After weeks of the USA Network (over)promoting the new season of Monk, the anal-retentive gumshoe is back and as in need of meds as ever.
Tony Shalhoub continues to mine the hilarious quirks of his character, particularly during the opening scene when he compares the work of different shirt inspectors while shopping for clothes. (Monk says No. 8 is his "soul mate." He once wrote her a fan letter.) But what seems to be an extraneous gag quickly segues into the night's mystery. Ah, the Monk mysteries. Even a 5-year-old can solve them with just one peek at the episode's roster of guest stars. Hmmm, let's see, No-Name Actor No. 1, 2, 3... aha! Malcolm McDowell, best known as Alex from A Clockwork Orange and my second childhood crush after Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. (I have issues.) I know him, therefore he must be the murderer! And anyway he's sporting a cigarette holder, so he's got to be evil. The crime at hand strays into Matlock territory: A supermodel is killed, and a poor Mexican delivery boy named Pablo (the son of Inspector No. 8, for those of you wondering how the heck we got here) is framed for her slaying. Monk agrees to prove Pablo's innocence because his mom is so distraught that she's no longer inspecting shirts to his liking. At some point the bitchy McDowell invites Natalie's tween daughter to strut down the runway in his Jaclyn Smith-like designs at a cheesy fashion show, but by the end he's in handcuffs and Pablo's freed and reunited with his madre. Every time either one of them is on screen, vaguely Spanish-sounding music plays; the climax is no exception. Next week: Monk finds out how immigrants live in "Mr. Monk Works in a Sweatshop for Jaclyn Smith."