Saturday, December 5, 2009

Monk takes a bow


     USA's longest running drama, Monk, starring Tony Shalhoub (Wings) as former detective Adrian Monk, ended its eight season run last night, and not without a few tears.  As someone who only occasionally watched the show (until this final season), I still enjoyed it, and I was able to follow along with relative ease and appreciate it on many levels.  To make it easier for viewers, USA ran marathons this week or relevant past episodes, to catch you up on the plot that should be remembered.

     Twelve years ago, several years before the series began, Adrian Monk's wife, Trudy (The Office's Melora Hardin) was killed, and it is the one mystery he was never able to solve.  As the series came to a close, in the final two hours Monk inevitably found the final clues he needed to put things together.  That the show would end this way was pretty much a given long ago, but its execution was wonderful.  From a poison, to a long ago murder, new intrigue, and a video tape that Monk should have opened a dozen Christmases ago, it did not stretch believability much, as I expected to happen.  There was a reason for the new crack in the case, and it wasn't just coincidence that it all tied up now.

     Welcome was the fact that almost every main character got a satisfying ending, not just the title character.  Randy (Jason Gray-Stanford) moved to New Jersey and became a police captain.  Though I can't imagine how a viewer would find him actually capable of such a position, as Randy's cluelessness was the butt of many a joke, it was nice to see him end up with Monk's former assistant and longtime crush, Sharona (Bitty Schram).  While Sharona herself wasn't in the finale, she got to return and have her ending a few episodes early.  Likewise, Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) was married to his recent girlfriend T.K. (Virginia Madsen).  While T.K. was only a guest star in a couple of last season episodes, the Captain was remarried to a woman that appreciates him, and that was what was special about that.  Natalie (Traylor Howard, Two Guys, A Girl, & A Pizza Place) alone had nothing special in the finale, but she still played her ever helpful assistant role.  None of the major recurring characters had serious endings in the finale or the episodes leading up to it, but those people were less important to this series than many other television shows.  Monk only ever centered on four people at a time.

     Monk, himself, had a surprisingly emotional ending.  After realizing an episode early that he didn't really want to be an official detective again, the surprise twist of him finding out his late wife had a daughter, and his connection with her, gave his character growth and a bright future as the ending credits rolled.  While I find it hard to swallow that a strange would take so quickly to the neurotically screwed up character of Adrian Monk, the story wasn't about her anyway.

     While not without its faults, longtime viewers should find themselves choked up and moved by the finale, which provides a nice cap, goes somewhere, but doesn't ruin the show that came before it.  USA will have a hard time filling the hole left behind.

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