Get out some clean wipes, fresh bottled spring water, and detective caps - "Monk" is back for a seventh season! The last time the obsessive-compulsive hero was seen, he was running from the law in an intense two-part episode where Monk was framed for murder. His "death" gave him the freedom to find the real culprit, and for the first time in years he gained a clue in the tragic murder of his wife Trudy. Whether or not the show will get to this investigation quickly or draw it out another seven years is anyone's guess, but hopefully it will be the former.

First of all, it must be known that Stanley Kamel died on April 8. He played Monk's shockingly patient therapist Dr. Kroeger, and his unexpected death shook up the crew. The show must go on however - literally - and this was handled in the season premiere gracefully and with great respect.

The episode, titled "Mr. Monk Buys A House," introduced a heartbroken Monk trying to cope with the loss of his therapist and friend. In his grief, everything iss magnified including his annoyance at the new next-door neighbor that constantly plays the piano near his window. Unable to focus and to cope, Monk talks Captain Stottlemeyer into investigating a case that was almost closed.

While in the house, Monk decides impulsively to buy it, not realizing just yet that a murder took place there when a nurse threw her mentally addled patient down the staircase. At the same time, a handyman (Brad Garrett) offers to fix the old house up and instead starts to rip it entirely to pieces. He certainly does not seem a friend when he kills the nurse! Monk begins to realize that he was coping with Dr. Kroeger's death by buying the house, but it may be just too late, and he may now be in more trouble than he even realizes. Monk also gets to know a new therapist, played by the charming Emmy-winning Hector Elizondo. This episode was a very sweet tribute to Kamel, and it was smart to acknowledge the death in character and let the cast grieve openly.

After the darker and quickly paced season finale last year, it was a little jarring yet comforting to get back to the usual "Monk" style of storytelling. This was a typical episode with cute, funny misunderstandings and the day-to-day agony of being Adrian Monk. He seemed surprisingly calm when the house was being torn down, but to be fair, there was a great deal on his mind. On the other hand, it was a little disappointing to go back to an average episode after being teased with the serious, well paced finale.

The show proved that it could be more than a sweet comedy, and it was intriguing to see where they would go with it. If this episode is any indication, apparently no where, but there is an entire season ahead and hopefully it will trail back to Trudy's murder and finally some closure for the poor detective (and the audience).

Tune in Fridays at 9 p.m. on USA to see more "Monk." Next week, Monk goes against a genius chess player who always seems to be several steps ahead of him. Has Monk found someone who is just too smart for him to catch? David Strathairn guest stars. Also, keep an eye out for the 100th episode coming up later this season with appearances by some of the best guest stars in "Monk" history.

Congratulations to Tony Shalhoub on his Emmy nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy Series.

Story by Chelsea 'Dee' Doyle
Starpulse contributing writer