Fun Page Episode Review
you haven't seen the episode
yet and you'd like to
be surprised, it's probably
best to read no further.
Just bookmark this page
and come back when you're
may have come into "Mr.
Monk and the Secret Santa"
with heightened expectations.
I'd waited so long and
the reviews were so good
that I was expecting It's
a Wonderful Life, Miracle
on 34th Street, The
Grinch Who Stole Christmas
and A Charlie Brown
Christmas all rolled
into one Monk
episode. Instead, it was
something all its own:
not a holiday spectacle,
just a gently humorous
and sentimental, look
at contemporary Christmas
with a slightly homicidal
the episode wasn't their
idea (USA Network requested
it), I think the Monk
team handled it rather
Breckman is the credited
writer of the episode.
He also wrote or co-wrote
a dozen other episodes
including my favorite
"Mr. Monk Goes to
the Asylum" to which
I think this episode has
a couple of similarities.
David also has a new pilot
which he's developing
for USA network with Ross
Abrash who wrote "Mr.
Monk and the Employee
of the Month." It’s
intended to be a companion
show for Monk.
episode is directed by
Levine (no relation
to Ted) who has not only
directed a number of episodes,
but also played Kenny
Shale, Sharona's ambitious,
deputy mayor boyfriend
in "Mr. Monk and
the Twelfth Man"
who Mrs. Ling liked better
than Monk. I confess that
I've considered his directing,
which includes "Mr.
Monk Goes to the Office,"
"Mr. Monk Gets Stuck
in Traffic" and "Mr.
Monk Goes to Jail,"
rather pedestrian. However,
he really has done some
brilliant work with other
episodes like "Mr.
Monk and The Girl Who
Cried Wolf," "Mr.
Monk Gets Cabin Fever"
(the dueling summations!)
and now "Secret Santa."
Around the Christmas Tree
where'd they get the typewriter?
episode opens with a view
of the city skyline, featuring
the holiday lights of
Center and the Bay
Bridge at sunset. A beautiful
shot of San Francisco
always softens me up for
the rest of a Monk episode.
Rockin' Around the Christmas
Tree, the bouncy Brenda
Lee tune, plays as a gloved
hand injects a fake brand
of port with bubbly, nasty
killer wraps the bottle,
ties it with a beautiful
bow and tops it all off
with a candy cane. Then
the killer uses a vintage
Underwood Standard Master
Model typewriter circa
1947 to type a name on
the envelope. We only
see bits of the name at
this point, but we know
it's addressed to Captain
Stottlemeyer because we
all read the preview tag
line: When a detective
dies at the police department
Christmas party after
drinking from a poisoned
port intended for Captain
Stottlemeyer, can Monk
find the killer? (What
kind of question is that?
It wouldn't be much of
a show if he couldn't.)
So I'm thinking, wow,
a vintage Underwood Standard
Master Model typewriter
circa 1947! That's got
to be a clue!
a suspenseful yet economical
sequence, we follow the
bottle to Alice's desk,
right outside Captain
Stottlemeyer's door. Alice
doesn't even glance at
it, but the camera zooms
in for a close-up and
again I'm thinking that
the typewriter will trip
up the killer because
some of the keys are worn
down producing partial
letters. That's easy to
trace, right? Maybe not,
but it was good enough
evidence for the old school
think it would be nice
for Stottlemeyer to get
some much needed office
help and a person of the
female persuasion around
the squad room. Too bad
Alice won't quite fit
Monk is coming"
fade back in on the bottle
(so the suspense can continue
to build) and Detective
Terry Chasen in the background
hanging the "Merry
Some people may have been
surprised by who the killer
was, but I bet everyone
had him pegged for the
victim from the get go.
Chasen) also appeared
in "Mr. Monk Goes
to Vegas" and "Mr.
Monk Goes to the
as, at the time, an unnamed
detective. On both previous
occasions he was rather
uncool with Monk. Chasen's
reaction of "Aw, hell!"
upon learning that Adrian
would be attending the party
irritated me a bit, too.
