Season 1 Episode 4

Mr. Monk Meets Dale the Whale

Aired Friday 9:00 PM Jul 26, 2002 on USA

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

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out of 10
284 votes
  • More necessary setup for the 'Monk' series. A unique villain is introduced.

    Again, we're still setting up the story, but Adam Arkin does a fair job at portraying the loathsome, 800-pound Dale Beiderbeck, who proves to be a slimy, slippery adversary for our heroic detective. However, it must be noted that Adam Arkin is quite overshadowed once his role is taken over by Tim Curry in "Mr. Monk Goes to Jail".

    A nice scene involving a game with Benjy, where he asks Monk which color to pick: "Yellow, Green, Red, Blue?" (which, ironically, is the same order of the switch palaces encountered in the videogame "Super Mario World", gamers might notice. Maybe Benjy is a fan?), and of course, a touching end scene on a lovely railing overlooking the ocean, as Monk explains that 'Bread and butter' were Trudy's last words before she died.

    Good overall.
  • It's over when the fat guy confesses...

    Adam Arkin takes center stage here, literally and figuratively, so it seems a good time to look at the nature of the villains in Monk. You seem to have three types:

    1) The villain we don't know about. When the identity of the killer is a mystery, then you don't really get to see much of them or how they play off of Monk.

    2) The good-hearted killer. We don't get many of these ("Red-Headed Stranger" and maybe "Very, Very Old Man.")

    3) And the killer who is the mainstay of this show to date - the egotistical ruthless bad guy.

    Dale Biederbeck is #3 in spades. He's both physically and morally repulsive to the point of parody. We've had a few overweight intellectual detectives (Mycroft Holmes, Nero Wolfe, Frank Cannon) but not so many villains - Kasper Gutman in The Maltese Falcon comes to mind. However, Biederbeck isn't nearly so erudite and again he comes across as a parody more then anything. The fact that Adam Arkin goes so overboard no doubt turns off some viewers but as a one-off (most of the #3 killers are a bit more subtle in later episodes) it works okay here.

    One reason for Biederbeck working as a villain here is because he's so overboard it allows Monk to actually get in some repartee - his "shopping mall" line in particular is a favorite. It's pretty rare that the Monk killer gets in some snappy dialogue but Biederbeck gets some good lines as well. The hints that Biederbeck knows more about Monk's wife's death then he's saying are also intriguing, but ultimiately it doesn't look like this is going to go anywhere (as of the first half of the second season as of this writing, at any rate).

    Writer Andy Breckman is all over place story-wise - he did this and "Red-Haired Stranger," which are pretty much at opposite ends of the subtlety scale. Breckman soloed on this one, so maybe Tom Scharpling had a restraining influence on him in "Stranger"? (And what's up with Breckman not doing any second season episodes?)

    The mystery itself is interesting - it's a "How'd he do it?" rather then a "Whodunnit?" and it plays fair with the audience. The clues are there, and in fact it might even be a bit too obvious.

    On to the regulars: Tony Shalhoub is fine form here, since as noted above Biederbeck is a villain truly worthy of him. Dale can strike at Monk financially and emotionally, but Adrian weathers it all. He gets some nice family moments with Sharona and Benjy (the Clue bit is hilarious). The only drawnout annoying moment is the lemonade scene, which I _really_ hate. It's one of those instances where they drag out a Monk OCD scene way too long, and for no real purpose.

    Sharona contributes a bit with her efforts to get close to Dale (and her subsequent reaction), but neither her or the other two regulars really do a whole lot here. We do get to see Jason Gray-Stanford display a flair for physical comedy and a bit of love/hate repartee with Sharona.

    Overall, while this isn't a terribly complex episode in plot or characterization in comparison to many episodes, it does give us a grand villain to effectively contrast Tony Shalhoub against and thus works pretty well on its own terms.
  • Perhaps i shouldn't expect too much from the 3rd episode but this one just falls short.

    The police get a 911 call from the house where a judge named Catherine Lavinio claims there is someone in the house. She says it's Dale Biederbeck. There are screams and then nothing else. The police are baffled because Dale "The Whale" (played by Adam Arkin) is an 800 pound man who hasn't left his bed in about 11 years. Dale had a case which he lost and held a grudge against the judge of the case, who was the woman murdered. Dale is the prime suspect, but could not have done the murder. The police, once again call on former detective Adrian Monk.

    The plot is a perfect basis for a muder mystery with the "How?" question proving the most effective for keeping the audience entertained and guessing but the big revelation for this episode falls a little short; for one thing it's made a little obvious who the killer was and after the second viewing you kick yourself for not realising the dramatic irony (the fact that we, the audience knew more about what was happening than Monk but he solved the case first.) Although praise goes to the writer Andy Breckman who builds and sustains curiousity very swiftly. The sub - plot of Dale taunting Monk about how he took them to court which caused them to lose it all and how he drove Monk's late wife into depression was a little more heart-rending than perhaps intended especially when this is coupled with Monk's mournful gaze and his repressed but obvious suffering. Adam Arkin is an OK bad guy; he nails the slyly nasty attitude and even slips into the fat suit convincingly but his immense girth adds an unwanted sense of satire to the villain which makes him more of a comic relief element.

    Ted Levine as the Captain and Jason Gray - Stanford as Randy Disher aren't given much to do and basically coast through the parts they have. Monk and Sharona are pretty much the main players and apart from the game of Clue; none of their scenes are that memorable and some of them like the Lemonade Stand skit is just pointless.

    The first season is known for being very sombre and it's especially evident in this episode with the looming shadows, murky camera work, close - ups and glum performances and for the most part it works fine but i think the comedic turnaround in Season 2 was a blessing (and a curse, ha ha). This episode isn't bad at all but i expect a bit more from such talented writers and actors.
  • this was a good ep that shed more light on his wifes death

    this ep was a good one that focused on a man by the name of dan the whale who is a really fat man that the police are investgating becasue his name was giving during the 911 call. monk must figure it out and monk can he deal with getting phone calls from him about the last words of his wife bread and butter. this was a good ep i thought and very interesting ending. and it has some funny scenes in the show and you get more light shed on him and his wife and whats there history with dan the whale.
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