When it comes to program scheduling the cable networks don't need no stinkin' badges to do what they normally do. That's why there are Law & Order marathons on TNT during every federal holiday and episodes of Dog, The Bounty Hunter on A&E. It is also the reason why we see new holiday episodes from shows like The Closer in December when their seasons end in September.
So, it should be no surprise that new holiday-themed episodes of Monk and Psych are airing this Friday on the USA Network. Actually, it should be no surprise that Monk is offering a holiday tale since it has done so for the last three years. This is Psych's first entry into the holiday episode universe. And, regardless if it is their first or third holiday entry, both shows look like interesting viewing.
For the most part, television is filled with wacky whimsical characters designed to help us forget about the darkness that invades our daily lives. However once in awhile a character comes along who dares to make us face our own evil within. What follows are my personal favorites.
Dexter Morgan (Dexter)
Just because Dexter only preys on bad people doesn't excuse the fact that he has a compulsion to kill people in very sadistic ways. Dexter may be the perfect psycho because he is completely self-aware. He knows full well that what he is doing is unacceptable but also firmly believes that he can do nothing to change who he is.
Has Monk found a new career? When a rich couple is killed, the detective goes undercover as a butler to investigate and discovers his OCD quirks actually make him a good servant. Sean Astin guest stars as the rich couple's son, who's crushing on Natalie.
It's been written before, but it's worth repeating: TV Squad does not do episode recaps. We write reviews/opinions of episodes for people who have already seen them in order to spur discussion.
I chose to review Monk because I'm a big fan of the show, but it has become more and more difficult for me not to repeat myself with each review. Five seasons in, I think the show has found a comfortable niche, but I can only write about that niche so many times before I get sick of it. Monk has more or less used the same basic plot since it began, and if it weren't for Tony Shalhoub's ability to embody the character of Adrian Monk so perfectly, myself and other fans would have grown tired of the show a long time ago. Monk is a character-driven series, and that's just fine, but at this point I've said all I can say about it.
If you liked my reviews, thanks for reading. Personally, I never thought they were my best for the reasons mentioned above. Fans of the series can still check out the series' Web site, which has episode recaps and video clips.
(S05E11) Tony Shalhoub has garnered a few Emmys for his role as Adrian Monk, and I know some have complained that at this point it's almost as if he's given the award automatically. I don't care whether or not Shaloub "deserves" to be nominated year after year, but I do know that it's Monk that makes Monk worth watching. I don't watch this series because of the complex plots, because they're rarely complex. Clues to the suspect's identity are made more obvious than hints in an Encyclopedia Brown story, especially in this episode when a mysterious man strangles his lover in the opening scene, a man who is clearly Andy Richter even though they try to obscure him.
So... who will win? Who should win? I'll let you know after the jump.
Best TV Series - Drama
Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Drama
Patricia Arquette, Medium
Edie Falco, The Sopranos
Evangeline Lilly, Lost
Ellen Pompeo, Grey's Anatomy
Kyra Sedgewick, The Closer
Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama
Patrick Dempsey, Grey's Anatomy
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House
Bill Paxton, Big Love
Kiefer Sutherland, 24
Best Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Felicity Huffman, Desperate Housewives
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds
Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Zach Braff, Scrubs
Steve Carell, The Office
Jason Lee, My Name Is Earl
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
(UPDATE: One of our readers, Zachary, was kind enough to look up the miniseries nominees -- they weren't announced during this morning's ceremony. He posted them here.)
(SECOND UPDATE: Our sister site Cinematical is covering the movie nominations, if you're curious.)
(S05E08) This episode opens behind the scenes at a rock festival. A roadie is upset with a rock musician for stealing one of his songs and putting it on an album. Luckily (well, actually unluckily) for Stork, the roadie, he mailed the sheet music to himself so as to have proof that he wrote the song. The musician, Kris Kedder, knocks Stork unconscious with a beer bottle.
Back in Monkland, Monk and Natalie are trying to get Stottlemeyer to compensate them for a dry cleaning bill from a suit that was soiled while Monk was investigating another case. Stottlemeyer tells them Disher handles such things, but Disher is home sick. While they're arguing, Stottlemeyer gets a call that his son has skipped school to attend a rock concert.
(S05E07) Dr. Kroger, Monk's shrink, typically plays a small role on the series. That isn't to say he's not important to Monk. Actually, he's very important to Monk, and Monk considers Kroeger's office his home away from home, the place where, as he tells Natalie, "it all doesn't happen."
