Monday 2 May 2016

Graham Nash "This Path Tonight" (2016)

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Graham Nash "This Path Tonight" (2016)

This Path Tonight/Myself At Last/Cracks In The City/Beneath The Waves/Fire Down Below/Another Broken Heart/Target/Golden Days/Back Home/Encore

"Yesterday's hero who never dared to dream. Where are we going?!..."

There are certain members of the AAA for whom you come to expect the unexpected: Neil Young has made a career out of it, while after his recent Disney albums and duets with Zooey De Schanel I can safely tell you that I haven't got a clue what Brian Wilson's going to do next and if Keith Moon was still alive (and turning seventy this year) he would surely be the worst behaved and most unpredictable OAP ever. Others though are more stable: apart from a dalliance with synthesisers in the 1980s we've spent most of the past fifty years knowing who Graham Nash 'was': the sensible one in a band of crazy people, the hippie philosopher with a commercial instinct and a hopeless romantic who took longer than most to settle down but then seemed the most content family man a musician can be. After thirty-eight years with wife Susan and forty-eight as the member of CSN/Y least likely to cause trouble and most likely to want to return, we thought we knew Graham Nash. In the past few years it turns out that we actually haven't known Graham as much as we thought we did. Though Nash's autobiography 'Wild Tales' in 2012, promised to be outspoken before its release, was always going to ruffle a few feathers CSN had coped with plenty worse in their years together and the one thing that came over loudest and clearest from the book was how lucky Nash felt to have fallen in with a special band and with a special wife after spending half the book searching for both. Imagine our shock in the CSN community then when last year Nash announced his split from Susan after thirty-eight years (by far the longest marriage in the CSN camp), that he'd taken up with another girlfriend in photographer Amy Grantham and that as far as Nash was concerned he'd never ever tolerate another CSN reunion because of a vicious dispute with David Crosby. 'I used to be in a band made up of my friends...'sighs Nash on 'Golden Days', which is the latest in a long line of 'CSN' split songs, but one that sounds permanent this time.

'He's been awful to me for two years now...I've been there and saved his ass for 45 years and now he treats me like shit. In my world there will never ever be another CSN show or another CSN record'. Nash hasn't revealed what Crosby has said, but has revealed his hurt at it, several times in the papers as he's seethed and fumed over his partner's re-actions to his recent changes. It's worth saying in reply - we're neutral here, as much as possible - that Crosby challenges many of the comments made in Nash's book, that his partner didn't give him a chance for right of reply (although his own autobiography 'Long Time Gone' is far worse about himself than Nash ever was), that Nash was rather Holliesier (sorry holier)-than-thou in his book (there's a Hollies group who have taken to calling him 'Teflon Nash' as nothing ever sticks to him!) and that we don't actually know what Crosby said (chances are he was upset at Graham walking out on Susan, with whom he and Jan were particularly close too - especially in the light of comments Croz made about Neil and Daryl Hannah). Nash and Young have spoken out against Crosby. Crosby has in turn lashed out at both of them. At the moment only Stills is talking to the other three, in an unexpected reverse of what traditionally happens during CSN breakups! Disputes we've had before in the CSNY community of course (practically every week in the 1970s) but they usually got solved by the next record/the next girl/the next brilliant idea/Neil doing one of his disappearing acts; the Crosby-Nash axis always felt the strongest: the feeling amongst us all at the moment is one of shock and the fear that it really is over this time. Disputes we've had before in the CSNY community of course (practically every week in the 1970s) but they usually got solved by the next record/the next girl/the next brilliant idea/Neil doing one of his disappearing acts; the Crosby-Nash axis always felt the strongest within the foursome and the feeling amongst us all at the moment is one of shock and the fear that it really is all over this time, nearly fifty years of some of the best music the world has ever known coming to an uncertain, chaotic end. Despite all the problems down the years, all the dramas and all the rows which made the likes of Vietnam look like a mild disagreement and the cold war civil, most of us would have put money on a happy ending for CSNY and for the music and friendship overcoming any differences - you can't listen to the music and ignore the promise that if we hang in long enough love is coming to us all.

'This Path Tonight', then, has a lot resting on it for fans: it signals the biggest change in the band's long-term fortunes since Crosby ended up in prison and it's clearly a key album in understanding where Graham's head is at. The good news is that it's a record worthy of such pressure on its shoulders, a record that doesn't shout 'me me me' the way me and many of my CSNY friends (hello Cecilia!) feared so much as 'help! help! help!' as Graham tries to make sense of this turbulent period in his life. Nash has never sounded more lost on a spooky scared sounding record where Graham, usually the one constant point on albums made up of Crosby eccentricity, Stills complexity and Young adventurousness, goes on a little journey of his own. There's no defensive attempt to explain why Graham thinks the grass is greener with someone years younger, no bitter diatribes a la 'Frozen Smiles' against Crosby or any other critics, no politics this time around and most surprisingly no real love songs for once. Instead we have a man afraid he's going to die soon with so much life unlived (it's worth remembering how many figures in Nash's life have died young), trying to screw up enough courage to leave the certainty of the present for a less sure and less well travelled path, asking for forgiveness and asking only that, if we love Graham, we'll let him go on his way. This is a record that recalls both Wild Tales' ambient spooky vibe and the feeling of shock and horror with Graham caught like a rabbit in the headlights, Neil's similar long apology letter to his wife of 36 years Pegi 'Storytone' and that similar moment in Graham's life in 1969 when he also left band, wife and home behind (Nash no longer lives in Hawaii and is planning to move to Manhattan after he's finished touring Europe with this album). Last time things worked out and how, despite the fallout felt by The Hollies (finally repaired it seems - well mostly) and Graham's first wife Rose - we can only hope, given the emotional investment CSNY and fans have had in each other for almost fifty years now that this change in lifestyle works out as well for everyone concerned.

Unlike some solo CSNY albums that had so many guest stars and CSNY members taking part they may as well have been band records, 'This Path Tonight' really does feature Nash almost completely alone in terms of performance, with this album having a sparse low-key feel. There are just four other musicians, with guitarist Shane Fontayne (Nils Lofgren's occasional replacement in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band) a regular collaborator, none of whom have ever worked with Graham again. Graham's talked in interviews about how he hears 'echoes' of each one, which is true but it's the sadness of each album that comes through the most: the guilty self-mocking 'I Used To Be A King' from 'Songs For Beginners', the lethargic struggle of 'Another Sleep Song' from 'Wild Tales', the 1980 'new decade' hope/fear for the future of 'Earth and Sky' and the troubled song 'Lonesome Man', an outtake from the 'Innocent Eyes' album. Most of all, though, it recalls the nightmarish half of his last record ('Songs For Survivors', released as long ago as 2002 now) - everything is slightly surreal, rather scary and there's a sense of burning seething anger and deep-held passion being held in check by a Nash too shocked and wounded to quite get his words out. Nash's usual lynchpins - love, faith, hope, support, optimism - are conspicuous by their absence on a record where nothing is certain, most songs are in minor not major keys and the only certainty is that, sooner or later, 'people hurt' ('What happened to 'all you need is love?' he actually sighs on 'Golden Days'). This album should perhaps have been called 'Songs For Casualties', sharing the same sense of shock and grief as its two predecessors. Anyone after another 'Marrakesh Express' 'Our House' or 'Teach Your Children' will, I'm afraid, be rather disappointed.

But for those of us who've always been fascinated by the darker Nash that lurks behind the 'Man in the Mirror' (here 'the man in the mask' on the title track) and peeks through every so often in song, 'This Path Tonight' is a revelation. Nash walks into the unknown on the title track, a scary surreal world of 'crumbling cracks' and 'stones on fire' where even Graham's courage fails him and he struggles to know whether to fight or flee, to a chorus of 'where are we going?' that sounds just like the one treated to vocoders on The Who's 'Quadrophenia'. 'Myself At Last' is again about enjoying the new - but it's a sad, apologetic affair where anyone who ever meant anything to Graham 'feels like some kind of test' as he sets off into the unknown not to find himself but to 'lose myself at last'. 'Cracks In The City' is the most outward looking song on the city, with Graham's own crumbling cracked path merging briefly with the world's cracked, crumbling path post-credit crunch. Usually Nash is there to keep up upbeat and hopeful, but here there's not a silver lining in a cloud but a cloud in a silver lining, with a world of people who are always there to 'trap us' however free we feel and where 'the start of oblivion always comes in the daylight', as neat a riposte of Crosby's 'Long Time Gone' as you will ever hear ('You know the darkest hour is always just before the dawn!') 'Beneath The Waves' continues the CSN/Crosby theme with the band's favourite nautical theme now twisted into a song where all these years on Nash is struck by the 'same fears' as he tries to right a mast in an oncoming storm: 'Fifty years before the mast - how can we last before sinking?' Nash sighs, as the shadow captain of a charcoal ship tries to give the light the slip, again. By contrast 'Fire Down Below'  is a sequel of sorts to 'Into The Darkness', an old song of criticism of Crosby from 'Daylight Again', has Nash's narrator wrecked by flames not waves, as the bluesiest noisiest song on the album (and even then it's most definitely not a rocker) has doves turning into howling wolves and every part of the world he's ever known and believed in drenched in flames.

Over on side two (do modern albums only ever released on CDs still have second sides? Well, this one feels like it does...) we get the ear-catching, 'Another Broken Heart' as a loved one (Susan? Crosby?) whose always brought Nash sunshine slips away into the shadows. If this one isn't released as the album's first single I'll eat my copy of 'Innocent Eyes' (I don't play it much anyway...) - it's the only song here that has Nash's usual effortless catchy melody though even here the song sounds like it's mocking us and him, a song that would normally be happy turned on its head. 'Target' is the album's silliest song as Nash turns archer and aims his arrows down this path tonight, hoping he'll get a bullseye on the heart of his new beloved. It's the closest this album has to a love song - and even this one spends more time worrying about whether 'my aim is true' and whether cupid's arrows hurt when they hit his lover. 'Back Home' is the only one to feature Shane singing along and spookily he sounds much like Crosby, on a track where Nash imagines his own death and tries to prepare for it, singing up what 'may be your last song' by offering up last warnings about our treatment of the Earth and how in the end 'nothing matters'. Nash then returns for an encore, a final heartbreaker that's the only song from this album that's been around for a while, imagining what might happen when 'the applause is all over' and he is dead and buried. 'Who are you going to be?' he wonders  to himself when he reaches that point, the underlying question that's been behind this album and the past few years of his life. Can he really stop searching for something else he feels is still there to find? Settle for what might be second best? How can he live with such thoughts running through his head as he reaches what might be the end, knowing he didn't do anything about it? So Nash staggers along, into the unknown, his life's purpose not yet fulfilled and his heart still not satisfied, leaving behind a set assured path for one that's barely a path at all.

The one song we've missed out, 'Golden Days', is a fascinating composition worthy of an extra paragraph on its own, similar to Young's 'When I Was A Giant' as Nash admits he's lost the influence he once had on the world. Moreoever, he's lost his band, making it clear that CSNY belong in the 'olden days' and he's never going back there. The band once sang 'songs with soul and words with so much hope for a brighter hope' with all their hearts but they don't believe in them anymore and Nash can't bring himself to sing them. Older reviewers, with more venom than I, loved to claim as early as 1974 that CSNY were a band that had the most potential in the world and they threw it all away (a claim I dispute - we just had to buy four lots of solo records to hear it across certain periods, that's all), but for the first time Nash sounds as if he doesn't believe in the hippie dream anymore and it's oh so sad. CSNY have written far more songs about how much they hate each other than love each other down the years, but even by the standards of 'Cowboy Movie' 'The Old Homestead' 'Frozen Smiles' and 'Hippie Dream' itself this one is a killer, the sound of a man who moved heaven and earth and families because of the promise of a musical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow that turned out not to be there. It's the CSN equivalent of John Lennon's 'God', Paul McCartney's 'Too Many People', George Harrison's 'Wah Wah' and Ringo's 'Early 1970' all rolled into one: Nash no longer believes in CSNY, believes his colleagues are preaching too many practices, is fed up of being given a wah-wah by someone who may be such a big star and who no longers cares if the others are 'a gonna play with me'. I defy anyone whose invested any emotional weight into CSN not to feel like a part of them died inside with this song.

In all, 'This Path Tonight' is a cracking record, Nash's best in years as he tries to make sense of the sudden changes in his life and walks blindly into the unknown, whether it break into even brighter sunlight and happiness or leaves him caught in another storm or falling off the edge into an abyss. It's not the record I expected from hearing Nash's path till now (I assumed there'd be cooing love songs for new love Amy - she took the album cover by the way - lots of confident pop songs about finding happiness at last and a continuation of Crosby*Nash's cutting politics) - but that's kind of the point: this is a record that, despite the echoes, sounds nothing like anything Graham has ever done before because he's never lived out a part of his life quite like this before. Much as you can question his actions (I still wonder why Nash spent so much of his book talking about how happy and contented he was with Susan just a few years ago before turning his back on her completely, while we'll probably never get to the truth of the Crosby-Nash row unless one of them writes another book and sets the whole thing off again!), you can't really fault the music, the slightly clumsy 'Target' aside. This is the sound of a man doing anything he can to rage against the dying of the light, breaking free from the things that aren't working in his life and exploring the unknown with even more vigour than he did in his youth. The only real constant with past records is that Nash means every word he sings, delivering them with some of his strongest vocals in years (without the fragility of 2005's 'Crosby*Nash', his most recent record) whether we want to hear what these songs contain or not. Painful the subject matters may be for us, difficult as the sentiments are to take sometimes, less memorable as these hazy dreamlike songs are to the confident commercial tracks of the past, this musical path at least sounds like one Nash should have taken years ago, making good on the promise of his spookier, guiltier solo albums with only the one filler material on it. This is the Nash equivalent of the CPR albums, more heartfelt honest and emotional than usual, made with a sparse backing by a man who plainly fears this is the last album he might ever get to make and wants to make it as accurate a reflection of his life as he possibly can. Quite often throughout his music making it's been the sombre years that have been the making of Nash the musician: the fall-outs, the divorces, even the murders inspiring the best out of Graham as he tries to come to terms with his life through song. How wonderfully inspirational and creative all his recent problems have been for him - and how awfully terribly sad it is that this album had to be paid for with the cost of a marriage but CSNY. Let's hope that this path brings happiness from now one for everyone, tonight and forever, even if it's left possibly the greatest band that ever lived somewhat wasted on the way.

We start the album where we spend most of it: walking down a broken lonely unmarked path while the world seems to self-destruct behind us. Title track 'This Path Tonight' is perhaps the most Nash-like song on the album, a slow restrained sombre plod that's livened up by some 'Barrel Of Pain' organ swirls, some Stills-Young style twin guitar attacks and those peculiar sing-song rhymes that's always been a part of Nash's own writing style. It's the mood that's new: Nash, usually so controlled and so confident, is stumbling blind as he worries about where this path of 'crumbling rocks and stones on fire' may lead him. From his description it sounds like one of those paths on the old children's show 'Knightmare' that's about to send him tumbling off the cliffs to his doom, while Nash walks on blind with a helmet over his face and everyone looking on is screaming at him not to walk any further. Nash pleads that he's trying 'my best to be myself' but ponders like days of old who the true Nash is behind 'this mask' - it's like the 'Man In The Mirror' days when marriage with Joni Mitchell seemed to be everything Graham ever wanted, but still wasn't 'right' enough to work. Perhaps not wanting to scare his fan-base away too early, this song is also one of only two tracks on the album to feature harmonies and even though Crosby is definitely persona non grata on this record co-writer Shane Fontayne sounds just enough like Croz for you to catch your breath as their harmonies soar upwards to the sky in well-tested CSNY fashion. What's missing from the CSNY songbook, though, is hope - this is a path that sounds doomed before Nash even begins. Nash, usually the most controlled of singers, disintegrates as he tells us that his soul's on fire, leading to a spooky false-end when we think he's tipped over the edge into the abyss, only to right himself again and plod ever further onwards, accompanied by guitars preparing to send him tumbling over into the edge at any moment. Nash has for so long, generally unfairly, been pegged as the lightweight member of CSNY: this title track alone puts paid to that, as scary a ride as anything in Crosby's 'I'd Swear There Was Somebody There', Stills' pained songs of farewell to Rita Coolidge and Judy Collins or Neil's 'Doom Trilogy'.

'Myself At Last' is an acoustic ballad that pretty much picks up the same theme, only this time Nash isn't even walking but 'rolling' down the path to what may be his doom. 'The question haunting me - is my future just my past?' sighs Nash as he refuses to slow down into old age, multiple CSNY box sets past his last album of new songs as he tries to 'lose' himself in the path - not find a new self exactly but lose the idea that we've always had about who Graham is. Feeling betrayed, suddenly everyone he's ever loved in his life feels like 'some kind of test' as he struggles on, trying to find 'what's lost' compared to the olden days. Nash still plays the harmonica like his younger self, ragged and raw and Dylanesque, but that's the only adolescent moment on a track that's one of Graham's maturest as he reflects on 'memories gone by so fast'. The last verse finally remembers, perhaps a little belatedly, to thank Amy Grantham for recuing him from the endless rolling down the hill, but Nash sounds less than convinced by this as he continues to roll down the hill another couple of times. Even his cry of 'I found myself at last' - the upbeat twist which would normally be the whole point of a Nash song that comes 'after the storm' - doesn't quite ring true. This is a man still falling, afraid of what will hit him at the bottom and still wondering whether he was right to leave the path. Nash has always been so sure of himself in song (at least post-'Songs For Beginners') that it's a shock to hear him quite so out of control and helpless.

'Cracks In The City' works on several different levels. On one level it's the sound of a man reflecting as he's always done on the state of the world, with Crosby and Nash just about the only musicians brave enough to visit the protests on Wall Street and show their support with the people against the bankers who caused the world crisis. The big city, with all its huge monuments, is showing cracks in its foundations and it won't be long before they fall down. On the other hand though the city is CSNY, ready to trap us and trip us, an institution that's lost touch with where it started and was built on shifting sands that were always going to destroy it in the end. And on another it's Nash 'dreaming in darkness', wanting to escape from the decay and ruin he feels hemmed in by where he lives so he's turning his back on it before it traps him too. I'm intrigued by the chorus line though where the city 'takes us from below to above' which doesn't really fit with any of these scenarios: shouldn't sky scrapers be taking us from the skies to below ie hell, rather than up to heaven? Or have I missed something here? Heavier than most songs on the album, Nash's backing band turn in a nicely claustrophobic production that really does feel as if Nash is being trapped across most of the song before that chorus cuts through, one last low-key moment of magic as his voice reaches up to the sky and he believes in the 'forgotten heroes' who are trying to prove how corrupt the city really is and why it should come tumbling down, whoever it traps inside. There's some nice Jerry Garcia-ish pedal steel on here too, as if Nash is still teaching children because the children have no role models in adults anymore.

'Beneath The Waves' is once again mutiny in sailboat bay. It's another spooky song, closer to James Raymond's work for 'Crosby*Nash' than Nash's usual songs with a contemporary production vibe and as series of rhetorical questions in the lyrics. The lyrics though are surely about the death of CSNY, re-cycling imagery from 'Wooden Ships' 'Southern Cross' and 'Shadow Captain' etc as the band themselves become the vessel Nash has been trying to keep afloat for decades, a 'world full of love and laughs'. However those travelling on board seem to have 'no cares whether they live or die' and seem to relish the idea of the boat disappearing and sinking 'beneath the waves'. Nash feels alone, stuck at the mast, desperately trying to keep the boat afloat as his fellow passengers throw each other out the ship and scupper a vessel that once offered so much hope for peace and humanity. This time around the Wooden Ships sink before reaching the shore of a distant island, the Southern Cross voyage ends with no moment of self-discovery and the Shadow Captain has blocked out all light; Nash isn't prepared to keep them afloat anymore and reluctantly, dramatically, sadly decides to stop saving the boat and watch it sink after all. 'Fifty years before the mast' he bawls, 'How long could it last?', while the line 'how much pain for how many tears?' sounds at one with the comments Nash has been making about Crosby recently. Moreover, things haven't changed: Nash still approaches his job on deck with the same worries and fears he had all those years ago and it's slowly sinking in that his life might always be like this - that he's being taken for granted and running out of years to do something else. Sadder still, he's forgotten what he's keeping the boat afloat for: 'the world doesn't care if we live or die' he sighs, in reference to how forgotten (deeply unfairly) CSNY have become in recent years. While the middle eight undoes much of the song's strong stitching, twee and obvious compared to the depth of the rest of the song ('I'm holding my breath, it's causing me pain for so many years!'), the rest of the song is impressive with a touch of sea shanty and a great detached double-tracked vocal from Graham that's manages to stop the whole thing from becoming over-dramatic. Moreover, the backing band turn in what's actually a pretty good facsimile of CSNY harmonies on a sudden chromatic scale of notes in true trademark fashion - only this time they're heading downwards into the sea instead of up into the sky. A quite fascinating song.

No sooner has Nash escaped the waves than he's being attacked by 'Fire Down Below'. Musically this is a prowling tiger getting ready to strike as Nash dodges a drum part that seems determined to bang him on the head, a stinging guitar that sounds like a shooting firebolt and a ringing piano that sounds like SOS in morse code. Creepy and unusual for Nash's more straightforward character, Nash plays stealth ninja instead, dodging musical assassin's bullets and dark shadows. He wonders why he's so under siege recently from all sides when he's tried to stay true to his principles: 'a seeker, a friend and a lover'. However the world has different designs and everything he once put so much faith in is burning, destroying everything he once knew and his faith in 'the heaven above me'. Nash, desperate and fighting for his life by now, screams in the chorus that 'all I can ask, whoever you are, is that you love me!' - because no one else seems to anymore. Dramatic and full of sudden explosions of sudden noise, this track is impressively tense as Nash explores his full range from worried muted narrator to passionate emotional wreck. For all that, though, Nash just wants the future to get on with it, figuring that the fire blaze he sees coming might still have something to teach him, that it might 'overwhelm' but 'relieve' us. It's tempting to see this song as another directly written about the fall-out with Crosby, which Nash has been putting off through mute silence but knows he has to bring out into the open soon, the doves disappearing, replaced by silence and finally by a wolf howling for blood. It's the riff you remember most from this song though: three notes may not be much to base a song on, but it's unusual, angular and more like something from a horror movie than Nash's traditional work. The fact that it's based on three notes also means that you can sing 'CSN' along to the riff if you want! Another unusual, impressive song that finds Nash a million light years away from his comfort zone.

'Another Broken Heart' gets it's feeling of frustrations out the way early as the song starts with an angry spike of tension and spiteful jabs before pulling back to a kinder, more thoughtful Nash who promises to be there for someone new whose own sad story has touched him deeply (Amy?) Vowing that she's already seen too many broken hearts in her life, Nash vows to never do the same to her despite his recent track history, empathising with the person who feels 'their future is coming to an end' as this uncomfortable passage in their life 'is taking you to places that you've never been'. Nash worries that his song is 'going to cut you deep and make you cry' but he has to sing it anyway. There are of course other possibilities for whom Nash is singing to here: the opening verse sounds like a last ditch attempt to offer an olive branch to Crosby, someone whose had more than his share of broken hearts in his life and even starts with a couple of old Crosby-isms, including one Nash wrote about Crosby's drug days in the 1980s ('Day after day' I see you slipping 'into darkness...') Nash could equally be singing to ex-wife Susan as the girl in the song tries to stop him singing, claiming her heart is breaking. Or it's for Neil whose also been something of the CSNY outsider recently having split with his wife Pegi after writing his own declaration of love to her in his autobiography 'Waging Heavy Peace': this song feels in part like Nash reaching out to Young and saying that he understands now his own pain of being outcast by everyone. Even the title feels like a sequel to 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart', the song Young wrote for Nash after the split with Joni Mitchell in Nash's own style; by contrast 'Another Broken Heart' 'feels' more like a Young song: it has a Crazy Horse-style stomp, sudden stings of taut electric guitar and feels as if the band recorded it in one take in comparison to Nash's usual production polish. The catchy chorus is easily the most hummable of all these songs (and as we said before, it just has to be the single: it's the only track that sounds like one), but as a composition this is perhaps not quite up to the best on the album. It's still not bad though, especially if Nash is juggling the audiences he's singing it to in his mind, making it a healing balm for everyone he still cares about so deeply, despite what he sang about them all being a 'test' on the title track.

'Target' too is a slight step backwards from this album's peaks. Not that it's bad: Nash's acoustic songs are usually special and this song keeps up this album's love of unusual quirky rhythms with another catchy track. But Nash's painfully extended metaphors about being an archer trying in vain to shoot his new love's heart with an arrow while revealing that he's become a worse harmonica player over the years rather than better isn't quite up to the album's high standard. 'The bow is taught and I'm feeling the pull' he suggests as Nash slowly gets nearer and nearer to his 'target'. The closest thing to a love song on the album, Graham hopes that his 'aim is true' this time. Unfortunately he also imagines a 'sparkling silver light' from heaven shining down on the couple and rhymes 'thing' with 'sting' and has a line about 'how the quiver feels so full' - not something worthy of a songwriting custodial sentence perhaps but clumsy compared with the rest of this album's mature and quite complex imagery. This song about archery is, sadly, a bit arch - but the melody is still a good one at least.

'Golden Days' is by contrast the album's greatest success story. Nash recalls arriving in America, that 'I used to be in a band, made up of my friends, who played across the land when music had no end' and how much hope they all had for the future. CSNY, who are never named in the song (but who clearly aren't, say, The Hollies!) 'sang with all our hearts and everything we had' and in true CSNY philosophy 'everything we gave came back to everyone', this band uniting with their audience in a hippie dream 'of a better day' at a time when the world was broken. Nash praises 'songs with soul and words with so much hope' and how it helped 'people who hurt but found a way' through life's madness, just as they once did. Now, though, it's a different story: the band all have different dreams that all need answering. 'What happened to 'all you need is love?' pleads Nash as once again talks about losing his way from past golden days, wobbling off the path himself and his fear that days are going to fast he's run out of time for CSNY to ever find that dream together.  The key word here is 'beginning', sung pointedly at the start of the song - by contrast this piece feels like an end. Still, Nash isn't above feeling nostalgic for things that once were and how confident he once felt in the future so he rounds the song off with another last CSNY flourish of harmonies and long held notes, with a warm sweeping string part crying tears of joy and sadness simultaneously. Non-CSNY fans might well wonder what the fuss is about and point out this song is simplistic and naive so Nash really hasn't learnt much at all; the rest of us, though, are sobbing on the floor as the band that once brought so much light into our lives is turned off and leaves us with darkness, their ambitious mission to save the world coming up sadly short on the old problems of personality clashes and ego (though Nash doesn't name names this time) - though in truth only just. CSNY really did make the world a better place for those of us who believed the message with all their hearts that music really could change the world and Nash includes himself in this number. This updated 'Taken At All' and 'Wasted On The Way' is sadder still though and seemingly more final.*sob* excuse me, I think I've got something in my eye...

'Back Home' is another emotionally heavy, turbulent song so far removed from CSNY's usual hope and light as the 'back home' is not Hawaii, Laurel Canyon or even Manchester but where humans go when they die again (for we have all been here before). Nash introduces this song as if he's the grim reaper come to take us away, telling us to 'take our time' to compose ourselves 'before time will take you' as Mother Earth is 'calling you'. Nash then switches to the first person, passing through the speed of light at such slow speeds and telling us his final message: that 'nothing matters' because the re-set button is about to be set and there's nothing he can do about his legacy anymore. Nash prepares to sing his last song, to a falling curtain, as the band 'plays on'. Spookily Fontayne sounds the mirror image of Crosby as he then plays the part of the grim reaper: 'Take a load off...lay your burden down' (with real shades of Crosby/Byrds Dylan cover 'Lay Down Your Weary Tune' back in 1965). Nash both hisses in our with a low mumbled part and soars out in front with another of his greatest vocals, heard against another slow and creepy track as a sea of guitars and some funeral-paced drums mesh together to take us away with Nash as he walks his last steps on the path of life. 'No one knows what will be waiting' Nash sighs in a ghostly voice as the lights fade and he embraces the unknown, as represented here by a blood-curdling backwards guitar effect. 'Tomorrow Never Knows' crossed with 'Eleanor Rigby', it is perhaps the greatest in a series of pretty great songs across this record, brave and emotional, proof that however close the older Nash, now seventy-four, might be to going back home he still hasn't lost his musical curiosity or his love of new sounds. This path, at least, sounds like one that he was always meant to take, turning all of his usual trademarks on their head for a song that's as powerful as any in his canon. *sob* excuse me, I have something in my other eye now, honest...

Typically, though, Nash doesn't want to end on such a downer so offers us a literal 'Encore', a song that's been going down well at his live shows back to the days when Crosby-Nash were still together and which sums up his unique mix of ego and humility perfectly. Though sad and slow once more, it's much more in keeping with Nash's tradition of writing as he tries to accept that the 'applause' is over and wonders once again who he really is. Away from the curtain-calls and with the lights fading he still has to live his life and be true to himself - and he's still struggling to work out who he is. Unable to shrug off the feeling that he isn't truly happy in his 'real' life, Nash decides to leave and turn his back on the crowds - or at least the biggest crowds - even though the audience is still calling out for more. Nash can't bring himself to just take the applause anymore for something he wrote in yesteryear and when CSN are no longer the united front they once were. 'Sure the applause is pleasing' Nash sighs, but he can't bring himself to do it anymore. He also fears that if they carry on the way they are there won't be anyone to play for anyway and that everyone will have 'stopped believing'. However many of his friends 'follow fortune', for Graham the music has 'died'. The problem is, what he can do to fill that space now that it's gone? Nash has become so hooked on applause for his ego he struggles to leave it behind and fears what he will do to fill the empty spaces - but has to do it anyway, imagining in typical Nash style one last applauding crowd on their feet as he bids goodbye to CSN and a very major part of his life. It's still a sad way to say goodbye, but somehow that last round of applause an acceptance that CSN did do some great things, once upon a time, makes this a worthy end: the Beatles' 'Abbey Road' medley, Simon and Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' and Otis Redding's 'Dock Of The Bay' rolled into one. What can I say but...'encore' (please?)

'This Path Tonight' then is a bitter pill for CSNY fans to swallow. It's the end of everything we've come to believe in and the first time that any of the members have declared the band over since Neil Young's Crosby-pitying 'Hippie Dream' in 1986, no matter how many times the band have tried to say goodbye or blown off steam before. For Nash, at least, it's time to unravel the sails of the wooden ships, walk off the Marrakesh Express and finally embrace a split that was a long time coming, no longer to carry on, with no more wild tales and no more CSNY songs before he goes. In retrospect Nash's hard work of the past decade releasing box sets dedicated to all three CSN solo members and the 'CSNY Live '74' set seems like a final goodbye, Nash getting his conscience clear as he prepares to bid goodbye to a band who have been so much a part of his life but which haven't made any new music in the studio in a three or four-way partnership in seventeen years now. I'd love to think that CSNY had another great album in them and could end on a high, but 'This Path Tonight' really does feel like an epitaph from the one man who could possibly declare the end of the group after so many years of keeping it together, their biggest cheerleader (just as The Beatles only ended when Paul McCartney walked out, not the eighteen times John Lennon did). With so much resting on its shoulders 'This Path Tonight' could easily have become crushed but instead it feels like the best and most honest work Nash has made in years as he painfully, tearfully, sadly walks away from two of the biggest things in his life to walk down a lonely twisted path to see what journeys lie ahead next before he dies. You can question the way Nash has done this, leaving his wife after thirty-eight years and taking up with a new partner and only announcing to us now how much aggro David Crosby has been giving him without giving the world a chance to see what was actually said (Croz is keeping a rare dignified silence at the moment, or at least trying to). But you can't question this album's emotional honesty and power as Nash tries hard to move on to one last great adventure in his life. Even if the path leads nowhere else, though 'This Path Tonight' is musically at least an avenue well worth exploring, a moving album from a man going through difficult times. Rest in peace and love and music CSNY, we loved you with all our hearts - what a shame it seems there never was the happy ending we've all been longing for since 1970.

A Now Complete List Of CSN/Y and Solo Articles Available To Read At Alan’s Album Archives:

'Crosby, Stills and Nash' (1969)

'Deja Vu' (CSNY) (1970)

‘Stephen Stills’ (1970)

'If Only I Could Remember My Name' (Crosby) (1971)

'Songs For Beginners' (Nash) (1971)

'Stephen Stills II' (1971)
‘Graham Nash, David Crosby’ (1972)

'Stephen Stills-Manassas'  (1972)

'Wild Tales' (Nash) (1973)
'Down The Road' (Stephen Stills/Manassas) (1973)

'Stills' (1975)

'Wind On The Water' (Crosby-Nash) (1975)
'Illegal Stills' (Stills) (1976)
'Whistling Down The Wire' (Crosby-Nash) (1976)

'Long May You Run' (Stills-Young) (1976)

'CSN' (1977)
'Thoroughfare Gap' (Stills) (1978)
'Earth and Sky' (Nash) (1980)

'Daylight Again' (CSN) (1982)
'Right By You' (Stills) (1984)
'Innocent Eyes' (Nash) (1986)
'American Dream' (CSNY) (1988)

'Oh Yes I Can!' (Crosby) (1989)

'Live It Up!' (CSN)  (1989)

'Stephen Stills Alone' (1991)

'CPR' (Crosby Band) (1998)

‘So Like Gravity (CPR, 2001)

‘Songs For Survivors’ (2002)

'Deja Vu Live' (CD) (2008)

'Deja Vu Live' (DVD) (2008)

'Reflections' (Graham Nash Box Set) (2009)

'Demos' (CSN) (2009)

'Manassas: Pieces' (2010)

‘Carry On’ (Stephen Stills Box Set) (2013)

'Croz' (Crosby) (2014)
'CSNY 74' (Recorded 1974 Released 2014)

'This Path Tonight' (Nash) (2016)

‘Here If You Listen’ (Crosby)

The Best Unreleased CSNY Recordings
Surviving TV Appearances (1969-2009)
Non-Album Recordings (1962-2009)
Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part One (1964-1980)
Live/Compilations/Rarities Albums Part Two (1982-2012)
Essay: The Superest Of Super Groups?
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Versions

The Monkees: The TV Series - Season One (1966/67)

You can now buy 'Every Step Of The Way - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Monkees' in e-book form by clicking here!

TV Episode  #1
"The Royal Flush"
(Filmed June 1966; First broadcast September 12th 1966)
"They have a saying in my country - the man who risks saving a drowning person risks drowning himself"
Music: This Just Doesn't Seem To Be My Day (Romp)/Take A Giant Step (Romp)
(The 1967 repeat substitutes 'You Told Me' and 'The Girl I Knew Somewhere' for these songs, while the 1971 repeat plumps for 'Apples, Peaches, Bananas and Pears' and 'Good Clean Fun')
Main Writer: Peter Meyerson and Robert Schlitt Director: James Frawley
Plot: Davy is down at the beach and eyeing a pretty girl when he notices that her lilo has deflated and she's downing. Quickly he jumps into the sea and rescues her, discovering that she is in fact a seventeen-year-old Princess Betina, rightful heir to the throne of the Duchy of Harmonica upon her eighteenth birthday in two(?) day's time (the chronology is sketchy; oh so you don't believe there's a real country with that name? There is so!) Betina reveals that she was given the lilo by her uncle Otto and that she can't swim very well. Discovering that Betina, Otto and henchman Sigmund are staying at the nearby Rich Swank Hotel, The Monkees take over - Mike pretending to be millionaire WH Woolhat and Micky pretending to be a throne salesman to lure Otto and Sigmund over while Davy sneaks out to see the princess. Davy and Betina sneak out, hiding in a hotel closet, while Otto and Sigmund get mad and walk out. Davy takes Betina to the beach where but are interrupted by Sigmund chasing after the band to the first broadcast Monkee romp: an energetic 'This Just Doesn't Seem To Be My Day'. It certainly isn't for Sigmund, who falls down a hole Peter digs in the sand for him across the episode! Sigmund and Otto track The Monkees down to their pad - much to Miss 'Micky' America's surprise - where Otto confesses his evil plan. He takes Betina away while the four Monkees are kept locked up by Sigmund. The henchman won't play ball with their plan - a heavy safe is left delicately balanced over their front door - even when they make him dance - but finally Sigmund loses his temper and stamps his foot just in the right place and The Monkees are free. They rush to the hotel ballroom where Betina is about to pass over her throne to Otto and Davy defeats him in a sword duel set to a second romp. Davy appears to have lost, but Peter interrupts with the speaking clock which means that Betina is now officially queen and The Monkees are heroes! Unfortunately they're still not erich, thrown out of their hotel room by the maid W H Woolhat talked into buying 'international steel' shares who now owns the establishment
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: His first line on screen as a Monkee - ''Well the cupboard's bare and it's not about to get any fuller unless we play a gig!" Is clearly the most 'responsible' Monkee, with a green woollen-hat on his head (which will briefly turn blue and then disappear altogether in series two). His first disguise in the series - W H Woolhat, millionaire, who leaves the maid a 'tip' (buy international steel at twenty-eight-and-a-half'), followed by a 'throne merchant' minutes later.  Micky: His first line on screen as a Monkee - "Hey Davy, you talking about her chick, her name's Betina and she's a princess?'  Is energetic and keen on disguises (almost the first thing we see Micky do is dress up as an army general to discuss manoeuvres). Micky has a variety of funny voices and comes up with the episode's 'big idea' to pretend to be throne merchants (interestingly he doesn't tell the others his idea first, confident that they'll go with him - which they do madly running around while he speaks on the phone). Is potentially Miss America (or at least makes some very rash promises about crooks discovering their hideout).  Davy: His first line on screen 'Are you alright?' Davy is the first Monkee seen as broadcast and guess what? Yes he falls in love within sceonds. He's particularly brave and dashing in this episode, saving Betina from drowning before she's properly realised she's in trouble and risking his life to duel swords with evil Otto, whose much bigger and powerful than himself. However Davy struggles to use a tape recorder properly and nearly messes up The Monkees' plan by taking so long to convince Betina about her uncle's evil ways. Peter: His first line as a Monkee "Gee, it seems more like four weeks!" Peter doesn't get much to say in this opening episode but is noticeably more intelligent than he will become, digging the hole that traps Sigmund and having the presence of mind to phone up the 'speaking clock' when time is up. He also goes along with the idea of being a 'tufted footstool carved in the form of a servile flatterer' as part of Micky's plan.
Things that don't make sense: You'd have thought this episode involving visiting royalty would have had more impact outside the episode - The Monkees would have become mini-celebrities for their part in restoring the heir to a throne. Betina also seems less than grateful for their hand in restoring her monarchy - The Monkees don't get a reward or a state visit or anything! Davy goes home and in the first broadcast scene with all four Monkee talks about his odd experience; for now the others are reluctant to help but change their mind when they learn Betina still has Davy's jacket draped round their shoulders. The tape recording of Otto giving the game away seems remarkably well recorded seeing it took place from the other side of a wall (and where did Davy get all the other recordings from? There wasn't time for him to have 'lost' his place between the recording and playback). Betina is oddly quick to believe Davy about her Uncle too given that she's known him all her life and has never till this week seen anything odd in his behaviour. Also, Davy never does seem to get his jacket back on screen despite that being apparently his main motivation in helping Betina!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mike - "Do you know we haven't worked in a month?" Peter - "Gee, it seems more like four weeks!" 2) Davy - "He said O Yanka Kimbo Quino Kum Baseemi" Mike - "What in the world does that mean?" Davy - "Well it doesn't mean live and be well!" 3) Mike as W H Woolhat to the maid - "Eat well, sleep well, get plenty of roughage in your diet. Miss I have a tip for you - buy international steel at twenty-eight and a half!" 4) Micky to Otto - "The 309, fit for a king! It captures your ruthless ambition, this throne is designed for men who dare to be called tyrants, we call it the usurper!" 5) Former Maid - "Royalty is bad enough, but I have to draw the line somewhere!"
Romp: Two this week. The first ever Monkee romp is set to the tune of 'This Just Doesn't Seem To Be My day'. It's less manic than what will come and tells a 'story', seemingly scripted compared to the more 'improvised' romps to come. The camera script mirrors Davy and Betina's 'romantic' embrace with the 'comic' embrace between Micky and Sigmund and reveals the punch-line early when Peter starts digging a hole that Sigmund inevitably falls down by the end of the episode. The song doesn't quite fit as well as some to come, although Sigmund could be considered to be having a bad day! It's a slightly different mix to the one on debut album 'The Monkees' by the way, with a much longer 'bridge' section in the middle (re-edited to fit the length of the romp?) The later repeats work better though, especially 'Apples, Peaches, Bananas and Pears', a Boyce and Hart song made for this sort of thing! The second romp is a swordfight between Davy and Otto which takes place to the sound of 'Take A Giant Step, which does involve Davy taking quite literal giant steps I suppose but doesn't really fit with the plot.
Interview: In the first of eleven 'tag' interviews to come, The Monkees are asked in September about a show they filmed back in June. Asked to say something, Micky quips 'Hi America!' before show co-creator Bob Rafelson (who always asks the interview questions) gives up and goes to Mike for a sensible answer: 'Mike what did you think of the show?' Nesmith is in a skittish mood though, shooting back with 'I thought it was one minute short!' Peter is unusually grumpy, declaring that he could have done the duelling scene better (although Davy takes it well, going through the first use of his famous 'stand up and show them how tall you are Davy' 'I am standing up!' routine). Tapping into the spirit of 'unemployed characters suddenly getting money' vibe of the series, Bob asks what the band want the show to 'do' for them - Davy replies simply that he wants to go home ('I'm gonna feed my dog, I'm gonna take a bath, I'm gonna set my hair...') Mike snaps back 'Why do you ask us stuff like this really? I mean why not ask something like 'what time is it?' Bob agrees and asks him what time is it. Mike gets up to leave and says 'It's time to go man!' while the rest of The Monkees follow!
Postmodernisms: The Monkees series will come to be famous for its love of breaking the fourth wall and revealing the programme to be 'just' a programme. However this opening episode features very few examples of this, besides The Monkees suddenly rustling up all sorts of items during their disguises (including a pair of embroidered flags hanging from trumpets when Otto sits on his 'throne' - where did they come from?!) We'll see much more of this sort of thing as the series progresses.
Davy Love Rating: Surprisingly low this week, perhaps a six out of ten, with Davy's courtship cut short by Betina's decision to become queen (whereas Davy would rather be a musician). The couple don't get much further than holding hands in this episode, though, despite the fact that Davy actually risks his life for his girl here (you think he'd get a kiss, even from a princess!)
Review:  A cracking opening for any series, actually recorded third in production order (after the 'Pilot' and 'Gift Horse') but sensibly moved to the beginning because whole the ingredients are all the same both cast and crew have that much more confidence in what they're doing. Although this is very much a 'Davy' episode (like the first two that were filmed) all four Monkees get at least a couple of good lines and their personalities instantly come through - Davy is heroic, Mike is thoughtful and responsible, Peter is quiet and a bit thick and Micky is slightly mad. Though less dynamic and rule-breaking than some of the direction to come, regular Monkee 'boss' James Frawley's work is still remarkably fresh and inventive for the day, with several fast cuts and quick action-filled scenes which sets the pace a bit more than the two predecessors and is the main reason why The Monkees looks so good alongside modern television (because it effectively 'invented' it, with a few embellishments - the timeless music helps too of course!) Frawley in fact won a TV grammy award for his direction on this episode and it's not hard to see why - the cuts from one scene mirrored by another are well handled and the pace doesn't lag with lengthy exposition scenes as per some later episode. The script is fresh and funny and the guest cast are excellent too, with the late lamented Katherine Walsh as Betina (who was tragically murdered in 1970, though no motive or killer were ever found) one of Davy's best girlfriends across the series.
Interestingly, 'Royal Flush' is also the 'real' beginnings of what The Monkees is all 'about', perhaps taking its cue from the theme tune Boyce and Hart wrote for the series  - a young generation that have really got something to say. It is perhaps symbolic that the plot of the first Monkees centres around a teenager about to become an adult on her eighteenth birthday and who plans to rule in a very different way to her corrupt elder uncle. Otto is everything the 1960s music scene was intended to overthrow - greed overcoming innocence even at the cost of life and though Davy tries to save things with a duel fight (how things used to be solved in the 'old days') you can tell straight away what a 'different' series this is by the fact that effectively he loses it; Otto thinks he's won by brute force and power but actually loses overall because 'time has run out' (as shown by Peter with the speaking clock). Given that everyone involved in The Monkees was 'junior' level by television and industry standards (even series co-creators Robert Rafelson and Bert Schneider were only in their early thirties at this point) and you could think that everyone involved is making a 'point' here. 'Love' is effectively what saves the day, a full year before the summer of love is in earnest - and not just between Davy and Betina. Note that Davy turns down the chance of power over in Harmonica in favour of staying with a bunch of unemployed musicians who haven't had a paid gig in a month - friendship and romance are how the 'young generation' are going to do things from now on and they can take on any bullies, no matter how rich or powerful they seem. No wonder so many curious teenagers who didn't know what to expect turned in next week, passing on the series via word of mouth to their friends. The Monkees was a rare show where the young were shown to be part of the 'solution', not part of the 'problem' and it's that which is perhaps the series' greatest heritage. It's still fun to watch even for fans like me born far too late to see this series at the time though, especially this opening episode with plenty of classic lines, wacky disguises and Davy holding his own in a fencing scene. Having sensibly buried the first couple of goes at this formula later on in the transmission run, Rafelson and Schneider have enabled this show to get the teething problems out the way and hit the ground running. The Monkees' series won't stop for just shy of sixty breathless episodes and television and music history will be all the richer for it.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) While the main show has been effectively cast in stone by this point, the director and producer were clearly still working on the issue of the credits. This is the only Monkees episode to credit the song composers (Boyce and Hart and Goffin and King) but not the two songs they wrote. Other credit howlers will appear as early as the next episode, suggesting they were done in something of a hurry! 2) The invention of the 'one minute short' tag was director James Frawley's idea and was intended solely for this episode before it proved a success. Originally The Monkees was pitched for a slightly different time slot and thus needed to run slightly longer. Frawley spent an age trying to cut the episode down frame by frame to the length of the broadcast. When this then changed Frawley couldn't face the painstaking hours of putting all the frames back in again so suggested the interview as a means of 'filling' in a minute of running time! When The Monkees went international some stations didn't like the idea and used an edited mimed version of 'Last Train To Clarksville' instead! 3) Like a good half of the scripts to come, the original plan had a full tag scene that was never recorded (The Monkees' endings are notoriously weak) - the chamber maid turned millionaire discovers that The Monkees can't pay for their hotel room and so makes them work as cleaners themselves! 4) This episode and 'Gift Horse' were recorded before The Monkees had started their music-making in earnest, which meant that when these romps were filmed the director didn't have a clue what music was to go alongside them! The Monkees' first 'proper' recording sessions started only after production on this episode had finished. 5) Davy takes his shirt off on the beach on the opening scene and walks around bare-chested; its the only time in the series you can see the scar from having his appendix removed a few years earlier, which was 'covered up' for later episodes
Ratings: At The Time 8.4 million viewers/AAA Rating: 9/10

