I'll admit Schram's departure left me raw, or at least the half-baked storyline they cooked up to expalin it did. But I warmed to Traylor Howard and her character . Eventually. Kind of. Not really. Anyway, her return and the report of the demise of her reconciliation with her deadbeat ex, (Trevor) , closed that off rather nicely. The case provided a lot of anticipation and the interplay between Howard and Schram was damn near, no it was, priceless. When Monk went "missing" and they found him at Trudy's grave? Great televison! Then with the accident at the golf course and Sharona kissing Discher at the end? Who wasn't waiting for that the whole time she was on the show? Too bad the show's ending but it's going out with a bang. Just one gripe : When will they find the man behind Trudy's murder? Come on, already!
Finally, Sharona returns for an epi and we can get some closure. Though I believe it should've happened sooner in the series (Sharona could've appeared in one of the previous seasons and we could have a closure episode with her in this one), I still liked it and thought it was a good idea. I don't agree so much with most of the reviewers about her being out of character, much as we like her and would like to imagine her as an impeccably moral person, the truth is she always saw the practical side of things first. That's why she left Monk in the first place, even though she knew he would be devastated she had to do what she thought was best for Benjie.
That is also the case here, uncovering her long-lost uncle's murder and sending Benjie to college are being weighed down and the second option wins. Simple as that. I don't necessarily agree with it but neither do I believe it's out of character. Her repeating the phrase "I only met him twice" well, that was overdone, agreed. But after some point in the episode her refusal to accept Monk's version of events didn't just have to do with the money. She would also have to accept that her uncle was a con.
Sharona and Randy finally get together, yay! How long have we been waiting for that one to happen? And her fights with Natalie, their reconciliatory conversation and the hug in the end, that was all great. Now let's see what happened with Trudy! (I hope the series doesn't end before that is solved)
Well, that was certainly...interesting. It's been a point of major hype for this season. Sharona's returning! Surely it's a wonderful thought for anyone in the Monk fandom - or, at least, anyone like myself who watched the series from the very beginning and misses her presence on the show in a big way. But, being intricately familiar with the fluctuating quality of the show's more recent offerings, I had my doubts. The concept of Sharona's return was a great place for this episode to start, but could the writers actually follow through on it? Well....yes and no.
Sharona's back in town to deal with the legal matters concerning the death of her uncle, Howie. It looks like an accident - and Sharona's walking away with a healthy settlement from the incident depends on it - but Monk, as usual, suspects otherwise. Very much to her annoyance. Actually, that's one of my more major complaints with this episode. As others have mentioned, Sharona is greedy here in out-of-character proportions. Yes, I know, you only met him twice in your life...but still, he's your uncle! This episode definitely starts to pick up as she starts to get over this.
The mystery is simple and sort of predictable, but I have to applaud its pacing. In a move that's becoming increasingly rare nowadays, Monk doesn't solve the case with one big, unrealistic deduction, but rather a few smaller ones. However, the scene where Monk gives the summation in the closet, letting the killer overhear, was probably the low point of the episode: unrealistic, and the gimmicky fast forward gag felt completely out-of-place in a semi-serious series like this. And then there's the question of why our murderer du jour would keep a piece of crucial evidence lying around, just waiting to be discovered, especially with the knowledge that someone's on to him.
As for Sharona, the episode does pretty much nothing to address her extended departure, weirdly enough. We're told Monk was a basketcase for several months after she spontaneously left him, and all he wants to ask about is laundry? I'm not buying it. I'm sorry, but you can't just pretend that she hasn't been gone for four and a half years. It's all pretty underwhelming - the two main scenes where the show actually does address some of the emotions regarding her absence are flashes of greatness that showcase what this episode could've been. The scene where she talks with Natalie about leaving the "best job she ever had" is handled nicely, and if you ever need a reminder of what a terrific actor Tony Shalhoub can be, just watch the final scene. It's amazing how much he's able to convey with a simple hug.
