to the back entrance. Inside the studio, they hear a gunshot along with a blind woman calling for help. Sonny has been shot, and Nelson is on scene to help.

Monk and Sharona come to the crime scene. Sonny was shot twice but Monk determines he was calm when shot and not agitated. There is a witness, Wendy Mass, a blind woman. We go straight to the interview with … Nelson. Monk fangoobers but Nelson’s lawyers are not willing to cooperate without a warrant.

Mass is interviewed at the station, though they seem to be getting things in order while she is speaking. She was making her way on the street and hit a dead end. She heard the shots, and someone told her to keep quiet before running off. Stottlemeyer comes in with his right arm in a sling after a ‘motorcycle accident.’ Mass believes she can identify the person’s voice and she confirms it was Nelson.

Nelson calls on Monk for help; per his lawyer, Monk is the only one who believes in Nelson. There is not much more to add beyond Nelson calling Mass a liar. Monk shows off his clarinet game and Nelson invites him to play with the band in a concert the following night.

At the station, they have video of the crime scene. Thanks to construction, it is the only way in or out. They see Mass, Sonny and Nelson enter, in that order. Monk is skeptical because of the note but the tape is pretty clear, and they get ready to arrest Nelson.

After interviewing Mass at the supermarket, Monk and Sharona look at the crime scene. The first shot was point blank and could have been made by anyone, but the second shot would require aiming. They dig into Sonny and find out there is a checkered past. At the station, the blood splatter analysis confirms that Sonny’s blood was on Nelson’s jacket leaving Stottlemeyer little choice but to bring in Nelson.

At the radio station, Nelson plays a song, but a technician gets their lips on the clarinet leaving Monk with little option but to whistle his solo. For his part, Nelson is tickled pink, but the mood is broken as Stottlemeyer and Disher arrive and arrest Nelson.

Benjy interviews Mass for a school report. Seeing a parking attendant gives Monk an inspiration. He grabs Benjy’s backpack and shakes the attendant’s left hand. And with that, he has solved the case. He calls Mass to a park but hides behind a bush with Sharona, Stotlemeyer and Disher. Monk hired a streaker who confirms that Mass has at least some vision.

At the station, Monk puts it all together. Sonny was driving a car which caused the accident the killed Mass’s family and left her blind. She partially regained her sight by a miracle while slipping at the grocery store. Knowing Sonny would be in town, she arranged for the detour and killed him. Nelson coming into the alley threw a wrench in her plan, so she improvised and blamed him. Mass thanks Monk and Sottlemeyer offers to call the DA and see if they can arrange anything though Mass only requests a window.

Monk and Nelson have a duet at Trudy’s grave.

This Week’s Compulsion: Monk realizes that the killer did not know Sonny since the distracting sign on the door of the studio used his real name.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona is flirting with a guy she met at a party, an architect.

Captain Moustache: Stottlemeyer’s real reason for breaking his arm is not motorcycle related; he fell cleaning the gutters.

Dishing it out: Randy is on top of things at the crime scene making sure everything is being handled.

The Innocence of Youth: Benjy cannot concentrate with Monk practicing on the clarinet. He also has no clue who Nelson is due to a lack of presence on MTV.

Let’s Up the Rating: The press conferences are interrupted by a streaker. Disher confirms he isn’t Jewish. He turns out to be the guy Sharona is flirting with but doesn’t immediately break it off after giving Disher a side glance.

One More Time: “You can come to our tenth anniversary now can you pay attention? There’s a dead guy over here.”
Stottlemeyer introducing the scene

Dear Genre: This episode was directed by Milan Cheylov who directed several episodes of 24 and Earth, Final Conflict.

Trivial Matters: This being a Willie Nelson jaunt, we have several of songs on display, including On the Road Again, and a cover of Ray Charles’ Georgia On my Mind.

We also get Nelson’s URL displayed rather prominently.

The title is a reference to Nelson’s signature album.

There is a Spartacus Easter Egg when several band members claim to be Willie Nelson at the station.

Tony Shaloub gets to play in a band. One of his Tony winning roles was the musical The Band’s Visit.

