Season 3 Episode 8

Mr. Monk and the Game Show

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Aug 13, 2004 on USA

Episode Fan Reviews (5)

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out of 10
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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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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 sh

    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.