Monday, 2 May 2016
The Monkees: The TV Series - Season One (1966/67)
TV Episode #19
"Find The Monkees!" aka "The Audition"
(Filmed September and November 1966; First broadcast January 23rd 1967)
"That's quite a story - the missing group and the half a million contract!"
Music: Mary Mary (Tape-Reel)/Sweet Young Thing (Romp/Performance)/Papa Gene's Blues (Performance)
Main Writer: Dave Evans (the script also credits Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso) Director: Richard Nunis
Plot: The Monkees are fed up. Every other band in the neighbourhood has been given invites to attend a Bunsen Hubble audition to find the best new rock and roll group - The Four Martians, The Foreign Agents and even The Jolly Green Giants have all had invites but The Monkees have heard nothing. They haven't even got the audition tape they've just made because Micky forgot to take the tape reel out when he returned the machine to the rental shop. Hubble Benson knows where it is though - he's just discovered The Monkees performing 'Mary Mary' on the reel of tape he was preparing to record the audition on and loves it. He's desperate to find The Monkees though he doesn't even know who they are - and The Monkees are desperate to find him and 'pretend' to be the band he's looking for. They nearly get there to audition - but Peter gets the hiccups. They nearly get through on the phone - but Mike dials a wrong number and when Davy gets through Benson thinks he's someone else and ignores the performing Monkees down the phone. Eventually Benson invites The Jolly Green Giants in to audition where they hear the performance on the tape and reluctantly say they recognise the sound as The Monkees, a 'no talent group who live on the beach'. Benson rushes off to offer the band a contract, only to discover that his own hen-pecked secretary Noami Chomsky has the singing voice he's been looking for all these years. Once again, The Monkees' hopes are dashed!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode: Mike: Uncharacteristically dials a wrong number. The others still look up to Mike though - as per usual when they find something relevant in the local paper they take it straight to him (is Nesmith the only Monkee that can read?!) Micky: Is careless enough to leave the audition tape in the recorder. Unusually Micky is seen driving The Monkeemobile at episode end, not Mike. Davy: Wears natty spotted pyjamas, different to the sort we see in series two. Takes charge of the phoning after Mike's attempt fails, holding the receiver in his mouth while he plays maracas and a tambourine at the same time! Peter: Takes the loss of the audition the hardest - especially when he realises how much stars earn. Gets the hiccups when nervous (Peter says it only happens when 'performing for big name producers!') Gets seasick and hayfever too, even when the band are only trying to 'pretend' he's at sea and in a sea of flowers, turning a funny green colour and sneezing respectively (Peter has a really string imagination, as we keep seeing. so this is entirely in keeping with other episodes - although oddly his seasickness is long gone by the time of 'Hitting The High Seas'). Keeps a spare last cent strapped to his boot. Is the first Monkee clever enough to spot that if Benson doesn't know who the missing group are The Monkees might as walk pretend to be him. Runs away at the end of the episode and disappears from the back of the Monkeemobile - but is back as normal at the start of the next episode.
Things that don't make sense: Benson goes a very round-about way of finding his 'missing' group - why not get Miss Chomsky to badger the rental company into revealing who they loaned the recorder to? And why not ask one of the auditioning groups outside earlier - it must be clear by now that every band in this part of America knows each other. Or why not do what every impresario from time immemorial has done - hire another band who look the part and get them to sound just like the band you want them to?! Also are all the other poor groups really kept waiting in Benson's hall for all that time - or does he call them back at vast expense?!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Peter - "I always get the hiccups when I perform in front of a big producer" Mike - "But this is the first time we've ever performed in front of a big name producer!" Peter - "Well, it's 100% so far!" 2) Lost and Found Inspector - "Now where's my pencil? It couldn't just disappear...could it?" 3) Benson - "I should have thought of that, what's wrong with me?" Chomsky - "Well, you're rude, arrogant, lazy, obnoxious, cheap - very cheap!..." 4) Davy "Hello operator? We're musicians and we were rehearsing, I mean auditioning in a phone booth and we got cut off - what do we do?" Operator - "Do you know 'Melancholy Baby'?!" 5) Peter - "Ha ha ha, this is funny! The big guy hits the little guy over the head with a sharp instrument!" Davy - "Oh, what comic strip is that?" Peter - £"What comic strip? This is the editorial!"
Romp/Performances: There isn't really a bona fide romp this week - instead The Monkee are too busy performing to do much running around. However they do create mayhem in Benson's office to the strains of 'Sweet Young Thing' when they dress up as all sorts of bands they think might be suitable for the producer and what he's looking for (without realising what he really wants is 'their' sound!) In addition they perform 'Sweet Young Thing' in a [phone booth and 'Papa Gene's Blues' back at the pad.
