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Monk: Season 5

title stars


Airing on the USA Network, Monk is a somewhat esoteric detective series presided over by a somewhat esoteric detective. Adrian Monk is beset by obsessive compulsive disorder to a degree that would cripple lesser men. Somehow, he continues to function despite a morbid fear of germs, needles, milk, death, snakes, mushrooms, heights, crowds, elevators, disorder, dark, enclosed spaces, dirt, spiders, driving, bullies, fire, puppets, tap water, noises, touching, feet, flying, beautiful women, imperfection, dogs, cats, rabbits, monkeys, bridges, public speaking, flies, slime, tetracycline, rivers, tunnels, caves and dentists.

Yes, I did have to look those up.

He’s also not at all comfortable with beards, bees, blankets, bridges, clowns, chickens, childbirth, children, drowning, earthquakes, frogs, garbage, glaciers, hailstones, illnesses, lepers, lightning, mice, nudity, possums, reproduction, risk, rodeos, smells, soccer riots, wind or the food on his plate touching,

While the plots upon which Mr. Monk’s cases pivot are at times somewhat translucent and contrived, the performances of Monk and his supporting cast are brilliant. The peculiar mix of comedy, detective fiction and the feathered edge of insanity that drives the shows is invariably flawless.

Season five of the adventures of Adrian Monk suggests no slackening of the talent which propels Monk. While all the episodes in this set are excellent, none is more so than Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike, in which a germ-phobic Monk is confronted with the city of San Francisco knee-deep in a hell of its own making while he desperately seeks for the murderer of the sanitation workers’ union, to bring about an end to the strike.

As with many other television series transmuted to DVD, Monk on disc is a great deal more enjoyable than Monk on the box. Bereft of commercials, the tales of Monk attain a degree of continuity that even a digital video recorder and a finger poised upon the fast forward button simply can’t attain. The video and sound quality of the DVDs are impeccable, and there’s a wealth of additional material, including interview, documentaries and webisodes, if you’re into them.