This review is dedicated in the memory of Stanley Kamel who played Dr. Charles Kroger in the first 6 seasons of Monk. Stanley Kamel sadly passed away in April of 2008. He was a deeply talented character actor and he will be missed on Monk.
In general as a show goes on it doesn't get better, but there are exceptions; some shows like The Shield seem to get better each season and Monk while maybe not getting better is still just as good now as it ever was. After the first half of season 3 ended Sharona was out as Monk's assistant and Traylor Howard as Natalie was in. I thought that gave Monk a much needed jolt and helped keep things fresh. In many ways it was like starting over again.
A lot of critics felt season 3 was a letdown, I disagree; the 2nd half of Season 3 are in my opinion some of the best episodes of the series. After that the 4th and 5th seasons while very good and had some of my favorite episodes of the series also featured some of the weaker ones as well, but I still liked both those seasons as a whole more than the first and 2nd. Season 4 & 5 are excellent they just lacked slightly despite being every bit as good as the previous seasons. The best way to put it I suppose is Seasons 4 & 5 had some of the best episodes, and a few that were excellent that just fell slightly short of greatness and a few sub-par episodes. But again I loved both those seasons and liked them more than the first 2 Seasons, which were also great.
But Season 6 of Monk really gets things back on track and features some of the very best episodes of the series. Each season of Monk has that one or 2 episodes that are sort of duds. Even a weak episode of Monk still has funny moments, and while there are a couple of episodes that fall short as a whole though Season 6 is as good as any of the previous 5, which is rare that a series this late into the game can still remain just as good.
The concept still works well, which is a credit to not only the writers, but more so to the actors who take this material that we've seen done many times over and make it just as funny now as when the show first started. Ted Levine is great as Captain Leland Stottlemeyer, he's one of the few that actually understands Monk and any scene he has with Jason Gray-Stanford as Lt. Randy Disher is priceless Levine and Stanford work so amazing together and with that said Jason Gray-Stanford often steals the show with his performance. Randy can be kind of stupid a lot of the times, but he's so damn funny. In many ways Jason Gray-Stanford steals the show every episode he never fails to make me laugh.
The big debate among Monk fans who is the better assistant Sharona who was played by Bitty Schram or Natalie Teeger played by Traylor Howard; for me it's no contest as much as I liked Sharona I personally find Natalie by far the more interesting character and quite honestly I prefer the Natalie seasons over the Sharona seasons. Emmy Clarke plays Natalie's teenage daughter Julie Teeger and she's a very talented young actress who has a bright future ahead of her. The late great Stanley Kamel as Dr. Kroger is always a pleasure to watch.
But of course above all Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk is the show; in my opinion Tony Shalhoub is without a doubt the best comedic actor on TV and in Hollywood in general. While Monk is a very funny show sometimes people forget how tragic the show is. Monk always had OCD, but it wasn't too bad until the death of his wife. In the comedy there is also a lot of tragedy and Shalhoub is simply brilliant.
Monk Season 6 was overall a great season with some of the very best episodes of the series. As I stated earlier I loved the 4th and 5th Seasons and overall prefer them over the first 2, but there were some flaws with some episodes that didn't quite work, but the 6th Season really delivers big time. Maybe not the best Season of Monk, but it's pretty close to it.
MR. MONK AND HIS BIGGEST FAN- ***** One of the best episodes of the series Sarah Silverman guest stars as Marcie Maven (last seen during season 2) is obsessed with Monk and she gets his help when a neighbor is found murdered and the evidence points to her dog. But her dog was put down 3 days before the murder. It seems the dog was framed, which yes sounds really silly, but this episode was simply hysterical. It's no secret who the killer is; figuring out how is a bit tougher.
MR. MONK AND THE RAPPER- **** Clichéd episode, but really funny; Snoop Dog guest stars as a rapper under a murder investigation. Seeing Mr. Monk in the Hip-Hop culture was hysterical. Yeah it's a clichéd concept, but it's damn funny.
