Season 3 Episode 8

Mr. Monk and the Game Show

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Aug 13, 2004 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
260 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

With Sharona in New Jersey to visit her ailing mother, Monk is left in the very incompetent hands of his upstairs neighbor, Kevin Dorfman. However, the prospect of a week with Kevin is eased somewhat by a visit from Trudy's father, Dwight Ellison. Dwight invites Monk (and Kevin) to spend the week with him and his wife, Marcia and at the same time investigate gameshow host Roddy Lankman.moreless

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  • Bring a Gun....

    And so we come to the penultimate episode of the third season. Or the third half-season. Or whatever USA calls these partial seasons it inflicts on us with its original programming (similar confusion exists on The Dead Zone).

    The confusion seems to have spread to the cast - only main star Tony Shalhoub is present and Ted Levine, Bitty Schram, and Jason Gray-Stanford have disappeared. Why? There's only nine episodes - did they blow all their budget going to New York City in the season premiere? Instead we get Jarrad Paul reprising his role of Kevin Dorfman from "Mr. Monk and the Paperboy" to be a "regular." Ummm, why? Were the fans clamoring for the return of this nerd? Did Paul have blackmail material on the producers (although I see he was in Legend with Richard Dean Anderson - I'll have to dig out my old tapes)?

    If anything, Kevin Dorfman is an even more annoying character this time around. He doesn't really contribute anything to the plot other then the collectible item that provides an (overly convenient) clue. Basically he's there to be an assistant for Monk because the real assistant, Sharona, isn't there. The sympathy he earned for being a targeted murder victim in his first appearance doesn't carry over here.

    The plot itself is mildly interesting - the mystery doesn't seem to be much of one. Again there's the aspect of Monk putting together the clues to a crime that's occurred sometime in the past. The mystery of the game show cheating is absurdly simple - it's hard to believe that someone counting blinks missed the real solution until so late in the episode. Further ruining the "mystery" of the game show cheater is that the writer doesn't seem to have a clue about game shows work (see Goofs for this episode).

    Writer Daniel Dratch has a mixed track record - he wrote "...Very, Very Old Man" which had nice characterization and a fairly challenging murder mystery, but he also did "...Blackout," which had an equally overdrawn mystery which seemed to have no bearing on anything that could occur in reality as we know it.

    Tony Shalhoub is...well, okay here. One gets the impression he doesn't have a lot to work with. He also seems to be repressing some hatred and/or astonishment at the Kevin Dorfman character hanging around. He handles the flashback well enough although he doesn't look very convincing. Maybe they should have used the teenage Monk actor (Justin Peroff) from "...Marathon Man."

    Bob Gunton and Rosemary Forsyth bring warm caring to the roles of Monk's in-laws but they're not particularly quirky or interesting beyond that. Forsyth gives a good "pep up" speech and she adequately conveys a woman having lost a daughter. Nothing much beyond that.

    With all of that, why would I rate the episode fairly highly? Because of the denouement. This season's episodes have been a little weak on the reveal - we've lost a bit of the scenes where Monk knows who the bad guy is and confronts him with a "I know what you did" routine, the bad guy is all smug and confident, and then Monk takes him apart. This episode gives us a classical Monk "wrap-up" where he first uses the bad guy's own methods against them, then reveals the particulars of the case in front of a live audience (no problems with stage fright when he's on the clock). The buzz at the end is a nice touich.

    Overall I'd give it a slightly higher-than-average rating just because Tony Shalhoub gives a good performance, and there's some clever writing at the end. But we have to wade through a lot of dross to get there.moreless
  • Only Kevin's presence keeps this one from being a perfect "10."

    The return of Monk's neighbor Kevin is the only bad part of this otherwise stellar episode. Not only do we have a "Columbo" setup at the beginning (we know the host kills his assistant from the outset), but we have the additional mystery of the cheating contestant. Monk, despite his limits, gets to beat the culprits at their own game. And we get more insight into Monk and Trudy's marriage and their life together.

    Bob Gunton is a very underrated character actor and he shines as Trudy's father. Tony Shalhoub's scenes with him are poignant, particularly when Monk apologizes to Gunton, but doesn't say why. It's because he had promised to take care of Trudy years earlier.

    And as the killer, John Michael Higgins tones down his usual comedic performance to bring us a murderous Bob Barker-esque game show host. He's a smug killer, and those are the best of Monk's adversaries.

    But Kevin pops up to suck the energy out of every scene he's in. Why he returned after his first appearance is beyond me.moreless
  • Had they not of introduced Trudy's parents, i would've called it a Filler Episode.

