this isn’t so much a review
as my thoughts on the episode,
some pertinent and some not.
Thar be spoilers ahead!
haven't seen this episode don't
read any further, unless you don't
mind knowing what's going to happen
before it happens. In which case
you probably don't like surprise
parties, elections or awards shows
either. I'm one of those kind
premiere episode of season six,
Monk and His Biggest Fan"
had a lot of hype and fan expectations
to live up to. Four months have
gone by since season five wrapped
up with "Hospital"
and we've had all that time to
imagine the perfect Monk
episode that might open the season.
Inevitably a few fans, who may
have had something more like "Mr.
Monk and the Dragon's Lair"
or "Mr. Monk and the Deathly
Hallows" in mind, are disappointed.
Emphatically, not me. "Biggest
Fan" is all I could have
hoped for and then some. Of course,
Monk fans come in for a little
good natured teasing in this episode,
but if F.
Murray Abraham can take it,
so can I.
Breckman gets the writing
credit for this one. As head writer
Andy leaves his mark on every
script. (If you think a joke is
going to end... and it doesn't,
that's probably Andy.) When his
name is on it you know it's going
to be funny... extra funny. And
Monk will be just a tad more Monk-ish.
Strike" and "Bumps
His Head" for example,
stretch the character in a way
that only the creator can.
little interview on the official
site in which he explains how
long this particular episode has
been in the making. The dead dog
idea and the return of Marci
Maven ("TV Star")
have both been kicked around in
the writers room for years. I
could be wrong, but the maybe-not-so-famous
lost/rumored episode "Mr.
Monk and the Dead Dog" from
season one might have been the
source of the mystery plot for
"Biggest Fan". Happily,
the two concepts finally met and
produced a delightful season premiere.
Zisk, the Monk executive producer
who does most of the work (according
to the other executive producers),
is also a brilliant director,
who I'm betting will get an Emmy
nod for last season's "Mr.
Monk and the Leper."
(I lost: he didn't, but he should
have.) He's the director for "Biggest
Fan." He doesn't get to spread
his creative wings as much with
this one, but there are some very
nice touches, directing-wise,
throughout the episode.
Silverman reprises her role
as Marci Maven. She's now a hot
property and there was even talk
of her being considered for an
Emmy nomination this week for
her series The
Sarah Silverman Program. (I'm
guessing it was a little too edgy,
shall we say, for the Emmy crowd,
not to mention a big chunk of
the Monk audience.) That wasn't
so much the case when she first
tackled the role in 2004 for "Mr.
Monk and the TV Star."
However, I don't think her current
popularity was a factor in asking
her back. She may have lured in
a slightly younger demographic,
something the network always likes
to see, but a first run Monk routinely
pulls in more than double, and
usually triple, the ratings of
any comedy central show, including
Sarah's. The writers just had
their hearts set on another Marci
Maven appearance and when the
opportunity came her way Sarah
was eager to do it. They obviously
stored up a slew of nice little
Marci bits which finally get a
chance to shine in "Biggest
going to have to bite the bullet
here and acknowledge all the similarities
between Marci Maven and Monk fans
in general.... Well, maybe not
in general, but on message boards
in particular.... Well, maybe
even more particularly, me. So
when the episode opened with Marci
updating her Monk website, something
I spend a good deal of time on
myself, I squirmed just a bit.
When Marci wins a day with Monk
at a charity auction, something
Spinner and I did very recently,
I squirmed a little more. When
Marci brings Monk his favorite
bottled water (which is apparently
now "Summit Creek."
Sierra Springs is soooo last year),
something I picked up a case of
just because it was Monk's favorite,
I was starting to feel pretty
darn creepy. When Marci knows
all Monk's cases by name, something
I also know better than my own
phone number, I figured I was
about ready for my own restraining
order.... until they got to the
Pies" diorama. "Oh,
my Gawd!" and the um... tribute
song. That was just insane. Sure
I'm obsessed... but, you know,
in a good way. Marci is five cans
short of a six pack.
Dear Fellow Monk-ophiles
has a website, which she first
told us about at the end of "TV
Star." We don't know who
her fellow Monk-ophiles are, or
if they're imaginary or not, but
we do know she's no fan of Natalie's.