TV Episode  #2
"Monkee See Monkee Die"
(Filmed June 1966; First broadcast September 19th 1966)
"Well at least that tells us something - the murderer is very neat!"
Music: Last Train To Clarksville (Romp)/Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day (Romp)
(The former is substituted for 'A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You' during the 1967 repeat - this is the first episode of the series ever to be re-broadcast)
Main Writer: Treva Silverman   Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees have inherited part of millionaire John Cunningham's fortune  a person they can't even remember! (It turns out they once returned a wallet to him - even though it wasn't his!) Arriving at Cunningham Island, the band learn that they are only one of several people mentioned in the will and that most of the estate will go to his grandneice Ellie Reynolds, whom Davy inevitably takes a shine too. However the people there will only get the money if they stay the night in the mansion, which some say is haunted. However the 'some' turn out to be the other beneficiaries of the will - butler Ralph, old bore and ex-author Harris Kingsley and fortune teller Mme Roselle. During the course of the night all three appear to die in mysterious circumstances in a ruse to get the band and Ellie to leave the mansion and lost out on their inheritance. It ever so nearly works, with The Monkees becoming increasingly scared out of their wits until they decide to calm themselves down with a song and a romp set to the tune of 'Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day' (as you do). Returning to the mansion (which doesn't look half so scary now) they overhear the crooks talking and call in the police, who arrests them. However the very end is ambiguous - a 'real' ghost appears to talk to the fearsome five who run away screaming, presumably meaning that they don't get the inheritance after all (or at any rate The Monkees are just as broke an episode later!)
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: This is the episode where Mike's legendary bossiness seems to begin in earnest. He's fully in charge of the group by this point and is the one coming up with all the ideas and suggestions. Even the most unlikely ideas of his ever so nearly work this week - he really does get a pigeon to come when he calls and even more unlikely lures a St Bernard with a lot of odd looking bones he finds in the cupboard. Disguises himself as an old man when it looks like the band are about to be evicted.  Micky: In a quirk forgotten after a few more episodes, Micky is the mad scientist of the group. He's been developing some 'knock out' drugs in his spare time (is this for The Monkees' audience? And again where does he get the money?) and can put together a broken telephone well enough to make an outside broadcast - even if, unluckily enough for the band, it's received by someone who can't speak English (other than the phrase 'Yes I can!') Is Sherlock to Davy's Watson. Disguises himself as a 23-hour-doorman when it looks like the band are about to be evicted ('I used to be a 24 hour doorman, but I couldn't take the long hours!')  Davy: Falls in love easily (well, duhhh!) Is Watson to Micky's Sherlock. Makes for an oddly convincing old woman when the band get their disguises on.  Peter: Gets scared easily (well duhhhh again!) Disguises himself as a TV repairman when it looks as if the band are about to be convicted.
Things that don't make sense: Why aren't The Monkees evicted by now? landlord Babbitt isn't exactly fond of them and they're on their last warning as early as this episode - never mind the end of the first season when he appears to have given up (perhaps he loves them all really and just hides it well - although see 'The Chaperone' for why this is unlikely!) It seems very unlikely that a solicitor would have put such odd terms into John Cunningham's will - and given the old boy's responses on his pre-recorded will he seems to know that his family are a scheming lot. Why not just leave all the money to Ellie outright (does John Cunningham not like his grandniece much either?) Given that the estate is apparently on an island (at least it is in the script - this is downplayed on screen) how do the penniless Monkees get to travel there? Oh and  where exactly do The Monkees get their usual nightwear from, despite arriving at the mansion with no luggage and with no plans to stay the night? (Do they send away for it? If so then that service is quick!)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Davy - "We just paid you the rent in September!" Landlord Babbitt - "Yeah, but that was for July!" 2) Mike on Davy - "He's in love - and for the very first time today!" 3) Mme Roselle - "Would you like me to read your palm?" Micky - "Nah, I'll wait until they make it into a movie!" 4) Mike on calling his pigeon and trying to add a message to its leg - "Hang on, there's a already a message on here. It says 'please do not tie a message to my leg, I am not a carrier pigeon!" and later when he lures a St Bernard "There's a message for you on the pigeon!" 5) MMe Roselle - "Spirit , please knock twice for 'yes' and four times for 'no'" Spirit Voice- "How many times for yes?!"
Romp: There are two this week. A red letter day for Monkees fans as it's the first appearance of 'Last Train To Clarksville', the first of the 'big five' Monkees songs to be featured endlessly across the series (the first of seven appearances - a record!) Actually it appears oddly late in the series given that the song had already been a hit before the programme even aired. The romp's frenetic style suits the 'monster' style romp well, although the lyrics as usual don't necessarily fit. A second romp features 'Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day' when the band are cheering themselves up and this one fits very well indeed - both musically (where it's jollity suits one of the best Monkees romps, with them given free range to do anything in an attempt to 'cheer themselves up' - much of this segment appears in the opening credits of the first season) and thematically (this is a song about things being better tomorrow - as performed in the early hours of a new day).
'Imagination' Sequence: Looking for clues to solve a problem, Micky dresses as a convincing Sherlock Holmes and Davy as Watson
Postmodernisms: John Cunningham's pre-recorded will that features him interacting with the guests after his death ('Shut up Kingsley!')
Quick Change Artists: When The Monkees realise that John Cunningham's lawyer is trying to give them money not evict them it takes The Monkees around 4.2 seconds to change out of their costumes
Davy Love Rating: About a nine - the attraction is instant and there are giant stars in both Davy's and Ellie's eyes. However the pair's relationship cools off quicker than some - Davy doesn't get a kiss and is at best only holding hands for the rest of the episode (there's no real resolution or reason given for things returning to normal after the episode either, unlike last week).
Review: Another excellent episode, only marginally behind the first with the sheer freshness of The Monkees' format enabling the band to do so many things that just couldn't be seen on television in 1966. The sheer amount of fast-paced cut away shots (which are used here even more than in 'The Royal Flush') is revolutionary and even modern programmes don't always feature quite so many. While the script is simple and it's obvious to everyone but the band and Ellie what is going on, it's also a great platform for getting to know both the band and this madcap world of characters very quickly. All the guest cast are excellent and fully believable and they get as many good lines between them as The Monkees this episode. As for The Monkees themselves, because this script centres less around Davy the others get more of a chance to show their stuff and they do so well, believable not only as a foursome but as four people who need each other and would hang out with each other (even if its in a Laurel and Hardy, they-wouldn't-survive-without-the-others-way). There are several classic Monkees scenes here, highlighted by the 'rock paper scissors' routine to see who keeps watch (interrupted by a large hairy hand - later revealed to be the butler's) and Mike's attempts to take control and send out messages for help (which are foiled in the most unlikely and Monkees-like way). Anyone tuning in this second week after their friends nagged them after seeing the band on week one would surely have been equally won over, but in a whole different way. The Monkees' format has never been livelier and both script and performances crackle with genuine energy. The Monkees will rather over-use the 'haunted manor' scenario across the series but this original version is by far the best.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) In the first example of many to come, the person responsible for writing the end credits does a rushed job, especially where the songs are concerned. 'Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day' is mis-listed as 'Tomorrow Is Another Day' 2) There are no credits for the voice of Ebenezer or John Cunningham himself as played via his will - both are by Monkees director James Frawley who will go on to voice another couple of parts across the series 3) Talking of credits, Don Kirshner's 'Musical Supervision' credit from last week's episode and the pilot has been removed already and won't be back for the rest of the series' run  - a sign of things to come 4) In the first of many, many scripted alternate endings the police were meant to have arrived late - to find an exhausted Monkees and Ellie asleep on the couch, surrounded by the knocked out crooks 5) Keep your eyes peeled for the first ever appearance of the 'Monkeemobile'  during the 'Clarksville' romp - it will be seen more substantially later on in the series 6) While fiddling with the radio Micky quips 'Did General Sarnoff start off like this?' Sarnoff was a pioneer of radio who was most famous for directing ships towards the sinking Titanic in 1912 and later became president of RCA Victor - the TV company Screen Gems was affiliated to - and president of NBC (The National Broadcasting Company) which aired the show
Ratings: At The Time 9.2 million viewers/AAA Rating: 9/10

TV Episode  #3
"Monkee Versus Machine"
(Filmed June 1966; First broadcast September 26th 1966)
"A toy factory needs unskilled help for non-essential job with  no training and no experience required"
 Music: Saturday's Child (Romp)/Last Train To Clarksville (Romp)
(The 1967 repeat substitutes 'Saturday's Child' for 'You Told Me' and the 1970 repeat substitutes 'Saturday's Child' for 'Listen To The Band')
Main Writer: David Panich   Director: Bob Rafelson
Plot: The Monkees need money - and fast! After scouring the classified ads (and rejecting quite a few) the band discover a job that seems perfect for Peter - he doesn't even need any         qualifications or training! However the interview, conducted with a machine, doesn't go according to plan - the machine doesn't understand Peter and ties him up in knots before rejecting him. Mike isn't taking no for an answer, grills Peter for all the questions he was asked and goes for the job himself, switching tables on the machine and causing it to explode. Daggart, the second in command, is impressed with Nesmith's IQ reading and offers him a job as his assistant. Daggart is a modern sort who believes only in products designed by computers, even to the extent of excluding their inventor Pops Harper from offering suggestions (as his boss, the weak-willed Guggins, gave him a job for life). Mike is horrified at how the old man is being treated and believes that the new toys are too artificial and not 'fun' enough for children so he enrols The Monkees' help during a test with local kids. Micky, Davy and Peter all take it in turn to dress up as mothers and children and they all hound Daggart in an attempt to show how bad the computer-designed toys are. Unfortunately Daggart is brighter than he looks (who isn't?) and sees through their scheme. The Monkees get Guggins' ear long enough to show him one of Pops' new inventions, however - a boomerang that keeps coming back when you throw it (just as long as Peter hasn't shut the window first!)
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: This is a 'Mike' episode which is the first to really dig behind the 'fake-parent' bossiness of Nesmith's character and reveal Mike's characteristic hatred of all things unjust and mean and his big empathetic heart. Even with a bit of a 'head start' thanks to Peter, Mike is shown to have a huge IQ of 198 when interviewed by the master computer although the band themselves never learn of this (perhaps thankfully - Mike would have been teased no end through Monkee banter!)  Micky: Sees himself as a lion-tamer when the band are preparing to look for a job. We see Micky's soon-to-be-dropped love of science and inventions when he uses dynamite to blow up a toy during the testing scene. We also see Micky's insensitive side for pretty much the first time when he blunders into Mike trying to cheer Peter up.  Davy: Sees himself as a delivery boy when the band are looking for a job - until the mention of delivering pianos! While all four Monkees are seen to ride unicycles competently Davy is particularly good. Very good with a yo-yo too and impresses the kids enough to want a go. Peter: Apparently doesn't have any qualifications or experience (so he's a musician straight from school? In real life Peter was a good student with better grades than the other Monkees - though to be fair Micky was busy filming 'Circus Boy' during his exams and Davy's English  curriculum works out differently to the American system - with his real self and his character getting ever wider apart here). Hates computers even allowing for his difficult interview.
Things that don't make sense: Since when do zoos advertise for lion tamers in local newspapers? If Daggart was responsible for the advert and it was always for a new assistant for himself and given his belief of his own importance - why then did the advert ask for no experience or qualifications? Why when Duggart is being attacked by children throwing toys at him, does he randomly take a cupboard off the wall and hurl that at the floor as well? (He may be intended to protect himself with it, but that's not how it comes over on screen).  And the biggest one of all - boomerangs date back to the days of the aboriginal Australian natives, they weren't invented by an elderly inventor in the 1960s - and why do none of The Monkees or the staff of a factory that actually makes toys like this one seem to know about it?
Best Five Quotes: 1) Micky - "You're probably the only person in the city with those qualifications - or at least the only one who can read the ad!" Peter - "Gee, you mean they put that in the paper just for me? Why didn't they phone?" 2) Mike - "Just remember those three little words, 'don't argue'. Peter - "That's two words!" Mike - "See? You've started already!" 3) Mike - "You've got something a machine doesn't have - friends!" Micky - "Oh have you got some friends Pete? You must bring them round sometime! Oh..." 4) Mike - "Now listen Mr Daggart, I think you've forgotten a very important part of toy-making and that's the fun you need to build in, some happiness - I mean after all happiness is a very important product don't you think?" 5) Daggart - "I think I smell a small furry rodent!"
Romp: Two again this week. 'Saturday's Child' is particularly famous and rightly so - it's the perfect mix of song and film footage as The Monkees all ignore toys and hang around with a load of youngsters in their customised Monkees jeep. Elsewhere all four Monkees are shown to be a dab hand at unicycles - impressive stuff given that none of them had ridden them before (it was Bob' Rafelson's idea). The song uses a slightly different mix to the version heard on 'The Monkees' with a slightly different lead from Micky and much louder backing vocals from Mike, Peter and Davy. The other romp is the second airing of 'Last Train To Clarksville' which is less relevant, set to footage of the band trying to decide on their future careers after being given the old machine from the toy factory.
'Imagination' Sequence: Davy impresses as a unicycle delivery boy and Micky less so as a lion-tamer with the lion's head on the pad's wall
Postmodernisms: Like many a Bob Rafelson directed episode to come, this is heavily post-modern, full of winking in-jokes to the audience at home, but mainly thanks to after hours in the editing suite. There are several captions throughout this episode: 'Do You Believe This?!', 'The Face Of A Genius?' (Mike), 'Will He Lose His Temper?!' (the 'he' is Daggart and the answer is an emphatic 'yes!'), 'You Can't Fool A Monkee' (to Mike), 'Possessive Mother' (to a dressed up Davy) and 'Send This Boy To Camp!' (to Peter, in shorts!)
Review: A fascinating episode which in many ways is The Monkees' story all over: in contrast to every other series on the air in the 1960s this band of unemployed long-haired musicians are the honourable  members of a society that's forgotten how to care. The Monkees are forced into getting a job because that's how society works but they don't benefit from it (is Mike actually paid during the course of this episode? The fact that wages aren't even mentioned shows how unimportant money is to the Monkees universe) and moreover the world doesn't benefit from the job they should be doing. This is very much a young person's view of society back then (the crew behind The Monkees being nearly as young as the cast): it's full of faceless corporations organised by machines that have forgotten mankind's basic humanity. The sheer outrage that's clearly there in the script gets dumbed down by the usual Monkee hi-jinks but it's clearly there and Stan Freberg (usually a voice over artist, most famous as Junior Bear in 'The Three Bears' cartoons) excels as Daggart, one of the band's best and certainly most believable 'villains'.  The episode gives a lot of plot over to Mike and rounds his character out nicely just at the point when his 'I'm in charge' mentality is beginning to get a bit irritating - as with so many episodes to come Mike is right there when his friends need him and eager to put the world to rights as best he can (it's a small jump from this episode to him becoming mayor in series two). If the episode has one downfall it's that the other three are less well catered for and get precious little to do, although that said the episode's two best scenes - some of the funniest of the series - feature Peter's argument with the computer ('Not Not What but Nit Wit!') and Peter, Micky and Davy dressed up as a surprisingly attractive series of mothers (the first of many occasions in this series of the main cast dressing in drag for the sake of a plot) and their naughty children. All that and in 'Saturday Child' one of the series' best romps too - no wonder so many the ratings for The Monkees are soaring and everyone under twenty is talking about this series: this is a programme that screams 'this is ours' for a whole demographic who've never been represented on tea-time viewing before and for now The Monkees can do no wrong with a third very different yet equally superb episode in a row. Alas the formulaic episodes are about to arrive with the very next entry...
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) We never find out the name of the toy company which is just referred to as 'The Company' throughout, although most of the props in the testing room seem to be made by Mattel (interestingly one of their main rivals at the time was MPC who built the Monkeemobile die-cast models the following year) 2) The machine DJ-61 is actually a prop 'borrowed' from fellow Colgems series 'The Man From Uncle' and the episode 'The Ultimate Computer Affair' 3) The voice of DJ-61 doesn't get a credit in this audience but its director James Frawley - again! (see last week!) 4) This week's alternate ending as featured in the script - Mr Babbitt, the landlord, is irate because Peter has paid his rent in toys rather than money (the scriptwriters really weren't good at endings as we'll see a few times this series!) 5) Band dummy Mr Schneider ('affectionately' named for co-creator and producer Bert) makes his first appearance here, though he doesn't get to say anything
Ratings: At The Time 15.7 million viewers/AAA Rating: 9/10

TV Episode  #4
"Your Friendly Neighbourhood Kidnappers"
(Filmed July 1966; First broadcast October 3rd 1966)
"We wish to extend our compliments to The Monkees for overcoming many obstacles to remain in the competition!"
 Music: Let's Dance On (Half-Romp)/I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone (Half-Romp)/Last Train To Clarksville (Romp)
(The 1967 repeat substitutes 'A Little Bit Me A Little Bit You' for both 'Let's Dance On'# and 'Steppin' Stone' plus 'The Girl I Knew Somewhere' for 'Clarksville')
Main Writer: Dave Evans  Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees have entered a competition but are up against a nasty band of rockers named The Four Swine (Bill Haley's Comets crossed with The Sex Pistols) who sabotage their performance by drowning out their performance with a burst of 'Beethoven's 5th Symphony'. Against the odds The Monkees still qualify for the next round of the audition (the judges really dig Beethoven, surprisingly!) but a man named Trump, a really bad pulicity agent, cons the band into various 'publicity gimmicks' which go on. A group of girls are supposed to be hired to rip Davy's clothes off - but they go to the wrong table and attack a middle-aged man named Lester Crabtree instead. Next the band are supposed to have their hand-prints made on a cement walk - but the quick-drying cement causes the band to become stuck.  The third wheeze really really doesn't work - a group of kidnappers have supposedly been hired to lock the band up, but the band get bored waiting and Davy goes out to a discotheque. The kidnappers go round to get Davy as well, but he invites all his friends from the club back and the pair have to tie up everyone (to a pair of mad Monkee romps!) It turns out though that the kidnapping is for real and that Trump is really on the enemy's side and has been organised by The Four Swine to keep The Monkees out of the competition. The Monkees escape, thanks to Micky dressing up in his mad scientist guise and threatening to blow everyone up, and the band flee to the strains of 'Last Train to Clarksville'. The band perform at the competition and the baddies are arrested - but instead of the expected happy ending The Monkees are beaten to the win by...Lester Crabtree (who doesn't even sing a note!)
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: While the tag sequence interview reveals a whole lot about the 'real' Mike, his fictional counterpart gets very little to do in this episode. He can bounce on a pogo-stick really well, though. Micky: Still has a mad scientist's costume and a test-tube full of nitro-glycerine lying about (Micky isn't entirely sure what it is - but that's what he pretends and it makes a big bang when thrown away so it might well be the right substance after all!) Tries to punch a crook with a handful of pennies but it all goes wrong (Micky is concerned about his weediness, as we'll see in later episodes). Davy: Likes hanging round discotheques. Is clearly seen as the 'heart-throb' of the band by now, as it's Davy the girls are meant to undress during a publicity stunt. Can stand on his head on a padded chair.  Peter: Washes his socks in a cocktail shaker. Is mistaken for the 'dummy' Mr Schneider by the two kidnappers, much to his visible annoyance.
Things that don't make sense: Just how far is Trump in the pay-roll of The Four Swines. The things that he organises seem like 'accidents' rather than deliberate sabotage - why hire girls to scream at all rather than have them sent to the wrong table? And it's the two kidnappers responsible for the concrete mistake - The Monkees are already trapped and so don't need the whole kidnapping scenario at all, with Trump ruining his own plans by letting them out. Don't The Monkees think to phone up the competition and ask if Trump really does work for them? (I can imagine the other three going along with this, but not the more cynical Mike). That's also clearly not the right stairs for The Monkees' pad when the band run away (do they sell all that elaborate stair-ing for firewood later on in the season?) Also, surely the judges can tell that The Monkees' instruments are incapable of playing like an orchestra! (shouldn't the band be thrown out for miming?!)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Peter after The Four Swines have sabotaged their set) - "Gee, that wasn't the way we rehearsed it was it?!" 2) Trump - "Don't you want to be famous, the idol of millions?" Davy - "No - we just want to be revered by a small minority!" 3) Micky to waitress - "Bothing for us thanks, we've just come to get our clothes ripped off!" 4) Micky reading newspaper - "Mr Crabtree was quoted as saying 'you've got a wild little town here!" 5) Peter - "The universe is permeated with the odour of turpentine!"
Romp: We get snatches of the songs 'Let's Dance On' and 'Steppin' Stone' while the kidnappers are trying to round everybody up to kidnap them, though The Monkees are in long shot so we don't really see what they're up to. 'Clarksville' is one of the less satisying uses of this song - this romp has absolutely nothing to do with trains or Clarksville although it does involve 'running away' I guess.
Postmodernisms: There are a couple of captions put up on screen this episode. After Mr Crabtree's rather eventful lunch a sign goes up saying 'First Topless Customer?' and after Micky fails to tackle the kidnapper another goes up saying 'Cassius Clay watch out! (Clary was, of course, better known after his name change to Muhammad Ali).  There's also a clever moment in the 'Clarksville romp where the camera appears to be taking a moody shot through grilled bars as three of The Monkees run away, before Peter walks into shot and wheels a tyre with wooden struts away from the camera, where it had been propped up all along! (very Monkees!)
Interview Sequence: One of the stranger, sillier tag sequences. The band are all ready to go home when Bob calls them back to the cameras in a pack, aware that they are 'one minute short' ('Why don't you time your shows better?' is Peter's heartfelt response). As usual, Bob turns to Mike for most of the segment, safe in the knowledge that the wool-hatted one will give him the most honest answers. Mike talks about seeing people from his past now that he's a success, who remind how they thought he was going to be in prison or dead by this age in his life (Mike adds 'I was a really rotten kid' when asked why but soon gets defensive, 'Let's not talk about that, blech!') Mike is happier when talking about all the money he's earned from The Monkees but admits 'I have to be careful or I'll spend myself bankrupt!' Bob then tries one last time to ask The Monkees to talk inside a minute because thy must have so much to say - and all four begin talking at once at the tops of their voices. Mike then rounds things off by joking 'A minute is entirely too long for us to tell you what we have on our minds!'
Review: An interesting early discussion on the fakeness and shallowness of modern music, it's a shame that this episode doesn't spend longer laughing at the gimmicks rock and roll bands go through instead of turning into the first of many 'Monkee kidnapped' stories (there'll be another similar story in just three episodes' time!) After all, the opening and closing of this episode is superb - The Four Swines are a cleverly named band that represent the less colourful, more competitive underbelly of the rock and roll world, willing to win at all costs. The Monkees are very cleverly painted as the under-dogs (the scene of Micky being handed a banana is priceless!) and the fact that despite all the odds The Monkees still don't win the competition but are instead beaten by a man who hasn't even sung yet (the girls rip all his clothes off before he has a chance!) is a typically clever twist on what our expectations would be for any other series (this early on in The Monkees' history it would have had a particularly strong impact as people hadn't quite picked up on the 'joke' of the band being 'heroic failures' rather than idolised success stories yet). The sabotage with Beethoven and the band's re-instatement because the judges 'dig it' are also handled very well; miming was a big story in 1966 and especially at the very start of the 'Monkees don't play their own instruments' outcry. Micky even fits in a quick jibe at this when his hands are being removed from the concrete ('I'll never play the guitar again!' 'But you're the drummer!' - Micky was an accomplished guitarist before joining the band and only played the 'part' of a drummer). The sudden rise of poor innocent Lester Crabtree - a visiting salesman mobbed accidentally by girls - is also well handled, being turned into a 'star' simply because the girls all seem to love him (it's left nice and ambiguous too: was the original mad rush to him because of his unforseen sexual chemistry? Is this why it happens during the final performance? The Monkees' decision to tear each other's clothes off admits defeat at how the pop world works). However something goes a little bit wrong in the middle. Trump's motivations are odd - is he in the pay of The Four Swines or a clueless hustler whose easily conned? What sway do The Four Swines have over the two kidnapper goons? (we never see them hired or money change hands). The rival band are never seen on screen again past the opening pre-credits teaser sequence: this episode would have been so much funnier with them as the stooges rather than the clue-less kidnappers. The scenes of the band being locked up goes on far too long and this is perhaps the weakest use of 'Monkee romps' across the whole first season: the music is used as a soundtrack rather than a springboard for what The Monkees do best. The overall verdict, then, is of a flawed clever episode that could easily have been so much better with just a bit of tweaking.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1)The band will re-enact the 'concrete' sequence of this episode when getting their Hollywood Squares for real in 1989! 2) The first album 'The Monkees' - released around now - uses several stills from this episode on the back cover 3) This is the first of many episodes to feature cameo appearances by the band's 'stand-ins' who took the quartet's place on the set for lighting and camera rehearsals and who were for the most part auditionees for the series themselves. The four 'real' Monkees would go on to have close relationships with many of them, especially Micky, whose stand-in Rick Klein will go on to become his co-writer in the later Monkee years and Mike's stand-in John London, an old friends from years ago who once played bass in a trio 'Mike, John and Bill' and will go on to play in Nesmith's post-Monkees 'National Bands'. Davy's stand-in is David Price and Peter's is David Pearl. All four appear twice this episode, as contestants in the opening teaser sequence and as disco-goers locked up during the middle of the episode  4) Do The Monkees end up buying the disco jukebox? It looks awfully similar to the one that will end up in their pad in a few episodes' time... 5) For the one and only time on screen we hear The Monkees' home address: 1334 N Beechwood - an in-joke, as it was actually the address of the band's fanclub headquarters at the time! 6) Look out for a brief gag on the sign of the Chinese stadium the Monkees run past which is advertising a very familiar looking band: 'The Machies: Dourantes, Dork, Johanes and Nazemize!' 5) The first day of shooting for this episode - July 25th 1966 - was a busy one; the same night Micky was in the studio recording 'Last Train To Clarksville' (which at the time wasn't in the script as the 'romp' sequence!) 6) The shot of Picture grinning his head off that was featured in the opening titles was taken from an outtake for this episode
Ratings: At The Time 9.8 million viewers/AAA Rating: 7/10

TV Episode  #5
"The Spy Who Came In From The Cool"
(Filmed June -July 1966; First broadcast October 10th 1966)
"We make it up on the microfilm!"
Music: The Kind Of Girl I Could Love (Half-Performance)/Steppin' Stone (Half-Performance)/All The King's Horses (Romp)/Saturday's Child (Romp)
Main Writer: Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso   Director: Robert Rafelson
Plot: Davy needs a new pair of maracas and against all odds finds them in the first shop he goes into. Against even more odds it happens to be the intended stage for a spy drop, with two enemy agents known as 'Madame' and 'Boris' waiting to drop off secret plans as part of a microfilm inserted into the pair of red maracas that Davy's just bought. The two agents realise the mistake and track The Monkees down to a club where they're giving a rare performance (they even seem to be quite popular given the size of the audience - this is a first for the Monkees' first season!) Dressed as hippies the pair rather stand out and a quick thinking Mike announces them as a new singing act 'Honey and the Bear' - they're actually quite odd but Micky still starts a riot and the quartet make their escape in the mayhem. They are then picked up by the CIA who ask them to go undercover even though the work is dangerous. The Monkees take a lot of persuading but they agree to meet up with the spies at a nearby cafe that's been bugged and get taped confirmation of who they are thanks to a hidden microphone inside a lamp. It goes wrong, a lot - at first the spies only nod (which isn't very useful on tape!), then Davy accidentally pulls the wire out, then the family on the table next door are too loud. Eventually though the confession is made and Boris is captured, although Madame slips away. She meets up with her superiors as planned but has failed to check the microfilm in the maracas - Davy has swapped it for footage of the band clowning around!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is at his bossy take-charge best throughout this episode, seemingly unsurprised that the band are caught up in the middle of a bunch of spies and quick to improvise the band's way out of trouble by making the spies sing. Perhaps that's because even the CIA, who have been taking Monkee notes, say that 'we believe he is the leader of the group' - the closest it comes to ever actually being stated over the course of the series. During a James Bond-style training special by Micky his special guest is a cigarette lighter with a miniature camera inside - as well as a miniature cameraman! Micky: Is the quickest at picking up what Mike is up to when the spies are forced to sing and quickly starts a riot. His response to the crisis is to get dressed up, again, and makes a rather convincing mad inventor. He's less than kind to his underlying Yakimoto when demonstrating karate though. Davy: Feels the need to buy a new pair of maracas to keep up appearances, although his band are quick to point out he already has lots. Davy only has 50cents in his pocket and is pleased to get what he thinks is a 'bargain'. Takes charge in the 'cafe' scene where the gangsters are being taped, although he's less active in this episode than some despite being the cause of most of it! In fact his main re-action to danger is to dance and sing 'Swannee River' when he thinks he's spotted a camera in the street. His special gadget is a tie pin that includes a suicide pill. Peter: Cries when the baddies try to shoot them - Peter's character will get much tougher as the series goes on. Peter's special gadget is a pair of cufflinks with a hidden tape recorder inside.
Things that don't make sense: I'm willing to accept the outrageous implausibility at Davy not only being in the right place to intercept the spies' transaction unknowingly, asking for the right instrument and even giving the same dialogue the spies are accepting, as unlikely as that might seem. But there's no excuse for not giving Micky and Davy microphones during their performances - that's just sloppy! Oh and why the heck is Peter being wheeled by the others in a bath around a busy American metropolis when it has nothing whatsoever to do with the script? Having seen these episodes out of order originally I spent years trying to guess what plot could possibly lead to this much-seen scene from the first season's opening credits!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Davy - "I just saw a feller talking to a popsicle" Mike - "Yeah? Well, tell me if the popsicle talks back!" 2) Micky - "Is there a secret way out?" Shopkeeper "Why yes, it's through the harp" Micky - "You know, I'd have sworn it was through the accordion!" 3) CIA Agent Honeywell - "We're seeing what you think of faces?" Micky - "Sorry - yours won't do!" Honeywell - "No, no, for instance what do you think this person does for a living?" (Showing photo of Boris) Micky - "He's a shoemaker, you can tell by the calloused hands" (sees Honeywell's hands) "Oh great - could you have these back by Thursday?!" 4) Micky, as Inventor - "This tiepin doubles as a recording device" Peter - "Hey, if I wear two can I record in stereo?!" 5) CIA Chief (Un-named in the credits) - "Don't worry about us bugging them, they won't suspect a thing!" Mike - "But what about  that big black wire coming from the lamp?" The Chief - "Yes, that's always been a problem!"
Romp: There are two this week. Mike's pre-Monkee 'All The King's Horses' is one of the first songs used in the series not to be released on record in The Monkees' lifetime (it will instead appear on 'Missing Links Two' in 1997). It's frenetic energy and relentless riff is perfect for the setting of Monkee romps, although lyrically it's not as suitable as other uses of the recording. The second romp is our old friend 'Saturday's Child', used right at the very end for the 'fake' microfilm that Madame plays to her spy ring. Again it has no bearing lyrically but it's energy and pace makes it a good fit for a rare anything-goes romp that doesn't have to be tied to a plot!
Performance: We get a rare chance to see The Monkees in their day job as performers this week, blissfully unaware that they're being watched by two spies intent on getting their precious micro-film back. They seem to be going down a storm too in a big club filled with lots of dancing teens and seem to know the audience well enough to 'introduce' the next act without a compere getting in the way. Mike sings 'The Kind Of Girl I Could Love' and Micky sings 'Steppin' Stone' in a rare performance specially shot for use in a single episode rather than endless repeats, although neither song gets seen performed in full, instead fading underneath the dialogue for the second half of each song.
'Imagination' Sequence: The series' first ever dream sequence, a device that will be used (perhaps over-used) many many times across the next 50 episodes. Micky is both a James Bond style gadgets man and a karate instructor with his own black-belted assistant Yakimoto, who Micky accidentally upsets!
Postmodernisms: After the 'confession' scene is interrupted a third time, Micky gives up pretending and holds up a film production slate and shouts 'spy scene take four!' into the camera
Review: A good example of why The Monkees is unlike any other series: the plot is dull and obvious, the scenarios unlikely and having two slapstick knockabout routines within 25 minutes would have killed of many lesser show. But both the cast and crew know exactly what they're doing by now -  this is a rare case of show co-creator Bob Rafelson directing an episode and he's one of the best for the series, instinctively understanding the need to keep the plot moving and the puns coming thick and fast. While none of the four get all that much to do across this episode the writers and cast know their characters so well by now that the episode is lifted several times by them doing something that's just so them: has there ever been a more Davy Jones moment than the singer, under surveillance and expecting the worst, to suddenly burst into a song and dance routine when he thinks he spies a hidden camera, throwing caution to the wind to do what he does best? Has Mike ever taken charge of a situation quite as well as here? Has Micky ever had a better excuse to dress up and go off on a flight of whimsy? Peter is by contrast poorly used (not for the first or last time) but even he gets some cracking lines. While the plot surprises no one, the sudden changes make the episode worth watching: the scenes of the spies dressed up as enemy agents (as the postmodern caption puts it: 'Who are they kidding?) is hilarious, as is Mike's announcement of them as singing duo 'Honey and the Bear' (few other shows would then add in the twist that they're actually pretty good, if singing the wrong type of song!) Another great scene is the response of our heroes when the CIA briefs them for their dangerous mission 'where odds are three out of four you will make it' - they can't get out fast enough, Micky rebutting the emotional blackmail of how their last agent Schwartz took down several men single-handedly by picking up the staff telephone and asking for Schwartz to be sent in for this mission too. It's a shame that there are two romps in this episode and that both are spaced so oddly (at the middle and end - the beginning and end might have been ok), that the two excellent mimed performances are cut short (you can almost hear the sighs of a million schoolgirls embedded into the picture when we cut away again to the spies) and Boris' 'dumb accomplice' routines have been done to death even this early in the programme's run. But this is a witty action-packed script that has a youthful exuberance and cartoon chaos so different to anything else on TV and is performed with such gusto that all this hardly matters. The Monkees have found their winning formula and it's rarely as successful as here.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) This episode's pair of writers, Dee Caruso and Gerald Gardner, make their debut here and will go on to be by far the series' most prolific writers penning 21 episodes in total. 2) October 10th 1966 was a big date for Monkee fans: many were probably sitting down to watch this episode after buying their copy of The Monkees' debut album which went on sale earlier in the day. Oddly enough, though, only one of this episode's three songs - 'Saturday's Child' - was taken from it; two others are previewed ahead of release on sequel 'More Of The Monkees' and poor 'All The King's Horses' won't get a proper release until 31 years after broadcast! The song isn't even featured in the (admittedly overstuffed) songwriting credits so here you are: 'ALL THE KING'S HORSES (NESMITH)  3) Talking of 'More Of The Monkees', the shot of the band performing used on the rear sleeve is a still from this episode's performance of 'Steppin' Stone' 4) The gag of Davy rubbing the bugged lamp and getting a genie is a take-off of contemporary comedy 'I Dream Of Genie' (NBCs pathetic rival to the superb 'Bewitched'), hence his joke 'oops - wrong programme!'  The show will go on to replace The Monkees' slot when the show is cancelled in 1968 5) Making its debut: The Monkeemobile! The car is used in the opening scene as Davy goes shopping and a million teenagers everywhere said 'I want that car!' 6) Honey and the Bear surely equals Sonny and Cher, a rare Monkee reference to a contemporary singing act which isn't The Beatles 7) Eerily the scene where The Monkees are told 'one of you might not make it' and play musical chairs with Peter the inevitable loser ('We'll miss you old buddy - guess we'll have to form a trio!') will happen for real two-and-a-bit years after broadcast when Peter is indeed the first to leave the band. 8) Once again its spot the stand-in time as David Pearl, David Price and Micky's future co-writer Richard Klein can all be seen dancing in the discotheque 9) Does Lee Kolima as Yakimoto look familiar? If so then you might have seen him in Monkee movie 'Head' where he plays the security guard the band rush past near the end of the film.
Ratings: At The Time 8.6 million viewers/AAA Rating: 9/10

