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.
After a pretty good if flawed opening episode to Season 7 in "Mr Monk Buys a House", "Mr Monk and the Genius" manages to improve upon that episode and nearly is genius, its best moments being among the best of the whole show. It has a couple of debits, like "Mr Monk Buys a House" the mystery is easy to solve very early on and is too simple and obvious, another case of the viewer being there before Monk. The best episodes are the brain-teasers that took slower to unfold, something we saw in the earlier seasons and sporadically later on. The ending also felt a little forced and shows that the killer is not as quite as he appears to be in the rest of the episode, which leaves the viewer a little cheated.
However, Monk is not out of character this time, how he acts works perfectly within the story and more justified. We have one of Monk's best and most cold blooded opponents (as genius a murderer as he is a master chess player), excellently portrayed by David Straithairn, not in a while has there been one that pits off so well against Monk and he is a far more consistently written opponent than the one in the previous episode. We also have a sympathetic victim that we care about, as great a show 'Monk' is this is not something that happens a lot.
Loved the chemistry between her and Monk and she was acted very poignantly, and even more so between Monk and Kloster in a suspenseful cat and mouse and just as suspenseful and entertaining battle of wits. One feels so much satisfaction at the end at how he solves the crime and stands up to the murderer. How the murder was committed and how it was proved was interesting and well done. The other lead characters are underused and have been better developed elsewhere but they're still fun and well acted.
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.
Writing has the usual wry humour, sympathetically treated quirks and tender easy-to-relate-drama. The suspense factor is also high and it's mostly paced well, just wish that the conclusion jumping and the struggle to prove the guilt of the murderer was brought in later than it was.
Visually, the episode is slick and stylish as ever. 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.
Overall, very good episode that with a slightly better executed mystery could have been a genius one. 8.5/10 Bethany Cox
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.