When the streaker runs by, we get a Simpson’s Movie inspired sequence.

Guest actress Jackie Richardson is a signer herself. We are denied a duet since she played Mass.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “Only two things to argue about and money’s one of them.” This show lives and dies by the ability of the guest cast. Hiring a well-known celebrity can bring either great talent or someone looking to cash a check. Gosh darn it, Willie Nelson makes this work!

It is obvious that Nelson wants to be there. He has a good charm and works well with his co-stars. He has great chemistry with Monk and is likeable as all heck. He is in his element and while there are some songs required, they are well integrated. Of course, we have to start with a music rehearsal but the cover at the radio station is filmed well with Monk not knowing what to do when someone else demonstrates with the clarinet. The tag scene is wonderfully shot and a great moment. If you are not a fan of country music, there Is still some cool stuff to watch. Milan Cheylov deserves a lot of credit for making the action on screen pop.

That is not to distract from the other big guest star as Jackie Richardson throws herself into Mass. You get a lot of her background, and she is cooperative with the police. The ending falls a bit flat with attempting to provide sympathy for a murderer, something out of character for those who took the oath. Still, she is one of the nicest guilty parties we have seen.

The rest of the cast holds up well. Disher gets a chance to be in the spotlight while Sotttlemeyer is out, and he seems to have thing fairly well under control. He knows his limits, as do the lawyers called in, but does a good job of investigating the scene. Sharona has a fun subplot with love interest Justin and does not turn him down at the end. It is a fun subplot to keep things going. Even Benjy has a fun moment when he chooses Mass for his report since Monk would require several hundred pages.

You can call it stunt casting, but it is a great hour and does not detract from a good story.
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Second Edition Playtest Manager
By Faithful Reader (Ross Fertel)
 - Second Edition Playtest Manager
Continuing Committee Member - Retired
"Mr. Monk and the Airplane"
Season 1 Episode 12
Written by: David M. Stern
Directed by: Rob Thompson
Original Air Date: October 18, 2002

We’ll Need Some Help: Sharona and Monk are at the airport to pick up her Aunt Minn. Except they are not there to pick her up, Sharona is going to Aunt Minn and Monk can either come or be without for a week. Monk gives the least convincing nod. Meanwhile, a woman in the restroom meets a doppelganger who borrows lipstick (“The only thing I couldn’t match”) and gets shot.

Monk verifies the cleanliness of the carrier and plane, making it through security. Doppelganger meets Stefan who says he got rid of the body. On board, Sharona recognizes actor Tim Daly. Sharona, seat buddy Warren Beach and the flight attendant get Monk settled and the attendant confides in a colleague that Monk will be a lot to handle but she is up to the challenge. Stefan makes a late entrance to the plane saying he was at the wrong gate, which Monk knows is a lie since Stefan was getting his shoes shined earlier. He also notes Doppelganger has a million-mile pin but in boarding claimed she flew infrequently. During the inflight announcements, Monk notes Doppelganger grew a couple inches since the airport, leading him to believe Stefan murdered his wife.

Monk interrupts Sharona flirting with Tim Daly to talk about his suspicions. She surreptitiously grabs their itinerary and determines they are going to Paris next. After Doppelganger ‘forgets’ she is a vegetarian, Monk calls the station. Randy answers and says that no bodies were found at the airport. We also learn that Stefan is a pilot, and his wife has a trust fund. In theory, he could kill his wife and keep the money coming if they have a doppelganger. Stefan is privately informed of Monk’s suspicions via an annoyed passenger. An acquaintance runs into the couple, and it is clear the Doppelganger never met. Stefan takes his friend away.

Coming back alone, Stefan spills something on Monk’s lap. He goes to the restroom to change but Doppelganger locks him in. Stefan spikes a drink and offers it to the acquaintance. After Monk is freed, the acquaintance is found dead.

Captain Bobby leads a team to investigate, including Monk for reasons not explained to the viewer. Monk’s credibility shrinks as he is no longer a detective, and the attendant has told him about Monk. As they head back to their seats, Sharona grabs the wine glass. Using Beach’s match, they determine that the wine was spiked. He used Beach’s lighter to make that determination and the attendant has had it, confiscating the lighter and the emergency call button, which is probably against regulations.

