MONK (Season 2)

Starring: Tony Shaloub, Bitty Schram, Ted Levine, Jason Gray-Stanford, and Stanley Kamel.

Format: DVD - 4 disk set (12 one-hour episodes plus bonus material).

Genre: Mystery/drama/comedy

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

MONK, the series and the character, just keeps getting better and better. Even though you may not be able to imagine that a character who is afraid of almost everything, including germs and milk, could possibly be a much sought after and successful consultant for the San Francisco Police Department's homicide division, the actors and writers for this series pull it off time and time again. I can hardly wait for the release of the third season's episodes of MONK, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The usual suspects, erh, cast members have returned in season two. Stottlemeyer, the police captain in charge of the homicide division, his eager-beaver lieutenant, Disher, Monk's nurse-cum-associate Sharona, Monk's psychiatrist, and of course, Monk, himself. Two disturbing things. One is a new upstairs neighbor who is at best, annoying and a rumor once whispered about in online chats with fans, that has now been announced in early TV ads for the new season beginning on January 21, 2005...Monk's nurse Sharona, played by Bitty Schram, has left the series. I heard that she left in the middle of the third season, but I haven't been able to figure out which episodes she is missing from except for one involving the annoying upstairs neighbor and a fraudulent game show. But again, I am getting ahead of myself. That sort of "bad news" can wait until the official release of season three on DVD, right?

Episodes in season two include: 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.

All of the episodes are well done, although I can't say I have any true favorites in this batch. My least favorites aren't really Monk's fault. I get sidetracked by characters I don't like, for example, in "Mr. Monk and the Paperboy," the case involved Monk's annoying upstairs neighbor. In "Mr. Monk and the Captain's Wife" I find Glenne Headly, the actress who portrays Stottlemeyer's wife, very annoying. She was even more annoying in "Mr. Monk and the Very, Very Old Man." Perhaps the writers intended for her to be annoying. In that case, then I think she was too annoying.

On the whole, however, the storylines hold up and the crime solutions are fun. It's a real treat to tag along with Monk and Sharona.

I was hoping that one of my favorite episodes, "Mr. Monk and the Panic Room" (the one where a chimpanzee is the murder suspect) would be on this season two set of DVDs but apparently that episode is from season three and I'll just have to wait for it to be released or catch it on re-runs.

Monk fans will want to add this and season one to their DVD collections. For those who haven't yet discovered Mr. Monk, I encourage you to do so right away. I think this is one of the best, if not the best, TV series currently on TV. As Monk would say, "I might be wrong...but I don't think so!"

The set costs about $60.00 but many stores, including Amazon.com offer it at a reduced price.

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