Saturday, March 9, 2013

Book Review: Monk - The Official Episode Guide by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: A look at every episode from the first four seasons.
Cons: Only covers the first four seasons
The Bottom Line:
Only have the shows
But a fun book for the fans
To obsess over

For the Casual and Obsessed MONK Fan

Monk is a great show on the USA Network. Over the course of four seasons, it has built a loyal audience of fans. Every week, we tune in to see how detective Adrian Monk will use his fears and obsessive compulsive disorder to solve a murder, and what fun he'll create for us along the way.

This episode guide features all the episodes from the first four seasons of the show. The books starts out discussing the origins of the show and the four-year process it took to bring the show to TV. Then they discuss the characters and actors who bring them to life each week. Each season gets its own chapter and the chapter prologue discusses a little of what was happening behind the scenes that season, such as the move from Canada to Los Angeles for filming beginning in season 2.

And, of course, there are the episodes. Each episode starts with a summary of the plot, so if you don't quite remember the details, you can catch up quickly. Then the author's go into behind the scenes stuff. They talk to the writers about what inspired the idea and the cast and crew to find out any unusual challenges that filming that episode created or some funny story that happened while they were filming it. At the end of each episode, they list a favorite quote, the most unusual clue, the clue that breaks the case, and Monk's idiosyncrasy of the week. Along the way, they feature sections on such crew members as the writers, costumer, and composer, for example.

I love behind the scenes books, and this one is great. I sat down to read a few pages and read it in an afternoon because of a combination of the easy to read style and the great information. I learned trivia about the show and what makes this show unique from others currently on the air. Everyone is more then willing to admit when something is sub-par, and I was glad to see they agree with me on what some of the worst episodes of the show are.

The issue that has created the most gossip surrounding the show was Bitty Schram's sudden departure in the middle of season three. While it is discussed, the writers do their best to gloss over any potentially inflammatory issues. While this is best, the gossip lover in me wanted more dirt. Still, her departure does create a hole in the book. The authors were given this assignment just as she was leaving the show, so they never had a chance to interview her for their book.

This book is a fast, fun read focused on one of the best TV shows on TV. I just wish we'd gotten a volume two follow up for this fun episode guide.

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