Monday 9 May 2016

The Small Faces "Playmates" (1977)

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The Small Faces "Playmates" (1977)

High and Happy/Never Too Late/Tonight/Saylarvee/Find It//Lookin' For A Love/Playmates/This Song's Just For You/Drive-In Romance/Smilin' In Tune

"We could dance and sing - now all we have are memories to pass on..."

The Small Faces were so young when they got their big break that by the time of this first reunion album Mac was still only twenty-two, Marriott turned 30 during the making of it and Kenney wouldn't be thirty until after the second one, but there had been such a gap since the half-completed (well, actually more like a quarter-completed) 'Autumn Stone' in 1969 that The Small Faces seemed like they belonged in an entirely different era. Steve Marriott alone had lived about ten lifetimes by then and looked closer in age to fifty, while none of The Faces were exactly bouncing with juvenile enthusiasm either. The band that, perhaps more than any of their era stood for fashion and style as much as their records, shared almost nothing with the DIY culture of punk and even though some of the elder punks were pretty close to The Small Faces in age there couldn't have been a worse year for The Small Faces to get back together (now if they'd waited a couple of years for the mod revival of 1979 it would have been a whole different story...) All this despite an unexpected 1976 hit with a re-issue of 'Itchycoo Park' that put the offer of a reunion on the table in the first place. The hippie idealism of 'Itchycoo' seemed a long time ago though for a band that, apart, had been through hell and back. Sounding like fish out of water (and looking that way too on the Old Grey Whistle Test to promote the record), 'The Small Faces' seem deeply uncomfortable all round, delivering a record that few people who'd bought the band's original LPs could have possibly recognised as The Small Faces. Defensive, bored and full of endless noodling, 'Playmates' - the de facto follow-up to the pioneering eclectic, compact 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake' in 1968 - is the sort of record that no one should have to hear, let alone the band's fans and this from a band who'd never given less than their best during their short lifespan. What on earth happened?

Rather a lot, since you ask. Marriott has been on quite a journey since that last ill-fated 1968 Small Faces tour where he tried to bring in girl singers and extra guitarists to make himself heard over the teenage screams and jacked it all in during an outburst on New Year's Eve. Making good on his suggestions to the others he's formed Humble Pie, a band that's the logical extension of the harder-edged Small Faces songs of 1968, complete with girl singers including PP Arnold for a time and an unknown guitarist named Peter Frampton. After a few years of solid but falling sales, Frampton quit the band to 'come alive', Marriott became extinct, a drug habit left him creatively dormant and his long-term muse Jenny Rylance (whose inspiration dated back to 'All Or Nothing' and especially 'Tin Soldier') had finally left. Also, for the second time in two bands, Marriott found himself ripped off and penniless, so poor that by his own admission in press releases he's taken to poaching rabbits and stealing vegetables from next door's garden under cover of darkness. Reduced from being one of the hottest shots of the 1960s to the point of starvation, Marriott clung to his manager's suggestion of a Small Faces reunion like an octopus with grappling hooks.

The Faces too were not immune to the idea - well, two of them at least, Ronnie Lane having long ago gone his own way. When Marriott quit the band Ronnie, Kenney and Mac had spent two years trying to get a new band together. There's a feeling, after all, that this band has to be perfect to replace someone of Marriott's stature and that they can't be doing with anymore guitar players likely to run away to different bands or singers likely to turn into pompous egomaniacs who quit in the middle of sessions. The band quickly hires Ronnie Wood - an old mate from package tours after his days with The Birds (not Byrds notice but The Birds, another promising British cockney act who crumbled far too quickly) - who despite their best efforts ends up being poached by The Rolling Stones. They struggled to come up with a singer, wanting an unknown to avoid ego problems, until the skinny friend of Wood's named turned up so many times and became such a nuisance they asked him to sing just to get rid of him assuming he wouldn't be any good. His name was Rod Stewart and by 1973 he is one of the biggest acts on the planet, with a solo career that's selling ten times more albums than his old band and who can't afford the time to record with them anymore. History, as they say, repeats itself but nobody was expecting the story to turn out that way again quite so soon. At least The Faces lasted for four albums this time, one more than The Small Faces ever did, though they recorded far less work in terms of singles and the like. Even so it had been three years since the last half-hearted Faces single and the money was running out for mostly non-writers Mac and Kenney, who weren't ripped off so much by businessmen as Steve but had spent rather a lot of money partying after Faces gigs. It was actually Kenney who was the coordinator of this reunion, having fallen out with Rod after effectively doing all the band rehearsals for him while the singer had better things to do (like talk to the press and watch football), the big break coming when Rod assumed Kenney wouldn't mind three months away from home in LA (the drummer left with the parting shot 'It may be hard to undnerstand, but I'm more in love with my family than I am with you!') Mac too felt abandoned and sidelined, passed over for Stewart's new band. The two Faces wanted to prove themselves and after coping with Rod Stewart for four years, surely they could cope with Steve Marriott?

The person who really needed the money, though, was oddly enough the Small Face who quit the reunion two rehearsals in, his clairvoyant streak already telling him the reunion was going to work out badly (and an uncomfortable meeting with producer Shel Talmy, who hadn't worked with the band since 1966 and isn't exactly held in much love and affection by at least four AAA bands, didn't help). Ronnie Lane, frustrated at Rod and Woody's disappearing acts, quit The Faces in frustration in 1973 and spent most of his money on a caravan, a mobile recording unit, a band and a travelling circus that was meant to promote Ronnie's music. Poorly organised, vaguely advertised and only barely rehearsed, those fortunate few who attended still claim that the gigs played by Ronnie's band Slim Chance were some of the best ever made. However with only one half-hit ('How Come?'), a big band and a new family to pay for and almost no publicity unless you lived near a big field and were interested in circuses, the money was growing increasingly tight by 1977. Worse yet, he'd just been officially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis,  something both Ronnie and those closest to him had been fearing for years after his mother died of it, but were hoping would go away - sadly it's a cruel and degenerative illness, that made an already hard life harder and harder (it's the sister condition to mine, so take it from me what a life-changer this is). Ronnie was in a bad way - he had in fact been unable to deliver a new solo LP that year because he couldn't afford the costs of a recording studio (he preferred to work in the outdoors anyway) and the record company weren't in a hurry to get one so it, until The Who's Pete Townshend came to his rescue and offered to pay not only for the recording costs but to make a 'duet' album 'Rough Mix', which helped boost Ronnie's coffers considerably (though he won't get that money till nearer the end of the year). Lane, the quiet heart of The Small Faces, was interested enough to turn up to sessions and revisit old friends, but he felt that the music was a poor substitute for what he remembered and felt his own style had departed way too far from his old friend's. In Lane's words he bailed out when the plan went from informal gigs to a permanent reunion, adding that he 'enjoyed visiting school but didn't want to stay to take classes'; in Marriott's words he did a 'Neil Young', 'walked out for a packet of fags and never came back'. Though financially it cost him dear, artistically Ronnie probably made the right move, returning to his farm for one last album neglected album instead to be replaced on bass by Rick Wills, once of Roxy Music (so he was, at least, used to working with eccentric egotistical musicians - he needed the music too after finding himself working as a labourer to make ends meet and would have played with anybody, with no prior understanding of The Small Faces' music). In some alternate parallel universe out there somewhere The Small Faces reunion got all the songs Ronnie wrote for 'Rough Mix' and they're the album highlights, every single one.