I'm not going to miss this
guy. I always appreciate
Stottlemeyer's effort to
accommodate Monk, in this
case by seeing that the
banner is hung correctly.
appears efficient and
she blends in well in
her cop uniform. I wouldn't
have suspected her at
this point if I hadn't
known all along. She gives
the Captain the message
from his wife "She
said her mother's sick
and she won't be able
to make it tonight."
mother's...? Well, that's
tone, and his briefly
convey that he doesn't
believe Karen's mother
is sick, that he knows
she doesn't want to come
to the party and that
they're probably having
He tries to cover up his
disappointment and his
tone with Alice changes,
not exactly flirtatious,
but friendlier. "You
looking forward to our
little party, Alice?"
Terry in his boxer shorts
Alice does a pretty good
job of looking disinterested,
(of course if the Captain
were standing by my desk
smiling I probably wouldn't
give Chasen, or any other
man, a second thought
either) but it's at this
point that she hands Stottlemeyer
the poisoned port. That
little "Help me,
probably steeled her resolve.
Randy Disher Project
may sing better than Stottlemeyer
but his guitar playing
is not as good. (Yes,
I think that was really
Ted playing.) Of course,
he was "just tuning
a nice guitar," he
tells the Captain. "It's
Karen's," says Stottlemeyer.
And there's an edge to
his voice that indicates
he's still a bit upset
isn't going to be there.
Randy offers to jam and
reveals that "I used
to have a rock band back
in high school: The Randy
a good name how'd you
come up with that?"
says Stottlemeyer with
a perfectly straight face.
The teasing seems lost
on Randy. Does he think
the Captain has never
The Alan Parsons Project?
"My name's Randy...Disher
and then project."
This won't be the last
we hear of The Randy Disher
Project by the way. It's
going to crop up later
in season 4.5. and I think
it's great that they lay
the foundation here.
the Disher Stottlemeyer
stuff seems more substantial
to me than the Julie-Monk-Natalie
sequences. Also they kick
up the suspense a notch
when Randy grabs the deadly
bottle. "I love port."
He loves port. He sings,
he wears jeans and he
has TiVo. I may be falling
in love with Randy.
think I'll take it home
to Karen," says Stottlemeyer.
A peace offering, perhaps?
In any case, he puts his
foot down: "Randy,
I'm taking it home."
At this point Alice's
plan could so easily have
gone wrong and Randy could
have been the victim.
Bad Alice! Brilliant maybe,
but not very careful.
Randy also narrowly escaped
death by Neptune Bar in
"Mr. Monk Goes Home
Again" and demonstrated
the same reluctance to
give up the contaminated
candy. Randy must have
a guardian angel. Oh wait...
He's the plucky comic
relief. Thank goodness,
it's still beautiful"
visual joke of the half
decorated Christmas tree
is amusing, but the impact
was spoiled for me by
having seen the promo
so often. (The official
site is set as my home
page, so I must have seen
it 100 times.) "Is
it beautiful? Snow?"
Julie asks suddenly revealing
a hitherto fore hidden
obsession with the common
never seen snow? Oh, it's
very beautiful. No two
flakes are the same, but
somehow it's still beautiful."
It was a perfectly written
line with a perfect delivery:
so thoughtful, poignant,
amusing. So Monk. Bravo.
next bit, however, seems
a little awkward when
Natalie asks Julie if
she's okay with Mr. Monk
being there. Is Monk staying
with them? Or does she
mean just because he's
there for the tree trimming?
Perhaps that was previously
a special mother-daughter
time? It's still a strange
question to ask Julie
as they're about to walk
out the door. Why should
Julie mind if Monk's there
when he'll be gone in
a moment anyway?
brings in Trudy's gift
to let us know what a
sad time the holidays
can be for him. “You
never open it." "Nope."
But Monk is getting a
little happiness this
Christmas, not only from
his memory of Trudy, but
from sharing this holiday
with his friends. "It's
going to be a great party;
I'm not completely dreading
zoom in past the Happy
Holidays sign and follow
the conga line through
the Captain's office as
a jazzy version of Deck
the Halls plays. Natalie
boogies over to Disher
and admires his sweater.
Clearly she's already
spotted the guy in the
identical sweater and
she's ready to play her
little joke on Randy.
She continues her cute
little dance while he
explains the sweater's
dubious origins. Then
she dances away and returns
Detective, as he's
called in the credits.
He sure makes the most
of his two word line:
"Wal-Mart, 15 dollars."
Wal-Mart is a Monk sponsor.
