Well, another week, another episode. I found the first 45 minutes rather ho-hum. The talented Harry Groener is wasted in a "guest victim" role and killed before the opening credits.
Then we get...Natalie and Monk arguing over money. Honestly, this one seemed a bit...offensive. It starts with Monk acting like a jerk, even if we get an explanation of sorts later. So Monk's s stingy miserly type. Ugh. And are we supposed to believe he treated Sharona, a single mom trying to raise a kid, the same way?It's also a rehash of when Monk and Sharona used to argue over money and her getting paid. Way to differentiate the new girl, guys. Anyone want to bet we'll have to see one of Natalie's dates with some loser blind dates in a few episodes?
Also...well, Natalie caves on answering the phone. And comes back later at the mortuary. Way to build her up as as a strong-willed woman.
The martial arts angle wasn't bad, and it gave us a chance to see Mako, who's always a pleasure to watch. Even if you want to slap the character up side the head when he tells Natalie to suck it up. Any similarities between "Sonny Chow" and Bruce Lee are purely coincidental, no doubt. :) The barefoot gag went on a bit too long. And hey, I just watched a Spongebob episode where Spongebob is so annoying with his delaying and persistence and all that he drives somebody to screaming distraction - hmmm, seems familiar.
Once again, there's not much of a mystery to the mystery. We only get one suspect. The crime is fairly sneaky and well thought out - getting the police to do your dirty work, so to speak.
Stottlemeyer and Disher are back to stern cop and buffoon, respectively. The one effort to give Stottlemeyer a "moment" when he talks about Atlanta and the ex-FBI agent seemed to go nowhere. Give these guys something substantial to do - they deserve better than this.
So the plot kind meanders on to a rare bit when Monk is actually in danger. The producers/writers crank the general violence up another notch. And I suspect Monk or anyone else wouldn't be waking up from a shovel to the head quite that fast...or at all. Can you say "concussion," boys and girls?
At least the last segment livens up a bit. Stottlemeyer and Disher get to show some concern, even if the "bad guy has a heart attack" thing seems like a contrivance. And Monk has his hallucination/vision/ghostly visitation. I don't find Melora Hardin particularly offensive as Trudy and let's face it - it's a thankless role playing a saintly dead woman/hallucination. It does give us a bit more insight into Monk's psyche and his feelings on children.
And at the end, we get the payoff on Monk not paying Natalie's expenses by closing Trudy's old office. So yay, Natalie has saved the day and done what Sharona couldn't do (or even find out about) in 2-1/2 years. Huzzah.
Generally the writers and producers need to pump up the mysteries a bit - they're starting to get repetitive. Also, for the moment, I wish they'd decide whether they want to make Natalie her own woman, or rehash old Sharona plots. Guess we'll see.