Season 8 Episode 9

Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Oct 16, 2009 on USA

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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  • Fun.

    Monk is always a reliable show when it comes to needing a few chuckles; Tony Shalhoub is always good for that, but there is just something about this show that feels, shall I say, outdated. With Burn Notice and Psych on its roster USA Network just doesn't need the long-running dramedy anymore and the network was right for ending it this year. While it is still a fun show it is just not exciting enough for most people to tune in. The humor just isn't edgy enough and it's just not the groundbreaking program that it once was for USA and for TV.
  • Mr. Monk Is Older Than He's Ever Been (and Now He's Even Older)

    I've watched all seven and a half seasons of this show so far, and I've noticed that episodes generally fall into one of two classes. You've got the increasingly uncommon mystery episodes, where the writers actually bother to put together a half-decent puzzle. Then there are the character-driven episodes, where we focus on some event in the life of a certain character, usually Monk, almost always at the expense of a good mystery. But then there's a very rare third grouping that tries to have it both ways, to varying degrees of success. "Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk" tries to serve up some clever murders and some interesting character moments for Monk, and it's a moderate success at both.

    A maintenance man, Bradley Foster, meets his demise at the hands of his garbage compactor. The one other man in the building at the same time, patent attorney Richard Meckler, soon experiences an untimely death of his own, having been poisoned - and nobody has any idea how. Against this grizzly backdrop, we find Natalie struggling to put together a surprise party for Monk's 50th birthday, against his wishes. A third storyline has Stottlemeyer falling for a consumer reporter, and it's unquestionably the weakest part of the episode. Ted Levine deserves better. It seems we'll be seeing this woman again, and I can only hope the tale of Leland's romance is more interesting in those episodes.

    As for the more major storylines...Monk's birthday is handled well enough. The childhood event that made him hate birthdays is actually really minor, but ultimately, all the more believable for it. And the way Natalie ultimately succeeds at surprising her boss is funny simply because it's directly parodying all the ridiculous "let's put Monk in mortal danger simply to pad out the script" moments they've been overdoing in recent seasons. If there's one big complaint I have about the birthday stuff, it's that Monk is written too cartoonishly near the middle while he's overly paranoid about Natalie surprising him. The morgue stuff just seemed like overkill.

    The mystery is a mixed bag. On one hand, it's great fun to piece together the motive. For once, the "whodunnit" aspect is actually a little bit puzzling, especially with two characters being involved in the murders. However, the actual pivotal question - how could Pressman drink from a poisoned drink and live? - is just a shameless rehash of the ages old "poisoned ice cubes" riddle. And when the writers have to resort to old riddles to craft their clever murders, you know they've pretty much run out of ideas. If the "how he did it" was more original, this could've very well been the best mystery of the season, with the other aspects being so well-done.

    In fact, that's the same problem any long-running show faces. After seven and a half seasons, it's almost impossible to come up with any original ideas anymore. As much as many fans would refuse to admit it, it's probably a good thing the show's ending after this season. In fact, I'd argue that it should've ended several seasons back while it was still in its prime, but obviously I'd expect disagreement there. As for this episode, despite the shameless rehash of an old riddle and excessively cartoonish behaviour in parts, I'd say this was still decent enough, especially compared to last week's abomination.
  • Natalie tries to throw a surprise party for her surprise-hating boss, who is busy trying to solve the murder of a maintenance man. Monk also says that he doesn't like birthday parties because of the one he had decades ago.

    Natalie tries to throw a surprise party for her surprise-hating boss, who is busy trying to solve the murder of a maintenance man. Monk also says that he doesn't like birthday parties because of the one he had decades ago.

    The maintance guy was shredded in the machine. In the beginning of the show, they show the guy being pushed in by someone into the shredder. When Monk checks it out, he sees that the lights were off when the person found the maintance guy leading to the thinking of him being murdered.

    When Monk goes to the office because Captain Stolllymier said it was urgent, Monk notices that nobody is at the office and that the big pile of plates and cups that were on the table the other day weren't there. He says that Natalie is trying to throw a surprise birthday party. She says that it took a long time to plan it and Monk should go but he hated birthday parties. Then, Natalie said that she would surprise him, but he said that she wouldn't be able to. While investigating the murder, Monk became a little paroniod and thought that Natalie was trying to trick him into a surprise party. At some points she was trying to and he knew so. Anyway, to get more information on the case, they went to the maintance guy's lawyer who was at a place where somebody was selling a solar powered vacuum. The Captain met a girl who didn't tell him her name and the lawyer had a heart attack. Monk thinks he was murdered, but a couple of people took a sip of the same drink and nothing happened to them.

    When Monk borrows the solar vacuum, it was as if he fell in love! He filtered the vaccum though when it says not to everywhere on the vacuum and on the booklet. Then he told his story of why he doesn't want another party, where him as his friends watch an entertainer entertain and afterwards, everybody left. His so called friends only came for the entertainment, not for him. Natalie laughs because it sounded silly. He had friends now and that was decades ago! After that, they went to fix the vacuum and Monk noticed that the guy that was selling the vacuum loosened hiis belt and didn't really know how to fix it. He took it for a few days and said he would return it soon.

    Natalie finally tricks him into a birthday party by "being chased by a car" When he goes to the party, he was surprised to see it. He enjoyed every bit but during the end. The man who was selling the vacuum was there and put poison in ice cubes to kill Monk. He thought that Monk would figure out the case.

    Before Monk took a sip of it, and after the guy he admired when he was small came and he enjoyed the party, he solved the case. The guy who had a heart attack actually got killed by poison in the ice cubes, since his ice cubes were square and others were circlish, just like Monk's now. The ice has to melt which is why the lawyer died only. Another clue was that the guy didn't know how to fix the vacuum because the maintance guy thought of it. This guy just killed them so he could have it to himself. Being correct, that guy was going to jail.

    Monk had a good time at the party, and he said it was the best one he ever had.