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Monk: Season Seven finds San Francisco's most famously phobic detective, Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), tested on many fronts and facing issues of revenge, loyalty, attraction to a woman other than his late wife, the excitement of home ownership, and fear of inevitable change and loss. In "Mr. Monk Buys a House," Shalhoub's neurotic hero snaps up the abode of a murder victim in order to get away from annoying neighbors. His anxiety doubles over, however, when a repairman (Brad Garrett) begins tearing the place apart, claiming that nothing is up to code and making Monk wish he was back at his old place. "Mr. Monk and the Genius" is graced with a guest appearance from David Strathairn as a chess master more than happy to match wits with Monk over a murder. Out-strategized at every turn, Monk has to step back from the case to see what his next move should be. "Mr. Monk Gets Lotto Fever" finds Natalie (Traylor Howard)--Dr. Watson to Monk's Sherlock Holmes--drunk on her sudden celebrity status when she takes over as a television station's Lotto Girl after the last one turns up dead. The episode is an interesting study of obsessive behavior (besides Monk, there's a Lotto superfan whose walls are covered by photos). Meanwhile, Monk's impatience over all the attention Natalie is getting is hilariously childish. "Mr. Monk Falls in Love" is one of the more poignant stories in season seven, in which Monk is thunderstruck by a beautiful social worker who also happens to be the lead suspect in a cab driver's murder. Denying his feelings (fearing he is being unfaithful to the memory of his late wife, Trudy), Monk springs into action when it looks like he might lose a second chance at love. "Mr. Monk's Other Brother" offers a very funny performance by Steve Zahn as Monk's long-lost and very much alleged brother, an escaped convict. Deeply dubious, Monk nonetheless hides him and openly lies to his cop friend, Captain Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine), while trying to prove the fugitive is innocent of murder. "Mr. Monk and the Bully" is a dark episode in which the detective is hired to follow the wife of a former school bully who made Monk's childhood hell. When the husband is accused of murder, Monk savors the thought of his nemesis being convicted, even if he knows the villain is innocent. Finally, "Mr. Monk Fights City Hall" concerns Monk's frantic efforts to stop the demolition of a garage where Trudy was murdered. Touching but funny, the story is a fitting end for Monk: Season Seven.

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MC15899 Monk Season 7 DVD (2008/Tony Shalhoub) $19.98