Season 2 Episode 16

Mr. Monk Goes to Jail

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Mar 05, 2004 on USA
out of 10
User Rating
222 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Monk must go undercover at the big house to investigate the mystery of a death-row inmate's murder.

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  • The Missing Organ

    Hmmm, let's start with the mystery. I found the "who stole the watch" bit more compelling. It was mildly clever to undermine the show structure by having Sharona do the summation on the run, but it kinda rushed the whole thing.

    Other then the opening pat-down sequence, Tony Shalhoub is spot on for the most part, so I suppose we should be thankful he got it out of his system early in the filming. When he's just doing normal Monk stuff, Shalhoub's body language is superb and this episode was no exception, since he had to show how Monk was suffering but repressing it for Trudy's sake.

    Bitty Schram didn't have much to do - she probably wanted a break from the previous episode. ;) This was very much a Monk-centric episode and his quest to find out the truth about Trudy's death. It seems Monk's deductive abilities are rubbing off, and the bit where she talked the cook into talking with Monk was good. I'd rather see her do more of that, smoothing over his diplomatic gaffes and working around his OCD, rather then just standing there while he goes through a torturous pat-down sequence.

    Ted Levine and Jason Gray-Stanford certainly don't have much to do. I can see why they would take a backseat to Monk and Dale, but Levine's presence seems unnecessary and it seems odd they brought him back for the last episode (assuming they were filmed in sequence) when he wasn't in the second-to-the-last episode.

    Dale doesn't really play that big a role in the episode, which might be why Arkin got replaced by Tim Curry. I enjoy Tim Curry, but they didn't give him much to do here and he really doesn't play a very large role in the episode. IMO the Dale character kinda lacked subtlety, but that may have been because he didn't have much screentime to do anything. He neither quite had the same over-the-top grossout factor or the angry-trapped vibe going for him that he did in his first appearance.

    Danny Trejo as Spyder gets the "Best Character of the Episode" award. He managed to go from violent to sympathetic pretty readily and believably. Kathy Baker, of Lifetime movies and Picket Fences, really didn't have much to do.


    "It's all over the radio." Wow, does Disher live in the 1950s or what? "All over the TV" or "All over the Internet," maybe. But "All over the radio"?!? Welcome to the 21st century.

    Can't they just _say_ that Monk is in essence handicapped? The opening pat-down sequence just went on way too long, seemed unnecessary, and is another one of those bits where Tony Shalhoub just assumes some weird poses (like in "Gets Married" the episode previously). I'd hate to say that physical comedy isn't Shalhoub's forte, but the show does seem to want to focus on it a bit more and occasionally takes it to an extreme that doesn't seem necessary.

    For a place that serves more customers then a major hotel, it seems odd no one was in the cooler all that time - a period of apparently about 8-12 hours at the very least.

    Overall, I didn't think much of the mystery but we finally got some movement on the Trudy murder mystery. It shouldn't be resolved too soon, but two seasons is enough to finally get something going.moreless
  • In over 100 episodes, this was one of the worst.

    For the first time in over 100 watched Monk episodes, I was very disappointed. The premise for the episode wasn't all that bad but everything didn't fit together and (for the first time in Monk history) Tony Shaloubs acting was less then satisfying. The episode felt like it wasn't part of the Monk series, not coming close to a witty and funny plot line. The 'heres what happened' made little sense, and of what did make any sense it was quite pathetic. The setting was the only highlight of the show but it still wasn't up to potential. In over 100 episodes of my viewing (almost all episodes) this was the first Monk goofed up this bad.moreless
  • this was a good ep

    in this ep of the show monk its the season 2 final and monk has to go investgate a murder that happend to a death row inmate and to do that he has to pretend he is a inmate himself and he lears that one of the guys knows something but he gets lead down the wrong path by the liberain and turns out that she set the whole thing up so she could have the guy killed to get his organ who had the rare blood type this was a good ep i thougth and he is headed to new york this was a good ep i thoughtmoreless
  • Average Monk material!

    This episode of Monk is fairly average. It has got some good ideas but I think that they could have made more of it.

    The idea of monk going to prison undercover is great. But the realization was unsatisfactory. I mean the episode starts out good when Monk goes to prison and he's being patted down.

