I've pretty much watched the last two mini-seasons of what used to be my favorite show with great reluctance, but I've been drawn back more willingly by the advertising that says this'll be the show's last season. I was drawn to the show in the first place by Tony Shaloub, a brilliant actor, and creator of memorable characters. I liked the show's conceit -- the "defective detective" -- and the cast of regulars was filled with quality, experienced actors. I even survived the departure of Sharona and the arrival of Natalie and her occasional daughter, Julie. The acting continued to be first rate, but something was happening with the writing. At first I put it all down to the writers' strike. There was a lot of woefully poor stuff on TV screens during and shortly after the strike ended, but Monk never got any better. Bizarre characters right out of Marvel Comics began to appear -- Dale the Whale being paramount among them -- and the level of writing dropped from it's peak of being aimed at 17-years-old to a low of appealing to those closer to 12. Finally, there came an episode that began with Monk in a grocery store that contained two references to and a closeup of a box of Force Flex trash bags. At the first commercial break, we were informed that Monk was "brought to you by, Force Flex trash bags." And so, Monk became the Lead the Force Aircraft of product placement. It's not the only show to do this -- even my fave Burn Notice has begun to do the same thing -- but it is the most egregious example on television. In the most recent episode, Monk and Natalie are staying in a Sleep Inn. They mention it twice before the first commercial -- which was for Sleep Inn, natch -- and the Sleep Inn logo features a good two dozen times within the hour, including the introduction to the on-line "Monk as a boy" animated on-line series. This is no longer product placement; it's close to being an infomercial. Soon Monk will have screened its last episode and the cast and crew will go on to other things. The sad thing is that for many of us, all that we'll remember is how it became less and less inventive, and more and more a series of commercials broken up by occasionally funny five minute bits. It would have left a much better taste had it completed its last season 18 months ago.