A little inept cutting and pasting
and Natalie's out of the picture.
Just in case you thought the writers
didn't notice all the Natalie
haters, whose ranks have thinned
to almost nothing these days,
Marci is here to represent.
of the neighbor is so not a part
of Marci's crazy make believe
world. The juxtaposition is jarring:
she barely seems to react. It's
all topped off by the whimsical
lettering on the dead dog Otto's
grave. It's a classically bizarre
murder, just right for Monk. As
a matter of fact, I don't want
to spoil anything, but just read
the new Monk novel Mr.
Monk and the Two Assistants.
That's all I'm going to say.
right, it's another classic concept
in comedy: the bachelor auction.
You saw it on Seinfeld.
You saw it on Frasier.
You saw it on Night
Court (well, I did anyway).
Now Monk's got one. And, boy,
do they milk it. It's got everything
romance, suspense, a shirtless
Randy and a producer cameo.
to the auction is notable for
another quintessentially selfish
Monk moment when he learns to
where the auction money will go:
"It's always the widows.
Why can't they just move on?"
Natalie's reaction to that is
yet another reason why I consider
Howard such a good actress.
When you convey that much with
just a look, you're good. The
interaction between the two of
them is just so smooth now. It's
a joy to watch. There's a wealth
of talent, too when Marci comes
to the front door. The subtext
of the conversation is great and
I particularly like the prickly
relationship of the two women
who barely tolerate each other,
but smile politey.
was a very nice surprise for me.
De Salvo, who plays her, is
a terrific character actress.
She gives memorable performances
in two of my all time favorite
Favorite Year. She's got nice
delivery ("Wrap this boy
up. He's sold!") and timing
as she bangs the gavel down during
Monk's "beefcake" display.
episode also marks the return
Lawrence as Stottlemeyer's
girlfriend, real estate agent
Linda Fusco ("Mr.
Monk, Private Eye").
Linda hasn't lost much of her
edge. She puts in the winning
bid for "her man" and
brashly reaches for his tush as
they leave the stage.
Randy Disher, who seems to be
channeling "Officer Feel
Good" Hondo, from the fourth
Monk Goes to a Wedding."
More power to him. Now that's
a bachelor auction. Randy is quite
the exhibitionist. He was ready
and willing to drop his pants
in "Hospital" and he
whips off his shirt in this episode
with very little encouragement.
No, I'm not complaining. His enthusiasm
goes unrewarded when the winner
just needs a babysitter/career
counselor. Her name is Cameron
Meyer. That's one of those little
gift, which Andy says the writers
enjoy giving out. In this case,
it's producer/writer David Breckman's
gift to his bride Cameron Meyer,
who appeared in the Monk episode
"TV Star" as the script
cameo I mentioned above is Anthony
Santa Croce. If you've read
and Spinner's Excellent Monk Adventure
(If you haven't, I'll just wait
here while you do that) than you'll
know that I sat in Mr. Santa Croce's
chair for a few hours during our
set visit. I didn't actually get
to meet him, but somehow I feel
I know him. He's in the background
behind Marci Maven as she bids
on Monk. He's one of the few guy
in the crowd, so he's hard to
miss. He's listed as "Heckler"
in the credits, but if he did
do any heckling it's been cut
the Marci-Natalie bidding war
and Monk's desperate attempt to
avoid the inevitable (including
the "beefcake") were
very funny. I also particularly
liked the little move where he
shines his shoe on the back of
his pant leg and looks like an
awkward boy, while waiting for
someone to bid on him. Marci's
reactions are also extremely well
done. After she's won, she looks
at him like she's starving and
he's her next meal. It's during
this sequence we learn "there
was a restraining order"
and it's not hard to believe.
worry: I'm not crazy, just a fan."
to stalker-land: the hideous portrait,
his glass, his rug, his lamp,
his pants. "His pants?!"
Monk showed great courage in continuing
the visit from that point on,
but I'm sure he wouldn't have
wanted to miss the "Three
Pies" diorama... or the song.