TV Episode  #6
"The Success Story"
(Filmed August 1966; First broadcast October 17th 1966)
"I hate goodbyes" "Then welcome to America, Davy!"
Music: I Wanna Be Free (Slow Version) (Romp)/Sweet Young Thing (End Performance)
(The 1967 repeat substituted 'Shades Of Grey' for 'I Wanna Be Free' and the 1969 repeat substitutes 'French Song' for 'I Wanna Be Free')
Main Writer: Gerald Gardner, Dee Caruso and Bernie Orenstein  Director: James Frawley
Plot: Davy gets a letter saying that his grandfather is flying out from Manchester to America to visit him - family reunion hugs all round, right? Wrong! Davy knows his grandfather would be horrified to know the truth of how he's living - as an unemployed musician in a pad where the rent is never paid - and has been telling him lies for years about how influential and rich he is. Mike, Micky and Peter decide that they can pretend that Davy is powerful and set about stealing clothes to become Davy's personal chef, chauffeur and houseboy respectively. All is going well at first, with Davy being mobbed at the airport by his friends in various guises as he greets his grandfather (with a passer-by so impressed by all the commotion she gets Davy's autograph too!) Davy and his grandfather then have a delightful meal - or at least Jones senior does - with only enough food for one of them Davy's meal is made out of rubber. However everything goes wrong when the band's neighbour turns up looking for food and comments that the band have even less than she does and the three men that The Monkees fleeced out of their uniforms earlier come round demanding money. Davy's grandfather demands to know what's going on and finds out the truth, telling Davy he's coming straight home. Davy offers tearful farewells and has one last goodbye walk along the beach to the strain of 'I Wanna Be Free'. The Monkees aren't prepared to become a trio just yet, however, and create havoc at the airport so that Davy's grandfather misses the plane. He sees through their disguises but is actually impressed at the lengths they go to in order to keep Davy in America and tells his grandson that he'll be flying home alone safe in the knowledge that his grandson is in good hands. Not that Davy's grandfather will be quite alone - the autograph hunter from earlier in the episode has taken a shine to him and they fly back to Manchester to start a new life together!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: As usual, it's Mike who comes up with the plan to pretend Davy really is as rich and powerful as he claimed to be in his letters. Mike is also shown to have rare skills at working out what's really going on - while it looks on screen as if Davy's Grandad changes his mind because of the lengths The Monkees go to, his change of heart probably occurs when Mike points out that he's only thinking about his own loneliness and not Davy's welfare at all (the look on actor Ben Wright's face is clearly meant to demonstrate that this comment is more spot on than he perhaps realises). Mike's disguises include a chef's outfit which he borrows from a local restaurant after promising the chef he 'wouldn't believe' the pasta he could make (this episode shows us Mike's first 'bad' fault: he's clearly a bad - and messy cook!) Later he dresses up as the airport baggage driver and drives Davy's grandfather in circles so that he misses his flight. Has a habit of trimming the stray wools from his hat.  Micky: Reckons Davy should sort out his own problems, but is noticeably keen to help when he realises that telling the truth might end up with Davy being forced to leave the group and the pad (his look of hurt when it looks like Davy really is going is far more convincing than the others' and hints again at how vulnerable the 'real' fictional Micky is beneath his humour and hi-jinks). Micky 'borrows' a rolls royce from a passer by after hiding some chickens in the engine and persuading him the car 'has to be kept in shape' with an offer of driving it; Micky then takes his chauffeur's uniform from the postman who is still hanging round the house hoping to get money from one of The Monkees (or their dummy). His other disguise is as the customs man at the airport who so muddles up Davy's grandfather he never finds out what flight he's supposed to be on - and who leaves half a suitcase down (this is never replaced on screen before he gets his plane!) Davy: We learn a lot about Davy in this episode. It's hinted that his family back home are rich and place great stock on money and social standing - things The Monkees are never really seen to aspire to. It's also hinted that Davy's Grandfather only allowed his grandson to come to America for a short time to make his mark on society - and that his family would really look down on Davy scratching out a living as an unemployed musician. This is, incidentally, the only Monkees episode that comes right out and says that Davy is a foreigner, although his accent does rather give the game away. Davy clearly has a lot of love and respect for his grandfather - we hear other mention's of his family dotted across the series too, which is interesting because we never hear about Micky's or Peter's and Mike seems to actively despise his in 'Hillbilly Honeymoon'. Peter: Disguises himself as a houseboy after asking a local ice cream seller for 'the shirt off his back'. Later disguises at the airport include a baggage handler who takes the 'scenic route' into the airport and an ill omen who screeches 'don't fly, don't fly' while dressed as Icarus in an attempt to prevent Davy's grandfather leaving.
Things that don't make sense: Nothing for once, with this episode less far-fetched than some of the others and nothing in it that couldn't have happened - although the autograph hunter's relationship with Davy's grandfather must have been fleshed out off-screen given the speed with which they elope at the end!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Peter - "Why am I the dummy? The dummy should be the dummy!" Micky - "They're his cards - don't antagonise him!" 2) Davy - "Micky, how would you help a lady into the back of your car?" Micky - "As quickly as possible!" 3) Davy - "Peter, as my devoted house boy, what will be your main function?" Peter - "I live only to serve my master and do his bidding" Davy - "Right, now get me my comb" Peter - "Oh, do it yourself!" 4) The man credited on screen as 'Rolls Owner' - "I've come about my Rolls" Peter - "Erm, er, the bakeries' next door!" 5) Messenger to Davy - "You're in big trouble!" Grandfather - "Excuse me, I'm the boy's grandfather..." Messenger - "Oho, you're in big trouble!"
Mr Schneider quotes (this is the dummy's first appearance in the series and he's not yet named on screen): "The youth is wasted on children!"
Romp: Only one this week. 'I Wanna Be Free' is an unusual one in that it's slow and mournful with a real sense of serving the plot rather than just the usual run around. It's also unusual in that Davy appears almost alone, until we see various old shots of the group as Davy looks tearful remembering his time as a Monkee. Boyce and Hart's 'I Wanna Be Free', last heard in the pilot (and thus not technically screened yet) is an excellent choice of accompaniment and unusually so is the repeat with the haunting refrain of 'Only Shades Of Grey' highly suitable too (the 1969 choice, 'French Song', is just silly however!)
Performance: 'Sweet Young Thing' is another oddity - it's a straight performance, of the sort the band would usually get away with including merely as a clip, but it's presence is referred to in the dialogue as the band wave goodbye to the plane on its way back to England and talk about how what they should have done to impress Davy's grandfather is play for him (although I'm not sure if this is a good idea given the re-action of most audiences to the fictional Monkees' concerts!)
Interview: A solo chat with Davy who - aptly given the episode - talks about his first trip back to England after becoming a Monkee. Davy's excited that the show might get seen in Britain (episode one, 'The Royal Flush', is broadcast on New Year's Day 1967 in fact) and adds 'my dad will love that!' Davy talks about the fact that when he arrived at the airport his dad wouldn't let him into the house until he'd had a haircut. The first one wasn't short enough so he got sent back again (which must have been a nightmare for the continuity on the series!) Davy adds laughing 'So I fixed him - I bought him a house and now he can't turn me away!' Micky then takes over, mock-commentating that 'that was another funny little episode in the life of David Jones - tune in next week when we're another minute short!' (they are as well - how did he know that?!)
Review: There were always rumours surfacing round The Monkees and one of the strongest ones, which ran and ran for the first couple of years, was that Davy was imminently about to leave the series. For one awful moment it really looks as Davy is about to bow out here to anyone who doesn't know how the series pans out and unlike most corny 'they'll be back next series folks!' endings it's being set up for a real break-up this episode and really tears at the emotions (Davy's lonely walk down the beach to the strain of 'I Wanna Be Free' is terribly moving - and the other's seem genuinely affected by it, hinting at a back story and friendship that's lasted one heck of a lot longer than just six episodes!) Now no one else has ever mentioned this and I could be way out here - but was the script, if not the performance, written at the time when the rumours were actually semi-true. Davy received his draft papers in mid 1967, a fact not much reported at the time, and very nearly ended up serving his newly adopted country until an official plea that Davy's father was relying on his income back in England quashed it. Davy was remarkably calm about the whole thing - which could have ended his dream career before it had barely started and fought the draft as hard as any (plan B was to object to the Vietnam war on ideological grounds if he was sent there) but for a time (perhaps only a few weeks but plenty long enough to worry him) was looking to leave The Monkees (Timothy Rooney, the son of comedian Mickey, was all set to replace him - which would have been odd as The Monkees would effectively have been left with two 'Mickey' types of character). This script feels like a 'just in case' job, written by The Monkees' most experienced writers as a back-up plan if their line-up happens to fall apart.
There are many reasons why 'Success Story' shouldn't work as well as it does. It changes the pace of the series terribly at this point and is arguably a bit too soon to break the formula quite so dramatically from escapism imagination into emotional soap opera-with-disguises (in series two we'll be crying out for something as different as this). Then again the script isn't that daring by other series' standards - this is the sort of plot other sitcoms and romcoms do all the time and other than their penchant for disguises The Monkees aren't particularly key to this story (they don't even need to be musicians, something so central to so many other plots in the series). Monkee-fying a script like this really shouldn't work. Add in the fact that this is the first real episode to test one of the largely-unknown actors so much - Davy has to carry much emotional weight in this episode - and it could easily have gone very wrong indeed. However Davy proves himself to be a 'proper' actor rather than a mere comedian in this episode and shines away from his usual scripted shenanigans while the others too are well served, with Mike's calm aloofness and Micky's zaniness well handled by the writers. As obvious as the script is, it's still full of surprises - the routine with the autograph hunter (and Davy still being convinced Mike's done a great dressing up job) is a classic Monkees scene and the madcap way that the three Monkees divert Davy's grandfather is hilarious. The twist at the end, when the Grandfather sees how much Davy means to his friends, is genuinely emotional and so much better scripted than it needs to be - it's a key Monkees moment, the part when the sixties dreams (of friendship, companionship and making music) collide with the dreams of their parents (money, prestige, social status) head on and even the parental figure ultimately agrees with the young that they are 'right' - that friendship really is more important than a wage and that you can get by without it if need be. As much as the hippy movement will come to look down their noses and sneer at The Monkees for being 'fakes' later on, you can almost hear the cheers in Haight Ashbury as for the first time on national television the quest to make music at all costs and reject the 9-5 lifestyle is treated seriously and kindly on prime-time TV instead of just being a joke. This is perhaps the moment when The Monkees' series reveals just how eclectic and 'real' it can be underneath the wit and intelligence; 'The Success Story' is well titled, being one of the biggest success stories of the entire series.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) In real life Davy's grandfather (well one of them - you do get two after all) died in the First World War in 1916 2) Not sure you really need to know this, but what the heck - in the first script 'The Ice Cream Man' sold hot-dogs! 3) Ben Wright, who plays Davy's grandfather, did a lot of work for Disney and is the voice of owner Roger in Disney's animated version of 'One Hundred and One Dalmations' and a wolf in 'Jungle Book' 4) This week's stand-in cameo: David Pearl guests as 'man in wheelchair' at the airport 5) This week's 'oops' moment in the captions: 'I Wanna Be Free' becomes the far more solemn 'I Want To Be Free' 6) A third repeat of 'The Success Story' became the last Monkees episode aired as part of an unbroken six year run on American telly in 1973! 7) The day before work started on this episode The Monkees went on a 'bonding' exercise to see The Beatles perform at The Dodger Stadium, New York, in what will turn out to be their third-to-last performance (ie the day before 'Candlestick Park' and three years before 'The Rooftop Gig' in Savile Row).
Ratings: At The Time 8.8 million viewers/AAA Rating: 9/10

TV Episode  #7
"The Monkees In A Ghost Town"
(Filmed July 1966; First broadcast October 24th 1966)
"You ain't place!"
Music: Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day (Romp)/Papa Gene's Blues (Romp)
('Words' was substituted for 'Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day' for the 1967 repeats)
Main Writer: Robert Schlitt and Peter Meyersen  Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkeemobile has broken down again, leaving The Monkees stranded in a ghost town in the middle of nowhere. Micky and Peter go and take a look around while Davy and Mike fool about with an imagination sequence pretending they're in a Western when they're interrupted by a pair of crooks, George and Lenny. The two of them have chosen the building The Monkees have just broken down by as their hideout while they wait for 'The Big Man' to cut them in on their share of the loot. Micky and Peter, overhearing what's been going on, pretend to be The Big Man and his sidekick Spider, but the pair accidentally forget their accents and the two crooks see through them. Trapped in a cell together and reminded by Lenny that 'there ain't nothin' here but sand' the Monkees romp to the sound of 'Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day'. The quick-thinking quartet then pretend to play baseball and ask to borrow Lennie's shovel as their bat - only it's really a subterfuge for them to dig their way out of trouble (cue the next romp 'Papa Gene's Blues'). Alas this ruse doesn't work either and it seems the band are stuck until the arrival of the Big Man (who turns out instead to be The Big Woman!) As it turns out Bessie used to be in show business and honours The Monkees' request for a last performance before they're taken out and shot (well, eventually!) and  while Mike plays the piano Davy slips out to telephone for help. However this goes wrong too with Davy put through to a unhelpful Red Indian and to Bob Dylan's local sheriff! After a few shows tunes Mike persuaded Bessie to sing The Monkees' Theme Tune, but when Davy passes Lennie his maracas and offers to take his gun from him it appears The Monkees now have the upper hand. A gun siege begins with The Monkees taking shelter, until Davy's bullets run off and he throws the gun at the floor in disgust - by chance the shot ends up knocking George's gun out of his hands the baddies all surrender, shocked at the hip shooting. The police come to arrest the trio, but Bessie for one is rather pleased - she's got plans to work up a new act in prison!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: This is the one and only time we see Mike play the piano (usually it's Peter!) He seems to either know a load of old tunes or be able to read them by sight - both of which seems rather at odds with what else we learn about Mike across the series. In the imaginary sequence imagines two of himself, uniquely, portraying himself as both the hero and 'Black Bart' in a white and black costume Micky: Is very bad at navigation, despite owning both a sextant and a slide rule (the other's don't seem very surprised at this, which rather begs the question of why Micky was chosen to navigate in the first place!) With Mike locked up it's up to Micky to come up with ideas to help his friends - but they don't work as well as Mike's, with the crooks seeing through his disguise as 'The Big Man' (who sounds a lot like the inimitable James Cagney!) Davy: His first thought when using a telephone to dial for help seems to be to dial random numbers - wouldn't 911 have been a  better choice? Inevitably imagines himself as a 'hero' in the imagination sequence Peter: Played a triangle in high school, which from what Peter says is a hint at where his love of music comes from. Peter doesn't seem to have a natural affinity for the subtlest of the percussion instruments, however, at least judging by Micky's face! Disguises himself as 'The Spider', The Big Man's Number Two. Peter is also gullible enough to do what Lennie says when the band demand an 'exercise period', 'jumping up and down' on the spot until Mike hushes him not to
Things that don't make sense: I'll buy that the whopping great plot coincidence of The Monkeemobile breaking down right outside the gangster's hideout (which they clearly think is well protected in this ghost town) - where would series like this be without them? However why does the hideout piano come with the sheet music for The Monkees' Theme Tune already fitted to it (so that it plays for Bessie while The Monkees are under siege!) Why does Davy ring random phone numbers instead of somebody who might actually be able to help? George and Lennie clearly know Mr Big and while it's character not to feel remorse when they hear 'The Big Woman' shot him, surely they'd either know her or know his fear of her before this? The band are also lucky that Mike appears to know how to play Bessie's requests on an instrument we've never seen him play before (nor afterwards) - they're not exactly current charting hits! Oh and perhaps the biggest one - how come the band can simply get in The Monkeemobile and drive away at the end when it ran out of petrol in the opening 'teaser' sequence?!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Lennie - "What do I want? I want what any man wants. I want a job, security, a home. PTA meetings, cook-outs on weekends. Can you give me all of that?" Davy - "No" Lennie - "Well then, shut up!" 2) Peter (as Spider) - "But you can't step on a spider!" Lennie - "Why not?" Peter - "Erm - it'll rain?!" 3) Bessie - "What is this, a boy scout camp? Knock 'em off!" George - "Yeah, quick, before they start singing again!" 4) Red Indian answering phone - "Me cannot help, me primitive Indian chief, me know nothing of white man's problems! hang on, me put you on hold as other phone is ringing!" 5) Sherriff on phone - "A problem? Gee I'd better get Mr Dylan!" Davy - "Oh, Marshall Dylan?" Sheriff - "No Bob Dylan, he can write a song about your problems!"
Romp: Two, both heard in part and very close together in the middle of the episode. 'Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day' features The Monkees stuck in their cell pretending they're in The Foreign Legion and trapped in a desert. Cut much falling over on sand and a soundtrack that kinda fits - assuming the band can survive long enough to see another day that is! 'Papa Gene's Blues' is partly a performance to cover up the sound of digging but also involves The Monkees pretending to be baseball players and Davy and Micky coming up in all sorts of unsuitable places!
Interview: A messy chat this week, starting off with Mike putting the name 'Lauren St David' on his chair with masking tape. When asked why Mike replies 'because I don't want anyone to recognise me!' (Mike's still never said why he chose this name in particular!) The scene then cuts to Davy fooling around with the camera filters used to provide different styles of shots on film. Davy apparently picks up a 'half-net' according to the cameraman and explains the next one is a 'backwards K' (Peter butting in to add it's the symbol for a transistor). Bob Rafelson asks Mike to pick up the pile by his feet and asks what they are - Mike replies 'they're a pack of cards in disguise'. After a bit of shuffling he gets Peter to pick a 'card' and reveals to the others' mock amazement him that it's the King Of Spades - 'because it's the only one missing'. The others throw their camera filters at him in mock-outrage!
Postmodernisms: There are lots of captions this week: 'Stay tuned for Micky's idea!' 'Stay tuned for Micky's next idea!' and 'Bessie Who?!' However there are a number of other examples of 'breaking the fourth wall' between fantasy and reality: Peter suddenly talking about the plot for no reason and Micky adding 'That's for the benefit of any of you who have tuned in late', Bessie singing along with The Monkees on their own theme tune, Micky's joke about how 'this is usually about the time the cavalry show up' (the cavalry play the theme tune too, but run away) adding 'so much for the cavalry!' and Davy's joke about how the good guys never run out of bullets - quipping 'well, I guess we're not as good as I thought' as the gun stutters to a halt! As you've read, this week's interview is also very postmodern, revealing the 'behind-the-scenes' techniques used to make the programme. Note too what might or might not be an in-joke when Bessie dead pans 'I'm not just somebody's mother you know!' - actress Rose Marie will be playing exactly this part in 'Monkee Mother' a few episodes later and possibly already at the casting stage  by now! Perhaps the best one comes at the very start though: a sign reads 'Clarksville' - but it's pointing in the wrong direction and 12 miles away!
Review: Perhaps the quintessential Monkees episode.  The band are trying to go about their business when they end up roped into a mad-cap world not of their own making and like most shows of their ilk end up becoming the heroes - though because this is The Monkees our four win more by accident than design. The four Monkees don't actually get too much to do in this episode, although they still end up with all the best jokes and Micky's first chance to demonstrate his famous James Cagney impression is one of his finest moments in the series (bursting into 'So you're the rat who killed my brother!' even though it has nothing to with the plot and isn't even a line Cagney ever spoke on film!) Peter too makes for a believable second in command, talking in a deeper voice and looking surly. However it's the guest cast that make this one: George and Lennie are an excellent Laurel and Hardy style double act (they both get on each other's nerves, but wouldn't last five minutes without the other) while the twist that The Big Man is a Woman is a very Monkees-style genre subversion, pulling the rug our from under the viewer's feet before they'd even realised they'd made an assumption about the baddy. Bessie is one of The Monkees' finest characters - a mean gangster who also had a background in show business and loves a show tune. The scenes of The Monkees desperately trying to play along with what might be their last performance while the mad gangster whose just threatened to have them shot sings 'Hi Neighbour' with gusto and the look of 'how did we get into this?' on their faces is classic Monkees. By later standards this episode is perhaps a little too formula-driven and unbelievable to be true. The gunfight scenario is ended all too easily with a flukey lucky shot from Davy (although even this is in keeping with the Western genre spoofing going on, where the good guys always win no matter the odds), but on the plus side The Monkees' plans don't always work across this episode - we're actually fooled by the way The Monkees are split up and the emphasis on 'Micky has a plan' that he and Peter are about to do something wonderful - which fails (though it's a better ruse than some Monkee disguises in later episodes that work fine you have to say!) This early on in the show's run, though, there's no such thing as a formula yet - and 'Ghost Town' is perhaps the single best example of the ost common 'Monkees in peril' plotline around anyway.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) George and Lennie are based on the two characters of the same name in John Steinbeck's 1937 classic 'Of Mice and Men' where they dream of a future living off the fat o' the land they never quite receive. Lennie even has a mouse in his pocket, a character trait of his namesake! 2) Other TV series referred to across this episode are Gunsmoke (a CBS rival which aired between 1955 and 1975) and The Lone Ranger (on over at ABC between 1949-1957). Both shows would have been well known to Monkee viewers. 3) Bizarrely Mel Blanc - arguably the most recognisable voice artist in the world after performing almost every single Looney Tunes character including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig - performs his only Monkee role here, un-credited: he's the stuttering cough of The Monkeemobile slowing to a stop (was this taken from another recording?) Mel Blanc will be back again when Bugs Bunny teams up with The Monkees in 1969 to promote the drink Kool-Aid ('for fun that never ends!....I said never ends!')  4) This is the first Monkees episode not to feature a single scene back at the pad. This will become far more common as the series goes on. 5) The same ghost-town set was briefly used in the 'Neighbourhood Kidnappers' episode and would go on to feature in 1968 film 'Head'
Ratings: At The Time 9.3 million viewers/AAA Rating: 8/10

TV Episode  #8
"Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth"
(Filmed May and June 1966; First broadcast October 31st 1966)
"If I ever find you keeping a pet in here...out you go!"
Music: Papa Gene's Blues (Romp/Performance)/All The King's Horses (Romp)
Main Writer: Dave Evans Director: Robert Rafelson
Plot: The Monkees' landlord, Mr Babbitt, is at the door demanding to see the dog the Monkees are hiding - a rather sheepish Micky has to explain that he was acting the part of a werewolf after tasting Peter's cooking! In a typical bit of bad Monkee timing Davy is down at the beach where a young boy asks him to mind his horse, Jeremy, rushing off before Davy has a chance to stop him. Davy returns to the pad with horse in tow - in time for Micky to explain how his werewolf impression goes and before they know it Mr Babbitt is back at the door again. Micky and Mike try to stall the landlord by pretending that the horse is really Davy and Peter in a fancy dress costume - remarkably a ruse that works! However there's more drama as Jeremy gets sick (Peter's cooking really does look awful!) and faints. Mike goes round to see a vet, Dr Mann, whose expecting a monkey not a Monkee (long story!)The vet comes back to The Monkees' pad but the group are interrupted by another knock on the door - a neighbour Mrs Purdy with a cake she's cooked for the band - the horse fancies a nibble and she faints from the shock! Deciding Jeremy has to go the band trace the boy down and discover the truth - that his father can't afford to keep him and he's too old to work on their farm. Unable to pay for the upkeep themselves, The Monkees agree to work to make the $100 it costs to feed him. However the early morning start, sleeping in a barn and The Monkees' inexperience gets the better of them in a romp set to 'Papa Gene's Blues'. Told to go home and give up The Monkees walk off with their tales betwen their lengths until a passing local tells Davy the horse is rubbish and he'll bet him $100 against one of The Monkees' guitars that his horse can beat Jeremy. Davy wins, to the thrilling sound of 'All The King's Horses' and Jeremy is allowed to stay - Farmer Fisher (apparently the name of the lad Jonathan's dad according to the credits) even praises the Monkees for proving him wrong at the end! All seems to be well until The Monkees return to the beach again to be met by another boy asking them to look after his pet - a camel!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Though is very much a 'Davy' episode, Mike still seems to make most of the planning decisions, coming up with the scheme to pretend the horse is a costume (very quick thinking, even by Nesmith's standards!) After a lot of disagreement becomes the only Monkees brave enough to milk a cow - which seen through his eyes turns into a bull! His response to Davy's big race is to be quietly friendly and confidence building. Interestingly he knows the number of a local vet despite the fact that The Monkees are never seen to own a different animal (did he have one in his 'previous life' but nearby enough to use the same vet?) Micky: Doesn't like Peter's cooking - and has evidently done his 'it's so bad I'm turning into a werewolf' routine before judging by the looks Mike and Peter give him. Owns some smoke-bombs. Doesn't like early mornings (which fits with the 'real' Micky if 'Monkees on Tour' is regular occurrence!) His less than helpful re-action to Davy's big race is to act like a swift-talking racing pundit, evidently putting Davy off! Thinks he knows how to do a hog-call, but it turns out to be a 'chicken-call' instead! Davy: Can ride a horse well, judging Jeremy while old to 'move alright' - and can beat another more thoroughbred horse ion a straight fight (so this 'Davy' is every bit as good as the 'real' Davy and must have trained as a disc jockey for some length of time sometime). More than that though Davy evidently has a way with animals, making Jeremy trust him instantly - and so do young boys given that Jeremy clearly trusts Davy to look after his favoured pet after barely meeting him (Davy could by rights have sold the horse for glue or any number of worse fates than his dad has in store). He 'talks good' too according to Jonathan, although whether he means Davy's English accent or way with words (or both) is never made clear. Interestingly, though, Davy has no more knowledge about farmyard animals than any of the other three and is as scared as they are of the chickens and cows. Davy is good at acrobatics too, doing somersaults down the beach even though he thinks he's on his own and isn't doing them to impress anyone. Peter: Is a rotten cook judging by the responses to his 'cream of root beer' soup! Peter's response to Davy's big moment is to clown around getting sand out of his shoes - which isn't terribly helpful! He seems to feel the early morning start more than the other Monkees and is quickly fast asleep in the hay (which is bad news for the band who have to take their hard work apart to find out where he is!)
Things that don't make sense: How lucky that Jonathan Fisher (the full name of the boy according to the script and end credits - it's not given on screen) should choose Davy out of all the people he could have met at the beach - an ex-jockey no less! The others really do go to an awful lot of trouble for a lad and horse they've barely met, working hard at his dad's farm to pay off the price it would cost to keep him. Although that said I'm not sure The Monkees would have managed to complete a hundred dollars' worth of work in one day anyway - even if they'd been doing everything right (which they clearly weren't!) What luck too for the passerby to walk past at just the right time when the plot really needs him...No offence to Davy's jockeying skills but Frankie Dettori couldn't get Jeremy to win if he really is as old and tired as everyone says he is - not up against a younger, thoroughbred horse (perhaps the competitor was put off by all the band's singing?) Young Jonathan must have walked an awful long way with Jeremy to the beach given that The Monkees have to drive several miles out of town to his family's farm (and a horse isn't exactly the sort of pet you take on an outing in a car!)  Oh and not relevant to the plot but to the song 'All The King's Horses' - what exactly is a 'farewell sound'?! Finally, isn't Jeremy a rather odd name for a horse? (is this where The Beatles got their 'nowhere man' from?!)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mike - "Hello Dr Mann! I'm one of The Monkees and I've got a problem with a sick horse" Dr Mann - "I didn't even know monkeys could talk!"...Mike - "Hi! I'm the feller who called before" Dr Mann - "Where's the monkey?" Mike - "I'm the monkee" DR Mann - "You're the monkey? You don't need a vet young man, you need a psychiatrist!" Mike - "No you don't understand - I'm the kind of Monkee that sings" Dr Mann - "No wonder you're hoarse, probably your throat muscles are tired!" 2) Jonathan - "I bet if Pa listened to you he'd let me keep him" Davy - "Why should he listen to a stranger? Jonathan - "I don't know - you talk good!" 3) Micky - "Tuesday morning? This feels more like Monday night!" 4) A fast-asleep Mike - "Was I supposed to plough the cow?" Micky - "I think I had to something like milk the chickens?" 5) Davy to the horse - "You know, you've probably got more sense than the lot of them put together!"
Romp: Two: 'Papa Gene's Blues' is the most 'country' the early Monkees got, so it's a natural choice for scenes of The Monkees hard at work on a farm and will arguably become over-used during this season. 'All The King's Horses' is rarer but even more fitting, being performed at the moment Davy is trying to win his race. Interestingly both are Mike Nesmith songs and marks the only time Mike ever gets all the songs within the same episode during the show's entire run (the first song is from debut album 'The Monkees', while 'All The King's Horses' - an old song from Mike's pre-Monkee days in a trio with his Monkee stand-in John London and another friend - didn't appear on album until 'Missing Links Volume Two' in 1990, in a slightly different mix with 'extra' Dolenz harmonies).
Imaginary sequence: Fearful of the cow when they have to milk it, The Monkees imagine themselves in an arena fighting a bull!
Review: The closest to an 'ordinary' episode that the extraordinary first series of The Monkees ever got, you can almost imagine how the script meeting for this one went: 'what was that kid's name fro the audition again? Davy? Didn't he say something about riding a horse? Try and turn that into a script!' However all The Monkees seem slightly under-used in this episode, Davy included - they could have done so much more with Davy's ability (he really could ride after all - he took his daughter's horse Digipast to victory in a race in 1996!) and his natural way with horses. In fact in many ways this script seems like an episode that was written for another series entirely and given to The Monkees as a re-write - author Dave Evans will in time to go on to write some of the best Monkees episodes, but he clearly doesn't know the four characters well enough. Things become clearer when you realise just how out of sequence this episode was made - it's the first full Monkees episode recorded after the pilot (with 'The Royal Flush' hard on the heels in third). It feels like an early episode - though nothing here contradicts anything learnt across the rest of the episode and the characters are all more or less there, everything's slightly out of kilter somehow with the other three very much Davy's 'backing singers' (just as with the pilot). The emphasis on the guest cast is clearly to ease the burden on four people who are still relative of the cameras (apart from Micky perhaps and he was more than a bit rusty) and the characterisations are left just vague enough to be sketched in lightly - which all makes perfect sense for the people making it at the time but makes this episode seem rather tame by later standards (presumably why it was delayed in the series run). Co-creator Bob Rafelson also makes a rare appearance as a director for this episode, suggesting he was still very much trying to show other people his 'vision' (he's also the voice heard interviewing the band at the end of a few episodes). The leap from this to 'Royal Flush', where everyone seems to suddenly know what they're doing (despite it being recorded only a week later) is colossal. That said, this isn't a bad episode at all. There are some good lines, the romps with The Monkees on the farm is a major improvement on the ones in the pilot episode and the opening scenes with Mr Babbitt the landlord are terrific. In fact Mr Babbitt may well be the series' most fascinating character outside the main cast: he seems genuinely annoyed and aggrieved at the band and the though they're keeping pets and later episodes will reveal how behind in their rent they are and yet he never kicks them out. He even looks on very proudly when he thinks the horse is a fancy dress costume and reckons they'll win first prize; is he secretly fond of the unruly teenagers but unwilling to show it? Finally, one thing in this episode's favour is that already the Monkees end up being the 'heroes' of the show by standing up to the adult world and being nicer than to it than it is to them, even if it's all drawn rather clumsily here. Davy could easily have run off with the horse or sold it for scrap or left it to wander about the beach starving - instead the band go to quite some trouble to keep Jeremy safe and attempt to pay off his keep by the end. The moment when the farmer turns round and effectively goes 'I had my doubts but you boys are ok!' is with variations what almost every adult says in this series and what the programme makers clearly want the elder generation to be saying to the younger Monkees. We'll say it again for emphasis: no other programme before The Monkees had put long-haired teenagers on screen without making them the butt of jokes or the villains (even, unforgivably, 'Bewitched' - the only other show of the decade this hip and with a guest appearance by Boyce and Hart in the seventh season - tends to frown at wayward youths with long hair, including an episode where George Washington is brought forward to the 1960s and is terrified of hippies; had The Monkees done an episode about time travel Washington would have been a hippy - that's how radical the change is!) 'Gift Horse' doesn't have much going for it compared to later episodes - it's talky, vague and curiously balanced with 'Papa Gene' split in two and all three musical 'bits' coming in the second half while the points to makes so clumsily will be made so much better and more subtly in later shows. But in context this is another step on the road to greatness from the pilot and The Monkees' team are already making a show that's quite unlike any other on television. It deserves to be cut a bit of slack.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Davy really was a jockey, becoming apprenticed to Newmarket trainer Basil Foster at the age of fourteen - temporarily giving up an acting career. It was Foster who persuaded Davy not to give up on his dream, after hearing him sing while working with the horses, and rang up the producers of the musical 'Oliver!' to enrol Davy as 'The Artful Dodger' 2) The scene of Mike as a matador can also be seen in the opening titles for series one 3) If you're wondering why you keep expecting Mr Babbitt to yell 'yabbadabbadoo!' every time The Monkees answer the door and can't think why it's because actor Henry Corden was the 'second' voice of Fred in 'The Flintstones' (it seems obvious once you know!) 4) I've always found it odd that 'All The King's Horses' never made it to either of the first two Monkees LPs. Don Kirshner was always on at Mike to write songs that were 'commercial' and tore his hair out when even collaborations with established acts like Goffin and King came out 'Nesmithised'. There seems to have been great debate about featuring 'Papa Gene's Blues' and 'The Kind Of Girl I Could Love' at all as both sound so country-leaning compared to the band's usual sound - and yet 'All The Kings' is one of the great pop songs in The Monkees' canon. Mike was even relaxed enough to let Micky sing it, another plus in Kirshner's book and it got screen time in this episode - so why not use it on an album? 5) The original ending for the script had a young boy bringing their pet elephant - this got changed to a camel as it took less looking after! 6) There were problems on the first day of shooting, at the farm. The site had been booked weeks in advance but nobody was around to let the film crews inside. Rafelson, as director, had to phone back to Screen Gems for permission to knock down a gate and pay for it to be re-erected at their cost afterwards! 7) With the exception of the pilot, this episode took the longest to reach the screen after the last day of filming - a full six months!
Ratings: At The Time 8.4 million viewers/AAA Rating: 6/10

TV Episode  #9
"The Chaperone"
(Filmed July 1966; First broadcast November 17th 1966)
"Davy's in love with his daughter!" "Yeah and I'm going to be his mother-in-law!"
Music: This Just Doesn't Seem To Be My Day (Romp)/ Take A Giant Step (Half-Performance)/You Just May Be The One (First Version) (End Performance)
The 1969 repeat substituted 'Midnight Train' for 'My Day' - for some reason this became the 'default' copy used in most later syndicated broadcasts)
Main Writer: Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso Director: Bruce Kessler
Plot: Davy's in love - again - but Leslie, this week's object of his affections, is kept a virtual prisoner in her house by her stern military father. The Monkees can only get her outside the house and with them if they put on a party with a full chaperone - but their attempts to hire Mr Babbitt the landlord go awry (he charges too much money!) and they try to educate cleaner Mrs Weefers in the ways of people speaking in a 'My Fair Lady' style spoof - but she quickly becomes drunk and passes out on the floor upstairs. This is bad timing as Leslie's dad, Mr Vanderburg, is at the door and will take his daughter away if there's no chaperone. Micky decides to dress up as her and Mike improvises the name 'Mrs Arcadia' for her. Unfortunately the plan goes too well and soon Micky has both Leslie's dad and Mr Babbitt after him! Alas Mr Vanderburg overhears Davy admitting to Leslie's friend that Mrs Arcadia 'is really my room-mate Micky' and he orders all of the partying teenagers out the door with the exception of the four Monkees, his daughter and a friend. He used the ply that Mrs Arcadia has just agree to marry him and Mike pushes Micky into admitting who he is/ Vanderburg loses his top - but Leslie steps in to show him how strict he is and how much Davy and his friends had to go through in order to spend time with her. He relents and Leslie is allowed out with an adult chaperone anymore - but, in one of the series' funnier tag scenes, Davy is perched up a tree trying to get away from her 'replacement' chaperone - a rather large dalmation!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Improvises the name 'Mrs Arcadia' and takes control when he realises the plan Micky has come up with. Has problems opening bags of pretzels. Teaches Mrs Weezer deportment. Can bake cakes (although later episodes joke about Mike's inability to cook more substantial foods like pasta!) Micky: Looks rather good in drag in a dress and blonde wig. Certainly Micky is convincing enough to fool Mr Vanderburg and Mr Babbitt. At first Micky is fully in charge of events and puts on a convincing performance, but gets more and more hysterical when Mr Vanderburg refuses to leave. Seems to have a soft spot for Venice, quite willing to come clean after talk of a wedding  until Mr Vanderburg mentions a honeymoon there and imagining himself on a gondola on holiday. Mike refers to this when he says 'quit the Venice thing, Micky!' suggesting that Micky has done this thing before (or that the pair know each other very well). Micky also does a good impression of a Sgt Major buddy of Mr Vanderburg's ('Dodo Dolenz) down the phone, an old soldier from the 'Battle of the Bulge', although he's clearly uncomfortable doing this in person. Davy: Is in love, again. Far from being grateful for Micky's sacrifice on his behalf Davy just gets the giggles for most of the episode although he does have the good manners to call Micky 'lovely'. Teaches Mrs Weezer elocution, putting on his best English accent for the task in hand. Peter: Once again gets very little to do in this episode. He does appear to be getting somewhere chatting up a girl before Tarzan sweeps in and takes her away ('He gets more girls that way!') Seems to own a jar of marbles, which he uses here to teach elocution lessons but in 'One Man Shy' he's seen to play with (suggesting they're his own - and that he didn't swallow them all!)
Things that don't make sense: Since when do The Monkees have a cleaner? We never see her in any other episode, the band have no means of paying her and she doesn't exactly seem to do a lot given the state their pad is usually in across the series! Also while I'm willing to believe Mr Vanderburg can't see through Micky's disguise, surely his own landlord would recognise him? He's used to the Monkees dressing u[p by now - usually to avoid paying him rent - and must find it suspicious that there four are usually inseparable and yet there's no sign of Micky. Admittedly the band don't have much time and still think they can get a 'real' chaperone right up until the doorbell rings - but why doesn't Micky think of being 'aged' to become Colonel Dodo Dolenz - he's already successfully fooled Mr Vanderburg with that disguise down the phone!  Otherwise, though, this is one of the more realistic Monkees episodes - and perhaps of all the two series' run the one closest to what 'could' happen to the audience in real life.
Best Five Quotes: 1) Davy - "Hello, I'm selling magazine subscriptions" Mr Vanderburg - "Oh, working your way through college?" Davy - "No, working my way down the block!"  2) Micky as Dodo Dolenz - "It'll be like any other party. You know, twisting, frugging, the cha-cha-cha, all of that!" 3) Mrs Weezer on why she's late - "I had to clear up after a party" Davy - "Was there much to clear up?" Mrs Weezer -"Only about half a quart!" 4) Landlord Babbitt to Micky as Mrs Arcadia - "If I knew you were going I'd have paid them! Tell me, how do you like this apartment? You know, I could kick the boys out!" Micky - "Oh you couldn't do that, I couldn't stand to live in a place like this and you wouldn't really want to do that to the boys, why they think the world of you! Why they were just talking about you before you came in" Babbitt - "Oh, really?" Micky - "Yes - what's a bloodsucker?" 5) Babbitt to an undisguised Micky - "I went back to my apartment but I couldn't eat I couldn't sleep. Did you do something to your hair?"
Romp: A good one, the only romp that's set entirely within The Monkees' pad and features them creating an awful lot of mess for just the four of them. Unusually the romp includes scenes of the quartet working together putting balloons up and dangling confetti from their scooters and bikes as they roar round the living room. But why the song choice of 'This Just Doesn't Seem To Be My Day?' The re-dubbed manic 'Mystery Train' is better, even with an extended edit that repeats the first few harmonica notes a few times to fill it up to time.
End Performances: Two this week. 'Take A Giant Step' is performed at the party (with Micky quick-changing to become the drummer rather than Mrs Arcadia again) and cuts to scenes of the party-goers having fun. It's a slightly different mix to the single and album version, with Micky singing alone without his backing vocals. And there's a proper 'tag' performance at the end of the Boyce and Hart produced version of 'You Just May Be The One', the only time it's broadcast in the 1960s and it will be released on record as late as 1990 on 'Missing Links Two'.
Postmodernisms: In the 'teaser' sequence Davy has gone to see Leslie under the guise of being a researcher finding out what TV programmes the family watch. When Davy comes back Peter - perhaps not realising that this was just a ruse - asks Davy 'what TV programme was she watching?' Micky cuts to the camera and quips 'Ours, I hope!' There's also an early use of captions as we see a close-up of stuffed monkey with the phrase 'our producer!' (but do they mean Bert Schneider or Ward Sylvester?!)
Davy Love Rating: A whopping nine. Leslie is exactly his 'type' - she's very young, very pretty, very blonde, very innocent (well, she's never dated before) - and financially way out of his league! Davy refers to as 'lovely, divine, beautiful' and is clearly going to carry on like this for hours before the others interrupt him. He goes through a lot to see her - or at least his flatmates do - and for once they appear to still be a 'couple' by the end of the episode although she isn't mentioned again in the series, dog or no dog!
Mr Schneider Sayings - Unusually it's a girl at the party who pulls the dummy's strings. She asks him 'Mr Schneider, should teenagers neck?' Very unusually he replies directly with 'no I don't' rather than offering up one of his usual sayings. 'I agree' the girl replies, 'but my husband is getting very impatient!'
Review: One of the best Monkees episodes, Gardner and Caruso really understand what it's like to be a teenager in this episode - all Davy wants to do is spend a bit of time with his girlfriend but her father is too fierce and protective. This episode is another one that 'feels' as if there's a wider feeling at work here, with 'The Chaperpne' fulfilling the Monkees remit of explaining to a family audience why long-haired teenage weirdoes aren't quite as weird as teir parents might think. The turning point in this episode doesn't come directly from The Monkees but from Mr Vanderburg's oppressed daughter. 'Look at what Davy and his friends went through just so he could see me!' she pleads, while the programme turns to parents everywhere and goes 'see? What harm can your offspring come to with a Monkee?' It's an excellent comment on the generation gap this episode, with Micky excelling as the first of three Monkees to get up in drag throughout an entire episode - although oddly Micky doesn't change his voice that much (his Colonel 'Dodo' Dolenz' character is an even better impression - it's a shame we don't see more of 'him' across the episode!) With so much emphasis on Micky the other three don't get much of a look in, but everyone has at least one classic line and we get far more development of the 'guest cast' than usual. Arch Andersen is excellent as Mr Vanderburg, a clear Monkee villain but one whose far more sympathetic and understandable than most usual Monkee villains, driven by a desire to keep his daughter safe rather than robbing/stealing/kidnapping/passing on secret files/turning a monster into a rock singer as per usual. Mrs Weezer is an excellent character too, clearly nobody's idea of a 'responsible adult' even if she is meant to be the chaperone, again poking fun at what age 'responsibility' starts anyway (her Mrs Higgins style journey is well handled, especially the candles that shouldn't flicker when she enunciates that flares up instead).  The entire cast are beaten, however, by the longest cameo yet by Henry Corden as landlord Mr Babbitt who once again isn't like the 'usual' landlord. He still hasn't kicked the band out despite them being late on their payments again and yet is willing to step in as their chaperone - for a fee. he also seems very lonely, given the passionate way he falls for Micky: does he put up with the band out of a sort of misplaced need for love? Or is he just having a rare good day? We'll return to this throughout the book even though Babbitt is sadly rarely seen on screen again and plays a much more minor role in the series than you might expect from his standing within it for fans. Overall, the episode is marred only by the slightly uneven storytelling: we're shoved straight into the plot in the 'teaser' which doesn't set up the storyline as usual (Davy in love with a girl) so much as through us straight into it, as if an opening scene is 'missing'. You'd expect the episode to be over-running - but the band stick a third song in (the brief 'You Just May Be The One') in at the end even though we've already had our usual two Monkees tracks this week. Odd. Anyway, that aside this episode is another cracking example of the sort of thing no other series was doing on television in 1966 and manages to be funny, believable and make a serious point all at once.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Sherry Alberoni, who plays Leslie in this episode, was meant to be in the pilot as Rafleson and Schneider admired her work but was too 'busy' - she'll later become most famous for her cartoon voice-over work at Hanna-Barbera although sadly she never worked with another 'regular' Hanna Barbera voice artist, Micky Dolenz! 2) Mr Babbitt is given an improvised first name that isn't in the script - 'Henry', like the actor's real name! 3) Mr Vanderburg doesn't just have medals on his chest - he appears to dangle hand grenades from it too! 4) The single 'I'm A Believer' was released the same week the episode aired - and marks the only time while the series is on the air that The Monkees won't promote either side of their current single on an episode for 'extra sales' (don't worry though, we'll be hearing it and B-side 'Steppin' Stone' a lot in weeks to come...)  5) In our usual stand-in slot, you can see David Price, David Peal and John London twisting the night away at the party 6) That muscly man the camera keeps cutting back to at the party dancing and showing off his muscles is the actor who played 'Mr Clean' during a famous run of 1960s advertisements, something that's rather lost on modern UK viewers (where Mr Muscle is his exact opposite, with no muscles at all!) 6) Several clips from this episode ended up in the opening credits of the first season - Micky sliding down a banister into Mike's cake and Peter swinging on a vine like Tarzan
Ratings: At The Time 9.7 million viewers/AAA Rating: 9/10

