Monk, Season 1 Notes

"Mr. Monk and the Candidate (Part 1)"  first aired July 12, 2002

"Mr. Monk and the Candidate (Part 2)" first aired July 12, 2002

They establish the basic premise, the Monk dynamic, in the very first scene before ever seeing the first credits.  The first shot coming in on that roomful of policemen lined up and watching him in awe of his reputation is beautiful, then watching with these awestruck cops as Monk within a minute turns up a couple of vital clues at this murder scene that all of them have missed even as he's having an absolute phobic shutdown.  Between those things, you can see how the brother cops would have confused and mixed feelings about this guy.  That also will be an ongoing dynamic of the series.

Very often in the series, characters will make fumbling references to refer to "that thing he does with his hands" or such language describing the way that he examines crime scenes.  This behavior is helpfully named and defined for the permanent convenience of viewers and reviewers in this pilot by his nurse/partner Sharona as a "Zen Sherlock Holmes thing."  We also learn that Monk is just starting to do a little work as a police consultant after having a four year breakdown after his wife's murder, as again explained by his nurse.

Then right away the the point of Monk's prestige in high places is re-inforced when the mayor himself demands Monk's questionable ability to participate in an ultra high profile political assassination attempt.  You can see the idea of how Monk's OCD personality (which phrase or acronym they seemed to carefully avoid using in the entire series) plays out in practice as his professional strength while he's obsessing over that few seconds of video of the assassination.  I don't remember the specific phrase being used here, but Monk will frequently say that "It's a blessing and a curse" to express the meaning of that duality.  Then the curse and the blessing side is re-emphasized with the little scene at campaign headquarters ruining a a display - and then re-assembling hundreds of color coded thumb tacks to their right places from memory.

One of the curses of the series was the ongoing flood of all too many damned convenient co-incidences.  Damned if this little podunk murder Monk was looking at in the opening scene isn't connected with the big political assassination plot!  It's not so bad to have one thing like that, and it's not too straining here.  But over the course of having such things in seemingly most episodes, it can strain a viewer's efforts to suspend disbelief.

But it's worth a little strain to take the setup for one of the funniest and most delightfully morbid jokes ever with the dead man's salute at the funeral.  It would have been well worth sitting through the entire episode just for that moment, even if you weren't immediately intrigued by the Monk character.  You can well appreciate why the candidate's wife would truly and deservedly despise Monk. God bless him.

Also this pilot episode fairly thoroughly with a few quick strokes sets up the basic Trudy story, both her murder and Monk's continuing obsession.  There are the contemporary news stories from four years ago with crime scene photos and Adrian Monk passed out asleep across them.

Stellina Rusich as Trudy Monk in the pilot episode



"Mr. Monk and the Psychic"  first aired July 19, 2002

Sometimes I'm a defective viewer, I know.  I know the guy's a murderer, but the pre-credits scene with the murder made me prejudiced enough against the victim that I could hardly blame the guy.  Any idiot who's going to drive 75 mph through the rain on winding mountain roads over rushing to their stupid little foo foo dog pretty much deserves to end up dead in the ditch.  If nothing else, she's just too stupid to live.  In her one minute of live screen time, I developed a fairly strong un-sympathy for her.  Like I said, I'm a defective viewer.

I felt much more love for Crazy Dolly, the bunko artist psychic who thinks she's finally had a real psychic moment.  I could really feel her joy at thinking that she has actually had a legitimate message from the beyond, and that she's really helping someone.  The climactic scene with the dead girlfriend tricking the husband was just totally not credible, but this psychic was good enough in her play acting to sell the scene.

The best thing about the episode was Monk's early empathy for the husband.  For being so smart and sensitive, Monk often tends to be childishly self-centered and lacking in empathy.  A guy losing his wife though, he relates to that very much, and reaches out to him.  By the way, I wonder why Ralph Waldo Emerson of all things would be what Monk would have been reading night after night to comfort himself after Trudy died.  But what's really gratifying is that Monk picked up that the guy wasn't at all grieving the dead wife, and that this is what put Monk onto him.


"Mr. Monk Meets Dale the Whale"  first aired July 26, 2002

This episode introduces the main arch villain of the series who shows up several times through the years, the 800 pound bedridden billionaire Dale "The Whale" Biederbeck.  He'd pretty much bankrupted the Monks years ago through a frivolous lawsuit against muckraking journalist Trudy for writing an expose of him as "the Genghis Khan of world finance." Adrian regards this guy as having robbed his Trudy of one of the only 34 years that she got.  There's a special detail of this grudge that gives the flavor of the wit of Dale the Whale's malice:  The young Monks had to give up their little starter home to pay for lawyers defending them against this lawsuit.  Biederbeck made a point to buy their house.  "I use it to store my pornography collection."