Then again Ronnie's folky vibe might have been one style already for an esoteric album already pretty overflowing with different ideas. The one element of The Small Faces' sound that's very much here is the range of their material as Marriott especially tries to make up for lost time by using every style that's come into being since the band's split: reggae, funk, even the sort of blues The Faces had made their own. Freed temporarily from having to 'fit' the stereotype of the heavier Humble Pie sound, Marriott is clearly having fun even if his compositions lack the punch and power of the old days. He clearly misses Ronnie to push him towards his best though: Marriott alone was a sad sight, whereas Marriott in company was always a sight to behold and he was always at his best when swapping ideas and having others add depth and layers to his instantly accessible work. The biggest change on 'Playmates' then is that Marriott gets to control The Small Faces' destiny, taking it into waters closer to home for Humble Pie, while also with the chance to swap genres around a bit for fun.
Where this album works best, though, is when Steve uses Mac as his foil instead. Band jamming sessions aside, Mac only ever got three writing credits on Small Faces albums and while all three were fan favourites he never enjoyed the same respect or attention as the Marriott-Lane pairing. In the past decade, though, the newest Small Face has grown as a writer, providing all of the Faces highlights that Lane didn't and all but creating the band's signature smokey sound of their ballads. Marriott's voice goes particularly well with these, as even in these dark days he still possesses more emotional range and subtlety than a pure 'shouter' like Rod and he sounds so right at times singing what would otherwise be a pure Faces song that it's a shame the old band didn't latch on to this sooner. The pair write three songs together across this album, all amongst the better tracks here - it's when the pair write alone, at the extreme of their by now very different styles, that this album falls apart (well, that and the interminable slowed down covers, a hangover from the Humble Pie days). There's a surprising lack of guitar across this album with Mac's organ also the chief instrument and more central to the band sound than it ever was in The Small Faces (Marriott, spoilt by being alongside two of the decade's best guitarists Peter Frampton and Clem Clempson in Humble Pie, had begun to think of himself as more of a rhythm player in any case). Frustratingly the band rarely played together anyway, the composers instead preferring to get the others to overdub one by one what they wanted. Like many an album made with such a piecemeal approach, it shows, with an album that's sluggish and where the tempos are all over the place.

The nostalgic album cover suggests that this record is going to be a memory-filled backward looking affair, with its two childhood classmates clutching schoolbooks and gollywogs (back when you were still just about allowed to have such things on album covers - had this record been a hit you can bet it would have been airbrushed to become a teddy bear by now - our own AAA mascot Bingo is free - despite the fact it should be treated as a historical artefact of it's times, the same way that removing the cigarette held in Paul McCartney's hand on Beatles album 'Abbey Road' is ludicrous, given that few impressionable youngsters I know care about album covers released thirty years before they were born).In fact this is a refreshingly forward looking album in many ways, with a bunch of recently-in-vogue styles (though not punk) and lots of lyrics that actually look hopefully to the future with titles like 'Never Say Never' and 'Tonight' (you can tell that most of the lyrics are written by natural optimist Marriott rather than the more anxious Lane). The problem is that The Small Faces spend so much time trying to sound contemporary and addressing the styles both halves have been playing in their respective bands that there's nothing left of The Small Faces here. There are no 'Lazy Sunday' style giggles, no 'Itchycoo Park' working class utopias and most surprisingly of all no tracks that match their old intensity on such songs as 'Tin Soldier' and 'Afterglow'. Marriott, who once made songs intense even when he sang one line or laughed through them, rather breezes through, treating the album as one long holiday. The Faces were never the heaviest or most thoughtful of bands (except on Ronnie's two cameos per album) but they aren't even that here, with too many playful organ frills and cymbal tickles rather than sombre dutiful block chords and bass drum thrashes. 'Help me to find it!' sings Marriott at one point on a track that sounds like every generic Humble Pie track of the last few years - but alas the band never do.

Given this album's spasmodic approach it's probably fair to say that there isn't a theme at work here. The band members don't seem to have spent much time in the studio together, never mind have any band meetings to discuss ideas - but there's a few threads that run through this album all the same. Most of this album features down and out characters who are struggling to get by and yet still dream of doing something bigger. The opener 'High and Happy' has Marriott sans money, love and career prospects but in the here and now he's content and on a drug-aided high. 'Never Too Late' might as well be Marriott's rallying cry as he decides that everything is always possible, no matter how low things get. 'Lookin' For A Love' might have searched a long time for perfection but the narrator never questions for one minute that he won't find it as long as he keeps looking. 'I can't see me sitting at home' promises Marriott as his wife goes off on a 'Drive-In Romance', figuring there's always more fish in the sea even if you're married to a porcupine puffer. Only the title track is at all melancholy or fed-up, which is a surprise given the recent history of the band members involved living off handouts, old royalties and stolen vegetables. Sequel '78 In The Shade' will, by comparison, be a much sadder and haunted affair. Maybe this is the lasting legacy from 'Itchycoo Park', the top ten re-issue of which inspired the band to go back into the studio in the first place, a song that's as 'high and happy' as they come. The trouble is, though, nothing here comes even within the boundaries of Itchycoo Park, never mind that 'single' single peak peak: though the band try hard (sometimes: two tracks are just plain awful!) nothing here is memorable and little really adds to the band's already stuffed back catalogue. Only 'Never Too Late' even comes close and that's if you shut your ears and squint very very hard and compare the song not to a Small Faces classic but some forgotten unfinished instrumental from 'The Autumn Stone'. The main difference is that the old Small Faces cared passionately for each and every last note of their output; the new Small Faces are just grateful for some extra pennies and want to get this album made as quickly and painlessly as possible. This is sad and heartbreaking a realisation as any in the AAA catalogue for a band whose legacy was once so important to them.

Still, considering everything that's working against this album (no Ronnie, the changing marketplace, a lingering sense of unease between the three remaining originals breaking in a new boy, a motor accident involving Mac and Kenney that saw them leave the sessions for two months while Steve and Rick ploughed on, endless contractual problems getting Marriott off Humble Pie label A&M and the fact that the band made no secret of the fact they'd got back together for money, not out of love) 'Playmates' isn't as bad as it might have been and - aside from the similar but tighter successor 'Made In The Shade' the next year - might well be the band's most overlooked album. Marriott is at the end of his peak period as a vocalist, his voice losing its elasticity soon after this, it's good to see Mac getting a fairer share of the pie for a change and Kenney needs the practice as he's going to be the new Who drummer as soon as this Small Faces gig suddenly ends. Even some of the songs are pretty good, at least compared to the recent Humble Pie and Faces albums. Of course this album isn't as good as classics from years before: you miss Ronnie in every generic bass note, every haphazard backing vocal (even a soul choir can't fill his shoes) and especially as the extrovert and earthy Marriott's introvert and poetical partner. At times this record feels so directionless you wonder how the band all made it to the same studio, while Shel Talmy's typically rigid and cyclical production - so right for the R and B band of 1966 - means even the inspired parts of this record don't come off the way they should. Heard as the fourth Small Faces album without acknowledging the gap in time and quality, the effect is laughable - trebly so if you view it as the much-delayed sequel to 'Ogden's. There's an awful lot that went wrong for this record in terms of writing it, recording it and even releasing it, with a truly awful album cover damning the album in any period, never mind the absolute possible worst time when the punks are doing their best to exterminate any band more than a year old. But to ignore it all would be to pass over one or two of the best work that any  member still in this band had done for years. There really isn't very much in The Small Faces catalogue to begin with: better that we have even a half-baked reunion album than none at all. I think. Until 'Saylarvee' and 'This Song's For You' come on anyway...