TV Episode  #10
"Here Come The Monkees (Pilot)"
(Filmed October and November 1965; First broadcast November 14th 1966)
"Davy, I think we've started a trend!"
 Music: I Wanna Be Free (versions One and Two) Romp)/Let's Dance On (Half Performance)
('Shades Of Grey' was substituted for the ballad version of 'I Wanna Be Free' in 1967 repeats)
Main Writer: Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker   Director: Mike Elliott
Plot: Davy is in love with a girl called Vanessa and wants The Monkees to play at her 'sweet sixteen' party. Only her mean ol' daddy won't let them play or let his daughter out to see Davy Jones when she should be studying for her history exams. When Vanessa flunks her test Davy feels guilty and tries to make it up to her, so The Monkees make a plan to 'kidnap' her - smuggling her out under her father's nose by hiding her in a desk. The Monkees then try to re-enact parts of history and put historical events to music. Against all odds (I'm not sure that's standard revision practice!) Vanessa passes the re-test and her father relents and allows the band to play at her party. Unfortunately The Monkees have already sneaked into the grounds and think they're being chased so run away through a local drinking men's club pursued by a security guard and Vanessa's dad. Ending up back at the club the security guard corners them, only for Vanessa's Dad to relate what's really happen and allow the band to play at the club after all. Alas as the band's song ends Davy gets stars in his eyes again and the band rush him off before the problems start all over again...
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: This is the one and only time he's referred to as 'woolhat' on screen. Can play the harmonica although we never actually see Mike playing it as part of a 'full' Monkees line-up. Wins a game of cards thanks to trumping the others with a 'chandelier' - shooting it away from the ceiling to end the game! Willing to stand up to authority, telling the security guard 'you're evil!' Is sensitive enough to know when Davy needs to be left alone and in peace. Dresses up as Aaron Burr (third US vice-president) when teaching Vanessa her history.  Micky: Gets very little to do.  Has a pet stuffed monkey. Dresses up as Alexander Hamilton (chief aide to George Washington) to teach Vanessa her history. Davy: is very much the 'star' in the pilot, getting all the screen time (Davy did after all have the most experience by 1965). Is saying his catchphrase 'you must be joking!' aas early as his first line (he also says it for 'real' in the screen-test at the end). Falls in love easily and feels guilty when his romances get in the way of a girl's future. Has a very variable accent - sometimes 'posh', sometimes Mancunian, sometimes cockney. We see him play guitar rather than his usual percussion. Peter: Gets very little to do. Seems to own a very large statue of a hand for some reason best left to the imagination.
Things that don't make sense: Davy's accent. The AAA would like to point out that running around an amusement park and the beach while your boyfriend and his three monkeynut friends shout out random phrases relating to history is not the best method of revision and others are available. Why is Davy made the rhythm guitarist when he's the only Monkee in real life who couldn't play it?! Oh and another subtle change - The Monkees are actually popular in this episode and are wanted to play at a show!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Vanessa - "You can't dance to this music - it just doesn't do anything, you know?" 2) Mike - "Davy, can you give me a 'D'?" *Davy pulls string off his guitar* 3) Mike - "Hey come on, she got hung up - you didn't hang her up" Davy - "What's the difference? She's in trouble" 4) Vanessa - "Miss Cooper, would you believe me if I said I owe it all to a Monkee?" 5) Bob Rafelson - "Davy, hold it a minute, you want to know something? I really think you should have been a jockey!"
Romp: Of all the major differences between the pilot and the rest of the series the musical 'romp' is perhaps the biggest. It's all so 'safe' and calm, with The Monkees riding up and down on a carousel singing and messing around in the fairground like some 1950s B movie. Davy is also very much the lead romantic role, walking off into the sunset with Vanessa as his three friends look uncomfortable in the background. This will all change, thank goodness and fast. It's a shame though that the band never returned to the earlier, faster, Micky-and-Davy-duet version of 'I Wanna Be Free' (later released in 1990 on 'Missing Links Two') because it's well suited to the manic energy of a Monkees romp - just not this one. There's a more reflective moody snatch of the more famous slower version of 'I Wanna Be Free' (Davy on his own, singing as a ballad) from the first album too.
End Performance: Well, actually this week it's a two-thirds-of-the-way-through performance as the band perform 'Let's Dance On' in the club having finally been allowed in to play. This too is an unusual performance and clearly from the 'Ready Steady Go' style of film-making, with more shots of the dancers than the band.
'Imagination' Sequence: The first of many court-room scenes in which Mike breaks his gavel
Davy Love Rating: A whopping nine/ten, with stars in his eyes and everything. For once, though, the episode is more about Davy's impact on a girl rather than a girl on Davy and the Monkees all go through a lot to keep the couple together. However a sign of how the series will progress comes in the last scene where Davy falls for one of the dancers and the others rush him off before their lives are disrupted all over again. 
Postmodernisms: Even this early on the producers are breaking the 'fourth wall' with captions, both in the club scene superimposed over the dancers. The first reads 'typical teenager' as a girl frugs the night away while another reads 'a friend of the producer's' for an older lady whose more visibly struggling! The whole opening scene is also very postmodern: we start in the middle of a different series entirely, with an adult being stopped in the street and cross-examined about how he's cope with violent scenes - he pledges to do everything he can to 'involve himself physically' and yet runs off when The Monkees feign some fighting and Davy asks help from 'an innocent bystander'. Very Monkees!
Review: Some series are terrific from the start and arguably hit an early peak with their first episode (Dr Who) while others take a little longer, being almost unrecognisable compared to future episodes (Star Trek, where only Spock's character was kept). 'Here Come The Monkees', filmed a full year before broadcast, is very much in the latter category, at times close to what the series will end up becoming (Davy in love, the others pals enough to help him out) and at other times wildly different (everything else!) The whole 'feel' of this episode is entirely different, on the one hand much more manic than anything The Monkees will go on to do (the whole 'card-room chase scene is a bit too breathless even for modern, faster tastes) and on the other much slower-paced and talky, without the quick cuts The Monkees series will pioneer (and which the whole last fifty years of television would look very different without). Many reviewers claim that the pilot is much more heavily like 'A hard Day's Night' but actually that's not true - that film builds up to a 'peak' when The Beatles are finally released and get to muck around in their own 'romp' set to 'Can't Buy Me Love' and elsewhere is much more like a 'normal' film. This episode is more like the manic daftness of The Beatles Cartoon series - or given the slightly old-style fuddy duddy world The Monkees are let loose on one of The Marx Brothers' films (with Vanessa's dad as Margaret Dumont). In episodes to come this formula will work, with just a few twists that make the 'authority figures' come into 'our' world of youth and colour, but the formula's not there yet and The Monkees are very much strangers in a world of decidedly 1950s values (Davy and Vanessa even date in a fairgound for goodness' sake!)  In times to come Micky will be the series' Groucho (even doing a Groucho impression a couple of times), Peter the silent Harpo clown and Mike a sort of slightly more with-it and conscientious version of 'Chico' - but this episode is very much led by romantic lead Davy, which makes this pilot more like the rather more boring old fashioned scenes with Zeppo. The ingredients are there but they're not quite knitting together yet, with The Monkees seen through the eyes of a pair of writers who, perhaps significantly, were never invited back to work on the series again.
The part that does work is the fact that the audience so easily and effortlessly takes The Monkees' side. That seems obvious now - they are the 'leads' after all - but bear in mind how revolutionary this was in 1965. In our modern age the 1960s philosophy of peace and love and energy are so ingrained on the Western world's psyche that we kind of take it for granted that everyone acted like The Monkees in the 1960s in a world of bright colour and energy. But the world wasn't like that - people with hair of even the comparatively short length The Monkees have in this episode were frowned at or laughed at (something the 'real' band will speak about in their 'tag' interviews) andeven people their own age had become so used to seeing long-haired youths portrayed as ruffians or rogues that the real turning point of this episode comes not from the manic romps but from Davy saying that he doesn't care whose fault it is - he wants to help Vanessa. Had the programme makers been brave enough to make this the first episode (instead of the tenth as broadcast) you'd have had a million heads turning in shock as they gradually come to realise thayt they're not meant to be siding with the dad whose only trying to protect his daughter and help her get good grades - we're meant to be siding with the youths who have never had a voice on television before (unless you count The Beatles cartoons - a bigger source of inspiration for this series than recognised). The moment at the end when Vanessa's dad agrees to let the band play and Davy goes to kiss him in a re-creation of Waterloo is a monumental moment in television: the 'adults' admitting to the 'youth' that they're ok really. This is perhaps a slightly clumsier version of an art-form the series point that will be made much more subtly and kindly throughout the series' run, but the fact that it's here at all is an enormous plus. Even the slightly confusing opening, which many fans have said they don't like, works well in my eyes - the episode starts as if it's a traditional realistic interview with an adult being vox popped about the violence seen in the youth today and how he'd step in and solve it himself. But The Monkees 'invade' this whole other show which like all other shows takes the 'adult's side and subverts it, pointing out what a phoney the adult is and all adults are and as we come to know the characters better we know that this so-called youthful violence is really youthful energy, suppressed after years of growing up in the solemn 1940s and staid 1950s, post war children growing into teenagers and not necessarily doing what teenagers had ever done before.
In retrospect it seems obvious that this series will work from the pilot alone with just a few tweaks - having so little of Micky or Peter, for instance, is unforgivable in a series that needs to cement all four leading roles to become understood, fast, before next week's show and that moment of guilt aside Davy really isn't that likeable in this episode - instead it's surrogate parent Mike that most people lean towards (so different to how the screen-test went where Mike is the biggest rebel!) You can see, though, why this pilot episode tested so badly that it got the worst scores of any show in Colgems' history and was booted to the back of the queue when they launched the series: it's just too different from anything that had gone before it. Needing to fill a bit of time, Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider hit upon the brainwave of adding Davy and Mike's screen tests (Micky and Peter being 'auditioned' in groups of four so they had no comparable individual test to run) at the end of the series and by chance the only good bit of feedback about the whole show seemed to be this part which caused the makers to have a re-think and 'introduce' the characters much more in the superior next episode 'The Royal Flush' (though it was probably by accident - when asked what section they preferred many people said 'the end' meaning they could go home, not the screen-tests themselves). I'd be intrigued too to know the age-range of the people this episode was tested on - teenagers would surely have got this straight away (it's the first real programme 'for' them, rather than 1950s hangovers which were outdated and closer to representing their siblings) but parents would naturally have been icier to a programme that seemed to be mocking their value systems and making them out to be the baddies (however softly or affectionately). Thank goodness Bert and Bob learned their lessons, made this programme less about Davy and more about The Monkees as a unit, kept the manic romps for the songs and not just randomly near the end of the episodes and spent less time on the plot and more on the band otherwise this book would have been very short and The Monkees would have been over as a series before it began. However that's not to say this pilot is without worth - in some ways it's amazing just how much they got 'right', with all the hard work and the more revolutionary moments in place - it just needs tidying up a bit and adding a bit more character and humour. Seen as episode ten it seems very much like a backwards step - but viewed in production rather than broadcast order 'Here Come The Monkees' already seems extraordinary for a debut.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) For a time the writers didn't know what the band were going to be called - early scripts use early names such as 'The Creeps' or 'The Impossibles'. This episode ends up being the only one in the entire run where the band make gags around the fact they're called 'Monkees' and wear monkey masks. 2) The scene where Davy and Mike chat about getting Vanessa 'hung up' was part of the audition piece, along with an unused bit about The Monkees finally selling a copy of their album while visiting a record shop ('What have the Beatles got that we haven't got?' 'Oh about $100 million!' 3) Somewhere in the vaults exist yet another version of this pilot, without the screen-tests and with songwriters Boyce and Hart singing in place of Micky and Davy. The credits are also different too, with Micky choosing to use his 'stage name' of Micky Braddock) 4) When asked what they thought about the pilot, Bert and Bob received a stern lecture from Mike on how he wanted to be called by his 'real name' - he's never called by the nickname 'Woolhat' for the rest of the series 5) Several stills from this episode were used on the back cover of second album 'More Of The Monkees' despite being almost two years old by then 6) Several clips from the fairground romp made it into the opening credits, including the opening shot of Micky hitting a bar-bell and Mike riding a skateboard 7) The Monkees apparently had the decorators in between this episode and 'Royal Flush' as there are several differences, most notably the stairs (this straight up and down staircase is far more 'normal'). Apparently rather than being a set as per all the episodes to come, the pilot filmed these scenes in an actual rented house!  8) Look out for The Monkees' car as they drive up to the country club to perform - it's clearly not The Monkeemobile (when did they afford that?!) 9) Many of this episode's plot points will be revisited in the 1997 reunion project 'Episode #781' 10) Look out for a quick shot of Mike hurling a dart at a Beatles poster, although there is no follow-up mention of this (later episodes will portray the broke Monkees as jealous of their fame and fortune)  11) Micky and Peter recorded their linking scene ('Why do you have to talk so much?') during production for 'Son Of A Gypsy' 12) This is one of the few Monkees episodes (two?!) never to be repeated in the 1960s in the daytime after rules and practices regarding the use of alcohol before a certain time (apparently it was the 'drunk' character they objected to!)
Ratings: At The Time 10.1 million viewers/AAA Rating: 6/10

TV Episode  #11
"The Monkees A La Carte"
(Filmed August 1966; First broadcast November 21st 1966)
"You're going to be chefs, waiters, cloakroom girls, cigarette girls..."
Music: "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" (Romp)/ She (End Performance)
Main Writer: Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees have got a job as waiters in a restaurant while playing as the house band. However the mafia (or at least an organisation suspiciously like them - they're not named on-screen)  have had their sights on the place and have decided to make the place their headquarters, firing the band in the process. The band plot revenge and decide to get themselves re-hired as waiters. They also get the help of the police who mention that the only members of the syndicate gang they've arrested so far are the Purple Flower Gang. Inevitably, The Monkees decide to become the Purple Flower Gang and try and stall for time before the police get there. They cut up the map that crook Fuselli has tried to divide for them and set members of the gang (Red O' Leary 'bank robbing and protection', Big Flora 'fraud and extortion', Paddy The Fix 'drugs and diamond smuggling' and Benny The Book 'book-making and numbers') against each other. Peter is sent to get the police, but they arrest him thinking he's a real member of the Purple Flower Gang, though luckily they take him round to the restaurant anyway to arrest the others where everything is put right. Owner Pops has his establishment back and The Monkees are re-hired as the house band.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is very good at noughts and crosses, beating Davy every time.  Micky: Revels in the chance to act like a gangster and seems to take the 'lead role' of the Purple Flower Gang without any comment from the others. Perhaps because he's in character, Micky is far less afraid in this episode than he normally is and risks his life several times trying to get the villains to 'get along'.  Davy: Is very brave, standing up to the criminals while the others hold him back and getting punched in the chin for his pains. Is very bad at noughts and crosses though, losing to Mike every time. Peter: Can hold an amazing amount of dishes, dropping them only when the others cheer him on and he joins in! The villains seem to have it in for Peter this episode - Fuseli slaps him round the face and Micky does too - Peter runs off when Micky tries to do this again in the police station. According to Peter's introduction of himself he also plays the trombone in addition to bass guitar - although funnily enough the 'performance' tag of 'She' features Peter playing keyboards for the first time! Takes two lumps of sugar in his coffee and like cheese danishes. Has a good knowledge of major crimes of the century, admitting to them all in return for pastries! For some reason he carries a fake gun in his pocket which has a message saying 'I Go' which comes in very handy when leaving the restaurant!
Things that don't make sense: This episode does make sense but it relies on quite a few whopping coincidences - such as the racketeers choosing this restaurant to take over out of all the ones in The Monkees' neighbourhood, at just the point after the band have been hired. The racketeers have also chosen this place as the first time ever the entire criminal syndicate of the neighbourhood will meet up - without ever explaining why they've chosen to meet up now. It's also an extraordinary coincidence that The Monkees' improvised costumes looks exactly like the 'real' Purple Flower Gang, down to the white carnations in the lapels ('do you know how hard it is to find purple flowers these days?!') The crooks also seem remarkably keen to re-hire The Monkees despite knowing the grudge they must have against the crooks.
Best Five Quotes: 1) Davy - "You're pretty tough with a gun in your hand!" (Fuseli punches Davy, falling flat on the other Monkees) "You're pretty tough with a fist in your hand!" 2) Davy - "He's so mean he wears a pin-stripe suit" Mike - "What's so tough about that?" Davy - "It's got real pins in it!" 3) Mike - "We've come to get our old jobs back. The people like us" Fuseli - "Yeah but I don't like you!" Mike - "We work cheap" Fuselli - "I'm beginning to like you!"  4) Micky - "A minute and twelve seconds - that's a new meeting record!" 5) Benny - "I'm Benny the Book, book-making and numbers" Peter - "I'm Peter Tork, bass guitar and trombone!"
Romp: Unusually 'Steppin' Stone' is heard in two halves - the first in the kitchen as The Monkees create havoc and the second as the syndicate gang begin to shoot everyone. The song is one of the best musical choices for these romps, manic yet slightly menacing.
End Performance: The first performance of 'She', allegedly in the restaurant although the exact same film clip will be used again for the big-top in 'Monkees At The Circus'. peter mimes the kleyboards and he and Davy get the giggles near the end performing the 'hey!'s, while Mike stays straight faced and Micky sings with his eyes tight shut.
Postmodernisms: Micky interrupts the shooting sequence and we think he's going to make some big speech about peace. But no - he brings a girl on who undoes a fur coat and leers into the camera while Micky explains 'the director thought we needed a pretty girl on the show!' (very 1960s!)
Review: Another episode with The Monkees in unlikely peril, 'A La Carte' shows that Gardner and Caruso have hit upon a formula that they think works and largely they're right. The action keeps coming at pace, the Monkees are 'wronged' at the start and put things right against the odds by the end and all the Monkees get their set pieces: Davy gets to stand up to crooks literally twice his size, Mike gets to plan, Micky gets to dress up (although sadly he doesn't yet have the chance to do his impression of the inimitable James Cagney) and Peter gets lots to do at long last, being both endearingly gullible and actually quite brave this week. The Monkees are at their best when using their seething injustice on behalf of other people and it's a shame we don't see more of 'Pops' whose one of a mere handful of adults in The Monkees series who are actually nice to the band. The guest cast of gangsters, all with quirks taken directly from bad B-movies, are also very convincing - and larger than normal too. The episode also gives the Monkees series a sly chance to comment on the futility of war - Micky tries to make the gang come to their senses and stop being greedy, but they carry on shooting and die, ending up with nothing - they're all dead by the end, which is unique for the Monkees although the drama is actually turned into high comedy as Big Flora re-acts to the shot and continues to eat before dying and Fuseli gloats at being the last man standing before being shot by Benny The Book who wasn't as dead as he seemed. However this funny scene also highlights the main issue that's wrong with this episode - we know from past episodes that if people listened to The Monkes in the first place the world would be a better place (with 'The Monkees' standing in for 'their generation' this is very much the whole point of the series, giving disaffected youth a 'voice') but The Monkees are as guilty as anyone this time around. They actively start the battle as a means of stalling for time while Peter gets help and shouldn't be surprised when after telling a bunch of hardened criminals the others are 'wronging' them that they start shooting. Only Micky tries to put things right - Mike and Davy are too busy playing noughts and crosses - and not one of them shows remorse or guilt when they end up causing the deaths of everybody in the room. It's a difficult line - 'The Monkees' was always intended to be a comedy and this is a very funny scene - but when the series tries to make bigger points as it does in this episode you have to say that The Monkees aren't entirely the innocents they think they are. Still, a fast moving plot, some great guest casts and some witty one-liners (especially Peter's this week) still leads to one of the better Monkee episodes, the formula now coming together nicely.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) The Purple Flower Gang are a direct lift from The Purple Cross Gang, the villains in cartoon strip 'Dick Tracy' 2) This version of 'Steppin' Stone' - uniquely split into two - also contains a few seconds' extra material on the fade (which basically consists of an extra yelled 'steppin' stone!') 3) the criminal gang are never named on screen so we don't know if they're the same gang who return in 'Alias Micky Dolenz' or 'The Monkees On The Wheel' 4) This episode's romp 'cutaways' feature clips seen in four other episodes - a record for The Monkees series (with clips from the pilot and episodes 6, 7 and 12 - an episode which hadn't even been screened yet!) 5) You can hear the first note of what sounds like 'Steppin' Stone' played just before the mimed performance of 'She' - did the script specify using this song before someone realised the track had already been used for the romp? 6) The original ending as featured in the scripts took place after the performance of 'She' and had The Monkees congratulating themselves on their performance - before being ushered back to work as waiters by Pops!
Ratings: At The Time 10.9 million viewers/AAA Rating: 8/10

TV Episode  #12
"I've Got A Little Song Here"
(Filmed August 1966; First broadcast November 28th 1966)
"I'm going to write about it in my expose about the phoniness of Hollywood. What's it called? I don't know, I'm getting it ghost-written"
Music: I'm Gonna Buy Me A Dog (Romp)/Mary Mary (Romp)
('For Pete's Sake' was substituted for 'Mary Mary' in the 1967 repeat and 'Steam Engine' for 'Mary Mary' in the 1969 repeat)
Main Writer: Treva Silverman Director: Bruce Kessler
Plot: Mike's been sent a letter through the post offering him a great opportunity to have his song published. Being something of a songwriter himself with a new tune called 'I'm Gonna Buy Me A Dog', Mike is keen to go along and is conned by music publisher Bernie Klass into parting with $100 for 'promotional costs' (or at least $99.95, all the money he can raise) when told that today's top teen entertainer Joanie Jans is going to record it. Excitedly Mike tells everyone he knows and rushed round to see her and say thankyou - but she's never heard of the song. Dejected Mike locks himself in his bedroom while the other Monkees try to cheer him up. Eventually they decide to do what they do best, Micky dressing up as 'MD' with Davy and Peter as his two assistants, fooling Bernie into thinking he's making his next big film and needs a song about a dog in it. Mike is called in to sign an 'exclusive contract' for twice the money he gave - and ends up giving the other half of the money to another songwriter fleeced by Bernie (who promptly 'steals' Mike's song!)
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: This is where Mike's character and his 'real' self start becoming ever further apart. 'This' Mike has just written his first song (actually its written by Monkee regulars Boyce and Hart) whereas in reality Mike had been writing songs for years before joining The Monkees. He's also 23 by this time, while his character gives his age as '21'. Unusually fictional Mike is easily taken in and fleeced by the publisher - usually it's Mike who see through con schemes like this when one of his colleagues gets into trouble, suggesting that his desperation at getting a song published and performed by a hit artist means a lot to him, enough for him to turn a blind eye to his usual doubts. Mike is also seen to have a habit of trimming his wool-hat of stray bits of wool when he's unhappy, a habit he'll return to later. Micky:  With Mike unusually blind to the people trying to fleece him, it's Micky whose the first to realise that Nesmith is being conned and the first to act to get him out of trouble. He pits on one of his favourite disguises in this episode, based around his initials 'MD', a 'Managing Director' who bluffs his way by acting important. However Micky is still insensitive enough to launch into some (admittedly hilarious) impressions of James Cagney and Fred Astaire doing James Cagney at completely the wrong moment. Davy: Doesn't get much to this episode, which makes a blessed change after dominating five of the past eleven storylines. Davy's unusually kind in this episode though, telling Mike that he would have been a big success had the con-trick been real. Peter: It's Peter's simple tribute to Mike ('My mother says you have the best posture of anyone she knows') that really gets through Mike's depression and cheers him up the most. Peter seems the most pleased to be surrounded by dogs in the romp (by contrast Davy for one looks terrified!) - an early sign of his love for animals
Things that don't make sense: How many music publishers do you know who write random letters addressed to 'dear occupant' through the post? It must cost an awful lot - far more than the penniless songwriters are fleeced for - and even in the 1960s when there were thousands of unsigned groups seems an expensive way of doing business (why not make more of an advert at the establishment?)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mike, reading his letter - "It says 'congratulations, because of your unusual taste and achievements you have been selected for this exclusive offer" Micky - "That's for you, Mike?" Mike - "Well, yeah, it says 'dear occupant!'" 2) Mike - "This will turn out to be a really profitable business, you wait and see!" Postman - "Oh Mike I forgot to tell you, there's a six cents charge on that letter!" 3) Bernie Klass on Joanie Janns - "She's the greatest living or dead singer alive today!" 4) Davy - "Will you remember us when you're rich and famous?" Mike - "Of course I will, Danny!" 5) Bernie Klass - "It takes three guys to tune one piano?" Micky - "Yeah, err, he does the white keys, he does the black keys and I do the cracks in between!" (Whispered to Davy and Peter) "What do you guys think?" Peter - "I think the piano's a little sharp!"
Romp: Two again. 'I'm Gonna Buy Me A Dog' - allegedly the song Mike's just written - was inevitably going to turn up sooner or later and inevitably it features The Monkees larking about with canines. However the romp is particularly well handled, with the four Monkees 'replaced' by dogs (one of them even wears Mike's woolhat!) before chasing the band all round a park and into their Monkeemobile. 'Mary Mary' is an unusual one though: to all intents and purposes the episode is over although this manic romp around a film studio is included as 'part' of the episode. Mike stays at the bottom (does he not like heights?) while Peter, Micky and Davy run around the gantries at the top and we get to see all The Monkees' lighting and camera equipment. Eventually Micky and Davy run back down but Peter is lost, so they bring out the searchlight and use a gun from a props cupboard to 'shoot' him down. Peter over-acts and apparently hurls himself over the edge - luckily it's just a 'dummy' he's thrown down (see 'Head' for more on Peter being the 'dummy!') 'Mary Mary' is an odd song to set this too though - much better is the 'For Pete's Sake' soundtrack substituted for the repeat (which is even given a natty couple of 'extended' loops at the beginning to fit it into time!)
The Monkeemen: It's the first appearance of The Monkee superheroes in the series, although I'm not quite sure why they're here (The Monkees only need to get somewhere quickly and end up waiting so long for Peter - who can't fly till the end of the episode - that they might as well have walked!) We don't get to see Mike's Monkeemen costume  until 'Monkee Chow Mein' some three months later.
Postmodernisms: The entire 'Mary Mary' romp can be considered postmodern, revealing where and how The Monkees series is filmed (and most likely it's many teenager's first glimpse of a film studio) although it's never actually stated that the series is filmed here!
Davy Love Rating: Well, actually, this time it's Mike, whose starry-eyed when meeting Joanie Janns, an early sign that Mike's taste in girls tends to be the rich and famous (as opposed to Davy, who falls in love with everyone - the pair don't meet in this episode or no doubt it would be Davy in love with her too!)
Review: An interesting little episode, 'Song' returns to the more 'serious' side of The Monkees' formula - the thought there are hundreds and thousands of teenagers across America living in tiny houses together trying to be a band like The Beatles and falling into all the traps along the way. Music publishing was one of the few aspects of the music industry that even The Beatles couldn't changes across the 1960s (they remain on a pittance even now, with the Lennon and McCartney catalogue owned by Michael Jackson's estate without a single raise in royalty rate since the day they signed to Northern Songs in 1962) and once again The Monkees appears to be damning an archaic system used to fleece The Monkees' and fan's older siblings in the 1950s (see 'Monkees At The Movies' for more obviously 1950s exploitation). The idea of one of The Monkees getting carried away with too many 'yes men' telling them they are talented and the others pulling together to sort out that thanks to their usual wacky disguises and madcap humour is a strong template for the series and one I wish they'd used more of. However, why was Mike chosen for the lead in this one? At this early point in the series he's the only one writing songs for the series and has already avoided most of the traps laid out for the 'Mike' character here. He's also the least likely of the four to fall for such an obvious con job, although it's a nice addition to the fictional Nesmith character that he can be persuaded to overlook his doubts when the stake is high enough and relates to him becoming a properly respected writer. Why, though, did the producers lumber him with one of Boyce and Hart's worst songs rather than one of his own - plus, moreover, a song that Mike never actually performs? It's a massive black hole that rather unbalances the episode, although that said we find out more about Mike than ever before by the end of the episode as the unusually calm and reliable Monkee effectively falls apart blaming himself for having 'failed'. The scenes of the three Monkees trying to cheer him up in their own very different ways (Davy by being kind and reasonable, Micky by making him laugh and Peter just by being sweet) is one of the key scenes of the series that adds a great deal to our feelings that this is a 'real' band who do care about each other and all four play these scenes brilliantly (the only problem is how can you not laugh at Micky doing Fred Astaire doing James Cagney, which turns out to be exactly the same impression but with a dance two-step at the end?!) The finale where Mike doesn't even keep the extra money the rest of the band have won back for him but gives it to another man he knows has been fleeced by the same publishers (and yet is barely seen in the episode) is a very Monkees touch too - this is a band that really don't care for money at all. The end result is a sweet episode with a strong morality and message at it's heart, with Mike excelling at taking centre stage for once and the others excellent supporting acts. There should have been more changes to the band's usual spies/scientists/robbers formula like this, evidence of the 'real' monsters and villains bands like The Monkees had to fight, full of some witty one-liners and some great gags (such as Mike calling up everyone he knows - including someone he only bumped into briefly whose forgotten all about him!) Only a slightly rushed second half (we could have had much of the delightfully vain Joanie Janns) and the sudden switch of tempo into the 'Mary Mary' romp prevents this from being one of the very best examples of the series - even so it still ranks very highly.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) We'll start with the obvious one: Boyce and Hart wrote 'I'm Gonna Be A Dog' as a serious song for the first Monkees LP. Unsure whether Micky or Davy would suit it best the producers sent both Monkees in and they hated the track, ripping into it mercilessly (Davy had already had to sing it once on the 'Farmer's Daughter' show a few months before joining The Monkees; on the set where the auditions were held in fact as can be seen in the tag of the 'Pilot' episode). The two Monkees turned the song into a one up-man-ship contest  and  Boyce promptly laid down a new rule that they would never ever have more than one Monkee taking part in one of their sessions ever again. For the record the song had nothing whatsoever to do with Mike Nesmith, who wasn't much keen on the track either, though he did produce ten unfinished backing tracks of a faster, jazzier version of the song that still haven't been officially released as yet 2) This week's Monkee extras scene: the one where 'MD' walks into the movie lot where David Price, Richard Klein and David Pearl can all be seen as various 'movie makers' in the background 3) A cut scene from the episode unusually occurred in the middle not the end and feature Mike chatting excitedly to his fellow music publishing wannabes - an old lady and a burly truck driver - who've both been offered the same contract terms 4) Peter's offer to take Mike out to the cinema refers to the 1952 film 'With A Song In My Heart' - he's rebuffed with a thrown Monkee boot! Funnily enough the film's score was written by Rodgers and Hart who also wrote 'My Funny Valentine', the song Mike's fellow publishing wannabe claims to have written 5) Micky, meanwhile, asks his minions Davy and Peter to take a memo about his new film 'The First Days Of Pompeii' ('You've read the book - now see the movie!') before getting them to take a second memo about getting someone in to write the book the film is to be based on! Micky is referring to the film 'The Last Days Of Pompeii', a popular film based on a book that most definitely came first (it was written in 1565 by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton in fact some three hundred and thirty years before the invention of moving film!) The most recent movie version in 1967 was a 1959 Italian film directed by Sergei Leone
Ratings: At The Time 10.3 million viewers/AAA Rating: 8/10

TV Episode  #13
"One Man Shy"
(Filmed September and October 1966; First broadcast December 5th 1966)
"What are you, a nut?"
Music: You Just May Be The One (First Version) (Half Performance/Half Romp)/I'm A Believer (Romp)
(The 1967 and 1969 repeats substituted 'Forget That Girl' and 'If I Knew' for 'I'm A Believer')
Main Writer: Gerald Gardner, Dee Caruso and Treva Silverman Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees have been hired for another gig, playing at a debutante's ball - yay! Only the girl's boyfriend takes an instant dislike to The Monkees and is forever trying to put them down - boo! Things are complicated when Peter falls head over heels for 'Valerie' (perhaps because he's the first girl under forty in the series Davy hasn't fallen for on first sight) and no they don't play 'Valleri' for her - mainly because Boyce and Hart haven't written it yet!) and even steals the painting of her that hangs in her living room to take it home to The Monkees' pad. Mike tries to hide it when Valerie and her boyfriend Ronnie come calling unexpectedly but Ronnie notices it and realises he has a rival, trying his best to make Peter loo a fool. He invites The Monkees to his own posh pad for clay-pigeon shooting, archery and badminton but not wanting Peter to look silly the other Monkees take over for him and get into all sorts of scrapes. They decide to take revenge and make Ronnie look silly instead - Davy is the waiter who ruins his big moment opening a champagne bottle, Mike is the park attendant who fools Ronnie into thinking his collection of pipes to control the park fountain is really 'modern art' and Micky is a doll salesman who 'proves' that Ronnie is unsuitable to have children. The day of the ball arrives and The Monkees perform, with Peter shyly trying to talk to Valerie. Realising their pal is struggling, the band try to make him out to be richer than he really is appearing as his broker, tailor and the driver for his yacht. Ronnie tries to show The Monkees as the phonies they are but Peter gives a moving speech about how his friends were only trying to help because they knew how much she meant to him - and Valerie tells him not to worry because she likes him just the way he is. In a tag scene, the other Monkees mope that their old Peter is gone forever - the camera pulls back to show him surrounded by four women and even Davy looks jealous!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: This week's disguises: a park attendant and a yacht chauffeur. We also discover that Mike is hopeless with a bow and arrow. Mike doesn't come up with as many plans this week but his quick thinking does turn Valerie's portrait into a 'mirror'. Mike is the first Monkee to 'shy away' when Davy is about to shoot (to be fair, he is the closest!) Micky: This week's disguises: a doll salesman, a psychologist and Peter's stockbroker. Micky also proves to be useless at badminton, accidentally swallowing the shuttlecock. Micky is notably angry when Ronnie calls the band 'fifth-rate musicians' and proudly corrects him ('We're third-rate musicians!') Pretends to be Cyrano De Begerac when Peter needs to 'serenade' Valerie. Micky's advice of romantic subjects: 'music, books and politics' Davy: This week's disguises: a waiter who mangles a champagne bottle so badly the cork appears to destroy a whole building when Ronnie opens it, Whistler's Mother and an English tailor, complete with outrageous accent. Davy 'pretends' to have done a lot of shooting back home in merrie old Englande but is very bad and nearly kills Ronnie's butler in the process. Davy finds 'spin the bottle' easy - the bottle always points to him every time - even hurling itself across the room to the door when he leaves! Peter: This is the first time we see Peter in love and he falls hard for Valerie, even going to the lengths of stealing her painting. Peter spends the whole of the car journey back home 'talking' to Valerie and pouring out his life story (in which we learn that he went to private school for a year but hated it - so his family are rich?) Peter must really like this 'type' of girl (blonde and with Russian ancestry) as Peter will fall for the same actress again in second season story 'Card Carrying Red Shoes' (the third time is with April Conquest' in 'Monkees Get Out More Dirt', but then all four of them fall for her!) Peter feels clueless talking to girls (the last girl he had a 'crush' on he took to a cub meeting - so he must have been still at primary school) and gets the others to do it for him (badly, as things turn out) but trusts the others enough to 'go along' with their scheme of preventing him from taking part in Ronnie's 'games' and later trying to make him look good. He also tells Micky that he used to feel embarrassed talking about t=kissing and can now only mention the word 's-e-x' in a whisper. By the end of the episode Peter seems to have changed characters entirely, Mike referring to him as a 'wolf in sheep's clothing' as several girls are now attracted to him (this suggests two things - one that he's no longer 'just' with Valerie and seems to chase any girl going, a bit like Davy - and that something happens after the events of this episode and before next week when Peter is back to 'normal' (starting with the very first scene when he's not at all confident around the secretary at a dance club!) Micky has taken to calling him 'Big Peter'# for this episode only, though Peter doesn't respond to this nickname with any sign that he likes it or hates it.
Things that don't make sense: By and large this is one of The Monkees' most plausible episodes, with a plot line that could easily have happened for real. However there's one key issue that makes everything in it questionable - why doesn't Peter simply go to Davy for advice? And why doesn't Davy fall for Valerie himself given that other episodes hint his addiction is an 'illness' he can't help whenever there's another pretty girl in the same room. Why don't one of The Monkees simply take the painting upstairs when they know Ronnie and Valerie are at the door? Also, this is a rare Monkees episode that doesn't set the 're-set' button at the end of the show and leaves Peter a changed man to all intents and purposes and yet this is never referred to again across the rest of the series (what happened off-screen before the next time we see the band?)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Ronnie - "A gentleman shouldn't stare at a lady" Peter - "Well, a beggar can look at a queen!" 2) Davy pretending to be Peter serenading Valerie - "I love you all the week!" Micky - "I love you twice as much on Fridays so I can have the weekends off!" 3) Ronnie on The Monkees' pad - "You'd have to call the interior decorator in to condemn it!" 4) Ronnie - "You really get a kick out of yourself don't you?" Mike - "Well, I'm all I have" Ronnie - "Aww, that's too bad" 5) Micky as Peter's broker - "You've heard of The New York Stock Exchange? Well he owns the New Tork Stock Exchange!"
Romp/Performance: We hear the first 'More Of The Monkees' era version of Mike's 'You Just May Be The One' twice during the course of the episode - the band are just finishing it as their 'audition' in the first scene and perform it more fully at the ball proper, inter-cut with a 'romp' sequence of Peter having fun at the party. We also see Peter and Valerie mooning to the soundtrack of 'I'm A Believer' - the prestigious first appearance of what will become the most popular Monkees TV soundtrack song -  but this is a very different sort of romp compared to normal, much slower and more romantic than the usual manic energy and based around just Peter rather than the whole band. During the course of the sequence Peter beats Ronnie at 'his' games like marbles and even arm-wrestling!
Postmodernisms: The only example this episode involves the tag scene, where Davy, Micky and Mike discussing how Peter has changed - only they direct this to the camera rather than each other!
Davy Love Rating: The biggest score in the series with a whacking ten/ten, although almaost-uniquely it's Peter getting the girl not Davy. Though quieter and shyer than Davy when he's in love, Peter goes to greater lengths than even his co-Monkee ever did and spends pretty much the entire episode dewey-eyed as well as going to the lengths of physically stealing a painting. Peter is lucky that Valerie is as understanding as she is (although if she ever did have feelings for love-rival Ronnie they seem to have faded long before Peter was ever on the scene!)
Review: In many ways this is the 'cheap' episode of The Monkees' first season, with just two guest stars this week and a plot that feels like lots of other stuck together (the 'love' bits of 'The Royal Flush' and the 'pretending to be something better than you are when you only really need to be yourself' moral message of 'The Success Story'). However in many ways it's what the series needs right at this moment, with a chance to develop Peter's character the same way that Mike's was developed the previous week. Out of all The Monkees' scripts this is perhaps the one the audience at home could identify with best, with Peter coming up against a rival who has everything he doesn't have (money, means, physical prowess) but offers up the very Monkees message that you don't need any of these things to win over a true love - that all you need to be is yourself. Once again this seems to be an episode that's about the changing ways of the world again, explaining to 'adult' viewers at home that love doesn't work the way it used to anymore: though roughly the same age as the band, Ronnie's antics are a very 'old school' brand of macho - shooting with guns and bows and arrows and playing sports to prove his 'manliness'. Valerie, though, isn't fooled - she likes Peter for his genuineness (and above all The Monkees stand for genuineness, even when they're dressing up in disguises as someone else, which they do more here than perhaps any other episode) and couldn't care less how good Peter is at such things. Once again The Monkees proves to be the most '1960s' thing on television by a country mile, a world where Peter's shyness becomes his secret weapon not something to be feared and where the old 'rules' about proving your strength in front of a girl completely misunderstands what the 'modern' girl is looking for. The chance to see a different Monkee in a situation that so many other weeks would have seen Davy in love and dashing around in swordfights and the like offers a very welcome contrast and the script could have made more of this - the highlight is definitely Davy's spin-the-bottle game which he wins by miles and it's odd that Peter turns to his three friends for general help this week instead of Davy specifically (the one coaching the other could have made for even funnier routines). Even so, the script works with some cracking one liners and even if it all slows down to something of a crawl in the second half (with a second straight lot of Monkee disguises in a row and a second romp soon after the first) there's enough of worth here to make up for that. The smaller cast list would have put a strain on both the Monkees and the two guests, but thankfully at this point so early in the run the band are still fresh and enthusiastic enough to cope with all the extra-line learning and Peter is especially good at saying nothing while saying everything, while George Firth and Lisa James as Ronnie and Valerie are amongst the best actors to grace the series (it's no surprise that both become Monkee regulars across the 58 episodes). Overall, then, 'One Man Shy' tends to get overlooked in amongst more plot-driven episodes and isn't perhaps amongst the first tier of classic episodes, but it has much to offer and fills in quite a bit of character about not just Peter but the friendship the others have with him. Dull in parts, but delightful all the same.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Back in the days when Monkees fans didn't have privy to as many repeats or official releases some episodes became known amongst the community by slightly different names. This episode is one of them, also listed in some Monkees episodographies as the more basic 'Peter and the Debutante' 2) The Peter-sung version of the Goffin and King song 'I Don't Think You Know Me At All' (first released on the back of the 'More Of The Monkees' CD re-issue on Rhino) was originally intended for this episode but was replaced late on by 'I'm A Believer' - probably when the song got the go-ahead to become the band's second single 3) This weeks' credit howler 'You May Just Be The One' (tpo be fair Mike even gets the name of his own song wrong in the opening scene!) 4) This weeks' scripted ending was much more romantic, with Peter and Valerie dancing in the moonlight
Ratings: At The Time 10.0 million viewers/AAA Rating:5/10

TV Episode  #14
"Dance, Monkees, Dance"
(Filmed October 1966; First broadcast December 12th 1966)
"Who was the eight President of the United States? Martin Van Who? No No No!"
Music: I'll Be Back Upon My Feet (First Version) (Romp)/I'm A Believer (Romp)
('If You Have The Time' replaced 'I'll Be Back Upon My Feet' on the 1970 repeat)
Main Writer: Bernie Orenstein   Director: James Frawley
Plot: Peter answers the phone to be told he will be the lucky winner of a free dance lesson at the Ronaldo Dance Au-Go Go if only he can answer the simple answer of who the eight President of the United States was. After a few hints from the instructor Miss Buntwell  and an awful lot of guessing (Dean Martin?!) Peter wins and goes to accept his prize - unfortunately he's also conned into signing up to a lifetime contract of daily lessons. The other Monkees try to put this right with mixed results: Micky, dressed up as a lawyer, accidentally signs his name up too, Mike falls for Miss Buntwell and would gladly have signed anything while Davy has better success working undercover as the firm's latest dancing instructor (his dancing moves coming in handy during a tiring audition!) The Monkees set up a fake lesson, forever being interrupted by Micky and Peter in a variety of costumes which put the other competition winners off, whilst Mike keeps Miss Buntwell busy by declaring his love for her. The Monkees' ruse gets rumbled by the owner Ronaldo who brings in the 'Smoothies', a troupe of professional dancers, to restore some dignity - until they get tied up and replaced by the four Monkees. In the ensuing chaos Ronaldo has a nervous breakdown and is less than pleased when the Monkees turn up the next day to honour the terms of their dance lessons - he agrees to tear up not only their contracts but those of everybody on the firm's books if they agree to go away and leave him alone!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Plays the 'Davy' role in this episode, falling for Miss Buntwell's charms when he does his usual thing of taking charge and trying to solve Peter's problems. Unlike the others, we never really get to see Mike dancing. Micky: Looks rather good in a wig. He reveals his 'real' name for the first time when introducing himself as a lawyer ('George Michael Dolenz') but for once his disguise doesn't work and he's bamboozled into signing up to his own lifetime contract. He's also unusually clumsy when trying to dance with Peter, blaming first his feet and then his hands. Davy: Is a really good dancer - good enough to get hired after only a brief and rather breathless audition where the sadistic Ronaldo keeps changing the tempo and style at high speed. Peter: Has heard of Martin Van Buren, although it doesn't seem to be a name on the tip of his tongue. Is easily fooled into signing a contract without reading it, with less coercion than Mike or Micky. Proves to be a natural dancer, although at the end he still wants some advice about his foxtrot.  Looks remarkably good in a dress.
Things that don't make sense: There's no sign that the Ronaldo Dance Au Go Go need an extra dance instructor when Davy turns up out of the blue and asks for a job. For a start there are four 'smoothie' dancers on the books and we know that Ronaldo is a greedy sort, unlikely to hire more people than he really needs. He's also unlikely to give the job to Davy on the spot without checking that he can be trusted not to give the game away. Ah well, Davy had to get in somehow I suppose...
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mike reading Peter's contract - "It says it's a lifetime contract - with an option for renewal!" 2) A clever juxtaposition as Miss Buntwell tries to make Mike sign with the line "Money isn't everything!" before we cut to Ronaldo instructing Davy "Now remember, money is everything!" 3) Micky "A brilliant idea!" Mike - "What?!" Micky "That's what we need, a brilliant idea!"4) Mike - "Miss Buntwell, you don't realise it but I can't sleep at night, I can't eat, I can't drink!" Miss Buntwell - "Why not?" Mike - "I've got no money!" 5) Mike, to The Smoothies: "Do you know the Magumba? No? Well you raise your left arm, then you raise your right arm - and this is a stick up!"
Romp: Two this week, unusually. 'I'll Be Back Upon My Feet' (the 1966 outtake version) is a very apt choice, so apt you wonder if it was deliberately recorded with this episode in mind. It's perfect for the scenes of The Monkees dancing in lots of locations, including an awful lot of footage that's recycled in the opening titles of series two (the band in top hats and tuxedos walking up a stair case and Mike in a hula skirt), although I'm less sure why the band are suddenly dressed up as arabs in the middle of the romp (did they run out of other footage?) The second romp is more integral to the plot, with The Monkees tying up The Smoothies and Ronaldo while dancing with the old ladies waiting in line, but 'I'm A Believer' is less apt as a choice.
'Imagination' Sequence: The Monkees are worried about Peter's contract and he ends up in the dock in the first of many court-rooms throughout the series, with Mike as a judge, Micky as the prosecution and Davy as the continually-silenced defence.
Postmodernisms: The best gag of the episode comes when Micky decides to go and 'talk to the writers', walking off set (past the cameraman and stand-in David Pearl) to a small shack inhabited by lots of oriental gentlemen sitting round typewriters with a poor grasp of English. Micky tells them 'Hi fellers, we really need an idea for the show. It has to be fast and groovy and hip and everything - can you do it?' He walks back to The Monkees' pad with a piece of paper in his hand but declares 'Man, this is terrible - those guys are really overpaid!' Earlier in the episode, following the 'Back On My Feet' romp, Peter says he's had so much fun he wants to do it all again, Davy's response is 'You must be joking - do you knows how much those sets and costumes cost?'
Davy Love Rating: Well, actually, this time it's Mike, although we're not quite sure how besotted he becomes. He's clearly distracted by Miss Buntwell's charms when he first meets her, but later he's acting the part of a love-sick romeo in order to keep her out of the others' way.
Review: One of the very best Monkees episodes, this one has everything: a more believable plot than most in Monkeeland, excellent performances from the cast and guest stars and all four Monkees get a lot of space to show off their talents. In turn Peter gets to show off his natural charm and this time around is very much the victim in a trap that many other people have fallen for besides rather than just being overwhelmingly dumb, Micky gets to wear lots of disguises and get the best gag of the episode as he breaks the 'fourth wall' and reveals the set to be just a set, Mike gets to be the 'failed parent' of the band whose plans go wrong despite his best efforts and in the best scene of the episode Davy gets to show off his dancing abilities (it's a slight repeat of his hysterical audition tape when Bert and Bob just threw everything at him, but with his feet instead of his mouth). Hal March's Ronaldo is one of the series' best villains, with the believable motivation of pure greed and Karen James is excellent as Miss Buntwell (who makes her character seem much more intelligent than the basic script does) although all four are upstaged by the four pencil-moustachiod 'smoothie' dancers. A witty script, where in true Monkees style the youth of the day outsmart and outwit a corrupt 'parental' dishonest scheme, doesn't need as much embellishment as usual but all four Monkees are on top form too. It's a great shame that this is Bernie Orenstein's last script for the series (of three) - of all the writers he seemed to 'get' what this series was about more than some of the others and the band are clearly enjoying his work more than some of the others.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) The most important - that's Mike Nesmith's mother Bettie in the blue suit as one of the 'old ladies' waiting for their dancing lesson. You might notice that Mike acts a little OTT in the 'romp' sequences that follow, actively pushing Davy out the way in the 'huddle' so he can call to his mother (Bettie Nesmith is also, of course, the inventor of 'liquid paper'). 2) The version of 'I'll Be Back Upon My Feet' wasn't released on album until 'Missing Links Two' in 1990 where it's listed as 'TV Version'. The end credits get the name of the song wrong and re-title it 'I'll Be Back On My Feet Again'. A later repeat of the song in episode twenty almost gets the title right but still insists on calling it 'I'll Be Back Upon My Feet...Again'. 3) In the original script, The Monkees were meant to wax the dancing floor so that The Smoothies and Ronaldo ended up falling in an undignified heap in the middle. The Monkees changed this to the 'stick up' routine seen in the episode. 4) The first day's shooting for this episode took place on October 11th 1966, a big date in The Monkees' calendar as it's also the date their first album was released. 5) Martin Van Buren didn't actually look much like the character played by Stephen Coit in the episode. Given that Martin Van Buren would have been 185 at the time it seems likely that the two just share the same name anyway (Coit is merely credited as 'Timid Man' on the end credits anyway!)
Ratings: At The Time 10.2 million viewers/AAA Rating: 9/10