That's how I'll remember this episode. A few moments of brilliance weighed down by too much averageness. While it's certainly nice to see Bitty Schram back, I'm left wishing it was in a more well-rounded episode. At least it proves a theory of mine: as much as certain parts of the fandom would like to believe otherwise (and as much as I prefer Sharona over Natalie), you can't blame the show's declining quality on Schram's departure. As this episode proves, the show's perfectly capable of being merely average even when she's around. It all comes down to the WRITING.
I must admit that Sharona's return gave me, as well as many other fans, peace concerning her abrupt departure in mid-season three. Not only did this resolve one of the most unnerving story-arcs of the series, but also resolved the rioting conflict between split Monk fans. While the mystery itself didn't intrigue me, the interactions made me smile. Especially near the end with the little conversation Sharona and Natalie had-it's like the writers had actually been paying attention to what fans have been talking about for the past five years. So writers, I give you your "bravo," hopefully the next episode will live up to the hype this one did.
Sharona returning to the show sounded like it was going to be a good episode. But to me she never really clicked. She kinda gave me that girl that makes good and comes back to visit the little people vibe. But portraying her as a scheming money grubber who did not care nor want to know if her own uncle was murdered definately was not in Sharona's character, at least the one I remember. They tried to reconsiliate this by adding that she had only seen her uncle twice in her life, and she wanted the money to send her son to college. For me, this did not work. When she finally realizes how heartless she's being, she turns it around and wants to catch her uncle's killer. Okay, fine that's a little better. But at the end when she trips and breaks her arm, and gets that big grin with the "Ka-Ching" look in her eyes, that ruined that.
Add to that the horrible comedy of doing the "Here's what happened" in the murderer's closet while he was getting them orange juice. Oh come on! So far this season has been a big dissappointment to me. I was expecting this season to build to the final conclusion. But they have given no indication within the story lines that this will be the final season. They are going about their merry way like a normal (yet sub-par) season, and then its gonna be BAM, throwing the conclusion at us out of nowhere like hitting a brick wall.
It was good to see Sharona again. If Sharona left because Bitty Schram who played Sharona had a disagreement with someone, good that they either worked it out or decided to put it aside for the sake of resolving anything that Sharona has unsettled. I'm also glad that Sharona and her husband are separated. When they said that she got back together with him, I couldn't believe because when he was there he was a creep and I can't believe she would get back together with him. But I'm sad that Benjy didn't come with her; he and Julie could've hooked up. And I wonder if Randy has always had feelings for her. It's just a shame we couldn't see more of their relationship.
Although it was great to have an episode with Sharona coming back, and seeing the contrast between styles with her and Natalie, the entire reason she showed up in the first place is a giant plot hole. She claims that she is the only family her uncle has. If I am not much mistaken, Sharona does have a sister who lives in San Francisco. Why couldn't she have handled the uncle's affairs instead of Sharona coming from across the country? Did I miss an episode where she died or something?
I was glad to hear that Sharona was coming back, but I think that the first problem I noticed was her being way too oversexed at the beginning of the show. She was wearing heels, a short tight skirt and a very lowcut top... I don't seem to recall her being this oversexed when she was on the show. They even had characters tell her "You look really good," and in the case of Disher, he said it more than once. It just seems out of character for Sharona, and out of character for the Monk mythos as well; this show isn't about sex appeal, it's about murders and solving crimes. Sure, there is sometimes a little sexual tension here and there; Natalie flirts with Disher, usually to make him stop nagging her about something or make him do something, and Sharona was the same way. There has never really been an overt sexual tone to the show, though.