[  ] 'High and Happy' seems like a fair place to start, a chirpy Marriott song first recorded for his unfinished 'Scrubbers' album in 1975 that holds out hopes that album is going to be kinda ok. Though it isn't obviously Small Faces-like, with its heavy funk backing (which really stretches Kenny as a drummer after years of gutbucket rock and roll) and a saxophone as the lead instrument, it does sound in some twisted way a little like 'Wide Eyed Girl On The Wall' and 'Collibosher'', the two horn-drenched instrumentals which became two of the last things The Small Faces ever recorded back in late 1968. The lyrics too are a kind of sly update to the drug-referencing 'Here Come The Nice', with Marriott 'caught snorting' smokin' anything that pleases me', but even though Marriott clearly wrote (and probably sang) the track on a Cocaine high, there's an underlaying air of menace which the cheeky 'Nice' was too, well, nice to offer. 'Let's outrun the constable and do another line!' sings Marriott, who by now has been busted twice for drugs in his life (once erroneously - the police were sure he must have something so nicked him for two tablets that turned out to be for a cold!) Part defiant, part worry that something bad's going to happen, 'High and Happy' is pretty successful at conjuring that moment when you're still at the top of the world but sober enough to realise you're not going to stay there forever. Together with an unusual, 'ba-da-, da-da, dah!' riff that sounds like sinking into a warm bath, this is actually a pretty strong and under-rated song, one of the best from the two reunion albums.

Better yet, though, is [  ] 'Never Too Late', a Faces style sleepy ballad by Mac given a set of Marriott words that feature another Small Faces tradition: an intense Marriott lyric about his undying love for first wife Jenny, even though by now she's a distant memory some years after their divorce. This track doesn't sound like The Small Faces either but it is a clever combination of opposites, with Marriott's wide awake and forceful Humble Pie-ness set against The Faces' laidback drunken-ness. Rather than pretend that the intervening years haven't happened, it's as if the reunion band have embraced what made them different and how much they've learnt apart from each other. Marriott does a far better job of this Rod Stewart type song than any of Rod's actual vocals, with a dexterity and subtlety as well as all the power that Rod could only dream of, while the track's sudden lurching into full throttle still feels fresh and exciting, even this many Small Faces/Humble Pie/solo albums on. Lyrically this is a simple song (probably to keep in line with Mac's short melodic phrases: his usual collaborator Rod liked things short and punchy), but it's heartfelt with Marriott managing to pack a lot into a little, reminding both him and us that while there's life there's hope. 'I found you - when you needed me' he sings, as if addressing this to the band as much as his ex. The track's fairly breezy vibe is refreshing to hear too after so many dark albums from Marriott about his latest financial crisis or marital woes and suggests that the two writers of this song at least regarded the Small Faces reunion as a positive start to begin again. Sadly it's the last time anyone will feel positive about these reunions as the songs are about to decrease in quality rapidly from here in...

[  ] 'Tonight' was written by Mac with his friend John Pidgeon. The song isn't really bad, just bland and while there's still quite a few Faces ballads out there I couldn't name despite hearing them umpteen times, this really is a new avenue for The Small Faces. Sometimes weird, very occasionally hopeless, they've never been bland before. Mac sings what's only his second lead vocal since The Small Faces split and it's a shock: that hard upright edge has been replaced by years of boozy wear and tear into a throaty growl. Once again the most interesting part of the arrangement is the tension between two sides: Mac and Kenney provide a laidback Faces template style but suddenly in come a group of backing singers (including the  Pie's Greg Ridley and the band's old friend PP Arnold) and it's pure Humble Pie! Lyrically this is definitely a Mac song though and one that foreshadows quite a lot of his own work with The Bump Band made after this album: recently engaged to wife Kim (who divorced her first husband Keith Moon in 1975 and will marry Mac in 1978 a month after Moony's death, in between the two reunion albums), he still can't believe his luck and feels inadequate against her beauty. As for Kim, it must have been a relief hearing a traditional love song written for her that didn't involve barking dogs, 'cobwebs and strange' or thrashing drum solos!

What sound did you have in mind for The Small Faces reunion sound? How about some bluesy yodelling?! No, I have no idea why Steve Marriott is doing this to himself either - maybe it's a response to so many years of being stuck in one place with Humble Pie? - but [  ] 'Saylarvee' is a candidate for his worst vocal - perhaps his only bad vocal. A Marriott solo composition backed by some unconvincing honky tonk Mac piano, Marriott sounds drunk as he professes his love in simple terms, claiming his soul is 'set on fitre' and offering 'the keys to my car'. Well, he's clearly not in a fit state to drive judging by this track - or sing come to that. The punks must have looked on this revered band's reunion album and this track in particular and seen it as everything that betrayed the rock movement: self indulgent, generic and offensive by its very inoffensiveness. Given the months it took to make this album (longer than any of the band's 1960s works) you'd have thought they could have come up with something better than this or if not then another take when everyone's awake and sober. Truly mind-bogglingly awful. Yet worryingly not the worst track on the album...

Band jam turned song [  ] 'Find It' sounds like bad Humble Pie boogie - which is to say that it is at any rate tuneful and has some interesting changes of gears but sounds like a waste of a gritty Marriott vocal delivery. This is a more interesting song lyrically than musically, with Marriott realising in there somewhere that he's lost the inspiration and hunger that used to drive him everyday and trying to get some of that old feeling back by searching for it in new places. The track takes on the theme of a lengthy game of hide and seek with the universe, when Marriott's realised all along that all he really needs is soulmate Jenny by his side again. Marriott at last gets The Small Faces to record some soul with some committed vocals not just by the guitarist but his friendly backing singers as well - exactly what he promised to the band back in 1968. Better than much of this album (even if it needs a punchier chorus), it's still far worse than anything the band achieved the first time around; whether Marriott was right or not therefore remains a moot point. Despite the co-credit Kenney plays the simplest drums of the whole records, big wide open dum-chikkas and Mac is barely heard at all.

The album's only cover song was, oddly for a band in need of moolah quick, chosen as the album's single even though it's far from the most obvious commercial song on the album. Unknown songwriters James Alexander and Zelda Samuels came up with [ ] 'Lookin' For A Love' for Bobby Womack, though the 'It's All Over Now' singer never really suited this poppier song. Nor do The Small Faces, despite another surprisingly joyful Marriott vocal and more chirpy soulful backing vocals. Lyrically it sounds like 'Tin Soldier' from a past rather than future perspective: Marriott, who once declared his undying love and devotion with everything he had, has only now come to accept that actually for a time he had it and what an enjoyable time he had without really appreciating it. Now he wants another love for practical reasons, 'who can bring my children upright', make him breakfast in bed and stop him from feeling lonely, although the vocal is delivered with such a knowing wink to the audience it's clear he wants a woman for other reasons as well. In true 1960s fashion, you could read this is a pro feminist single full of praise for the female sex - albeit from the stance of a man too lazy to do any of the things in the song himself! Times had moved on by 1977 though and you sense this song is retro in more ways than just the simple boogie woogie lick running underneath it; this is a song that had had its day long before the release date.

Title track [  ] 'Playmates' is a Marriott solo composition that sounds like it was written especially for this album. The closest thing on the album to the band's R and B roots, the narrator is much older and wiser than normal, reflecting on a busy long life well lived where memories of the old days seem more real than the present. Finally acknowledging that his best days may well be behind him, Marriott has mixed feelings about the idea, grateful for ever having the chance to prove himself after a life he assumed would have turned out differently but guilty that he didn't make more of his chance at success when he had it. As if to make up for lost time, he only slots in a quick guitar solo before handing the bulk of the music over to Mac's swirling churchy organ and Kenney's quick-patter drums. However there's a feeling of bitterness here too: 'Why don't you call me?' snarls Marriott, adding 'my cats are gone' as if that was the only reason that kept two people apart or trying to get their pity. Though it starts off as a love song (well, a past love song), the chorus surely is more about the band, that he remembers being 'playmates' with some good friends who did a lot of good work and is remembering why he hung out with them in the first place ('We had everything!') 'Everything happened just in time' he sings more happily in the last verse, returning to the album's half-theme of things getting better.