So the writers worked
in the product placement,
while at the same time
sort of slamming Wal-Mart
and writing a very amusing
scene. Yes, Randy's feelings
were a bit hurt, but Natalie
makes up for it with one
of her special Christmas
idea of a great party
is arranging the beautifully
decorated cookies. Adrian's
frank discussion with
Alice is sad and funny
and tactless, especially
in light of how bad (and
murderous) she feels about
being alone. He compounds
his faux pas with "for
people our age."
Her expression is priceless.
Harris does a pretty
good job of making me
sympathize with Alice.
opening shot of this scene,
as the camera pans around
Monk and eventually comes
to rest on Stottlemeyer
singing, is breathtaking.
What's Monk looking at
or thinking about? I'm
guessing Trudy. Probably
the last time he was at
a Christmas party was
when Trudy was alive.
When he turns around to
watch Stottlemeyer singing
it's as if he's coming
out of a trance.
and Natalie look fondly at
Alice as she mouths the words
to the song. If only they
knew how totally unimbued
she is with the Christmas
spirit. Stottlemeyer also
seems to gaze at Alice as
he sings the song, but maybe
that's just the way it's cut.
pauses to remember the words.
"And yonder breaks....
a new and glorious morning."
It's just such a nice touch.
It's Stottlemeyer singing,
not Ted Levine, all in character
as he stumbles over the words
and doesn't hit all the notes.
For a minute there as Randy
comes in with the harmony,
it's really quite beautiful.
remember the Bing
Crosby/David Bowie duet
of Little Drummer Boy? That's
what this reminded me of with
the contrasting styles. Randy
is also very much in character
as he sings. And by the way
he has really cute hands.
reaction is so perfect with
that sweet smile of his and
tears glistening in his eyes.
It was quite a moment. "That
was great," Stottlemeyer
tells Disher. And it was.
of Alice's Good Will Towards
Men has apparently been sucked
out by one man in particular.
She doesn't hesitate to go ahead
with the murder plot against
him, announcing that it's Secret
and Disher Sing O Holy Night
is so eager to give Stottlemeyer his gift
and as with Benjy in "Mr. Monk and
the Sleeping Suspect" Monk can't wait
for Stott to open it. He just tells him
what it is. "It's an air purifier,
for your house." He gets a similarly
unenthusiastic response, but it's nice to
see the special affectionate knuckle knock
again. "Do you know what eBay is?"
asks Stottlemeyer. (Ooo, Oooo I know: a
new corporate sponsor.) "Ebay? No,"
replies Monk. "Good." The implication
being that Stottlemeyer intends to sell
the air purifier on eBay at the first opportunity.
Once again a neat and amusing way to work
in the product placement, but the Captain's
probably better off just exchanging it.
tells Adrian "I'm your Secret Santa."
If you didn't already know, that should
have been a big clue that she was the culprit.
After all it's called "Mr. Monk and
the Secret Santa." She's even in the
title. And she literally hands him the first
clue. The card folded to go into the envelope
that's too small. "It's a funny card,”
Monk observes. “You can tell by the
explanation points." As he opens it
Stottlemeyer peers over his shoulder saying
"What'd you get?" and then mouths
something to Alice when he sees Monk's reaction.
I think it was something like 'I told you
he'd love it.' My impression was that he
advised Alice on what to get Monk. And his
little chuckle seems to confirm it.
The Sock Monkey
needs a better agent
scene where Stottlemeyer looks for his gift
is where I thought the Sock Monkey might
be making an appearance, but he was apparently
off at the invitation only Sock Monkey Christmas
Ball and the only appearance he makes is
on the back of Randy's (and Sweater Detective’s)
sweater. [The Sock Monkey guest-starred
in season three's "Mr. Monk and the
Panic Room." He was used by Stottlemeyer
during his interrogation of Darwin the chimp.
The Sock Monkey also popped up in a subsequent
episode, ("Mr. Monk Gets Fired")
behind Stottlemeyer's desk. I had hopes,
since the Captain's desk was featured in
"Secret Santa," that the Sock
Monkey would make another appearance, but
that didn't happen.] After drawing
my attention to the sock monkey's absence,
Alice suggests the bottle of port. This
means of course, if you've already deduced
it's Alice, than you can also deduce that
Chasen is the intended victim. Stottlemeyer
gives the unfortunate detective the last
Christmas present he'll ever get.
camera pans through the party past a smooching
couple (seriously, get a room already) and
a token Menorah.
