'Monk' finale: Did it end the way you hoped it would?

Monk closed out its eight-season run last night, making the long-awaited solution to Adrian Monk’s greatest mystery — who killed his wife? — the centerpiece of the finale.

But you could have watched Monk for years without ever thinking much about poor dead Trudy (Melora Hardin). This was a series that put its OCD-eccentric detective first. If Tony Shalhoub’s Monk came out of a TV tradition of bumbling brilliant men such as Peter Falk’s Columbo, he started a trend for cable-TV “character” crime-solvers that continued into the present day on everything from The Closer to Psych.

Last night concluded a two-part episode, “Mr. Monk and the End.” I’m sure you felt the same way I did when, 17 minutes into last week’s first installment, a figure shot in shadows made a phone call in which he said, “Twelve years ago, I killed [Monk's] wife.” The voice and outline of the man was so clearly that of Craig T. Nelson, playing judge Ethan Rickover, that I figured, well, there must be a twist here, right? Creator (and finale writer) Andy Breckman must be putting one over on us, right?

Um, nope. Rickover dunnit. The finale started cramming in other complications, though. Trudy had left behind a tape of herself, for Monk to watch should she die. In it, she told him that, before they met, she’d had an affair. (Monk reacted with wracked agony — and not just because he was suffering from another subplot: he’d been poisoned. But why the angst? He didn’t even know Trudy when she had her earlier relationship. I know he was obsessed with her, but… )

Anyway, Trudy had broken up with the guy — Ethan Rickover, of course — and had her baby, which she thought had died. Another light went off in my head: Who in TV-world has a baby that dies the day it’s born, never to be heard about again? No one.

So, of course, during the last hour, while Monk solved the “mystery” of Trudy’s murder, as well as the cure for hthe poisoning that was supposed to kill him in a matter of days, it was also revealed that Trudy’s daughter was alive, a pretty 26 year-old named Molly.

In general, the finale summed up the reasons why lots of people loved this series, and why I and other people thought it had all become repetitive and silly. In that sense, it was a Monk that was true to its essence to the end. We had ridiculous scenes such as what looked like half the staff of a hospital holding down the squirmy Monk when he had to have a needle-shot, or one near the end in which he shows his police department pals over 600 pictures of Molly he’s taken over just a few days, so joyful is he that he’s compelled to chronicle her every move. (The only truly unbelievable detail in the current media age? Molly is a film critic for a small newspaper, and gets to go to the Toronto Film Festival instead of being laid off.)

So in the end, Monk went on solving crimes, with many of his OCD neuroses seemingly abated. Tony Shaloub won multiple Emmys for his Monk work, and he did a consistent job to the end. Monk itself is comfort-food TV — you always knew what you were getting, pretty much. Its mysteries tended not to be hard to solve (such as this final one), which sort of undercuts the notion of Monk’s genius. And the show had some fine guest stars, including John Turturro and Steve Zahn.

The series ended with a montage of the sort of slapstick moments that reminded me why I didn’t watch Monk much after its first few seasons. Randy Newman, who recorded the show’s theme song, provided a pretty, rueful closing-credits tune that said, “I think you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.”

Are you going to miss Monk?

(You can follow me on Twitter.)

Comments (401 total) Add your comment
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  • Mark

    “including John Turturro anf Steve Zahn.”

    Doesn’t anyone at EW proofread anymore?

    • matt54

      Are you complaining about the spelling or that they listed those two hacks as “fine guest stars”?

      • kim in kentucy

        hacks ??????

      • Andrew

        Hacks? Lol, yeah man you know a lot about the entertainment business.

      • matt54

        I’ve had my SAG card since 1971 and I do know a lot about the entertainment industry. I didn’t call Tony Shalhoub a hack, but you’d be hard pressed to name anything of substance that Turturro or Zahn were affiliated with.

      • Charles Ulysses

        I’ll give you Zahn (omitting Out Of Sight), but Turturro? Come on… ‘Do The Right Thing’, ‘Barton Fink’, ‘Miller’s Crossing’ and ‘The Big Lebowski’. Not all that hard pressed to name those.

      • Suzanne

        steve zahn was excellent in Rescue Dawn; he was also in shattered glass, a very good film.

      • marciekr

        ‘Oh Brother, Where Are Thou’ ‘Quiz Show’ ‘Jungle Fever’ Geez, you don’t see too many good movies, do you?

