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If I am not mistaken, an episode by this title aired July 25. The guest star was David Straitharn, but I see William Atherton listed as the guest star here on IMDb. If I am right, and this episode was the one featuring Straitharn, I will say it was a fun episode very much written in a COLOMBO vein. Monk matches wits with an incredibly egotistical grand chess master whose IQ is higher than Einstein's. While Straitharn is playing chess, live on TV in Vancouver, his wife dies by means unknown (actually, Monk immediately guesses how, but the evidence is missing). We're sure we know Straitharn is the murderer, and so does does Monk. But Monk has a tough time pinning the crime on him. It is a cat and mouse game to the very end, and pretty serious. The final shot is priceless.
This is one of the best episodes of the series. The combination of
brilliance and arrogance by the villain incites a powerful passion by
Monk for his own game. Comparing his willingness to solve the case to
his final moments with Trudy is an intelligent touch. The cat and mouse
game was exciting, perhaps more so than in any other episode of "Monk".
That final clue very cleverly put the cold-blooded murderer in his
Although somewhat different from the episode of "Columbo" years earlier in which a chess champion becomes a killer, "Mr. Monk and the Genius" is just as worthy of respect. Neither Columbo nor Monk can do much of anything on a chessboard, yet the triumphant conclusions of both respective episodes emphasize that neither hero needs to be a chess champion in order to come out a winner--good prevailing over evil.
This episode of "Monk" is priceless entertainment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Personally, this was one of the worst Monk episodes I've ever seen. I
may be a tad biased because it's a bit of an insult to the genera it
tried to emulate but none the less.
The "geaera" I refer to is not biased on how much everyone knows about each other, but on how theatrical they can present that information. And, well, to be honest... Monk's character isn't really suited for the job and the "Genius" only complements monks own character. Basically instead of theatricality we have a bunch of old men bickering.
Hell, they further kill the genera by "humanizing" Monk (he tried to plant evidence that he would later "discover") and even making him incompetent in chess (yes, it's Monks character... but this is a battle of the MINDS, you can't turn down the opportunity to have Adrian beat the sorry fellow in his own game before solving the case) The worse thing is they spend so much time trying to emulate the genera that the case barely gets any notice. They spend more time having these isles "clashes" (I knew my wife would hire you before I killed her, I know you drink Sierra Springs, I noticed a car sitting in my drive way for 2 hours.) The whole case was solved in the first 10 min... which is particularly why the whole episode seemed desperate. There was no battle of wits to fill the space, just Monk trying not to lose and failing at that.
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