[  ] 'This Song's Just For You' is a real oddity - and not in a good way. Steve and Mac wrote the track together in an uncomfortable country bumpkin style that sounds like pulling teeth and dedicate this song to someone unknown after promising to 'do their best', which they clearly aren't (Mac and Marriott have never sounded worse vocally than here - even on 'Saylarvee'!) Did they have Ronnie Lane in mind? To the untrained ear Ronnie's Slim Chance and solo records have a lot of 'country' in them - they were recorded in the country for starters and feature fiddles quite prominently. Ronnie, though, was a folk natural more than a country boy and will only attempt a bit of Nashville style larking on 'See Me', the final album he hasn't actually made yet. If this is meant to be a parody (and this is, remember, a song 'for you' not for the band), perhaps with the two Faces wondering what Ronnie's contributions might have turned out like and giggling themselves silly over the thought, then it's a rotten one. Lane's songs may have often been as quirky as this but they were often heartfelt and always made with care; 'For You' sounds like the tape rolling at a karaoke night by a bunch of singers who've never sung before. 'We'll all be there' Marriott and Mac sarcastically cry, 'just say the word!' as if sarcastically putting someone down for their disloyalty, the song opening with a pointed 'You just left. Another beer?' This song is right up there with The Rolling Stones' 'Far Away Eyes' as the most hideous country song ever written. This should never, ever have made the album - it's cruel, it's cowardly, it's deeply unfunny and so badly sung you wonder if this really is The Small Faces at all. Someone should have stepped in and stopped this. Why didn't they? Suddenly you realise why Ronnie left these sessions in the first place...

[  ] 'In-Drive Romance' is the album's 'Lazy Sunday' - in the same sense that The Spice Girls' 'Spice Up Your Life' is a band manifesto in the same way that, say, The Monkees' Theme Tune is. Another so-called comedy, it's a Mac-Pidgeon song delivered by Marriott with a manic grin (probably forced) as he tells the Faces-style story of a chick driving off with a bloke to a drive-in and pretending that nothing's happening to her husband. Naturally, this being a Faces style song, he doesn't agree. Actually the music for this one isn't too bad - there's a nice 70s (ie more laidback) R and B groove going on that suits the band, especially Mac's calm organ playing against Marriott's restless guitar. It's the lyrics that insult: Marriott wants to tell his lover that he loves her, but well, the phone lines are down and she's at a drive-in anyway. 'I can't see me sitting at home!' yells Marriott after her as she walks out the door, but all predictably there's no one he knows he can ring up to get his own back, so he sits at home feeling sorry for himself. It's odd to hear a band as proudly English as The Small Faces record such an outwardly American song, but then both The Faces and Humble Pie had been selling better in the States recently than they ever had in Europe. Recording a song like this, appealing to a nostalgic 1970s American audience reminiscing about their own childhoods and teenage years (even though they'd have been nothing like The Small Faces' own childhoods and teenage years) seems like a calculated marketing ploy, not a song.

Against all odds the album does end on a kinda high, though, with a final Mac-Marriott collaboration [  ] 'Smilin' In Tune'. Marriott's narrator has been 'thinking and drinking', reflecting on all the changes in his life over a tune highly reminiscent of Jimmy Reed's 'Baby What You Want Me To Do?' (as sung by Elvis in his 1968 comeback special every bleeding five minutes without fail!) A drunken singalong then ensues as Marriott reveals in a pleasing fan-friendly verse that he's been 'in the light, in the dark and over at Itchycoo Park!' Though the main verse is a drag and painfully slow (more shades of Humble Pie here), the quicker middle eight is rather good, adding some tension to the song as Marriott sings about knowing a change was in the air and that the time is right to go back to basics, join up with 'the poor boys'. The rows the band once had are now 'yesterday's news' - everybody's smiling 'in tune', though there's something slightly sarcastic about this too, the way Marriott puts this into words bringing to mind artificial fixed grins that aren't real (did we mention this was The Small Faces' 'American' album?!) Marriott provides some nice harmonica over the fadeout - his first for years - and there's a second-tier classic in the making here, if only the band had been a) sober and b) a bit faster.

Overall, then, 'Playmates' is a success on a few levels. Three of the band proved they were able to get on again without too many rows, while the album made the band more money than they'd made in one go since their Decca album. The record wasn't a strong seller by any means, but Atlantic were enthusiastic that the reunion might yet catch on and head boss Ahmet Ertegun was supportive enough of the band's talents to let them have another shot in the new year. For Steve, Mac and Kenney things were more stable than they'd been in years...The problem comes with looking with 'Playmates' in the long term. There are some reunion projects that feel like they had to be made - the sense of closure, unfinished business and healing old wounds that comes over strong on reunion albums by The Moody Blues, The Beach Boys, Lindisfarne and The Monkees amongst others. That sense isn't here and if The Small Faces felt any drive stronger than making a quick buck that went out the door the minute Ronnie Lane did. We'll never know of course if the bass player would have ended up as boozy and lethargic as the rest of the band, but you sense that if he had been involved this album would have had at least a few moments of depth and sincerity, rather than half-baked experiments and vague attempts at comedy. Which is not to say that the album is completely hopeless: the two strong opening tracks hint at what could have been had the tug of war between Humble Pie roar and Faces blasé sounds been established more, with the band pulling in different directions while still standing for the same things. Had there been even one attempt to turn back the clock to something The Small Faces actually did (R and B, psychedelia, comedy) properly instead of treating those sort of things as a joke then this album might have re-established the band for a whole new era just when the band financially needed it most. Instead it's the album that got away, so fast and so decidedly at times that you wonder whether the band actually realised they were going to come up with a product at all. Even after months of work the best you can say about this album is that there's a great double sided single in there; everything else is essentially worthless (and of course neither side actually was released as the single; that would have been too easy for a band like The Small Faces. Not as bad as some people say, then - but oh so far from being good.


'Small Faces' (Decca) (1966)

’78 In the Shade’ (1978)

Ian McLagan Tribute Special

Surviving TV Clips 1965-1977 and Unreleased Recordings

Non-Album Songs 1965-1990

Live/Solo/Compilation/Humble Pie/Faces Part One: 1967-1971

Live/Solo/Compilation/Humble Pie/Faces Part Two: 1971-1975

Live/Solo/Compilation/Humble Pie/Faces Part Three: 1976-1981

Live/Solo/Compilation/Humble Pie/Faces Part Four: 1982-2015

Essay: Not All Or Nothing But Everything 

Landmark Concerts and Key Cover Versions:

