'Monk' has always been one of my most watched shows when needing comfort, to relax after a hard day, a good laugh or a way to spend a lazy weekend.
"Mr Monk Goes to the Office" is a great episode and one of the best episodes of Season 4, almost as special as "Mr Monk Goes Home Again" and one of the most illuminating, entertaining and heartfelt episodes of the season. It is let down only by the killer's motives being rather over the top and "they murdered for that" and, while some will appreciate that "Mr Monk Goes to the Office" is not one of those "killers being obvious from the start" episodes, it does rob us somewhat of having a character to play off against and prove their guilt.
As said, "Mr Monk Goes to Office" is very illuminating, especially in how it depicts human nature. Seeing Monk finding happiness and adapting so well in a different environment (when it can be very difficult for a lot of people with disabilities and conditions) was really lovely to see, as well as the amount of respect he gets until the bowling scene where it all changes for the worse. Also in how living with OCD can be a blessing and a curse, feel the same with my Aspergers and epilepsy so can relate. It was not just those, it also serves as a painful reminder of how people can really treat people in the workplace and show their true colours like the workers later did with Monk, that is enough to break anybody's heart.
There are some hilarious moments, like the lunch scene and the summation. This is a perfect example, the best yet at this point in fact, of Natalie settling in well, her chemistry with Monk is sparkling even more, her personality is starting to become more differentiated and more interesting, she's useful and the two characters function very well together. She has a down-to-earth-ness, sensitivity and sass that makes one warm to her as well as being more sympathetic to Monk's issues, felt sorry for her as well as Monk when her romance doesn't work out. Traylor Howard is doing just fine.
Benefiting "Mr Monk Goes to the Office" further is the mystery, one of the best and most cleverly plotted 'Monk' episodes in a while, especially some ingenious misdirection and a final solution that one doesn't see coming.
As said many times, one of the best things about 'Monk' has always been the acting of Tony Shalhoub in the title role. It was essential for him to work and be the glue of the show, and Shalhoub not only is that but also at his very best he IS the show. Have always loved the balance of the humour, which is often hilarious, and pathos, which is sincere and touching.
Jason Gray-Stanford and Ted Levine have little to do but are amusing, and Christopher Nieman is a standout in support.
It's not just the cast or story though. Another star is the writing, which is also essential to whether the show would be successful or not and succeed it does here. The mix of hilarious wry humour, lovable quirkiness and tender easy-to-relate-to drama is delicately done. The quirks are sympathetically done and never exploited or overdone.
Visually, the episode is shot in a slick and stylish way, and the music is both understated and quirky. While there is a preference for the theme music for Season 1, Randy Newman's "It's a Jungle Out There" has grown on me overtime, found it annoying at first but appreciate its meaning and what it's trying to say much more now. Oh and a good job is done with the different opening credits sequence to accommodate the changes made.
Altogether, great episode if not quite a favourite. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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