Chasen pours himself a cup of port and doesn't
even offer it to anybody else. (Miss Manners
says if you don't know you're bottle of
hooch is poisoned you should offer to share
with other party goers. Of course a half
dozen dead bodies would have made for a
pretty depressing holiday.) Randy cuts in
on Sweater Detective who is fondling said
sweater and attempting to chat up the girl
with the tight, unseasonably low cut blouse.
Randy gives Sweater Detective an adorably
mischievous look as he hands the young lady
a drink. Monk is already making good use
of his whisk broom by dusting off Natalie.
In the background Chasen does a spit take
and a great swan dive into the snack table.
It was really a very well done death scene.
They did their homework on the effects of
strychnine, which is characterized by
powerful and extremely painful convulsions,
there being no impairment of cognitive or
sensory function. Death occurs as a result
of respiratory arrest, due to spasm and
paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Symptoms
usually begin within about 20 minutes of
ingestion of the poison.
The lethal dose
is about 5mg/kg body-weight, in other
words about 350mg for an adult. The wide
open eyes and the onset of rigor mortis
almost immediately following death are
also indications of strychnine poisoning.
That's one of the funnest parts of
writing mysteries, researching poisons.
(By the way, I have a great book called
which I bet the Monk writers also own.)
Randy, as usual, is quick
to react, but it's too late for Chasen.
Stottlemeyer picks up the bottle of port.
Monk stands by with a horrified look on
his face. Perhaps the "Prince of
Darkness" phrase is running though
his head and he's worried that people
will stop inviting him to parties.
We're sixteen minutes
into the episode, before the murder occurs.
Usually, of course, it's in the teaser.
I think since this was a special Christmas
episode they wanted to give it a different
feel. The only other episode which I can
recall where we have to wait that long
for the mystery is "Mr. Monk Goes
to the Asylum,"
one of my favorites and also written by
I like the leisurely
pacing, which gives so much time for character
development and holiday cheer, yet still
delivers an effective little mystery.
but for the grace of God"
a little prompting Disher delivers the
gruesome news: "Poison, some kind
of strychnine. Simple, effective, anybody
could have made it." (Especially
a cookie baking whiz like Alice.) So the
Captain asks "Couldn't he have tasted
it?" Good question. "Port's
a pretty heavy drink, isn't it?"
Monk asks the only ex-bartender in the
room. "It's really strong,"
Natalie says very somberly. "He wouldn't
have tasted it in that," Monk speculates.
I beg to differ. Port,
a fortified wine, may be heavy, but it's
also quite sweet. Strychnine is extremely
bitter and it would significantly change
the taste of the port. Of course, Chasen
may have noted that it tasted funny, but
continued to drink it. Or he could have
stopped drinking it after having already
ingested a fatal dose. However, I think,
if I were Alice, I would have used a cheap
brandy rather than a port. To each her
own, of course. I guess it got the job
done.This was meant for me," Stottlemeyer
says, obviously feeling pretty guilty.
"There but for the grace of God,"
Disher comments, which may seem inane
when applied to the Captain's situation,
but it works pretty well if you think
in terms of how close Randy came to drinking
the stuff himself.
I'm sorry," says Natalie. "He
was only 38 years old. Was he married?"
Okay, Natalie, that's starting to irritate
me. She asked the same thing about the
murder victim in "Mr. Monk Goes Home
Again." You know, those of us who
are single would like to think that our
lives are also valuable. Stottlemeyer
informs us that Terry Chasen had a wife,
with whom he recently reconciled, and
(just in case that’s not tragic
enough for Natalie) twins.
Cue Alice, who brings
in the coffee and confesses it was her
idea for the gift exchange. "Alice
you can't blame yourself." Yes, yes
she can, but I think she really blames
Terry. Detective Robbins (Dylan
White) enters the investigation. He's
another one of those well drawn smaller
characters that the Monk writers do so
well. In fact I was so impressed that
I dropped Dylan an email and he has now
agreed to do an interview for the website,
which I hope to have up shortly.
"Whoever sent it
knew you did business with them,"
says Natalie. "That narrows it down,
right?" It wasn't helpful in this
case, but she's getting to be quite the
little detective, isn't she?
though there are other suspects, the Captain
already has a theory: "It was Frank
Prager." Disher, in one of his take
charge moods, wants to pick his team to
investigate the other leads. “I’ll
take Monk," he says after careful and
unnecessary consideration. I enjoyed Adrian's
enthusiastic and childlike reaction to being
picked first and I loved Stott pulling him
over to his team. "No, I'll take Monk."
