Monday, July 30, 2007

Naturists Get a Fair Shake in "Monk" Episode

My wife and I watched one of our favorite shows, "Monk" in the buff Friday night and were surprised to see a naturist group given a fair if comic shake in the episode.

Alfred Molina and Diedrich Bader (you may remember him from the Drew Carey Show) guest star this week, as Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) tries to overcome his issues with the flesh while solving a murder on a nudist beach. The screen tradition of nudity made PG-rated by strategically placed props gets a workout: surfboards, beach balls, and venetian blinds are all employed to comic effect. (One woman seemed to carry an umbrella aimlessly just to cover her "naughty bits" as the British say.)

Monk isn't simply offended or disturbed by nakedness. Bare skin has an unprecedented power to unsettle the meticulous detective. He insists on accusing a nudist (played by Bader) of a murder he could not have committed. Challenged to make the accusation stick, Monk rattles off a series of preposterous scenarios, from the Apple Core Key Theory to the Double-Jointed Escape Through A Bathroom Window Theory. (In his world, nudists have strange, almost supernatural powers.)

Somebody did there homework. Bader plays the leader of a naturist group seeking to save a nude beach. He says he prefers to be called a naturist, and a naturist society sign decorates the inside of his trailer.

Ordered to sort out his personal issue, Monk sees his devoted therapist. In a watershed counseling session, he reveals that his fear springs from a surreal memory of his own birth. Overcoming the emotional scars of that recollection, and putting it in perspective as a positive event, Monk regains his relative composure in time to solve the crime and offer an olive branch to the man he formerly targeted:

"I'm sorry for hating you and accusing you of murder, and I've learned a lot and I'm a better person."

Naturists were depicted as a little on the crunchy granola side, but all and all not weird or warped. Bravo to the writers of Monk!


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