Tuesday, May 21, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Monk - Season 8

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Good mysteries, great laughs, and tender moments.
Cons: Final episode a weak wrap up to Trudy mystery
The Bottom Line:
Finale was weak
But Monk still goes out on top
Thanks for all the laughs

"I Was Kind of Obsessed with the Show."  "Really.  I Can't Imagine."

When I heard that season eight would be the final season of Monk, I was mostly glad.  Yes, I still enjoyed the show, but it wasn't as good as it had once been.  I was hoping this would give them a chance to go out with a bang.  And did it ever.

For the most part, the show didn't really change a thing.  Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) is SFPD's secret weapon in the war against crime.  When Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Lieutenant Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) get stuck on an especially hard case, they call in Monk.  Aided by his assistant Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard), Monk's obsessive compulsive behaviors and phobias allow him to see those clues that others miss.

Granted, the show was never filled with super tough cases, but this season has its share of great ones.  I especially enjoyed the one that found Monk convinced he had seen a UFO outside a small desert town.  They do a spot on spoof of The Brady Bunch when the now grown actress of Monk's favorite childhood show is being stalked.  Monk joins a group theory group only to have the other members start to die.

But what has always made this show so wonderful is the liberal mixing of laughter and quiet, tender moments.  And that is what we get here.  It's like the writers knew this was their last chance to really say something with the characters, and they didn't want to miss an opportunity.  Looking over the episodes makes me smile as I remember a particular line or a scene that make me laugh or a tender moment the characters shared together.

The acting is top notch as always.  I've never been able to fault the cast, and they didn't rest on their laurels going into the final season.  Their performances really gave wonderful life to those words.

Since this was the final season, the writers did go places they couldn't go previously.  Bitty Schram agreed to come back one list time as Monk's first assistant Sharona.  That episode had some of the funniest moments of the season as we got to watch Sharona and Natalie fight over Monk, almost literally at one point.  Monk also was rehired by the police force.  In one of the most touching episodes, Stottlemeyer gets remarried.

And the biggest question of the series is finally answered.  In the two part season finale, we finally find out who killed Monk's wife Trudy.  Honestly, these episodes were the weakest of the season.  Yes, there were some very funny moments and memorable lines.  There were also had some wonderful moments for the characters.  But I was disappointed with how the mystery itself unfolded.

The box set will look pretty familiar to fans of the show.  The sixteen episodes are presented in surround sound and widescreen on four discs.  Extras are limited to a video commentary on the final episode and interviews with cast and crew.

I started season eight of Monk hoping it would end on a high note.  Even with the disappointing final episode, it left me wishing we'd get more from this wonderful show.  Thanks for the wonderful eight years, Mr. Monk.  I'll see you in the tie-in novels and my DVD sets.

Season Eight Episodes:
1. Mr. Monk's Favorite Show
2. Mr. Monk and the Foreign Man
3. Mr. Monk and the UFO
4. Mr. Monk is Someone Else
5. Mr. Monk Takes the Stand
6. Mr. Monk and the Critic
7. Mr. Monk and the Voodoo Curse
8. Mr. Monk Goes to Group Therapy
9. Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk
10. Mr. Monk and Sharona
11. Mr. Monk and the Dog
12. Mr. Monk Goes Camping
13. Mr. Monk is the Best Man
14. Mr. Monk and the Badge
15. Mr. Monk and the End Part 1
16. Mr. Monk and the End Part 2

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