      • AD

        Matt54, your comment about Torturro being a hack is so ridiculous, I won’t bother listing the great performances he’s given. Having a SAG card obviously doesn’t make one a good judge of talent. Perhaps the only action your SAG card gets is removing gum from the bottom of your shoes?

      • Nick Voleur

        Others have covered Turturro fairly well. I’d say Zahn was brilliant in “Out of Sight” — but admittedly, *everyone* was brilliant in “Out of Sight,” even Jennifer Lopez. Evidence (if such were needed) that Soderbergh does a fantastic job at coaxing out performances.

      • julies

        Well said, AD.
        Only a bitter, frustrated waiter/bartender/valet/insert day job here (…OH, I mean a SAG-card holder, SORRY), would call someone like John Turturro a “hack.” Bitter, party of one…?

    • James

      If they had proof readers they would have realized that it is spelled “weakly” not “weekly”.
      Entertainment Weakly
      Far more accurate.

      • Emma

        And yet, here you are commenting!

    • chris

      BOX OF MOONLIGHT~…great film …Turturro was great in that.

    • chris

      LOL….Turturro is a hack. LMAO. His early and mid acting is great. I can do without some of his recent stuff. but, Box of Moonlight is one of my favorite movies. He is great in that.

  • Monklover

    I will miss Monk. I think that ew should have had a reviewier who actually liked the show do the final review. They ended the show the way that they should have. What “new parent” has not bragged about there child with a ton of pictures.

    • LK

      I completely agree. I felt sad reading this review. Doesn’t EW have a reviewer on staff who liked the show? Not everyone wants every show they watch to be like CSI (which is a great show, too).

      Monk is a great show filled with great characters with quirky flaws. Just a lot of fun. Monk, I’ll miss you!

      • Diane

        Me three. Monk deserved a review from someone who loved Mr. Monk.

      • Brandon

        Me four. Monk is my favorite show, and I did not need a reviewer from EW to tell me why he stopped watching the show, I don’t care! Regardless, Mr. Monk will be missed.

      • fatimavh

        agree completely. if Ken Tucker didn’t watch the show much as he claimed, why would he review it? Why not a true fan of the show?

      • renee

        me 5, 6, 7, …

      • pepa

        Me 8.

      • Whatever

        Me 9. I just finished watching these two episodes and I really enjoyed them, what the reviewer doesn’t really seem to have, as he admits he doesn’t usually watch the show.

      • Maggie May

        If ew doesn’t have a writer that is a fan of the show they are reviewing for a series finale then maybe they should ask for fans to submit the series finale review and take the best one. About the crimes being easy to solve, it wan’t about finding out who did it — it was about figuring out how to prove it.

      • Nerwen Aldarion

        The only a time a person should review a show they don’t like, is if it is a review of the pilot and they are giving their honest opinion. They need to have someone who actually likes the show to review, especially if it is the series finale, quite honestly because mostly people who LIKE the show are going to read it. Just stupid really.

        I was a casual viewer of Monk and I’m glad to see a resolution.

      • Emilie

        In agreement as well. I was happy to see a conclusion to Monk’s biggest mystery and happy to see he has Molly as someone to love and remind him of Trudy… glad to see him sleeping in the middle of the bed too!

      • sonja

        I DON’T KNOW WHAT USA IS DOING BY PUTTING ON LAW & ORDER BUT I AM SICK OF IT. GET MONK BACK ON OR I WILL STOP LOOKING AT USA PERIOD.
        MONK IS THE GREATEST SHOW ON THE
        CHANNEL. I HOPE SONEONE ELSE PICK IT UP SO I DON’T HAVE TO WATCH LAW
        & ORDER. I DON’T ANYWAY

    • Josh Ortiz

      Mr. Tucker had no business reviewing this finale. He is more suited to reviewing Gossip Girl or The Vampire Diaries or any of those other crappy “buzz” shows that will never match the fanbase or Nielsen of Monk.
      Sorry Monk didn’t have rich, brainless socialites having threesomes with everyone.

      • John

        Monk never had the buzz of Gossip Girl but it sure beat it ratings wise despite airing on Fridays on basic cable. Monk was a terrific show and the reason we have so much of these similar types of shows. USA Network as we know it would not be without the success of Monk.

      • heather

        and all those buzz shows eventually fizzle out and odn’t last as long as a show like monk that might not have had the buzz that a show like gossip girl has, but since it doesn’t it’s able to be true to itself more… shows like gossip girl do things more based on whether or not it will help the ratings and less whether or not its good for the show. Gossip Girl was a hit but its fizzing out… just like the oc- that was all anyone could talk about but it barely lasted 3.5 seasons. i admit they should have had someone else review this last one. I do agree it was a little predictable but monk usually was a bit predictable… i think people watched more for the character’s stories than the crimes in the show.