I'm sure being picked first was not a frequent
experience for Monk growing up. Can anyone
tell me if this abhorrent team picking process
is still practiced in schools? It's a cruel
thing to do to a child and a cruel thing
to do to wide-eyed Detective Robbins, who
waits on the sidelines as he's passed over
in favor of amateurs. Stottlemeyer says
that they'll meet back there at noon. It's
already light out, so they've been up all
recounts his near death experience: "Four
months ago, it was a Tuesday night, I came
out of the bar 2:00am. They took my keys.
So I'm walking home. I was alone. I was
pretty toasted." I could be wrong but
a married man usually doesn't go out drinking
alone on a weeknight and get so toasted
they take his keys and make him walk home,
unless he's got a problem. It's another
indication that the Stottlemeyer marriage
might be going through a rough patch. Again
it's very nice to see them laying the ground
work for a future episode. That's how continuity
on why Prager missed him is pretty weak.
"Maybe he was as toasted as I was.
Maybe it was a miracle." "Maybe
it was," says Monk, but he's doubtful.
He has a hard time believing in miracles.
He turns his attention to the bullet holes
that are still adding mystique to The
Spot. "Two, one, two," he says
looking at the pattern. The viewer is
deliberately misdirected. If you're focused
on Monk, as most audience members are,
you're going to try to make it fit the
pattern he suggests: "2-1-2."
not very good at stake outs, but at least
she doesn't bring her boyfriends along.
"Natalie this is a stake out. You never
know how long. That's what makes a stake
out so much fun." Now we know. After
a quick game of twenty questions, Natalie
asks Monk what he wants for Christmas. "A
miracle," he says. Again her dialogue
seems awkward in this scene. You know how
some people start a discussion by asking
you what you think when they really just
want the opportunity to tell you what they
think? Well, Natalie's one of those people.
The natural thing to do would be to find
out what Monk meant by saying he wanted
a miracle for Christmas. Is he thinking
about Trudy, solving the case, an AIDS vaccine,
the end of the Iraq war, what? Natalie simply
doesn't care; she just wanted a chance to
natter on about Julie's snow obsession.
Tahoe's not that far. You've got an SUV,
go show her snow.
hasn't snowed in San Francisco for nine
years. The last time it snowed was the day
Trudy died." Monk tells Natalie. I
hate to question Adrian's arithmetic, but
Trudy died in 1997 according to her headstone
and in November according to the coroner's
report on her murder. That would make it
just over eight years ago. So Trudy died
either 8 or 9 years ago when she was 34
or 35 years old after graduating from high
school when she was 15 or 16 or 17. Aaack!
They're messin' with us. They know we're
trying to keep track. Also it may have been
snowing in Monkland the day Trudy died,
but we haven't had any measurable
snowfall in San Francisco since 1976.
There was a dusting of snow in December
of 1998. I remember it fell in big fluffy
flakes for an hour or so, but it didn't
caroling scene seemed vaguely reminiscent
of the "kissing fern" scene in
"Mr. Monk Gets Drunk" to me. As
a cover story the caroling idea was pretty
good and they probably picked Silent Night
because they both knew the words. So where'd
they get the candles? When Monk mentions
that his candle is dripping and Natalie
tells him it's supposed to, the first thing
I thought of was the candle "continuity
error" in "Mr. Monk Vs. The Cobra."
I think they may be slyly alluding to it
here. And speaking of sly allusions didn't
Monk's references to "creative differences"
and "we wish them well" remind
anyone else of the rhetoric at the time
of Bitty's departure?
That Be said: "Monk has decided to
go in a different creative direction."
Bitty's People said: "She wishes
everyone connected with the show continued
Charlotte Prager (Michelle
Azar) is pretty trusting, letting
a stranger use her bathroom and leaving
an even stranger stranger alone with her
daughter. Monk gets his chance to talk
to Dori and he lies like an old pro: “How
do you know my name?” she asks.
