DAVID BIANCULLI

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YULE TUBE: Yes, Charlie Brown, there is an encore
December 7, 2009  | By Diane Werts
 
charlie brown christmas thumb.jpg

I go away for a week, and look what happens -- President Obama pre-empts Charlie Brown's Christmas, and agreeable Adrian Monk suffers a disappointingly unpleasant series finale.

This is the holiday season?

Luckily, A Charlie Brown Christmas reappears Tuesday (Dec. 8 at 8 p.m. ET, ABC) in a pre-planned encore. [UPDATE: It also repeats Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. ET, in an ABC hour that also includes Charlie Brown Christmas Tales.] And we've got our Monk DVDs to keep us warm.

We've also got such Christmas treats as the new animated special Yes, Virginia (Friday at 8 p.m. ET, CBS), in which Neil Patrick Harris and
other voices tell the real-life story of a little girl whose letter-to-the-editor prompted the revered newspaper column confirming the existence of Santa Claus. And another airing of the '60s stop-motion fave Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, CBS) takes us back to the land of misfit toys, pre-cell phones.

yes virginia cbs.jpgThis week's other holiday highlights include Saturday's all-day Rankin-Bass animation marathon on ABC Family, that night's return of the movie classic It's a Wonderful Life, and full lineups of new Christmas comedy episodes from ABC Wednesday night and NBC Thursday night.

And then there's Sunday's annual TV Land Merry-thon, with Andy, Roseanne, the Bunkers, the Bundys, the Clampetts, and those 3rd Rock aliens.

I'm back on the case scouting for newly added Christmas/holiday episodes, movies and specials. So keep checking back here for more festive fun.

 

3 Comments

 

Ed Q. said:

What didn't you like about the Monk finale? Was the murder resolved too easily? He didn't live happily ever after? Curious. I enjoyed it.

Diane Werts said:

--- NOTE: SPOILERS AHEAD!! ----

Ed, I've always felt that Monk seriously under-served its mystery side, and for me, the finale cooked it up even further with implausibilities. (How long did it take to guess Trudy's killer? Five minutes? Actually, just checking the listing's guest star credits would have done it, as usual.)

All those twisted conniptions/coincidences about Trudy's past with the villain, and the personal grotesquerie of the supposedly dead baby, dead midwife, dead doctor were unpleasant enough, for a show that has always played it "light" around each episode's basic murder mystery.

But then already damaged Adrian Monk was made to suffer in every way possible, and nearly die. And then there was digging up a body in the pouring rain, Monk on the verge of committing murder, the guy shooting himself in the head, Monk knowing he could have solved the murder a decade earlier . . . I could go on and on. Sorry, that's just too much pain-and-ick factor for me, especially for our farewell to such a fragile and beloved central character.

Finally, at the end, suddenly, bam -- he's all better? His OCD/depression essentially "fixed"? I just felt like both Monk the character and the loyal viewing audience deserved better.

Happy ending wasn't the problem for me. Satisfying ending that made sense -- that's what I wanted.

I've always watched and (mostly) enjoyed the show, but always came away disappointed that Monk was perpetually selling itself short. With that concept and that star (plus under-served costars like Ted Levine), it could have been great -- truly, great, like Columbo. But it settled for being simply a pleasant diversion. (Don't even get me started on the utter absurdity of every single thing involving Randy.)

Rather than upping its game for one final impression, the Monk finale served up magnified versions of all the show's problems and consistent ugliness, too. What a missed opportunity.

Ed Q. said:

Diane, thanks for the in-depth response.

First, as far as the murder "mystery" portion of the show, I agree Monk missed out on its chance to be a Columbo-type progam, but I gave up on that hope long ago. I learned to love the Monk character for what he was (and to a lesser extent the supporting characters).

As for the season finale, I looked at it as showing a catharsis for Monk's character. It seemed the writers were showing the depths to which Monk needed to sink in order to finally rid himself of the demons from the death of Trudy.

Wrapping everything up in a tidy little bow this season was never my favorite idea but at least they allowed growth in the characters, Monk especially that we could take away from the 9 years invested.

To me, Monk will be missed not for what it was lacking but for the wonderful performance Tony Shalhoub brought on those otherwise barren Friday evenings.

 
 
 
 
 
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