The previous episode "Mr Monk Meets His Dad" was very nearly a special episode, let down by a lacking mystery. "Mr Monk and the Leper" is a special episode, it is agreed one of the funniest and cleverest, plus it is perhaps the most interesting and unique of all the 'Monk' episodes. The mystery is much stronger here, it's not a tough one but it doesn't take a back-seat and is clever and engaging. Besides it's hardly the first time that the viewer is ahead of Monk in solving the case and isn't the last or worst, not enough to spoil the episode anyhow. It does agreed get a touch too silly at the end, but not in a way that spoils things too much.
One of the best things about "Mr Monk and the Leper" is the photography. 'Monk' has always been a well-made show visually, but "Mr Monk and the Leper" really stands out in this regard. It is perhaps the best-looking 'Monk' episode, so good that one has to check that it's actually a television episode and not a modern film-noir film that it's strongly reminiscent of. This is a compliment in the very best of ways, no other 'Monk' episode is like this which is what makes it stand out from the rest.
"Mr Monk and the Leper" is also one of the funniest 'Monk' episodes, not just from Monk but also Natalie and Disher have scenes that are among their finest. Standout character moments being anything that revolves around Monk's quirks/neuroses and how he deals with his situation with the leper, the probate hearing scene, Monk/the commissioner scene talking about the shirts, Disher with the pictures (one of his best ever scenes) and Natalie with the Listerine.
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.
Natalie is down to earth, sympathetic and sassy, also being sensitive to Monk's needs and quirks which Traylor Howard does well bringing out. Jason Gray-Stanford and Ted Levine are good as usual as Disher and Stottlemeyer. The supporting cast are good.
It's not just the cast 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 wry humour, lovable quirkiness and tender easy-to-relate-to drama is delicately done, particularly the last one. The quirks are sympathetically done and never exploited or overdone.
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.
Overall, unique and hilarious episode of 'Monk' and one of the best of Season 5, also in the top half of the whole show. 10/10 Bethany Cox