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Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding I looked for Hitchcock parallels in this episode. Suspicion? No. Rebecca? No. Rich and Strange? No, not that either: the title may apply to Natalie's family, but the plot's not at all the same. Finally, it hit me. It's not a Hitchcock film at all: it's Addams Family Values (in which, coincidentally, Tony Shalhoub has a tiny part.) Has everyone else seen this film? It's extremely funny and so is this episode, which is the first thing they have in common.

"Mr Monk Goes to a Wedding" had more laugh-out-loud moments for me than any other episode this season. For those who are looking for still more depth in Natalie's character here it is on a silver platter… or is that a silver spoon. The contributions by all the supporting cast were stellar. Tony Shalhoub has no problem sharing the spotlight with them and the result is a very satisfying episode.

This is the first episode this season where the question "Is this a new writer?" could get a "Yes!" answer. At least she's new to Monk. Liz Sagal wrote this one. I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with Liz, but I am. I remember her more as an actress than a writer, however. All you older folks cast your minds back to the early 80s and try to recall a short lived series called Double Trouble. Any luck? It only ran 22 episodes. It starred Liz Sagal and her twin sister Jean Sagal. I'm sure almost everyone has heard of their older sister Katey Sagal (Peg Bundy on Married with Children, 8 Simple Rules.) The twins now work behind the cameras. Liz Sagal was one of the writers for Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place which starred Traylor Howard. So it's really no surprise that Natalie is front and center in this one.

This episode is directed by Tony Palmieri who also directed "Mr. Monk Vs. the Cobra." If I'm not mistaken, that was Mr. Palmieri's directing debut. He had previously worked on Monk (and many other shows) as a cinematographer.

Photography is a Dying Art

It's been a while since we've seen a classic closed mystery set-up (a whodunit) like this one on Monk. Wait, no… "Stays in Bed" was that type of mystery… and so was "Mr. Monk Goes to the Office." Oh, well. So for those who prefer this type to the open, howcatchem, Columbo type mystery, here you go.