Of course, it was Sharona not
Natalie who was assisting Monk
during that case, but the episode
would only have been half as funny
without the Natalie-troll joke.
It's also great that in the Monk
universe Marci is the only one
who knows what the cases are called
and that she has absolutely no
bobblehead boundaries. The song
is also a hoot.
for Monk there is a case to solve.
"So, to recap, dog dies on
Monday and then three days later
kills your neighbor." That's
the gist of it. It's the kind
of impossible mystery which makes
for classic Monk.
back at the station, Randy learns
that contrary to his mother's
belief, young Sam does not want
to be a police officer. "Who'd
want to be a cop: you don't make
any money and everybody hates
you." I think Randy sucked
it up and handled that blow to
his self esteem rather well. (For
the record, I’d like to
play with Randy’s handcuffs.)
He does seem to have a nice rapport
with the kid as the scene goes
on. They look like they’re
having fun playing Timber.
Stottlemeyer should know if Monk
says something is up, then something
is up. Maybe he was just in too
much of a hurry to meet his date.
He does, however, take the file
with him, so perhaps something
about it was bugging him. I did
like his “You need to get
the hell out of there.”
His concern for Adrian is genuine
and almost brotherly. I also thought
his last line in the scene was
interesting, the one regarding
Linda: “Do not need me.
She’ll kill me.” I
believe they’re laying the
groundwork for her upcoming appearance
in the episode “Mr. Monk
and the Bad Girlfriend”
formerly known as "Mr. Monk
and the Captain’s Girlfriend.”
“I don’t kill the
things I love.”
wants Monk to work a little Monk
magic and disprove the police
theory of the crime like he did
Monk and the Astronaut’
Monk Goes Back to School’.
Remember that one?”
Where are you getting these names?”
tries to reason with Marci, but
Marci has the upper hand. Framing
a dog is not too far fetched for
a Monk case. “It’s
not totally unprecedented. What
Monk and the Panic Room’?
They tried to frame a monkey,
didn’t they?” Technically
it was an ape, but Monk has to
admit she’s got a point.
Since that’s not enough
motivation she reminds him that
she owns him for the day and he
has to do what she says. (I had
no idea that was a charity auction
perk.) So off they go to investigate
the scene of the crime, her neighbor’s
garage. This is the scene of which
we got the tantalizing
sneak peek in March. The Marci/Natalie
exchange as they walk up the drive
is classic and it’s all
in the delivery.
have the best job in the world.”
today I don’t.”
investigation reminds me a lot
of the garage scene in “Mr.
Monk and the Other Woman.”
In fact the two episodes share
a lot of the same plot elements:
a murder in a garage, a mean dog,
a woman who finds him attractive.
If I remember correctly, Stottlemeyer,
with almost the same words, but
admittedly with more urgency,
advises Monk to leave the woman’s
house. I don’t think there’s
more meaning to it than that.
It just caused a slight feeling
of déjà vu.
part of this scene is, of course,
the introduction of “clue
hugs.” What an inspired
bit of business that is.
get our first up close and personal
meeting with John Ringel who narrowly
beats out Darrel Cain for worst
neighbor ever. (Oh, come on, you
remember: “Mr. Monk and
the Astronaut”… He
stole the dead woman’s fruit
of the month.) It’s not
hard to figure out that Ringel
is the guy. Besides Marci and
Otto there are no other suspects.
And he’s got a messy hose.
Bad guys have messy hoses, right?
So the only real question, but
it’s an intriguing one,
got nothing on John
Mese who plays Ringel. He
has a long list of television
guest appearances, none of which
ring a bell, except for his small
screen debut in Alien
Nation back in 1989.
He played “Lance Lott”.
(All the aliens had been given
slightly goofy names.) I know
I saw it, because I saw all of
them, but I don’t specifically
remember him and he would have
been wearing a lot of make-up
in any case. He really doesn’t
get a lot to do here. We never
even find out why he killed his
wife, unless Marci was right and
he killed her for bragging about
her gardenias. More likely it
was something about adultery.
Monk murders usually
scene is nicely capped off with
the sublimely funny second clue
it like a man.”
tell me Natalie isn’t funny.
