Monk: Season 4

Monk: Season 4

****

Reviewed by: Davros

Sitting with his trusty shrink, conversation is loose and relaxed; patient and doctor chatting carefree whilst a mug sits haphazardly, far away from its coaster – Mr Monk is finally at ease… or so it seems.

And so the fourth outing of detective Monk (Tony Shalhoub) and his many adventures gets the shiny disc treatment and, judging by its quality, Andy Breckman’s San Francisco odyssey is really begin to hit its stride. Formula-wise change is not evident. It’s your standard boy/girl gets murdered, pernickety ex-detective with severe Obssessive Compulsive Disorder gets tangled up in the case, in turn roping in the help of old friends on the force and a kindly assistant. But it is the depth of storytelling that really makes Monk a winner.

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Kicking off the season, Monk suffers a crisis of faith, as a faking P.I. proves more brilliant than he is. Coupled with a quirky episode where Monk remains ill and bed-bound – in a state of OCD overdrive – assistant Natalie (the sparkling Traylor Howard) has to solve a peculiar mystery involving a dead pizza delivery boy. Overshadowing these lighter moments come the show’s darker saving graces. An old school friend brings back memories of Monk’s unhappy school life and, furthermore, hints at a Howard Hughes-style relationship with his mother; the darker side of loneliness crops up in the obligatory Christmas special, and, in a saddening twist of fate, as Monk comes achingly close to curing himself, a blast from the past threatens to knock him back into his perpetual state.

Immerse yourself, and these seemingly small tragedies amplify creating a warmth and sadness to a TV show still young in its life. Not surprisingly it is Shalhoub’s brilliant portrayal of the afflicted detective that anchors the show but support continues to be pivotal in the show's longevity.

Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Lieutenant Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) provide both comedic value and some meaty subplots, and Howard’s Natalie is a welcome replacement to his previous side-kick, Bitty Schram’s nurse Sharona. All coexist in the attractive locales – although cheekily filmed in Canada – of San Francisco, a place where crimes are committed but never easily solved, red herrings swim away as fast as they come to you and, when nothing is as it seems, the disjointed mind triumphs at cracking the disjointed crime.

Ironside had his mobility issues, Columbo had his slow-wittedness and Kojak had his questionable handling of the truth - Monk’s Achilles heal comes in the form of an eternal wrangle with his own self. As Monk counts off lampposts on a sidewalk, bemoans spilt wine on a famous oil painting and desperately picks up broken glass in a biker bar brawl self-redemption has never been more achingly yearned for in a TV detective.

More watchable than ever and carrying with it some weighty drama, Monk is the top detective show on the box.

Reviewed on: 30 Oct 2006
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Monk: Season 4 packshot
Detective Monk sets out for a fourth outing, which begins with a crisis in faith and ends in redemption (sort of). Out to own on DVD now.
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Director: Randall Zisk, Philip Casnoff, Jerry Levine, Stephen Surjik, Jefery Levy, Andre Belgrader

Writer: Andy Breckman, David Breckman, Nell Scovell, Hy Conrad, Daniel Dratch, Tom Scharpling, Liz Sagal, Joe Toplyn, Jack Bernstein, Peter Wolk, Jonathan Collier

Starring: Tony Shalhoub, Ted Levine, Traylor Howard, Jason Gray-Stanford, Jason Alexander, John Turturro, Rachael Harris, Malcolm McDowell, Laurie Metcalf, Charles Napier, Stanley Kamel, Nicky Katt, Glenne Headly, Jon Favreau, Benito Martinez

Year: 2005

Runtime: 752 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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