How Many Close Friends Can One Person Really Have?

'Monk' Continues To Entertain

Dee Doyle Dee Doyle
1/24/2008 9:39am EST
MonkUSA's "Monk" is the kind of show that never fails to deliver what it promises, and although it is a very simple concept that is somewhat stale, it continues to be consistently charming. Last week's episode, "Mr. Monk Goes To The Bank," is one of the first cases that actually surprised me, and in the best possible way.

It is great to see the entire gang together, especially in danger, and it hasn't always been this way. There was a time when Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Lieutenant Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) were used more like guest stars, even if they were in the opening credits, and they have developed into very detailed characters with as many quirks as Monk.

The episode begins with the gang trapped in the vault of a bank, with everyone attempting to slam open the door except for Monk (Tony Shalhoub), who lies helplessly on the floor. He has given up. No surprise there. The story goes back in time from there and introduces a bank robbery where Monk begins to suspect one of the employees is in on it. He is very focused on this case because his security box was taken, and inside it was a diamond bracelet that belonged to Trudy. Monk is hired as a security guard for the bank and investigates the matter, but clearly the audience knows they get trapped. It becomes a question of who was involved, how were they tricked into the vault, and how do our heroes survive?

"Mr. Monk Goes To The Bank" has some hilarious moments, including a very impressive display on Lieutenant Disher's part when he proves he can be a living statue on cue. Everyone reacts positively to seeing Monk in uniform again, and it's a little unsettling. Natalie comes as close as she's ever been to hitting on him. She thinks about her husband and says "Look at you!" to Monk over and over until it starts getting annoying to all of us. Even Captain Stottlemeyer looks at him and compliments the uniform. I really think they should offer to buy him a drink before goggling so openly.

There are so many positive aspects of this show. "Monk" has always been entertaining and rarely dips below expectations. The cast is excellent, and they work together with the ease of people who genuinely respect and like one another. Again, my only complaint is the Trudy factor. They are bringing her up more directly now, and I suspect it is because her case is coming back into the spotlight. I am merely hoping that there will be closure to her death sooner rather than later. The strength of "Monk" is also its greatest weakness: the inability of the main character to move on or change the slightest. He is stuck in limbo. He has been cured before and showed progress, but he usually ends up regressing back to the Monk we know and love because the plot revolves around his character never truly getting better.

Because of that, however, Monk can often feel like a two-dimensional character. He has showed a remarkable amount of depth in the past, with Trudy and with his brother Ambrose, but his disease so defines what he is that he is the most predictable character on the show. Can we truly follow him for much longer, knowing there is no room for change and no real chance of character development past what we've seen so far? The thing to watch out for is what will happen once Trudy's death is finally settled. Watching Monk move on may just be the most interesting thing his character has ever done, and personally, I think it is about time to make that step forward.

Recap by Chelsea 'Dee' Doyle
Starpulse contributing writer
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