    With Sharona away Monk is left in the......capable hands of his chatterbox neighbour Kevin (Jarrad Paul). When Trudy's dad Dwight shows up and tells Monk of some disturbances on his game show the three guys go on a roadtrip to Hollywood. It's revealed that the host (John Michael Higgins) and a vile contestant are cheating and Monk must figure out how and why.

    This episode gives us a chance to see an insight into the Monk and Trudy window and i wish he'd shut the blinds. The flashbacks with him and Trudy meeting the parents are sweet at first but become increasingly unbearable.

    The mystery of how they're cheating involves nothing more than a kid's book puzzle which clearly shows Dwight's lack of logic if he had to call in a detective just to figure it out. Even though they shoved in a surplus brutal murder; this episode ends on a massive anticlimax. Main characters; Captain Stottlemeyer, Randy Disher and Sharona don't appear at all which just adds to the emptiness that this episode wallows in.

    The guest stars basically hold their own even though Jarrad Paul is like the Crazy Frog in human form. My biggest concern is John Michael Higgins as the host from hell who has guest starred on every TV show imaginable as a nice guy and doesn't pass off as an immoral killer. Mr Monk and the Game Show is just a sleepy and overall disappointing installment of Monk. Probably the "weakest link" of the season. No Deal!moreless
  • Sometimes flashback plots are the best.

    We can see Trudy, and just for this episode is worth watching. Monk's sadness is so real that I almost cried. I like when writers give us something of the characters' past, so we can understand them better. So Monk really loved Trudy, and this we knew already, but Trudy loved him the very same. She accepted him completely and so did her parents. I specially loved the way Monk and his parents-in-law touched when they met at their house and the respect Trudy's parents showed to Monk's weirdness. Also, Monk called him "Dad". Thats reminds me that Monk hasn't got a father, as his own one abandoned his wife and sons long time ago.moreless
  • It may be ironic, but I consider this to be one of the best Monk episodes of all seasons. Ironic because it's the only one without Sharona, Stottlemeyer and Dish, who are great supporting actors but a main detective figure wouldn't need any sidekick to shmoreless

    It may be ironic, but I consider this to be one of the bests Monk episodes of all seasons. Ironic because this is the only one without Sharona, Stottlemeyer and Dish, who are great supporting actors but a main detective figure wouldn't need any sidekick to show his brilliantness.

    But the way how Monk figures out the cheating in the game show, and specially the way he choses to expose the murder, is nothing but good mistery storywriting focused in the character's ability to catch little details. I don't understand the motives by which the writers let Monk partners out of this episode (it might be a story need as well as a production need), but he really didn't require them this time.

    I also love the way Monk risks his own reputation making an assertion in front of millions of show viewers ("I want to call - him"). It has always been lovely the way Monk reveals his traumas and phobias but how he turns so self-confident when he is solving a crime (he even smiles).

    Great episode, of course not the very best but a real fine example of the series finesse.moreless
Bob Gunton

Bob Gunton

Dwight Ellison

Guest Star

Rosemary Forsyth

Rosemary Forsyth

Marcia Ellison

Guest Star

Larry Brandenburg

Larry Brandenburg

Val Birch

Guest Star

Jarrad Paul

Jarrad Paul

Kevin Dorfman

Recurring Role

Melora Hardin

Melora Hardin


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (11)

    • When Dwight Ellison starts to call the police after Monk figures out the scam on the game show, he pulls his phone out of his jacket twice.

    • Monk is rightly suspicious that contestant Birch mispronounced "Marie Antoinette" as "Maryann Tonette" when giving an answer. This is ironic, given that host Lankman mispronounced "Negev" in the preceding question (neh-GEV instead of NEH-gev).

    • The fact that the assistant finds a road where she can gain such a high speed before she hit the brakes the first time is almost impossible. Most people's first step for getting in a car is to depress the brake. If a car is in a driveway it's likely that the person will brake in the driveway. It's unlikely anyone would get on a road where you could travel at such a high speed on a winding road with out braking. The brake line should have been cut enough where she would have noticed a problem or it gave out before then.

    • On several of the questions, Val and Monk both ring in and their buzzers can be heard simultaneously. However, Jeopardy! and similar game shows invariably have "lockout"-type buzzer systems that prevent more than one buzzer signaling at a time.

    • Most game shows (and specifically Jeopardy, which is being parodied here) do not allow contestants to buzz in before the question is completely asked. Also, all game shows have a time limit on how long you can take to answer questions (in Jeopardy, it's five to seven seconds).

    • Monk says the police didn't check out the assistant's death because it wasn't a criminal investigation. A car went off a road for no reason, and a casual check would have revealed that the brake line was cut rather than frayed. There should have been an investigation.

