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I love MONK. I think it is a wonderfully funny mystery comedy show that showcases actor Tony Shalhoub’s delightful comic performance as the "defective detective." I don’t know how many actors could have made the character of Adrian Monk work as well as Shalhoub. Shalhoub perfectly brings out all the character’s annoying idiosyncrasies and phobias, yet renders the man in such an endearing fashion that one can’t help but love him. For those who have never seen an episode of MONK, the show follows the adventures of the title character a former police detective, whose brilliant analytical mind gave him the ability to solve crimes that stumped his peers on the San Francisco police force.

However, when Monk’s wife was murdered several years ago, the police detective’s own mind crumbled somewhat, which manifested itself in an extreme obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as a lengthy shopping list of other phobias. Although he hopes to return to active duty someday, Monk’s brilliant analytical abilities are unimpaired and her now spends his time as a private detective/consultant to the S.F.P.D., still assisting on cases that stump his former peers. The engaging SEASON TWO cast of MONK features Bitty Schram as Monk’s nurse and personal assistant Sharona Fleming, Ted Levine as Captain Leland Stottlemeyer, Monk’s former colleague, who relies upon Monk’s abilities to solve the most baffling of cases, and Jason Gray-Stanford Lieutenant Randy Disher, Stottlemeyer’s right hand man, who seems just a little resentful of the abilities of the "defective detective."

MONK: SEASON TWO ($60) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features all sixteen episodes that were aired in the second year. The sixteen featured episodes are as follows: Mr. Monk Goes Back To School, Mr. Monk Goes To Mexico, Mr. Monk Goes To The Ballgame, Mr. Monk Goes To The Circus, Mr. Monk And The Very, Very Old Man, Mr. Monk Goes To The Theater, Mr. Monk And The Sleeping Suspect, Mr. Monk Meets The Playboy, Mr. Monk And The 12th Man, Mr. Monk And The Paperboy, Mr. Monk And The Three Pies, Mr. Monk And The TV Star, Mr. Monk And The Missing Granny, Mr. Monk And The Captain's Wife, Mr. Monk Gets Married and Mr. Monk Goes To Jail. I have to admit; I thoroughly enjoyed every episode, although a couple of personal favorites in SEASON TWO. Mr. Monk Goes To Mexico offers a fairly hilarious road trip for the fastidious detective, who finds himself trying to discover how a man drowned, while skydiving in the desert, while at the same time dealing with being cut off from his own basic necessities of life. I also love Mr. Monk And The Three Pies, which features a terrific guest appearance by John Turturro, as Monk’s elder sibling Ambrose, whose own phobias have made it impossible to leave his home for years and years.

Universal Studios Home Video has made all sixteen episodes of comprise MONK: SEASON TWO available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Presented in wide screen, the episodes do look better on DVD, than they did in their original airings on the USA cable network. The image quality is generally fairly strong, offering a reasonably crisp looking picture and good definition. Colors are pretty robust, with natural looking hues and appealing flesh tones. Blacks are deep, whites are stable and the contrast is just fine for a television production. The film elements from which the episodes have been transferred are very clean, with hardly any imperfections. There is a mildly noticeable grain structure here and there, but it never becomes excessive. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.

All the episodes that comprise MONK: SEASON TWO come with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtracks, which does decode to standard surround. MONK is a talky comic detective series, and the sound is mixed accordingly. Thusly, the sound design isn’t really going to impress anyone. It’s all competently put together, but doesn’t have any sonic flash. Dialogue is generally the strongest component, sounding crisp and is fully understandable. Occasional sound effects are intermixed as required, but the sound design rarely gives the impression of distinct directionality. The outlying channels do get a boost from the show’s musical component, and bits of ambient sound. No other language tracks are included on the DVD, although English, French and Spanish subtitles have been provided.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene/episode selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extra features. The Minds Behind Monk is a four-minute program featuring series creator/executive producer Andy Breckman and Tony Shalhoub talking about the show. Disher Character Profile runs three minutes and features Jason Gray-Stanford talking about his character. Stottlemyer Character Profile clocks in at four minutes and features actor Ted Levine talking about his character. Precinct Tours With Jason Gray-Stanford features the actor in a two-minute tour of one of the show’s sets.

As I stated above, I love MONK and am glad the show is being made available on DVD. The DVDs look and sound better than the USA presentations and there are no bothersome commercials to send one into a panic attack. If you are a fan, MONK: SEASON TWO is a must have. Recommended.



Monk - Season Two


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2005 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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