MR. MONK AND THE NAKED MAN- *** Each season of Monk seems to have that one dud and this is one of them; after a dead body is found a nude beach Monk is brought in to help with the case. Monk and nudists are bound for some laughs, but overall the episode falls flat and the comedy was a bit too over the top. Not all is lost there's actually a decent twist on who the killer is and some funny moments.
MR. MONK AND THE BAD GIRLFRIEND- **** ½ Excellent episode with plenty of laughs; the killer is obvious, but trying to figure out how they did it was the best part. This is something lacking from Monk the past couple of years. The ending is a bit tragic, but great episode.
MR. MONK AND THE BIRDS AND THE BEES- *** This episode was weak; we know who the killer is and how they did it; therefore it's not as fun. There are some good moments, but overall it just doesn't fully work; in my opinion this was the weakest of the season; not bad or anything, but doesn't quite work.
MR. MONK AND THE BURIED TREASURE- ***** Classic episode of Monk; this one has Dr. Kroger's son seeking Monk's help finding what he thinks is a buried treasure, only he doesn't tell Monk what he's in search for he tells him it's a school project. I wasn't expecting much, but it turned out to be one of my favorite episodes. The final act with Monk and Kroger's son trapped in a car buried in gravel was hysterical.
MR. MONK AND THE DAREDEVIL- *** ½ Good episode that features Monk's arch rival Harold Krenshaw played by Tim Bagley; both Monk and Harold want to be the center of Dr. Kroger's attention and this episode has the two at it again. Not the best episode of the season, but with Monk and Harold laughs are bound to happen.
MR. MONK AND THE WRONG MAN- **** Solid episode that has a man Monk locked away for a double murder is now cleared due to DNA; but is this guy really innocent? Funny episode like the previous not one of the best, but very enjoyable without a slow moment.
MR. MONK IS UP ALL NIGHT- **** ½ Starts off slow, but once it gets going it gets really good; this one is very much a mystery and figuring out what happened is a lot of fun. Besides the mystery there are also a lot of funny moments.
MR. MONK AND THE MAN WHO SHOT SANTA CLAUS- ***** Classic episode of Monk; This is the 3rd Christmas episode of the series and it's probably the best one and one of my favorite episodes of the series; From beginning to end this one is a blast. Seeing Monk and Santa Claus fighting each other was just too funny.
MR. MONK JOINS A CULT- *** ½- Good episode with some funny moments, but as a whole it slightly lacks; Still worth watching though.
MR. MONK GOES TO THE BANK- ****- Classic Monk; this is one of the best episodes of the series with a solid twist at the end; the final few minutes are hysterical; Randy Disher steals the show in this one.
MR. MONK AND THE THREE JULIES- *****- Possibly the best episode of the season and one of the best of the series; this one has a killer on the loose murdering women with the name Julie Teeger, which of course is the name of Natalie's teenage daughter. The story is excellent with great mystery and an excellent twist and it's one of the funniest Monk episodes.
MR. MONK PAINTS HIS MASTERPIECE- ****- Another episode I wasn't expecting too much out of, but it turned out excellent; while not the strongest episode of the season it's a lot of fun. Sadly this is the last episode that Stanley Kamel appeared on due to his death.
MR. MONK IS ON THE RUN PART I- *****- The great thing about Monk is you can pretty much watch any episode of any season and enjoy it and not be lost. But they do have one running story arc on this show; the murder of Monk's wife Trudy; and right here is one of the Trudy episodes. This one has Monk the trail of who killed his wife, but before he can get answers the man is killed and Monk is the suspect. Obviously we know Monk is innocent even though it looks as if he did pull the trigger. This episode is one of the best of the series; it's funny and dramatic with an excellent twist and an ending that will have you begging for more.
MR. MONK IS ON THE RUN PART II- *****- Great season finale; it's funny, dramatic and suspenseful. After this episode Monk gets one step closer to solving the murder of his wife. The season started off great and ended great.
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