I enjoyed the exterior shots of the resort throughout the episode. If anyone on the production staff is reading this, please end the debate and let us know where it was filmed. Looks to me like the Inn at Spanish Bay on Pebble Beach, but I can't be sure. The photographer, played by [url=""]Ryan Bollman[/url], is a pretty obvious murder target. He's sort of sleazy, with an ill-fitting suit. Those types never make it past the teaser. (Did he remind anyone else of a young Richard Dreyfuss? Nah, that's probably just me.) So the guy's a blackmailer and not a very good one. How could he fall for that old cell-phone-on-the-bench-by-the-mud-bath trick? It just goes to show you that blackmailing a killer almost always ends badly. The Birthday Cake "Spittle Shield" Hey, I thought it was a good idea, too… at first. And for a moment there Monk got to bask in the warmth of the Captain's approval. A much longer moment than one might think, because Disher has a reeeaaaalllllly long birthday wish. (I'm guessing Sharona wasn't in it and it wasn't a pie.) It was such a nice twist drawing it out like that with Randy, since it's usually Monk who does that sort of thing. The cake fire is unexpected and hilarious. I noticed that Monk hides behind Natalie, in contrast to his behavior in the final scene when he shields Julie from the killer. Stottlemeyer handles the minor emergency with a cool head, which also contrasts with the later scenes at the hotel where he's not very cool at all. After the fire, I hope everyone was listening carefully to what seemed like an ordinary rambling speech of Disher's, in which he reveals the vital clue that he went to Temple University in Philadelphia. So who is this Roger guy who stands up Natalie because of a measly little appendix operation? Did he have the same separate room deal as Randy got? Or is he one of the reasons she carries around the "special" tic tacs? I suppose that Natalie doesn't usually let Monk meet her dates. Wise decision. I loved Monk's response to Natalie's distress. "Is there anything I can do… that wouldn't inconvenience me?" I wrote that one down. I'm going to use it. (I see that TV Gal at [url =",1002,276|97098|1|,00.html][/url] has also picked up on this one as a "quote of the week"!) And what are the nine reasons Monk doesn't want to go to a wedding? Was the garter belt one of them or is that reason 10 now? I trust that Natalie was really just teasing Disher when she failed to acknowledge his offer to escort her, but, on the other hand, he was eating the recently burned and doused cake when he made the offer. Maybe it was wise to think twice before accepting. In a scene filled with laughs my favorite was Randy's response to separate rooms: "I should think so!" Whose theory was it that Natalie wanted to take a "bad boy" to the wedding to irritate her parents and Disher just didn't fit the bill as well as the cute B&E suspect might have? That's a good theory. So now we know Nat's full name: Natalie Jane Davenport Teeger. Hmmm and she's a toothpaste heiress (or rather, an ex-toothpaste heiress.) "This doesn't change anything, does it?" She asks. Maybe not, but it does explain why she can't make do on a military widow's income. Mystery solved. Despite the cake mishap and Natalie's somewhat reluctant invitation, this scene gives me a warm, fuzzy, family feeling which is decidedly lacking when we meet Natalie's real family in the next scene. "What time is it?" I don't watch much network TV, so I haven't seen much of [url= ""] Holland Taylor[/url] over the past decade, although I did see and like her in Legally Blonde. I was, however, a fan of Bosom Buddies (yes, I know I'm dating myself again) in which she played a similar role. I understand she has a 2005 Emmy nomination for her current role on Two and a Half Men. She's a real pro. She must be, because I really hated her here as Natalie's mother, Peggy Davenport. I sympathized with Karen, the luckless wedding planner, who should be in line for sainthood right behind Trudy Monk. (That reminds me once again of what a great job they do casting even the minor roles on Monk.) It's amazing Natalie turned out to be as nice as she is. I can't imagine where she gets it from. Again they managed to surprise me with the twist in the scene where Randy meets her parents and then so quickly tries to use her escape signal himself. Her father really was terribly rude to him, considering Disher's a guest doing his level best to suck up. I don't like Natalie's Dad much either. I guess they're nice to Julie and baby sit on request, but I can't think of much else in her parents favor. Next we get a brief, effective glimpse of the killer pilfering Aunt Madge's keys and reminding us danger is lurking. We also have Natalie clearly defining her job title: "I'm an assistant to a private investigator" and her mother doing her best to make her feel like dirt. Natalie sure wasn't exaggerating on that point. I actually have had at least 17 jobs, but my mother would never speak that way to me. (Reminder to self: call Mom and tell her how cool she is.) Despite the fact that they got off on the wrong foot, Disher still seems eager to please and he and Peggy seem to be hitting it off. So Daddy had Theresa checked out, did he? Who'd he use, Marty Eels? Well, now he knows where to find a competent private investigator if he needs to check out any other fiancées. Maybe Natalie will get him a family discount. "You know who had a great wedding…" As one of my friends pointed out about Stottlemeyer while watching this scene, "He is a [u]real[/u] friend." The single best part of Monk, for me, is the way the relationship has progressed between these two characters. It's a beautiful thing and kudos to Liz Sagal for capturing that chemistry so well on her first time out. It's a sign of how close they've become that Stottlemeyer knows exactly where to find the wedding album. I think it was on the season 3 DVD extras, where Ted Levine mentions those "perfect moments" that make acting worthwhile. I think Stottlemeyer's line, "That was