    The whole idea of putting him into a cell together with the worst guy of the whole prison is also hilarious. However, why would a badass multiple murderer trust Monks so quickly? I mean he is intimidating at first, but then he seems like quite OK, which is not right, if you ask me; to portray a serial killer as if he's an enjoyable contemporary.

    All in all I think that this episode had some funny passages but there was more in nit.moreless
Jason Boegh

Jason Boegh

Administrative assistant

Guest Star

Terry Fradet

Terry Fradet

TV remote inmate

Guest Star

Sean Blakemore

Sean Blakemore

Spyder's cell guard

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (18)

    • Trivia: This episode is rare in that Monk doesn't appear in the final scene.

    • California's actual male death row is located at San Quentin State Prison, just north of San Francisco. In this episode, the prison is called San Juan and is apparently located within the San Francisco police jurisdiction.

    • There are a number of unrealistic situations portrayed inside the prison. An inmate scheduled to be executed in less than an hour would not be left so unattended as to require the trustee to yell for help when he went into distress, or to allow the inmate and trustee to exchange objects. A chronic rule-breaker like Spyder, who had just "put a guy's head through a wall," would not have gotten just one day in solitary confinement with no other loss of privileges. The Nazis would not be allowed to wear swastika lapel pins.

    • During the scene where Stottlemeyer and Disher go to see Dale the Whale, Disher is eating a bagel. From shot to shot and point of view to point of view the position and amount of bagel showing, eaten or covered by the napkin changes all the time.

    • How exactly did Spyder find Monk when Monk was being attacked by the nazis? How did he even know Monk needed his help? What was he doing wandering around the prison in the first place?

    • Tucker never made it back to his cell the night he died in the freezer. Why wasn't his empty cell noticed that night

    • Sharona is patted down first. Then the guard unsuccessfully tries to pat Monk down. Sharona physically leads Monk back to the guard so he can try again. Since she had physical contact with Monk after her pat down, and before his, Sharona would have been repatted down at this point to make sure there had been no contraband hand-off.

    • Death row inmates are not served their last meal by unescorted fellow prisoners.

    • As the poisoned prisoner is thrashing on the floor of his cell, a close-up shows a white fluid covering his nostrils and trickling down his upper lip. Immediately after he dies, his upper lip is clear.

    • I don't believe that prisoners on death row are allowed in the prison population, with access to the library and all.

    • After Sharona explains Monk's obsession with neatness, the cook shares his handshake with Monk, who later shares it with Spyder, but he needs notes to finish it. However, in episode 19, "Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater," he sees the play only once and has it completely memorized.

    • When Sharona and Monk are checking Kaspo's records and the killer fakes the warden's phone call, the guard says, "You folks are working late," but the establishing shot shows that it's daytime and in the subsequent shots there's lots of sunlight. What kind of prison considers mid-morning or mid-afternoon "late"?

    • It's remotely possible that a four-time murderer like Spyder might have got some kind of permission slip, but prisons don't generally let their prisoners have personal possessions like wristwatches. They're kept in storage and given back when they're let out.

    • Type AB blood is the universal recipient (a person with that blood type can receive a transfusion from any other blood type); type O is the universal donor (a person with that blood type can give blood to anyone but receive it only from another type O).

    • The episode title should be "Mr. Monk Goes to Prison." Jails are for short-term confinement, not long-term imprisonment. the San Juan Correctional Facility is (correctly) referred to throughout the episode as a prison, not a jail.

    • Who killed Tucker the cook? Whether it was the real killer, or the guys the killer hired, it doesn't make much sense that they would have left the money in Tucker's pocket.

    • As the guard is patting Monk down for the last time, he begins at Monk's middle before Monk jumps away, but when the camera angle changes for that same shot, the guard is at his legs.

    • The TV in the prison looks too old to be remote-controlled. An inmate mentions that the knobs are broken, but I've never seen a TV with knobs being remote controlled, and there doesn't appear to be a sensor to pick up the remote commands.

  • QUOTES (34)

  • NOTES (3)

    • This is the second time the series uses the motif of a window in prison: Wendy Maas specifically asked for one in "Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger."

    • Archvillain Dale Biederbeck (aka Dale the Whale), who resurfaces as Monk's fellow inmate, is played this time around by Tim Curry rather than Adam Arkin.

    • Kathy Baker's character, Sylvia Fairbourn, refers to a prisoner as "Jimmy." When she played Jill Brock on Picket Fences, that was what she called her husband, Sheriff James Brock, using the exact same inflection.