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Blu-Ray : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: March 26th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 2006

Monk: Season Five

Overview -

Blu-ray Review By: Matthew Hartman
When you’re the world’s greatest detective… or at least in the greater San Francisco area, murder is a brisk business. Everyone’s favorite obsessive-compulsive detective returns for his best season Monk: Season Five. The stakes are higher, the guest stars bigger and better, and the season includes the classic Noir episode in black and white and color! KLSC continues their winning streak with excellent A/V for each episode and a nice selection of archival extras. Highly Recommended

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
4 Blu-ray Set
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Length:
640
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.78:1
Audio Formats:
English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH
Release Date:
March 26th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

If you’ve kept up with my previous four reviews of Monk, you’ll know I’m a fan of the show and detective series as a whole. The fun of Monk isn’t the whodunit but the howdtheydoit format. Occasionally the resolutions are a stretch, but more often than not the series doesn’t leave too much to convenience. But any fan of television knows that the longer the series runs, the harder it is to maintain quality. The risk of jumping the shark or slipping into mundane rehashes of better episodes. It’s usually around season four or five that a show’s best legs start to wobble. Not Monk. In fact, this is the best season of the series.  

The season hits the ground running with the premiere episode Mr. Monk and the Actor. After a Hollywood studio picks up an article about a previous case to become a movie, they get the best actor in town to play Adrian, extreme method actor David Ruskin (Stanley Tucci). Not only is it great to see Tucci playing Shalhoub, but the casting fun in this episode goes even further. Peter Weller cameos as the actor playing Ted Levine’s Stottlemeyer - because who else has a voice as iconic as Levine? Lending extra humor to the moment is Andrea Bogart playing Gray-Stanford’s Disher in one hell of a reveal. But as fun as it is, it’s also one of the most heartfelt and poignant. There’s good reason Tucci picked up an Emmy for his appearance, and the climax is one of the best moments of the show. 

While that first episode of the season is one of the best, the coolest (and one of the funniest) episode of the show is seen in S5E10 - Mr. Monk and the Leper. The case is entertaining enough but it’s the fact the episode is steeped in noir detective tropes that’s the highlight. The episode was even done in Black and White - which frustratingly hasn’t been available on streaming (that I've found on Prime or Peacock), only the color version. Now on Blu-ray, we can watch both… I prefer the Black and White, it fits the vibe of the episode of seedy bars and low lights. Color just doesn’t make sense. 

True to seasons past, the episodes are packed with big-name stars dropping in and newcomers getting their big breaks. Alice Cooper, Chi McBride, Jennifer Lawrence, Reginald VelJohnson, Andy Richter, Sean Astin, Brooke Adams, and Charles Durning make memorable appearances. We get to enjoy meeting more of Monk’s family when his Dad Dan Hedaya stops by for a road trip episode. And continuing casting old friends, former Wings co-star Steven Webber stops by as a guest murder suspect. 

Monk is one of the rare shows that was great from the start and managed to stay great through most of the run. The last couple of seasons started to wobble a bit, but amazingly enough, it hit its peak stride in Season Five. The show starts to pick up some of the loose plot threads with Trudy’s unsolved murder. The guest stars were bigger and more personable. The cases were just as wild as ever. But best of all, the cast was in peak form. Shalhoub picked up his fifth (of eight) Emmy nominations for the season. Traylor Howard had fully settled into her role as Natalie, and Ted Levine and Jason Gray-Stanford continued their great runs as Stottlemeyer and Disher. Whether you’re just casually watching or working your way through the whole series one episode at a time, Monk never disappoints. 



Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray 
All sixteen episodes of Monk: Season Five arrive on Blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber Studio Classics in a four-disc set. Each disc is a Region A BD-50 disc. The discs are housed in a multi-disc case with individual trays, no stacking. Inside the insert art is the list of episodes, a brief plot description and a list of the guest stars. Completing the package is an identical slipcover.

Video Review

Ranking:

At this point, I feel like something of a broken record, but KLSC continues to give this series the due justice it deserves on Blu-ray. All episodes were restored in 4K ahead of these Blu-rays and the improvements are immediately obvious over past DVDs and streaming. Facial features, textures in clothing and costumes, and set design work are all on display with a naturally cinematic veneer of film grain. Each episode is in immaculate shape without any signs of speckling or damage. The occasional CGI effect looks a tad wonky, but this show was never really about big visual effects. Colors are bright and beautiful with healthy skin tones and nice primaries. Black levels are appropriately inky - especially for that black-and-white version of episode 10!

Audio Review

Ranking:

Continuing with tradition, each episode of Monk Season Five comes in with a lovely DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. As the show has always been a pretty conversational affair, the mix supports our OCD detective and his musings. Dialog is always the focus. Action sequences or big loud setpieces are are fairly rare occurrences but when those scenes do come up the mix handles everything nicely. There’s just never really been any call for a big surround vehicle for this series. Again dialog is clean and clear. Every episode sounds crisp without any dropouts or issues. 

Special Features

Ranking:

Bonus features for this series hasn’t been much on the exciting stuff. Previous sets have kept to recycling what we saw on the old DVDs. That trend continues here. Since it’s something of a rarity - at least I haven’t seen it on streaming - I’m including the Black and White version of Episode 10 as a bonus feature since the different intros and commentary track is included as separate extras. 

Disc Three

  • Mr. Monk and the Leper (B&W)
  • Mr. Monk and the Leper (B&W) Audio Commentary
  • Mr. Monk and the Leper (B&W) Tony Shalhoub Intro (SD 00:37
  • Mr. Monk and the Leper (Color) Intro with Ted Levine and Jason Gray-Stanford (SD 00:58)

Disc Four

  • Mr. Monk and Dr. Kroger: Webisode (SD 1:56)
  • Mr. Monk and the Computer: Webisode (SD 2:00)
  • Mr. Monk and the Blood Test: Webisode (SD 2:07)
  • Mr. Monk Goes to teh Gym: Webisode (SD 1:43)

If you’ve got a favorite show, it stands to reason you have a favorite season. While Monk as a series whole is great, I would have to step in and say Season Five is the best run. Each episode is great in itself, but the casting for the guest victims/murders was excellent and the overall quality of the episodes just felt elevated. On top of that this season features some of my all-time favorite episodes. Now on Blu-ray, we can enjoy each episode with lovely picture and audio quality - even if the episode in question is in black and white. I do wish the extras were a little more extensive and recent, but all the same glad to see the legacy materials from the old DVDs are included. Highly Recommended 

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