Judge Erich Asperschlager could be wrong, but he doesn't think so.
Our reviews of Monk: Season Two (published August 24th, 2005), Monk: Season Three (published August 24th, 2005), Monk: Season Five (published August 22nd, 2007), Monk: Season Six (published July 16th, 2008), and Monk: Season Eight (published March 16th, 2010) are also available.
"You'll thank me later."
TV quirkiest detective is back for his penultimate season in Monk: Season Seven—a year marked by Monk's star-studded 100th case, and the passing of friends both in real life and on the show.
Facts of the Case
Sixteen episodes across four discs:
• "Mr. Monk and the Genius"
• "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever"
• "Mr. Monk Takes a Punch"
• "Mr. Monk Falls in Love"
• "Mr. Monk's 100th Case"
• "Mr. Monk Gets Hypnotized"
• "Mr. Monk's Other Brother"
• "Mr. Monk on Wheels"
• "Mr. Monk and the Lady Next Door"
• "Mr. Monk and the Bully"
• "Mr. Monk and the Magician"
• "Mr. Monk Fights City Hall"
About four months before the beginning of Monk's seventh season, Stanley Kamel, better known to fans as Dr. Charles Kroger, died of a heart attack at age 65. As Monk's longtime (and long-suffering) psychiatrist, his loss was a huge blow to the series he had been a part of since 2002. Even though he didn't get as much screen time as the primary cast, he was just as important. Without his help, Monk wouldn't have been able to leave the house, let alone solve unsolvable cases. Kamel's passing set the tone for Monk: Season Seven, forcing Monk to deal with his loss and to start seeing a new psychiatrist: Dr. Neven Bell, played by the accomplished Hector Elizondo.
Dr. Kroger isn't the only loss Monk has to deal with this year. The season is capped off by two personal cases. The finale, "Mr. Monk Fights City Hall," marks the beginning of the end for the series-long mystery of who killed Monk's wife, not because he learns anything new about the case (which will hopefully be resolved by the end of the eighth and final season), but because he loses one of his last physical connections to his wife: the parking garage where she died. "Mr. Monk and the Magician" is even more heart-wrenching for longtime fans, as it marks the end of the road for Monk's chatty neighbor, Kevin Dorfman (Jarrad Paul), who is killed by a slippery magician after he makes an accidental discovery. It's one of the best episodes of the season, and a fitting tribute to one of the series' most oddly endearing characters.
Not all of the milestones in Monk: Season Seven are tragic, however. This season also marks the show's 100th episode—coincidentally also Monk's 100th case. The episode takes place at a party where Monk and a gaggle of well-wishers watch an episode of the investigative newsmagazine "InFocus" at the home of the show's host, played by guest star Eric McCormack. In addition to the case at hand, the fictional program reunites famous faces from episodes past, including Sarah Silverman's super fan Marcy, John Turturro as Monk's brother, and criminals played by Andy Richter, Howie Mandel, David Koechner, Angela Kinsey, and Ricardo Chavira.
As with seasons past, Monk: Season Seven has an impressive slate of guest stars. The biggest guest spot this season, however, goes to Bob Costas in the episode "Mr. Monk Makes the Playoffs." The lovable sportscaster plays a slightly weirder version of himself—a Costas who met and befriended Monk after the detective helped solve a case involving a demented cat salesman (that is, a salesman of demented cats).
The season also gives plenty of screen time to series regulars. Traylor Howard's Natalie takes center stage as a lotto girl in "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever," in which she eclipses her boss's fame, much to his chagrin. "Mr. Monk on Wheels" looks at the darker side of Monk's neuroses, as she is driven to a nervous collapse by his constant needling and the guilt of knowing she accidentally got him shot. On the SFPD side of things, this year's holiday episode, "Mr. Monk and the Miracle," centers around Ted Levine's Captain Stottlemeyer, who undergoes a spiritual transformation after he appears to be miraculously healed by a monastery fountain.
Monk: Season Seven is another good-looking set, with a clean widescreen presentation and surprisingly dynamic stereo soundtrack. The only disappointment, yet again, are the extras. Monk: Season Six introduced bonus "video commentaries"—five minute interviews with key writers about specific episodes. The video commentaries continue on in Season Seven, though there's one fewer this time than on the previous set—six commentaries, for the episodes "Mr. Monk Buys a House," "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever," "Mr. Monk is Underwater," "Mr. Monk Falls in Love," "Mr. Monk's 100th Case," and "Mr. Monk Gets Hypnotized." The last two sets had one full-length audio commentary each. Season Seven doesn't even have that. I'm surprised they didn't record one for the big 100th episode. Even more surprising, these six video commentaries are already available on the official Monk website along with two others that are nowhere to be found on this set—for "Mr. Monk Takes a Punch" and "Mr. Monk and the Genius." The last two extras, one on each of the last two discs, are a brief '70s-style "Monk P.I." USA promo for the show, and a flashy behind-the-scenes "Anatomy of an Episode" featurette that looks at "Mr. Monk Makes the Playoffs."
Even with the lackluster extras, Monk: Season Seven is a fantastic set, with sixteen more episodes of the quirkiest mystery show on TV. It's hard to believe there's only one season left for Tony Shaloub's obsessive compulsive detective. They should really reconsider and keep the show going for another couple of years. I don't even want to imagine what Monk would say if he found out they were ending after eight seasons instead of ten.
No Guil—What's that? Monk proved his innocence six paragraphs ago? Never mind.
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Scales of Justice
• Video Commentaries
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