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Monk - Season Three
Monk is one of my favorite television series. Since its initial debut, I've been a fan. For those who are not familiar with the show, it is about an obsessive compulsive detective. Tony Shalhoub plays Adrian Monk, who is as brilliant as he is weird. He is a former detective with the San Francisco Police Department. Four years before the series' debut, Monk went through a tragic life changing event. The effects drove his obsessive compulsive personality to the surface and left him incapable of taking care of himself. As found in the first and second season, he has slowly integrated into society with the aid of his personal nurse and sidekick Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram). With her help, Monk has been able to work as a private consultant to the police department. He has helped his friends Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Lt. Randall Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) solve some of the city's toughest cases. For more details about the early seasons of this wonderful series be sure to check out my reviews of season one and season two.
This third season is a landmark in the show, because it features the first cast change. Of the third season's 16 episodes, Bitty Schram reprises her role as Sharona for the first 9 episodes. However with episode 10 a new character is introduced in her place. When I first heard the news about the cast change, I was quite shocked and afraid the show would loose a strong part of its appeal. While Schram's performance does not compare to Shalhoub's ingeniousness as Monk, she still added a lot to the show. Schram brought her character a realistic and likeable personality. As the compliment to Monk, she was great. She even won a Golden Globe award for her performance.
The new character introduced in this season is Natalie Teeger. The role is filled by Traylor Howard, who I am familiar with from the sitcom Two Guys and a Girl. In Two Guys and a Girl, she was never a really funny person. It was more how she interacted with the other characters of the show that made her a delight. Howard's role in Monk is pretty much the same. She isn't a really funny character, but put her aside Monk and she's a bundle of laughs. While I will definitely miss Schram in the series, I welcome Howard and the episodes with her have been just as funny as other episodes in the series.
Besides the cast change some pretty fun things happen to Monk and friends. For instance in "Mr. Monk and the Blackout", Monk goes out on a date. He gets involved in a case where three deaths are connected to citywide power outages. During his investigation he meets the power company's PR rep, and there is love in the air. Just imagine Monk's quirky behavior and how his date reacts to him. "Mr. Monk Gets Fired" is also a great episode. Just as the title says, Monk loses his license as a private investigator. He steps on the toes of the police commissioner and he's forced to get a new job.
The most interesting episode of this season is "Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine". The strength in this story comes from Monk dropping all of his neurotic behavior and becoming a "normal guy". He tries a new medication given to him by Dr. Kroger and all of his OCDs disappear. The reaction Sharona, Stottlemeyer, and Randy have are priceless. Another fun episode is "Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever". Monk witnesses a murder and he is taken into protective custody by the feds. Imagine the defective detective, of all places, in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Watching Monk trying to clean nature is a blast.
In "Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas" Monk runs into a case he can't solve. Oddly enough, Stottlemeyer has the answer (it's usually Monk who solves the cases). Unfortunately he had a little too much to drink the night before (a bachelor party) and he can't remember where he left the evidence. It's a riot to watch them retrace their steps to find the missing clues. In this same episode, Randy goes on a gambling binge and sort of losses everything he owns. "Mr. Monk and the Kid" is another fun episode. In it, a two year old boy found a finger in the park. It turns out to be the first piece of evidence in a kidnapping case. What is fun about this episode is that Monk temporarily takes care of the kid and his neurotic behaviors rub off on him.
Overall Monk season three is another strong and fun season. The episodes are all funny and the characters work well together. Even with the introduction of a new character (and the loss of Schram), the series still turned out to be good. If you enjoy a mix of mystery and comedy, you'll love watching Monk in sixteen great episodes.
1. Mr. Monk Takes Manhattan
2. Mr. Monk and the Panic Room
3. Mr. Monk and the Blackout
4. Mr. Monk Gets Fired
5. Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather
6. Mr. Monk and the Girl Who Cried Wolf
7. Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month
8. Mr. Monk and the Game Show
9. Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine
10. Mr. Monk and the Red Herring
11. Mr. Monk vs. the Cobra
12. Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever
13. Mr. Monk Gets Stuck in Traffic
14. Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas
15. Mr. Monk and the Election
16. Mr. Monk and the Kid
The video is given in 1.78:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color. Like previous season releases, the picture looks good. There are a few distortions in the picture during heavy movement and some minor compression artifacts, but nothing too bad. Overall it looks good.
The audio track is given in English 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo sound. The audio track sounds clear and crisp, with a rather flat tone as the show is primarily dialogue. I found that the quality was more than sufficient and held to the same standards set by the picture quality. This release also has subtitles in English and Spanish.
Like previous season releases there are several very short featurettes. The first is Favorites, which is five minutes of the cast and crew (Andy Breckman, Tony Shalhoub, Ted Levine, and Jason Gray-Stanford) talking about some of their favorite scenes. Next there are two character profiles. They are similar to the character profiles extras (Stottlemeyer and Disher) from the second season DVD set. One is about Adrian Monk with Shalhoub and the other is about Natalie Teeger with Traylor Howard. Then there is Life Before Monk and covers cast and crew opinions about various characters before the series started. The final extra is Quirks, which has cast and crew talking about Monk's various phobias. All in all, the extras are worth a watch but they aren't so interesting to keep you coming back for more.
Monk is one of my favorite television shows. I think it has a great cast, some decent stories, and plenty of laughs. This third season had a relatively big change (Howard replacing Schram). At first I was afraid the change would damage the show, but as it turns out Howard's role as Natalie was not a bad move. While she will never completely replace Schram as Sharona, the new role still works well in the series. Altogether the third season is hilarious and intriguing as the earlier seasons. If you have enjoyed watching the obsessive compulsive detective solve mysteries in way no one else can, this DVD box set should be at the top of your list. It comes highly recommended.