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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Monk: Season Three (2004)

"There's an old saying. Don't change anything...ever."
- Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: July 12, 2005

Stars: Tony Shalhoub
Other Stars: Ted Levine, Jason Gray-Stanford, Bitty Schram, Traylor Howard
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations)
Run Time: 11h:45m:00s
Release Date: July 05, 2005
UPC: 025192800320
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A+A-A- C

DVD Review

I always thought I would associate actor Tony Shalhoub with only two characters: Antonio Scarpacci from Wings and the inept, very foreign cab driver in the underrated film, Quick Change. My perception of Shalhoub changed drastically in 2002 when he began starring in the hit TV series Monk. Despite a strong semi-dramatic supporting role in the Cohen brothers' film The Man Who Wasn't There, I still pegged him as a comedic actor. Not that Adrian Monk is a completely serious ex-detective given his quirks and mannerisms, but his troubled past and medical condition give this character an edge about him.

Monk is one of the most dynamic characters to ever grace the small screen. Not only is the man the poster child for OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), but he is truly borderline psychotic. His psychoses are the result of a complete breakdown following the murder of his wife (she was killed by a car bomb), after which he was booted off of the police force and driven to seclusion. With Monk, the audience is asked to juggle their emotions, laughing at his fear of germs, feeling sympathy for him given the death of his wife, and, frankly being annoyed at the way his disorder can single-handedly sabotage an investigation. There are many instances where Monk, in the midst of proving himself worthy of reinstatement, can't control his phobias and, subsequently drags his credibility level back to square one. After mastering this character for two seasons, it's difficult to imagine anyone other than Shalhoub being able to handle such a challenging role. Therefore, the Emmy as Best Leading Actor in a Comedy Series and similarly categorized Golden Globe that he won was as deserved as they come.

With his unwillingness to touch practically anything with his bare hands comes his uncanny ability to "see" things. While he despises psychics and their (as far as he's concerned) fake powers, it makes sense that he is often confused for one. This proves yet another dynamic of this amazing character as, without his problems, Monk would probably be useless, as being back to normal would seemingly work both ways and he would be unable to "see" as well.

After two seasons of freelance sleuthing, Monk and Sharona are back on the case in Season Three. However, after nine episodes there was a major casting change that many fans were up in arms about. Bitty Schram (Evelyn in A League of Their Own, who thought there was crying in baseball) left the show, giving way to a new nurse for Monk, Natalie Teeger, played by Traylor Howard (Two Guys and a Girl). I'll let you decide for yourself whether Ms. Howard can hold a candle to Schram, but this is another example of just how outstanding Monk is, as the show doesn't miss a beat once the new nurse is on the scene; its writers handling the transition with complete style and grace.

The basic formula of the show isn't overhauled in the least in this third season, with Monk facing a new mystery in each installment. Whether it's Sharona or Natalie by his side, he branches out to some other parts of the country, traveling to Manhattan, and, in the season's best episode, takes a trip to Vegas to tackle a mystery that even he can't solve. It's actually his old co-worker Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) who solves this crime, but Monk still has to come to the rescue once his buddy forgets where the evidence is after a drinking binge. Stottlemeyer's partner, Lt. Randall Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) makes the trip to Sin City as well, losing his shirt while indulging in Vegas' many wonderful casinos.

As with the previous two seasons, there really isn't a bad, even remotely boring episode in this compilation. Each 45-minute show just breezes along, wasting no time with a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo or unnecessary special effects. After this season's premiere episode, Mr. Monk Takes Manhattan gets us back in the mood, we see him in a fitting environment in Mr. Monk and the Panic Room. Trying to move on with his love life, Monk goes out with a lovely lady in Mr. Monk and the Blackout. It's always great to see him nervous and out of his element away from a crime scene, and this rare romantic occasion doesn't disappoint.

Running a close second to the Vegas show is Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine. This piece is not only notable as Bitty Schram's last, but is very interesting as it centers on Monk taking a new medication that makes him as stable as we've ever seen him. With his OCD and other neuroses seemingly gone, Sharona, Stottlemeyer, and Disher don't know what to do with him.

Season Four of Monk has just premiered on the USA Network, and, along with the prospects of a full season's worth of work by Traylor Howard, a new cast member has been added. The one and only Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) plays a sleuth who is the complete opposite of Monk. This is further proof that Monk is a show that will never become stale, continuing to evolve at the most appropriate times.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentations are excellent, improving upon the way the show looks on TV. Aside from a few problems with jumpiness during more action-oriented sequences, everything is nicely detailed. The colors are well rendered, with accurate fleshtones, deep blacks, and nice shadow levels. There is a bit of grain from time to time, but nothing too distracting.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio suits this dialogue-heavy show perfectly. The surrounds are rarely used, and the actors' speech is always to hear, blending in just fine with the rest of the audio aspects.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 64 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Northern Exposure, Law & Order, Father of the Pride: The Complete Series, The Wedding Date
5 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
4 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Aside from some previews for other Universal Home Video releases, there are five featurettes that are spread out over the four discs.

Disc 1 has Favorites, a five-minute piece with the cast and crew discussing the Monk episodes that they're most fond of.

Disc 2 houses Monk (Tony Shalhoub) Character Profile, which runs for almost six minutes and mixes interviews about the title character with footage of the show.

A pair of segments are on Disc 3, including Life Before Monk, a three-minute talk with the cast and crew about their characters' lives before the pilot episode of the show. The other featurette on this disc is Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard) Character Profile, which is similar to the Disc 2 segment on Monk, but this time, focusing on his new nurse.

The final featurette is on Disc 4, titled Quirks, and focusing on the various phobias that Monk has.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

The great Tony Shalhoub is up to his old, nervous tricks in Monk: Season Three. Seamlessly undergoing a huge casting change, the show continues to grow in popularity and quality. The audio and video quality exceed that of the TV broadcasts, but, again, we only get a collection of featurettes that will leave fans begging for more in the fourth season's DVD set.

 


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