I think it's almost safe to say you will have already heard of the series 'Monk' by now, this big hit comedy/drama detective series has been running for seven seasons with a final one airing in June. The show stars Tony Shalhoub as the titular Adrian Monk - a San Fransisco detective traumatised into a nervous breakdown by the brutal car bombing of his wife Trudy (played in occasional flashbacks first by Stellina Rusich then later by the lovely Melora Hardin). While he is currently off the force pending medical recommendation for reinstatement he does still assist Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Lieutenant Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) on cases as his powers of deduction and reasoning are almost unrivalled.
Monk suffers from a range of phobias alongside crippling OCD and originally a reclusive form of agoraphobia which resulted in him being unable to leave his house. But with the assistance of a nurse named Sharona Flemming (Bitty Schram) he was able to do so and continue to assist the Police Department as a paid consultant. Later on Sharona would leave and Adrian would hire Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard) to assist him instead.
Monk is a light hearted detective show which mixes the tragic and serious business of murder alongside lighter comedic moments. It delivers tightly written cases mixed alongside personal story lines for all the main cast members and it's a great piece of light entertainment.
But there are a few minor niggles and points which should be pointed out. For a start while it's great that there is a show highlighting mental illnesses, humanising them and bringing them into the public consciousness (I still get annoyed at the dissociative identity disorder/schizophrenia mix up Hollywood inflicted on the public). It often uses Adrian's quirks for laughs and pity, sometimes overly so. But he is still a great character and a mostly positive example.
Secondly the show is completely formulaic, while it does have the overarching mystery of "why was Trudy killed?" most episodes are self contained stories which are resolved by the end of the episode and rarely referenced again. There is little sense of continuity in the timeline, it's a 'stasis' show. This is absolutely fine if you enjoy shows like that as Monk is a great example in the genre, personally I've come to realise I prefer shows with a continuous timeline, reference to past events and evolution of situation, but I still was able to enjoy Monk greatly.
Third, while the box claims to have subtitles only the first season actually has them. Seriously guys, this is the kind of show my grandmother would like to watch, but without subtitles she has no chance. Subtitles aren't a nice optional extra in the world of DVDs they are an essential piece.
Last of all though there is the issue of packaging with this set. I've scaled back talking about packaging (and no-one has commented so it seems it won't be missed), but I do need to talk about this boxed set. From the picture above it looks like a great looking and practical piece. But this is not the case at all, each of the DVDs inside is held in a loose cardboard sleeve. These sleeves are thin and so they fall out of the case easily, but they are also all identical. So when they fall on the floor, or you're trying to find a specific season/put it back in, you have a devil of a time identifying them and have to open each sleeve up to check where and what order things are in. Just a simple white font saying "Season X: Discs Y & Z" on the cover and spine of each holder would have solved this with a fractional increase in cost. But Playback decided this wasn't necessary and this, combined with the subtitles issue have moved them in with Fremantle Media in the "DVD manufacturers I have a beef with" column. It's very frustrating, and as such I'd recommend if you're planning to purchase this you should pick up the individual seasons instead despite the increased cost.
Putting these issues aside Monk is a great comedy/drama crime show which is well worth watching for anyone who enjoys a good detective story/murder mystery.
If you enjoy Monk you might also want to try out Psych, there are several parallels between the two series - Psych is the far lighter and sillier of the two shows though.
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 (Season 1-3), 16:9 (Season 4), 1.78:1 (Season 5+6)
Regions: 2 + 4 (Season 1), 2, 4 + 5 (Seasons 2-6)
Soundtrack: English, French (Season 1 only)
Subtitles: English, French (Season 1 only)
Run time: 65h 42 mins
PPM (at Recommended Retail): 1.4