Tony Shalhoub is a brilliant actor, but its episodes like this that remind us successful shows are the result of a group effort. Although, as always, we were treated to Mr. Monk's hilarious quirks and insecurities as he foils the latest criminal attempt, the supporting cast was really allowed to shine in this episode. After the local lottery girl was murdered, Natalie is given the opportunity to take her place and taste a little fame herself. While Monk is working to solve the murder, Natalie's popularity is growing. She finds her pictures on trolleys and buses, signs autographs and answers questions like, "What's your favorite number?" But, fame goes to Natalie's head and Monk's jealousy is too much for him, so when he asks her to choose the lottery or him, she chooses the lotto.
As much as I enjoyed Natalie's spotlight, Randy made me laugh the most. He was so proud when he came up with the line "It looks like her number came up." Ahh, Randy, always looking for approval. When the other police officer said it first, the look on Randy's face was priceless. The best part was his pathetic attempt to come up with alternate one-liners throughout the rest of the episode. Captain Stottlemeyer had some of his best moments this episode when interacting with the lottery fanatic. They encounter a suspect whose apartment is pasted with numbers, algorithms, lotto articles and photos of everyone associated with the lottery. Leland is shocked when the fanatic asserts that it is not the winning or losing that matters in the lottery quest, but the journey. His embarrassment is apparent when he admits he blindly buys $20.00 of lottery tickets each week, never winning anything.
Monk's new psychiatrist, Dr. Bell, also gets a little screen time this episode. It can't be easy to fill the shoes of such a well-loved character, especially after a death. I think they did a great job of introducing him in the beginning of the season. However, they started to explore some personality differences in this episode. I loved when they started arguing over the difference between a 6 and a 9. Monk does not disappoint in the end. When Natalie and Captain Stottlemeyer are accused of fixing the lotto, Monk is there to solve both the murder and their predicament. In the end, all is once again right in the world of Monk. But, who knows, maybe Natalie and Monk will appreciate each other more now. And maybe Captain Stottlemeyer will stop buying lotto tickets. But, regardless, this episode was fun and enjoyable, well worth the time. I don't know if it would be in my top ten, but I would watch again if only to hear Randy say, "We got your numbers. Number. Number. We got your number. Nu…numbers?" Well done.