Monk: Season 8, Episode 8 “Mr. Monk Goes to Group Therapy” (B+)
Monk’s discovery that he’s nearly out of therapy sessions makes for a great necessary chain of events, and Monk’s venture into group therapy is a particularly hilarious one. The reappearance of Harold Krenshaw is always welcome, and I’ve very pleasantly surprised with the way that the two of them finally actually become friends as they bond while overcoming their biggest phobias while locked in a trunk. It might seem a smidge suspicious that this is now at least the second time that Monk’s fellow therapy patients were involved in a major multiple murder case (it happened once with Dr. Kroeger) and that Harold has been directly involved as a potential suspect, but on this show, it all works. Hector Elizondo is a truly terrific actor who’s able to respond (and often not respond) with such subdued nonchalance to everything that all of his wacky, phobic patients throw out. The most entertaining part of the episode was the very unusual “here’s what happened” from someone other than Monk. Harold’s extremely excitedly-recounted version of events made surprising sense in terms of Monk’s potential motivations for offing his fellow patients, and the sheer brilliance of having Harold try to one-up Monk in what Monk actually does was great. Recurring characters on a show like this shouldn’t be so well-developed and fantastic, but somehow Dr. Bell and Harold are terrific, and their frequent reappearances really enhance the show.