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The Monk Fun Page Episode Review

Someone Else 4
Spoilers ahead. Turn back now if you haven’t seen the episode...
that is unless you just don't care.

“Mr. Monk is Someone Else” is the fourth episode of the final season of Monk. Never let it be said that an old-fashioned show like Monk would pass up a classic maneuver like the “evil twin” a.k.a. the doppelganger. Jeannie had one on I Dream of Jeannie. Samantha had one on Bewitched. Peter Brady had one. Gilligan had one (and so did Ginger and Mr. Howell). Festus had one. Captain Kirk had one or two… or maybe three. Now Monk has his own evil twin, hit man Frankie DePalma.

Randy Zisk
Randy Zisk at The Paley Center

Randy Zisk directed this episode. I'm running out of stuff to say about Randy. As an executive producer of Monk, as well as the most frequent director, I'd guess his influence on the show may be second only to Tony Shalhoub's and Andy Breckman's and when it comes down to the day to day, nut and bolts decisions, he's the man. You won't see him quoted a lot in the media, but he did say this about casting for the show: "We have to make up for it in our budget, but I'd always rather have the perfect actor against Tony (Shalhoub)," says Randy. "I'll take away from equipment and location if I have to."
Here's a not particular relevant, but nonetheless interesting fact: Randy used to be married to Cary Grant's daughter, Jennifer. That's officially all I know about Randy, except that he has a brother Craig who also directs for televsion... and he's from Texas. That's it.
Sal Savo is the writer for this one. He also wrote "Mr. Monk Takes a Punch" last season and "Mr. Monk and the Wrong Man" in season six. He began his Monk career in season two as a script coordinator in the New Jersey writers' office. According to Sal being a script coordinator means, "Basically, I'm in charge of the scripts: when the writers want to make changes, they give them to me, I put them into the official script, and I email the script out to Los Angeles where it's distributed to the cast and crew.

Sa Savo
Sal Savo in the Writers Room

"When someone in Los Angeles has a question about the script, often they'll call me, and I'll go to the writers and see how they want to address the issue. I do other stuff, too, but that's the job in a nutshell." [From the USA Network Blog] As of season seven he is now an associate producer as well as a full fledged writer.

For the guest roles of DePalma’s mob employers, Monk has dipped into The Sopranos well and pulled out Vincent Curatola (Jimmy Barlowe) and Louis Lombardi (Tony G.) to lend a little pay cable authenticity to the L.A. mobster scene. Eric Balfour plays Jimmy’s erstwhile nephew Lenny. Balfour’s been a favorite of mine since Six Feet Under and he did an impressive guest turn on a Law and Order: Criminal Intent episode this summer. He always brings an interesting intensity to his roles and Lenny is no exception. Kelly Carlson (Nip/Tuck) as femme fatale Lola rounds out an impressive guest cast.
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Tim Bagley
Returning for this episode is Monk’s nemesis Harold Krenshaw played by the hilarious Tim Bagley. We’ll also be seeing Tim in another episode, "Mr. Monk Goes to Group Therapy", later this season. Lt. Disher (Jason Gray-Stanford) is back too after taking an episode off ("Mr. Monk and the UFO"). An episode without Randy is like a circus without a sideshow… It can go on, but there’s just some fun missing. Disher and Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine) have quite a bit to do in this one especially considering most of the episode is set well outside their jurisdiction.

Tony Shalhoub recently cited this episode as a particular favorite of his: “It’s basically a doppelganger episode, where Monk assumes the character of this man who looks just like him, but the character happens to be a professional hit man for the mafia. So this character dies and Monk is asked to take this guy on and become him. Those opportunities to kind of transform within the character are really, really challenging and satisfying.”

“That’s a lip. That’s not even a lip. It’s a demi-lip.”

In what is undoubtedly the shortest Monk teaser ever, Frankie DePalma who looks exactly like Adrian Monk, is crossing an L.A. street when he’s run down by a city bus. That’s it. Monk’s evil twin lasts all of 37 seconds. Let that be a lesson to you all: never jay walk in Los Angeles.