you, Monk, and no I have not," was one of those moments. It's a little harsh on the audience, emotionally, to go right into the next scene where Disher is brutally run down, but it gives the scene a lot of impact. No pun intended…really. "Yeah, painkillers" Randy really may be "Da Man." That was mighty impressive that he managed to get the make, color and license plate number, not as impressive as it would have been if the car had left the scene, but still, not many other people could do it I'd wager… except Monk, of course. Stottlemeyer must drive even faster than Trudy. That's over 100 miles from San Francisco to Pebble Beach, but they make it there before the ambulance can take Disher away. I bet Trudy didn't have a siren on her car. It was very touching how Stottlemeyer called Randy, "Son." It was not quite as touching, but very funny, when later he says "He was only here for an hour! Did he piss somebody off?" It's very cool that Monk can gauge relative humidity. I still need a barometer for that. Is it a rule here in California that a police Captain must have a bushy mustache? Wasn't that convenient that the staff were all in a meeting? Even if they hadn't been I would have suspected Natalie's family. I'd have hauled in the whole lot of them: Aunt Madge, Aunt Cokie, Uncle Ferdy, Bobby and especially Peggy. She's probably driven many to their deaths. Looks like Randy was in and out of the hospital in only a few hours. He must have the same HMO I do. It was nice of the hotel to comp his room. (I wonder if that's in their brochure: "Kids and guys who get run over in our parking lot, stay free.") How cold was that when Peggy took the evidence bag with Randy's bloodied pants so she could match the tablecloths to the flowers? And on top of that, she manages to get in another dig at Natalie: "You're not going to be wearing that, are you?" Sheesh! I can understand Natalie's desperation when she cuts Monk off in mid-toothbrush tantrum and forces him to accompany her to the rehearsal dinner. (But, really, shouldn't someone in that family be able to find the right toothbrush for him?) Wait a second…. Why doesn't Monk carry a toothbrush with him? Randy does. "I was just helping the lad: He seems confused" Actually, the lad seems bored, irritable and unsupervised. Where are his parents? This was the only part of the episode that just didn't work for me and I know it's only because I have a prejudice against bored, irritable, unsupervised children (even if they are ring bearers) attending formal events like a rehearsal dinner. They don't strike me as funny. I hope everyone else enjoyed it. At least we get to see that even when he's messing with the little fellow's plate, Monk doesn't miss a word of the seemingly innocuous speech by the bride. He's good. He can't really be expected to make the Philadelphia connection this early. From his point of view, millions of people are from Philadelphia. From the audience's point of view Monkland is very small and the bride being from the same city as Disher should be our first clue. They waited quite a long time to introduce, the bride, Theresa Scott (Ashley Williams) and groom-to-be, Jonathan Davenport (Rob Benedict), who doesn't look much like his sister Natalie, but seemed really familiar to me nonetheless. It was quickly apparent, to me at any rate, why they waited so long. My roommates immediately commented, "She's creepy. She did it" and "She's too nice. Nobody's that nice. She's a fake." I tried to dissuade them, by pointing out what a lovely and trustworthy name Theresa is, to no avail. They had her pegged right away. So, about Rob Benedict who played Natalie's brother Jonathan and looked so familiar. I plugged his name in as soon as the show was over and discovered that he was Amy Benedict's brother! Yes, I know that only amazes me and you all probably don't know who she is. Amy is an actor also and a friend of a friend of mine. About ten years ago she had a brief role on General Hospital as Connie Cooper who, coincidentally, also fell in love with a serial killer. At the time I had a brief correspondence with her. She's a very good actress and a very sweet woman with a great sense of humor. Amy hasn't been doing a whole lot of on screen work since then, mostly minor guest shots, but it looks like her baby brother is doing a lot better. Besides this major guest role on Monk, Rob will be in the cast of Threshold, a much anticipated series debuting on CBS this fall and starring ST:TNG's Brent Spiner. I guess I'll have to make some time and check that out. "Till death do us part" It's good to know that if Stottlemeyer decides to get out of law enforcement he can fall back on a photography career. I had to drop all pretense of defending the bride in this scene. The "death do us part" line, the interest in Disher, calling him sergeant, all point to her guilt. And I already knew what Monk knew. I was a travel agent in '93 and Pan Am had already been out of business for a couple of years at that point. It feels nice to be in step with Monk every once in a while. "He never smiles." Poor Jonathan, not a lot of self esteem going on there, which is not surprising considering his mother. I could tell Adrian approved of the "87 things we have in common" list. It seemed to put him at ease with Jonathan. I get the feeling that Jonathan feels Natalie sort of abandoned him. "Soon I'll be strong, like you," he tells her. They do say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so he may be right. I knew as soon as they cut to the mud bath that some lucky lady was going to get a bobbing corpse surprise. I wasn't disappointed. Gruesome and funny. I really liked the next quiet little scene with the three guys, especially juxtaposed with the raucous bachelorette party in the other room. Randy's, a little loopy from the pain killers, while Monk meticulously signs his cast with a sharpie in one hand and a bottle of white-out in the other, and the Captain displays photos of Natalie's extended family. That's more fun than a bachelor party, right? I