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Starring: Tony Shaloub, Jerry Levine, Traylor Howard, Jason Gray-Stanford

Number of discs: 4

Rated: Not rated

Universal Studios

Run Time: 728 minutes

Monk Season Five is the annual collection of DVD’s from Universal Studio from the hit television series starring Tony Shaloub. While the quantity of DVD’s and the extras are all there in this collection the slow decline in the writing quality in the show is also obvious in some episodes of the fifth season. The simple cozy genius and gentle humor of the first few seasons is still integral to most of the episodes but so too is a crueler “cringe humor” made popular by the British situation comedy “The Office”.

Monk Season Five is still eminently worth watching and is far and away the class of the cozy field just edging out Murder She Wrote for great writing and solid acting. There are some weak episodes – there will be in every season of every show – but there are also standout episodes. The first episode of the season Mr. Monk and the Actor is stands out not only for a great storyline in which Stanley Tucci plays an actor trying to become Monk for a movie about the great detective but actually succeeds in becoming Monk. The biggest standout in season five though is Mr. Monk and The Leper which is shot in black and white in a tribute to the film noir style.

If there is a weakness to anything in the Monk series it is that there is almost never anything which is not directly related to the case in the action on screen. While as a fan of the cozy it is appreciated that all the clues are there the problem is that there is nothing to sort the clues from. The best example is Mr. Monk and the Really, Really Dead Guy in which the point of the murder is so obvious by the end of the first scene in the medical examiner’s office that the resolution is hardly surprising. The upside of course is that red herrings – a technique used frequently in other cozy shows – are mercilessly absent from the series.

This collection has been added – along with previous seasons – to my permanent DVD collection.

Episode Guide.

62. Mr. Monk and the Actor: Guest star Stanley Tucci : Hollywood comes a calling to make a movie about the team and their investigative techniques. Stanley Tucci plays Mr. Monk in the movie and is priceless as a mimic of Monk.

63. Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike: In the midst of a garbage strike the president of the sanitation workers is killed and Monk is so distracted by the filth that he almost lets a murderer walk.

64. Mr. Monk and the Big Game: When Julie’s basketball coach dies a mysterious death the team hires Mr. Monk to investigate what they believe to be murder.

65. Mr. Monk Can't See a Thing: Mr. Monk’s annual trip to the firehouse to have his smoke alarms checked has him on site when a murder occurs and he actually sees the murderer.

66. Mr. Monk Private Detective: Guest star Sharon Lawrence is Linda Fusco a real estate agent who comes into Mr. Monk’s new office (established by Natalie) to hire him to solve a fender bender at the marina.

67. Mr. Monk And The Class Reunion: His 25th reunion is overshadowed by the murder of a nurse who formerly worked at USC.

68. Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink: Dr. Kroger’s office is the scene of the crime when Mr. Monk and his arch nemesis Harold Krenshaw discover a cleaning lady stabbed to death.

69. Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert: Helping Captain Stottlemeyer look for his son at an open air rock concert Mr. Monk decides an apparent O.D. is actually murder.

70. Mr. Monk Meets His Dad: Of all the times to meet his father Mr. Monk finds himself on the road with his truck driver father during Christmas.

71. Mr. Monk and the Leper: This episode is on the DVD collection twice – the first time in black and white and the second time in colour. The black and white version is the only one that you need to watch the noir elements play well in black and white but don’t quite fly in colour as Mr. Monk helps a multi-millionaire suffering from leprosy secure his wife’s future.

72. Mr. Monk Makes A Friend: Guest star Andy Dick plays Hal Mr. Monk’s new friend who seems to not only enjoy spending time with Monk but also thinks his idiosyncrasies are perfectly sensible.

73. Mr. Monk Is At Your Service: Guest star Sean Astin plays a very rich young man who hires Mr. Monk as his butler.

74. Mr. Monk Is On The Air: A morning radio shock jock played by guest star Steven Weber is believed to have murdered his wife, but he was on the air at the time. (Cringe humor detracts from the episode)

75. Mr. Monk Visits A Farm: Disher resigns from the police force, again, and takes over the family farm after the demise of his uncle. Suspicious of the circumstances surrounding his uncle’s death he calls Mr. Monk to help him.

76. Mr. Monk and the Really, Really Dead Guy: The murder of a street musician by blunt force trauma, poison, suffocation, stabbing, shooting and being run over has the feds in to investigate and dismiss Mr. Monk as an antique.

77. Mr. Monk Goes To The Hospital: Who other than Mr. Monk would go to the emergency room for a nose bleed? Who other than Mr. Monk would uncover a murder while at the hospital? Who other than Mr. Monk would solve the murder?