Monk - last night's episode - better solution? (spoiler)

Did anyone else find the solution too stupid and contrived?
There was a real easy solution they ignored. Did you find it?

The puzzle was this:
Cops investigating gas smell break in and find shock radio star’s wife in bed, dead from gas from the unlit bedroom fireplace.
He was out of town or on the air the last two days.
The alarm company reports all door and window sensors were showing locked except an 8" vent window in the basement, too small for a person to get in.
Cops decide accidental death.
The wife’s sister is sure the star killed her. But how?

Monk and the cops are sure he did it, but can’t figure out how he turned on the gas without entering the house. They considered that his long-time pal cohost dwarf would do the dirty work for him, but he too would be unable to enter without sounding the alarm.

The show’s answer:

They said the star had been sitting for the neighbor’s dog for two weeks, so he trained it to listen for him to say a code phrase on the radio, run into his house through the vent window, go upstairs and turn the gas handle with his nose, with the wife in the room from an overdose of sleeping pills he had ordered.

This just seems so elaborate for something so simple.
My answer:

The gas was left open at the fireplace but turned off at the main valve in the basement. This could be pushed open from the vent by an accomplice with a long stick. Also, a human accomplice would be able to be sure she had gone to bed. If she were still awake to see the dog stunt, he would be charged with attempted murder.

I suppose the other solution is marginally simpler, but I often think that the “Monk” denouments are just slapped together at the end. Trudy’s death was the more important theme.

Columbo would have solved the case faster.

I am so sick of that one. I can’t recall how early it appeared as a side note, but I think it became a possible cliffhanger at the end of the first season. By now it’s obvious they will never get around to it, and it’s simply a way to add 3 or 4 lines to every episode. I wish they would let it go.

And now they have that new roommate. Where did he come from?
And why? Do we really need more neatfreak jokes and less detective work?

Not roommate, neighbor. He’s been in at least two other episodes. I like him. He’s Niles to Monk’s Frasier – makes Monk look downright normal.

I disagree. Here’s why.

[spoiler]Sure, it might have been simpler to recruit an accomplice… but why should we believe that he knew anyone who’d be willing to commit murder? In addition, having a human accomplice would simply increase his chances of being caught. Instead, he chose a suitably Byzantine approach that was unlikely to be discovered.

In addition, I doubt that the wife would have suspected foul play if she had seen the dog turning the gas valve. In all likelihood, she would have figured that the canine was just invading her turf and playing around. Only the most paranoid of people would immediately suspect an attempt at murder.

Furthermore, even if she did suspect, one would also have to trace the crime back to her husband. This would require figuring out that the dog had been trained to turn the valve upon hearing the code phrase. I see no reason to believe that she would have figured this out at all.

I fell for the red-herring of the DJ bringing up the word, “noose” during the show.
I assumed the gas had been turned on with a rope and yanked from afar by someone.

Here’s what I don’t get:

The DJ, before the murder, was regularly disappearing for awhile at 2 p.m. each day. It turns out he was training the dog he was babysitting to turn the gas handle after it heard a code word. If the DJ wasn’t at his own house during this training period, how was he training the dog to do something so location-specific? Did the neighbor just magically have the same setup at his own house?

Me and my wife both felt that the solution is the looniest, most implausible, and least realistic of any Monk episode. Some of the reasons have been named by others.

According to Pliny’s alternate leaves him vulnerable to blackmail by the accomplice.

I think that teela brown’s objection is quite reasonable. I don’t see where anyone else within this thread has raised a valid objection, though.

I found it kind of odd that they suspected the little person at all.

So an opening is only 8". A little person is going to be shorter than an average person, and with shorter limbs. Not a smaller head, not a thinner build, not any feature that would allow him to get through an 8" opening any easier than an average sized person.

Seemed like a waste of 15 minutes to run into the guy at an event and “measure” him.

Bah, it always took Columbo 90 minutes to solve the case. Monk always takes 60. :smiley:

The thing that struck me about this case was that it was solved by Columbo back in the 70’s. Old 70’s Columbo spoiler:Columbo had a case in which a man was mauled to death by dogs. It turned out that the murderer had trained the dogs to kill on a specific command word. He telephoned the victim and got him to say the command word, and the dogs jumped on him and killed him. Columbo retrains the dogs to give kisses on the command word instead of killing, and then shocks the murderer into a confession. I’ve always been convinced that the dogs in this episode are the same ones who played Zeus and Apollo on Magnum.Basically the same idea as the Monk episode, and since Monk is closely tied to Columbo, I’m sure the writers knew what they were doing. They chose this solution as an homage to the Columbo one.

Homage? I don’t think so.
That’s the whole problem now- they have changed the entire format to the Colombo forumla
I’m sure what happened is they lost all their original writers.
The new guys may have written a lot for TV but never dreamt up a mystery, so they don’t even know what’s needed. They just look at a bunch of old “mystery shows” like Columbo and decide that a formula is easier to do than a different mystery every week.

Colombo formula

  1. You see the crime done, or are at least shown who did it, so there is no puzzle there. They don’t have a list of suspects, because one sticks out as the only beneficiary of the crime. They instantly switch from investigating the crime to trying to break his alibi.
  2. The murderer is always rich and powerful
  3. The motive is always big money or power.
  4. The alibi always relies on a high tech gimmick that is not as clear cut as it seems.
  5. Instead of a lot of suspects looking ordinary and innocent, there is one, rich and powerful, practically daring them to try and proove anything.

Last week’s relied on a cell phone not getting reception at the supposed accident scene.
This week’s had the electric window sensors that had a loophole.
I’m waiting for them to repize the two things Columbo used over and over and over: Last Number Dialed button on the phone, and screwing with the security camera videotape.

What do you mean “changed”? It’s always been like this–you always knew who did it pretty early on (though not always before the opening credits). The mystery in Monk has never been the Who, but the How. This has never been Murder She Wrote.

The guy who won the lottery? He’s a major reason why I don’t make a point of watching Monk any more…I hate that character.

I rather like him. I like that he’s so annoying he annoys even Monk, who deserves to see how it feels to be “monked”.

At least this neighbor character stayed on as a semi-regular rather than that nurse who was so mean to Monk. That was during the time they were running through some possible successors to Sharona just before she left. Thank God they didn’t choose Mean Nurse. I hated her.

I wisj Monk would find the guy, be unable to prove it, and commit the perfect crime killing him.

According to Wikipedia, this episode marks the point at which Natalie has logged more episodes than Sharona.

Aw, man…