Television, as a medium, has had a long, not particularly successful (from a quality standpoint) relationship with weddings. They're an element we see pop up in all sorts of long-running series, apparently intended to be a big, pivotal emotional moment but instead usually just coming across as a big, overblown spectacle. To its credit, "Mr. Monk Is the Best Man" avoids this fate, being played rather subtly. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it's a huge success. But, at the very least, it is a sizable improvement after the rather awful pair of episodes that preceded it.
Apparently six months have passed since "Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk" aired a month ago, and Stottlemeyer and T.K. are getting married. Everyone's excited, perhaps most of all Monk, who takes his position as best man very seriously. But will there even be a wedding? If a rogue bridesmaid has her way, most certainly not. Meanwhile, there's the mysterious death of a seemingly random bum, shot and set ablaze, which just might be (read: is) more than it seems. For being ostensibly a character episode about the Captain's (uninteresting) relationship with T.K., this episode actually achieves a fairly even balance of character and mystery, in contrast to the generally lopsided-one-way-or-the-other episodes that makes up the majority of this season.
The mystery is a huge improvement over the last couple of episodes, by virtue of there actually being one. An increasingly prominent sub-genre of mysteries in this series have involved killers who make some sort of glaring mistake and spend the majority of the episode trying to backpedal their way out of it before Monk catches onto what's happening, and this is a moderately well-executed example of such. As usual, it's rather easy to guess who did it, and there's no ambiguity in the how department, but I rather enjoyed trying to figure out the why. If there's one downside to the mystery portion of the episode, it's that Teri Polo makes a decidedly unconvincing killer.
For me, at least, it was hard to feel any emotional investment in Stottlemeyer's upcoming (and potentially nonexistent) marriage to T.K., because we've only seen this woman in one episode prior (two if you want to be picky and count the photo in "Mr. Monk and Sharona"), and we know next to nothing about her. There's no real connection to the character. And, as a result, the attempted dramatic aspects of this episode come across as insignificant and, quite frankly, hard to care about, though in all fairness the wonderful Ted Levine gives it his best shot. This episode is at its best when it goes for full-on comedy, in two particular scenes: Adrian's pathetic attempt at throwing Leland a bachelor party (with juice boxes, the film "Bachelor Party", and a delightfully uncomfortable attempt at a joke), and the great Carol Kane's turn as a rather eccentric florist (a scene which actually reminds me of something from the show's earlier seasons).
Leland Stottlemeyer has had ridiculously bad luck with relationships. His first marriage, we're told, lasted a week. The next one....well, we saw how lousy that turned out earlier in the series (with that unpleasantly awkward line about Karen never touching him anymore in "Mr. Monk and the Captain's Marriage"). Then there's that girlfriend that turned out to be a cold-blooded murderer. Now, he's stuck with a mostly personality-free, utterly boring wife. And thus concludes his personal story, in a tragically unspectacular fashion. (I told you the writers have a hard time with story arcs!) Now, with that rather hastily swept out of the way, the final three episodes are free to focus on the conclusions to Adrian Monk's stories - namely, the long quest for a badge and the even longer quest for Trudy-related justice. And, as a fan of this show from the very beginning, I'm incredibly nervous about how they'll handle it.
The countdown is on as there are only three episodes left until the conclusion of Monk. It's going to be a sad day when the long-running dramedy finally does end, but let's at least appreciate the upcoming episodes.
Here we saw Captain Stottlemeyer tie the knot with TK in a move that was designed to finally finish the puzzle that is Captain's life. This marriage reminded me of the last season of Frasier when Martin Crane got married, I guess the old guy getting hitched is a common theme on NBC Universal shows. This was not exactly something built up for a while, but still a fun, different kind of scene for Monk.
Teri Polo was entertaining in her guest spot, and they had me completely fooled as I did not expect her at all as the killer and usually I pick up on those things. I'd like to see more of her in film/TV or whatever, she's definitely an underrated performer.
Absolutely beautiful episode. There has been a very noticeable increase in the quality of the writing on Monk over the last 4-5 episodes, starting with Mr. Monk and the Voodoo Curse, skipping over Mr monk Goes to Group Therapy, and continuing with the fantastic episode Happy Birthday Mr Monk. It's very encouraging to see the writers pulling out all the stops. I was a little worried after the first few episodes.
The whole plot arc with TK has been well done, and it was an especially brilliant touch to have her name be Trudy.
This episode in particular was very touching and very suspenseful. For a while it really did seem like Stottlemeyer and Tk might not get married. There was a greater diversity in scenes and the rhythm of the show. Tony Shalloub did a great job taking back stage to Stottlemeyer and TK. HIgh quality, as opposed to "Mr. MOnk and the UFO", and especially "Mr. Monk and the Foreign Man".
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