    • Cari

      I agree with what everyone else has said. What a bad review for the final episode. The finale was fantastic! There wasn’t anything I would have changed… :)

      • Shirley

        A big ditto from here

    • b

      Must agree with this also. I adore Monk and will miss the show incredibly. This review also made me sad to read. I was hoping for a nice homage to a great tv show and character that is why i clicked the link for goodness sake!

  • Arby

    In an earlier episode they said the killer was hired by someone called the judge. So in episode 1 when we met an actual judge, all was revealed.

    The whole thing in the teaser about Monk trying to shoot the captain was another false lead.

    • Shaun

      Um, I NEVER got the impression Monk was going to shoot the captain (also HIS FRIEND)… No, the promos always had me thinking, accurately, that Monk was holding the gun at the killer (the judge) and the captain was trying to talk him out of doing it. It was probably pointless to not show Craig T. Nelson there though, since we already knew he was the culprit.

      • Zoe

        In the promo it did look like Monk was going to shoot the captain.

  • Marlowe32

    Loved Momk over the years – a bit disappointed that Craig T. Nelson was revealed so early on, but it was still a bit of fun seeing Monk going postal on him. I thought John Turturro should have made an appearance in the finale as Ambrose.
    PS – It’s Psych not Psyche.

    • Gretchen

      The show is also Monk, not Momk

      • jp

        Gretchen, have you never had a typo??? JESUS.

  • John

    I miss MONK

    • tvfan

      Yeah, I don’t know why it had to end…
      I wasn’t tired of it.

      • Splinky

        Probably the best reason to end it. Eight good years of any show is pretty much a long-shot. Better to end it while it was still strong.

  • Millie

    I will miss Mr. Monk and the whole cast very much. I looked forward to seeing the gang every Friday night after a long week at work. It was wonderful. Wish Mr. Monk could have find a new sweetheart as well as a daughter. SADLY I SAY GOODBYE OLD FRIENDS

  • couchgrouch

    yeah, I am. it was a great show. it wasn’t the mysteries, it was the characters. plus, I didn’t need to give my mind a Silkwood shower when it was over. no threesomes, Natalie didn’t go “gay now” in the 6th season. really gonna miss it. I guess it was tv comfort food. wish there was more of it besides Castle and The Mentalist.

    • Shaun

      Uh, there is more of it besides those shows… There’s PSYCH, which is loads of fun, creative, and the show that “The Mentalist” totally ripped off. Seriously, it did. They even make jokes about it on Psych all the time.

      • sheila

        Mentalist is much better than Psych! Not as silly

    • Tony G

      And let’s not forget Burn Notice. One of the best shows on TV.

      • DE

        Agreed!!

      • yup

        Yeah, i always considered both monk and burn notice to be comfort tv. dont know what it is. maybe its the way you know what your getting yourself into every episode, and you never feel left out for missing an episode or two. beautiful shows mad props to usa network for seeing something in them.

    • noggster

      White Collar is also a fun show. Last nights espisode had an awesome twist.

      • Anon

        I KNOW!! What the heck with him and the ring! Is he really bad, or is he deep undercover with something. Or, maybe he IS bad, and just trying to get the loot, and set up our sweet thief. Hopefully the wife is “someone” too…who knows. The possibilities….Oh, and loved MONK!

      • V

        I think Kate’s trying to double-cross Neal… =D

  • m.

    I thought it was a fitting finale for the show. I honestly thought Monk was going to die or there would be a devastating twist. I’m glad instead that all of the characters seemed happy and continued living their lives.

    • maiv

      I agree. Monk dying was possible, but I think that to keep with the tone of the show, the ending made a lot of sense. My favorite moment? When you saw Monk in the final scene going to work as usual in toned down clothes… *tear* it was worth it

      • Barrow

        I totally agree *tear* I loved the end when he was in tone down clothes…everything was great. I’m really going to miss Monk…but I’m so happy with how they ended the show.

    • Sandra

      I totally agree. I’ve just watched last episode (here on Universal Studio, Argentina) and it’s been GREAT. I loved all the characters, Monk above them all, I’ll really miss them… Nasty review, though.

  • cozmo

    Good thing to have an informed columnist, who admittedly doesn’t like it and hasn’t watched the show in years, review the finale.

