Thursday, September 18, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different

Now that MONK (and my lovely Ted Levine) is on hiatus until January 2009, I thought this would be a most opportune time to review Season 7 thus far. Eight episodes have aired, and quite frankly, not all is well in Monkland. I was really anticipating this season, especially in light of Stanley Kamel's passing, who played Monk's shrink on the show. How would this wrinkle in Monk's life play out? I envisioned all kinds of neat and clever scenarios.

And therein I think lies the problem. Of all the scenarios that could have been done, the easiest, most undramatic, was chosen. In other words, the safest. This should have been a pivotal moment in Monkland. Instead, the new shrink barely made a ripple, and it's been downhill ever since. Monk has veered from being a genius Detective to acting like a juvenile, slapstick simpleton.

Apparently many MONK fans enjoy it when Monk and the gang act like idiots. I'm not one of them (and this from a woman who grew up on The Three Stooges).

The mystery of Trudy's murder (one of the basic tenets of the show) has been dropped. Monk's reinstatement to the force (another plot basic) is rarely mentioned. Continuity also hit the skids as the writers rewrote Monk history, and logic, for the most part, took a back seat.

Monk's allure, at least for me (besides Ted Levine) is that there was always a skillful blend of mystery and reality (I might have to suspend my disbelief and swallow some whoppers), but as long as it was entertaining, I willingly went along for the ride. This season has been the opposite. It's bad enough that the overwhelming majority of the shows have been banal and mediocre, but logic was stretched like a rubber band.

Yes, yes, I know---never let the facts get in the way of a good story. And it's just a TV show. You can't expect excellence in every episode.

But this is Monk. I expect Monk to be a higher plane because of the respect (okay, love/lust) I have for Ted Levine, who, if truth be told, has pretty much been phoning his work in. As much as I adore this man, I would love to see him do more than simply be a foil arching his eyebrows and doing a slow burn.

I think there's a lot of gas left in Monk, so I can only hope that the eppys coming in January are better. Otherwise, I'm afraid I'm in for a bumpy ride.

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