Additionally, I found it a little strange that every time Sharona was consoled after someone found out about her uncle, she made it a point to downplay their condolences by saying something to the affect of "yeah, well I only met him twice." As a matter of fact, if I had to guess, I would say she says that particular phrase close to ten times throughout this episode. I found it out of character as well that Sharona, who seemed to be a caring person when she was originally on the show, could be so heartless to the death of a person that she would let a large settlement harden her heart... she didn't care that her uncle, even if she didn't know him well, was dead, she just wanted the money. Even once she eventually changed her mind, she obviously still had that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in her sights, as evidenced by the end of the episode.
The bickering and petty arguments between Natalie and Sharona were bound to happen due to their different approaches to dealing with Monk, but to be honest, their squabbles became far more annoying than Monk's many neuroses. This came to a head when Natalie, Sharona, Disher, and Stottlemeyer were all yelling at one another simultaneously. Much like the sex aspect of the show, not a lot of anger is displayed, at least not by the main cast members... usually, a stern word here or there, typically targeted at Disher, gets the job done.
Yet another problem I had was Monk's discomfort while in the closet with Natalie and Sharona; I was under the impression that he and Harold had pretty much conquered their claustrophobia in a previous episode, but that fact seems to have vanished. True, it's possible that he was just uncomfortable being that close to both Natalie and Sharona at the same time, or maybe even just two women period, but I'm thinking it was the claustrophobia, as he protested to the situation before even entering the closet.
Long story short (too late), this episode was below par, especially for a fanservice episode such as this. I expected something better for Sharona's return. I give it a 7/10, and that's probably being generous.
The show opens with this introduction line, after he sees Sharona; Which in my opinion was the most clever moment in the whole episode. The episode wasn't bad but the ending was one of the worst written in the series.
-Spoilers Ahead- Things were going well till about the closet scene. We learned soon that Sharona's Uncle was a con man, and that he was going to set up an accident with a club member to sue the club for having a loose tile in a staircase. In between we see some banter between Sharona and Natalie mostly about what they were paid, and how their treatment towards Mr. Monk (or Adrian as Sharona calls him) works. This I guess is mostly a bone thrown to the discussions fan have over the internet forums. Those scenes were kinda funny but nothing out of the ordinary. Then they go to the club member's house and find out Sharona's uncle is having an affair with the wife of the member so Monk figures out he killed him because of that. But to learn this, they send the guy to get orange juice and Monk Sharona and Natalie hide in his closet so he doesn't hear or suspect anything.....yes...that's right. Stupidest scene ever. Of course he hears them, throws them out of the house, lawyers up. Capt. Stotlemayer gets angry yells, Sharona yells, Natalie yells, so Monk runs away cause of the yelling. Then they have a very silly scene where no one can find him. Turns out he was visiting Trudy's grave. Yes, NO ONE could figure out that's where he ran of to. Cause he hasn't done that before, right?
Then we get to the stupid ending where they decide to investigate his office at the club, they guy overhears them AGAIN, they run after them around the golf course, Sharona jumps on him, Natalie hits the guy with a simple broom or something. Then they talk to the caddy who obviously had evidence on him and, yes, he kept playing golf normally of course while all that was going on right next to him. In the end the guy is caught, and Sharona is hooked up with Randy for some reason. And yes, she divorced Trevor again for some reason also.
All in all a very lackluster episode, badly written that was not even worthy of being the so called Sharona's "majestic" and nostalgic return to the series.
The mystery story here was half decent, as so many of the new ones are, but that really wasn't the point.
What was the point was two assistants bickering, which I found quite amusing. It was interesting to see the comparatively feeble Natalie standing her ground about monk in comparison to the aggressive, grating Sharona. The scene in which they fight over taking the stairs ("Mr. Monk likes the stairs") versus the elevator ("Adrian needs to be pushed") only to be resolved by Monk - "We're taking the elevator to eighteen and walking back down nine flights, that way everyone is miserable" - was perhaps the highlight of the show.
Also nice to see Randy get some action - finally! - though it seems odd that he'd want it. The real mystery is why everyone kept telling Sharona how great she looked when she'd clearly gained 30 pounds.
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