That’s funny. As is the
monogrammed wipe debate and Natalie’s
increasing jealousy and disbelief
as Monk shows his first sign of
succumbing to Marci’s flattery.
I’m with Natalie here, monogramming
defeats the purpose of sanitary
wipes. They also look sort of
blame Natalie for getting all
up in Marci’s face. “Here’s
a little news flash, Marci, stalking
someone and knowing someone: two
different things.” The tug
of war between the two of them
continues at the lumber yard where
Marci finds Monk’s weakness.
“I’ll work for free.”
think he’s flattered or
flustered, I think he’s
the cheapest man in the world,
but I like Natalie’s counter
offer: “I’m not nuts.”
Nevertheless, Natalie decides
to step aside. She removes the
buffer between Marci and Adrian.
Once she’s gone they can
see each other for who they really
next scene, Stottlemeyer’s
date, the writers provide another
little bit of foreshadowing. “What
does a girl have to do to get
your attention, Captain? Kill
someone?” As a matter of
fact, yes, that’s what it’s
gonna take. Either that or a car
wreck that puts you in a coma.
Paying $2000 for him may turn
his head, but it won’t keep
his attention for too long.
"How about 'Mr.
Monk is Friggin’ Awesome'?"
take long for Monk to become disenchanted
with Marci when he learns she
forgot her neighbor had a lumber
yard. That’s probably not
the sort of thing that would have
slipped Natalie’s mind.
I particularly liked his weary,
“No, no more hugs.”
Her reaction to the “he’s
the guy” gives rise to a
rare display of exasperation on
Monk’s part: “Just
shut it” And moments later,
“There’s no hugging
during the ‘here’s
what happened.’” Natalie’s
right, now they can compare notes.
Marci’s over enthusiasm
has alerted Ringel.
the Captain’s evening seems
to be going well, but is his mind
truly on Linda? Apparently not.
The classic romantic strawberry
moment turns into a much more
interesting Stottlemeyer being
a good detective moment and the
date is cut short. After a call
to Natalie to get the facts, he
makes another call to interrupt
Disher’s game of Timber.
“Are you still playing that
stupid game?” I loved Randy’s
long pause. The comic pause isn’t
a new invention, but they’ve
just about perfected it on Monk.
lumber yard disenchantment becomes
a two way street when Marci discovers
she’s been shot. “This
is no fun anymore. Why did you
bring me here?” Apparently
knowing someone isn’t nearly
as much fun for Marci as stalking
them. She always has been fickle
though, just ask Brad Terry.
proves once again that she and
reality haven’t met yet
when she tries to “pause”
the scene and walk out past Ringel.
She does manage to thoroughly
confuse him for a moment or two,
before his killer instincts kick
in and he takes her hostage. Rather
then let Ringel shoot her, Monk
bravely gives himself up, which
fails to impress the now disillusioned
Marci. “I’m not his
girlfriend. I don’t even
like him anymore.” Maybe
if Monk had known all it would
take to dissuade her was a minor
gunshot wound, he could have tried
it years earlier.
the cavalry arrives just in the
nick of time: time Stottlemeyer,
Action NatalieTM and Randy “Mad
Skilz” Disher. You’ve
really got to be hardhearted or
a lumber freak not to cheer when
Randy saves the day with his new
found “Timber” talent.
Yes, strictly speaking physics
weren’t on his side, but
I think most of the audience was.
“Stupid game, huh?”
it when all the plot lines come
gotta say that the tag scene is
perhaps the funniest one they’ve
ever done. Did you notice that
the original theme plays during
the final scene. A tribute to
Marci, I guess, who has now set
her sights on a new celebrity.
Murray Abraham, the actor”
god have mercy on his soul.”
quite a shout out to for Tony
co-star. I hope he was flattered...
or at least flustered.)
favorite bit, even more that Natalie’s
bobblehead reenactment of the
episode, is Adrian pulling the
Natalie troll out of the box:
“Oh, hey, look it’s
was hard to beat, “Clue
hug, clue hug, clue hug!”
it. That’s all I got.
for this —