TV Episode  #15
"Too Many Girls"
(Filmed September 1966; First broadcast December 19th 1966)
"What could possibly make someone drag a chair halfway across a city?"
Music: (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone (Half Performance)/I'm A Believer (End Performance)
Main Writer: Dave Evans, Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso Director: James Frawley
Plot: Davy's little 'problem' is getting out of hand - The Monkees can't rehearse properly because every time a girl appears in the room Davy goes into a dewy-eyed hypnotic trance. Giving up for the day The Monkees go out for some tea, careful to keep Davy away from all girls. Madame Badderly offers to read the band's fortunes with her tea leaves, seeing that Mike will get a flat tyre, that Peter will get a twenty-four hour virus ...and that Davy will fall in love with the next girl he meets! Big deal say The Monkees, but Madame Badderly goes on to say that Davy will end up part of a successful double-act with a girl. The band are horrified - especially when the first two predictions appear to come true. But Madame Badderly is really a con artist in league with her daughter Fern and wants Davy as her partner to appear on a prestigious talent show. The others lock Davy up and after avoiding a suspiciously similar looking girl scout and photographer tie Davy up in a chair while they go about their day. Davy gets a letter informing him he's been invited to judge a beauty pageant and walks down town to the tea-rooms, where he instantly falls for Fern. Agreeing to perform with her at Hack's TV Amateur Hour, the fortune seems to be coming true. But The Monkees discover the evil scheme when the TV studios phone up the tea-rooms and ask to speak to Mrs Badderly or Fern, her daughter. Realising what's going on, they enrol as amateur acts themselves and upstage Davy by appearing as the magician Pietro (Peter), folk-singer Billy Roy Hodsetter (Mike) and Locksley Mendoza, Man Of A Thousand Voices (Micky). While Micky is busy Peter and Mike tamper with Davy's equipment, replacing his wooden cane with one made of rubber, putting rocks in his pockets and giving him a breath spray that makes his voice go high and squeaky. The performance is a disaster and Fern stomps off stage, revealing to Davy what the scheme was all about and The Monkees perform instead. The end result is in and the winner seems certain given that the band's song is the only one that didn't end in tragedy. However the top award goes to...Fern and Davy?!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Can blow up a flat tyre at speed using more than his own breath! Claims not to be superstitious but has a habit of 'knocking on wood'. In the publicity photo taken by Fern in disguise Mike is the only Monkees not wearing a hat - a reversal of his usual look! His performance of 'Different Drum' by Billy Roy Hodsetter is performed nervously and speedily, spoofing many a 60s folk performer - including Linda Ronstadt who had a hit with this song in her first band The Stone Poneys in 1965 and Mike, who wrote it before becoming a Monkee! Micky: Is openly jealous of Davy. His performance as 'Locksley Mendoza, man of a thousand voices' sis rattled off at the speed of Bob Hope, consisting of performances of the inimitable James Cagney (naturally!), Edward G Robinson and Harvey Neilman. The only problem is they all sound like James Cagney! Davy: While we've seen Davy in love several times across the series, this episode features this personality tick as a personality defect or even hypnotism - in the opening scene Davy is surrounded by at least a dozen girls before meeting and falling for Fern. The way this is shown in the first scene Davy has no knowledge of what's happening and when the 'spell' is broken carries on as if nothing has happened. Interestingly Davy will fall in love less and less as the series goes on - does this unhappy incident 'cure' him? When in love Davy has the strength to break a metal chain, saying 'a man in love has the strength of thousands!' His dream job - the thing that makes him drag a chair halfway across town - is being asked to judge a beauty competition! The sociable Davy hates being locked up, even for the band's good and only for twenty-hours, and gets irrational and nasty. As we've seen a few times across the series, Davy is paranoid about his height, using it as his delusional 'reason' why he's being kept away from girls (he's clearly in denial about his 'problem'!)  Peter: Plays organ on 'I'm A Believer', not bass. Appears as 'The Amazing Pietro', a magician in the Tommy Cooper mould whose clearly able to pull of the beginnings of a magic trick but where something goes wrong at the end of each trick!
Things that don't make sense: Peter's virus lasts for approximately one sneeze as seen on screen - this is hardly the 'twenty-four hour virus' Madame Badderly promised! Where exactly fo The Monkees go when they tie Davy up? It doesn't seem anywhere important - couldn't one of them have stayed with him? Why is Madam Badderly so insistent on her daughter performing with Davy - couldn't she perform as a solo act? What exactly is her scheme anyway, which seems to be in place before The Monkees even walk into her tea rooms - has she been spying on Davy or is he just unlucky enough to be the first suitable candidate to walk in (it's a very lucky guess if it's the latter though - Davy doesn't mention being a musician until after her scheme is in effect). How come Fern and Davy's act wins? Admittedly the competition is pretty awful but theirs was still the only act to actually fall apart altogether. Which leads us to the big one - what exactly are Peter, Mike and Micky up to in the Amateur Hour scene? Their three performances in place of any other entrants makes it more likely that Fern and Davy will win (while you could argue Peter under-estimates how hard his act will be and Micky is a firm 'believer' in his James Cagney impression ability, there's no way Mike would give a performance this bad unless it was deliberate. Surely a better plan all round would be to perform as a power trio and blow Davy's act out the water to win the competition - before inviting him back?)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mike - "He's helpless, trapped by his own good looks" Micky - "I myself am deeply jealous!" 2) Madam Badderly - "Would you like a spot of tea?"
Romp: None! This is the only time this happens in the entire history of the show - outside the special case of 'Monkees On Tour'!
Performances: We get a brief snatch of The Monkees rehearsing 'Steppin' Stone' messed up by Davy being distracted, which is unusual because it's one of the few times where more than one Monkee will play 'live' in the TV show. The end mimed performance of 'I'm A Believer' is along more traditional lines and the usual oft-repeated clip. It's not good enough to beat Davy and Fern's hopeless act in the final, despite sounding pretty good to me (and being a #1 hit in most countries the week this episode was broadcast!)
Postmodernisms: The TV show Davy is forced to watch, exclaiming 'this ain't bad!' is 'Iron Horse', a Western broadcast between 1966 and 1968. The 'joke' is that the episode was on at the same time The Monkees and were one of their main rivals so is in effect happening in 'real time' - what would Davy have done if he'd switched over to The Monkees?! Another postmodernist concept is when we cut from the Amateur TV Hour to adverts, presenter Mr Hack introducing his 'sponsor' to leave a confused Monkees debating 'doesn't he mean our sponsor?' In the original broadcast we got both, with the usual insert from Kellogg's, followed by an ad break and then a 'fake' advert from Dr Hack for the made-up product 'Sdrawkcab'. We never finds out what it does but it is backwards spelt...umm...backwards, which is exactly what some daft advertising agency in the 1960s would come up with!
Davy Love Rating: This is an interesting one. In terms of quantity Davy has never been more in love than across this episode, with girls coming out the woodwork (and even the fridge!) besotted with Davy who appears to be equally besotted with him. However the 'spell' wears off the minute the girl is out of sight, which is a new development in his 'problem' and suggests none of these romances are too strong. It's unclear too just how genuinely he falls for Davy - the 'love music' mad off screen when the pair touch turns out to be another 'fake' provided by Madame Badderly and a musical saw, rather than a genuine sense of a higher romance. Davy seems not that unhappy to be rid of Fern when she storms off stage too!
Review: A bit of an oddball this episode, which is a return of sorts to the episode's early days when Davy was the 'star' of the show and the plots were a bit more...normal. This is an episode that has several good moments, especially the performances by Peter The Magician, Mike the Folk-Singer and Micky the Impressionist, which is rightly heralded as one of the band's classic scenes and the opening scene of Davy surrounded by girls everywhere (how did they get in and how did get one get in the fridge?!) is pretty iconic too. The idea of exploring Davy's attraction rating as something darker and more vulnerable, leading him to be easily manipulated with the band under threat of breaking up, is a clever twist on how Davy's romances are usually painted in this series and the jealousy many teenage boys would have had watching this series! The Monkees are their usual excellent selves, stealing most every scene and really sounding like a bonded group of buddies in comparison to some earlier and later episodes, while the guest cast - down to just three people this week, with this one of the shortest credit rolls of season one - are pretty good too. However the central premise is flawed. There are just too many holes in the plot (see the 'things that don't make sense' section) and no clear sense of just how mean and villainous Madame Badderly's plot is. Does she mean to take Davy away from the band forever? Will she ditch him once her daughter Fern is a star in her own right? Is she out to ruin The Monkees specifically or are they just unlucky enough to get caught up in her plan? The tea leaves con seems a clever conceit - but they only plot 'two' cons, both everyday events (the flat tyre and the cold, actually pepper in Peter's shirt) - why not tell three of The Monkees they have to leave for another state but Davy has to stay here? Even had Davy been on top form the double act isn't exactly inventive - an old music hall number that would have gone down flatter than Billy Ray Hodsetter in the mid-1960s. This is also one of the few Monkees episodes that isn't 'about' the young taking on the old - instead Fern is as corruptable as her mum. Talking of which, just how deeply involved is Fern in the whole business? The opening scenes go to great trouble to make her out as hen-pecked by her bullying mother - and yet rather than relieved when the plan fails she runs of crying back to mother and seems far more upset than she that the plan didn't work. Weird and unlikely as many of The Monkees plots are across their 58 episodes, at least they work to a certain internal logic - but this plot has been patched together with so much cellotape you wonder why it wasn't broken onto two halves - one a much more serious plot involving The Monkees being conned out of their life savings and another episode where The Monkees have to repeatedly perform at an amateur contest to delay some other dastardly plot and prevent some baddy from appearing. The result is a little disappointing compared to the better known episodes from the second half of the first series (this was the first filmed after a mini-summer break and the last rest The Monkees will get for several months!) but still has enough classic moments to not be too much of a disappointment!
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Back in the days when Monkees fans didn't have access to scripts and only had a folklore memory of the series this one became remembered as 'Fern and Davy', although the official title on script and screen is 'Too Many Girls' - a hokey reference to the similarity of the plot to a 1948 Rodgers and Hart musical of the same name  2) The reason the camera lens goes all smeary when Davy meets Fern properly and falls in love is because actress Kelly Jean Peters was booked a regular bikini to appear in - without anyone in costume realising quite how 'revealing' it would be with her ample bosom! Given that The Monkees was for a family audience director James Frawley had to do something and this was his solution in the editing suite. Davy appears to need no acting whatsoever given the big grin on his face... 3) Locksley Mendoza's impressions in full: American actor James Cagney (1899-1986) most famous for playing American gangsters, Romanian actor Edward G Robinson most famous for playing Puerto Rican gangsters and Harvey Neilman, who doesn't seem to exist! (Was he a friend of Micky's?) 4) Mr Hack's Amateur Hour may well be a spoof of the long-running Ted Mack's Amateur Hour, which started soon after the second world war and was still on the air when this episode was broadcast  5) The song Davy and Fern attempt to sing is 'Undecided', a Tin Pan Alley number
Ratings: At The Time No Ratings Were Taken This Week (An Annual Holiday This Time - Not A Strike!)/AAA Rating: 6/10

TV Episode  #16
"Son Of A Gypsy"
(Filmed October 1966; First broadcast December 26th 1966)
"Everybody likes rock and roll!"
Music: I'm A Believer (Romp) plus snippets of 'Let's Dance On' and 'Last Train To Clarksville'
Main Writer: Treva Silverman, Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso Directors: Robert Rafelson and Bert Schneider
Plot: The Monkees have got a gig at a posh country estate - yippee! Only the group they beat to the audition are a bunch of murderous gypsies intent on revenge - aaaagh! The gypsies invite The Monkees to spend some time at their camp to show there are no hard feelings - instead of doing the sensible thing and running away The Monkees turn up, where they're all captured individually and made to steal a priceless statue - The Maltese Vulture - from the estate under pain of torture. Maria, the gypsy boss, keeps Peter at camp with her as collateral if they aren't back by midnight while the other Monkees go off to perform with their new recruit - the seven foot tall Marco. The Monkees try their best to distract the guards but they're having none of it - it takes Davy to sneak into the house where the Maltese Vulture is kept in a safe but all his burglary skills are for nothing when the lady of the manor walks in with a friend to show off the statue right on the stroke of midnight. As the gypsies raise their knives to kill poor Peter, Davy runs from hiding place, grabs the statue and hurls it down to Peter below. The police arrive and arrest The Monkees while Maria is praised for capturing them. When offered any reward she likes Maria runs off with the statue and a mad romp to the sound of 'I'm A Believer' ensues. The gypsies are captured and promise to go 'straight' - because they've seen how much more money can be made singing rock and roll with no talent needed whatsoever! The Monkees congratulate themselves that they helped the gypsies turn over a new tea-leaf but then discover their watches have been stolen - and Peter too...
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is most outspoken against going to the gypsy camp. He's kidnapped by the gypsies when the one known as Zeppo (the 'spare' gypsy) says he is an expert in phrenology and offers to read the bumps on Mike's head - giving him some when he can't find any! Dresses up as a boxer in an effort to make the guards move away from a door. Micky: Has problems blowing out lit matches! Micky is captured by the gypsies after having his tea leaves read - the tea from which they are made being poisoned! Dresses up as a bandit as part of his ruse to make the guards move away from a door. Davy: Is back to being the 'hero', the one who breaks into the house and unlocks the safe, even though he is caught in the act of 'stealing' the Maltese Vulture. Davy is captured when the gypsy known as Marco shows him how he uses switch-blades in his knife throwing act - and pins Davy up against a wall. Davy also becomes taller, briefly, after an imaginary sequence where the gypsy tie him to the medieval torture device the rack! Peter: Is kidnapped by the gypsy known as Kiko, who shows him how to gypsy dancing and ties him up in his own scarf! Apparently Peter has nice memories of camping trips from his youth  although they're all quite different to the gypsy camp! More on Peter's love of films - when asked what he thinks of when he thinks of gypsies Peter replies 'Ethel Merman' - she's starred in the film 'Rosie Lee' about a gypsy in 1959. Has 'theif' written all over him - literally! (Complete with mis-spelling - did Peter write this or was it an illiterate gypsy?) Peter is kept behind by the gypsies as ransom and doesn't play much of a part in the action. In fact he isn't even there in the last scene, having been apparently kidnapped by the gypsy gang...
Things that don't make sense: How does Marco find a Monkee shirt to fit him at such short notice? Why isn't he playing Peter's instruments (bass/organ) instead of giving the band two maraca players (which seems to make no difference to the band's sound!) Why on earth do The Monkees agree to go to the gypsy camp when Marco has already threatened to kill them? (They don't have anything to gain from going and in fact it puts their rare chance of a paid gig in jeopardy timing wise even without the gypsies proving to be up to no good. Why are The Monkees hired for this prestigious ball at all? Usually when we see The Monkees in a posh house there's usually some teenager or another who asked for them - but nobody at this party is under seventy and none seem like natural rock and roll fans!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Micky on being given a gypsy token - "Why thank you I'll keep it always. Well I certainly couldn't give it away!" 2) Maria - "After all, we are all thieves at heart!" Davy - "Where did she get that idea?" Mike - "I don't know, she probably stole it!" 3) Security guard - "Can't you guys read?" Micky - "No - we're musicians!" 4) Micky - "I don't like the way that guard's acting" Davy - "What, are you a talent scout now or something?!" 5) Maria - "The boys have shown me that we can make a quick dollar quicker in show business" Marco - "Yes - and with just as little talent too!"
Romp: The Monkees go mad in a ballroom trying to prove their innocence to the strain of 'I'm A Believer' - which does kinda match what they want the police to be, 'believers' in their innocence! This is the last of seven times the song will be heard in the show - a record!
Performances: We also get brief snatches of 'Let's Dance On' (performed by the new-look band with Marco subbing for Peter at the ball) and Davy hears a burst of 'Last Train To Clarksville' when he's trying to unlock the safe - and it turns into a radio dial! (This marks the only time in the entire series when the band's biggest hits 'Clarksville' and 'Believer' are heard within the same episode!)
Best Ad Lib: Micky and Mike rush towards the guards with a lit match shouting 'fire!' before realising that their ruse isn't working and sheepishly blow their matches out. Or at least Mike does - Micky takes a little longer and gets the giggles!
Quick Change Artists: The Monkees end up in gypsy clothes instantaneously!
Review: What a curiously unfestive and ungenerous episode this is for an original Boxing Day broadcast. To be fair The Monkees have always been a bit like this - it's been often commented on how many insults are thrown the band's way during the course of the film 'Head' but it's actually true of many of the band's episodes as well where The Monkees always ultimately lose and somebody somewhere is rude about one or all of them (Peter's theory on this: co-creators Bert and Bob 'have a low opinion of how the world treats you - and if you don't think the same then you're a fool' - note that this is the only episode in the canon directed by both together). But this week it seems excessive and aimed at the audience and the people they're rooting for rather than the baddies - The Monkees are told they have no talent, Micky jokes that musicians can't read and there are plenty of comments on The Monkees' performance. Unusually the baddies come out of this episode better with nobody being rude to them - even though the gypsies are portrayed terribly, as if its a definite fact that every gypsy everywhere is a sneaky cheating murderous lazy liar (this is so wrong a statement you can only guess that the writers have been brainwashed by reading too many tabloid papers). Which makes for something of a curio this week - usually the posher a house is, the more The Monkees are set up to 'tackle' misconceptions and prove that they're a bunch of loveable, honest, hardworking talented kids to a set of obnoxious authority figures. But this week the authority figures are the nice ones - Madam Rantha who owns the hall is the nicest adult figure ever seen on the series besides the special case of the 'Monkee Mother' and it's the youngsters who come over poorly this week. The gypsies (clearly meant to play roughly The Monkees' age even though most of the actors are much older) fit every evil stereotype in the book while The Monkees themselves are a long way from our anti-hero heroes this week, agreeing to steal from the one person whose been kind to them in many a long episode - admittedly out of a threat to one of their own but why didn't they try and warn her or come clean and apologise at least? There's nothing really here that hasn't been seen before or after in the series - The Monkees turning to robbery after getting mixed up in an evil scheme - but this one feels 'wrong' somehow because the band aren't biting the hand of some faceless institution but people who've reached out to them.
That major fault with this episode aside, it's just not that funny. I've really struggled to pull out five quotes for this episode (there are others where I could have easily gone for ten) and with so much talking and so little action (most of it by the guest cast, with comparatively little for all four Monkees to do) there isn't actually much that's memorable about this episode (though Marco's performance as the fourth Monkee in Peter's place is the one laugh-out-loud moment of Monkee magic). The Monkees have all begun to act a little OTT instead of their usual naturalness - a bad sign of things to come - while the guest cast ham it up for everything they've got. Despite being one of the more believable episodes (in the sense that is the sort of plan a robber would come up with) this doesn't 'feel' authentic this week - more of a pantoimime than a comedy (perhaps that's why it was on for Boxing Day?) The result isn't completely unwatchable but it is perhaps the weakest story from The Monkees' first season.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) The Maltese Vulture is clearly based on The Maltese Falcon - a 1930 crime novel by Dashiell Hemmett turned into a highly successful 1940 film 2)  This week's alternate ending: Peter wasn't stolen along with the watches, he runs off after the gypsies to get the watches back - only for the camera to pull back and reveal they've stolen his trousers too! (this is perhaps a welcome change this week, a bit too slapstick even by Monkee standards!) 3) This week's random un-credited guest appearance by usual director James Frawley (having a rare week off this week!)  - the Yugoslavian Micky tries to ask for help 4) There are less 'things you didn't know' this week than for any other episode - which rather says it all!
Ratings: At The Time: 8.8 million viewers/AAA Rating: 2/10

TV Episode  #17
"The Case Of The Missing Monkee"
(Filmed November 1966; First broadcast January 9th 1967)
"A funny thing happened to me on the way to the bandstand..."
Music: (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone (Romp)
('Pleasant Valley Sunday' was substituted for 'Steppin' Stone' on the late 1967 repeats)
Main Writer: Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso Director: Robert Rafelson
Plot: For reasons best known to themselves and the script-writers, The Monkees are attending a celebratory dinner at a French Restaurant for nuclear scientist Professor Milo Schnitzler and are booked to appear as the house-band. Peter is particularly impressed and goes up to the Professor to congratulate him, but the Prof knows that there are master spies at the function and that he's about to be kidnapped at any time, so he slips a note to the Monkee. A confused Peter hands it to Mike before being hurried into playing the gig, but still puzzling over the note he wanders over to a curtain and gets knocked unconscious by one of Dr Marcovitch's henchmen. The Monkees can't play without Peter and are fired  by Dr Marcovitch himself. Remembering the note, the band track him down to the Remington Clinic, a rest home where he's staying - only the nurse has never heard of him. Davy dresses up as an injured patient with lots of horrific injuries - but when the nurse talks about an operation ('we probably won't need a recovery room...') he's miraculously cured and starts singing 'The Old Folks At Home'. The Monkees try a different tactic and call the police into the restaurant - but the spies have turned the place into a Chinese restaurant and the police just think the Monkees are mad. Trying a third tactic, the trio sneak up into the second floor via a ladder, where they're mistaken for patients and given physical therapy. Meanwhile, Peter is having his memory removed by a machine that leaves him completely blank. The Monkees stumble across him but he can't remember them at all until they scare him when his memory (sort of) returns. Stumbling across an unconscious Prof Schnitzler awaiting his operation, The Monkees swap him for Micky, who lies on the hospital bed while The Monkees pretend to be doctors. One 'Steppin' Stone' romp later and the crooks have been captured and the police called in, with Professor Scnhitzler thanking the band for their hard work rescuing him.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is, as usual, the Monkees with all the bright ideas, the one who works out where Peter might be from the note passed to him and who pretends to be a doctor to infiltrate the medical room. Likes Peanut Butter, asking Davy for a pot and a knife in the operating room! Micky: Is  again the most reluctant Monkees to get involved and suggests going home. However he's brave enough to go through with the plan and - after a lot of convincing - agrees to take Dr Scnhitzler's part as his unconscious body, even risking an operation along the way. Micky struggles with the arm bars - we'll see more of this apparent lack of strength across the second year. Mike refers to him as 'crafty and selfish sometimes, but not evil'. Davy: Dresses as a badly injured patient as part of The Monkees' hospital ruse, before recovering enough to sing 'The Old Folks At Home'. Doesn't like eating Chinese food 'because an hour after eating it you disappear' , funnily enough the forthcoming plot of 'Monkee Chow Mein' by the same writers! Peter: Takes a lot of looking after according to Mike, to Micky's agreement. He's described to the police by Mike as '5 ft 10" with blonde hair, grey-green eyes, a button nose and he cries at card tricks'. We've never seen Peter take an interest in science before and we never will again (that's more Micky's area of expertise) - is he just moved by Professor Schnitzler's oration? Peter later tells the crooks that 'my mother rejected me, my sister resented me - and now, this operation!' but straight away tells the crooks that this is a line from 'Ben Casey' rather than his real background (an American medical drama that ran between 1961-66, which was like 'House' but with more believable plots and is less rude to genuine medical conditions. Funnily enough Davy appeared a year before becoming a Monkee, with a very different role as a teenage wife-beater and glue-sniffer!) Peter gets cross about being the 'dummy' even though it's only a short-term remedy to pretend that he's still lost his memory - he cheers up instantly when the nurse tells him 'what a smart question!' The Monkees' address also seems to have changed, Davy giving it to the nurse as 1334 instead of 1448 Beechwood Drive as usual ([perhaps he's just nervous about the operation he doesn't really have to have?)
Things that don't make sense: Since when do unknown rock and roll bands get hired to play for posh scientist awards? That's like celebrating the life of Stephen Hawking by inviting the Spice Girls to sing about the history of time! The master spies really are awfully lucky that Peter wanders over to where one of them is hiding behind a curtain with a mallet - what would have happened if Peter had walked in a different direction? They also seem a bit clueless as to whether the Professor slipped him a note or not - surely it's not worth attracting attention by kidnapping someone unless they have real cause for concern? And the big one - why kidnap the Professor at his own function, in front of his admirers and friends, instead of say kidnapping him on the street or from his house? Even by Monkees standards these crooks haven't thought much through this week - and worse, they're supposed to be mega-clever in this episode, able to build memory-erasing machines and wear complex disguises! How far back has Peter's memory returned by the end? The closest he gets to remembering anything on-screen is calling Davy 'Micky', which doesn't suggest his memory has entirely returned! What happens to Professor' Schnitzler's unconscious body when Micky trades places with him? - there's nowhere to put him in the room except on the floor which must surely arouse suspicion even amongst the 'genuine' patients at Remington Clinic. And why was he left unguarded in the first place? Peter isn't wearing his surgical mask in the doctor's room - wo why doesn't Dr Marcovitch recognise him? Also, Micky may be the same height as Professor Schniztler but when the mask is on him all you can see are his clothes and hair - neither of which looks like Micky's at all! Finally, Dr Schnitzler's note seems to change wording  between when Peter reads it ('They are taking me...') to when Mike reads it ('I am being taken to...')
Best Five Quotes: 1) Micky on Peter - "He sure takes a lot of looking after" Mike - "No more than the average aircraft carrier!" 2) Micky - "Do you have Schnitzler here?" Dr Mracovitch as Chinese Waiter - "No, we have chicken fried rice, wanton soup, chicken chow mein..." 3) Nurse after lengthy discussion - "I don't suppose you qualify for Medicare?" Davy - "Well, I didn't when I came in here but..." 4) Davy - "Sorry Peter, we were only trying to scare you" Peter - "That's alright Micky" Davy - "He knows me, he knows me - wait, I'm Davy!" 5) Mike - "You have to do it, Dr Marcovitch is an evil man" Micky - "But what about me?" Davy - "He's not evil is he Mike?" Mike - "No you're not evil - crafty and selfish sometimes, but not actually evil"
Romp: Only one this week, a madcap medical romp set to the tune of 'Steppin' Stone'. The romp is a good one as ever and almost fits lyrically with a bit of squeezing, in the sense that The Monkees don't want to be 'used' by the evil scientists.
Quick-Change Artists: It takes Mike, Micky and Davy less than a second to change into their dressing gowns behind a screen!
Postmodernisms: In the middle of the plot the phone rings and Mike picks it up. 'Yeah, Bruno's just given us physical therapy! Yeah Peter's still somewhere in the hospital! Yeah, Dr Schnitzler's still missing! Ok, Goodbye!' he says. 'Was that the police?' asks Davy. 'No' says Mike 'TV guide!' Funnily enough The Monkees will appear on the front cover of TV Guide for the first time in a four weeks' time to promote  'The Prince and The Paupers'
Monkeemen: Peter tries summoning his super-powers but they don't seem to work without getting changed - instead of untying his ropes he smashes a mirror instead!
Review: Another of the 'standard' Monkee episodes, with a member of the band kidnapped by a master criminal who doesn't even seem to need a proper motive this week (why has Dr Marcovitch kidnapped Professor Schniztler?) However, at least this one is made with panache by a writing, acting and directing team who really know what they're doing by now. The plot is really subservient to the twists and turns - the hilarious antics in the gymnasium and Mike's attempts to act like a doctor, stalling for time as he makes up his sandwiches and argues over control of the patient. The episode again makes full use of the Monkees tradition of people knowing something that no one else quite believes: no one listens to the band as they try to tell authority figures like the police about the plot and the nurse is wonderfully dense and ignorant (she's exactly what this series thinks of bureaucracy, preventing Davy access even he thinks he's dying and then telling him quite openly that he might not make it through the operation. Had one of the writers been in hospital a lot before writing this episode?...) This is an episode with lots of good moments and more than enough to last you through the twenty-odd minutes. Dr Marcovitch too is a fabulous villain who seems to have everything in terms of villainous acts and a master of disguise (in a 'fight' he'd win against most other more bumbling Monkee crooks and played with relish by Vito Scotti, having a far bigger impact than his screen-time would suggest). The one thing he lacks, though, is a properly thought out motivation which is rather where this episode falls down; other plots are more inventive and properly thought-out than this one and it's a real shame that once again it's Peter in peril with the others rescuing him (even Peter himself seems to be getting sick of this by the end!) Still even if there are bigger and bolder and better Monkee episodes than this one, it's still rather good and ticks most of the right boxes with some delightful moments that only this series would think of providing.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) This was another big weekend for Monkees fans - this episode was broadcast on the Saturday and on the Sunday second album 'More Of The Monkees' was released, including this week's romp song 'Steppin' Stone'. 2) This weeks' scripted ending: Peter is handed an invitation to another dinner attended by another professor with a similar name, with the other Monkees rushing him out the room in fear of the plot happening all over again! 3) This week's recycled clips in the opening credits sequence: Micky wearing a dressing gown on an exercise bike using it like a horse and Mike rowing furiously on a machine in a hospital gown 4) The Vincent Van Gogh Gogh club last mentioned in 'Friendly Neighbourhood Kidnappers' now seems to be serving food, with Mike using one of their menus in his subterfuge as a doctor ('See here - it says my patient!')  5) Mike's peanut butter jar is made by the company Skippy. Their 'face' of the time was Annette Funicello, soon to become the band's guest star on feature film 'Head' 6) Talking of which, Vito Scotti (Dr Markovich) will be in 'Head' too as General I Vitteloni 7) Meanwhile the actress who played the nurse - Nancy Fish - would have been famous to some viewers at the time for playing a nurse on another medical drama 'General Hospital'
Ratings: At The Time: 10.7 Million/AAA Rating: 7/10

TV Episode  #18
"I Was A Teenage Monster"
(Filmed November 1966; First broadcast January 16th 1967)
"We will create the greatest rock and roll act in the world!" "Gurack!"
Music: (Theme From) The Monkees (Brief)/Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day (Brief)/Your Auntie Grizelda (Romp)
('Good Clean Fun' was substituted for 'Grizelda' during the 1969 repeat)
Main Writer: Gerald Gardner, Dee Caruso and Dave Evans   Director: Sidney Miller
Plot: The Monkees have been hired to play at a party. However the party turns into a baby-sitting job when Dr Mendoza asks them to look after his 'little monster' and teach him how to play music. What he doesn't tell The Monkees is that his little monster really is a monster and that he's lured the band to his gothic mansion in order to transfer their musical ability into his creation, known simply as 'Monster'. The next day The Monkees find they can't play at all and are fired by Dr Medonza - only slowly do they remember being in a laboratory and having their minds wiped. Luckily the band have a 'mad scientists' of their own and Micky tries to reverse the process - with a few 'accidents' along the way causing the monster to become a hippy and Mike to become a monster! Dr Mendoza discovers the band and sets his monster on to them, but Peter sweet-talks him into letting them go. In a manic romp The Monkees escape and tie up the evil scientist and his henchman Groot and all seems to be back to normal - at least until the band tries to play and their instruments explode!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is abducted second via a moving wall. Temporarily becomes the monster when Micky gets his wires crossed and speaks in a much deeper voice (so much so even Micky notices, eventually). Apparently his wool-hat can conduct electricity. Micky: Is abducted third after being dragged underneath a curtain by an unseen force (The Monster?) This is the ultimate episode portraying Micky as a science expert with Dolenz left in charge of getting The Monkees back to their original state and the others, unbelievably, seem to trust his ability to get them back to normal. However after this episode Micky's ability is never mentioned again! Davy:Is abducted first, falling through the back of the castle's sofa into an unseen trap Peter: Has a habit of walking round with his jaw open when visiting impressive buildings. Is abducted last via a sack being placed over his head. The other Monkees have apparently promised him his own pet if he 'behaves and keeps him room tidy' although they seem doubtful that a monster is the best pet to start with!
Things that don't make sense: Why does Dr Mendoxa hire The Monkees rather than an act that's actually popular (in 'their' time stream anyway!) If The Monkees' music won't make it played by an English heart-throb the girls all adore and his three buddies, why would it work coming out of the mouth of a monster? Why does Dr Mendoza let The Monkees in on the fact that he has a monster at all? This results in the funniest scenes of the episode but isn't exactly what he should be doing if he doesn't want to raise their suspicions and his brain-washing drug clearly doesn't work too well as both Micky and Davy have their memories back soon after. Also, funny as the tag scene of the band's instruments exploding is, there's no reason given for this: are The Monkees still under the spell of the operation (if so why are things back to normal next week?) Did Dr Mendoza rig it up (why?!) Or has the operation between monster and Monkees drained the electricity coming into the house? (If the latter then it's very lucky it happened after this final go and not after one of the early attempts). You could also add in the fact that Dr Mendoza doesn't appear to notice the heavy draw on his electricity supply (which should be lowering the lights in the rest of his castle)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Peter on The Monster - "I find it very hard to believe that he's dangerous" Davy - "Well, I find it very hard to believe Peter!" 2) Micky - "How does he look?" Mike - "Like a monster" (quick series of changes later) Micky - "How about now?" Mike - "He looks like a near-sighted long-haired monster with a guitar!" 3) Peter - "Look, all the comforts of home!" Mike - "Your home maybe, shotgun, but not mine!" 4) Mirror to Dr Mendoza - "You're only second worst this week, you'll have to try harder- and don't yell at me, I only work here!" 5) Peter - "Android! Andy! Wait - I'm your friend! The doctor is an evil man. He wants to exploit you. You're only a pawn in his hands. A tool for his avaricious ambitions!"
Romp: 'Your Auntie Grizelda', in a slightly different mono mix to the record(but apparently 'borrowed' for the CD release of 'More Of The Monkees' - not that I ever noticed I must admit). The frenetic nature of the song makes it perfect for Monkee romps like these - but, really, the lyrics don't fit at all - unless I missed a cut scene of the monster in a wig eating fudge! We also see the band attempting to perform 'Theme' and 'Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day' when they've apparently lost their abilities (they all start in different keys and start at different times) while The Monster apparently sings with 'their' voice!
Postmodernisms: Three great examples. In the first Peter sounds off against the android, becoming increasingly more erudite and literary well against character (see quote five above). After he's finished Mike turns to Davy and says 'Avaricious ambitions? Where did he get that?' Davy replies 'It is in the script, on page 28!' In the second example Davy, supposedly tied up and strapped to the machine, pleads with Dr Mendoza for The Monkees to be spared - and accidentally makes the 'begging' motion with his hands before saying 'oh, sorry!' and putting them back where they were. There's also a great joke about the doctor's daughter locked up in a closet who appears twice but plays no part in the plot. She appears to Micky twice when he opens a closet door. The first time they speak she reveals why she's there ('What do you have to do with all this?' 'Nothing - I'm in the sequel!') and the second time comments on the action ('You think that's strange you ought to see the sequel - Davy turns into a werewolf!) Hilariously both turn out to be almost true in the sequel 'The Monstrous Monkee Mash' (episode #50), although the part is played by a different actress and it's Micky who ends up as a werewolf!
Review: The middle of three Monkee episodes set in a haunted house, this one seems less finished and less interesting than (#2) 'Monkee See Monkee Die') but a lot more enjoyable than (#50) 'The Monstrous Monkee Mash'. The plot is daft and simple and compared to earlier episodes there's already sadly less of a feel of The Monkees' characters and personalities and they're already turning into ciphers, even if this does lead to some of the funnier gags of the episode as the band have their brains switched with the monster (such as 'dummy' Peter suddenly turning intelligent or the organised, methodical Mike turning into the emotion-driven android). The script and the banter is still good enough to see the script through, however, with some terrific one-liners and the gags about what will happen in the inevitable 'sequel' and the android sounding just like them (and even singing their theme tune!) are genuinely hilarious attempts to break the 'fourth wall' and something no other TV series of 1967 would have even thought of playing around with. Actor Richard Kiel, who plays the monster, is also one of the best guest cast members The Monkees ever have despite having so few lines, getting the line between scary and sympathetic spot on and joining in the romp with more gusto than most Monkees cast members. Kiel was a big name back then thanks to scene-stealing performances in The Twilight Zone' (as a rather tall Kanamit alien in one of the top five episodes 'To Serve Man') and playing 'Jaws' in James Bond films 'The Spy Who Loved Me' and 'Moonraker'. Not that great in itself, then, with the series firmly stuck in a cycle by now, but with several great moments, this B Movie spoof is about a B+ I'd say.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) The name refers back to 'I Was A Teenage Werewolf', a popular 1957 film starring Michael Landon 2) The night this episode aired The Monkees were too busy to see it - they were hard at work recording 'All Of Your Toys' and 'The Girl I Knew Somewhere' for an aborted planned single and the start of sessions for what will become 'Headquarters' 3) This is the first of five appearances of the 'monster' stock footage (which to the Dr Who fans amongst you looks an awful lot like a Drashig) - it's actually taken from 19612 film 'Reptilicus' which was also made by Screen Gems 4) That's director James Frawley again using his voice un-credited as the 'mirror' on the wall - even though he didn't actually direct this episode! 5) Mike's phone call to the police in the last scene reveals that the address of the Gothic Mansion is on 'Rosebud Lane'. He comments that he 'thought it was the name of a sled' and says to the inspector 'No, I didn't believe it either!' Rosebud was the name of the sled which reminds 'Citizen Kane' of his childhood in the Orson Welles film and may be hinting at a similarly repressed background which saw Dr Mendoza retreat from society to his mansion and go a bit bonkers
Ratings: At The Time 10.9 million viewers/AAA Rating: 6/10

