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The time has come. We’ve known for a while now that USA’s Monk would be drawing to a close with its eighth season and this week, the final season of the series about that quirky little OCD-having detective begins. While I’m sure Monk fanatics are sad to know that this season will be the series’ last, the eighth season opens appropriately with Monk’s own personal TV show obsession.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Monk follows Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), a former cop and now private detective who, with the help of his trusted assistant Natalie (Traylor Howard), works with the police to solve various criminal cases. His obsessive compulsive disorder makes him a bit of a handful to work with but he’s a genius when it comes to discovering clues and putting them together to find the culprit.
In the premiere episode of the eighth season, titled “Mr. Monk’s Favorite Show,” Monk has the opportunity to meet the star of one of his favorite TV shows growing up. Elizabeth Perkin’s guest stars as the former child star who, after publishing a scandalizing tell-all book about herself (and her various liaisons with known celebs over the last few decades) is being stalked by someone who wants to kill her. As we all know, Monk never does things halfway. When he loves something, he loves it and helping Perkins’ character proves to be tricky as he’s completely star struck by her. We learn early on that he knows every detail about the old TV show, right down to what year the school the kids attended was built. He’s not crazy though, in his own words, he’s just a fan. The series is fiction though and the reality is far less wholesome. What he comes to discover while investigating the case is that the gritty back story behind the cast of the squeaky-clean Brady Bunch-esque series is not exactly what he expected. Still, it’s Monk and digging through celebrity dirt isn’t nearly as much of a challenge as it would be if he had to dig through actual dirt.
As a fan of Showtime’s Weeds, I adore Elizabeth Perkins and while her guest role in Monk is more of a toned down version of Celia, she’s still great in this episode. As for the opener of the season, I think Monk is off to a good start. What you’ll see on Friday night is your typical Monk episode, with a few excellent laugh-out-loud moments (including the fantastic whodunit reveal at the end) and from what Tony Shalhoub said on a conference call last week, we should expect the bulk of the final season to be stand-alone episodes up until the last handful of episodes, which will all be “connected” and presumably focused at least somewhat on Monk’s wife Trudy’s death. I think that sounds like a good balance for the final season, giving fans time to enjoy some of the typical, lighter mystery-of-the-week episodes and then wrapping the series up by tying together all of the loose ends with Monk and the other characters.
Starring: Tony Shalhoub, Traylor Howard, Ted Levine, Jason Gray-Stanford, Hector Elizando, Emmy Clarke
Premieres: Friday, August 7 (9:00PM EST) on USA