When a cleaning lady in Dr. Kroeger's office is stabbed to death, Kroeger fears it may have been one of his patients. This becomes too much for him to bear so he decides to retire. Of course, Monk doesn't take this very well at all, and goes through all the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The difference is that Monk goes through them all in just a matter of seconds, and then repeats them over again as if stuck in a loop.
Kroeger suspects a patient named Joseph Wheeler, who once threatened him, may have been the killer. Wheeler works at Animal Crafters, a Build-A-Bear Workshop-type place, but his alibi checks out so they have to rule him out as the killer. Monk and Wheeler have a moment of solidarity when they realize they both lost someone very important when Kroeger quit his practice. They each stand clutching teddy bears and mourning the loss of their shrink.
(S05E06) I think it's fairly easy to tell a person's high school or college experience by how excited (or not excited) they become when it comes time for a class reunion. I know my response to people asking if I was going to attend my ten year high school reunion was pretty much "hell no." My school experience was decent enough, but Adrian Monk's wasn't so great. In this episode he returns to Berkeley for his college reunion, after receiving an invitation addressed to "Captain Cool." We later find out he received that particular nickname not because he was popular, but because he defrosted the dorm refrigerator every weekend.
Before all that, of course, we get the obligatory Monk opening murder. A man, his face more or less obscured, pushes an old woman down a flight of stairs, and then breaks a beaded necklace to make it look as if she slipped and fell by accident. Disher and Stottlemeyer investigate, and Disher falls for the ruse, but Stottlemeyer points out that there are a lot of gaps Disher himself didn't notice. He turns it into a homicide investigation, which is good because otherwise the episode would only be five minutes long.
(S05E05) This episode was directed by Peter Weller, who also played the actor portraying Stottlemeyer in the season premiere, something I complete missed when I saw that episode. Shame on me.
The show also introduced a new love interest for Stottlemeyer, a no-nonsense real estate agent named Linda Fusco, played by Sharon Lawrence. They left their relationship pretty wide open by the end, so I suspect she'll be returning for more episodes, which is always cool because I like it when they take the focus away from Monk once in awhile and flesh out the side characters a bit more.
In this episode, Natalie, inspired by her late grandfather who started a toothpaste company in England ("talk about optimism!"), leases some office space and sets up a private detective agency for Mr. Monk. Their first client is the aforementioned Linda, who wants them to find out who dented her fender. She's convinced it was her ex-husband, but as they delve deeper they discover the man who did it is also the same man who drowned his lover by knocking her out, sealing her in a box, and dumping her over the side of his yacht (a yacht called "Lucky Lady" by the way. Never let it be said the Monk writers don't have a sick sense of humor).
(S05E04) In this episode, Monk must investigate a murder by arson, despite being blinded by the man who committed the crime.
While visiting the local fire station to have his thirty smoke alarms tested, a man from the street walks in. The fire chief tells the man he's not supposed to be there, and then he tries to apprehend him, the man beans the fire chief with a shovel and throws liquid solvent into Monk's eyes, blinding him. The doctor tells Monk it's uncertain whether or not his eyesight will return, and Monk's colleagues do their best to help him out. Disher tries to help out, too, though his idea of helping is to explain everything he's doing, whether it's relevant or not. There's a funny scene later in the episode when Disher is looking for his notebook and tells Monk which pockets he's looking in, as if that even matters. I also laughed when he tells Monk he's going to work 24/7 to figure out who blinded him, except for May 11 because that's when his niece is getting confirmed.
(S05E03) I think I may have made this comparison before, but Monk reminds me a lot of Scooby-Doo. It's not so much because both shows are about solving crimes, but because both follow essentially the same basic formula for every episode. Despite this, however, I still love the show.
In this episode, Julie's basketball coach is killed when a towel is left on the floor drain of the girl's locker room and a hairdryer is also left on the floor, causing the coach to become electrocuted when she steps into the water. This is yet another of those rather convoluted James Bond-style murders that always open an episode of Monk. Seriously, had she looked down at the floor before stepping out of the shower she would have seen the hair dryer, but lucky enough for the killer, she just happens to not be paying attention. Also, how many high school coaches actually use the showers in the locker room? Wouldn't they just go home for that sort of thing?
(S05E02) This may have been the funniest episode of Monk I've ever seen. The sanitation workers of San Francisco have gone on strike and garbage is piling up all over the city. Monk, not surprisingly, is not taking it well at all, and actually mails his garbage to Dr. Kroeger, his shrink. Kroeger knows this because the garbage is actually sorted by size and color. Monk becomes so obsessed with ending the garbage strike that when the president of the union is found dead with a bullet to the head, he rules it a suicide without actually investigating. Natalie manages to convince Monk to investigate anyway, despite Monk's protest that what he's doing is "for the greater good."
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