The intention in the opening scene was probably to make the audience believe that Monk was the one who had become road kill, but what with the “internet people” and the TV Guide log line, I’m sure almost everyone knew that wasn’t the case and Natalie’s tears after the commercial break were wasted on us. Still, the Marley and Me reveal was funny and so was her voice wavering with emotion throughout the scene while reading her tearjerker.

Monk appears alive and well to usher in a delivery man who demands extra cash. The refrigerator delivery guy, Bill (or so his shirt indicates), was perhaps the most dislikable character ever to cross Monk’s path, if you don’t count murderers and even some of them were more pleasant. Admittedly, had Monk not come off a little bit snarky with his first comment, “It’s a refrigerator. Let’s try the kitchen,”
Someone Else 8
Lance Barber

Bill might not have been such a jerk about the “demi-lip.” In any case, kudos to Lance Barber for playing the role to the hilt. Monk can’t stand up to the delivery guy and consults Natalie who advises him that he shouldn’t let the guy “stare you down in your own house,” but Monk is easily intimidated and he gives the guy the extra $40 and a gratuity on top of it. As Monk pays him off, Natalie gets a call from the FBI.

“That’s your doppelganger. They say everyone’s got one.”
“Who says that?”
“People… and their doppelgangers.”

They meet the FBI guy, Agent Stone, who thanks Stottlemeyer for letting them meet in the SFPD squad room. (I'd say it was used because it’s a lot easier than building a whole new set, but then they went ahead and built a whole new set.) He tells them all about Frankie DePalma the mob hit man who was run over by a bus, but Monk wants to know, “What does this have to do with me?”

Agent Stone shows them a picture of Frankie. He’s the spit and image of Monk. Everyone is amazed except Monk who can’t really see the resemblance at first. Natalie covers up the mob accessories, a carnation and a cigar. Monk finally sees it. “Oh my god, it’s me!”

They’ve kept DePalma’s death a secret and now the FBI wants Monk to go to Los Angeles and pose as the killer. They want him to find out who Frankie’s target was and who hired him. Sottlemeyer knowing the physical and emotional danger to Monk, turns down the offer for him and starts to escort them out. Agent Stone appeals to Monk, “If you don’t help us they’re going to find somebody else. There’s a life at stake here, Mr. Monk.”

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Reed Diamond as Agent Stone really does an excellent job. Monk has run into a few FBI agents over the years and they’ve all been either untrustworthy or they’ve tried to make Monk and Stottlemeyer look bad. No doubt that’s why Stottlemeyer’s impulse is to say “no” for Monk this time. Agent Stone seems to be different, a real stand-up guy who’s just doing his job and who’s honest with Monk. Too bad there’s not enough Monk time left to bring him back for an episode or two.

“You are the toughest son of a bitch in the room and everybody knows it.”
“Like the refrigerator delivery man.”

So Monk is off to Los Angeles, which must be a great relief to all the Monk production people who for once don’t have to keep up the pretence that L.A. (where Monk is filmed) is San Francisco (where Monk is set.) Agent Stone gives Monk a slide presentation to test him on what he’s learned about his doppelganger. Turns out Frankie was from Massachusetts and his parents were Joseph and Helen. This is pretty interesting mostly because Tony Shalhoub’s parents were named Joseph and Helen. I can’t swear that the picture in the slide show is of Tony’s parents, but I’d be very surprised if that wasn’t the case.

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Click to enlarge

I’m also pretty sure that Frankie’s cellmate Barry “The Maggot” Franklin must be a real-life aquaintance of one of the writers. Monk is nervous about the job, but Agent Stone gives him a pep talk. “You’re Frankie DePalma. You’re a killing machine”. When Monk flinches after a good natured pat on the arm from Agent Stone, it seems he might not be quite ready to claim the tough guy title.

After a lovely little sequence in which Monk dons the bling and the sartorial splendor of a mob hit man (I thought this guy was trying to keep a low profile!), with some nice jazzy gangster music in the background, he takes a limo to the killer’s swanky hotel, The Century Plaza. He’s chauffeured by Lt. Disher who does his best undercover job to date.

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(Just in case you missed it as Monk puts on Frankie's clothes and jewelry, he takes off his wedding ring. Normally that would be quite difficult for him, but we don't know if struggles with that at all in this case.)

