|Season 2 (Monk)|
|Season 1||Season 3|
Monk suspects the star of a hit TV crime show of killing his ex-wife. His only problem: the actor's rock solid alibi.
Brad Terry, the star of the hit TV show, "Crime Lab S.F.," takes refuge in the home of his ex-wife, former actress Susan Malloy. Paparazzi have been following ever since an embarrassing incident the day before, when Brad assaulted another patron in a bar. Brad says goodbye to her, as she is about to start her morning exercise routine. Outside the house, Brad addresses the assembled photographers, asking them to leave Susan alone after he's left - then everyone hears Susan scream from inside. Brad rushes inside, and comes back a minute later, covered with blood and shouting that someone has killed her.
Monk and Sharona are called to the crime scene, but are immediately interrupted by Marci Maven, an obsessed fan waiting outside the gates who makes sure Sharona gets her petition in to Brad, with the hope of changing the theme song back. Sharona, clearly attracted to Brad, gets his attention once their inside the house ("I'm going to talk to him," she says to Monk after a few seconds, as if making a life-changing decision) and uses Marci's petition to start a conversation. The evidence points to a break in, but Monk thinks otherwise: for one thing, the killer apparently broke in through the back door from the patio, but the glass shards are on the outside, not on the inside.
Everyone else, from Stottlemeyer on down, seems carried away by Brad's celebrity and willing to believe his story. Monk realizes that Brad had a very big motive: he was not paying alimony under the terms of their divorce, but under California law, she was entitled to receive one-half of his take from the show's upcoming syndication - one half of $20 million, as Brad was still married to Susan when the show started.
Monk questions the owner of the bar where the fight occurred and finds that Brad was never drunk, since he apparently left a check made out to the bartender, but his signature is perfect. Monk realizes that he must have staged the fight to get the press to follow him around, so he could have witnesses to prove that he was outside when Susan was attacked.
At his insistence, Brad agrees to submit to a lie detector test. But he passes with flying colors, and it looks like Monk's the one who's been had. Moreover, a voiceprint analysis confirms that the scream the press heard, while Brad was outside the house, definitely came from Susan.
To show that there are no hard feelings, Brad invites Stottlemeyer, Disher, and Sharona to the cast party celebrating the show's 100th episode - conspicuously excluding Monk. It becomes painfully obvious that everyone else wants Brad to be innocent, and letting everyone go to the party leaves Monk alone and dejected.
At the party, things go from strange to even stranger when Marci crashes the party and urgently tries to talk to Brad. Stottlemeyer and Disher step in and take her away.
The next day at the station, Stottlemeyer calls in Monk to hear Marci's story. She claims that she did it, to get Susan out of Brad's life. Marci claims she hated Susan, who was a failed actress, and only starred in one lousy horror flick before she gave up her career - she can't hold a candle to Brad. Monk has doubts. For one thing they saw her at the fence a half hour after the murder but she had no evidence of blood on her clothes. Stottlemeyer and Disher reply that she explained that by changing her clothes. Monk reluctantly decides to be convinced to drop the case.
Stottlemeyer, Disher, and Sharona immediately celebrate: now that Monk has given up on pursuing Brad, Stottlemeyer can be a police consultant on the show, while Disher has a line in the next episode. Sharona, as a welcome guest on the set, excitedly follows them out of the room. Later, everyone is on the set (Stottlemeyer showing an actress how to handcuff a criminal, Randy practicing lines by Sharona, and Monk with Brad in his trailer). Monk is apologizing to Brad when Laurie comes in, asking about a script she wrote. Brad tells her it was the best script he ever read; he might even pass it on to his agent - but Monk is watching his pulse monitor, which didn't change a fraction. Later, after witnessing Brad mutter to another crew member that Laurie's script was actually horrible, Monk tells Sharona Brad is a suspect again. "He's a sociopath," Monk whispers to her. "That's how he beat the polygraph test!"
Despite her confession, and to the chagrin of everyone, Monk continues to probe Marci, including visiting her in jail. She continues to insist her guilt and hangs up on him.
