The last couple of episodes of Monk I’ve watched have been disappointments even against the lowered expectations that I now have for the series. The season closer a couple weeks back had weak attempts at a humorous group of detectives which didn’t translate to the screen, and closed with an in joke (basically, an announcement that the series has been renewed for two 16-episode seasons done in a tortured cutesy manner) which wasn’t even near funny for those who got the joke.
I just watched last night’s episode, which I hadn’t caught when it originally ran earlier in the season. It continued with the habit of reworking Monk’s back story; where originally he had been a normal genius who had gotten OCD in the wake of his wife’s murder (a murder which once seemed to miss something, but is now just the Maguffin to get Monk into situations), and then he’d been a somewhat tightly-wound guy who had switched to fullblown OCD in the wake of his wife’s murder, now he is clearly OCD even in junior high, seen in flashback. He can’t eat a cookie unless it has exactly 10 chocolate chips in it. His sandwiches have to be cut into 10 squares (and by the way, there’s no way to cut a sandwich made of standard bread into 10 equal squares. It’s possible to cut square bread into 10 unequal squares – cut it into quarters, then take two of those quarters and quarter them – but it’s hard to believe that 10 unequal squares would be acceptable to Monk.)
But just to make matters worse, there is an ongoing lack of attention to detail that would be aggrevating in any show, and should be unacceptable in a mystery. The blatant example was during the flashback, set in the early 1970s, when a character holds up a five dollar bill (and in close-up, not as a minor part of the screen image)… and the bill is clearly of the design that wouldn’t be used until about three decades after the scene takes place. Were the folks making this show not alive before the turn of this century? Or could they just not be bothered to notice?