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

TV Episode  #20
"The Monkees In The Ring"
(Filmed December 1966; First broadcast January 30th 1967)
"You're gonna be known as 'Dynamite Davy Jones' - and you're my boy!"
Music: Laugh (Romp)/I'll Be Back Upon My Feet (Romp)
('Looking For The Good Times' was substituted for 'I'll Be Back Upon My Feet' in the 1969 re-runs)
Main Writer: Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso   Director: James Frawley
Plot: Peter and Davy are out walking - by the Screen Gems movie lot as it happens - when Peter, picking up his dropped pistachio nuts, accidentally backs into a thug. The bully make for Peter before Davy tells them to 'pick on someone your own size' and gets lucky by ducking out the way of a punch and accidentally knocking the man out. A passing racketeer, Joey Sholto, sees the event and cons Davy into becoming a boxer, whilst secretly fixing all his matches and getting punters to slash the odds on his fight with the champion at the end of the series. The other three Monkees aren't at all happy about this and are alarmed to see their old friend turn egotistical and full of himself. Thanks to a chance telephone call Mike hears that Sholto fixed the first match and the three Monkees set about doing a bit of match fixing of their own. With Peter dressed in lots of bandages, Mike and Micky try to convince the champ (who acts a lot like Muhammad Ali) to back down from the fight, but he sees through them and sends them packing. Aware that the band are on to him, Sholto has his henchman Vernon imprison The Monkees in their own pad. They escape by flattering and then chastising retired boxer Vernon and fooling him into backing into their wardrobe (long story!) Meanwhile a worried Sholto has tried to fix the fight anyway by trying to get Davy to take a drink contaminated with sleeping pills - instead the champ takes the drink by accident and is very dozy for the opening three rounds of the fight. The Monkees arrive in time for the fourth round when he's waking up and chaos ensues, with the police waiting to arrest Sholto and Vernon when they leave the ring. 
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is the most outspoken against Davy's new chosen career and quickest on the up-take when he intercepts a telephone call from 'The Smasher', the boxer persuaded to take a 'dive' in Davy's first match Micky: Dresses up as Davy's 'papa' to try to warn him against getting back in the ring. Davy: Once again this episode plays on Davy's ego and possible insecurities (it's revealed this episode that he wqas bullied at school, by a girl). He's easily flattered despite the difference of size and experience against the other boxers in the ring, but quick to go back to his old self at the end of the episode when Mike tries to console him. Is quite happy to play the part of a 'star', even making up facts about his past to give the newspapers 'juicy' stories Peter: Has a taste for pistachio nuts, whilst also being something of a littler lout. Is willing to dress up in a cast and lots of bandages in order to fool 'The Champ' into keeping away from Davy.
Things that don't make sense: Well, the primitive nasty art of boxing for starters, which seems so out of keeping with The Monkees ethos even if three of them are very much set against it, but we'll leave my prejudices out of this for now. There's still quite a few issues with this episode, though. Why do so many boxers - established enough to bring quite an audience to each fight - agree to throw themselves for the fight? (I'm willing to believe financial rewards but it seems as if they've done this sort of thing for Sholto lots of time before which can't have helped their reputation). Also, while Davy is told he'll be 'featherweight' champion of the world, all the boxers he fights are quite heavy - certainly heavier than little Davy - which isn't really 'legal' in boxing terms in the 1960s (Admittedly Sholto wouldn't care, but given the end fight is important and popular enough to feature a radio commentator you'd think someone would have pointed this out or would at least have the rule-book open). Also, while The Smasher doesn't seem the brightest boxing glove in the locker room, surely he knows he's speaking to Mike on the phone and not Shylock, sorry Sholto - presumably his career will be hurt if evidence of the fake matches gets out too so it's in his best interests to keep things quiet, even when heated and angry. It's also unclear whether the opening bully - not seen again after the opening 'teaser' sequence - is in on the scheme; Sholto's comments suggest not, in which case how was Davy's 'lucky punch' good enough to knock him out rather than just make him mad? Finally, the announcer seems to know who The Monkees are despite never being introduced on screen - and actively 'lies' to the audience at home, saying 'what a fight you're missing sports fans' before pulling a face, even though he doesn't seem to need to lie. Also nobody seems at all surprised when Mike and Micky start jumping into the ring - there ought to be a bit of boo-ing from the audience at least!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Davy - "Don't you want me to be rich and famous?" Peter - "We'd rather have you alive and well!" 2) Davy - "There was this one big bully at school, always picking on me. So I went wham with the left, wham with the right - and this girl never picked on me again!" 3) Shalto - "Do you know the closest thing to your heart?" Mike Micky and Peter in unison - "Your lungs?!" 4) Mike - "Listen, you're going to be going to a lot of strange cities and there's always one hotel full of gambling and drinking  and a lot of fast women and a lot of loose talk. Now you know what to do the minute you get into town?" Davy - "Find that hotel?" Mike - "You'll do fine!" 5) Davy - "I was brought up in the slums, I had to fight my way out of filth and poverty" Mike - "Davy, you were brought up in a residential area!" Davy - "I had to fight my way out of a residential area!" Reporter - "What was the fight that was most important to you?" Davy - "The Revolutionary War - that's when we gave you this little island!" And a special extra because I can't bear to cut any of these quotes out: 6) Peter - "Look at that carnage! What brutality!" Micky - "Oh, are you watching the fight?" Peter - "No - the news!"
Romp: Two this week, unusually. 'Laugh' is the best, using a superior alternate mix to the version on 'More Of The Monkees' which features less of the Boyce and Hart Santa Claus 'O Ho Ho Ho' chorus and more of Davy. In fact there's a lot more of Davy than usual in this romp (with his top off too to keep the girls watching!) as he trains hard for his first fight. The best sequence comes when he is knocked out by his own shadow! The song doesn't exactly fight, but it's a good means of gently deflating Davy's ego just at the point where he's getting a bit full of himself. The second, to the 'Missing Links Two 1966' version of "I'll Be Back Upon My Feet", takes place right at the end when Davy and The Champ's fight is interrupted by Mike and Micky chasing Sholto and Vernon while Peter is charge of the chaotic boxing bell.
Postmodernisms: English Davy stares straight at the camera when he delivers the joke about his 'favourite fight' being the American revolution and adds 'no letters on that please!' to the people at home as much as the reporters hanging on his every word.
Best Ad Lib: Not all the mispronunciations of 'Sholto' are in the original script!
Review: Another Davy-centric episode which like all of Gardner and Caruso's scripts for the series is hopeless at plot and setting (the peace and love Monkees should have never been allowed anywhere near a boxing ring!) but fantastic at developing The Monkees' characters. Davy is especially strongly catered for in this episode, the writers exploiting the egotistical streak they've already hinted at across this episode, although Davy never quite becomes unlikeable (as he does in the similar 'Monkee At The Movies'), thanks partly to the fact that he only got into this mess while trying to stick up for Peter and partly because of the hints at vulnerabilities in the character (as per 'The Success Story' he's merely covering up for a troubled upbringing; the story about the girl bully, though intended as a joke, is an interesting insight into the fictional Davy's early years in the context of other asides dotted throughout the series). There is, to be honest, a little too much Davy in this episode and with the guest cast rather than the star getting most of the best lines (Joseph Perry is one of the better 'thick accomplices' in the series as past-it boxer Vernon, who repeats everything all the time) fans here purely for our starring foursome won't find as much to enjoy as some other episodes from series one. The other star turn is by D'urville Martin, who makes the Ali-like  'The Champ' an interesting and believable figure despite only ever talking in rhyme (well, most of the time!) However Mike gets in some more 'tender' moments where he tries to put things right as opposed to merely taking charge and Micky excels during his one great 'Micky' scene where he dresses up as Davy's elderly papa (his crestfallen 'He never listens to his papa no more!' is one of the best lines of the episode). Peter merely gets the opening teaser to shine, perhaps in compensation for having so few lines this week. Overall, then, 'The Monkees In The Ring' is by comparison with other season one episodes strangely plotted and rather slow, too concerned with plot rather than energy and excitement and the tired old boxing story is clichéd even by their standards. However, in terms of dialogue the script crackles with some of the most quotable gags of the whole series and Davy is remarkably convincing at pitching his character just the right side of likeable in difficult circumstances. By this stage the cast and crew know what they're doing so well that even lesser episodes with this one sparkle.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Unlikely as it may seem, Davy has been an amateur boxer in real life, competing in a series of local amateur championships in the lightweight category at Newmarket before he fell in love with horse-racing. 2) This second and final use of  the originally unissued first version of 'I'll Be Back Upon My Feet' is, like the first on 'Dance Monkees Dance', mis-credited - this time as 'I'll Be Back Upon My Feet Again' 3) Peter strums a banjo during the scene at The Monkees' Pad when Mike is trying to get Davy to change his mind about fighting. Tork is performing the opening of Bach's 'Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring', which will later become one of his trademark 'solo' spots during the Monkees' tours. 4) Monkee stand-ins David Price and David Pearl once again appear on screen, as part of the mammoth crowd of extras watching the final fight 5) 'The Champ' is clearly modelled on Muhammad Ali, right down to the rhyming couplets. Ali, then still Cassius Clay, knocked out world champion Sonny Liston in a much-watched and much-discussed match of 1964 - Sonny will join the 'Head' role-call of 'honourable losers' in 1968 6) In fact 'Head' borrows a lot from this episode (it uses the same set in fact, while Davy even wears the same blue shorts!) which along with 'Everywhere A Sheikh Sheikh' are the episodes most obviously lampooned during the plot. In this version Davy leaves his perfect girlfriend Annette Funicello and gives up the violin to become a boxer (just as 'papa' Micky warns him against in this episode). Instead of the happy ending, though, Davy is beaten to a pulp by Sonny Liston, while it's Mike and Micky, his so-called friends, who bet on his misery (even the ending is similar, with Micky knocking out the referee to end the fight). 7) This is the first episode to mention Davy's mother ('Is it true when you win a fight you call your mother? What do you do when you lose to your opponent?' 'I call his mother!') In an ever-widening divide between fact and fiction, Davy's real mother Doris died in 1960 when her son was fifteen although other episodes also suggest that the 'fictional' Davy's mum is safe and well and back home in Manchester (oddly the other three's Monkee mothers - who were all alive and well back when the show started airing back in 1966 - are never mentioned in any of the episodes).
Ratings: At The Time 11.5 million viewers/AAA Rating: 7/10

TV Episode  #21
"The Prince and The Paupers"
(Filmed December 1966; First broadcast February 6th 1967)
"Hey! You're my double!" "You're a funk and a pony!"
Music: Mary Mary (Romp)
('99 Pounds' was substituted for 'Mary Mary' on the 1970 repeat)
Main Writer: Peter Mayerson, Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso   Director: James Komack
Plot: It's The Prince and the Pauper - as you probably guessed from the title to be fair. The Monkees are invited to play at an embassy ball for yet more visiting royalty and this time Prince Ludlow looks suspiciously like Davy Jones. The resemblance is uncanny - so much so that you'd swear it was just Davy in split-screen - although there's one important difference: Ludlow is shy around girls whilst Davy is...Davy! The latest unlikely foreign Royal protocol has Ludlow doomed to hand over his throne to his minder, Count Myron, if he fails to marry before his 18th birthday - something which seems unlikely given the Prince's track record with girls. Davy ends up replacing Ludlow, who gets taken back to the Monkees' pad with Micky and Peter for practice. The count tries to kill Davy during a fencing lesson (foiled when Davy picks up the wrong sword in the heat of battle) and eventually works out what's happening, sending his goons to arrest The Monkees. Myron tries to cancel the wedding, but Davy is still free and manages to stall long enough for the band and Ludlow to get free and for the Prince to marry his girl. A rare Monkee happy ending follows - even more so for the wistful Davy who reads about Ludlow's honeymoon but meets a similar looking girl who arrives at the Monkees' pad for an interview on the story. The pair are last seen walking into the sunset arm-in-arm...
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: is worried enough about Davy's safety to stay as his 'guard', even though there's a danger of him getting bumped off too. Quotes philosopher Ling Fu Ying, though he doesn't understand the quote! Micky: Though quicker to save Davy than in some other episodes, once again Micky is the first Monkee to show signs of being scared and prepared to go home rather than save his friend. Davy: Has a double, roughly the same age (what age is Davy in the series? In real life he turned twenty in 1967 while Ludlow is supposedly 18) and similar in terms of height and speech, though not character (Ludlow lacks Davy's natural charm). Though worried about being left to run a country on his own and making a mistake, Davy is quick to offer to help when he sees his new friend is in trouble - despite having only just met him. Though Davy is supposedly only acting the part of being in love, he seems uncharacteristically heartbroken at having to leave Wendy behind at the end of the episode. Peter: doesn't get much to do at all, despite getting some of the better lines of the episode.
Things that don't make sense: Peruvia seem to have a very funny legal system. Davy is encouraged to marry not when he turns eighteen but by the time he is eighteen - and therefore a minor in most countries. Even by the standards of Games Of Thrones this seems a little young. And why would Count Myron automatically be put in charge? (Are there no other relatives? And if not then at eighteen the Prince has barely had a chance to sire a heir anyway). Also, if Count Myron really was that obsessed with Prince Ludlow staying single, then why does he allow girls in to see the Prince at all - he seems to have the power and his people wouldn't know.
Best Five Quotes: 1) Count Myron - "While the people love me and admire me, they do not trust me!" 2) Davy - "Runnin a country, even for a few days, takes a peculiar talent" Peter - "Well, you have some of the most peculiar talents I know!" 3) Wendy to Davy, thinking he's Prince Ludlow "There must be no one else in the world like you" Davy - "I wouldn't be too sure about that!" 4) Ludlow - "Would you abandon your Prince in his hour of need?" Jailer - "Sooner!" Ludlow - "Well, I'd like to give you this precious heirloom that's been in our family for generations!" Jailor - "What is it?" Ludlow - "A note of credit" 5) Micky on Wendy - "She's gone to Peru to work on her doctor's thesis" Peter - "Why can't her doctor work on his own thesis?"
Romp: 'Mary Mary' as heard in the same mix on 'More Of The Monkees'. Given that Ludlow is meant to be marrying Wendy Wendy rather than Mary Mary this is an odd choice for the setting of a romp in which mayhem breaks out around a banqueting table and a jolly good food fight takes place.
Postmodernisms: Davy - "That sounds wrong!" Ludlow - "I know - that's what I told the producers!"
Davy Love Rating: Quite high this week - about a seven for Wendy (who he clearly falls in love with despite intending merely to 'act' the part) and a nine of the girl reporter who arrives to interview him in the very last scene (there aren't stars this time but Davy's eyes go a very funny colour!)
Review: For the second time in a row this episode is all about Davy , which is a pain for fans of the other three - but at last the script gives Davy a chance to actually act. While the plot device of having a 'double' is such a cliché it seems odd the series hasn't used it already, it's impressively well handled for 1967, with an excellent use of split-screen and Rodney Bellingham brought in as 'Davy's double' whenever one or other of them have their back turned to the camera (although there's an impressive amount of shots of the two side by side). Davy is excellent here, proving just how much of his 'Davy' character is an act as he performs Ludlow in his 'normal' voice and throws in a believable performance as a shy teenager, so different to his usual swagger. The script can't always match Davy's performance the resolution doesn't even bother trying to go anywhere except where we think we're heading - usually Monkees episodes have some twist in the tale, but not this one which ends with Ludlow married. However what we lose out on in plot is made up for in terms of dialogue with some cracking one-liners (I had great difficulty keeping this entry down to just five quotes there are so many good ones!) It's interesting, though, that yet another plot should focus on the 'fear' of getting married before time runs out. Was this a big fear of the writers (or Monkee creators Bert and Bob?) because it's definitely cropping up more than in any other series - only The Monkees could have you written off as past the point of marriage at 'your eighteenth birthday' (and it's far from the only example - 'Hillbilly Honeymoon' has guest past Ellie Mae 'an old maid' at sixteen!) There's also the repeated threat that the band might end up with 'the wrong Davy', losing part of their family unit to some girl (and Royalty this time around) which might perhaps be closer to the 'real' fears of this episode and for teenage boys watching: that soon girls are going to break up your tight-knit community and things will never be the same again. Or perhaps I'm just reading too much into what is really just another silly Monkees episode - one with great performances across the board and some witty one-liners admittedly - but by the standards of season one really is just a bit of silliness with a predictable plot and much gurning. For the record, this is also easily the best of the four goes this show will have at dopplegangers, with doubles for each of the other Monkees in turn (though this is the only episode with an actual plot, rum as it sometimes is). I'd like to see any other series of the era do auto-pilot quite as brilliantly as this though...
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Well, actually, every fan probably knows this one - the story was based on Mark Twain's 1888 novel 'The Prince and the Pauper' - the only time The Monkees adapt a work best known for being a 'book' as opposed to a 'film' 2) The film negative was flipped for part of the reason, for unknown reasons (though probably a breakage somewhere that was easier to cover up printed 'backwards'). The easiest way to notice when this happens is to look at the band's partings - both Micky and Mike will be seen to wear their hair 'differently' at separate parts of the episode 3) Rodney Binghamheimer, who plays Davy whenever his back is turned to the camera, became a notable DJ in the 1970s 4) Davy's intended quote of Longfellow is wrong - his poem which begins 'A Voice Upon The Burning Death' aka 'A Boy Stood On The Burning Deck'...' (and much repeated by comedian Eric Morecambe) is a loose adaptation of a different poem accredited to Cyrano De Bergerac 5) When Micky asks the jailor 'have you ever seen 'The Road To Morocco?' he's referring to the Bing Crosby/Bob Hope film where the pair do exactly the same distract-the-guard pattacake routine as here 6) 'More Of The Monkees' replaced 'The Monkees' at number one in the American albums chart a few days after the first broadcast of this episode - the 'romp' soundtrack 'Mary Mary' was included on that LP
Ratings: At The Time 11.9 million viewers/AAA Rating: 5/10

TV Episode  #22
"The Monkees At The Circus"
(Filmed December 1966; First broadcast February 13th 1967)
"The kids'll come back to the circus - you just have to be here when they do!"
Music: Sometime In The Morning (Romp/Performance)/She (Performance)
Main Writer: David Panich Director: Bruce Kessler
Plot: The Monkees are out for a drive in the Monkeemobile when they comes across a circus being set up in a field. Going in to investigate they'e turned away by a nasty man called Victor who tells them and the circus people that no one is going to come and see the circus anymore - that they might as well pack up and go home. Davy, though, has fallen in love with the circus' owner's daughter Susan (now there's a surprise!) and encourages the circus people to stay with a rallying speech. The Monkees dress up in disguise as The Mozzarella Boys and promise to perform a daring acrobatic feat. Everyone is pleased, but Victor discovers the truth and gets The Monkees to admit that they're the sort of rock and roll groups busy killing off circuses in the first place. The Monkees leave shame-faced, but Davy can't bear to leave someone crying and they all troupe back in clown costumes to cheer up Susan with their silly Monkee antics. The other performers have been watching too and think The Monkees are funny so they all agree to put the show on despite Victior. The circus ends up being packed and The Monkees are proclaimed as heroes - The Circus Owner even gives them a rare chance to perform and 'do what you do best' as The Monkees perform 'She'.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: His Mozzarella Brother name is 'Supreme'. Unusually it's Mike not Peter who gets the disguise wrong when The Monkees dress up and he turns into a hillbilly farm DJ (an early sign of the background later alluded to in 'Hillbilly Honeymoon'). Mike's present at the end: the sword swallower's sword! Micky: His Mozzarella Brother name is Colussus. Is particularly keen on the circus, talking about seeing them often 'when I was a boy' and humming a few bars of the TV theme tune to 'Circus Boy'. Despite being the most at home, though, he's again the first to want to give up and go home when The Monkees are turned away by Victor. Micky's present at the end: a unicycle and the lion's head Mike was seen wearing earlier in the episode Davy: His Mozzarella Brother name is Incredible. Appears to have no interest in circuses and is the least keen to trespass at first, telling the rest of the band to be careful not to touch anything. However once he meets Susan all caution is out the window - he promises that things will work out for the better ('or you can feed me to the lions') even though he hasn't as yet got a clue about how to make the circus popular again Peter: His Mozzarella Brother name is Fantastic. Peter shows an amazing ability at weight-lifting, having no trouble carrying the local champion's weights - or at least he does until the end of the episode when he's given them as a present and promptly falls down under the weight of them!
Things that don't make sense: Only one this week, but it's a big one - what do The Monkees actually solve? The circus all agree to put the show on because The Monkees go to so much trouble cheering up Susan, but rather than do the sensible thing and include them as a few extra clowns on the night The Monkees are ignored until being asked to perform at the end - and unbilled at that. It seems to be just chance that this town happens to buck the trend and the circus is suddenly popular again, flying in the wake of the past few years of declining ticket sales. I'm sure I can't have been the only fan watching this for the first time and expecting a 'happier' ending whereby the circus and rock and roll acts came together for a special show (a bit like The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus 18 months early!) given all the hints about the two being 'enemies' across the episode!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Micky, singing the 'Circus Boy' theme song - "It's great, it's terrific, it's the best show on Earth; oh it's just some old TV show I know!" 2) Davy - "It was nothing" Peter - "It was no more than any other poor love-sick fool would have done!" 3) Mike - "We are The Mozzarella Brothers. I'm Supreme, this is Amazing, this is Incredible and he's Colossal...umm Colussus" Victor - "That's amazing!" Mike - "No, he's Amazing, That's Incredible!" 4) Davy after being passionately kissed "Can you thank me some more now?!" 5) Mike on being given a fiery sword as a souvenir - "Well, I really appreciate it but you know I wouldn't want to set it on fire and I can't cut bread with it so it's not, um, really..."
Romp: 'Sometime In The Morning' is a bit of an odd one. The Monkees are cheering up Susan by being clowns, interspersed with footage of Micky trying to his best dreamy romantic face - which is odd on several levels (this should be a comedy romp like the oh-ho-ho-ing 'Laugh', not a passionate ballad and it's Davy in love this week, not the drummer!) Frustratingly the 1969/70/whatever repeats never did do the obvious and dub Davy's lovely song 'The Poster' (about a circus coming to town) into the soundtrack - the song is written for the 1968 album 'The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees' and possibly based on the inspiration Davy gets here!
End Performance: 'She' is a bit of an odd one too. It's painful songs about being wronged not what I'd choose to sing to a crowd that's just had a lovely day, nor what I'd sing to impress the percussionist's new girlfriend. The Monkees are also introduced singing it as if they're in the big top still - but the backdrop is blue, completely the wrong colour for the red-and-orange circus tent.
Improvisations: When Mike is the 'odd one out' in his cotton-picking Hillbilly uniform, Micky quips 'do the voice, Mike!' and Nesmith obligingly does his impression of 'The US Farm Report', a TV news program for farmers (Pigs is down to three, hogs is down to five and cows is just fine like they are!') He's clearly been doing this backstage for laughs at one stage or another given Micky's delight at forcing his friend into doing the impression for camera! Mike will do the same again for a radio broadcast in the episode 'Monkees On Tour' with exactly the same wording, suggesting it's something of a longstanding joke!
Postmodernisms: A couple of moments during The Monkees' attempts to become circus performers. Firstly Davy prepares to defy death by hanging from his teeth - but a cutaway shot reveals he's barely off the ground and the next shot has Davy stop biting and reveal that he's really been on a wire all the time! Another shot has Mike and Peter as trapeze artists apparently walking towards each other, only due to camera trickery they appear to walk 'through' each other - both mouth in amazement to the camera as if this has 'really' happened!
Davy Love Rating: About seven. We don't get any of the usual starry-eyed effects but Davy is clearly smitten and gets a full-blown snog near the end of the episode (this is another love interest who'll never get mentioned once past this episode though!)
Review: The Circus should be a prime background for The Monkees' zany antics, not least because of Micky's background as the star of 'Circus Boy', a fondly remembered children's series that ran from 1956-1968 almost exactly ten years before The Monkees when Micky was between the ages of eleven and thirteen. There is indeed some great Monkee shenanigans in the middle when the band variously clown around with weights, acrobatics and as clowns (we could have done with more of them as clowns, actually, as Davy and Micky in particular have a natural ability for this).  Yet somehow, this episode never really takes off, with very little Monkee-ing around at all. 'Circus' is, despite the frivolous background, perhaps the most serious episode of all and unlike most of the other youth-is-right, music-is-great scripts the Monkees get (in the first year at least) turns into a diatribe about how The Monkees and bands like them are slowly killing off the traditional family entertainments like circuses Unlike their usual baddies, Victor is too likeable to get cross with - he's not evil, just tired and too much of a realist to fill his heads with the silly nonsense Davy spots (really, why do the other performers listen to this outsider, when they've all gone months without pay? The pull of the circus and their heritage is strong, but surely not strong enough for them all to stay en masse - even Victor seems to have held out not being paid for an awful long time before 'blowing up'). While The Monkees win like they always do, there's a feeling here that their victory will be short-lived: that this is a rare good day for an industry that's been declining for years and that it will all be a very different story by the time the circus arrives in the next town. Usually circuses are depicted, especially in children's stories, as magical mystical lands everyone of any age wants to escape to - but this circus crew are having a miserable time and it makes for a very odd script that's spending too much time moralising to actually laugh at anything.
Writer David Panich is new to the series (although he'll write other scripts for the first season, held over till the second) and seems to treat the script like his day job for 'Laugh-In' (which is notably more about sketches and plots than characters) even if he has a good feel for the Monkee antics in the middle of the script (possibly added by Rafelson or Schneider or staff writers Gerald Gardner or Dee Caruso). However it's now that The Monkees' series really feel the loss of not having a full-term script writer because the 'beats' of this one are all wrong. Until now every single teaser sequence has either ended on a c;liffhanger or a joke - sometimes both depending on what a particular Monkee is doing close-up. This one just has The Monkees entering a tent with Peter pretending to use a megaphone as a machine gun and then the credits roll (he's not even carrying the megaphone when we re-join the band). Even the romps are two of the weakest - 'Sometime In The Morning' is a great song but it doesn't immediately scream 'clowns', while 'She' is blatantly not performed in a circus tent. At the end too we get a random five second insert shot of The Monkeemobile travelling down the road again, one that all too blatantly recycles footage from an episode that aired a mere five weeks ago of Peter sticking his head out the window (and believe me, fans notice this sort of stuff). Even the dialogue never quite works in this one (this is the first real struggle I've had picking out five decent quotes from an episode - I'm still not sure I found five worth picking).
 All of which is a shame because the idea is sound. Micky's ad libbed reminisces of 'Circus Boy' are exactly the sort of self-reference this episode should have made (perhaps with a plot about a chimp remembering him or seeing a picture of a boy who 'looked just like me!') - instead we get another Davy love sequence that's less believable than ever. The Monkees' disguises as The Mozzarella Brothers is typically Monkee quick thinking and the jokes about which one's which ('No I'm incredible - he's fantasic!') is a great and very Monkee gag. The clip of Mike as a lion refusing Micky the lion tamer's efforts to make him do a trick and instead persuading Micky through his own hoop is fantastic (the episode could have really made a comment about the treatment of animals in circuses being one reason why they were closing down at this time - but sadly it's another opportunity lost). The trick photography as the band mess about and their sadly cut short romp as clowns are both right up their street. The Monkees taking on a villain whose not evil, fed up is something the band could really have explored throughout the episode (the script needs a 'don't mind Victor - his mother was eaten by a lion and he's the 18th straight generation to work in a circus' line that never comes). The antagonism between the performers and 'those rock and roll types' is exactly what The Monkees series was set up to do - but instead of working together to mutual benefit and discovering more about each other's worlds, The Monkees play one song unbilled as an afterthought because we haven't had enough music this week. Already there's a feeling of 'Monkees by numbers' creeping into the scripts and a few of the performances that's a worrying sign of things to come in series two and while there are several terrific episodes to come this is where the rot begins to set slowly in. This episode is the first that doesn't really change The Monkees' quartet or add to our understanding of the world through them - it's just a case of 'gee where can we put The Monkees this week? Hey I know!' episode of which many are to follow - a 'bread and circuses' moment that will spell the all-too premature cancellation of the series. Need proof? This is the last Monkees episode where the ratings go up from the week before - from not it will gradually slide all the way to the end.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Fellow AAA artist Nils Lofgren 'borrowed' the elaborate painting of the 'fat man' for the front cover of his debut solo album 'Nils Lofgren' in 1975 2) Peter's comments about The Monkees not being the Budapest String Quartet were a joke about how The Monkees were advertised on the 'Remember Next Year' preview show, where host Dan Thomas showed a clip from the still-to-run series and quips 'well we know one thing - they're not the Budapest String Quartet!' 3) Both Monkees performance clips are also featured in other episodes - 'She' was shot for 'Monkees A La Carte' while 'Sometime In The Morning' will make much more sense in the context of 'Monkee Mother' 4) The Monkees has another link with 'Circus Boy' besides Micky - Irving Lipman, chief cameraman on this series, also worked as a junior cameraman on that series and was particularly fond of Micky! 5) British 1970s compilation 'The Best Of The Monkees' re-uses many of stills taken from this episode 9although this record too loses out on the chance to add 'The Poster' to the album!) 6) In yet another altered ending, Pops and Susan would have spent longer thanking The Monkees and their own act was originally called The Santinis - there's no information about why it was changed to The Mozzarella Brothers!
Ratings: At The Time 12.1 million viewers/AAA Rating: 3/10

TV Episode  #23
"Captain Crocodile"
(Filmed October 1966; First broadcast February 20th 1967)
"Dad, do you remember the TV show you gave me for my birthday?"
Music: Valleri (First Version) (Performance)/Your Auntie Grizeld (Romp)
Main Writer: Peter Meyersen, Robert Schlitt, Dee Gardner and Gerald Caruso Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees have been hired to appear on a TV programme which is part-Crackerjack, part-Tiswas, part-Krusty The Klown, with tired extras, pies in the face and a grumpy child-hating scheming tyrant in charge of it all. The Monkees come off worst in both TV times and pies and refuse to appear on the Captain Crocodile show anymore. Which is a shame because the board's (very) junior executive in charge of the TV programme loves them and wants them to appear very week. He gets the Monkees back on air on the understanding that there will be no pies in the face. However Captain Crocodile is obsessed with the idea that he's losing control of his own shows and hates The Monkees. The band try to sing on the show four times but things keep mysteriously happening - the camera moves away, the camera jumps up and down, the Monkees are covered in a giant net and Micky's bass drum explodes. They finally get a chance to perform Valleri - only to be told the TV cameras weren't rolling! The rest of the band try to comfort a distraught Peter whose sad he won't be on television with tales of what other programmes they could all appear on - with The Monkees appearing on weather reports, 'What's My Line?', The Huntley-Brinkley Report and even Batman (sorry, 'Frogman'!) The Monkees are called into Junior's office where he reads out a sack of hate mail over their appearance (which must have lasted all of thirty seconds on screen for 'Captain Crocodile' viewers!) A board meeting with station boss JJ Pontoon is called - interrupted by The Monkees in various disguises who describe just how much their 'children' adore The Monkees. The Captain sets his 'Crocodle Corps' (a meaner version of the Mouseketeers) onto The Monkees in a manic romp to the tune of 'Your Auntie Grizelda', but a quick thinking Micky starts reading everyone a story. The Captain gets mad and is seen on screen bad-mouthing the children, losing his job in the process. Next week the show has a new presenter - no, not The Monkees as expected but assistant Howard who tells the band that he promises there will be no more pies - he does, however, have a large soda stream....
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Oddly Nesmith isn't the mastermind of The Monkees this week and this is a rare episode where he gets little to do. Disguises himself as an elderly janitor whose children adore The Monkees and hate Captain Crocodile when they're not on the show. He also dresses as 'Tex Nesmith', a weather man who appears to be oblivious to the weather. In the 'Huntley-Brinkley' parody he plays 'Chett Hinkley, Dave Barkley and...John Smith?! Micky: His quick-thinking plan to read the 'Crocodile Corps' a story gets them out of trouble - although he gets stuck after a few lines and passes the 'book' (really a dictionary!) over to Mike. There's an interesting conversation Micky has with the Captain where he's invited to say a bit about himself, interrupted by instructions to move between cameras and step towards and away from them. Micky tells us he grew up in Los Angeles (true for the 'real' Micky), went to Bradley High School (nope - it was Ulysses S Grant High School in Valley Glen - when he wasn't off filming 'Circus Boy') and that he was always a drummer from an early age (wrong - Micky took up guitar in his teens and had never played the drums until winning the part in The Monkees). Micky's disguise is as a TV researcher for the fictional 'Nelson Polling Service'. In the 'Huntley-Brinkley' parody he plays 'David Brentley' and the very descriptive 'Chuck Weekly'! Davy: Thinks that Junior is 'quite tall', put down by Peter with a withering 'you would!' His disguise is as a badly behaved child who will 'hold my breath and turn blue' if The Monkees aren't back on the air. Is acrobatic enough to escape the line of fire with both pies and soda, before accidentally leaping upright to be hit in the face both times. His 'Huntley-Brinkley' character names are 'Chuck Hankley' and 'Hank Chuckley' . Davy is also 'Tadpole' to Peter's 'Frogman' Peter: Gets very upset at the thought of losing out on a chance at fame. His mother writes in a letter about how 'charming' and 'well-bred' he is (so Peter still has family we never see off-screen - it's sometimes wondered whether all four Monkees are orphans, with only Davy's grandfather and Micky's possibly fictional 'sick aunt' ever referred to across the series otherwise). This week he can read - haltingly dictating the description of the word 'commando' from the dictionary The Monkees use for their fairytale book. Peter's disguise is as another badly-behaved child you won't eat his vegetables until The Monkees are back on the air. Peter stars as Batman-style superhero 'Frogman'. And finally, Peter's 'Huntley-Brinkley' name is...'Brett Chinkley'
Things that don't make sense: Would one presenter really have that much power - especially one as obviously 'mad' as Captain Crocodile? Why does his second-in-command Howard get the nod at the end of the show (he's been an - admittedly brow-beaten -party to the illicit scheme the whole way through - instead of a name the equal of Captain Crocodile's?) Why is he named 'Captain Crocodile' anyway? There are no crocodile images on set (was the decision on the name late? Usually props man Jack Williams is right on top of 'clues' in the scripts like this!)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Micky - "We're on the road to success!" Mike - "Yeah, we're almost at the heights!" Davy - "We're at the top of the heap!" Peter - "It's all downhill from here!" 2) Texas Nesmith (shouted in the middle of a blizzard) - "It will all be bright and sunny and clear - so have a lovely weekend!" 3) Mike - "My name is David Jones" Davy - "My name is David Jones" Peter - "My name is David Jones" Micky - "Will the real David Jones please stand up?" Davy - "I am standing up!" 4) Rubin The Tadpole - "Holy frogs-legs that makes me mad!" 5) Mike, reading letters sent in by the public - "Awful ego maniacs?" Micky - "Long-haired weirdoes?" Davy - "Loathsome teenagers?" Peter - "Delightful and well-bred" Davy - "Who wrote that?" Peter - "My mother!"
Romp: A particularly manic 'Your Auntie Grizelda', whose childlike sense of frustration suits this romp of The Monkees being chased by the 'Crocodile Corps' around the entire outside of the Colgems studio lot (bits of it are seen in other episodes and especially the romps - but never as much as here!)
Performance: That old clip of 'Valleri' with Davy gradually moving to the front while the others play in the background
Monkeemen: Are usurped this week by the fictional 'Frogman and Tadpole' who wear similar costumes in red and use similar 'action noises' written on screen, which the band even comment on ('Kretch'?! says an astonished Peter at one point). Mike and Micky are the baddies for one week only, but it all goes wrong when Peter and Davy fight over who gets to say the catchphrase 'crime doesn't pay'!
Postmodernisms: That whole 'Batman' parody, which 'breaks the fourth wall' so that The Monkees can comment on the action and which includes baddy Mike halting the action to ask hero Peter 'do you think we ought to throw some chairs around or something?' Note Micky's opening line to his made-up story as well: 'Once upon a time in the land of Kirshner' - which is actually the tale of The Monkees, up to a point (re-runs of this series will feature the name 'Schneider' instead - taken from another episode - when musical director Don Kirshner falls out of favour with the production team)
Review: Another's child's-eye view of how television really works (even the executive is a child trying to act grown-up) as presented by a production team who are all barely out of their teens themselves and a good generation younger than everyone else making television at the time. Captain Crocodile is exactly the sort of tired old format grown-ups think children like but rarely do - slapstick and nonsense for the sake of it with no sense of 'freedom' or 'anarchy' about it (the joy of most 'weekend-television-with-gunk shows isn't that the people are goi9ng to gets covered but that they can - that 'old rules' about behaviour on television have been relaxed 'cause it's weekend and you don't have to think about math tests of French verbs for a another twenty-four hours at least. The Monkees' manicness has traditionally done well in this time slot incidentally - I first caught this show during the repeats on Channel Four's 'Big Breakfast' where waiting through the two hours of inane chatter and stupidity seemed so forced and contrived in comparison to The Monkees' charm from thirty years before). This episode is The Monkees' comment on the way that the 'new' is being deliberately kept off air by the 'old' - after all Captain Crocodile has no business being on television, he doesn't even like children (as is revealed by his come-uppance' scene when he turns on his followers). The Monkees 'win' not because of subterfuge or even just their disguises this week - they 'win' because they're natural and inventive, treating the children to a story that's genuinely daft and rule-breaking not full of weird costume bears (what is that man in a beige suit with a tail jumping up and down meant to be?)
Note, though, how early the production date is compared to the broadcast date - a full four months before broadcast at a time when most Monkees episodes were half the length of this (and even more astonishingly a mere four days after the final draft was handed in to the studio). Production-wise this episode belongs in between 'Too Many Girls' and 'Son Of A Gypsy'. What happened? Did Rafleson, Scneider and Ward Sylvester get cold feet about going too far this time? Did the episode take a long time to get right (not for the first or last time a different pair of names appears on the 'story' compared to the 'script', which is re-written by old hands Gardner and Caruso)? Or did the powers that be just not consider this funny enough? To be fair it does seem rather strangely plotted, starting with The Monkees on air and then following their attempts to break onto air again, while the lengthy imagination sequence - while by far the best thing about the episode and one of the best five minutes of Monkee madness in the entire run - seems oddly plotted, slowing down the plot to a crawl. We also get the performance halfway through the show with a romp at the end, which shows the team are brave enough to break the formula at least but is at odds with what most people have come to expect from a Monkees show. There's also less motivation for Captain Crocodile to turn 'evil' this week - is he like this to every guest star? Or do The Monkees really get his goat for some specific reason never shown on screen? In retrospect this feels like an 'us and them' script thrown together by a production team under fire for the band 'not playing their own instruments' and doing things differently to every other production team out there - without any real sense given as to why this particular episode ought to show an 'us and them' scenario.
However I still like this episode for all it's clear faults and it's a story that works particularly well for younger audiences. The Monkees themselves are on great form, stoically taking pies in the face and sounding genuinely nervous and desperate as their minds wander creating their own story (till Peter brilliantly misunderstands what's happening by treating the prop dictionary as a dictionary!) The scenes of The Monkees let loose on several great American institutions - to the weather reports that to children always seem to be wrong and show how daft adults are in trusting each other about something natural beyond their control, the curious 'Huntley-Brinkley' report where people with weird names discuss weird news items that everyone pretends to understand but just sounds like gibberish, the spof of 'What's My Line' (with the entire punchline scripted round Davy's trademark line 'I am standing up') is delightful and the Batman parody is both affectionate and wickedly cruel all at the same time ('Kretch'?!) You almost don't need the plot at all this week and even that has a neat ending, with The Monkees no better off than they were before (they're just wet and soggy instead of icky) and another evil power-that-be in charge from high up from the 'old school' - even though the new school are coming knockin' at everyone's door. The Monkees format has rarely seemed so 'new' or fresh (what other show would get away with being this rude to their heroes on screen - as per the letters which must have reflected the 'real' messages sent into the production team?) or been played at so many angles, even if the adults might still actually have had a small point in there somewhere: the plot is weak, some of the acting from the guest cast OTT and it's very hard to understand what's going on. Ignore them though and play that scene of The Monkees imagining their own TV programmes again - the plots' not really that important is it?!
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Captain Kangaroo is a spoof of rather staid children's show 'Captain Kangaroo' (which ran just short of it's 30th birthday amazingly, between 1955 and 1984) - and didn't feature a kangaroo before you ask just as Captain Crocodile has nothing in common with a crocodile 2) The Huntley Brinkley Report', meanwhile, ran between 1955 and 1970 - the presenters really did have the unlikely names Chet Huntley and David Brinkley! 3) As for the 'Batman' TV series based on the 'Marvel' comic books, it ran between January 1966 and March 1968 - almost exactly the same length as The Monkees' series (although it clocked up 120 episodes to The Monkees' fifty-eight 4) 'What's My Line?' was a panel show where the panel had to guess what jobs a guest did and who he was from mimes and clues, becoming another institution between 1950 and 1967 (the last episode wasn't too long after this episode aired - did The Monkees help kill it?!)  5) Meanwhile, back with The Monkees, the original script for this episode had several scenes not filmed for the episode: The Captain getting his revenge on Junior too after the executive effectively warns him 'no more Monkee business', an ending scene where the Captain is forced to play 'leap-frog with the victorious band, the whole imagination sequence originally featured The Monkees rehearsing for the sort of shows they thought they might get and Mike played a cleaning lady rather than a male janitor (he speaks at the end of 'Fairy Tale' about being reluctant to be in drag, so did he refuse?)  6) Talking of which, a clip of Mike ion his janitor disguise appeared in the opening credits of series one 7) Mike's line 'either you let us play or we quit!' seems remarkably prophetic - filmed in October 1966 and broadcast in February 1967, Mike will reportedly say those words for real before shoving his fist through Don Kirshner's wall in March. 8) Note that  the fictional radio station KXIU from 'Too Many Girls' also broadcasts 'The Captain Crocodile Show' - it must be The Monkees' local broadcasters!
Ratings: At The Time 11.5 million viewers/AAA Rating: 7/10

