|Mr. Monk and the Game Show|
August 13, 2004
Melora Hardin as Trudy Monk
|Monk Season 3|
|Season 2||Season 4|
In her house in the Hollywood Hills, television assistant Lizzie Talvo is arguing with her boss, game show host Roddy Lankman. She's discovered proof that he's been helping a contestant to cheat, and threatens to expose him to the show's producer, unless he quits the show. Roddy promises to do so that very evening. But out of her sight, he switches the videocassette she has made as proof with another one, then grabs her car keys and sneaks out to her garage, where he cuts her brake line.
That evening, Lizzie watches on TV as Roddy announces that he's renewed his contract for a further five years, and assures his fans that he's not going anywhere. Furious, Lizzie grabs her "evidence" and jumps into her car. But while navigating the winding road on the hills, she is unable to slow down before she hits a sharp turn, and the car crashes through the guardrail and rolls down the hill.
A few weeks later, in San Francisco, Sharona is out of town visiting her ailing mother, leaving Monk in the care of his annoying neighbor, Kevin Dorfman. As Monk is forced to deal with Kevin's antics, there's a knock on the door. To his astonishment, it's his father-in-law, Dwight Ellison, who needs his help. Dwight is producing the popular game show "Treasure Chest," and is convinced the current champion is cheating, so he asks Monk to come to Los Angeles to help him figure out what's going on. Monk begs off at first, mentioning that he doesn't go anywhere without Sharona, but Kevin volunteers to take her place. Monk and Dwight head to L.A., with Kevin in tow.
When they arrive in L.A., Ellison immediately takes Monk to the studio before the next taping and introduces him to the current champion, Val Birch. A brief conversation is enough to convince Monk that Dwight is correct in believing Birch is cheating somehow - in plain words, Birch is a moron (he appears ignorant of the correct name of the Golden Gate Bridge when Monk brings it up in conversation).
Backstage, Roddy Lankman (the show's host) and Birch have a whispered conference. Lankman warns Birch that people are getting suspicious, but Birch says he's going to keep winning until he says they're done, or else.
Monk and Kevin sit through the taping, watching from the front row of the audience as Birch wins another perfect match. Monk can't understand how Birch is cheating, though he knows that Birch is doing that - for instance, he gets a visual question right without even looking at the photo. Dwight explains that, for the last two weeks, he has been writing the questions himself, and they remain sealed and confidential until they are opened during the show - not even Roddy sees them beforehand. Monk becomes convinced that Birch and Roddy are working together, but if Roddy is using some kind of code to slip Birch the answers, Monk can't see it.
Later that night, Monk and Kevin go to the Ellisons' house for dinner. All of his memories of Trudy come flooding back; this is her childhood home, after all. Monk cannot bring himself to enter Trudy's old bedroom - it's just too emotional for him. Talk turns back to the mystery at hand, and Dwight mentions that Roddy Lankman has been having some problems recently – gambling debts, bankruptcy, and of course, Lizzie's unfortunate death in a car accident. Dwight also mentions that even if Val Birch is being slipped the answers, it's very hidden - he's analyzed every frame of every show where Birch has won, and Roddy never gestures or changes his voice.
When Monk and Kevin check out the scene of the car crash that killed Lizzie Talvo, they find evidence that Val Birch was at the scene! They go by Val Birch's house when he's not there, and, while looking through his window, his answering machine picks up an incoming call about a new car that Birch has purchased. The machine also indicates that there is an old message saved on it.
The mystery deepens, and Monk realizes that he has to get closer to the game show to break this case. Monk does the unthinkable: he asks Ellison to put him on the game show... as a contestant!
Once he's on the show, Monk's OCD comes to the surface as he tries to fight the urge to clean a smudge off of his buzzer. But as the first round of the game progresses, he starts to study the interaction between Roddy and Birch closely, and cracks the code.
The code, as he explains to Dwight during the commercial break, is simplicity unto itself: each question is presented as a multiple choice with four possible answers (A, B, C, or D). Roddy feeds Birch the correct answer by holding the card by a particular corner depending on which answer is correct.
Dwight prepares to call the police, but then Monk realizes that cheating isn't all these two are guilty of. He asks Dwight if he can make a phone call during the show. Dwight says that, under the rules of the game, Monk can telephone for outside assistance, but only if he makes it to the bonus round.
The show resumes, and Monk and Birch engage in a neck-and-neck race to answer the questions, sometimes even before Roddy finishes asking them. Making it to the bonus round, Monk prepares to make his telephone call and explains the case.
Here's What HappenedEdit
Val Birch was fishing in the gulch when Lizzie Talvo's car crashed. He started to call 9-1-1 on his cell phone, but, listening to her, realized he had a line to a potential gold mine. So he hung up and called his own number instead, using his answering machine to record Lizzie's dying words – enough evidence to blackmail Roddy into helping him win, again and again, for protection money.
Monk produces his epiphany onstage: he dials Val's number and instructs the machine to play back the saved message: Lizzie, accusing Roddy of cheating and sabotaging her car. As the message ends, security guards enter and inform Roddy and Birch that the police are there to arrest them.
Dwight thanks his son-in-law for his amazing detective work, and Monk responds simply, "Thank you for Trudy."
Back at the Ellisons' house, Monk finally enters Trudy's room. Though he's filled with great sadness, he moves about her room, looking at her belongings, including her diary, in which she says that, no matter what sad memories she might have, she feels she has only good things to look forward to. Adrian can't bring her back, but takes some solace from her words.
Background Information and NotesEdit
- First appearance of Melora Hardin as Trudy Monk (replacing Stellina Ruisch).
- Though credited, Bitty Schram, Jason Gray-Stanford, and Ted Levine do not appear.
- This episode was produced between "Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month" and "Mr. Monk and the Red Herring." It was presumably intended as a stop-gap after Bitty Schram's unexpected departure from the show, while her replacement was being cast.
- Kevin Dorfman reappears after his introduction in Season Two's "Mr. Monk and the Paperboy." He refers to his winning the lottery in that episode, and explains the subsequent disappearance of his fortune (the combination of a number of factors, including two gold-digging wives, gambling, and a dishonest accountant).