“You gonna give me that fifty cents back?”

The doorman (Kenyon Glover) is deferential when Monk arrives and recognizes him as Mr. DePalma. Monk doesn’t quite have the swagger down yet, but he’s got the look. Monk is wired for sound and he gives his listeners (Agent Stone, Stottlemeyer, Disher, and Natalie) a detailed description of his room. (Room 1808, was that some sort of nod to his recent film 1408? Or maybe just another reminder that this is season 8?) Very detailed, but they really get an earful when Lola arrives. Lola obviously knows Frankie well and intimately. She had a disagreement with Frankie in Barcelona so she’s not thrown by Monk’s aloof behavior. She’s ordered room service for them. Monk gives the waiter (Laurence Brown) a characteristically chintzy 50 cent tip, but after a brief stare down (making him now 0 for 7) he coughs up a twenty.

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We never learn Lola’s last name or her occupation (floozy is more of a personality trait than a job description, right?), but apparently she's the one who has brokered Frankie’s deal with local mobster Jimmy Barlowe. Lola attempts to seduce Monk and he’s so flustered he claims to have a girlfriend. “She’s pretty,” he tells her. “We kiss all the time.” And her name? “Natalie Teeger…b. With a B on the end.” Lola has set up a meeting for later that night at Jimmy Barlowe’s club and she asks “Frankie” to bring Natalie along. Stottlemeyer, listening in the FBI van, is amused. “Well, I guess you have a date, Miss Teegerb.”

Monk pretends to drink champagne in this scene and it very much reminds me of the scene in "Mr. Monk and the Other Woman" where he pretends to eat the salad and in "Mr. Monk and the Office" when he pretends to eat the nachos. Another recurring quirk is the compulsive touching."Touching the lamp. Touching the lamp. Still touching the lamp. What's wrong with me?"

That's new. Usually Monk doesn't even think about the touching and he doesn't think it's a problem even in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert" when he touches the hot lamp twice and requires first aid. I suppose just having to describe the behavior for his listeners finally makes Monk recognize it as abnormal.

“Frankie don’t dance.”

Natalie and Monk show up later at Jimmy’s dance club. She’s a pretty good undercover agent and a convincing mob moll. She also looks very fetching in the costume. They don’t get much cooperation from Charlie the bartender (Val Lauren) until Natalie tells him that Frankie DePalma is doing the asking. He turns off the dance music at Monk’s request. An angry bar patron (Randy Flagler), who had presumably been boogieing up a storm before Monk spoiled the fun, gives him a shove and immediately regrets it when the bartender tells him it’s Frankie DePalma. The guy, appalled and scared, quickly apologizes. (Once again, Frankie’s pretty well known for guy who’s trying to keep a low profile.) Lola shows up to make a catty remark to Natalie and to escort Frankie to the mob meeting in the back room. Waiting for Frankie are club owner and head mobster Jimmy Barlow, his nephew Lenny, who looks pretty fetching himself in his little hat, and Tony G., his right hand man.

After the niceties are out of the way, Jimmy reveals who Frankie’s target is: Stanley Greenblatt who lives in Ventura. Monk wants to know why, but Lenny, who wanted to whack the guy himself, thinks he’s asking too many questions. “Lola said you didn’t ask any questions.”

“Why would she say that?”

Someone Else 1

“That’s another question!”

Jimmy B., however, apparently isn’t too concerned and indicates that Lenny should keep his mouth shut.

“He has trouble enough just being himself”

In the next scene Monk and the gang are back at the FBI office. Even though they know who the target is they still don’t know why the mob has it in for Stanley Greenblatt, a retired UPS driver, with two children, one dead. Apparently Stanley had no ties to organized crime. Despite Natalie's misgivings, Agent Stone convinces Monk to stay on as Frankie for a couple more days. Stottlemeyer and Disher offer to go see Mr. Greenblatt. Apparently the FBI is woefully short staffed. Times are tough all over.