    • The room that Monk enters is clearly not the one that he was looking at earlier with Marcia. The doorknob and hinges are reversed, there's an external wall directly on his left as he goes in that wouldn't be there in that type of house, and there's no evidence of a hallway behind him as he comes in.

    • In the flashback with Monk meeting Trudy's parents for the first time, Monk is shown nervously wiping his hand on his sleeve after shaking their hands. However, we learned in "Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month" that before Trudy's murder Monk didn't have a problem shaking people's hands.

    • As Dwight is talking to Kevin over dinner, he mentions that he had heard that Kevin won a lottery "a few years ago." However, the episode that features Kevin winning the lottery ("Paperboy") was shown earlier in the year (January 2004).
      However the actual air dates aren't quite as significant as the production numbers here: "Paperboy" is T-1412, the twelfth episode of sixteen in season two; "Game Show" is T-2109, the ninth of sixteen episodes in season three. So, in theory, there would be about three years and nine months between them.

    • In this episode, we see flashbacks of Monk meeting his soon-to-be in-laws in which he displays his usual phobias and quirks. Yet an earlier episode stated that he developed these traits after his wife's death.
      However in "Carnival," Captain Stottlemeyer tells Lt. Disher that Monk already had his OCD quirks when he was first hired--they were what made him a great detective, but they also made him annoying to work with. Apparently, the attitude of the other cops changed when they discovered that the quirky Monk was also brilliant. His ex-partner, Joe Christie ("Employee of the Month") greatly enjoyed working with him and talks about the admiration of the other cops. We also know from the pilot and other episodes that Monk had a reputation as a "legend" before Trudy's death--not despite but because of the OCD that enabled him to see what no one else could see. However, as we learned in "Dale the Whale" and "Very, Very Old Man," Trudy's murder was such a shock that Monk suffered a complete breakdown (unable to leave the house for three years) from which he is still recovering. The phobias (milk, germs, heights, elevators, etc.) developed after Trudy's death. The OCD, which he had as a child ("Three Pies") and a teenager ("Marathon Man") did not.

    • The answer machine message that Monk hears at the house of Val Birch says that the "640" has arrived. There is no Mercedes Benz 640, nor has there ever been one. There is however a BMW 640, so it is possible that the dealership also carries the BMW brand and Monk wrongly assumed that it was a new Merc that Val had ordered.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Kevin: Why are you making that face?
      Monk: We're in rugged terrain. This is my rugged terrain face.

    • Kevin: You can lean anywhere you want. It's in the Constitution.
      Monk: I can't imagine which constitution you're referring to.

    • Monk: (to Kevin) Thirst is no excuse for breaking and entering.

    • Monk: It's Trudy's dad. My father-in-law.
      Kevin: I know. He called this morning.
      Monk: And you didn't tell me?
      Kevin: I did. I wrote it down on one of these Post-it notes. (Goes to side of fridge covered in Post-its and pulls one off.) We need more of those, too.

    • Monk: (on the phone with Sharona) (Kevin's) in the kitchen right now, naming every egg salad sandwich he's ever had. Eight. Including today. It's not funny. Stop laughing. When you come back, bring a gun.

    • Young Trudy in diary: Monday. Ginger died this morning. I was too sad to go to school or even eat. I will never be happy again. (Monk turns the page.) Friday. I'm packing for camp this weekend! I'm so excited. I still think about Ginger sometimes, but now I only think of the good times. I guess Dad was right. God doesn't want people to be sad forever.

    • Kevin: That's probably important. Did you notice? He said it twice.

  • NOTES (5)

    • Jeff Beal's "Monk Main Title Theme," the first-season theme song, is played over a scene near the beginning of the episode, the first time since the first season that it's been heard anywhere other than the closing credits.

    • The on-screen ending credits list Michael Caldwell as "Stagehand." The official site gives the same role to Scott Adsit. Since either or both could be correct, I've listed both.

    • Trudy is played not by Stellina Rusich, as in previous episodes, but by Melora Hardin.

    • Series regulars Ted Levine (Captain Stottlemeyer), Bitty Schram (Sharona), and Jason Gray-Stanford (Lt. Disher) do not appear in this episode although their names appear in the opening credits and the credits on the official site, making this the first (and only) episode where Monk is the only main character to appear. This happened because when the episode was filmed, those three actors were in the midst of contract disputes. Whereas Ted Levine and Jason Gray-Stanford resolved their disputes (and hence stayed on for the remainder of the series), Bitty Schram quit the series as a regular star (leading to the introduction of Traylor Howard as Natalie Teeger). The USA site also lists Kane Ritchotte (Benjy), who does not appear in either the episode or the on-screen credits.

    • Trudy's maiden name, Ellison, was introduced in "Mr. Monk Goes Back to School."