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Everyone’s favorite "defective detective" is back on DVD for a third season of comic mystery adventures, which is more than alright in my book. As I stated in my season two review, I love MONK. Tony Shalhoub is utterly delightful and totally endearing as the idiosyncratic title character- a former San Francisco police detective, who in the wake of his wife’s unsolved murder, suffers a mental breakdown that turns him into an obsessive compulsive eccentric, with a lengthy shopping list of other phobias. This, of course, leaves him unfit for active duty. And while Adrian Monk may not be one of San Francisco’s finest in the truest sense, his brilliant analytical mind makes him an ideal consultant to the police force on their more difficult murder cases.

The engaging SEASON THREE 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." Sadly, SEASON THREE marked the departure of actress Bitty Schram (something that has never been satisfyingly explained), who was replaced by Traylor Howard as Monk’s new assistant Natalie Teeger, a cast addition that sometimes comes off as a retuned version of the character she is replacing.

MONK: SEASON THREE ($60) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features all sixteen episodes that were aired in the third year. The sixteen featured episodes are as follows: Mr. Monk Takes Manhattan, Mr. Monk And The Panic Room, Mr. Monk And The Blackout, Mr. Monk Gets Fired, Mr. Monk Meets The Godfather, Mr. Monk And The Girl Who Cried Wolf, Mr. Monk And The Employee Of The Month, Mr. Monk And The Game Show, Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine, Mr. Monk And The Red Herring, Mr. Monk Vs. The Cobra, Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever, Mr. Monk Gets Stuck In Traffic, Mr. Monk Goes To Vegas, Mr. Monk And The Election and Mr. Monk And The Kid. Personal favorites include Mr. Monk Gets Fired in which our her not only loses his job, but his purpose for existing, Mr. Monk And The Employee Of The Month, which finds Monk begrudgingly teamed with a disgraced former partner to solve a department store employee murder and Mr. Monk And The Blackout in which Monk goes on his first date since the passing of his wife Trudy, which naturally ends in disaster; the episode also features a nice performance from Alicia Coppola, as the beautiful woman who takes romantic interest in "defective detective."

Universal Studios Home Video has made all sixteen episodes of comprise MONK: SEASON THREE available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Presented in wide screen, these episodes look more impressive on DVD than they did in their initial airings on the USA cable network. Image sharpness and detail is pretty nice, and are certainly on par with the previous seasons. An occasional soft shot crops up, but nothing worth complaining about. Colors are fairly vibrant and the flesh tones come across realistically. Blacks are accurate, whites are clean and the contrast is just fine for a television production. The film elements from which the episodes have been transferred are quite clean, displaying few imperfections. A mild grain structure can be noticed here and there, but it never becomes excessive. Digital compression artifacts are always well contained.

All the episodes that comprise MONK: SEASON THREE come with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtracks, which decode to standard surround. Since MONK is a talky comic detective series, the sound mix is fairly simplistic, with occasional separations across the forward soundstage and the rears providing a bit of ambient sound and musical fill. Fidelity is more than respectable, with the music sounding just fine and the sound effects never coming across as canned. Dialogue is crisp and fully understandable. No other language tracks are included on the DVD, although English 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. Favorites runs five minute and give the cast a chance to talk about favorite episodes. Monk Character Profile clocks in at almost six minutes and features Tony Shalhoub discussing his character. Life Before Monk provides three minutes of speculation on the characters lives prior to the series. Natalie Teeger Character Profile offers a five-minute look at Monk’s new assistant. Quirks is a nearly four minute program on the main character’s idiosyncrasies.

As I stated above, I love MONK and remain delighted that the show is being made available on DVD. Again, the DVDs look and sound better than the USA presentations, plus one has the added benefit of not being subjected bothersome commercials, which could send them into a tizzy. If you are a fan, MONK: SEASON THREE is a must have. Recommended.



Monk - Season Three



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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