Stanley Greenblatt (Michael Fairman) is a very, very mean old man and he isn’t happy when Stottlemeyer and Disher show up to tell him that the mob wants him dead. He communicates by yelling. He doesn’t know who Jimmy B. is or why he wants him dead. He doesn’t want to be protected, but most of all he doesn’t want them in his house. He makes this clear by throwing a couple of cast iron pans at them. They beat a hasty retreat. Disher wonders, “Why would Jimmy Barlowe want to kill this guy”

“Maybe he met him,” says Stottlemeyer, rubbing his leg where he’s been hit by the pan.

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Michael Fairman
as StanleyGreenblatt
I'm a long time fan of Michael Fairman, who plays the unlucky and unlikeable Stanley Greenblatt. He was on my favorite soap (don't judge me: everyone has guilty pleasures) General Hospital for a few years back in the 90s. He played a mobster on the show. It was a recurring role, but he made a good impression on me. At the time, my sister and I put up a little profile page for him. In fact, it's still up. Since then I've had the pleasure of seeing him work live once at a Just Shoot Me taping which also featured Rena Sofer ("Mr. Monk's Favorite Show") and Enrico Colantoni ("Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month").

Meanwhile at the Café Venice Beach, Monk is enjoying lunch alfresco with Lenny and Tony G., discussing the hit. He’s starting to get quite comfortable in the role when a vacationing Harold Krenshaw (Tim Bagley) roller skates by in an “I love L.A.” t-shirt and recognizes him. Harold tries to get his attention in his own uniquely annoying way. “Adrian, Adrian, Adrian, Adrian, Adrian, Adrian.”

Monk ignores him, but Harold doesn’t give up. “Adrian, Adrian, Adrian, Adrian, Adrian, Adrian.”

Monk finally turns around. Harold talks about the weather and greets Monk’s companions. “Harold Krenshaw,” he says. “How ya doin?” (I really liked the tentative little wave Lenny gives him. I'm not sure why exactly. It's just sort of cute and unexpected.)

Monk tells him he’s made a mistake, stares him down and advises him to leave, resorting to a little force as he shoves him on his way. Totally in character now he asks some gawking diners, “What the hell are you looking at? Finish your Shirley Temple.”

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“I’m whacking somebody else in Pasadena later. I already bought the bullets.”

Later when they all meet back at the FBI office Monk is still in Frankie’s suit and still in character. He doesn’t like the beverage Lt. Disher brings him. “No, I want warm iced tea!”

Concerned by his behavior, Stottlemeyer thinks it’s time to end the undercover operation. (There's a nice little bit of continuity in this scene as we see Stottlemeyer using an icepack on his leg that was hit by the frying pan.) Natalie is concerned, too and she wants to call in Dr. Bell. ” I think you like scaring people,” she tells him. “You’re not yourself.” (Well, he is and he isn't. There are still definite Monk touches, like telling Disher the tea tastes like "BM". Somehow I doubt Frankie would have used that expression.)

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Agent Stone agrees and announces he’s pulling the plug, but Monk is determined. “I’m going to finish what I started with you or without you.” he says in Frankie’s accent.

He heads for the door and Stottlemeyer blocks his way. “Get out of my way, Leland.”

They have a stare down and Stottlemeyer steps aside (Monk’s 2 for 8). The Captain is a little shaken. “Now who the hell was that?”

Monk goes to see Lola. He demands to know why Jimmy Barlowe wants Stanley Greenblatt dead. She promises to tell him and lures him to her bed, but instead of information she gives him a big kiss. This personal violation brings out the Monk in him. Lola’s confused by his behavior. “Who are you?”

Lola seems to suspect he’s not Frankie, although she also thinks he may be "hypnotized or something", but when Lenny shows up looking for Frankie she doesn’t tip him off. He says Jimmy wants the job done that night. “We’re tired of waiting for his funeral.”

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Monk tries to get out of it, but Lenny tells him he’s doing the job if Frankie won’t. Monk reluctantly agrees and Lenny insists on accompanying him to the hit. “Looks like we’re going to be a team.”

That's Lola’s last scene. I guess she figured something was hincky about "Frankie" and she just skipped town.

