Adrian Monk found his late wife Trudy’s killer in the two-part conclusion to USA’s eight-season wonder, Monk. Then, after a bit of pondering his wife’s killer’s last words, he discovered that Trudy’s daughter was still alive. [That won’t make sense to anyone who hasn’t followed Monk, but this column isn’t for you, anyway.]
When Monk returns this evening [USA, 9/8C], the emphasis is not on the mystery – which would normally not be worthy of Adrian Monk’s [Tony Shalhoub] attention – rather, the main subject is dealing with the loss of a friend. On the show, Monk’s therapist, Dr. Charles Kroger [Stanley Kamel] has passed away because of a heart attack.
When Monk buys a house to get away from a neighbor child who plays Chopin incessantly, a potential new therapist, Dr. Neven Bell [Hector Elizondo] suggests that it might be because he misses his late friend – who also loved Chopin – a suggestion that has Monk suggesting he needs a different therapist.
While shopping for a shower head – with one hundred holes, no less – a handyman named Jake [Brad Garrett] suggests he could drill a couple extra holes in it for home. In no time, Jake is finding flaws in the house and Monk looks like he’s fallen into a money pit. Then something happens to tie in the “renovations” to the death of the house’s previous owner.
By playing against the model puzzle mystery of the usual Monk episode, Mr. Monk Buys a House proves to be one of the better season premieres for the long-running cult hit. More than usual, the ep deals with that side of Monk’s character we’ve usually only gotten to see in his relationship with Natalie [Traylor Howard] – that part of Monk that is capable of great friendship. Because of the sincerity of the ep – and the final scene, which ties into a dedication to Mr. Kamel – an ep that could have come off as soppy, is, instead, genuinely poignant [something you don’t get everyday in series TV].
Garrett and Elizondo are both very good, but the ep belongs to Tony Shalhoub, who makes the OCD Monk even more vulnerable than we’ve seen him in the past – and that’s a pretty difficult feat! Monk has been up and down in quality over the last few seasons, but as Mr. Monk Buys a House illustrates, when it’s on, it’s still capable of a quiet brilliance.
Final Grade: B+