The Monkees: The TV Series - Season Two 1967-1968

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  #33
(and a third, with lots of revolutions per Monkee!)
"It's A Nice Place To Visit"
(Filmed May-June 1967; First broadcast September 11th 1967)
"Now we're going to get out of town and we're gonna keep out of trouble and...count our chickens before they're hatched!"
 Music: What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round? (Half-Romp/Half-Performance)
Main Writer: Treva Silverman   Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees are touring in Mexico in local town El Monotono when the Monkeemobile breaks down. Heading to a club, Davy instantly becomes attracted to local waitress Angelita - big problem there as she's the intended of this week's baddy, the  whacking great Mexican bandit El Diablo. However - he sets The Monkees free, gives them all a big hug and buys them all an ice cream. No, wait, of course he doesn't - this is The Monkees and he gets mad, kidnapping Davy and taking him away to their bandit lair. The other Monkees try to infiltrate El Diablo's gang by pretending to be a successful local team of ruffians looking to team up (they're announced as 'El Dolenzio, the bandit without a soul', 'El Nesmito, the bandit without any conscience' and 'El Torko, the bandit without a nickname'). Unbelievably, the ruse works - more believably the band get into trouble when Peter is the one sent to untie Davy and he struggles to undo the knots. The Monkees still escape though and they all run to The Monkeemobile, running over the foot of a waiting car park attendant as they do so. The car still isn't fixed, though, and even someone as thick as El Diablo works out who the missing bandits were very quickly so The Monkees are caught. El Diablo challenges Micky to a duel at high noon, in which the bandit cheats - yet oddly misses with every shot. During the mayhem of a jam-packed romp sequence the bandits are tied up and The Monkees are gone.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: this week's alter ego is El Nesmito (the bandit without any conscience). Isn't very good with pistols but lasts longer in an arm wrestling match with El Diablo than anybody is expecting, eventually knocking his rival out more by accident than design (we've seen before that Mike is stronger than he looks but not particularly dextrous, so this fits).  Micky: his rather more believable alter ego is El Dolenzio (Micky really looks like a bandit , suiting the moustache and the surprisingly good Mexican accent). Micky takes the lead in the rescue mission over Mike, unusually, trying to inflame the local's rage with a rousing speech that doesn't quite work and outdoing El Diablo in the duel. At first Micky is his usual scared self trying to run away, but comes to his senses quicker than usual when Angelita tells him that the town would 'pay' for his cowardice and faces the duel with more courage then we see in fictional Micky for the rest of the series.  Davy: Falls in love despite knowing from previous experience how badly he gets into trouble - and despite the pained worry of the rest of the band. Seems to know his Mexican, correctly guessing what 'Angelita' means (or is it just more in character for Davy to have a read and memorised a book of every single girl's name and definition in case he needs a chat up line?!) Peter: Has the best pseudonym - 'El Torko' sounds like a likely bandit name - although as ever Peter struggles to think up a suitable characterisation to go with it.  Going against everything we've seen of Peter in The Monkeed' pad before and after this episode, he's suddenly very good at cards, bluffing El Diablo by having 'no douzes' and telling him menacingly 'go fish!' (even though the pair seem to be playing poker!) Interestingly Mike, Micky and Peter all refuse to drink alcohol and throw the liquid in their glasses away when given wine by El Diablo.
Things that don't make sense: The title. Is Mexico - as seen in The Monkees' deeply patronising cartoon cut-out version - really a nice place to visit? The band nearly die several times despite being largely innocent parties in all this and the townsfolk are incredibly weedy when the bandits are in town (admittedly El Diablo is a big lad I wouldn't fancy tackling on my own, but a whole town could throw him out if they clubbed together). Oddly El Diablo seems to forget his bigger feud with Davy (kissing his intended) in favour of one with Micky (whose done no more against him than Peter or Mike). It's almost as if they need space for Micky to do one of his impressions...Oh and the big one: why does an apparently notorious bandit like El Diablo a) feel the need to cheat in a duel in which honour is at stake and b) is such a lousy shot? Some guidebooks claim that Micky is 'distracting' him with silly faces - but actually in the footage he doesn't get a chance as El Diablo shoots on the count of 'two' not 'three' before Micky is ready. Micky's faces and wild dance is out of glee at still being alive when El Diablo's bullets run out. And for the first of a small handful of occasions, why is there a Kellogg's Monkees advert left intact on the print used on the box set of series two - but not for every episode?
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mike - "What we need is some of a guide for outsiders" Peter - "I just saw some advice to tourists" Davy - "Oh? What did it say?" Peter - "Yankee go home!" 2) Davy- "What's your name?" Angelita - "Angelita" Davy - "'That means 'little angel'. I'm David" Angelita - "And what does 'David' mean?" Mike - "David means business, baby!" 3) Micky - "I wish I didn't have to be here, El Diablo. I hate killing. I hate harming any living creature!" El Diablo - "Then why are there 43 notches on your gun?" Micky - "Oh, I make exceptions!" 4) El Diablo - "What's happened to El Torko?" Mike - "He went outside to get some air!" El Diablo - "But we're outside!" 5) Attendant - "If you can be Mexican bandits, I can be a Mexican parking lot attendant!"
Romp/End Performance: Oddly 'What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round' turns up twice across this episode, the first time as 'mainly' a performance (the 'usual' one with a backdrop of blue and Micky 'waving goodbye' from the drums) with a bit of running around tagged on and the second as mostly a good old fashioned Monkees romp with a bit  of the performance not used earlier mixed earlier/. If you substitute the line '#I should be on that train and gone' for 'why haven't they fixed our Monkeemobile yet?' and you have a pretty handy clue as to what's going on in the plot, however.
Postmodernisms: When Micky is facing up to his duel he comments on how he's dressed in white as the 'hero' of the story and adds that he knows that he will win. Davy asks 'Is that because the guy in white always wins?' Micky replies no - 'It's because the lead in a television series always wins!'
Review: Ai Chihuahua! What to make of an episode that's even ruder to American's close cousins than a Speedy Gonzales cartoon and seems to exist purely to be rude about the locals? (You really hope that no one has booked a Monkee tour in Mexico after this episode aired or there might have been a few more duels at dawn!) However, considering this episode was really made well into the second block (by rights it should be episode 45, not 33) the script is a good one that takes a rather pointless journey from A to B and makes it fun and fascinating anyway. The Monkees are back to sparking against each other like they always do best and although poor Davy is badly catered for (spending most of the episode either kissing or tied up) the rest all get good scenes, especially Micky whose born for the larger-than-life comedy of this episode and turns in one of his best performances. The Monkees as Mexicans works far better on screen that you'd ever assume from the script and while the rest of the guest are rather wet this episode Peter Whitney excels as the mean El Diablo, just bright enough to scheme but too thick to scheme quickly. His interaction with the band is eminently quotable ('Oh-ho! He wants some air!') without going over-the-top and he's a great foil for Micky in particular. There are some very Monkee moments randomly thrown in the mix too, from Peter struggling to undo Micky's ropes (why oh why did the others send Peter to do this job? Do they never learn?!) to the Mexican car parking attendant who comes out of nowhere at the end to argue with the band about the parked car we've forgotten all about. Hilarious - what other comedy would interrupt the plot for such left-field silliness? However while the icing on the cake is superb and one of the best in the second series (you can see why this episode was sensibly pulled earlier in the listings to 'launch' the second season ahead of 'The lacklustre 'Picture Frame', the first 'new' episode made) all this still can't cover for how unappetising the original 'cake' is. The script is even more cartoon-like and unlikely than the first series' average, Davy's love interest is written in and forgotten about as the script demands and the plotting is weird - why does the episode with a 'failed' high noon shoot out? Even the usual Monkee message of 'peace', which will be heard a lot across this second series, is offered here by Micky in a sterling speech, only to be overcome when there's a bully on the loose. Only El Diablo doesn't lose because of Micky's hippie sentiments or his bravery - he loses because he's such a rotten shot - something which flies in the face of why the whole town is so scared of him (yes even bandits can have an off day, but at that range Micky should at least be injured). As a result this episode is caught halfway between the sheer inspired brilliance of much of season one and the 'it's a hit anyway, that'll do' ness of series two - it could have been so much better with a few teaks to the original plot, yet a whole lot worse had there been a few less jokes and had the band and guest cast not been so enthusiastic about making this script. A nice episode for the series to visit - but I wouldn't want the plots to stay here. Unfortunately many of the scripts to come will be spookily similar to this one, only made with less effort...
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Listen out for a mistake: the duel is at 'high noon' (i.e. 12pm) but the clock only chimes eleven times! Another 'mistake' comes when the band throw the liquid in their glasses away - and are then seen to chink them noisily and destructively together immediately afterwards, with wine spilling all over them 2) It's all change in the end credits, as starting with this episode and for the rest of series two Ward Sylvester has been promoted to 'Production Executive' with Gerald S Shepherd now Executive Producer 3) In yet another altered ending, the original script has Davy knocking out a captured El Diablo with a single punch when running to kiss Aneglita one last time before The Monkees move on (and no doubt pulling his 'ooh!' face!) 4) More snippets from this episode appear in The Monkees' opening titles than any other episode except 'On Tour' - among them Davy pulling faces, Mike and Micky's bandits hats pinging off and Davy's cowboy belt falling off as he draws his gun 5) During the 'Hangin' Round' romp look out for the square thing Davy is clutching under his arm - it's a copy of Beatles album 'Sgt Peppers' which at the time this part of the episode was filmed had only been released the day before! (was Davy looking at it when he was called to the set? It would be a very Monkees 'joke' not to put it down even though it's never seen again for the rest of the episode!) 6) If Mike's voice sounds odd, then that might be because he'd had his tonsils removed a mere couple of weeks before filming this episode. Though the next batch of episodes (made before this one) will revert to his 'old' voice this one and the episodes in the final run of the series feature a much deeper, lower, more nasally tone 7) This week's stand-in cameo: David Pearl is one of the townsfolk who refuses to come to The Monkees' aid when Micky makes his long speech
Ratings: At The Time 8.7 million viewers/AAA Rating: 6/10

