I only remember the date...
and what everyone wore...
and what everyone said....
and what everyone did. - Adrian Monk
Running for an impressive eight seasons and currently
holding the record for the cable show that had the most viewers (the
Mr. Monk and the End - Part II), Monk
is a throwback to the more
traditional 'brilliant investigator and his assistant' type of
show. Like Sherlock Holmes and his drug
habit or Nero Wolfe and his weight (and refusal to leave his home)
is also hampered with a problem: he
suffers from OCD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. He
has trouble functioning in society but
that doesn't mean he isn't brilliant.
With amazing powers of observation and tenacity for seeking out
consults with the San Francisco Police Department frequently and helps
solve their most stubborn cases. Now the
entire series, previously released in season sets, has been collected
impressive boxed set: Monk:
The Obsessively Complete Collection, a
wonderful addition to any video library.
Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) was a detective with the San
Francisco Police Department for years, and had a reputation of being
one of the
brightest guys around, though a little quirky.
That all changed when his wife, Trudy, was murdered. Killed by a car bomb the Adrian assumed was meant for him, the
and shock caused the detective to have a nervous breakdown and
sever case of OCD, as well as a string of phobias.
With the help of his nurse, Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram), Adrian
eventually gets up
the courage to venture outside, and with her help he becomes a
the SFPD. He was naturally discharged
from the force after his breakdown and one of his strongest desires is
to be reinstated. That wish takes second
place only to one
thing: finding out who killed his wife
and why, and bringing them to justice.
Monk's attention to detail and encyclopedia-like knowledge
of trivia is invaluable when working a case, but as he often asserts,
gift... and a curse." He notices small,
seemingly insignificant clues, but he also notices when a picture isn't
perfectly straight, or when silverware isn't quiet lined up, and that
him to distraction. In addition, his
numerous phobias, 312 according to Adrian
himself including germs, elevators, snakes, and even milk, frequently
to become sidetracked. This is often
played in a darkly comic fashion and the show does have a healthy dose
humor. (When he takes a standardized
test in one episode, for example, and can't get over the fact that the
No. 2 pencils he's been given are not the same length.
He sharpens one, then the other, trying to
get them precisely even, until time is called.)
Along with his nurse, Sharona, Adrian works with Captain
Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) head of the Robbery and Homicide, and
the goofy Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford).
Capt. Stottlemeyer was once partnered with Adrian and realizes just how
man is, though he's frequently exasperated by his phobias and seemingly
pointless behavior. Randy, on the other
hand, always has an outrageous theory that's invariably wrong and spend
of his time trying to impress Monk's assistant.
Over to course of the series the basic plot changes very
little. The police will either have a
tough case they can't seem to solve and call in Adrian or the detective himself will
across a mystery (almost always a murder).
Sometimes Monk discovers a crime only because of a single
of evidence and he has to convince the police that there really is
investigation. After all, he is
practically insane, and it's hard to accept an errant piece of dirt as
The one major change that does occur is the show happens in
the middle of season three when Sharona is written out.
(It's rumored that she actress was holding
out for more money, and the producers decided it would be easier just
her.) That's traumatic for Monk, but he
soon hires Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard), a widowed mother, to
her. At first it was really hard to get
used to Natalie. Personally, I really
liked Sharona and the way she wouldn't take any gruff from Monk and it
to adjust to the more submissive Natalie at first.
Howard quickly grew into the role however and
after a few episodes the show was back to it's usual high quality.
It's mentioned somewhere in the extras that the casting for
this show was very difficult, and it's easy to see why.
The show depends on viewers finding Monk
likable, believable, and amusing while not thinking that he's just
ridiculous. Tony Shalhoub does a
magnificent job, and it's hard to see anyone else in the role. (It's been said that some of the producers
wanted Michael Richards (Kramer from Seinfeld)
for the lead, and if that had come to pass, I would imagine that the
have died a quick and painless death.)
Shalhoub makes Adrian
come across as a real person. Viewers can feel his anxiety when Monk
take off his seatbelt in a moving car to save someone's life. It may seem silly to you or I, but we still
empathize with the man. He also portrays
Monk as being very smart without making him come across as pompous or
elitist. Adrian is a tragically flawed
viewers can still laugh at, and that's hard to pull off.
The only real problem I have with the entertaining show,
aside from them occasionally trying to get a laugh out of something
not funny, is that some of the mysteries are a bit contrived. Yes, murder mysteries are supposed to be
complex and intricate, but a few of the cases Monk tackles are
convoluted and elaborate, just to make them mysterious.
Also, there are a few times when the final
clue that closes the case causes one to roll their eyes.
This happened when a nervous murderer hid a
body in a barrel of wine, and then served that same wine to Adrian (who
taste the victim's aftershave in the wine.)
Why would they do that? Sever
from another barrel why don't you?
That complaint aside, the show is a lot of fun. Some
of the mysteries are truly baffling
(like when Adrian knows a teacher killed someone but was in front of a
classroom of 30 kids when victim was pushed off a clock tower and
landed on the
teacher's car... something everyone saw) and others are wonderfully comic
as the episode where Capt. Stottlemeyer, vacationing in Las Vegas,
murder while he's drunk, but the next day he can't remember how he did
calls in Monk.) Over the seasons Monk
slowly pieces together the circumstances of his wife's murder, and the
show wraps up in a superb two part story.
The entire 8 season/125 episode series arrives on 32
DVDs. These are exactly the same as the
previously released season sets. Each 4
disc season arrives in its own single-width DVD case and the cases are
in a double slipcase that is hinged in the middle.
It's a nice package.
This show is quipped with just a stereo soundtrack.
Nothing too special but then again the show
is mainly dialog based so that's not too bad.
The audio is clean and clear and the dialog is easy to discern. A nice sounding show.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic image looks very good. The
colors are solid and the level of detail
is very good. Through the 125 episodes
there are some minor compression artifacts, aliasing in the background
blocking, but overall the picture looks fine.
Unfortunately there isn't a bonus disc for people who shell
out the bucks for this impressive collection.
All of the on-disc extras from the earlier releases are included
though. You can find a more detailed
listing of them in the individual season set reviews.
(Season one, two, three,
The two things that are exclusive to this set are an 18-page
episode guide that lists a synopsis for each episode as well as letting
know which disc it can be found on, and a 32-page book:
Obsessive's Guide to Monk. This
nice, though it's a little light on substance.
Mainly filled with pictures, the book lists Monk's pobias (well,
that come out in the series at least), quotes from the detective, and
some cleaning tips. It was nice, but
fans who bought the earlier releases aren't missing much.
If you have the earlier season sets, there's no real reason
to pick this up. The exclusive book is
ho-hum at best and the DVDs are exactly the same. If
you haven't been following the cases of
this master detective though, this is a great way to pick them all up
easy step. All the episodes in one
white, clean box. Just the way Monk
himself would like it. Highly