CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
TV Review: Final Season of ‘Monk’ Opens With Good Episode; ‘Psych’ Also Returns
CHICAGO – For seven years, USA Network’s “Monk” has consistently delivered quality entertainment. It’s never been a show that set out to break the rules or even do anything too interesting within them, but it has rarely faltered at all in its ability to entertain, something that can be said about very few series that have been on this long. Like a great old band going for one final tour, the final season of “Monk” promises to play all the greatest hits and go out on a high note.
TV Rating: 3.5/5.0
You’d have to have lived under a rock for the ’00s or just bought your first TV to be saying “what is this show called ‘Monk’”? The award-winning mystery series has been a beloved part of the basic cable landscape for the better part of the decade and the season premiere of the final arc of the show doesn’t break the pattern of what fans have come to expect from the Tony Shalhoub vehicle.
Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk.
Photo credit: Vivian Zink/USA
The actor with some of the best comic timing on television portrays Adrian Monk, a brilliant San Francisco detective with OCD that makes getting through the day difficult but often helps him get the bad guy. His phobias have increased since the murder of his wife Trudy years ago and he needs the regular assistance of Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard) just to get from point A to point B. Assisting with the weekly mystery are the deadpan Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Lieutenant Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford).
The opening episode of the eighth and final season of “Monk” features Elizabeth Perkins (“Weeds”) and Rena Sofer in “Mr. Monk’s Favorite Show”. Perkins plays the star of an old sitcom that looks inspired by “The Brady Bunch”. She’s releasing a tell-all book and someone’s trying to kill her. Enter Monk to solve the crime and the fact that the star happens to be from his favorite show adds to the comedy quotient.
“Monk” is mostly a one-man show (although Levine is better than he gets credit for and Howard & Gray-Stanford certainly aren’t bad), but it’s a great one-man show with Shalhoub having won 3 Emmy Awards for his work (and nominated again this summer).
It’s comfort-food television. Every week, fans have tuned in knowing that the mystery will be solved by the bumbling detective. It’s heartwarming to think that if someone with OCD as bad as Adrian Monk can get the bad guy than there’s hope for this world.
The opening episode of the final season of “Monk” delivers the same blend of quirky comedy and intriguing mystery that fans of the show have come to know and love. I can’t imagine anyone who has watched the series for seven years, tuning into “Mr. Monk’s Favorite Show” and canceling their season pass for the rest of the season. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s above the average in terms of laughs, mystery, and Shalhoub’s performance when compared to three-dozen-or-so episodes of the show I’ve seen since its premiere.
Traylor Howard, Jason Gray-Stanford, Tony Shalhoub.
Photo credit: Vivian Zink/USA
The final season of “Monk” promises personal revelations for all of the characters, including the return of Sharona (Bitty Schram) and the resolution of the mystery of who killed Monk’s wife Trudy. From the tone and execution of the season premiere, “Monk” looks likely to go out delivering the same quality television that it has been doing since 2002.
After the premiere, guest stars for season eight include Dylan Baker, Meat Loaf, Bernie Kopell, Jay Mohr, Daniel Stern, Alex Wolff, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Eric Balfour, Kelly Carlson, and Reed Diamond. Special appearances will also be made by Tim Bagley as Monk’s nemesis Harold Krenshaw and Bitty Schram.
The desperate kid brother to “Monk,” the decent-but-frustrating “Psych,” also returns tonight after the season premiere of “Monk”.
James Roday, Dule Hill, and Corbin Bernsen return for the fourth season of “Psych,” a show that has never quite found the rhythm or the driving lead performance of “Monk,” but can occasionally deliver as an entertaining diversion. The season premiere, “Extradition: British Columbia,” features the boys outwitting a notorious art thief played by Cary Elwes.