This was also their first impossible crime.  There's overwhelming evidence, including the victim identifying him by name to 911 operators just before she was killed.  But Dale the Whale literally couldn't fit through his own doors, much less walk up her stairs..  "The man who did it couldn't have done it."

The boy-girl dynamic between Disher and Sharona gets a particularly nice early shot here as she asks the captain to sign their consulting contract before going to work.  Can't we do that later?  "I prefer to take care of business first."  Setting Disher up:  "I bet that's not the first time you've said that."  Funny thing with that is that it was true, the full implications of the joke.  That's just Disher saying something to be digging at her, but she had in fact at some point in the past been involved in some hard moment in just that kind of business.  Biederbeck knew this of her, but neither Disher nor anyone else knew of this at all.  Disher just accidentally hit a nerve.

At the end Dale's been defeated and they're waiting for a bulldozer and a crane to knock out the wall and lower him down to be hauled off to jail.  This bedridden monster has been reduced to a helpless rage against Monk, and strains forward with all his might to choke Monk.  Monk helpfully leans forward to put his neck just a couple of inches past his grasp, smiling most joyfully as Dale collapses in frustration and defeat.  This is one of not more more than half a dozen times in the whole series where Monk is absolutely smiling. 

The explanation of "bread and butter" was pretty obvious based on the common usage of the phrase, but this does not diminish the gentle impact of this grace note in the epilogue.


"Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival"  first aired August 2, 2002

The crime setup was pretty weak here.  This episode was set up to be a mystery - as opposed to many episodes where we see the culprit from the beginning.  But this whole episode was set up to depend on the mystery of who stabbed the kid on the carnival ride.  Thing is, knowing that it was not guest starring troubled cop T2, there was only one possible human.  I'll note in re-watching the scene a couple of times on disc, you can kind of see the right arm swinging forward from across her body in the background from the camera and the crowd, likely thus at least vaguely actually showing us the motion of her thrusting the knife into the punk.

This episode was the first major exposition on the big theme of Monk wanting his badge back.  Monk was mad because Stottlemeyer eventually and reluctantly feels that he has to tell the review board that Monk was not ready to be re-instated.  Monk took this somewhat badly, but as Stottlemeyer said, Monk himself knew he was not ready to carry a gun and have other cops lives depending on his stability.

To the OCD end, Monk was really on absolute best behavior here, other than the dumb little driving thing.  But mostly it was shown out by his disgust at the trash and hygiene and general yuckiness of the carnival.  But seeing it with him, you can see that you wouldn't necessarily have to be all that phobic to find the carnival disgusting. 

Plus, awkward though it of course was, Monk pretty effectively disregarded his fears to jump on that moving ferris wheel to save Sharona.  So he gets some serious credibility points.  Maybe the guy who could do that could qualify as a cop who would come through for a partner in crisis.


"Mr. Monk Goes to the Asylum"  first aired August 9, 2002

The opening scenes make some of the most effective quiet drama of the series.  Monk walks in the front door with a bag full of groceries and cheerfully starts preparing dinner.  It's only after the cops show up on behalf of the current residents standing behind them that we figure out that he's let himself into Trudy's old house and started making her an anniversary dinner.

This leads to him being given a 48 hour mental commitment for evaluation.  There's a scene with Sharona and Dr Kroger leaving him at the institution, trying to be re-assuring.  Then there's Monk himself trying to play it off, but he doesn't remember going to the apartment.  He was, in the gentlest way, out of his mind.  He was not just acting neurotically, but actually out of control - some kind of break.  So he's trying to stave off and to cover up waves of shame and fear.  Adrian Monk is being legally committed to a mental hospital.  That'd screw with your brain if you were not messed up like Monk.

They gave Monk an opponent of the worst and most dangerous kind, a brilliant psychiatrist with absolute legal physical control.  So this shrink pretty well had Monk believing his own setup.  He could make a bad drawing of him digging up Trudy's grave or some such, claim it was what Monk drew yesterday in art therapy - and have Monk himself half convinced he'd really done it and blacked out again. 