Despite having no support from Stottlemeyer, and only reluctant help from Sharona, Monk re-examines the crime scene, and sees that the exercise video Susan was watching is nowhere to be found. Even stranger, the volume on the television is turned up to maximum, as it was the day of the murder (Monk remembers that Randy turned off the TV when he noticed the yoga tape still playing, which promptly caused a car commercial to nuke the room at full blast). Monk solves the case, and asks Sharona to keep an open mind while he explains. Sadly, she knows he is never wrong about murder: "He did it, didn't he?"
Here's What Happened
Monk, Sharona, Stottlemeyer and Disher confront Brad at the dubbing room as he's analyzing a dub from one of his episodes and giving advice to the sound engineer. They reveal that they know Brad staged the fight at the bar so that the press would be there to provide him witnesses to the murder. The ace in the hole is when Monk has Randy play back press tape of Brad talking to reporters when Susan was heard screaming. Then Randy plays a clip from the low-budget slasher film Susan made several years ago, in which her character is being menaced in the shower Psycho-style by an axe-wielding man. The scream is the exact same consistency. And so Monk begins his summation.
Brad came in after hours a few days before the murder and re-dubbed Susan's yoga exercise tape: first, he laid down the normal audio track at reduced volume, so Susan would turn the TV all the way up when she started the video, then he dubbed in the scream at normal volume, which everyone outside would hear while he was on the lawn. The morning of the murder, he broke a pane on the back door to make it look like the killer broke in that way, hid a knife by one of the potted plants for him to grab easily, and replaced the exercise tapes. He also made sure the press got to see Susan alive and well as he left the house. The "screams" played on the tape as Brad's cue to go back inside, ostensibly to "help" her, but as soon as he was inside, he grabbed the knife, ran up to Susan, and lethally stabbed her fast enough that she didn't have time to scream.
Brad thought it was a safe bet that no one would recognize the scream, since the movie was obscure and out of print. It was just his luck that Marci, the one person obsessed enough with him to have seen it, was also obsessed enough to take the rap for him.
Brad is arrested, and Monk takes pride in knowing that he's still the "cool" friend to his comrades.
But in a bizarre epilogue, Marci knocks on Monk's door at midnight, to thank him for his help. She's realized that she must have been crazy, confessing to murder to protect Brad, whom she doesn't even like anymore. Instead, she's transferred her devotion to Monk, a "real" crime solver. Taken aback, Monk bids her a hasty goodnight, and shuts the door on her. Marci tells Monk that if he ever gets his own show, to not change the theme song, during which part the original theme from Season 1 plays during the end credits.
Background Information and Notes
- Marci re-appears in the Season Six premiere, "Mr. Monk and His Biggest Fan." Between the production of the two episodes, Sarah Silverman's own career took off, with the production of her own show. In an interview, Andy Breckman said that there was some doubt about whether Silverman would be willing to return to the show for another guest appearance, but in fact she was delighted to do so.
- At the end of the show, Marci asks Monk, as a favor, if he gets his own TV show, to "never change the theme song," as "Crime Lab S.F." did. Over the epilogue, and the closing credits, the original Monk theme from Season One plays, as well as over the end credits, replacing the instrumental version of "It's A Jungle Out There."
- "Crime Lab S.F." is an obvious poking fun of the CSI franchise, right down to the overuse of fictional devices to solve the cases and location names being tacked on to spin-offs of the show. Presumably the Crime Lab SF show will be cancelled in light of Brad Terry getting arrested, while the mother Crime Lab show (possibly set in Las Vegas) will continue to air.
- It seems unlikely that police wouldn't run the knife used to kill Susan for fingerprints, and analyze the blood splatter on Brad Terry's clothes to determine whether they were caused because he touched Susan's body or when he was stabbing her.
- Brad punches out the glass on the back door from inside in the summation, while the door is closed. Earlier, by position of glass fragments, it's obvious that the glass was broken from the outside and, as Monk notices, while the doors were opened.