“Your Daddy told me." Apparently
lying is just not that big of a problem
for him. Of course, it's pretty easy to
lie to children.
that it's horrible doesn't bother you?"
people have forgotten the true meaning of
is leaving me alone." Bwaahaha. Good
one. I'm with Monk. Thank goodness they
invented the internet so I never have to
go to a mall during the Christmas season
again. Natalie, however, loves it. (I think
there's a good chance Natalie's a masochist.)
At the mall, she recognizes her old boss
whose karmic punishment for having once
sexually harassed her is an eternity working
there. "How many jobs have you had?"
Monk wants to know. I think her mother said
it was 17. In any case, the guy "owes
her a favor" and Natalie's ready to
She makes an adorable
elf (and elf is really her basic job description,
isn't it?) I myself think she's prettier
with darker hair and big pointy ears.
She announces Santa's arrival and Monk
reaches out to lightly touch an ornament.
It is almost magical. I can only assume
that he was told the Santa suit was brand
new or he would never have put it on.
It does look brand new (and no doubt it
was in real life.) I like the tentative
steps up to Santa's chair and the lame
"ho, ho, ho."
I also like Natalie's
explanation to the kids. "Magic wipes.
Yeah, wiping is fun!"
| Monk lays a
finger aside of his nose in a very Santa like
gesture, but in this case it means "No
touching Santa's face. And try not to breathe
on Santa. And Santa's not always jolly, sometimes
Santa's a little bit sad." It's a good
thing she warned them. Bring on the kids (most
of them making their screen debuts): the squirmer,
the kisser, the cougher and the rock polisher
("You're Santa's favorite.") with
his little sweater and his little shirt buttoned
all the way up.
the cutest of all is little Trudy. "Are
you okay?" she asks when she sees that
Santa is indeed a "little bit sad."
Yes, it's totally inappropriate of Monk
to tell a five year old about his wife's
violent death (somehow the bomb is now under
the passenger seat. Makes more sense really.
If it was under the driver's seat there
wouldn't be enough left of Trudy to mutter
"bread and butter.") They can't
just leave it right there, so they have
little Trudy (Hannah
Contrucci) give him a great big hug.
Awwww. Perfect. "Okay, you're done,"
he says tearfully. "Ho, ho, ho."
When he gets little Dori
on his lap he's a whole different Santa.
Now he's doing his job and he's perfectly
at ease, with just the right Santa tone.
He's also not in the least bit tentative
as he darts off Santa's platform to chase
Frank Prager through a crowded Mall.
not taking any chances with Prager. They've
got an army outside the Church of the Three
Ladies, but they're no match for the one
nun inside the church. Sister Heather (Clare
Carey). Randy's right, she has a "nunny
quality" She's straight out of The
Bells of St. Mary's or The
Sound of Music. "My father
once taught me an important lesson,”
She says. “There is no revenge so
complete as forgiveness." (If he did
he stole it from the original author of
the phrase, 19th century American
humorist Josh Billings who also said,
among tons of other stuff, "As scarce
as truth is, the supply has always been
in excess of the demand.")
your father, too," Sister Heather tells
Stottlemeyer. Darn, it's hard to argue with
a nun. So apparently they end up taking
Frank Prager in without the aid of a sniper.
The interrogation of
Frank Prager doesn't yield much, except
a nice compliment for Monk ("best
detective in the free world") and
the realization that Frank Prager has
been watching too much Sesame Street
with his daughter... This assault was
brought to you by the letter M. "M
for Michael." Well, Stottlemeyer
doesn't "need an M. No cop does."
Meanwhile Natalie has a good cry over
Prager's journal and once he's taken away
Stottlemeyer admits, "He's not the
guy." Now, Monk is the one who's
all business: "Okay, moving on."
The whole group is very much in sync in
this scene, but they're fresh out of leads.
to Christmas day. Julie's finished decorating
the tree and now she's decorating people.
Monk gives her a gift and for once he doesn't
tell the recipient what it is before it’s
opened: the Cadillac of first aid kits.
Doesn't anyone teach their kids to act as
if they appreciate their gifts? Julie and
Natalie give Monk a goldfish.
I guess he really doesn't pay her much.
"It's a living thing," he says.
"Is it going to die?" If you keep
it in that bowl it will and the proper aquarium
is going to cost a whole lot more than the
"Not for a long, long, long time,"
Natalie tells him. I get the feeling she's
going to have two fish she'll be replacing
on a regular basis. Julie spills the fish
food. Monk jumps up to get the whisk broom
and finds the card. Finally it clicks.
takes the time to change her blouse and
they all show up at Alice's. "Merry
Christmas, Alice," says Stottlemeyer.
