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This has the best beginning I've ever seen on a Monk show. That's
because I am biased, being a big fan of film noir movies, those great
black-and-white crime films of the late '40s and early '50s.
The star of this show, actor Tony Shalhoub, greets us in a first-ever pre-introduction and explains that this show has all the elements of a film noir and so they filmed it in black-and-white. Sit back and enjoy, he says.....and I did. That opening segment has some of the best photography I've ever seen and it is truly great film cinematography. Monk meets a rich man who has disappeared for seven years and then tells (and shows himself, out of the shadows) as a man who has leprosy!!
After the commercial, we see the germ-conscious Adrian Monk freaking out and the film shifts to comedy for a bit until it settles into the story featuring deception, a femme fatal and all the other goodies of good noir.....yet, at the same time keeping it's comedy close by.
We also find Natalie getting a boy friend, a dermatologist played by Englishman Paul Blackthorn. He's the guy who played a terrorist in the series '24."
It got a little silly in the end and, for once, I had the crime solved before Monk figured it out. Kudos to the show for this unique black-and-white presentation. It was nice to see.
A copy of "Mr. Monk and the Leper" should be placed in a time capsule
and preserved for future generations. It is an ideal example of how
comedy and serious drama can interface with each other.
The opening scene, where detective Adrian Monk meets his new client, a man who stays hidden in the shadows, is deadly serious: The man says he is a leper, and we are shocked to hear that this dread disease can still be with us.
But then, comedy takes over. There are numerous laugh-out-loud scenes, for example the scene at the probate hearing, where Monk asserts that the supposed dead man is still alive. The Commissioner decides to test Monk's powers of observation, and asks him to turn around. Monk does so.
Commissioner: "Now... can you describe my shirt?" Monk: "Which one? The one you're wearing, or the one your secretary is wearing?" To the Commissioner's surprise (but not ours), Monk has noticed that the cute stenographer is wearing a man's shirt, obviously one she borrowed from her boss, after ripping her blouse during a sex romp on the office sofa. Monk even points out that the sofa cushions were replaced backwards, in haste.
Then, there is the scene where Lt. Randy Disher tries to retrieve a picture of himself that's on the dermatologist's wall. He tries to slip it off the wall, but that's not so easy. A struggle ensues: Randy against the wall of photos. It turns out that ALL the other pictures are loose, but the pic that HE wants is attached to the wall, which finally shatters when he tries to pry it loose. Funny stuff.
And of course, there's the unforgettable scene where Natalie is sitting in her date's car, and they are necking furiously... then he tells her that HE used to be a leper! The usually sensible Natalie freaks out, and later we see her drinking an entire bottle of mouthwash.
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