At the airport, no body is found and Disher, realizing that Stefan had a full run of the airport being a pilot, goes into his inner Monk. Stefan’s shoe has cement, and it just so happens that the airport is undergoing renovations. The foundation has hardened so they need to dig, which will take time. Monk needs to stall.

In New Jersey, everyone departs the plane. Monk and Sharona run into Aunt Minn but are distracted enough so that Stefan and Doppelganger have boarded the plane. Needing twenty minutes, Monk calls the company and claims to have been at an all-nighter with the captain. The couple is arrested with Stefan remarking how he did not account for Monk.

As Daly leaves, he remarks that in a role Sharona convinced him to turn down, there are a lot of stars attached.

This Week’s Compulsion: After hearing that the company has a solid safety record, Monk requests a copy. Also, this is Monk’s first time on an airplane. His first was with his mother and he cried so much they asked him to depart the plane. He was twenty. Seven.

White Courtesy Phone: Sharona has told Aunt Minn all about Monk.

Captain Moustache: It being a Sunday, Settelmeyer is not at the station. That does not explain why Disher is.

Dishing it out: After hearing that Monk is on a plane, Disher wonders if he was kidnapped.

Let’s Up the Rating: Sharona is quite the fan of Tim Daly, knowing which of his work is successful in correlation to his facial hair. She gives him career advice and is rewarded with a peck on the cheek.

One More Time: “He was on the show, Wings.” “Was it good?” “Oh well, he was.”
Sharona and Monk discussing a series while omitting an important co star.

Dear Genre: Garry Marshall guest stars as Beach. He wrote for Dick van Dyke and created The Odd Couple, Mork & Mindy, Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days.

Trivial Matters: This is a bit of a reunion for Tony Shaloub. His wife plays the main flight attendant and he co-starred with Daly on Wings. Not to be outdone, Marshall co-starred with Schram in the film version of A League of Their Own.

Sharona’s sister, Gial Felming, is referenced. We met her in Mr. Monk and the Earthquake.

Disher hits a couple keys on his computer and instantly pulls up the airport incident report.

Monk flippantly says that The Music Man is his favorite.

George Clooney and Martin Scorsese get name checked with the script Daly turned down.

Jason Gray-Stanford calls this one of his favorite episodes.

It’s a Jungle Out There: “If you tell me the bad good news first, I won’t enjoy it because I’ll be worried about the bad news coming next. But if you tell me the bad news, I won’t enjoy the good news.” One of the standbys of a good mystery series is the closed-door mystery. They don’t get much more closed than on an airplane. Here the murder happens outside that vicinity which is a nice twist on the genre.

Being fair, the show gets a lot of mileage out of the airplane specifically and airports in general. The show makes a meal out of boarding procedures. Things do not let up when on the plane with all the things you would expect; annoyed passenger, friendly passenger, annoying kid, random celebrity, annoyed flight attendant. Gary Marshall steals the show as the charismatic Beach. He has a natural bond with Monk and offers to be a buddy. He is a nice guy even offering Monk a job at one point.

Of course, the show couldn’t avoid using the plane as a plot device. There is a strange dichotomy with Monk on the plane and Disher at the airport. This offers Jason Gray-Stanford a chance to stand out on his own and for the second time in two weeks, he is up to the challenge.

The writing is firing on all cylinders. We previously saw someone get murdered in Mr. Monk and the Earthquake and it took all the air out of the tires. Here, there is enough to keep us interested and it does not let up. We know what happened but do not know the background. There is no here’s What Happened sequence and it is not missed. Things move and no one wears out their welcome.

There are problems, though. Disher seems to luck out in finding the body and the timing does not work out. Also, how did Monk not notice that Sharona has baggage for two people? Monk of all people does not notice that. Tim Daly is pretty much wasted as you could excise him from the script and not change anything. The attendant’s descent into madness happens a little too quickly as the episode ends.

In these days of hyper plotted shows, it is refreshing to have a lower key season finale and while there are mistakes, it is a good way to end things.
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