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October 13, 2015

Monk: Mr. Monk Buys A House (season premiere)

by Allison Waldman, posted Jul 19th 2008 8:00AM
Adrian Monk w/fingers(S07E01) It seems like only yesterday when Monk, the ultimate obsessive compulsive Sherlock Holmes, began on USA Network, and now here it is the start of its seventh season. In all that time, for a man who doesn't like change at all, Adrian Monk has had to endure quite a bit of upheaval. The untimely death last April of actor Stanley Kamel, who played Monk's security blanket/therapist Dr. Kroger, was written into this premiere episode, in -- what I believe -- was a very subtle, graceful way.

Monk's sudden displeasure with his home is rooted in his discomfort in his life now that Dr. Kroger is gone. The ultimate egotist, in that Monk cares most for himself, Adrian is desperate to throw himself into work to avoid the irritating piano-playing coming from the little girl across the street and disturbing the sanctuary of his home. Kudos to the new therapist, Dr. Bell, for connecting the dots and quickly sizing up why Monk finds the music so displeasing.

Hector Elizondo seems to fit in perfectly and Monk's new therapist. His office is a model of symmetry and he even has Adrian's favorite bottled water ready for him. Without saying, you think that maybe Dr. Kroger -- who did know Bell -- prepared him with notes about how to make Monk your client! He was almost too perfect. He even gave him a wipe after shaking his hand.

Was it realistic that Monk would have so precipitously leap into the buying of a home? No. Was it a huge coincidence (or was it?) that Honest Jake -- guest Brad Garrett -- runs in to Monk at Lowe's (it looked like Lowe's with the blue vests) and offers him a business card? Yes. Did the story dovetail too neatly into Monk's new home being the center of a murder/money scheme? Absolutely.

But by now, fans of Monk are not looking for great mystery storytelling. The writers have twisted the plotting like this for years, with rarely a good pay-off for all that pretzel-making. Therefore, the fun of the show is watching Monk in all of his OCD madness, and a smidge of humanity, figure things out and solve the puzzle.

The great surprise -- if you want to call it that -- of this episode was how Jake tied in to the money. Garrett got to play a stone cold killer, a guy who could pull the trigger or stab a woman without conscience. Quite a switch from Robert on Everybody Loves Raymond!

As the story wrapped, Monk was back in his apartment and -- presumably -- the house is up for sale. He can tolerate the piano playing, even enjoy it now, because Dr. Bell has made him understand that in doing so, he's reminiscing about his relationship with Dr. Kroger. Dr. Kroger wasn't just Monk's therapist, you see, he was his...Dr. Kroger.

Other points of interest

-- Dr. Bell's first name is Neven. It's a palindrome, as Natalie points out, which should please Monk. Unfortunately, it's not a perfect one because of the capital N in Neven!

-- Did you recognize comic Jack Carter as old man Moody in the wheelchair? He didn't look the same, but I recognized his voice.

-- You know how you can tell this is a not a procedural drama like Law & Order or CSI? Brad Garrett's character would have worried about forensics, you know, leaving fibers at the murder scene or fingerprints or blood splatter. He just stabbed and shot without a care.

-- Two movie references right off the top; first, Moody was talking about Gregory Peck in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. Second, when the nurse pushed him down the stairs, it was a direct homage to Richard Widmark in his star-making, Oscar-nominated role as a killer in Kiss of Death.

-- It was a damn shame that the destroyed Monk's new house. It was a great-looking place before the construction. At that point, I was thinking of another movie reference, The Money Pit!

-- Natalie is a smart cookie. She saved the day by knowing Morse code and how to start a fire. Maybe she was a Girl Scout, too.

-- When Jake referred to Monk as Columbo, it seemed like a Brad Garrett ad lib.

-- Product plug: Mayflower movers. I guess it was fairly inoffensive, and it was more realistic than Maytulip movers, let's say.

-- Moody goes on and on about a neighbor he had named Nabors. A reference to Monk co-producer, Doug Nabors?

-- In the end, there was a really nice salute to Stanley Kamel with a shot of his picture in a frame in Monk's apartment, then a dedication in the end credits.

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The show was horrible. Nothing about it made any sense. Ugh.

August 09 2008 at 7:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SPT Layzner

Anyone feel sorry for that old man?

July 21 2008 at 11:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to SPT Layzner's comment

You mean the thief who was responsible for the death of 2 guards just doing their job? No.

This was a great episode! It was a perfect tribute to the Dr. and it was really touching at the end.

"Every time the team would go into a huddle, my dad would turn to me and say, they're talking about you". Loved it. With Dan Hedaya playing the part of his dad, I believe it!

Solid start for season 7!

July 22 2008 at 1:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's been a longstanding "joke" of sorts throughout every season of Monk that Mr. Monk has no job other than occasional consulting - for which he rarely gets paid, has long dry spells with no cases, often refuses to even accept any payment, explicitly works pro bono quite often, and doesn't even want to take cases with big rewards. Yet Monk seemingly has unlimited funds and can buy whatever he wants. It's never been explained, it never will be explained, and what makes it funny is that Monk is a notorious cheapskate with everyone else (wouldn't even pay Natalie's expenses). It's like how Kenny dies and comes back to life in every south park. We just accept it as part of the Monk canon and don't question it.

July 20 2008 at 1:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is killing me - what was the name of the musical piece the neighbor was playing in this episode? It was heavenly.

July 19 2008 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Adrian's comment

It was a Chopin piece but I don't know the name of it...do you?

July 21 2008 at 7:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Prelude Op. 28, No. 7 in A Major
... for example, Track #5 on this album at Amazon.com

July 21 2008 at 11:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ben Belden

I love Monk, I TiVo all the reruns and watch at least one episode nearly every day. Having said that, I thought this episode was a really poor way to start off the new season.

First, this episode was boring. Incredibly boring. I stopped it twice and went on to watching or doing other things before coming back to it. This didn't seem so much like a plot as two sentences written on a napkin that they filmed. There was no mystery, from the commercials you could tell that Brad Garrett was just tearing up the house looking for money. If you want further proof that this was barely a story, Monk didn't even have to do one of his "here's what happened" to explain it to the audience because if you couldn't have figured it out on your own, you probably couldn't have turned on the TV in the first place.

Second, the characters were completely all over the place. Brad Garrett is a sociopath who will just kill anyone once he finds the money. I believe that. But after shooting his partner with no provacation he's going to somehow subdue and shackle both Natalie and Monk and take them to a bathroom and attach them to a bathtub that is freestanding without even a pipe connected to it? I don't believe that. And Monk was barely Monk at all. Dr. Kruger's death should have, in my opinion, taken more of a toll on him. I understand it's just a TV show, but I expected him to have some kind of psychotic break and be alone in a room cleaning over and over. Besides which, not only did Monk just buy a house (how much money does he make consulting) but he proceeded to stay in it while it was being torn to pieces around him without so much as a tic? The only semblence of his OCD was when he needed to pound the nail. And after his house was completely destroyed, how did he get back to his apartment so quickly? Had he sold it in the first place? Plus, he had all his things back too. He had already unpacked at the new house. Did he then repack everything, hire another moving company to move everything back, and set it all up to his liking overnight? What about the house? Does he still have to pay for it?

I do have to admit that the ending was touching and I'm glad for that, but I just feel they could have done so much more or a different story altogether to start the season and I was very let down.

July 19 2008 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"-- It was a damn shame that the destroyed Monk's new house. It was a great-looking place before the construction."

I think it was more destruction.

July 19 2008 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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