(S08E10) "What year is this?" - Monk to Sharona
I'm not spoiling anything by telling you at the top that Bitty Schram was back as Sharona for this episode. Hell, the title of the show was "Mr. Monk and Sharona." Oftentimes when a former character returns to a long-established show, it doesn't live up to the expectations. You want it to be like it was, only better. Fortunately, Bitty Schram's guest turn was excellent. This might be the best Monk of this finale season.
1. Repeat the painfully obvious rules of the game over and over and over.
2. Loudly announce the names of pretty ladies holding suitcases.
3. Pretend that a game requiring absolutely no skills whatsoever requires skills when choosing numbers in a logically devoid random order.
4. Convince fully-grown adults that you're not pretend-talking on the phone to a villainous, money-hungry banker.
5. Never ever touch the palm of another human being.
(S01E04) "The End of the Whole Mess" is one of my favorite Stephen King short stories for two reasons. One, it's written by a protagonist who is slowly losing his mind as the story progresses, much like an earlier short story of his titled "Survivor Type" (from the Skeleton Crew collection). The other reason I like it so much is that it's very unstereotypically King. It's a very touching and very human story about misplaced good intentions, those same intentions that pave the road to Hell, as the cliche goes.
In the story, the teller is Howie Fornoy, a freelance writer. In the TV version he's a documentary filmmaker and he tapes his final moments on Earth rather than writing about them, which makes sense, this being a television episode after all. Howard is played by Ron Livingston, and his younger brother, Bobby, is played by Henry Thomas. The two brothers are intelligent kids with intelligent parents, but Bobby is especially so. Howie describes him as a kind of wandering genius, someone like Da Vinci or Einstein flittering from one interest to the next like a compass trying to find True North. Bobby finally finds his True North when he and a team of researchers discover a town in Texas called La Planta where the water contains proteins not found anywhere else, including one only found in the human brain. It turns out the water acts as a kind of "calmative" that renders the entire town and its people completely passive and nonviolent.
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