Monk-Season 1 (2002)

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Released 19-Jan-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Mr. Monk And His Origins
Featurette-Mr. Monk And His O.C.D.
Featurette-Mr. Monk And His Fellow Sufferers
Featurette-Mr.Monk And His Emmy Award Winning Performance
Featurette-Mr. Monk And His Partners In Crime
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 537:51 (Case: 563)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Dean Parisot
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Tony Shalhoub
Bitty Schram
Ted Levine
Jason Gray-Stanford
Stanley Kamel
Case ?
RPI $49.95 Music Jeff Beal


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
French Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    What makes a good detective television series? Interesting cases? An interesting central character? A good supporting set of characters? A believable and interesting portrayal of the detective? A bit of comedy thrown in with the police work? Some drama and character development during the series? Depending on your point of view all of these things can be useful ingredients in the melting pot that makes a good detective series. Monk certainly includes all of the above ingredients and is quality television. On the other hand, if you look for gritty realism in your detective shows, such as appears in Law & Order or CSI then this probably isn't the series for you. This is a lighter detective series which avoids significant violence or overly offensive case material and focuses more on solving the case and the inherent humour of the premise.

    The central character here is Adrian Monk (brilliantly played by Tony Shalhoub), a suspended detective from the San Francisco Police Department. His wife died a few years before the series begins and he has fallen apart mentally since then and was unable to function in his role as a detective. He badly wants to be reinstated to the force. He has a number of mental conditions including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He is also afraid of germs, heights, crowds, milk and many other things. He has had these conditions since childhood, however they have become worse since the death of his wife. He is a brilliant detective with a great eye for detail and subtle nuance. Despite this he has been unable to solve his wife's murder which is contributing to his mental state. For three years after his wife's death he was a complete basket case, restricted to his house and without the ability to operate as a normal person. Since then he has slowly been improving with the help of his psychiatrist (Stanley Kamel who you may remember from Murder One) and his nurse, Sharona Fleming (Bitty Schram). Due to his inability to operate as a fully functional member of society, Sharona accompanies him everywhere he goes and as the series progresses becomes an important part of the crime solving team. Sharona is a no-nonsense but sympathetic and attractive young woman, who is the single mother of Benjy.

    In the first episode, Monk gets called in by the Mayor to assist with solving a difficult case. The policeman in charge of the case is an old colleague of Monk's, Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine). The gruff Stottlemeyer initially hates the idea of Monk being involved but slowly develops a great respect for his abilities. Stottlemeyer's offsider is mostly included as comedy relief, however sometimes he gets to play an important role in the crime solving as well. He is Lt. Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford). There is an ongoing sexual tension between him and Sharona. Stottlemeyer and Disher appear in nearly all episodes as the investigating officers.

    The thing which elevates this from just being a comedy detective show is the excellent and multi-award winning portrayal of Adrian Monk by Tony Shalhoub. He recently won the 2005 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy series Emmy for this role, which he also won in 2003 for this first season. He was also nominated in 2004 but lost to Kelsey Grammer. He also won the Golden Globe in 2003 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy. He takes what could be an incredibly clichéd role and makes the character multi-faceted, aware of his own limitations and yet intelligent and determined. He brings great pathos to the role, especially as the subplot involving his wife's murder continues throughout the series. He is also very funny. The rest of the cast are also well chosen and combine to be an excellent ensemble.

    This first season runs for 12 episodes including the initial double pilot episode, and is presented across four discs (3 episodes per disc). This program is now in its fourth season in the US, with all the original cast still present, except for Bitty Schram who left part way through Season 3. The episodes are:

  1. Mr Monk and the Candidate (75:02) - This episode introduces the characters and sets up the basic premise of the show. There is an attempted assassination of a political candidate (Warren St Clair from the new Battlestar Galactica) during which a bodyguard is killed. Monk is called in as a consultant by the mayor.
  2. Mr Monk and the Psychic (42:09) - An ex-police commissioner kills his wife and her body is found by a psychic, who wakes up at the crash site.
  3. Mr Monk meets Dale the Whale (42:19) - A woman is murdered while on the line to 911. She says it was someone she knows, Dale the Whale, a financier and power broker who is so fat he cannot get out of bed. So how could he have committed the murder? This episode was not as good as the others in the series.
  4. Mr Monk goes to the Carnival (41:36) - An SFPD detective meets up with someone who offers to give him information about a drug shipment. They meet at a carnival and talk on the Ferris wheel. The guy ends up stabbed to death before they get off the Ferris wheel. Monk's suspension is also up for review in this episode.
  5. Mr Monk goes to the Asylum (41:37) - Monk gets caught trespassing in his wife's old house and is committed to an asylum for evaluation. During his stay another inmate tells him of an old unsolved murder there and he decides to investigate.
  6. Mr Monk and the Billionaire Mugger (41:02) - A very rich computer genius gets shot dead while trying to mug someone. Why would he be mugging someone? Monk has money troubles which cause Sharona to quit and try to solve the case herself. She becomes more of a partner to Monk in this episode.
  7. Mr Monk and the Other Woman (42:34) - A divorce lawyer and his assistant get killed in their office by a masked man who then burns a file. During the investigation Monk meets a woman who reminds him of his wife.
  8. Mr Monk and the Marathon Man (42:05) - A woman is killed by her boyfriend who was supposed to be running in a marathon at the time. Can Monk prove he wasn't? A hero of Monk's is involved.
  9. Mr Monk takes a Vacation (42:08) - Monk goes on vacation with Sharona and her son. The son witnesses a murder but no-one will believe him except Monk
  10. Mr Monk and the Earthquake (42:39) - A woman murders her older rich husband during an earthquake and tries to cover it up. Monk is traumatised by the mess the earthquake causes and cannot speak properly. Cameron Daddo guests as an Australian journalist. Excellent episode.
  11. Mr Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger (42:18) - Willie Nelson guests as himself. His road manager is murdered after a disagreement with Willie. He is the only suspect and the only witness is blind.
  12. Mr Monk and the Airplane (42:22) - Sharona is going by plane to visit her aunt. A woman is murdered at the airport by her exact double after checking in.

    This is a very entertaining TV series, including comedy, mystery and drama. If you have watched a couple of episodes of this on television and thought it was just a light comedic show, watching the whole series will really make it grow on you as it did me. Highly Recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is good but not spectacular.

    The feature is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio non 16x9 enhanced which is seemingly not the original aspect ratio. The Region 1 release is in 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced. Reviews of that release indicate that this is the correct aspect ratio. As per the site's policy I will remove one star for the transfer being in the incorrect aspect ratio.

    The picture was reasonably clear and sharp throughout although it was affected by some light grain. You would not refer to it as crisp but it is quite reasonable. There was no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was also quite good but not spectacular.

    The colour was fine but a little dull, probably added to by the generally dull colour scheme of the show. I did notice some minor spots of cross colourisation. There also seemed to be some minor chroma noise in backgrounds from time to time.

    Artefacts were not too distracting but included some minor aliasing and some edge enhancement. The aliasing occurred on the usual suspects such as Venetians and patterned clothing.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired and French. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read but were sometimes summarised.

    The layer changes were not noticeable.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is good.

    This DVD set contains two audio options, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and the same in French.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync, which is the most critical ingredient of this show.

    The score of this series by Jeff Beal consists of a cool jazzy theme and some incidental music, which doesn't stand out particularly. The theme was replaced in Season 2 by a song from Randy Newman.

    The surround speakers added some mild atmosphere but little more.

    The subwoofer was used occasionally to add bass to the score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The extras consist of some minor promotional featurettes.

Menu

    The menu included music, and the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles. Nothing to get excited about.

Promotional Featurettes

    A selection of 5 featurettes which are all quite short. The featurettes included are

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This series has been released in Region 1 in a very similar format except for the aspect ratio. On that basis Region 1 is the winner here.

Summary

    A wonderful light detective series featuring a great performance from Tony Shalhoub as the title character.

    The video quality is good but not spectacular.

    The audio quality is good.

    The set has a small set of promotional featurettes as its only extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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