TV Episode  #34
"The Picture Frame"
(Filmed April and August 1967; First broadcast September 18th 1967)
"Smile, we're on hidden camera!"
Music: Pleasant Valley Sunday (Romp)/Randy Scouse Git (End Segment)
Main Writer: Jack Winter   Director: James Frawley
Plot: Mike, Micky and Peter answer an ad in the paper to be in a film and go to audition at Mammoth Studios - Peter answers it too but goes to the wrong building, off camera! Conman JL and his assistant Harvey gives the trio a script and tells them to act out the parts of robbers at the Ninth National Bank down the street where 'hidden cameras' will be there to capture everything they do. They also ask for a photograph - in reality to leak to the press as 'suspects' although The Monkees are told its for publicity; after his baby photo is rejected, Micky takes a shot of the five of them with his not-that portable camera he magically appears to have with him. The three then rob the bank and think they've done rather well, until the police come and arrests them the following day. Realising they must have been framed, the trio send Peter to go round to the studios 'snooping for clues. Peter finds the pictures thrown away in the waste-paper basket and takes them to the courthouse where the other trio are busy stalling for time. To their horror The Monkees discover Peter has taken the wrong photo - but it works out anyway as the lady judge is so taken with Micky's sweet baby photo she declares that anyone that cute must be innocent!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is unusually thick this episode and easily taken in by the conmen (usually he's the one who sees through them all straight away). Has no problems dressing up as a witness if he thinks it will get the others off.  Micky:Has no qualms about dressing up and acting as the defence lawyer during the trial. We see a repeat of his interest in cameras and photography. Oddly Micky doesn't act the part of either a convict or a judge in this episode - I had money on that... Davy: This marks the one and only Monkees episode where his advances are spurned, by a girl at the bank (ot be fair he is holding a gu to her head at the time!) Peter: Is bad at map-reading, going to the wrong building for the audition, but oddly can find his way to the right building (which he has never seen) when The Monkees need their evidence. 
Things that don't make sense: How do the three Monkees know who is doing which part? Or is the script magically written for a 'Mike' 'Micky' and a 'Davy'?! In reality it would have taken The Monkees well over a year to be taken to court, even back in the 1960s with a smaller backlog (there's also no way this band would have been able to post bail, something skipped over in the script!) Erm, I'm not sure the old 'he was so cute in his baby photo so he and his two accomplices must be innocent' verdict either - surely that's grounds for a mis-trial if ever there was one?!
Best Five Quotes: 1) The police arrive with much noise and bright flashing sirens. Micky - "What do they want us for?" Peter goes pale - "That library book  it's a week overdue!" 2) Davy, while robbing the bank and carrying a bag full of cash - "I asked that girl to go out with me but she turned me down. Is it because I don't have enough money?" 3) Mike - "Honestly, officer, we were just shooting a film!" PoliceSergeant - "You better change your tune!" Mike (in higher voice) - "Honestly, officer, we were just shooting a film!" Police Sergeant - "You'll get the third degree for this!" Micky hands out a degree to each of The Monkees. Police Sergeant - "Stop that or I'll throw the book at you!" Inevitably, a book gets thrown at them! 4) Micky - "You don't think we're guilty, right, Pete?" Peter - "No I don't think you're guilty - I just don't see any possible way that you could be innocent!" 5) Micky, in disguise as the defence - "No he's innocent, he's always been so good to his mother - then again he could have gotten involved with some long haired weirdoes!"
Romp: We hear 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' for the first time while three of the Monkees are creating chaos in the court room and Peter is trying to run back there to escape the robbers. This is the first time that the last of the 'big five' Monkee songs (repeated far more times than the others) will be heard. It's manic adrenalin rush makes it musically perfect for the scene, although like many of these 'romps' the lyrics about status symbols and suburbia are way off.
End Segment: A mimed performance of 'Randy Scouse Git', with an unusual line-up and only Mike where he should be: Micky is at the front on a kettle drum, resplendent in a psychedelic table-cloth, while Peter is on piano and Davy is on Micky's drums. It's an energetic performance, with Mike pulling faces at the camera, Micky spoofing the fact that he's not 'really' singing and everyone getting in on the chaos of the last verse!
Davy Love Rating: The only love rating in minus figures, thanks to the bank teller spurning his advances - actually it's Mike and Micky who flirt considerably in this episode, both with the judge.
Postmodernisms: During all that talk about 'smile, we're on hidden camera!' when the three Monkees are robbing the bank you can see them grin exactly where the cameras are pointed! When Peter is being chased by Harvey he appears to be on top of a roof, with a backdrop of a sky painted behind him and lost of intercut stock footage of great heights. As Harvey gets near he decides to jump - and reveals that the set is no more than a foot off the ground!
Review: Slightly under-par this week. We're used to seeing The Monkees as gullible but they really are overbearingly thick in this episode, only twigging onto the fact they've been set up much too late in the day - although to be fair the bored look on the extras in the bank doesn't immediately suggest the event is 'for 'real' either. The plot twist with the photograph that Micky takes at the beginning coming in useful later is also signposted so obviously early on that even the band's pre-teen audience must have worked out what was going on before the proper opening credits. However few Monkee episodes are without worth and there are some great lines again, the highlight by far being the scene where the Monkees have been arrested and are being shown footage of the robbery - which they are convinced is just their 'rushes' being shown back to them. The band's enthusiasm for the film and the popcorn and drinks they bring with them while watching it is well handled as the policeman - who thinks the Monkees are just calling his bluff - gets crosser and crosser, with the sudden Monkee-style switch to being in a real cinema (complete with a lady with a very large hat in Mike's way) is a delight. The band are a good unit here, sparking off each other well, although Peter is badly under-used (the script could easily have worked with him locked up too, so was Peter busy filming or recording when the bulk of this episode was made? Mike gets plenty of days off so we can't really begrudge Peter this week, although the balance seems odd without him there much). Overall, though, you can tell that this is an abandoned script leftover from series one - it's just that little bit too obvious and unlikely for even an on-form Monkees to pull off. The first episode shot as part of the second series ('A Nice Place To Visit' being held over from the year before) sadly sets the tone for many of the episodes to come, a case of 'this is already a success whatever we do, so we don't do much'.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) This is the first episode filmed for the second series and there's quite a difference in hair length and costume. 2) The episode was another where the original ending was changed. The script should have concluded with a row between Peter and the others when he reveals that he spent their reward money (which they never get in the finished episode) on bailing out JL and Harvey. His logic is that as famous film directors they will make the loan back in no time! 3) An outtake from this episode was recycled as part of #49 'The Monkees Watch Their Feet'. 4) The Monkees' last album before this episode wnet o the air was 'Headquarters'. Here three of the four Monkees re-create 'Zilch' for the one and only time when asked to say something under police interrogation. Micky (the very pat sentence 'Never mind the furthermore, the plea is self-defence') and Davy ('China clipper calling Alameter') both say their lines but Mike says Peter's ('Mr Dobelina, Mr Bob Dobelina') rather than his original phrase ('it is of my opinion that the people are intending').