TV Episode  #24
"Monkees A La Mode
(Filmed January 1967; First broadcast February 27th 1967)
"Where do you keep your style?" "In the bathtub!"
Music: Laugh (Romp)/You Just May Be The One (Performance)
('So Goes Love' was scripted for broadcast in this episode instead of 'Laugh' but was changed at the last minute after the romp was filmed for unknown reasons. The 1970 repeat substituted 'Oh My My' for 'Laugh').
Main Writer: Dee Gardner and Gerald Caruso Director: Alex Singer
Plot: Madame Quagmyer, editor of best-selling fashion rag Chic Magazine, has just had a great idea: why not do an article on the typical young American teenager? Only the right typical American teenager of course who'd reflect well on their publication! Editorial assistant Toby remembers a young group called The Monkees that was covered in another magazine and asks if they'll do and gets the job to report on them, alongside more cynical photographer Rob Roy. The Monkees are flattered into appearing, being sent their award for being the magazine's 'Young Americans of the Year' through the post (even though Davy isn't American!) though they begun to regret their decision when Rob Roy begins to insult their pad. The Monkees briefly pretend to have items of historical interest before grudgingly accepting their new wardrobes in an attempt to be made 'famous'. The article is published but The Monkees haven't read it yet - unbeknown to them Toby's thoughtful portrayal of the band and how they live has been torn up by the fashion editor and replaced with some made-up guff about them. Their friends however have read it and don't like it, either insulting, shunning or even throwing a brick through the Monkees' window to show how much they hate them for 'selling out'. The Monkees get their own back at an awards ceremony where all four act the opposite to the way they were introduced and generally clown about. Along the way Madame Quadmyer's temper blows and she proves to the assembled guests just what a nasty, mean-spirited type she really is under all that social bearing. She is duly demoted, along with Rob Roy, and with Toby promoted in her place - but when The Monkees call round asking for a retraction they find that the new recruit has inherited all the unscrupulous avaricious ambition (yes, it's in the script - just not this one!) of her predecessors and The Monkees are no better off.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Was in the scouts in 1961, apparently (was he as bossy back then? And did he get the wool-hat making badge?!) Mike plays George Washington's father in a historical dream sequence. One of his friends phones him up personally to complain about the article and hangs up before Mike can explain (so someone from his past knows him well enough to have his house number but not to visit - on screen at least). Mike is introduced at the presentation as simply 'receiving the award as an example of a young American of the year' after which he makes one of the longest and most rambunctious speeches of the award's history and declares photographer Rob Roy as 'the one  who invented us'. Micky: Practices drumming when bored, even when his kit isn't to hand - the other Monkees have got used to this but the two reporters find it highly annoying. Plays Paul Revere in his historical sequence. Micky is told to 'combine colours' in his wardrobe better but confuses the assistant laying out his wardrobe with the speed of his suggestions (in the end Micky wears what everyone else does!)  Micky has a girlfriend called Linda for this one and only episode - but it clearly doesn't last too long as after the article is published she turns up to slap him and is never heard from again. Madame Quadmayer really should know better than to introduce Micky as 'the paragon of quiet gentility' - he is of course obnoxious and noisy when receiving the award even by his standards!  Davy: Is an English bandit in the American Revolution who attacks Micky's Paul Revere. Davy is shown how to pose by Rob Roy with his arms sticking out but then abandoned and is then used as a coat rack instead! Davy has apparently given a friendship bracelet to a girl from a relationship so fleeting she doesn't even get a name on screen which she gives back in a huff after the magazine is published. Finally, Davy is said to be 'the embodiment of the chic coiffeur' and gets the best gag of the night when he pulls back his hair to reveal it's really a wig and that he's now bald!  Peter: Is still being mistaken for Mr Schneider, the dummy. Is George Washington in the Monkees' historical segment. He is told by Rob Roy that his posture is bad and is made to lean against a wall - which has a nail sticking out of it! Peter is, apparently, 'the picture of grace' but stumbles badly when receiving his award. Is gullible enough to think that if something is in black and white then it must be true.
Things that don't make sense: The girl is called 'Toby' in the end credits, which in the anything goes culture of the 1960s would have been odd (did the original actor drop out or was a girl considered to have more motive for helping The Monkees?) Why would a band trying to appeal to a magazine for the trendy and hip start pretending their pad was once owned by George Washington and Paul Revere? Why is Davy part of a 'Young American Teenage' column anyway? (to be fair he never tells anybody but then the accent should give this away!) Why not just find some more grateful clients when The Monkees get difficult? And why go to a band at all when the magazine clearly feels that rock and roll is beneath their clientele (the write up claims that the band likes 'chamber music' only, the part that seems to annoy them the most!)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Toby - "We want to show the world what you do and how you live!" Davy - "Why? Do you want to have us arrested?!" 2) Micky as Paul Revere - "The British are coming!" (Camera pans back to reveal Davy with a gun) "Erm, they're coming round to my place so we can have a big party!" 3) Mike - "We aren't typical young people - well, we are but young people aren't typical anything!" 4) Rob Roy - "You boys have never made the best dressed lists! Now how do you account for that?" A scruffy Micky - "I don't know - lousy boots?" 5) Mike - "We'd like to give this trophy to the man responsible for making us and is directly responsible for what we are today - Rob Roy!"
Romp: 'Laugh', even though there isn't much laughing going on in this romp. The song was a last minute substitute for intended Neil Diamond song 'Love To Love', but we don't know why it was changed - neither fit that well and perhaps 'Love' was just too slow for the manic energy best suited to these scenes?
Performance: That same old clip of The Monkees performing the first version of Mike's 'You Just May Be The One' (the one Boyce and Hart produced, not Chip Douglas) with a particularly jumpy Davy and Peter (though this time, on the third showing, the clip is complete).
Davy Love Rating: One/Ten. Davy has only got as far as giving this latest girl a friendship bracelet so it's very early stages (for him) and she's never seen again after the events of this episode.
Postmodernisms: Whenever the band mention 'typical young teenagers' the opening credits to the first series began to play (but without the writing and names) - this happens three times over the course of the episode! Oh and look out for the 'teaser' sequence when The Monkees sit around and talk about the horrors of merchandising before Peter decides to have a large bowl of cereal with the camera lingering in shot - Kellogg's were the main sponsors of The Monkees' first season and on first broadcast this sequence would have lead directly to one of their adverts!
Review: In which The Monkees take on snobbery and prove that adults haven't got a clue what being young in the 1960s was all about, with a whole new generation who cared more for fun, friendship and love than they did for money, prestige and status symbols. In a way it's a surprise that a series this keen on promoting the outlook of the young and was so clearly modelled on The Marx Brothers took so long to make this statement outright: this is a whole episode of Groucho insulting Margaret Dumont but split into four people who only meet the 'big boss lady' in the last scene. However it to has its possible roots in music: The plot reminds me of the first time The Beatles were ever mentioned by a newspaper when John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe were still technically at art college and sharing a flat in a series about 'typical Liverpudlian teenagers' (though technically both were 21) - the newspaper didn't consider their pad to be dirty enough so added a few messes of their own (John's Aunt Mimi was furious!) Beatlefans Rafelson and Schneider would surely have known of this of course. Whatever the source material, however, there are two things working in tandem here: on the one hand how daft the 'adult' virtues look when seen through the eyes of youngsters who outgrew them long ago (what good is a posh wardrobe or better posture to a rock and roll musician?) and don't understand why their elders haven't worked that out yet and how much fun The Monkees are having without these things, getting by on a pittance because they have each other to love them at face value - the adults have no one once the mask slips and their belief systems are punctured. When Mike tells us that 'there's no such thing as a typical teenager' - a point he'll make again in an interview tag in the second series that 'I'd like to see everybody wearing their hair the way they'd like to' - you can almost hear the cheers: the 1960s was also about individuality over mass consumerism. Full kudos to The Monkees series for being pretty much the only TV show of the 1960s to realise this (indeed it was only when glam rock came in for younger kids in 1972 and everyone started looking the same that music goers kinda realised just how important being yourself and being authentic was; Marc Bolan and David Bowie have a lot to answer for).
There's another issue at stake here too. This was one of the last episodes recorded for the first season of The Monkees (though it was screened slightly ahead of the production order) and one of the very first made after The Monkees revolution when musical director Don Kirshner tries to ignore the band's wishes and go behind their backs and was sacked (though because of paperwork he'll be credited on screen until March). Already there was a growing feeling in the music community that The Monkees were 'fakes' because of the revelation that the band didn't play their own instruments (note: they could have done, as 'headquarters' ultimately proved, but hadn't been because of time restrictions and the TV company's desire for 'professional' studio musicians) which will be addressed in quite a few TV episodes to come, though most notably here. Creators Rafleson and Schneider were always sensitive to this claim - it's where their script (with input from The Monkees and a then unknown Jack Nicholson) for 'Head' came from and given the postmodern-referencing format of the show The Monkees was the perfect vehicle for showing the puppets regaining control from their 'masters'. The Monkees are effectively given a whole new image in this episode and  reveal it to be a con - because what could be more integral to the 1960s than authenticity? (Our modern boy and girl band era is a different time where we expect to be manipulated - The Monkees got so much flack because they were one of the first times the development of a band was under scrutiny for what was till then normal practice - The Mamas and The Papas barely played a note and only one Byrd plays on 'Mr Tambourine Man').  Mike's speech credits his award to 'the man who made us', his stylist, revealing the whole thing to be a sham. Rob Roy even looks a little like a young Don Kirshner just to put the point across even more! This is The Monkees having fun with their image at a time when it seemed like a storm that would all blow over - in retrospect though we know it won't go away and in many ways the innocence that marked out The Monkees' first year ends here; they'll be far more knowing and cynical when the band re-group for series two (after only a few months' rest).
However, glorious as the idea of The Monkees turning the tables on their fashion-conscious elders is, this episode isn't quite as fun as it ought to be. The two reporters and their motivations are poorly defined (it would have made much more sense if they'd wanted to cover their own chic band over The Monkees and were more openly damning of rock and roll) and you can't help thinking that the editorial team should have done their research better in choosing more compliant subjects. You wonder too why The Monkees agreed to appear - yes they're vaguely promised fame and fortune but the band have been through this before - if someone had mentioned the fact they could 'appeal to a mass audience' it would have made more sense (that's another thing that made the 1960s great - nobody really appealed to a mass audience except perhaps some lesser acts like Donovan and Herman's Hermits' everybody else did what they did to please their local following, which slowly turned national and in some cases international). The madcap romp is weird and ineffectual, the historical sequences seem randomly stuffed in to pad out the episode (even though they're the funniest - Micky running away from the 'English' before realising its Davy is by far the best gag this week!) and the villains are ham ones played for pantomime laughs. Only the memorable sight of Davy in a bald wig really gives us something that new that hasn't at least been hinted at before. The end result is an episode that worked better on paper and in textbooks than it is to watch, although there's still just enough of worth here to make it worth sitting through.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1)This is about as close-to-the-wire as The Monkees series ever came, with filming taking place just five weeks before broadcast (not leaving much room for editing and post-production!) 2) It was while working on the first day of this shoot that 'More Of The Monkees' was released - with the famous story of The Monkees driving home from work on this shoot and stopping off at a local record store to buy a copy to see what had been released on it! 3) This week's script had a much longer scene of Madame Quagmayer losing her cool, grabbing a pile of plates and throwing them at everyone in sight in her frustration! 4) Somebody in the production didn't know their history: in the American Revolution Micky and Davy would have been wearing each other's clothes, with Davy an English 'redcoat' and Micky in blue! 5)Micky hasn't officially written 'Randy Scouse Git' yet but apparently has the  distinctive opening kettle drum lick already - it's what he taps out using his drumsticks while talking to the interviewers and driving them nuts! 6) Sammy Davis Jnr, a fan of the show, turned up to visit during shooting for this episode and a cameo was filmed - though it was dropped in editing with no explanation ever given (if you're wondering what he was doing, he'd just been a guest on 'I Dream Of Jeanie' on the next-door set in an episode that was broadcast after the Monkees' show) 7) Shots of the Monkees as a 'human pyramid' dressed in orange appears in the opening titles of the revised first season credits  8) Patricia Wymore, who guest-stars as Madame Quagmayer, was better known as Mrs Errol Flynn until his death in 1959!
Ratings: At The Time 11.9 million viewers/AAA Rating: 5/10

TV Episode  #25
"Alias Micky Dolenz"
(Filmed December 1966; First broadcast March 6th 1967)
"Gangsters are just like ordinary people - with Tommy guns!"
Music: The Kind Of Girl I Could Love (Romp)/Mary Mary (Performance)
Main Writer: Dave Evans, Dee Gardner and Gerald Caruso Director: Bruce Kessler
Plot: Micky is minding his business walking through a parking lot when out of nowhere he gets beaten up. Confused, Micky goes to report it to a police station, but the police react in horror, convinced he's the evil assassin, hood and all round nasty guy Babyface Morales. The Sergeant tells Micky that while his doppleganger his 'hoods' are still on the loose and want to pick up the 'loot' from his last robbery. Micky is asked to impersonate his lookalike but thinks it's too dangerous - until stepping outside the police station and being shot at whereby he offers his services. Micky visits Babyface in prison for a crash course in how the gangster walks and talks. Micky accidentally nearly gets beaten up in the process though and has to call the guard for help. Micky is next sent to local club The Purple Pelican where the crooks and Babyface's 'moll' Ruby hang out. The gangsters are convinced by Mickyface but tell him that they're no longer scared of him and a fight breaks out to the strain of 'The Girl I Could Love' (in truth more of a bar-room brawl than a romp this week). Micky is grudgingly accepted though and bluffs his way through not knowing where the gang's hiding place is. Micky offers to get a few specialists and goes back home to ring the Inspector, but he's followed by the suspicious hoods who rope along Mike and Peter as his 'experts'. The gang break into the De Witt mansion in order to steal some precious diamonds - Mike accidentally blowing up the wrong end of the room with his dynamite - and are interrupted by a policeman, but all he wants to do is sell them all tickets to the policeman's ball. Suddenly the 'real' Babyface turns up, having busted out of jail, and the gang are confused as to who is who until Peter gives the game away. Another mad romp ensues, though oddly not set to music for once and The Monkees tie up the crooks and wait for the police to turn up. One last problem though - which Micky really is the right one?!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is his use of dynamite in the wrong place (it blows up a piano not the intended fireplace) incompetence or a ruse to distract the crooks and draw attention? Micky: This is the only time we see someone other than Mike driving the Monkeemobile until Peter gets to take over in the reunion episode! Like Davy in 'Prince and the Paupers' Micky has his own doppleganger, the arch criminal Babyface. When told this by the Inspector he says he's not surprised by the name ('I used to be called twinkly eyes!) He thinks Babyface looks 'sneaky and vicious' when shown a picture, but when shown a mirror just sees somebody whose 'handsome'. Though as scared as he usually is, trying to not be a part of events, Micky proves to be quite courageous when he needs to be - going to the prison cell of a notorious gangster alone and doing his best to keep the others out of harm's way. Micky can do a pretty neat impression of his lookalike and picks up his mannerisms quickly, although he oversteps the mark easily too and gets beaten up twice during this episode (once by Babyface himself and earlier by a hood named Tony). Micky also claims in this episode to be from Sandusky Ohio - he's really from Burbank, California as ,mentioned in last week's episode  Davy: has gone awol for a week, with no mention of where he is (until the interview segment when he gives the 'real' reason - attending his sister's wedding. Or not given that he got the date wrong...) Peter: Gives the game away about which Micky is which. Otherwise Peter gets precious little to do this week.
Things that don't make sense: This entire episode was surely written round the fact that Micky was famous for his many impressions of the inimitable James Cagney. So why doesn't he have the chance to do one this episode?! Why is babyface so keen to help Micky - surely he's not that bored in prison? If Babyface is as notorious as everyone thinks he is then why does nobody ever mention Micky's likeness before or after? (Babyface can clearly break out of jail quite easily, so you'd have thought he'd want 'revenge'!) When Mike and Peter want to tell the two apart why don't they just ask each of the pair to play the drums?
Best Five Quotes: 1) Inspector "You mean - you're not Babyface?" Micky - "Well, my mother used to call me goo-goo eyes!" 2) Micky to Mike- "He didn't mean any harm - he's just your typical psychopathic killer!" 3) The Sergeant on Tony - "In Detroit he committed extortion, illegal entry and headed up the numbers racket there. Then he quite the police department and joined up with Babyface!"  4) The Sergeant on Babyface - "He was tried on charges of arson, assault with a deadly weapon  and third degree murder" Micky - "Was he ever convicted?"  The Sergeant - "Yes - for contempt of court!" 5) Vince - "Didn't they spot you with their searchlights?" Micky as Babyface - "Nah, I fixed it so their lights were useless" Vince - "How did you do that?" Micky - "I broke out in the daytime!"
Romp: 'The Kind Of Girl I Could Love' really doesn't fit with the scenes of gangsters having a bar fight and must be one of the single most out of place romps in the series!
End Performance: A spirited performance of 'Mary Mary' with Davy suddenly rejoining the group
Interview: Davy explains that why he was missing from this episode - he'd gone to England for his sister's wedding but he was a couple of days too early! When asked by Bob if Davy misses his home he replies no, because he's been travelling back and forth since he was fourteen and goes over there as often as he can. Now that the series has been on a while, Bob wonders if he ever feels the pressure from the speed with which the series is made. Davy replies in mock hysterics 'Well everybody's tired and they get irritable and everybody starts getting mad and everybody just wants to go home man! It's a drag sitting here talking to you!' With that Davy flounces off set to Bob's laughter and the credits roll.
Review: That joke The Monkees always did on tour when Micky impersonated James Brown and was 'the hardest working man in show business' wasn't far wrong. While Davy gets a 'real' holiday, Peter and Mike effectively get one too, with Micky in every scene and by far the major figure in his double roles. While Peter also appeared in as many episodes across the series' run, it's Micky who never had a proper rest - at the same time that he was the Monkee most often in the recording studios. He must have been superhuman from 1966 through to 1968 to have coped with so much at such a young age and this script is a real testament to how much faith the Monkees' production team have in him. Certainly Micky is excellent throughout, given the chance to prove how much of 'our' Micky is an act in his wholly believable evil gangster, not to mention the even harder job of being believable-as-Micky-being-the-gangster-but-still-acting-rather-than-the-real-thing and if ever you wanted an episode as proof that The Monkees could really act then this is as good as any. However everything else about this episode lets Micky down - the script is dull and recycles so much from previous episodes (there have been more crooks in The Monkees' series than in Z Cars!), the other crooks and gangsters and even the Police Sergeant played by 'proper' actors are all far less convincing than Micky is and there's no reason for this episode to be written with quite so little for the others to do (just imagine how much better this episode would have been if, say, Peter had been sent to the prison cell along with Micky ('What's your friend making funny faces at me for?' 'That's just Pete, he always does that. He'll get the hiccups in a minute too!') or if Mike had done his 'usual' role of arguing with the Police Inspector ('Now look here, umm, aah, Sargeant Inspector Sir, I don't care what Babyface has done somebody's going to get hurt in all this - and that someone is probably us! Let's split!') Worse yet there's no reason given at all for Davy's absence this week (it would have been very Monkees for the script to write in the 'real' reason he was missing this week - 'Gee I wonder if Davy will bring us something nice back from visiting his aunt in England?' 'What have they got that we haven't got?' 'The Beatles!')
Much of the action just feels tired and rather clumsily put together - I had to seriously study the episode again just to work out what the heck is going on in  the final scene in the house and characters are introduced with a big fanfare who end up playing no significant part in the plot (why is there so much on  Ruby whose only here for one scene?) It's as if the writers have crammed together as many gangster-type-scenes as they can think of, without any of the logic as to why they should run together here. Which is a shame because the bottom line is that this is another script that should have been right up The Monkees' street. Yet again The Monkees (or at any rate Micky) are the only ones with the power to do good  - the Sergeant is useless and in the most Monkees sequence of the entire episode the policeman security guard comes across the dynamite and the crooks round the safe and simply sells them tickets to the policeman's ball instead of doing his job! The moment when hero of the youth Micky comes across his lookalike Babyface - whose everything parents have been taught to fear about what their sons and daughters are turning in to - ought to be a great moment, with Micky 'proving' that not all the young are gangsters and hoodlums. However the moment, like so many in this episode, seems lost and the result is one of the weaker episodes from the second half of the first season despite Micky's excellent acting and the fine 'Mary Mary performance nearly rescuing things at the end.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) This is one of the few Monkees episodes not to be repeated in America across 1967 1969 and 1970 - because the repeats were shown in a more child-friendly slot and the copious use of guns in this episode was against the television code of the day (it was repeated in the later times of the 1976 run, though) 2) There was a cut scene that for once was actually filmed, with Mike clapping his arms at discovering that Micky is being held in the police station - this outtake was put to good use in the opening credits of the series' second series. Another un-filmed scene had Micky teaching Mike and Peter how to act like his 'experts'
Ratings: At The Time 11.3 million viewers/AAA Rating: 4/10

TV Episode  #26
"Monkees Chow Mein"
(Filmed January 1967; First broadcast March 13th 1967)
"He who eat cookie screw up fortune something terrible!"
Music: Your Auntie Grizelda (Romp)
('Words' was substituted for 'Grizelda' on the 1967 repeat)
Main Writer: Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso   Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees are having a rare meal out! So rare is this that Peter has forgotten how to behave and takes a large doggy bag with him that he fills to brim with every food source he can get his hands on. Unluckily for The Monkees the Chinese restaurant they've chosen has really been infiltrated by a pair of Chinese spies who have hidden the formula for a secret weapon - a doomsday bug -  inside the fortune cookies. Peter takes one of theirs by accident and The Monkees are pursued out of the restaurant. They evade their pursuers but are captured by the CIS (Central Intelligence Service). Under interrogation by Agent Modell The Monkees try to explain that Peter took the cookie by accident to take home to a dog they don't have and astonishingly are believed! After explaining the plot, Modell tells The Monkees to be on the lookout for the spies trying to get their fortune cookie back. So it proves, with the Chinese spies breaking into The Monkees' pad and abducting...Micky. The next morning Peter is distraught and goes off to help his friend - but without a plan is easily captured. It's then up to Davy and Mike, aka The Monkeemen, who come to the rescue with a few insults and a 'pretend' doomsday bug that's too small to see. Mayhem ensues during a Monkee romp to the sound of 'Your Auntie Grizelda' and the CIS come in to congratulate The Monkees on their hard work.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Dresses as an Italian pizza-lover as part of his disguise. Is noticeably far more concerned about Peter's welfare than Micky's (do Mike and Davy trust their drummer to keep himself out of trouble better?) As usual, it's Mike who comes up with the plan that saves the day by pretending to have the doomsday bug, although Davy knows him well enough to pick up with the idea and run with it. This is the first time we've seen Mike as a 'Monkeeman'! Micky: Is very unsurprised to have been kidnapped by accident. Usually Micky is the most audibly scared Monkee when the band get into trouble but here he's as cool as anything, arguing with his captors and trying to confuse them in their mission. Suffers from stomach-ache quite a few hours after The Monkees' lunch and  despite eating far less than Peter does (too much Chinese food?)  Davy: Also dresses as an Italian as part of his (ultimately failed) disguise. When dressed as a Monkeeman is keen to fly - despite the restaurant being only 'half a block' away! Davy's height is again his Achilles heel, as dressed as a Monkeemen he insults Toto only to end up hurt when Totot turns the tables and calls him 'short'! Peter: Is very keen on Chinese food, especially fortune cookies (the band rarely have the chance to eat at posh places and Peter is by far the most excited!) Owns a new sports jacket which he's keen to give to Davy if anything happens to him. We see more of Peter's growing friendship with Micky too, Peter risking his life to save his friend and saying 'I'd put my arm in the fire for Micky!' at one point. This is also the only time in the series we see Peter write anything - he has huge handwriting and writes in block capitals, which is in keeping with comments elsewhere in this series about learning to read and write at age fifteen.
Things that don't make sense: The episode title, which roughly translated comes out as 'Monkees stir-fry noodles'! The Monkees must live in a very weird neighbourhood as yet another day out ends with one or other of them in danger. Just who are the Chinese pair trying to pass their doomsday bug plans on to anyway? Just how connected are they to the restaurant - they appear to be using it merely as cover in the opening, but have had time to set up 'four doors that lead to certain death' complete with cannons and 'drashig' monsters pinched from stock 1950s sci-fi film footage down below stairs and The Monkees know the restaurant enough to go there (perhaps it's very very cheap? We never do see the band pay their bill!) Why do the CIS insist on telling The Monkees about the bug and therefore putting their lives in danger? Oh and why do the spies have such doors in the first place - they don't seem to be expecting anything to go wrong! What exactly is Peter's plan to rescue Micky? He seems to all intents and purposes to be sitting down to eat another meal before he tries anything and hoping the goons won't recognise him (actually not a bad plan given what's happened to Micky!) He's still rather surprised when this week's baddies club him on the head, however! Oh and we never do see The Monkees taking Mr Schneider back after he's been 'kidnapped' (do the CIS agents bring him back for them?)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Micky - "We can't take you anywhere" Peter - "You took me here!" 2) Mike to CIS Agent Modell - "You see, it's all very simple. Peter picks up fortune cookies like that and feeds them to a dog we don't have. Now that makes sense, doesn't it?!" 3) Dragonman - "Bring me the boy with the long hair named Peter" Toto - "That's a funny name for long hair, master!" 4) Micky - "You fool you have brought him the wrong one. Bye!" Toto - "So sorry master, all Americans look alike to me!" 5) Peter - "What about plan A?" Chang - "So sorry sir, plan A not available" Peter - "Well, how about plan B?" Chang - "So sorry sir, plan B not available" Peter - "Well, what do you have?" Chang - "Plan C!" (Hits Peter on head with gong basher) Peter - "No, I don't think I care for that at all!"
Romp: Just the one, a rather manic 'Your Auntie Grizelda' which takes place as our fearful foursome are trying to escape their captors, a romp which makes good use of the 'four doors leading to certain death', mobs of teenage fans, a gorilla and a pair of chickens! As ever 'Grizelda's manic pace and sense of slight desperation is perfect for this sort of thing, but the lyrics are even less fitting than usual (unless the 'fudge' Grizelda is making turns out to be full of 'Chinese Chew'!)
Monkeemen: We see Mike as a Monkeeperson this week, dispelling rumours that he's the only 'mortal' Monkee in a band of superheroes. Only he and Davy are seen this week and their special powers include flying  (although Davy is dissuaded from this as the restaurant is 'only half a block' away) and being very very rude! Ultimately it's MIke's brains rather than their brawn that get the Monkeemen out of trouble, with Toto a surprisngly good shot in the insults line!
Postmodernisms: Micky, locked up, tells his captors 'I don't like the way you're acting!' Dragonman flashes back 'You're no Laurence Oliver yourself!' bringing attention back to the fact this is an acted TV series. So there. Elsewhere Agent Modell is phoned up and repeats the plot so far down the phone for people back after the advert break - 'Yes they captured one of the boys but they got the wrong one...we're planning to take action now...' When Mikes ask him who that was on the phone he replies 'I don't know!'
Mr Schneider: Is kidnapped instead of Peter (and seems to put up quite a struggle given how much difficulty Chang and Toto have carrying him away!) His saying for the week (sounding not unlike a fortune cookie himself in the process) is taken from Alfred Lord Tennyson: 'It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all'. Which I'm sure was of great comfort to Dragonman!
Review: Another Monkees episode written to a formula, but delivered with enough gusto and aplomb that it's easy to overlook that most of the plot is just like last week's (and most of the run so far!) What's harder for modern reviewers to overlook is the casual racism of this episode which seems to depict The Chinese as a bumbling power-mad race (to be fair an awful lot of Americans are shown to be bumbling and power-mad, but the joke about Dragonman mis-pronouncing hi 'l's so that 'clutches' becomes 'crutches' is perhaps a joke too far). Now that said, an awful lot worse than this exists from TV episodes of the period and Toto does at least get to throw the joke back on 'us' when he captured Micky by mistake and 'claims that 'all Americans look alike' to him. But this episode really jars in this season because it sits so against the series' general message of equality and brotherhood and peace and while The Monkees' series was never immune to cliche and caricature they don't quite send up the sort of patronising film this show is based on. The fact that only one of the three actors playing the roles are genuinely chinese (and the fact that Joey Forman as Dragonman has already appeared in the series before more 'normally') is unfortunate - a series like The Monkees feels as if it ought to be laughing at increasingly outdated customs like this somehow.
Still, that's what happens when you watch telly from half a century of social change ago and in general The Monkees is impressively free from problems like this. Had you been a viewer in 1966 this would have been normal and you'd have been too busy laughing at the band's hi-jinks to notice. Though repeating an old formula, writers Caruso and Gardner are still finding fresh things to do with the band's anarchic spirit and their characterisations of the Monkees (especially Peter, whose personality gets fleshed out nicely this episode) are spot-on. We're also back to another Monkees regular theme of The Monkees as (largely) innocent children caught up in a mad and corrupt adult world which is arguably where this series works best. Agent Modell is barely seen on screen (which is a shame because guest star Mike Farrell will go on to become one of the most famous bit-parts from the series playing BJ on long-running series 'Mash') but he's exactly the sort of incompetent authority figure the series loves sending up, not noticing when a 'shoe-shine boy' comes in and snoops around his office, even taking pictures. Note also that despite dressing hp as super-heroes not everything The Monkees' try comes off in this episode, in great contrast to the 'norm' of action series like this - Peter fails to rescue Micky, Davy and Mike's ruse to cook their own pizza in the chef's kitchens fails too and even The Monkeemen's superhero exploits as insulters don't work as well as they should. The script doesn't quite crackle with as many great one-liners as some other examples this series, but the pace is particularly strong and unusually for this era the band only have space for one romp and no extra footage at the end. Though the premise rather makes a meal of things 'Monkees Chow Mein' is still fine dining with writer, cast and directors all working hard to make this a success.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) If Dragonman looks familiar then that's because he'd already appeared in the series as 'Captain Crocodile' without the heavy makeup of this episode. Forman looks similar here to the Chinese character he played on the series 'Get Smart' which aired in 1965 and so would have been fresh in the memory of many viewers 2) Peter never does show us the sportsjacket he promises Davy in this episode - but gives his friend a rather odd-looking and ill-fitting one for a Christmas present one year according to 'The Christmas Show' - is it the same one?! 3) The CIS organisation are according to the script the same one seen un-named in the earlier episode 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cool' 4) This weeks' scripted ending, changed for shooting: after Peter reads his dangerous fortune cookie The Monkees change back into Monkee-men, but are arrested for public nudity after changing clothes in a phone booth! The romp as scripted also featured a chase scene involving American Indians, ants and rhinos although that sounds more like Gardner and Caruso taking the mickey out of the show's budget to me!
Ratings: At The Time 11.5 million viewers/AAA Rating: 7/10

TV Episode  #27
"Monkee Mother"
(Filmed January 1967; First broadcast March 20th 1967)
"Now we must observe some rules - we're all grown up people here!"
Music: Sometime In The Morning (Performance)/Don't Call On Me (Brief Instrumental)/Look Out (here Comes Tomorrow) (Performance)
Main Writer: Peter Meyerson and Bob Schlitt Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees have been given one last warning by Mr Babbitt the landlord - pay up or get out! When The Monkees can't he tells them he's rented out their pad to a friendly widow named Millie. She turns up, demanding that The Monkees carry her bags and bit by bit takes over their familiar pad. At first the Monkees are horrified - especially at Millie's response to their music (she's an old school gal) but as time goes on they become used to the idea (and Millie's cooking!), ending up doing all sorts of odd jobs for her. The Monkees are less keen on her many friends and relatives  with their many loud boisterous children, however, who have a habit of chasing The Monkees and 'capturing' them, tying them up with ropes in the process. Coming to their senses after Micky babyfeeds Peter a spoonful of pudding and realising how much Millie being around them has changed them, The Monkees decide to get rid of their new member as kindly as they can. Realising that Millie's removal man Larry has a sweet spot for her they arrange a romantic candlelight dinner that - eventually at least - works and Millie and Larry move out to get their own place. Yippee! However Millie reveals that she's only moving a couple of doors away and she'll come back to talk over old times lots ('tonight for instance!')
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is the Monkee who gets angriest at Millie's arrival, but he bottles it telling her to leave (as do the others in turn). Looks surprisingly good in a pinny and his designated 'job' appears to be washing dishes. Mike's hidden dream as admitted to Millie 'I just want to be a success - a couple of hit records and a go on a TV show or just something!' Wins whatever odd domino game The Monkees appear to be playing at the beginning of a scene. Has a particularly difficult time with the children (interestingly Mike isn't chased across the room with the other three and he's rarely seen doing much physical in romps, especially those involving heights - did the 'real' Mike have some physical problem in this time?) Plays an old song of his 'Don't Call On Me' on guitar to serenade Millie. Mike says he comes from a 'big family' - in reality he was an only child (though 'Monkees In Texas' hints that the fictional Mike comes from a big family too) Micky: His love of gadgets is put to good use by Millie, who gets him to fix her car (revealing for the first time that The Monkees have a garage, though oddly the Monkeemobile isn't in it) and a leaky faucet. It's Micky's idea to find her a husband, after he realises that he's picked up too many of Millie's habits and is spoon-feeding Peter like a baby.   Davy: Seems the fondest of Millie, listening to her story instead of telling 'his' and telling Millie just what she needs to hear ('I wouldn't have walked out on you Millie') even if Davy is as much a part of making her leave as the others. Davy is given an 'arranged match' this week with Clarisse, an 'English' girl Millie met at the supermarket and brought home (although her accent is clearly fake!) Seen drying dishes. Peter: It's Peter's turn to 'create filth on Mondays', whatever that means!  Can play the guitar, serenading Millie alongside Mike. Doesn't seem to object to being fed baby food by Micky. Apparently gets hot playing ping-pong.
Things that don't make sense: One minute Mr Babbitt is keen to throw The Monkees out in order to move Millie in - so she obviously doesn't know about her 'house guests' when she arrives. The Monkees basically stay because they don't want to go and Millie doesn't want to force them out - but why doesn't Mr Babbitt look more shocked or outraged to see them? The Monkees should have the same problem at the end of the episode too when Millie leaves but we never see Mr Babbitt again after this (did Millie arrange to pay their rent for them off screen - and then not tell them? That would fit with what we see of her character in this episode). My theory - and it's only a theory mind - is that Mr Babbitt is much 'nicer' than seen on screen and genuinely feels for his 'boys' (most landlords would have thrown them out long ago!) Is his decision to move Millie in (and then not object too much to them staying) a ruse to have a mother-type look after them? (Millie comes from nearby so perhaps she's always been a tenant of Mr Babbitt, whose trying to kill two Monkees with one Rolling Stone here: providing an impoverished band who need looking after with a lonely widow who needs attention which he knows they'll give?) It's also a little unclear what time period occurs in this episode: apparently its only been a 'few days' but it seems like much more on screen, with The Monkees readily opening up and 'knowing' what Millie needs before she's said it (this is a long-lasting relationship not a short-term fix).
Best Five Quotes: 1) Millie - "Food should not be eaten with the fingers" Mike - "Fingers should be eaten separately, right?" Micky - "My arms! I can't move my arms!" Mike - "No, I can't move your arms either!" 3) Millie - "have you met Rex Harrison yet?" Davy - "No!" Millie - "Why not? He's an English boy too" Davy - "I dunno - maybe he's avoiding me?!" 4) Millie  "This is Clarissa - I found her at the supermarket!" Peter - "Gee I don't know where we're going to put her - there's no room left in the fridge!" 5) Micky - "Chew carefully - now how are you going to grow up to be president if you don't chew properly?"  Peter - "But I don't wanna be president!" Micky - Shush - don't talk with your mouth full!"
Performances: Two straight-forward mimed performances of 'Sometime In The Morning' (how can Millie possibly not like this music?!) and Davy singing a most out of place 'Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) which really doesn't fir the intersplices scenes of Millie preparing to move out (perhaps he's singing it on Larry's behalf?!)
Mr Schneider: Is seen in the first scene but doesn't say anything. Is apparently made of wood (which makes sense, but it's good to have it confirmed he isn't a shrunken human doll from some mad missing Monkee episode or anything!)
Davy Love Rating: Two/Ten. A bit of an odd one this week. In an arranged partnership - with none of Davy's usual signs of instant attraction - he meets his only English girl on screen but his conversation with the obviously-not-English-really Clarissa is an odd one, with a detached Davy speaking terribly posh and telling her how bad a match for her he really is in a 'My Fair Lady' type way. Clarissa's response to everything he says bad about himself 'I don't care' - her re-action to Davy saying he's in love with her 'I don't care'.
Review: Well, this is an interesting experiment and no mistake. New writers for the series Peter Meyersen and Bob Schlitt - whether by accident or design - offer a whole new twist on the 'Monkees as the representatives of the young' by effectively re-introducing the band from the point of view of a nice but lonely old lady. The whole 'point' of this series up till now has rested on two things: that The Monkees are the band every teenager wants to be, not because of any success or skill but just through their sheer niceness - and that adult figures who look down on them turn out to be one hell of a lot more corrupt than The Monkees actually are. This episode doesn't change any of that, but it shifts both aspects - this is the only real time we see an 'authority' figure whose really 'human' and even if she's a little bit irritating Millie is just too darn nice not to like; it's the usual Monkees formula in reverse in other words, turning the tables back on a series that's always trying to present the youth of the day as something not to fear and instead showing that not all grown-ups are a bore. Millie is exactly what the parents at home would have been like - they tolerate The Monkees' music and hi-jinks but don't really understand either (and she still doesn't by the end of the episode, The Monkees failing to convert as they would on almost any other  less courageous TV show!) This ought to change every way this series works - but it doesn't, chiefly because we also get to see Millie interact with the band and they get on great by and large, so that this week both mums and dads and their off spring can both say 'see?' to each other - The Monkees are nicer than you think, but so are Millie. In actual fact they're such a good match for each other (she needs the attention - they need the love after so many years of getting by with nothing) that it's a rather shame that Millie has to leave at the end of the episode and it's a real tragedy the series never brings her back again for a re-match. Of course The Monkees want to get rid of her at first - she's an 'authority figure' to a band whose proved so many times what so many youngsters in every generation want to prove - that they don't need looking after and can cope with the usual human tragedies and crisis that crop up as well as solving spy-rings and kidnappings that even the police can't solve. But by the band they've kind of learnt not to fear her and that both sides have been of benefit to the other - the sudden 'realisation' that she's changed them too much feels forced and a little out of place; the one downfall of this episode is that The Monkees are actually quite mean at the end, setting up Millie and Larry's romance effectively on a 'lie' (though only a small one - this is an episode all about looking behind misconceptions; for all of Millie's jokes about the English being reserved and 'My Fair Lady'ish Davy is the full frontal ladies' man which is why its such a 'joke' for us to see him acting like standoffish Rex Harrison to attract Clarissa - its Larry and Millie who clearly fancy each other but never come out and say it). Now 'Monkee Mother' is far from perfect. The 'romp' with the children chasing The Monkees seems out of place (and its odd to see chaos in this series without a musical soundtrack to it) and we could have done with less plot and more 'character' as the scenes of Mike opening up to Millie about his doubts and fears the way he never can to his peers and Millie in turn opening up to Davy whose sensitive enough to know she's lonely is what this episode is all about. It's about a new understanding being drawn up between kids and their parents, with both acknowledging that actually the other isn't all bad. So much so that it's a shame the usual episode 'rules' have to get in the way and that we'll be back to normal next week - a sitcom spin-off based on this episode would have been fun!
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) If The Monkees look a little tired (especially in the 'chase' scenes) that's because they had to rush back from their first tour to record this episode - and rush off again straight after 2)  This episode's unfilmed sequence - The Monkees' hiring an audition to find Millie a suitable suitor but getting all sorts of unpleasant and unlikeable character - Larry arrived just as they'd 'given up'! 3) The tune you can hear Mike and Peter serenading Millie with is an instrumental version of the Nesmith song 'Don't Call On Me'. Mike had recorded this arrangement of the song (with words) back in his pre-Monkee days in a trio 'Mike, John and Bill' and will re-record it for the Monkees' fourth album 'Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD' later in the year (possibly after being reminded of it during the making of this episode) 4) No I didn't see this one either until reading about it but apparently the Monkees 'domino' game on a map where the dominoes come crashing down on Southeast Asia is a political reference to the Vietnam War
Ratings: At The Time 10.6 million viewers/AAA Rating: 9/10

TV Episode  #28
"Monkees On The Line"
(Filmed January and February 1967; First broadcast March 27th 1967)
"This is great - it's so quiet and everything. Almost like we're being paid to do nothing! Oh..."
Music: Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) (Romp)
(The 1969 repeat substituted 'Little Girl' for this song)
Main Writer: Coslough Johnson, Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees keep missing important phone calls and Mike decides they need an answering service. The group go along to the local telephone exchange to have a system set up - but the owner Mrs Drehdahl has had enough of the job and is leaving for a holiday in Jamaica. She's been looking for someone to take over and reckons The Monkees will do just nicely, leaving them the code of practice in the job - never get involved with clients. They're deeply reluctant to get involved, but a moving speech later and they're all too keen to get involved. Mike takes the first shift but the phones ring off the hook and he's concerned about a girl who phones up threatening to kill herself. Mike rushes off to help with Micky, while Davy and Peter stay behind. Micky and Mike discover the girl, Ellen, is missing from her house and rush off to search for her - eventually discovering that she's just left a theatre . Mike tracks her down at her flat again where she finds new more inventive ways to try to kill herself while Mike tries to stop her. Meanwhile Davy and Peter get involved with a gambling racket where two gamblers have been evading the laws in the state by phoning in their bets under fake names pretending they're rock and roll groups when really they're horses (because they all have wacky names right?) Davy has rushed off with an 'important' message to a policemen from his sweetheart - which causes great problems when he meets his wife and they're not the same person! Left behind Peter accidentally knocks a big red button on the wall which pushes a bed out from the wall for late-night shifts and finds himself stuck. Micky and Davy come back and rescue Peter before the gamblers walk in and try to shoot the trio for ruining their gambling bets (turns out Peter nominated a band he knew needed work instead of betting on the right horse - and it turns out that there really was a horse running with the same name!) Thankfully Davy's policeman turns up to complain and Davy sweet-talks him into dropping charges and arresting the two gamblers. Mike finally shows up, who offers a sob story about how poor and lonely she was and how badly she feels. Ellen, though, was just an actress 'living' the part of a suicide victim and she turns up to the telephone exhcnage in her posh clobber to thank The Monkees for their small part in helping her act.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: We've often seen Mike being the 'conscientious' Monkee and its especially true here as he abandons his job (and The Monkees' only likely pay-cheque) to rush to the aid of a girl he thinks is a genuine suicide risk. We also see his bossy side come into play, as he's cross at the other Monkees for never thinking to answer the phone when it might be important and calls another band meeting (perhaps because of last week's events, Mike is even more of a surrogate parent figure here than ever!) Mrs Drehdahl also seems to 'trust' Mike more than the others. Wins at the usual 'Monkee finger' game again, though he quite blatantly cheats this time. Mike reveals he has a cavity on his left molar that needs dental work - although quite why he reveals this to a policeman not a dentist is a different matter! Micky: Doesn't really get a plotline himself this week - instead he just follows Mike and later helps Davy get out of trouble. The gamblers think he (and later Davy) are 'smart kids'.  Davy: Gets caught up in someone else's complex love life for a change, but has the presence of mind to 'lie' to get things right again and is confident enough to stop a trio of gambler's shooting him and his friends. In an example of what American think British humour is all like, Davy also takes part in a chase sequence that's a blatant crib off Benny Hill (this is the cultural equivalent 'mistake' of assuming every single American drama looks like Dallas). Peter: Says he knows how to work a phone - but clearly doesn't have a clue! Peter struggles even more than the others to cope with the pressure of endlessly ringing phones, getting his answering message very confused every time he says it, and it's almost something of a relief when he becomes trapped in a giant bed. Micky says that Peter 'has a good heart' when he tries to give a job to a band The Monkees are friends with, 'The Pelicans'.
Things that don't make sense: Is the telephone exchange really Mrs Drehdahl's to give away? She doesn't act as if she cares for it much - and her holiday to Jamaica is either not yet booked or mighty fortunate timing that a group of people as easily duped as The Monkees come along at just the right moment. She must not think much of her business to leave it in charge of four people she's only just met - for all she knows The Monkees could have sold all the phones while she was away. Also there's that whole gambling thing - since when did a state (we never do find out where The Monkees are, though there are mentions of Hollywood and California seems likely) outlaw gambling instead of using it as effectively a tax on poor and desperate people? Why doesn't Peter give the supposed music 'job' to The Monkees - it would have been even funnier if a nag of this name had raced and come last! Oh and if Ellen was really 'living the part' of a suicide victim for the course of an entire theatre run then she'd have had a nervous breakdown long since (also what part is she playing and in what play? There's actually surprisingly few plays where the main character snuffs it by her own hand - it's something by Ibsen, probably!) Oh and of course the big one - why the hell is there a bed that comes out of the wall of a telephone exchange at the push of a large red button which has 'don't use' written all over it?! 
  Best Five Quotes: 1) Mrs Drehdahl - "Now that you guys are here I can go to Jamaica with a free mind" Mike - "Now wait - you haven't told me how to work this thing!" Mrs Drehdahl - "Nothing could be easier! The phone rings, ding-a-ling-ling. You plug it in the hole. You answer it, You write the message down. When the client calls you give them the answer - what could be easier?" Mike - "Going to Jamaica!" 2) Mike - "Err, whose this message for?" Ellen - "It's for the whole stinking rotten world!" 3) Davy held up by gangster - "Hey, do you think there's been foul play?" Micky - "I don't know, I didn't see the game!" 4) Micky - "hey, what happened to the girl?" Mike - "Well, through my clever manipulation of her heart strings and my masculinity and persuasiveness she..." Micky - "Jumped out the window?" Mike - "No, she just promised she wouldn't do anything until tomorrow" Peter - "Right - so then she jumps out the window?" 5) Mike - "Well you know what I always say - behind every dark cloud there's usually rain"
Romp: A frenetic 'Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) with gangsters, gorillas, policemen, telephones and beds coming out of the walls. Shame the song isn't more suitable though - with Davy intoning 'Sandra, I love you!' and the like while we see a running seven foot gorilla coming towards him on screen!
Postmodernisms: Mike gets up from being revived by the other Monkees (just look how gleefully Micky sprays him with his soda fountain!) and says he must be going. Before he goes though he needs his hat (blue this week, not green). 'Hat please!' he yells and someone off camera throw it to him. 'Who was that?' says Micky. 'Wardrobe' Mike replies!
Review: Of all the Monkee episodes, this is perhaps the one that's dated the most. In the 1960s this would have been a laugh-riot, full of a practice every young viewer would have known about if never actually used (a telephone exchange) and full of rip-offs of standard programmes - the peculiar English oddity Benny Hill (Davy may be English but his suave persona is so different to the slap and tickle of the, by 1967, deeply old hat comedy that the script seems to be making a point by suing Davy inn this way) and various American sitcoms of the day (there's a Dick Van Dyke Show that spends almost the full episode playing around with a bed similar to the one shown here that comes out of the wall). Usually The Monkees seems fresh and exciting to every generation, with fast-cuts that make it seem very modern which is partly why this series gets repeated so often for its vintage in the MTV day and beyond and rarely gets as tied into its era as this episode does. Nobody today for instance will understand why the telephone exchange exists at all (truth be told it didn't work that well even back then and wasn't quite as busy as its shown here - not everybody had a telephone back then anyway) or why having a bed coming out of a wall at the touch of a button is such a big deal. That means that modern viewers will spend most of the episode perplexed rather than enjoying the episode, which is far more episodic than most Monkee plots, with all the Monkees following their own sub-plots this week (instead of Micky who gets involved in bits of them all). It's all a bit manic, even by Monkees standards: we don't spend long enough of any of the three plot strands (Mike's suicidal girl, Davy's philandering policeman and Peter's gambling con) and the one we spend longest on - Mike's - is by far the least convincing and goes on for far too long. It's all a bit slapstick too - the Benny Hill chase isn't quite as out of place as the production crew probably meant it to be in an action-packed episode where everyone seems to be running all the time and which seems rather like one long romp. It's not all bad - there are some good lines and splitting the Monkees up for once gives us a chance to see how their different characters re-act to different events (all apart from Micky, whose under-used this week and doesn't even get a chance to wear a disguise) and breaking up the usual formula this late on in a long season is probably a smart move. It's just a shame that everyone involved decided to break the formula by making The Monkees look like so many other shows on the air at the time - The Monkees' average is better than so many other programmes from the time because it's fresh, it's funny and believable, with very modern ideas of pacing and direction (as well as featuring great acting and great music of course). This episode drags the band down to the level of mediocrity as everyone else around at the time (and I say that as someone who liked the Dick Van Dyke Show - though I couldn't bear watching them all!) and even The Monkees can't make an episode this bitty and chaotic work. Nice try, though.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) This was the last episode of the first season filmed, with four previously filmed episode to follow, which might account for the slight 'last day of term' quality of the acting! 2) This week's scripted ending which was never filmed - The Monkees go home, discover that a major network is after them and have to go back round to the telephone exchange to find out the address and phone number, slightly apprehensive after the chaos they've caused! 3) Ellen gets a fictional boyfriend named 'Jeffrey' whose name she screams in excitement at random moments. This was a sweet nod of the head to Bert Schneider's teenage step-son who was an unofficial script checker and watched episodes back to check for 'youngster jargon'! 4) According to the big phone the telephone exchange's number is 555-7231. I wouldn't ring it though - everyone's probably tied up at the exchange - literally...
Ratings: At The Time 11.8 million viewers/AAA Rating: 3/10