Interview: Bob Rafelson says that the series often involves the characters getting involved in fights (although weirdly this episode is one of the few that doesn't) and he asks the band if they've ever been involved in any personally. Surprisingly it's Davy who pipes up, talking about people being rude about his hair (note the new shorter bob he gets soon after this interview takes place!) Davy doesn't mind when it's in jest but gets angry when the slights are continual. Peter butts in and says that he 'invokes my constitutional rights' and 'the civil rights act' though he doesn't say actually what he does (the American founding fathers all had long hair, remember, though nobody mentions that here). We then move on to perhaps the most interesting Monkee interview segment when Bob presses the band for their thoughts on the 'sunset strip' riots (a new curfew was put into place where teenagers under 18 had to be in bed and home by a certain time and weren't allowed in places that sold alcohol - tired of being policed so strenuously the teenagers burnt down a club known Pandoras' Box - the event will inspire both Mike's own 'Daily Nightly' and Buffalo Springfield classic 'For What It's Worth'). At the time the press were unanimous that the kids were the no-good villains of the story, so it's brave to give so much 'voice' to the teenagers, who weren't being allowed to speak. Micky corrects the word 'riots' and says there were 'demonstrations' ('but the journalists don't know how to spell demonstrations so they use 'riot' because it only has four letters in it!') Mike is particularly angry and goes off into a rant about hair length ('You know, it's against the law to tell somebody to do that and cut their hair, which puzzles me!') Bob presses Mike on this point ('Would you like to see all the kids in the country wearing hair like yours?') but Mike is on top form and quickly fires back the 'right' answer, that 'I'd like to see all the kids in the country wearing their hair the way they'd like to!' Micky adds that even those in power agree - like the local Sheriff who said 'take the baby-sitting job out of the police and into the hands of the parents' and Peter concludes ' Nobody listens to kids talking for kids because kids are only kids, you know, and it goes through this vicious cycle, authority does". Trust Davy to end things on a joke though: 'I've been keeping quite all this time because I'm under 21 and nobody will listen to me!"
Postmodernisms: After a cut scene where the band try to scare Peter out of his hiccups, we see The Monkees stranded round the hapless bassist. Davy turns round, addressing the camera - 'It didn't help' he tells us at home, 'in fact he's worse than before!' Look out too for Mike's grin and thumbs up straight to camera when Benson tells The Monkees they've passed his audition!
Monkeemen: The Monkeemen aren't here this week, but The Monkees' audition in the phone-booth does delay Clark Kent from changing into Superman. The fact that even he can't get through the phone booth doors makes you feel rather better about Davy getting stuck a few minutes earlier!
Review: Another excellent episode, this is one of those rare Monkees episodes which really could have taken place in real life - and the raising of hopes only to dash them right at the end must have been greeted with a sighing look of recognition by the many similar out of work rock and roll bands up and down the country. The episode is really a high farce, with the viewer the only one who knows the 'full' story as the band and producer keep passing like ships in the night, but it's a well handled farce that also comes with some very funny lines. Notably the guest cast are well served in this episode and get better lines than the four regulars - Carl Ballantine is excellent as the obnoxious producer Hubble Bensen (what a 60s name!) while Bobo Lewis excels in the first of many Monkee appearances as the put-upon secretary Naomi Chomsky. The pair's odd relationship - both are insufferably rude to each other but clearly like each other really - keeps the episode ticking over nicely. The Lost and Found inspector - whose desk is a mess and who can't even find his own pencil - is another wonderfully Monkees addition we could have seen more of. Altogether this is another oh so Monkees look at how the adult world works: the wrong people are in charge and don't know what they're doing, in cartoon style wideness and only the kids in the rock and roll bands are 'noble'. Then again the three other rock and roll bands seem like an equally hilarious adult pastiche about what the 1960s rock and roll movement was all about with their OTT characterisations and costumes (the oh-ho-ho-ing Jolly Green Giants are a scream!) There are some good bits for the Monkees too, especially Peter whose the linchpin of the episode for once - his nervy hiccups and the other's frustrations over it and their attempts to cure him are very believably handled, even if the rather odd tag scene at the end of Peter disappearing (while the Monkeemobile is in full flight) isn't quite as well handled. It's a shame too that the by-now traditional romp is curtialed and that the band never quite get to the end of 'Sweet Young Thing' (which is a such a short song anyway!) Still, most aspects of this episode work and work rather well - it's a shame, then, that this is already the penultimate episode that directly revolves around The Monkees being a 'group' as it's easily the most consistently successful of the Monkee formulas (those driven by 'other' people like spies kidnappers and circuses or those driven by The Monkees' characters and family mainly set back at the pad).
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) The Four Martians are one of the biggest starring roles for the Monkees' regular stand-ins who appear a lot as extras in the series: they include David Price, David Pearl, Rik Klein (later Micky's writing partner) and John London (an old friend of Mike's who played on 'Headquarters') 2) The Foreign Agents are listed in the script as the 'Double-Oh-Sevens' in homage to James Bond 3) There's yet another mistake in the end credits, with 'Papa Gene's Blues' mis-labelled as 'Papa Jean's Blues' in the captions - they really needed someone new at this job! 4) The interview segment is the longest ever featured in the series (running to nearly three minutes!) and was apparently shot on the set used as the 'locker room' in the next episode 'The Monkees In The Ring' 5) This was established director Richard Nunis' last ever professional job - he died of cancer aged 39 only a week after the episode was aired 6) Pause at the list of names at the entrance to KNBC building where The Monkees look for Benson's office and you'll see Nunis' name, along with longterm Monkees director James Frawley, props man Jack Williams and special effects man Chuck Gaspar, whose name is briefly mentioned by Mike when looking for the right room! 7) Syndication prints generally do a lot of meddling to this episode (though thankfully its included as broadcast in the videos and DVDs) - some rival American stations cut the rather large advert for KNBC The Monkees stand outside while others replace the interview segment with another showing of the much-repeated 'I'm A Believer' clip 8) Look out for the reference The Jolly Green Giants make to Beach Movie star Annette Funicello - she'll appear in Monkees film 'Head' in 1968 9) The song 'My Melancholy Baby' gets its first of two mentions in the series and was written by George Norton and Ernie Burnett in 1947 9) The Monkees' local paper appears to be 'The Daily Chronicle' - it will re-appear in 'The Prince and the Pauper' episode
Ratings: At The Time 10.5 million viewers/AAA Rating: 8/10