Ratings: At The Time 8.1 million viewers/AAA Rating: 4/10

TV Episode  #35
"Everywhere A Sheikh Sheikh"
(Filmed April and August 1967; First broadcast September 25 1967)
"Golden Grecian Goblets Guarantee Graves!"
Music: Love Is Only Sleeping (Romp)/Cuddly Toy (End Performance)
Main Writer: Jack Winter   Director: Alex Singer
Plot: Princess Collette has to get married at once - it's written in the stars and if anything happens to her father King Hussair Yaduin then her country Nehudi will be without a ruler. Or at least that's what Vidaru, her evil prime minister says, assuming that she's going to choose him: she doesn't as she has a crush on a cute Manchester singer in a pop group named Davy Jones. Abdul and Shazar are dispatched to The Monkees' pad (which they seem to have no trouble finding) and weigh Davy before carrying him off to Nehudi. The rest of the episode involved Mike, Micky and Peter's attempts to get Davy back, eventually succeeding by dressing up as soldiers and a scientist with a geiger counter who tell the hapless guard that a bomb is about to go off. Their anger subsides when Davy meets his bride and, inevitably, falls for her hard while the other three are promised their choice of wives. A large banquet is held to celebrate the impending marriage but Vidaru has one last go at killing Davy and his friends via switched goblets that explode on touch. Collette gets wind of the plan and sends her maidservant to warn the band - unfortunately she warns Peter, who isn't quite sure what to tell the others. However no harm comes to the band and Viadaru's evil scheme is uncovered, leading to another Monkee romp. After it's all over Collette realises she no longer needs to get married and tells Davy she's got the hots for someone new anyway - Peter!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Impersonates a posh looking soldier with a tweakable hat, which Micky knocks off frequently. Davy promotes him to 'Secretary Of State' and Mike is seen trying to compose a diplomatic letter to unknown persons (he gets as far as 'pretty please' before nearly being killed by one of Vidaru's henchmen with an oversized paperweight!) Micky: Also dresses as a soldier to try and get to Davy. He takes his promotion to Secretary of Defense very seriously and shows off the rare evil scheming side of his character that occasionally comes to light, at least until he's nearly killed by a thrown knife. Davy: Weighs the equivalent of five gold bars. Is adamant that he's too young to marry, but warms to the idea when he meets and falls in love with his bride. Is nearly killed by Vidaru's henchmen too but is saved when a deadly arrow misses him and instead hits a necklace he's just been given by his betrothed. Peter: Appears to weigh more than Davy (is that eight gold bars at the end?) Dresses as a scientist in a lab coat when trying to rescue Davy. Is impatient to be promoted by Davy and is less than pleased to be made 'Secretary For Trees' (telling Davy 'You Would!', a rare occasion when the characters are seen to rub each other up the wrong way on TV). He is nearly assassinated by poison.
Things that don't make sense: Assuming that this is the 'same' Monkees we see in every other episode - ie miserable failures - then how come at least Davy's and Peter's faces can be seen in a big magazine write-up in a publication clearly important enough to be sold abroad (although we're not quite sure how far away the country of Nehudi is!) Was this just a chance coverage of an American rock band struggling to make ends meet? (Those posed shots look expensive, however).
Best Five Quotes: 1) Davy - "This King who kidnapped me wants me to marry his daughter!" Peter - "Oh! Good Looking?" Davy - "Yeah - well, I mean he's alright" Peter - "No I meant his daughter!" 2) King Hussair pointing at a model - "This is where you'll live" Peter -  "It seems a little small" King Hussair - "It has 700 bedrooms" Peter - "Yes, but what kind of a neighbourhood is it in?" 3) Davy - "Micky, I think I'll make you secretary of defence" Micky - "Well, I'll certainly keep it tidy" Davy - "What?" Micky - "The Fence!" 4) Abdul  - "First I must taste this food. Aagh! It's poisoned - and a little rare!" 5) Vidaru - "But I am not a Nahudian! I'm from Oklahoma. I just came here to get your oil!"
Romp: ' Love Is Only Sleeping' - a slightly different mix first intended for the single before the master-tapes 'got lost' (though why wasn't the record re-dubbed from this master tape?) with more background vocals and less organ. The manic-ness of the song certainly fits the speed of one of The Monkees' faster and more frenetic romps, although once again no attention is paid to the words.
End Segment: 'Cuddly Toy', mimed by Davy and Fern from 'Too Many Girls' (actress Anita Mann) on a 'stage'. The Monkees are dressed in Music Hall dress (striped jackets) but Micky who thinks he's going to duet with Davy is pushed off the stage early on and he, Mike and Peter 'struggle' to match the tempo of the music, messing up their cue every time they get it (this mix of the song is missing the final echoed 'la la la la' and instead ends on the second 'badabadabada' as the trio fall over!)
Davy Love Rating: A Seven;  Instant Attraction and a long dream sequence but not quite as many stars in the eyes as sometimes
Review: The most 'normal' of the series two episodes, with the band in peril because of Davy's love interest, it's no surprise to ;learn this episode was filmed at the end of the first series and held back (the change between the Monkees of the episode and the interview on the tag is colossal - the band's hair and clothes having grown considerably in five months). It's a strong episode too with the band all getting chances to do what they do best (Micky gets manic, Mike gets bossy, Peter acts stupid with the best lines of the episode and Davy looks pretty). The plot has clearly been recycled from The Royal Flush (either that or the Duchess of Harmonica is twinned with Nahudi for some strange reason) but has more plot holes: Veradu's ambitions are never really explained past the short pre-credit scene and there's less of a feeling of what this country's traditions are. Still, it makes sense - in a weird Monkees way - and has a neat resolution with one of the better guest casts of the year too. What does work well is the dynamics between the four - the others are no longer surprised either by Davy's kidnapping or his change at heart at getting married and the in-fighting over who gets what position in Davy's cabinet is a rare insight into the fictional band's rivalry (Peter being especially upset and Micky overly ambitious; arguably Davy got his jobs 'wrong' - Mike's organisation is more what's needed in the area of war and Micky's enthusiasm would be better at diplomacy, but then that's very in keeping with what we know about Davy too with him under-estimating his comrades' personalities). Unlike most plots this year there is a resolution, of sorts, and a charming finale with the 'Cuddly Toy' clip and a brief nonsensical interview conducted on the band's first day of filming after their summer break on September 25th 1967.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) The same week the band shot this episode they were in the studio recording the first songs for 'Pisces Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd' (an album released two months after the episode's first broadcast date). 2) Harry Nilsson, the writer behind 'Cuddly Toy', is still so new to the music scene that his name is mis-spelt 'Nilssen' in the end credits 3) The two songs used in this episode, 'Love Is Only Sleeping' and 'Cuddly Toy' by chance appear next to each other on the 'Pisces Aquarius' album as tracks four and five 4) Once again there was an alternate ending in the script for the episode (endings really weren't writer Jack Winter's strong-point) where The Monkees were sent to face a firing squad, only for Peter to have kept his 'golden grecian goblet' which explodes and lets the band escape 5) Many clips from this episode were used in the opening titled of The Monkees' second season (specifically both the 'Davy' and 'Peter looking cross' sequences, plus Micky in his admirals hat), presumably because this was one of the few episodes already filmed before work on the opening titles started 6) The interview tag was recorded during 'down time' for the famous sequence of 'Daydream Believer/Pleasant Valley Sunday/Randy Scouse Git', which between them are used to end many an episode in this season 7) The Monkees' fridge, painted a plain white in the first series, has been given a makeover and is now painted psychedelic colours! 8) It seems likely that Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider has this episode in mind when writing the script for 'Head' with Jack Nicholson. The gag from this episode's romp where each Monkee gets to kiss the same girl is re-used (although she's less critical in this version!) and the romp also features belly-dancing girls (as seen in the 'Can You Dig It?' sequence from the film). The two even share the same actor - William Bagdad who plays henchman Curad in this episode and the sheikh who chases The Monkees to their bridge leaping near the end of the film
Ratings: At The Time 8.5 million viewers/AAA Rating: 8/10