He likes irony. The whole gang joins in
on the summation. When Disher reveals that
Alice and Chasen had been involved for six
months she quickly and bitterly jumps in
to correct him: "Seven, seven months."
know I don't drink Port," Stottlemeyer
tells her. I wonder how that came up at
the office. Monk finishes the summation:
"It was like a magician doing sleight
of hand you had everybody looking the wrong
way." He concludes with an almost admiring,
"It was brilliant." Ding! The
cookies are ready. Being accused of murder
is important, but sugar
cookies burn easily. You have to pull
them out right away. I think they all realize
at that moment that Alice is a little insane.
Stottlemeyer follows her into the kitchen
motioning to the others to wait and speaks
to her gently. "Alice, where is the
poison?" "It's in the basement,"
she tells him as the others come in. That's
right, with the typewriter. Don't forget
the typewriter. "How'd you know?"
She asks. |
|Monk shows her
the card. "It came with the whisk broom,
which by the way I've been using. It really
is fantastic." That particular line also
reminded me of "Asylum" when Monk
tells Dr. Lancaster, "You really were
the best doctor I ever had."
you mixed them up," he tells her. "I
mixed them up. I'm usually so organized,"
Alice replies. Come on, she knew that card
was going to Adrian Monk. She must have
wanted to be caught. She throws down the
cookie sheet. "I just couldn't live
without him." Stottlemeyer and Disher
exchange a look. They're probably thinking,
that doesn't make any sense. Hardly any
really. I guess there's no use expecting
a killer to be honest, but I think what
she meant was, "If I couldn't have
him, no one could." The original script
had Alice the poisoner offering them all
cookies. I think this conclusion was a little
better, a little darker. And I think we've
all had another reminder that office romance
is a bad idea.
Town of Bethlehem plays in the background
as Stottlemeyer hands Prager back to his
family demonstrating his grasp of forgiveness
and the true meaning of the holiday. I guess.
I don't know, but it was a nice thing to
do and Stottlemeyer feels good about it.
back at Natalie's "Aren't you curious?"
she asks as Monk examines the little green
box. "No, I love not knowing."
I understand why he can't open it. It would
sever his Christmas connection with Trudy,
his coping mechanism for the Holidays. I
think it's similar to the reason he hasn't
solved her murder. Once he does, subconsciously
at least, he thinks he'll lose her forever.
giggling like she's been at the port, runs
past them outside into the falling snow,
which we all knew was coming because it's
in the freaking promo. They might want to
leave us with one or two surprises. Otis
Redding's version of White Christmas plays.
Natalie is nearly as excited as Julie and
gives Monk a Christmas kiss. He reaches
up to wipe it away, but doesn't. He steps
out into snow, twirling, gazing upward,
accepting it as Trudy's gift to him and
his own Christmas miracle.
poem inspired by "Mr. Monk
and the Secret Santa"
met in late green summer
and knew right from the start
we’d found the pieces
from each one of our hearts.
Christmas snows soft falling,
before her down I knelt.
No fear, no hesitation—
I said just what I felt.
my hand a box, too small to
my life, my love, my heart,
yet filled with these and
one more thing—
a question, a promise, a delicate
married in bright springtime.
The whole world seemed as
We loved without the knowledge
her years would be so few.
She died in late brown autumn.
On cold dead leaves I knelt,
far past the point of living
and numb to what I felt.
my feet a box, too small to
my life, my love, my heart,
yet she was there; she lay
I’d kissed her cold
lips, smoothed her hair, touched
seasons passed like clockwork
though time became unreal
and while my heart kept beating,
I knew it would not heal.
found her gift in winter,
as in despair I knelt,
all wrapped in green like
and I realized I felt.
my hands a box, too small
her life, her love, her heart,
yet filled with these and
all good things—
her care, her joy, our love
and the Secret Santa
are a few more pictures from "Mr.
Monk and the Secret Santa,"
on December 2nd 2005.
on images above for larger images. Pictured:
Jason Gray-Stanford as Randall Disher,
Ted Levine as Leland Stottlemeyer, Rachel
Harris as Alice Westergren, Tony Shalhoub
as Adrian Monk, Traylor Howard as Natalie
Teeger -- NBC Universal Photo: Michael
the USA Network Ad
How did you get the role
I'd met the casting
director once before at a general reading.
