Monk--Mr Monk Takes Manhatten
At the end of last season, Monk finally got a new bit of information concerning the death of his beloved wife, Trudy. The only drawback was that the person with the new information lived in New York City, thus ensuring two things. One that Monk would have to travel by plane again (we've seen that before back to end season one) and that he'd have to visit the Big Apple.
Which is where season three begins--Monk, Sherona, Stottlemeyer and Disher all head to the Big Apple, with an appointment to meet and talk this informant and hopefully get closer to solving the mystery of Trudy's death and giving Monk some peace. Before you know it, Monk and company are caught up in another mystery--solving the murder of an ambassador and his two aides. Monk is reluctant to do so, but only by helping the NYPD on this case will he be allowed to talk to the man who built the bomb that killed Trudy. Now, the mysteries have never been the strong suit of Monk, I'll give you that. Sure there have been a couple that kept me guessing, but they've never been overly deep. The real joy of this show is watching Monk at work, played superbly by Tony Shaloub. Which is why this episode was a bit disappointing. We got to see Monk, but it wasn't in relation to his solving the mystery really. It was almost as if the writers said--boy, it sure would be fun to have Monk in New York City. Imagine how many things he'd freak out about?!?
Well, certainly there is some requisite fun--Monk hates the subway, Monk beats out a shell game, Monk gets lost, etc. But the one thing that has worked so well for two seasons is that in whatever situation they put Monk, it was a function of the mystery of the week. Monk goes to prison to get a close to jail house informant, Monk goes on a plane and solves a murder. But taking Monk to New York City seemed like just a ploy to grab some attention for the season premiere and to turn the characters into two-dimensional charicatures of themselves. Isn't it funny that Disher buys a watch he thinks is a Rolex off the street but it's not? Isn't it great to see Sherona freaking out about Monk's disappearing? No, not really. It just felt hollow and not at all like the show that I've been watching the past two years. Yes, the show has had an occasional side-step, but none as glaring as this one. As I've said before, putting Monk into these situations and letting the good-natured humor flow out of the situation has worked well in the past--so long as the situation is a function of the central mystery of the week. The mystery of the week shouldn't serve as a function to get Monk to New York City. And when the mystery is dropped for long periods of time so we can see Monk try to talk to Stottlemeyer, but can't due to jack hammer in the background, it loses something. A lot of what it loses is our laughing along with Monk and not at him. We find humor in his situation, but we also feel compassion for him. I really felt nothing here, except in the end. The ending where Monk stands besides the bed of the man who helped kill Trudy and turns off his morphine was truly chilling. And equally as impressive was his turning it back on and saying that was Trudy doing it, not him. That scene worked and it almost redeemed the entire episode.
Hopefully, we'll get back to something a bit better next week. Maybe free of the need to tell a series of wacky New York City adventures, the show will get back to what makes it so enjoyable.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/22/2004 08:05:00 AM