Monday, September 5, 2005


I found the "half-season finale" for 'Monk' to be fun; a charming outing in which we learned about Monk's "Wonder Years" in grade school. But that doesn't mean I didn't find a couple of quibbles with it.

There were two mysteries running in the episode, as his current case brought forward memories of Monk's solution to a bake sale robbery back in junior high. In the present, Monk helped his former classmate (the same girl framed for the bake sale robbery) when her housekeeper was murdered by home invaders during a burglary.

Have you ever noticed that almost every mystery on Television ends up involving a murder? Do the writers feel the stakes always have to be that high? In some series, sure, it always has to be a murder - 'Columbo' works as a homicide detective, after all; and Ellery Queen wasn't going to be called in for help by his Dad when he was stumped by just a jewel theft. But couldn't the home invasion, vandalism of the painting, and the attack on the housekeeper have been enough.

Yes, it's true that if the housekeeper could have identified her attackers had she lived and there would have been no need for any input from Monk. But if I'm not mistaken, they probably sell ski masks at every sporting goods shop to be found in the San Francisco area. It shouldn't have been too hard for the props guy to supply the two burglars with ski masks....

I've been watching 'Over There' and it looks like the insurgents have no trouble in getting ski masks in the deserts of Iraq.

Besides, one of the burlgars left fingerprints behind on the wall. Maybe they were smudged, I don't know. And maybe I put too much faith in 'CSI" units nowadays, but I think nailing the identity of the burglars would have happened sooner than later.
My only other quibble with the episode was the time period for the back-story of Monk in junior high. He was supposed to be in 8th grade, and it was supposed to 1972. To me, they got the feel for that era right, especially with the clothing. (Monk's shirt was way too familiar!)

But here's the thing - it would have been perfect if we never knew who Monk grew up to be. See, I'm two years younger than Tony Shalhoub, and I know it's vain to say so, but I think I look it. And the same goes for comparisons with Adrian Monk. In 1972, I was in 11th grade, and there was no way I could buy into the idea that if Monk was in 8th grade, he was born in 1958 (the same age as my brother Bill).

For Monk to be believable as an eighth-grader (so that they could take advantage of a fantastic performance by Grant Rosenmeyer as young Adrian - the kid really caught the nuances of Monk's budding ticks), the episode would have had to have been set in 1968. And that was a quantum leap into the past for the culture, the wardrobe, etc. even though it was only six years earlier.

I'll concede that it's probably just me, basing it as I am on my own view of the character in relation to my own age. But still I found it troublesome, as was the need to murder the housekeeper.

A lot of shows would probably be happy for ust a "few" quibbles like these, but 'Monk' can be of such a high quality in its entertainment that I probably hold it to a higher standard than is warranted.


"That dreams and memories sometimes get confused,
Well, that's as it should be.
Because every kid deserves to be a hero.
Every kid already is."
Kevin Arnold
'The Wonder Years'

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