Monk and Lenny arrive at Greenblatt’s house. After Lenny picks the lock, Monk advises him to stay outside as his lookout. He goes inside to warn Greenblatt, but he finds him inside dead on the kitchen floor. Lenny, who sucks at following instructions, finds him standing over the body. “Heart attack,” Monk explains.

“Hey, he got lucky.”

“Monk, you are one of the toughest guys I know. You just don’t advertise it.”

Since Greenblatt is dead, the case now seems to be wrapped up and Monk is back in San Francisco. Natalie persuades him to apologize to Stottlemeyer, which he does with a greeting card that she bought and he reads aloud.

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“I was udderly wrong
(It’s a cow, udders)
I’m sorry if I upset you.
Please give me another chance.
I would hate for my careless gesture
to spoil our fine romance.”

“Why don’t you tell the captain what you learned?” Natalie says.

“I’m not a tough guy.”

Stottlemeyer disagrees and he tells him he’s proud of him for the job he did and for standing up to him. Natalie wants to know what happened to Jimmy Barlowe. Stottlemeyer says since no one was murdered no one will be arrested. The case is closed, but when he places Monk’s card next to his birthday’s cards from his children, Monk has an epiphany. He saw two “Happy Birthday, Dad” cards at Greenblatt’s house.

Later at Greenblatt’s funeral Monk, Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher explain to FBI agent Stone that Greenblatt’s son, Alvin (Joshua Grenrock), faked his death to steal mob money. Jimmy B. figured if they killed his father the desire to attend the funeral would bring his son out of hiding. When Alvin doesn’t show up they figure Jimmy B’s already got him on ice and they head to the dance club. Just as Lenny’s about to whack the guy, Monk walks in as Frankie DePalma. He tells them he wants to do it. “I just want to put this kid ten feet under.”

“You mean six feet under”

“Whatever you want. I prefer ten. It’s up to you.”

Of course Monk prefers ten feet: it's even. Maybe it's just me, put I thought that little exchange might be a tip of the hat to Eric Balfour's work on the HBO series Six Feet Under.

Lenny’s got his heart set on doing it himself, but Monk stares him down and Lenny hands him the gun. (Now he’s 3 for 10.)

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Monk gets the drop on the gangsters and the FBI, accompanied by Stottlemeyer and Natalie rush in to arrest them. I don't think the wise guys heard the mentions of Monk's real name. ("Mr. Monk, are you all right? and "Great job, Monk.") Jimmy Barlowe's final line seems to indicate that he didn't. “Frankie DePalma, you’re a dead man.”

“Actually he’s been dead since Friday,” Natalie tells him.

“Hey, I still got it.”

In the final scene when Monk is once again confronted by the evil refrigerator delivery guy, he thinks he’s ready and he steps up for a full tilt stare down. Natalie sees he needs a little back up.

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Unbeknownst to Monk she comes up behind him and joins in the stare down. Refrigerator guy caves and agrees to do the repair for free. (That makes Monk 4 for 11 on the stare downs, with one assist from Natalie of course.) She returns to reading her book and Monk is none the wiser, but the viewers know she always has his back.

An evil twin role is specifically meant to show an actor’s range and give them a chance to do something different, but in this episode they put sort of a fresh spin on the concept. Tony Shalhoub doesn’t play Frankie DePalma. Tony Shalhoub plays Adrian Monk playing Frankie DePalma which requires a lot of subtlety, a lot of discipline and a lot talent. I’m not sure what the cut off is for next year’s Emmys, but I hope this episode qualifies, because it does showcase Shalhoub’s remarkable acting talent.

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Tony Shalhoub as Frankie DePalma

Guest Cast

Tim Bagley – Harold Krenshaw
Eric Balfour – Lenny Barlowe
Kelly Carlson – Lola
Reed Diamond – Agent Stone
Vincent Curatola – Jimmy Barlowe
Louis Lombardi – Tony G
Michael Fairman – Stanley Greenblatt
Lance Barber – Refrigerator Deliveryman
Hope Banks – Young Agent
Joshua Grenrock – Alvin Greenblatt
Kenyon Glover – Doorman
Laurence Brown – Waiter
Randy Flagler – Angry Patron
Val Lauren – Bartender

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