The cleverest part of this was the setup with the patient Manny who is obsessed with Santa Claus, and insists that he saw him on the roof - and had pictures.  Wait, where did they go?  Manny gave the show some excellent and very gentle character based comedy.  "What do you want for Christmas?" asks Manny.  "I just want 2 and 2 to be 4 again." 

For all this, Monk leaves the doctor with somewhat warm feelings. "In case we don't get to talk later, I just want you to know.  Except for the murders, and you trying to kill me, you really were the best doctor I ever had."


"Mr. Monk and the Billionaire Mugger"  first aired August 16, 2002

On the one hand, they got a beautiful opening scene out of this.  Rich guy, a Bill Gates character, leaves his mansion and drives to town.  He dresses like a bandit, and jumps out of the alley with a knife to rob a couple walking across a parking lot.  The man he's robbing pulls out a gun and shoots him down in front of a dozen or more witnesses.  WTF?  The apparent explanation is that the guy was twisted in the head, and out looking for cheap thrills.

On the other hand, the eventual real explanation was pretty weak.  It was a fairly cheesy setup.  Basically, it's hard to suspend disbelief enough to imagine that someone would even think that this story would hold.  It wouldn't have taken someone of Monk's brilliance to eventually figure out the connection between the killer and victim.

On the third hand though, it was worth all that for the sensation of the "Fraidy Cop" who was seen by those witnesses fleeing the scene as soon as shots were fired.  The media forgot all about the freaky thing with the billionaire playing mugger and getting killed.  Who was the Fraidy Cop?  Did the department know?  Were they covering up for him?  It's great fodder for morning radio jocks. 

After all that, they payoff the whole episode by producing the Fraidy Cop, who turns out to be the key to solving the case.  He was a very cleverly placed character from the writing standpoint, and hilarious in his own rite.  The epilogue with Fraidy Cop helping Monk on a private collection matter was an excellent last turn of that comic screw.


"Mr. Monk and the Other Woman"  first aired August 23, 2002

This definitely rates as one of the best and most touching episodes of the series.  The neighbor lady of a murder victim is obviously attracted to Monk - and she pretty well gets him right from the start.  It's not that she thinks he's smart and then figures out that he's got issues.  She understands him because she loved and married a man once very much like him.  But for circumstances, she might well have become the new Mrs. Monk. This was as close as he ever came.

His sleep over scene at her house was really nice, and in fairness Monk handled the highly stressful situation pretty well.  He's there to play guard, and of course just staying in the house without even a little smooch is a lot for him to handle.  Then Stottlemeyer calls him in the middle of their dinner to tell him that she had murdered her husband.  Between the attraction and the fear, how's the poor bastard even supposed to act?

Monica Waters, the 'other woman'

Note that dream Trudy came to Adrian that night to give him permission to like her

Stellina Rusich as Trudy Monk



"Mr. Monk and the Marathon Man"  first aired September 13, 2002

They got some excellent comedy out of other people's stupidity toward Monk here, with the indignant black man and the good white liberal Tilly who were deeply offended that Monk wiped his hands after having to shake hands with a black man. 

This was one where I had significant sympathy with the killer. "You tossed her off the balcony like a bag of garbage."  Monk was right, yes, but I tend to have bad thoughts that maybe that was about what she deserved.  The victim appears to have been a kept woman - de facto a glorified prostitute, making demands now of a blackmailish nature to keep the rent paid on this fancy apartment. I'm just saying it doesn't seem like the world became a lesser place when this hooker hit the garbage bin.  But murder is wrong, and it is still against the law, m'kay?

The Tanday character was very nice.  Curious that Monk would pick as an idol any kind of an athlete.  But it also makes sense that Monk would have been a runner, actually.  Anyway, Tanday was a very good 63 year old Nigerian wise man out for his last marathon.  "Spirits are very fragile.  Easy to break, but not impossible to repair."  It was gratifying to see this groovy old dude prospering.


"Mr. Monk Takes a Vacation"  first aired September 20, 2002

The maids from hell were wonderful.  What evil little elves they were - and, hey, if there's anyone who could clean up a crime scene it'd be the professionals. "It was the cleanest room I ever saw."  This from Adrian Monk. You got to admit, that's some kind of achievement. Plus, they constitute "a short gang of lime thieves."

You can appreciate how Monk got taken in with his theory about the rich guy Fennimore's wife, and getting well and good embarassed.  Monk was "65 to 70%" sure you murdered your wife."  Seconds later, Mr. Fennimore introduces him to Mrs. Fennimore who is throwing him a surprise party.

