Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Playing Mock the Monk

I watch some TV, usually keeping it to a few shows: Torchwood, Psych, Chuck and Numbers (and Pushing Daisies when I remember its on). While the current season of Monk was written before the writers' strike, the last few shows would have a tough time proving it.

While I don't expect a lot from Psych in the way of mystery (it is, after all, mostly comedy), I do expect Monk with its fine cast to rise above the standards of ... say, Mystery Woman. However, over the last few weeks Monk has lost me. We've had Mr. Monk Joins a Cult (its main clue being a secret door we could never have deduced), Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank (a poor reworking of Murder on the Orient Express, I turned it off half way through the episode), Mr. Monk and the Three Julies (predictable, but a valiant try) and, lord deliver us, Mr. Monk Paints His Masterpiece (my cat solved that one in the first 10 minutes). Even the antics of Tony Shalhoub couldn't save that last one.

I know that doing a mystery series in the constraints of an hour must be difficult, but at least Monk isn't burdened by a rash of guest stars (Howie Mandel, not withstanding) to divert you from the mystery or truly insufferable characters (Jessica Fletcher's nephew Grady comes to mind). It has a solid base of characters that could serve its stories well.

No, Monk's problem is worse; in a stretch to give Shalhoub a chance to strut his stuff as the phobic-ridden detective, the writers have neglected to give the audience well-constructed mysteries. And it is the audience that really counts.

While characters drive a plot in a good mystery series, it would seem as if Monk, in its pursuit to be antic, has forgotten how to be engaging. It has become a family comedy (father Leland, mother Natalie, kid brother Randy, wise uncle Dr. Kroger) in which the nerdy son trips over a new dead body every week. Nerdy Adrian knows something isn't quite right, but leave it to mom and dad ... and sometimes even wise uncle Dr. Kroger ... to doubt him. Haven't they tumbled to the fact that Monk is usually right? Like every sitcom, these characters fail to grow and must learn the same weekly lesson only to forget it in the next episode (unless, of course, remembering it is convenient for a particular plot).

If Monk wants us to believe its characters, it should let them grow. If Monk wants us to believe its plots, someone is going to have to pay more attention to their construction. Either way, if the show doesn't remember its roots in storytelling, one of those dead bodies it encounters will be the show itself.


Devid said...

Monk tv show is my all time Favorite show.Monk is the Best character in this Show.He is Playing very good Role.I was Looking to download monk episodes for my Friend and hope i get a qualitative Stuff.

Peetu said...

I am really impressed from this article who wrote such type of words related to Monk tv show. But i think if you will watch season 8 episodes of this show, you disappointment will be no more becoz its casting and acting is better then previous episodes. They have improved a lot.

Anonymous said...

Blog post is really great. I am a big fan of Monk TV Show. Its all episodes are superb. The plot of the show is also very interesting. On the whole this is the best show.

Anonymous said...

The series currently holds the record for the most-watched scripted drama episode in cable television history, a record previously held by The Closer. You can also watch Full Episodes of Monk online.