He liked me and called me in for a different
episode which I didn't get. But he called
me back for "Mr. Monk and the Secret
Santa" which I'm very happy about,
not only because of the work but, well,
the part was bigger than what I was first
called in for.
you prepare to play Det. Robbins? What did
you think of the character?
really much time to prepare. I was on set
two days after I got the job. As for the
character, I liked him. I liked that he
seems to already have a history with the
main characters, particularly Disher and
Stottlemeyer. I just hope to have the opportunity
to come back and play some of that out.
the atmosphere on the set like? Relaxed?
think comfortable is the best word. Everyone
is very generous and open and professional.
They - and by "they" I mean the
cast AND crew - all made me feel very welcome
and part of the team.
did your scene take to shoot?
scene didn't take that long at all really,
which was impressive considering the number
of angles they set up. Everyone is very
much on their game and everything seems
to work quite smoothly on that set.
with the entire cast: what was your impression
of each of them?
wish I had the opportunity to get to know
each of them better personally. But they
are all very gracious actors - everyone
is very invested in the success of the show
and I was honored that there were moments
when they even asked for my input on things.
was the director of the episode: what was
he like to work with?
is very easy to work with. I'm sure that
comes from his previous experience on the
show as well as his experience both behind
and in front of the camera. He seems to
come from a place of knowing how he wants
a scene to work and at the same time is
both open to suggestion and open to allowing
things to just happen organically and then
bringing it all together.
seems like the kind of character they could
bring back. If they did what would you like
to do with the character?
like to see what Robbins' relationship is
with Disher and Stottlemeyer. I mean, why
didn't Disher pick him? Of course it was
funny, but maybe there's more there. Do
Robbins and Disher compete for Stottlemeyer's
attention or approval? Is Robbins the desk
detective while Disher gets to go out in
the field and is there some animosity there?
Robbins seems to know Monk and Natalie as
well. Maybe Robbins aspires to be like Monk.
Maybe Robbins has some not-so-neat habits
that make Monk queasy. Maybe Robbins has
a secret crush on Natalie and thinks Natalie
pays more attention to Disher. Who knows?
Whatever they come up with, I know it'd
be fun to play.
watch the show before you got the role?
yes. I've watched the show since the first
season and have always enjoyed it, which
made it that much more exciting to get to
be a part of it.
of you own?
nothing to fear but fear itself. Although
I will admit I have overcome a mild case
of OCD - I used to have this thing about
checking and rechecking locks. I'm much
better about that now.
you enjoy most about acting? And least?
Acting is playing.
It allows me to put myself in situations I
probably would not otherwise be in and then
finding out how I respond - and then getting
a response from an audience or a viewer. It's
like a flow of energy.
for least - you've heard the expression
"Hurry up and wait." There's a
lot of that. Lots and lots of waiting around
and prep time for only a few moments of
speaking, what’s the one thing you’d
most like to do that you haven’t done
wish I could narrow it down to one for ya.
There are SO many things I want to do, so
I guess the ONE thing I would most like
is the opportunity to do them all!
currently appearing as the Genie in the
Aladdin stage show at Disney, right? What’s
that like? How does the stage acting compare
stage can be a lot like TV given the right
material and venue. But c'mon, I play a
blue genie in a 2,000 seat theater. I would
have to say - at least as far as this gig
goes, I'm a lot more over-the-top on stage.
give me a little information about your
background. Where you’re from? How
you got into acting? Were you named after
the singer or the poet?
I'm a rare breed - a native Southern Californian.
I got into acting when I was in Kindergarten
and played George Washington in a class
presentation. I loved being in front of
an audience so much, I did it every chance
I got. I'm very grateful to be making a
living doing what I love. As for my name,
I was allegedly not named after either,
but if I were, knowing my folks, it'd have
been the poet.
next on your agenda?
still contracted at Disney for a while so
that's nice. I have nothing else solid as
of yet, so I just hope to continue auditioning
- and booking work - to build more of a
name for myself in the industry, build my
resume, and generate enough buzz so that
eventually work will find me instead of
the other way around. And if that includes
coming back to Monk - I'm all for it!
know how old Jason Gray-Stanford is?
don't. And if I did, I don't know him well
enough yet to share.
official site for more information.