The main point of the episode was relationship between Monk and Sharona's boy Benji.  Benji insists that he witnessed a murdered through a telescope in a fancy hotel room.  Then later he finds the body stuffed in a video game.  But the room was clean, and there was no body when they all came rushing back to the arcade a day later.  Nonetheless, Monk believed Benji when even his mother didn't.  If Benji said he saw a murder and a body, then something happened.  Until Monk susses out who and why in the last act, the entire case hinged on Monk's absolute trust in the boy's word.  It was obviously a major bonding thing, and it's nice because Monk was giving him this trust entirely on merit.  At this moment at least, Monk understood the boy better than his mother did.

The understandably impatient hotel manager and Rita, hotel security, were excellent.  Mostly Rita, with whom they struck a pretty careful note.  She loved talking cop talk from the movies, but she actually was quite professional and intelligent. She was certainly excellent backup for Monk.  The thing with the individually wrapped toothpicks in place of cigarettes was very Monk.


"Mr. Monk and the Earthquake"  first aired October 4, 2002

I have to say that I find this episode particularly grating.  That's because the biggest part of it is spent on Sharona making a fool of herself over a man.  She gets played by guys more than once, but this was probably the most extended and extensive and just damned foolish extension of all.  Also, I never got much mileage out of her bickering with her sister Gail.  That's most of the episode right there. 

The most memorable part of it was probably Monk's special gibberish language that he broke into after each earthquake.  Notably, he explained his "here's what happened" segment while in the throws of the gibberish language, seconds after the earthquake.  That worked because it was fairly simple, and fairly much sufficiently explained by the regular visual.  That was a pretty decent gimmick.


"Mr. Monk and the Red Headed Stranger"  first aired  October 11, 2002

Guest star Willie Nelson was really well used here as a murder suspect who looks guilty as hell.  This all plays from Monk's personal devotion to him, which is of course ultimately a Trudy thing.  Monk was so in the awe of his and Trudy's hero that he was willing to bypass his usual hall monitor routine when he climbed onto Willie's bus.  "Do you smell that?" says Monk.  "No I don't - and neither do you."  Monk smiles gently in acknowledgement and lets it go.

The episode is most memorable for two scenes of Monk jamming with Willie.  The scene at the radio station is one of the absolutely most frustrating and humiliating scenes for Monk in the series.  He's supposed to play clarinet with Willie on a live radio studio performance - and then he's standing there and suddenly absolutely unable to put the horn in his mouth.  [Seems like Monk should and would have picked an instrument that you wouldn't have to absolutely put your mouth on.]  Knowing the character, he's not trying to be self-indulgent.  It was just an understandably insurmountable obstacle - but something that would obviously just be flaky to an outsider.  Coming from Willie in that moment and context, even the very minimal and mild bit of sarcasm ("nice solo") is totally understandably devastating.

But the epilogue more than makes up for even that horrible scene.  Simply and quietly and by themselves, Willie and Monk do a verse of "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" at Trudy's grave.  Monk got to co-star with their hero in a private concert for her.  This is one of the best epilogues of the series.


"Mr. Monk and the Airplane"  first aired  October 18, 2002

In fairness, fear of flying is a pretty understandable issue.  So we start out with a premise of Monk working through this particular acute anxiety as he's trying to solve a murder.  Obviously he was not destined to be a favorite of the flight attendents, but all in all he coped pretty well.  Really, he got his mind on the murder mystery and mostly got distracted from his fear.

Also, the plane in flight gave a nicely constricted palette, and narrowed down the focus.  It's several hours of Monk sitting behind this couple, looking at them, and seeing all the things that don't look right.  He's got nothing to do but just study them for hours, seeing every tiny detail that wasn't right. 

The most entertaining part for me was the torment of Monk by this pretty but slightly evil little redheaded girl, maybe eight years old. Slightly evil perhaps, but observant.  She had him nicknamed "Mr. Complainy" before they ever took off.  She had one particular riff that was just right to torture him.  Imagine a child in a closed in space with Monk where he couldn't flee, and she says, "Pete and Repeat were in a boat.  Pete fell out.  Who was left?"  Being Monk, he couldn't just not answer, and the child would have been happy to watch the excruciating expressions on his face for hours. Hey, that's what you get for being Mr. Complainy.






DENOUEMENT  This is the climax of the series.  You shouldn't look at this page until you've seen it.











IMPOSTER TRUDY MONK IMAGES 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8





TRUDY MONK VIDEO GIFT IMAGES 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10













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