A new “Monk” TV movie coming this week to Peacock is titled “Mr. Monk’s Last Case” -- but the hope here is that it will not be the last.
However, if it is the beloved TV detective’s final murder investigation, then he leaves TV on a very high note.
This long-awaited new chapter in the saga of detective-consultant Adrian Monk has him investigating the suspicious death of a man close to his own family.
This story is a serious one that presents “Monk” with the same challenge it always grappled with -- namely, how to acknowledge the gravity of a murder case while also dealing lightheartedly with Detective Monk’s debilitating OCD.
In the case of “Mr. Monk’s Last Case,” mission accomplished. At the center of this accomplishment is Tony Shalhoub, now 70, who established the Monk character in 2002 to critical acclaim.
The role earned Shalhoub eight consecutive Emmy nominations -- three of which he won -- up until 2009, when the show ended its run on USA Network.
The show and the character were much-beloved. Long-time fans will especially appreciate the TV movie, which reunites some of the original series’ central characters.
These include Monk’s long-time assistant, Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard), who still calls him “Mr. Monk,” echoing the way Mary Richards referred to her boss Lou Grant as “Mr. Grant” in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”
Also on hand are Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) and Lieutenant Randy Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) -- both former detectives with the San Francisco PD.
Melora Hardin is back in the role of Monk’s late wife Trudy, who is seen by no one else but Monk, who has conversations with her. Hector Elizondo plays Monk’s long-time psychiatrist.
Now retired from law enforcement, ex-Captain Stottlemeyer is working as head of security for a billionaire business mogul (James Purefoy) who made a fortune in e-commerce and now dabbles in building his own space ships. The mogul soon becomes a person of interest in the movie’s murder story.
The movie picks up the story of Adrian Monk 10 years after he left the world of murder investigations behind.
When the movie opens, we see him nervously hearing some bad news from a book publisher -- played by Brooke Adams, wife of Tony Shalhoub.
Monk wrote a memoir and accepted a large advance, but the publisher is pulling the plug because, basically, the book is so badly written that it is unpublishable.
This sends Monk into a tailspin of despair. Not only will he now be coping with financial issues, since the publisher is demanding that he return his advance, but he is shouldering other emotional burdens as well.
He feels that his life is without purpose now that he is not involved in the business of providing closure to the families of murder victims by solving the mysteries of who killed them.
He also feels acutely lonely, exhausted and unhappy as he continues to deal constantly with his compulsive rearranging of objects, and his germophobia.
The latter was particularly tenacious during the COVID-19 pandemic. The above photo shows him having a typical meal at home in a hazmat suit during the long lockdown.
As many who watched “Monk” in the past well know, Monk’s OCD was positioned as a comedic counterpoint to the murders he was investigating.
Indeed, the Emmy nominations the old show earned were always in comedy categories.
In “Mr. Monk’s Last Case,” Shalhoub plays Mr. Monk so well that watching him suffer is truly a heartbreaking experience.
At the heart of the movie, however, is its murder mystery and the way Monk goes about poking his nose into it and coming up with clues and conclusions that elude everybody else.
As in the past, the way he wraps up the whole thing gives the movie the kind of dazzling ending that “Monk” fans have every reason to wish for.
“Mr. Monk’s Last Case: A Monk Movie” starts streaming Friday, December 8, on Peacock.