TV Episode  #29
"Monkees Get Out More Dirt"
(Filmed January 1967; First broadcast April 3rd 1967)
"April is the cruellest month!"
Music: The Girl I Knew Somewhere (Romp)
('Steam Engine' was substituted for 'Somewhere' on the 1969 repeat)
Main Writer: Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso   Director: Gerald Shepherd
Plot: The Monkees are paying a rare visit to their local laundromat. They have a new overseer, April Conquest, whose busy studying for a major in laundry science and all four Monkees are instantly smitten. Back at the pad they all come up with excuses to go see her and arrive at the laundromat separately. Annoyed at each other, each Monkees vows tos sweep April off her feet and they each try to find out what hobbies April has. Mike, pretending to be psychiatrist Dr Freud, discovers April likes motorcycles. Micky, posing as a TV quiz show researcher, discovers April likes the ballet. Davy, posing as the BBC ('Better Be Clean') discovers that April likes pop art. Peter, phoning up April's neighbours, discovers she likes classical music. They all arrive at the laundromat for a showdown and April falls in love with all of them. Things go wrong when Mike's motorcycle crashes into Micky and then Davy's canvas and the band go home to lick their wounds. They divide the pad into four so they don't have to speak to one another but Peter - who has the TV in his quarter of the house - hears his letter to an agony aunt being read out. She reveals that she's also had a letter from a 'miss laundromat' that she's had a nervous breakdown because of falling in love with four boys. Realising that only one of them can have her The Monkees play rock, scissors, paper and Peter wins. Leaving him to open the laundromat (so April doesn't go out of business) the others go to April's house to tell her that they no longer share the same hobbies and put up with Peter's gloating as he prepares for a romantic dinner. Only April can't come - she knocks on the door with a new boyfriend in tow telling the band that her real love is rock music and she's just met a musician, Freddy Fox III. The Monkees are distraught until four new neighbours come round asking where the laundromat is - realising they have a girl each The Monkees cheer up straight away!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Washes his trainers in the laundry and wears them home afterwards, even though they're still wet. Uses the excuse of 'buying dog food' and then 'buying a dog' in his haste to see April. Pretends to be 'Dr Frood, er, Freud' in his disguise to talk to April about her hobbies. Gets to ride a motorcycle to win over April's heart. Mike's quarter of the house is the bathroom. Micky: Uses the excuse that he has a 'sick aunt' he hasn't seen for seven years in his quest to see April. Pretends to be from a quiz show to research her hobbies. Is rather alarmed to find out April likes ballet, but goes through with it anyway. His quarter of the house is the kitchen, the part everyone else wants ('big deal' says Micky as he opens an empty fridge!)  Davy: Uses the excuse of wanting to train to become a boxer (see 'Monkees in the ring') and runs off to do 'roadworks' to stay fit as his excuse for rushing off to see April. Pretends to be from British institution The BBC (which here stands for 'Better Be Clean') and puts on his poshest English accent to ask about April's hobbies. Takes to pop art, charging a fortune for his paintings. Davy's quarter of the house has the front door. Peter: Has a habit of tearing his buttons off so that the laundromat doesn't do this - the other Monkees are puzzled but don't dispute the logic of this. Without any Monkees left in the house he doesn't need an excuse to rush off to see April! Shinning up a telephone pole, he phones Aprikl's neighbours to ask what they've seen her up to - apparently she has classical concerts in the back garden which is rather useful for him! Can play the piano in a classical style (more on this in the '33 and a third' TV special) and at short notice manages to come up with a trio of string musicians and a piano on wheels! Peter's quarter of the house has the TV in it, much to the others' envy. Peter also plays acoustic guitar during the 'meeting' scene back at the band's pad. Peter's 'code name' in his agony aunt letters start off as 'anguished' and end up as 'tormented'. The Agony Aunt considers Peter's letter 'ungrammatical' (other episodes hint at Peter having trouble writing) and struggles with numbers too, counting 'five' when the others count 'four' girls at the end of the episode.
Things that don't make sense: Not so very long ago The Monkees had their own washing machine in the pad and don't seem to have been using this laundromat very long - did the old one break? (Did Mike keep putting his trainers in?!) Davy's paintings look more expressionism than the more consumerised, collage-style pop art (though Davy's art is clearly still close enough to keep April smitten). How does Davy leave third from the Monkees' pad - and arrive at the laundromat first, without passing Mike or Micky along the way? How do The Monkees get April's telephone number or find out where she lives? How do they all manage to choose different hobbies by chance (and why I'll buy that laundry science is a real subject in Monkee-land, how does April, a phd student, have time for all these interests anyway?! I never had this much time when I was writing my university dissertation on, well, The Monkees as it happens!) Can being in love with four people at once really induce a nervous breakdown? If so then why are Katie Price, Hugh Heffner and a whole host of others still alive? How do The Monkees get the keys to open up the laundromat (and would April really go out of business in just one morning?) Peter seems to win 'rock scissors paper' with...a single finger (since when did that win? It should be a 'rock' as the other three have 'scissors'!) The American postal service works a lot quicker than mine if Peter's letters can reach the agony aunt within hours of the events happening on screen!
Best Five Quotes: 1) April - "I'm working on my doctor's thesis" Mike - "Well, why can't your doctor work on his own thesis?" (Never gets old that one!)  2) Agony Aunt - "Do you know the best route to a woman's heart is through her mind?" Davy - "Do you know, I'd have never thought of that!" 3) Mike - "I'm doing research on women - and boy are you ever a woman! (wolf whistles) No, I didn't hang up - I sort of got hung up!" 4) Davy - "Oh yes it is terribly true - England does swing like a pendulum do!" 5) Agony Aunt - "The letter reads 'dear doctor, my three friends and I are all in love with the same woman and I wouldn't lose them for all the world (the other Monkees cheer) so my question is, what can I do cut them out?" (The other Monkees all boo!)
Romp: Just the one, an extra manic one to the sound of 'The Girl I Knew Somewhere', the band's latest single which makes for a rather good soundtrack - and this is one of the more fitting musical romp choices lyrically too! During the course of the romp Davy paints, Micky dances, Peter conducts and Mike rides a bike while April switches round from one to another.
Davy Love Rating: a nine/ten, which leaves him stuttering open mouthed and repeating 'soap!' over and over. Unfortunately for Davy April has the same effect on his three friends too and April seems to like them all equally (Davy' usual charms aren't working this week!)
Postmodernisms: The Agony Aunt has a habit of talking directly to The Monkees even though she's pre-recorded and on TV. 'That's right, what of it?' says Davy. 'I'll tell you what of it!' she huffily replies. Near the end of the episode Peter worries about how to get into the laundromat but Micky tells him just to improvise - 'you can't expect the writers to think of everything!' he says.
Review: An excellent attempt at doing something 'new' with the formula, 'Get Out More Dirt' is somehow at once very Monkees colourful (OTT scenes of motorcyles and paint and musicians and Micky leaping everywhere) and the single most believable episode of the entire series. This episode doesn't involve crooks or gangsters or spies but a simple laudromat - itself quite a break-through for a 'sitcom' (the format The Monkees, indefinable as it is, still most closely resembles) in that the 'heroes' are shown doing something so ordinary - and could in theory happen to the male viewer and their friends. For the only time ever during the course of the series run The Monkees have their first serious falling out, dividing up the pad that's usually the scene of togetherness and freedom into four distinct sections. They all want to be with the same girl and till common sense comes through near the end they all risk their long-standing friendship to be with her. Julie Newmar, as April, plays a much bigger role in this episode than the guest cast usually does as all the action revolves her this week and does so magnificently, falling in love with each in turn and effectively playing the 'Davy' role this week (she's just innocently going about her studies when all this mayhem happens around her - it's interesting to see the 'twist' the other with the consequences for the other half after seeing Davy disrupt the lives of all sorts of girls!) The script crackles with one-liners and adds quite a bit of character between all four Monkees, who spend far more of the episode as a quartet than they usually do even when conniving between themselves. The plot drags a bit in the middle but livens again nicely with the laugh out loud scenes with the agony aunt talking to the band through the television - it's exactly what Peter would do and his second letter's mixture of friendship and jealousy is wholly believable. Quite often Monkee episodes lose out in the last few minutes and simply 'end' but not this one, which comes with the moral twist that the band should have simply been themselves as April takes up with a Roger McGuinn lookalike (it might be significant that April's laundromat is called 'Clothes Lines are for the Byrds'!) - you really feel for Peter. However the episode has another twist in store and an all too rare happy ending as The Monkees' new neighbours happen to move in next door (what happens to them in later episodes?!) The Monkees' team should have really made more episodes like this, mixing the bright cartoon-style the quartet do so well with the more 'realist' elements of the episode. The end is result is a late period series one triumph. But then again you knew that already didn't you? ('Do fish swim?)
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Julie Newmar, who plays April Conquest, was then appearing as 'catwoman' in 'Batman' - there were an awful lot of cross-overs between the two shows! 2) Writers Gardner and Caruso clearly loved this episode - they'll return to the art world, ballet and motorcycles during their scripts for the Monkees' second series! 3) If you're wondering who the man with a box of detergent is who keeps arriving in host, he's Wally Cox who was well known on American TV at the time for his detergent adverts for the company Salvo. 'Put a giant in your box!' was their slogan while Cox wrestled with the washing machine - however he was never gripped with a giant arm in the adverts like he is in this episode!  4) Instead of just using stock music, the poor string quartet Peter brings along really are playing live! 5) An art company named themselves 'April Conquest' after the character in this episode. Fittingly, they were hired to draw the psychedelic swirls on the artwork for Rhino's outtakes CD 'Missing Links Volume Two'! 6) The director of this episode, Gerald Shepherd, is the same 'Jerry Shepherd' who'll be credited as 'producer' on series two of 'The Monkees' 7) This is the first episode not to credit musical supervisor Don Kirshner, who will never again get his name on a Monkees product after going behind the band's back and releasing 'A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You' as a single without their consultation 8) This weeks' credit blunder: 'The Girl I Knew Somewhere' has turned into 'A Girl I Knew Somewhere'
Ratings: At The Time 10.4 million viewers/AAA Rating: 9/10

TV Episode  #30
"Monkees In Manhattan"
(Filmed October 1966; First broadcast April 10th 1967)
"There's got to be more than one person in New York whose willing to produce a show that's written by an unknown and directed by an unknown and starring The Monkees!"
Music: The Girl I Knew Somewhere (Romp)/Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) (Romp)/Words (First Version) (Performance)
(The 1970 repeat substitutes 'Acapulco Sun' for 'The Girl I Knew Somewhere')
Main Writer: Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso   Director: Russell Mayberry
Plot: The Monkees have got their big break at last! Well nearly, as they turn up at the hotel of a producer, Baker, who thinks the band would be perfect for his show only to discover that he he's behind in his rent and is about to be thrown out! Baker has a backer (Backer has a baker?) who is due to pay up at noon - if only there was some way of stalling the Hotel manager till then? Thankfully The Monkees are on hand for a series of wild diversions and schemes in a plot-lite episode this week. When Baker's backer drops out, though, rather than give up they rush to a Millionaire's club that just happens to be across the road and put on their best disguises. Though the millionaire investors aren't interested the club's butler comes to their rescue and the band put on a show right here! Well not quite - the butler isn't keen on the leads being played by four guys and wants four girls instead, leaving The Monkees telling Baker to accept the offer and remember them for his next hit show instead, sadly wandering off to get their bus with the lights of fame still dancing in their eyes.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is at his bossy best again, organising several schemes such as ordering room service to the room opposite and intercepting it and flattering the waiter into becoming a star if only he can bring the right sort of foodstuffs...His millionaire disguise is 'H L Nesmith', tycoon and owner of Houston, Texas Micky: His millionaire disguise is 'Sheikh Veroob Dolenza', an Arab who talks mainly in hand gestures. Dresses up as a doctor to delay the band getting kicked out the hotel. Davy: Or 'David Armstrong Jones',  rich millionaire's song from jolly old England whose family dates back 'to the earliest rich people'. Peter: His millionaire's disguise is as Peter De Witt, a millionaire's son whose family made their name in...garbage disposal! (Davy really should have known better than to let Peter speak!) According to one of Micky's disguises has the plague!
Things that don't make sense: Baker is pretty useless at this - why book into what's clearly an expensive hotel to organise his show instead of renting one (if he wanted to impress clients then why hire an unknown band like The Monkees who'd have been impressed with anything?) It also takes the Monkees - and Peter at that - very little time to notice the Millionaire's club across the road. Why did Baker not try this himself? Why would the millionaires invest when The Monkees pretending to be millionaires won't put money into their own show? Why is a butler rich enough to invest in a show working as a butler in the first place? (he says he's invested in a few shows down the years, but they must have been flops if he's back working here!) Oh and why is the hotel room so important anyway - sure the band need somewhere to stay but they don't need the hotel to put on the show per se and if they can find the bus fare between them surely they can find a cheap place to rent?
Best Five Quotes: 1) Hotel Manager Weatherwax - "Perhaps you can visit relatives Baker? Preferably distant ones? And who are you - a group or just a bunch of long haired weirdoes?" 2) Weatherwax - "This man has the plague? Is it contagious?" Micky - "Did you ever hear of a case of the plague that wasn't?!" Weatherwax - "What I want to know is, is he sick or is it just sham?" Micky - "Of course he's really sick - he had Sham when he was twelve years old!" 3) Waiter - "I can't get you all those things to eat! What about Weatherwax?" Mike - "No the liver and the artichokes will be just fine!" 4) David Armstrong Jones - "This is H L Nesmith who owns a small holding over in Texas, what was the name of it again?" Mike - "Houston!" 5) Sheikh Veroob Dolenza - "I consider the theatre immoral- and so do all my wives!"
Romp: Two this week. A rare performance of 'The Girl I Knew Somewhere' suits the frenetic chase scene as the Monkees are pursued around the hotel room, causing chaos along the way. As ever, though, the lyrics don't really fit. The other romp is 'Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)' as the band show off their film - and what a strange film it is too, including all sorts of random clips from past episodes (and featuring clowns, bandits, spacemen, Monkee Men and old fashioned dancing!) The lyrics too would suggest its one of those films where everything goes wrong - which would be in keeping with The Monkees' lives as characters, if not their enthusiastic, youthful spirit (presumably why Baker thought they'd be right for his play). This is a slightly different mix of the song compared to the version on 'More Of The Monkees' with a more prominent organ part.
End segment: A stunning performance of 'Words', which is ever so nearly the 'More Of The Monkees' outtake first version as late released on 'Missing Links Two' in 1997. This alternate edit of the song chickens out on the backwards guitar solo, however, cutting it out completely with a timely cymbal crash. Micky and Peter share the microphone in this mimed performance whilst Davy does double duty on drums and windchimes, Peter plays the guitar and a bored looking Mike mimes the bass part. Nice to see Peter's one and only 'performance' that isn't 'Auntie Grizelda' though.
Interview: This episode is one of the Monkees' shortest in terms of the main content so it's padded out by not only 'Words' but a three-part interview segment. It's one of the band's best, with several quotable moments and a sense of each Monkees' characters (including Micky's unexpected shyness). Show co-creator Bob Rafelson asks the questions again and starts off by asking - aptly as things will turn out - what the band will do when the fame is all over (Peter 'I'd go back to the village and be a folk-singer' Davy 'I'd got back to the village and watch him be a folk-singer' Mike 'I'd go burn down the village!')  Peter wants 'Texas', Davy wants 'Ursula Andress' or failing that 'a jet' while Mike adds 'we've all got what we want, man' and Micky spurns material objects ('I figure when you have enough money then you don't need all the material stuff around you'). Mike - whose poverty background was very different to Micky's - seems oddly perturbed by this and answers his colleague 'Well, sure you do!' although the drummer doesn't notice or reply to this. Mike then goes on to plug his new concept 'love something ugly week' (because anyone can love something beautiful - it takes talent to love something ugly!) leading to a row over who the ugliest is between Mike and Davy (Peter keeps quiet; Micky grins 'well, I lose!') Bob has to wade in further and asks 'Does that apply to people too?' to which Mike replies 'Well, it applies to you a lot Bob!' (How many other show creators would allow themselves to be teased on air like this?!) A second segment features Davy and Peter showing off their make-up artist Keever to the cameras. Peter says that his job is to 'make up' when the boys argue and Davy jokingly threatens and jostles him ('Say something better than that, Keever!') although their mutual affection shines through - the make up man, put on the spot, saying that 'I like them all very much - I am of course a father myself...') A third segment continues a conversation Bob and Mike were having over lunch about things that money can buy and Mike's comments that he wants a house. Bob wants to know why. Mike is struck du,b by the question: 'Why do I want a house? Why do you like that shirt, Bob? This is unbelieveable - why do I want a house? To keep the wind offa me! Because when it rains you get wet in the parking lot!'
Improvisation: 'New York New York what a wonderful town!' Davy sings at the start, 'The Bronx is up and the battery's down' - he doesn't seem to notice that his hands are pointing the wrong way for both actions!
Review: An interesting episode that makes a nice change from what is becoming something of a tired formula of gangsters and spies, actually taped relatively early in The Monkees' run (about ten episodes earlier) but it was arguably a sensible decision to hold the episode back till now when the change in pace makes for a bigger impact. It's nice to see The Monkees as a proper group for once in a believable script (well, up to a point) rather than happening to bump into that weeks' master criminal (there must be a lot in San Francisco!) Baker is nicely underplayed by Dick Anders in a part that could easily have gone OTT as he believes in both his show and the band but can't quite make ends meet (The Monkees know about that alright!) It's a shame that more wasn't made about their shared low fortune in fact - having the hotel manager as, say, the cousin of landlord Babbitt might have been great fun! Though there's not much plot to go on this week, that's actually all too good as The Monkees are still enthusiastic enough to fill in all the holes. There are some great semi-improvised scenes here with the scene of Peter having the plague and the Monkees fooling the waiter into delivering their room service to the wrong door terribly funny. The running gag of the hapless drunk waiting for his room to be ready only to have to keep retreating to the bar while the rabbits he has with him continue to multiply is a very Monkees joke: nobody even mentions it, as obvious as they try to make it, whilst the hint of what the rabbits are up to is actually quite subversive for family television in 1966. Best of all are the scenes of The Monkees as millionaires, taking the mickey out of the establishment (especially Mickey) and each with their own believable back-stories. Never has the band's penchant for dressing up been put to better use! Unusually its the romps that let this story down a little, with two similar escapades at least one too many (especially as 'Look Out' features so much recycled footage yet again!) while the script arguably needs a little something extra - hence all that (admittedly fascinating) padding of the best Monkees interview segment(s) and the rarely seen 'Words'. However the twist is a great one - Baker tries to do the right thing but The Monkees beat him to it, all their hard work - for the moment - going unrewarded as they set off slowly for the bus they can't really afford, their dreams squashed again. The Monkees is a series at its best when sad moments like these intermingle between the comedy (this band are, after all, on the poverty line - its pretty much the first series to take the glamour out of show-biz; at least most weeks). Though not quite the very best, 'Manhattan' is another very strong episode from a series that's declined a little to auto-pilot recently.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Many of the scenes take place in the same set used on 'Royal Flush' - perhaps another reason why this episode was held back in the series' running order. 2) A cut scene from early on in this episode has The Monkees learning that the hotel manager has money and try to interest him in the show - this is why he gets so angry over the course of the episode at them as well as Baker 3) Several clips from this episode can be seen in the opening titles from series two, most notably the unexplained part of the 'Look Out' romp where the band start wearing bunny ears!
Ratings: At The Time 10.2 million viewers/AAA Rating: 8/10

TV Episode  #31
"The Monkees At The Movies"
(Filmed August 1966; First broadcast April 17th 1967)
"It's gonna be hard to replace Frankie - I mean where do you find a kid who can't sing, act or surf?"
Music: A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You (Romp)/Last Train To Clarksville (Romp)/Valleri (First Version) (End Performance)
(''When Love Comes Knockin At Your Door' was the episode listed in TV variety instead of 'Little Bit' - was it originally filmed with that song in mind but switched when the episode was delayed?)
Main Writer: Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso   Director: Russell Maybury
Plot: The Monkees are playing at the beach when they accidentally stand on sand that's been in the sun for hours in bare feet. Their frenetic 'ouch' dance grabs the attention of Kramm, a Beach Movie film director who think the band are hip young teenagers with a new dance. He hires them to appear in his new movie 'I Married A Creature From Out Of Town'. Their star Frankie is rude and obnoxious to them and The Monkees decide to plot revenge: tampering with his make-up to make him look like a monster, tampering with the record to which Frankie mimes to some pre-recorded singing (bit of a dig there!) and altering his cue cards so that he says all the wrong words. Frankie storms off the set so The Monkees set about installing a replacement: Davy. Suddenly Davy's name and voice seems to be everywhere: when Kramm meets a bunch of strangely Monkee-looking reporters, when he turns on the radio to listen to a local DJ and when he passes two familiar looking teenagers on the beach trading Davy Jones records. Davy is hired but - disaster! Fame goes to his head as well and Davy only returns to normal when the band tie him up.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is described by Frankie as 'wearing a silly green bonnet'. Introduces himself to Kramm as 'Nesmith - variety!' Has a Davy Jones record he's trying to sell - at a costly price! Micky: Is described by Frankie as a 'scarecrow in shorts', an insult that seems to really hurt Micky whose the most pro-active in thinking up a campaign of revenge. Introduced himself to Kram as 'Dolenz- reporter!' Can do a great impression of a radio DJ using his only his voice and a tin-can on 'The Micky The D Show'! Davy: Draws the 'short straw'. Really doesn't want to be a star - until he becomes one, when Davy's slightly narcisstic side comes into force once again and he snubs his former friends. Peter: Is described by Frankie as 'you, with your stupid expressions!' Introduces himself to Kramm as 'Tork - hanger on!' Has a whole bunch of records he wants to swap for Davy's masterpiece - Peter seems to have a taste for blues singer Blind Lemon Jefferson, pop band The Lovin' Spoonful and 'Bobby Darin sings his tax returns!'  Peter - perhaps the most 'authentic' Monkee character in terms of hating all things fake - particularly hated the last Kramm-directed beach movie
Things that don't make sense: What is the plot of 'I Married A Creature From Out Of Town?' Even for a beach movie the plot seems very odd, mainly consisting of walking round beaches and singing! Also, isn't even (or perhaps especially) a star as big as Frankie kept to a contract with the film studio? Wouldn't they have to start again after re-casting Davy instead of just finishing off (the two aren't that similar - there's a height difference for starters!)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Director's Nephew Philo: "Boys, say hello to Mr Luther Kramm. He gave you 'Beach Party Honeymoon!" Peter - "He didn't give it to us - we had to pay for it" Mike - "Yeah, it cost us 80 cents at a drive-in" Kramm - "But it was worth it wasn't it?" Mike - "Hmm, you owe us 60 cents!" 2) Kramm - "This isn't just a beach movie, this is a cinema landmark - it's about sadness, pain and cruelty, all the things that make life worthwhile!" 3) Kramm "Now to make a film teenagers will want to watch - even at a drive-in!" 4) Davy - "Music's our scene, not jumping around at the beach!" 5) Kramm - "It's a message picture. And the message is, if we don't finish this in five days - we're in trouble!"
Romp: Two this week: The strains of 'Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)' were originally intended to have been heard when The Monkees are causing mayhem on the film set and trying to wreak revenge on Frankie. It would have been a good fit given how Frankie must be feeling at this point and the scenes of what Micky especially is up to is hilarious: the monster make-up, the false cue cards, the sped-up record...Poor, poor Frankie! However replacement song 'A Little Bit Me' fits too, hinting at Frankie's narcissistic  tendencies. The second romp 'Last Train To Clarksville' (the seventh and last romp set to this old Monkee favourite) is very inventive too: it's a whole mini-scene with Peter as the damsel in distress tired to a train track, Davy as the hero trying to rescue him, Micky as the evil baddie with moustache to twirl and Mike as his henchman. In typical Monkee form though our expected happy ending is inverted: Davy stops the train but is knocked out by Peter, who ties him up on the rails instead! For some reason there's a slight edit during the opening introduction to this song not present on other TV mixes.
End Performance: Another famous Monkee moment as the band perform Boyce and Hart's original version of 'Valleri'. I'm not sure whether it was intended or not but it's perfect here, following straight on from Davy's ego trip, given the fact that midway through the opening the camera zooms round to have Davy at the front and the rest of the band way in the background (Davy really looks the part of a 'star' here too, more than before or since). This mimed performance was particularly popular with fans and DJs on local radio who 'taped' the song from the episode to broadcast. Colgems were under big pressure to release this song as a single - but by the time they got round to it there was a clause in The Monkees' contract that every song they released as a single post-Kirshner had to be either produced by them or someone they appointed (like Chip Douglas). This Boyce and Hart number was then re-made for 'The Birds and The Bees' and this earlier, arguably superior version got stuck in the vaults until release on 'Missing Links Two' in 1997.
Interview: A quick chat is slotted in, mainly with Davy and Mike and clearly a continuation of what the band were chatting about last week. Davy recounts a funny story that happened during the band's off season: he gave his brother-in-law, a big burly policeman, a Monkee sweatshirt and hat 'for a giggle'. Being so big the hat looked like a 'peanut' on him and the sweatshirt barely went past his middle. However, his brother-in-law still proudly wore both - right up until the point where a robbery broke out and he ran after and caught the assailant. However none of the policemen who were called in believed he was really a policeman given the state he was in! Mike then talks about buying a rolls royce and painting it funny colours and then be noticed on the 'freeway' where it's broken down and showing it off to passers by. However then things turn ugly for a few seconds as both Davy and Mike talk about the furore over the band not being 'real' musicians. Mike is particularly cross, recounting how a reporter asked him that two minutes before going on stage and recounting 'I'm about to on stage in front of 72,000 people - if I don't know how to play my own instrument I'm in a lot of trouble!"
Postmodernisms: For once the  instances of 'breaking the fourth wall' on this show come from the movies not The Monkees. Walking onto the film set Micky puts on his best W C Fields voice and announces 'look at that rock - it's a phony rock, look at that tree - it's a phony tree, look at that girl - oh yeah!', even though 'we' know that The Monkees' series is always using sets (ironically enough this is a rare case of location filming taking place at a beach!) The 'speeding up' of the pre-mimed music may also be a dig at The Monkees' issues with 'authenticity'.
Davy Love Rating: About a nine - but with himself this week!
Review: One of my all time favourite Monkee episodes, this is the band doing what they were meant to do (puncturing old fashioned traditions and middle-aged men thinking they can sell kids what they want) but with such panache and humour you're too busy giggling to notice the message. The movie industry is ripe for Monkee pickings, being so pretentious and phony and it's interesting that the writers should pick on Beach B movies - the epitome of the 'old' way of doing thin gs back in the 1950s, which is all about heroes and fakeness. The Monkees, despite the row about their authenticity, were never painted as 'heroes' - they're lovable losers destined always to be in debt but doing something that they love. The comments on how the movie industry 'really' works, with Bobby Sherman excellent as a Frankie Avalon type whose truly hopeless but believes in his own star quality all the same, is a prescient statement for the show to make at this time, a comment on 'why pick on The Monkees? Past generations were always fakes!' (Interestingly, though, this episode seems to have been another one 'held back' and was probably made somewhere around episode 12 in the main - perhaps because it under-runs by so much even with two romps included this week that a performance and interview tag had to be inserted!) The script is terrific, giving The Monkees a real reason to fight a menace this week (Frankie's loathsome behaviour) and the band are much more pro-active than normal where instead of getting caught up in events they actively try to disrupt the film. The episode gives all four something to do but is especially good for Davy and Micky - Davy's biggest fault, his gullibility and belief when other people tell him he's great, gets another workout here with Jones hilarious dressed up in Frankie's 1950s blonde beach style hairdo. Micky, though, is served even better - he's by far the most insecure Monkee (as a character), the most adamant about being even when insulted and goes to outrageous methods to get his own back (his performance as the DJ is so Micky and so spot on). The guest cast too are spot on throughout and unlike some settings that don't seem believable at all you can imagine this happening at The Monkees' local beach. The romps too are amongst the best in the series, genuinely inventive and full of energy compared to many of the half-hearted ones to come, and the mimed performance of 'Valleri' is one of the classic Monkee musical moments from the show. Even the interview snippets are amongst the best, with Davy's humour and Mike's seriousness showing just how odd it was to be a Monkee in late 1967, trapped in the eye of a storm that was showing no sign of dying. This episode  is a treat from beginning to end and perhaps the last of the absolute classic Monkee instalments without having to add a 'but this doesn't work' part at the end of our review or coming up with a list of excuses about why it didn't quite work.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Look out for the 'director's chairs' at the back of the set - Kramm's reads 'Mr Kramm' naturally enough but Philo's reads 'Yes Mr Kramm!' 2) 'I Married A Creature From Out Of Town' is most likely a spoof on the 1958 science-fiction classic 'I Married A Monster From Outer Space' 3) When pretending to be reporters, Micky name-checks The Hollywood Reporter and Mike name-checks Daily Variety - both these music magazines carried the original advert for The Monkees ('Madness!!! Auditions!') that the quartet answered in 1966 4) Listen out for the list of names Kramm says has rejected the role - one of them is Bob Raybert, a homage to Monkees co-creators Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider who named their production company Raybert 5) That Davy Jones record that Peter is trying to buy is a real record. It's the pre-Monkees one Davy released on Colpix in 1965 although it doesn't contain any of the wacky songs mentioned in the script! 6) This episode's Frankie Catalina is a direct parody of Beach Movie star Frankie Avalon - Avalon is in fact a town found on Catalina Island 7) This is another episode affectionately lampooned in 'Head', where Beach Movie star Annette Funicello appears 8) Micky did go on to have his own radio show in 2005, 'Micky In The Morning' on station WCBS, but sadly didn't call himself 'Micky The D' (a homage to Murray The K!)
Ratings: At The Time Alas, due to a strike, no ratings were collected this week!/AAA Rating: 10/10

TV Episode  #32
"The Monkees On Tour"
(Filmed January and March 1967; First broadcast April 24th 1967)
"A lot of groovy things have happened to us this year..."
Music:  The Girl I Knew Somewhere (Romp)/Last Train To Clarksville/Sweet Young Thing/Mary Mary/Cripple Creek/You Can't Judge A Book By Looking At The Cover/I Wanna Be Free/I Gotta Woman/(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone/I'm A Believer (Performance Snippets)
(The 1967 repeat substituted 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' and 'Words' for 'Somewhere' and 'Believer')
Main Writer: Robert Rafelson (What did he write exactly? It's all improvised!)  Director: Robert Rafelson
Plot: For the only time in the entire 58 episodes of The Monkees we get to see the 'real' Monkees at work and play across a whole episode - the closest we get to a 'fictional' account is Davy's jovial introduction where in March 1967 he introduces us to 'what happens on the night of a show' as the others fool around in disguises. After that we return back to January and the band's first concert tour. In the first half of the show The Monkees arrive to a horde of screaming fans, The Monkees get changed while Micky sleeps in, Davy gets chased by a swan (!), Davy, Micky and Peter fool around on horses, Mike fools around with a different kind of horsepower by driving off in the Monkeemobile, the whole band take over a radio station (the DJ is seen tied up in the corner!), Micky multi-tasks by signing autographs first in a disguise as a robot replica and then on rollerskates, Davy fools around on a quad bike and Mike interviews an eighteen year old competition winner on the radio. In the second half of the show we see the Monkees perform, first as a unit and then in their 'solo spots' interspersed with a quieter reflective interview with each Monkee. We then cut back to Mike at the radio station for the last word of series one, thanking all the band's favourite groups and their fans for 'making this such a wonderful time'.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: His show piece is a rock version of Willie Dixon's blues song 'You Can't Judge A Book By Looking At The Cover'. The 'real' Mike appears to be much the same as the fictional one - he's confident bordering on bossy and the one who naturally takes charge. Is the only band member not seen on horseback (which fits with the other episodes - does Mike not like heights?) Is seen driving The Monkeemobile. Appears clumsy in the 'breakfast' scene although to be fair he is trying to 'fake' being clumsy before dropping his cutlery genuinely! Was ambitious to be a musician even his his school days.  Micky: His vocal showcase is James Brown's 'I Got A Woman' which he performs in Brown's theatrical style - he collapses, exhausted, with Mike trying to carry him off before fighting his way back to microphone. In 'Mary Mary' Micky also sings only when Mike plays the guitar, leading to an entertaining double act. The 'real' Micky is very different to his 'stage' persona, very quiet and withdrawn especially round crowds of people (he gets round it by pretending to be a mute robot!) Micky is also calm personified in his interview, talking about the show not being what he wants to be remembered for long-term and wanting to create something 'lasting'. He also has a tendency to sleep in late, as Peter's exasperated 'Micky!' when he's asleep in bed suggests he's done this sort of thing before!  Davy: His solo spot on this tour is actually the traditional tune 'Gonna Build A Mountain' (which Davy finally gets to sing in the 1997 TV special 'Episode #781') but for the purposes of this episode it's 'I Wanna Be Free'. The 'real' Davy is much less vein and romantic than his fictional part but shares many of the same qualities - much more so than Manic Micky and Dummy Peter. This 'Davy' gets bored easily, even resorting to playing around with swans for a film crew at 11am because he has nothing else to do and clearly loves animals (his favoured horse is 'a nice rough one'!) While the others use their interviews to reflect on changes and the artificiality of life on the road, Davy is much the same as he in on stage, thanking fans and being charming. Peter: His star turn is the traditional banjo piece 'Cripple Creek'. The 'real' Peter couldn't be less like the 'dummy' of the TV series - he's deep and intelligent and the member who most of the band end up quoting during their interview segments. Peter also seems the most 'organised' Monkee backstage when Micky's asleep/late, Mike's being bossy and Davy's looking in the mirror!
Things that don't make sense: Peter, Mike and Micky are all shown via their solo performances, but Davy's 'Gonna Build A Mountain' is replaced by the band performance of 'I Wanna Be Free'. Why do a network allow Davy Jones, one of the biggest superstars on the planet in 1967, to mess around with a swan hours before going on stage - this really is quite a different time!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Davy - "We end up having to get up really early. Some days, it's a drag!" 2) Davy to Swan - "I notice you've been chasing me all this time but now things are going to change and I'm going to chase you. Are you ready? Run! Run! No - Ok! You just chase me again!" 3) Peter, to his horse "What do you think of long hair styles these days? Goodness, your hair is as long as mine - are you a boy or a girl? Ha Ha!" Micky to his horse £Did you know you have a Monkee on your back?!" 4) Mike to fan "If you found out that none of us could play a note and couldn't carry a tune in a basket, would you hate us?" Fan - "No!" Mike - "Why is that?" Fan - "Well, you're putting people on pretty good!" 5) Mike - "Peter said it really well, 'your life when you go out on the road is just an endless sea of limousines and hotel rooms and there's just this one moment when you step out into the light when you go out on stage and it all becomes worthwhile'" 6) Mike - "I used to quit class and sit in front of this empty stage and just play to this empty arenas and think to myself 'someday'. And even now I still think to myself 'someday'!" 7) Bob - "You played with the swan? For, like, an hour? Davy - "He looked lonely!" 8) Micky - "I know I've got something exciting going on for me what with the series and all, but I really want to make something that's lasting, something of my own" 9) Peter - "After a concert my ears are ringing for, like, twelve hours and after a number of days of this kind of thing you really need some absolute quiet for a while" 10) Mike - "We'd like to thank everyone for making it such a wonderful stay, we'd like to thank The Rolling Stones for being such a great group, we'd like to thank The Mamas and Papas for making it good, we'd like to thank The Lovin' Spoonful for making it happy and most of all we'd like to thank The Beatles for starting it all for us!"
Romp: 'The Girl I Knew Somewhere' - a song intended to be the band's latest single at the time of broadcast, can be heard behind Micky as he rollerskates his way from fans!
Performances: A whole mini-concert that's loose and raw, but exciting - when you can hear it beneath several million teenagers. Interestingly all four Monkees get pretty much equal screams of passion and the screaming doesn't stop anywhere in the set.
Postmodernisms: The whole episode could be considered an exercise in postmodernism - after all what other series would spend a whole episode in the company of the real actors who made the TV series not in guise of the characters they made famous?!
Review: The Monkees' first season proved such a success because it's eclectic nature meant that fans could never guess what was coming next:  escapist pastiche of the 'older' generation's TV (spy movies, war dramas, boxers coming good), a more realistic look at the problems facing the young and their desire to all form rock and roll bands ('pretending' to be successful to keep their parents off their back, getting fleeced by greedy song publishers and falling in love at the laundromat!) and the series has already taken on the feel of a period 'sitcom' 'rags to riches story' 'fairytale' 'soap opera' and all sorts beside. Now Bob Rafelson, the true 'creator' of this episode and credited for the 'script' though he never writes a single word, surpasses himself with an episode that manages to turn the Monkees loose on the documentary format. Doing so was revolutionary and Rafleson guessed, probably correctly, that the powers-that-be at Colgems just wouldn't have allowed it (Rafelson filmed every single bit of it in secret apart from the actual performances, becoming his own cameraman in between his job of looking after the band going on their first tour). Revealing the 'real' Monkees behind the casting was a dangerous move that probably wouldn't have worked for any other series - but by now, thirty-two episodes in, there have been enough glimpses of the 'real' Monkees behind the show in terms of the 'tag' interviews at the end of episodes and the genuine screen-tests for the band to get away with it. In fact The Monkees become more endearing through this episode, presenting themselves far more naturally and less cynically than much of the writing staff (many of their scripts end up insulting The Monkees and what they stand for through the mouth of the guest parts) finally given the space to say what's really on their minds instead of having to fit it into a plot or a minute-long tag sequence. More than ever before, the fact that Rafelson and Schneider chose their cast so carefully, picking deep thinkers and genuine characters who were both very 'real' and very different to each other's 'real'ness proves to be the decision that makes this episode: even in their downtime, not trying to be funny or clever, the Monkees are charismatic and this episode proved to adults the world over, even more than normal, that the future might actually be in safe hands.
Now, because this episode is such a surprise entry in the series (coming almost exactly at the middle point) it's not without its problems for fans who've been quietly getting used to a formula without noticing. Too often Rafelson tries to give this episode the 'feel' of a Monkees episode when he should perhaps have made things easier on the band and us (seeing all the events unfold in real time, instead of fast-cutting between one scene and another only to flashback later in the episode, would have been a much easier experience all round). As fun as it is to see the band holding a radio station at ransom and Davy being chased by a swan, it's the music that many fans come to this episode for - and sad to say there isn't actually that much here. All the concert songs are cut short and alas none of them really demonstrate just how well this band can play (even by Monkee standards the crowds at Phoenix on January 21st are noisy - if only all the dates from this show had been filmed for a compilation that's much easier on the ears; by the way what happened to all the 'cut' footage? Was it chucked out for being worthless as so much from the 1960s was or is somebody sitting on it for a deluxe re-issue of this episode one day?) Rafelson's telepathic understanding of just how far he can get away with stuff across the series falters slightly here - not because he's pushed the format too far (as Colgems feared) but because he doesn't push it quite far enough - the episode ends up acting like a gigantic trail full of highlights of an episode that's going to be shown in full next week that sadly never quite appears. Had Bob had the nerve to cut this in two, with an episode of The Monkees behind the scenes and another of the unedited concert (which could have fitted into the band's 22 minute air-time slot with only a couple of songs missing) then this could have been potentially the best episode of them all. Instead it's another 'nearly' Monkee episode, with several good bits, some truly fascinating moments (the individual interviews with the band all longing for peace and quiet in their own ways,  is delightfully profound and a world away from the band's usual madcap humour) and five minutes of Davy being chased by a swan. It's also an improvement on the only similar thing the band will ever try again, 'The Monkees In Paris' (which is effectively one long Monkee romp in character filmed backstage on tour). Perhaps the biggest shame of the episode, though, is that it's effect doesn't 'last' past the end of the episode - series two will make no adjustments for the depth and seriousness of The Monkees seen across this episode and instead the programme will just roll on pretending it never happened - to the cost of much of the second series I think, which could have done with being as smart and reflective as the best of this episode.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) The concert seen in the episode took place at the Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix Arizona - only the twelfth concert the band ever played together! 2) However while the playing is recorded as live, the primitive technology of the day meant that The Monkees couldn't be heard so they attempted to 'overdub' many of the vocals in March when finishing off the series (that might be why only extracts from the concert are used) 3)  Because this is an 'unusual' episode it's rarely repeated in syndication, although it's had a happier live on video where it was one of the first to be released (the fourth, in fact, with 'Watch Their Feet' as the rather odd choice of companion episode) 4) This episode is unique in having Rafelson's credit as director seen in both the opening and closing sequences, before The Monkees' own names go up in the usual end credits sequence 5) Mainly thanks to them being so short, 'The Monkees On Tour' features more songs than any other Monkees episode! 6) The Monkees started work on their fourth long-player 'Pisces Aquarius' the very week that this episode aired - their last  before a five month break 7) The episode's opening teaser sequence was the last bit of footage shot before the first series wrapped and the band took time off from recording 'Headquarters' to film it. If you look carefully, you can just see under Mike, Micky and Peter's disguises that they have all grown beards during the break (though Davy is still clean-shaven!) 8) Peter was missing from the band's takeover of local radio station KRUX-AM because he'd gone down with a fever earlier in the day and was back at the hotel in bed, although he'd recovered enough to play the show a day later. The DJ seen tied up is Bob Shannon who worked under the name R J Adams and the station has since been re-branded as a Christian music centre KPXQ-AM 9) Because of the nature of this episode there isn't our usual 'guest role for Monkee stand-ins'. However look out for songwriter Bobby Hart making his only appearance in The Monkees' series as the organist in backing band The Candy Prophets who play during 'Judge A Book' and 'I Gotta Woman' 10) Britain held this episode back and showed it in June 1967 amongst the first handful of repeats of the early episodes - this was a deliberate and surprisingly far-sighted move to celebrate the fact The Monkees were performing in London that month!
Ratings At The Time: 11.6 million viewers/AAA Rating: 6/10

Join us next week for series two or hang around and read these other Monkee related articles at Alan's Album Archives:


‘The Monkees’ (1966)

'More Of The Monkees' (1967)

'Headquarters' (1967)

'Pisces Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones LTD' (1967)

'The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees' (1968)

'Head' (1968)

'Instant Replay' (1969)

'The Monkees Present' (1969)

'Changes' (1970)

‘JustUs# (1996)

'Only Shades Of Grey' : The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

Auditions, Screen Tests and Pre-Fame Recordings

Surviving TV Clips

The TV Series - Season  One (19966-1967)

The TV Series - Season Two (1967-1968)

'HEAD/33 and a third Revolutions Per Monkee/Episode #761'

Monkee Sidetrips: The Boyce and Hart Catalogue

Live/Solo/Compilation Albums Part One 1967-1975

Live/Solo/Compilation Albums Part Two 1976-1986

Key Concerts and Cover Versions: