With the continuation of Season Five of Monk starting Friday, January 19, we recently got two episodes on DVD to screen. They were "Mr. Monk Makes A Friend" and "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service." What makes this show so great is the fact that Tony Shalhoub is perfectly cast in the starring role as Adrian Monk. As a man with obsessive compulsive disorder who also happens to be an amazing detective (very much in the vein of another crack, TV detective named Columbo), we see a brilliant mind in action in spite of the person whose body it happens to inhabit. Aided in his endeavors by Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine), Natalie Teeger (Traylor Howard) and Lt. Randall Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford), these folks seem to suffer Monk, not just because they care about it him, but also because he is truly gifted at what he does. What might come off as awkward or weird in another show, seems to be almost expected here.

Whether Monk has to examine evidence in a room with the toilet seat down, or he's scattering crumbs around his apartment to seem normal (he knows exactly how many), or he's simply trying to live his life, Monk is Monk and everything he does will always be underlined by that fact. These two episodes "Mr. Monk Makes A Friend" and "Mr. Monk Is At Your Service" make it quite clear that the show's writers and producers have no fear of where to take this character. They seem to love dropping him into situations that are every day for most, but are just impossible for a man with Monk's character makeup. Seeing him sink or swim (he always seems to do a little of both) is all part of the fun.

Also giving a startlingly unnerving and funny performance is Andy Richter in the episode "Mr. Monk Makes A Friend." Having really only seen him when he was on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, I was never aware that he had so much range and versatility as a performer. Lets be honest, he isn't doing Elizabethan Theater here, but Monk is certainly a show that is a cut above a lot of TV fare. Andy Richter is quite good at playing the man Monk is after, even though Monk has no idea that this is the case. Part of the fun is watching the other cast members play off this, because they care for Monk, but at the same time they can't just come out and tell him they think something is wrong with his new "best friend."

All in all these new episodes of Monk show that this series is in fine shape.

CLICK HERE to read an interview with Tony Shalhoub and Ted Levine.

Monk Season Five resumes January 19 at 9/8c on the USA Network.

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