like that Stottlemeyer and Monk now have a slightly telepathic bond. The Captain easily picks up on Monk's suspicion. "You think maybe she's the guy?" I love that. "She's the guy." When's the last time we heard that? "Circus"? "I'm going to need a bigger bottle" is another LOL funny line for me. "Officer, I've been a bad girl" Yes, Theresa has been a bad girl. That's some cute foreshadowing. Monk recruiting Officer "Feelgood" was classic: the "187", the boom box and this hilarious little throwaway exchange: "You look like you work out a little bit." "I try." "I'm looking into Pilates" It's really no stretch that Monk doesn't realize Hondo is a stripper. He's in denial about sexual things like that and he'd be totally unable to wrap his mind around the concept of a "stripper cop." To him those terms are mutually exclusive. A mud bath is not an ideal environment for Monk, is it? I suppose Stottlemeyer just couldn't repress that snicker when he sees Hondo. It was very sweet of Natalie to pull Monk aside to explain his mistake. Monk's panic after stepping in the mud bath is kind of funny, but the real highlight of the episode is the valiant Hondo ripping of his shirt and flinging it at Monk to save the day. This was the clip they had up at AOL. It was funny the first time I saw it and it was just as funny the night it aired and the next four times I saw it. "You may be right about him." I'm hoping Hondo is inspired to join the police force. I'd like to see him again. He's a funny guy. It's great that Stottlemeyer is the one to discover the vital clue in the next scene, but it seems like he's just a little too late with it when he arrives after the "I do" part to reveal that Theresa is a black widow. That's where the Addams Family Values plot comes in. Joan Cusak plays the black widow, who seduces and marries Uncle Fester in the film. It's a marvelous performance and completely over the top. For those who haven't seen it, you should, even if it's only to play the "who can find Tony Shalhoub" game. Mommie, Dearest Natalie's mother is a selfish cow. I'd like to tell you what my roommate called her, but it would just be censored. If she had any concern at all for her son, she would have heard out Monk and Natalie in private. Of course, then we would have missed the expressive performance of the silent waiter who holds the tray Monk rearranges. Talk about making the most of a small role. Exactly what did Peggy think would happen when she dismissed the waiter? That "Black Widow" story was probably the hot topic with the entire hotel staff within moments. Peggy manages to make the whole thing about berating Natalie and then throws Monk into the bargain. "I really don't see how you can work with that man or how you can take anything he says seriously?" If she's ever a murder suspect in the future, though it does seem more likely she'd be the victim, I hope Monk doesn't lift a finger to help her. What can I say about the garter belt? That was just way too funny. "Why would I be afraid of you? I'm not marrying you." This was the best confronting the villain scene since "I think the snake did it" in "Back to School." In fact, Theresa seems very snake like. I love Monk in his confrontational mode. You really get an insight into just how great a cop he was. And what a good dancer he is. The camera work in the dance sequence is phenomenally good. It's not just the acting that makes Monk so good: it's the excellence of every aspect. That said, I'm not sure why, but the cake cutting scene that follows seems to be a little out of place or perhaps out of order. To me it indicates a passage of time which shouldn't be right there. "Long time no see, Darlene" Monk's stalling, inter cut with the slapstick journey from Randy's room, is frenetically funny. I really liked Monk working in the thank you to the wait staff, especially since Peggy had been treating them like sub-humans. I did feel a little sorry for Julie when Monk called her on stage. She really took one for the team. I thought the "Come on, girl" line was rather amusing. (When Natalie said something similar to Monk in season 3.5 many people were not amused.) Julie sure looked pretty, didn't she? It really is a relief when Disher's wild ride is over and Theresa/Darlene is unmasked. Randy has a pretty good memory for details, doesn't he? And the blue t-shirt really looks good on him. It brings out his eyes. It's great that for once he gets to be the hero. So, after the cake-knife wielding black widow grabs his only son and demands that Daddy Davenport fuel up the private jet, what's his first reaction? "It's a corporate jet"?! I'll say their family has problems, screwed up priorities for one. I knew Natalie was going to be the one to disarm the bride. It's still a television convention that a man can't do it, even if the woman in question is a wacko serial killer. It was still pretty cool. Epilogue Oh, no, no, no, no, no! Peggy doesn't get to treat Natalie, and everybody else, like dirt for years and then redeem herself by moving a picture 10 feet across a room. I don't think so. There needs to be suffering, groveling and atonement. Perhaps they're saving that for a future episode. Yes, I hated her, but I'd love to have her back. I think this is only the third episode, along with "Captain's Wife" and "Mr. Monk Gets Fired", in which Monk does not appear in the epilogue.. "Mr. Monk Goes to a Wedding" isn't my favorite episode of the season, because I like my Monk a little on the darker side, but it's still pretty great and it had me ROFLMAO a few times. Every monk episode this season has been delightfully unique. Just one last thing: what happened to Brynn Thayer?! She's listed in the credits as Aunt Cokie, but she's nowhere to be found! Brynn's best known for her part on Matlock as his daughter. She's been one of my favorites since her soap opera days, so I was a little disappointed. Did her part end up on the cutting room floor? Or should somebody go back and check all the mud baths?


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