    Also, not sure what “Psyche” is, but Psych is another great show that this reviewer seems to dislike.

    • jenn

      Ken Tucker hates Psych? I admit Monk got a little tired (still beloved by me, tho), but Psych is a great time every week. Maybe he can’t relate to the 80s-ness. Whatever, his stock just went way down. Holler!

      • cozmo

        In his review, he called the show “Monk for Morons”…nice, no? I like how Psych named one of their characters/killers Dr Ken Tucker (in the werewolf episode).

        It looks like they corrected the “Psyche” mistake in the article.

  • Sandio

    The finale was eh, but the series was great. Yes, I already miss Monk!

  • greg

    I’m definitely going to miss MONK. Like the reviewer said, it was good comfort food. (The MONK novels have gotten me through many a long plane flight and doctor appointment.) Now, can we have a Randy-and-Sharona spinoff please?

    • Shaun

      Funny, I said the same thing to my wife last night… Randy was, quite possibly, my favorite character on the show and I’d like to see him in a spinoff. Would Bitty Schram do it? I haven’t seen her anything since she left Monk (aside from her guest spot earlier this season), so maybe… I don’t know if it would end up being Fraiser (a show that did well) or AfterMASH (a show that didn’t). But I’d give it a shot.

    • Derek

      Seconded!!!! I’ll miss Monk so much. It was a great a show I was able to watch with my 7 year old daughter without having to worry about inappropriateness. We’ll miss you Adrian! And congrats to Randy!

      • Whatever

        Surprisingly, I thought these last episodes were a little more violent than usual. Funny you talk about inappropriateness for your daughter while there’s a murder in every episode. :p But I agree Monk was still a lot more family friendly than most detective shows. (Besides I also used to watch reruns of shows like Murder, she wrote when I was a child so…)

    • Tari

      While a Randy/Sharona spin off would be wonderful, I think it might blur what we already know of Monk. Bad spin offs can ruin the legacy’s that influenced them.

    • torpeau

      I wondered if Randy wasn’t being set up for a new show. I was surprised that Stottlemyer was so positive about how Randy would do on his new job. Stottlemyer was a good guy.

    • chattypatra

      Yes, please! I was thinking the same thing when they showed Randy in his new office. It would be nice to see him grow up, and I love Sharona.

  • Ann Williams

    I think the whole plot was obvious as soon as they even introduced the judge (I guessed the whole baby part too). And like the last part of LOTR, you kept thinking it was over but…However, I was thrilled to see Monk finally recover somewhat. It was getting ridiculous how bad he still was. Look how well Howie Mandel does.

  • revsmate

    We’ll miss Monk. I’m glad that the finale kept the possibility of a movie or reunion season.

  • Hugh

    This was by far THE BEST series ending that I have ever seen. Great Job! Everything was tied up very well and Monk stayed true to the end. I really loved how “normal” he looked at the end on a new case. Once again, Great Job!

    • Shaun

      Well, there was the finale to Newhart, as well as the final episode of Star Trek: TNG. Finales don’t get any better than those. Hopefully Lost’s finale won’t disappoint!

      • Tony G

        I agree that the best series final in my opinion is the “Newhart” finale.

      • Bill Dauphin

        Yeah, I have to agree: I loved the Monk finale, but any series-ender that doesn’t end up with somebody sleeping with Suzanne Pleshette is always going to be second-best.

    • Ambrose Monk

      I liked how the “normal” Monk was directly connected to Trudy. In the beginning of Mr. Monk and The End Pt. 1, you saw the “normal” Adrian Monk when Trudy was living. It was the death of Trudy that turned Monk into the OCD head-case that we loved. Having Monk connect to Trudy’s daughter allowed Adrian to return to that period when he was normal. I loved how the show ended, but I will be sad come next year when there is no Monk.

    • AD

      Better series finales than “Monk”: “Charmed” and “Six Feet Under”.

      • Chris

        No, Monk had a GREAT series Finale, Charmed had just an annoying series finale.

  • Valerie

    Monk may have been a comfort show; however, it was one of my favorites. Didn’t have the violence and sex like other shows that are not appropriate. I loved watching Monk and I think the writers ended very well. I will be said to see it end. I wish they would make a movie…would better than some that are out now.

    • chattypatra

      This is true. I loved watching every episode. Shalhoub did a wonderful job playing Monk; I have been a fan of his since Wings. I was very moved when I saw him dressed casually (for him) and acting “normal”. I cried … a lot.
      The journey was certainly worth it.

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