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Quirky detective Adrian Monk has only one more season of obsessive-compulsive detection left. Start mourning now, because it's still one of the best shows on TV.
In the meantime, the seventh season of his dramedy/mystery series holds up well and shows little signs of its age. It's got everything you'd expect of "Monk" -- new phobias, personal crises (shot in the leg!), lots of hilarious writing, bizarre mysteries, and the celebration of Mr. Monk's one-hundredth case.
Monk is having more trouble than ever after Dr. Kroger unexpectedly dies, and the neighbor girl starts playing the piano. So he decides to buy the house of an old man who recently fell down the stairs. Unfortunately, some creepy people want to get their greedy hands on whatever is hidden in that house -- and they'll destroy his dream-house to do it.
Unfortunately (for Monk) it's the least weird case he encounters this season. He has to deal with (in no particular order): a murdered homeless man, miraculous fountains, lottery murders, a stolen bike at a biotech lab, submarine "suicides," exploding grills, protecting a boxer, the impossible murder of Monk's annoying neighbor, and a manly-bonding football game with Stottlemeyer.
And Monk struggles with his own problems, with the help of his new therapist Dr. Bell (Hector Elizondo) and his assistant Natalie (Traylor Howard: bad hypnosis, a kindly old lady, a crush, a looming physical, and a half-brother escaped from prison. And Monk tries to stop the parking lot where Trudy died from being demolished, only for the council-woman involved to be found murdered in the bay...
Most quirky TV series don't survive past the first few episodes, or the first season at most. So while the seventh season of "Monk" has a few bumps in the road (such as "Mr Monk and the Bully," where he comes across as rather too vindictive), it still has the right balance of humor, poignancy and brain-twisters.
The whole season is pretty much a solid string of enjoyably complex murder mysteries -- baffling crimes, obscure clues, and a few new eccentricities for Monk. Despite all the murder and bittersweet moments, the episodes are peppered with some comedy as well (Randy watching the football game upside-down in the stairwell) and plenty of solid dialogue ("It's a square tomato. You're doing the Lord's work!").
This season Monk's biggest problem is his biggest phobia of all -- his fear of being left by everyone, whether it's a mother substitute or his beloved shrink. Fortunately Shalhoub has the skill to keep his tragicomic character from seeming cartoonish -- good-hearted, socially clueless (see "guy banter") and trapped in the cage of his own fears and sorrow. The only flaw is that for some reason, Monk tends to be a wee bit more mean-spirited here.
Traylor Howard does a solid job as Monk's assistant Elizondo is quite good as the replacement for Dr. Kroger, and Jason Gray-Stanford continues to be hilarious as Randy ("Ergo the killer. Is that Hungarian?"). Ted Levine gets to show different side to Stottlemeyer, when the longtime cop becomes a monk (yes, the religious kind) and goofs off at tailgate parties. Not in the same episode, of course.
There's only one more season of "Monk" to go, but the seventh is a heckuva penultimate chapter, with plenty of befuddling mysteries and strange problems.
The obsessive compulsive detective is still a winner even after 7 seasons! Monk solves the cases that stump the San Francisco P.D. He is a genius but a horribly flawed one at that. Monk is plagued by many psychoses and labours under the weight of all his problems. He is tragic, brilliant and very funny - all at once. Add in the balancing forces of his helpful assistant and his new psychiatrist plus Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Randy Disher and you have a winning combination that doesn't disappoint.
In season 7 you will see Monk meeting his younger brother, solving a case while stranded on a US naval submarine, purchasing a house, attending a football game, matching wits with a chess player as smart as he is. He also solves his 100th case!
There are 16 one-hour episodes on 4 discs. Bonus features include a Magnum PI parody promotional ad, video commentaries, and the making of episode "Mr. Monk Makes the Playoffs."