TV Episode  #36
"Monkee Mayor"
(Filmed June and August 1967; First broadcast October 2nd 1967)
"Old politicians never die - they just rot away!"
Music: No Time (Romp)/ Pleasant Valley Sunday (End Performance)
Main Writer: Jack Winter   Director: Alex Singer
Plot: The Monkees and everyone else on their block are about to be evicted, their homes knocked down to make way for a parking lot. Mike isn't having any of it and goes round to the mayor's office to complain, but when he does he's led through to first a door that takes him outside again and secondly into a sadly more painful-than-metaphorical brick wall. Meanwhile all the homeless neighbours are round at The Monkees' place and making life difficult for everyone. Mike is so incensed he decides to run for mayor and The Monkees canvas for him during a memorable romp to 'No Time'. Returning home The Monkees discover their pad has been broken into and decide that as dirty tricks are being played against them they'll do the same, breaking into the town hall and rifling through the filing cabinets until they come across a damning report that says exactly what the council are going to do. Peter takes a photo and they sneak back home again, but - disaster! - Peter took a picture of the filing cabinet instead of the file and The Monkees are no better off. It looks as if Mike's election campaign is over, but then sackfuls of mail come in full of money from citizens. The Monkees celebrate by using the money to pay for an epic political campaign - but their rival Mr Zickenbush reveals that really he payed a lot of that money and the Monkees have sourced it from 'illegal funds'. Mike turns up to give his radio speech anyway and announces he's withdrawing, inspiring The Mayor to vow to overthrow Zickenush's power. It looks like The Monkees have won but suddenly a wrecking ball tears through their pad...(this plot point isn't mentioned in the next episode!)
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: We see Mike's sense of outrage and injustice like never before in this episode as he gets so angry he first tries to meet the Mayor face to face and then decides to run against him, never taking 'no' for an answer. Though clearly nervous, his radio address to his home town is erudite and passionate and apparently made without a script or notes. Has never been arrested or fired from work (what work?) according to Mike's FBI file, which also reveals that he brushes his teeth three times a day (how did they know that?!)At first Mike wants to change his image, but gets laughed at by the other Monkees when he dresses as Washington, Lincoln and Lyndon B Johnson - they prefer his 'real' self. His 'type' of girl appears to be blondes, judging by who he chooses at a beauty pageant, with the brunette and redhead beating him up for his choice!  Micky: Has more problems with furniture this episode - a chair breaks when he goes to sit down and he struggles to hand over a table when asked for one by his neighbour (see 'The Picture Frame'). Note how badly Micky re-acts to the flashbulb Peter uses sin the town hall office - Micky has just come from the Summer 1967 live tour where a running joke was getting the Monkee fans to flash in unison just before he played 'I'm A Believer' leaving the drummer 'unable to see a thing' (as heard on 'Live '67'). After being hired as Mike's campaign manager Micky goes to the newspapers as part of Mike's campaign - the Monkees' local this year appears to be 'The Typesetter's Union' Davy: The tables are turned for once as he goes round kissing babies - only to be kissed passionately by their mothers too! Hired as Mike's campe de aide, Davy is in charge of establishing Mike's TV broadcast.. Peter: Is a keen photographer with his own darkroom, although he has a rather different interest in photographic subjects than his fellow Monkees (they really should have explained to him what they wanted a picture of!) Peter becomes Mike's 'campy aide' and organises a skywriter who writes 'Mike for Mayor' in the sky.
Things that don't make sense: You'd hope that there'd be a bigger outcry than this if city hall wanted to knock down quite such a large amount of buildings. The Monkees find it surprisingly easy to sneak into city hall and find what they're looking for almost straight away. But why are they rifling through city hall cabinets anyway - it seems to be common knowledge what the mayor and backer are planning (it's spreading the news that's the problem, not what the news is). The plotting also becomes unclear at the end - did Zackenbush pay for all the sacks of mail with money? Or just some? Isn't that a bit of a risk letting the Monkees pay for a mammoth campaign trail when it could come back and bite them? (They should have tried to 'frame' Mike the first time any money is spent). Mike might have been better off 'coming clean' with just how he was conned - as this makes Zackenbush and the Mayor look like the villains they are. Oh and is 'I've got not time for you' really the message The Monkees should have been giving with their campaign trail?! Oh and err how come the Monkees' most regular baddy, whose worked as a con artist music publisher among other things end up as mayor (Zuckenbush must have an awful lot of money! Or does the mayor have a naughty twin brother?)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Neighbour - "On my 'welcome' sign there'll be a different sign seventy-five feet high saying 'petrol 50 cents a litre'" Peter - "Why that's terrible - it's much cheaper than that down town!" 2) Mayor - "From across the shores the pilgrims landed and found Indians! Luckily they moved those indians. Why throwing people out of their homes is the American way!" 3) Mike - "The more I think about this whole parking lot thing the more I think we've got to do something about it!" Davy - "How come?" Mike - "Well, because we don't want a dictatorial Government running this city, the rights of an individual citizen have to be respected - and we've got to get all of these people out of our house, man!" 4) Micky, opening letters - "Why, it's those little people sending in all their nickels and dimes" Davy - "But this is for several hundred dollars!" Micky - "Why, it's all those big people sending in their hundreds and thousands!" 5) Mike - "Politics is an interesting game but a dirty one too and I'm not strong enough to play that game...I just didn't think it right that just because people didn't have power that nobody should listen to them!"
Romp: An excellent one to the strain of 'No Time' as The Monkees go out campaigning - Davy tries to kiss babies but gets kissed himself, Mike judges a beauty contest and gets beaten up by the losers and Micky gets beaten up by an old woman with an umbrella. Mike steps in to foil Peter pretending to be a crook by talking him out of putting down his gun - and then in a neat twist the passing crowd all turn their guns on Mike instead! The song's manic pace and sense of urgency make it highly suitable for romps like this one - it's a shame this song from 'Headquarters' wasn't used more often.
End Segment: 'Pleasant Valley Sunday', the standard performance in front of the 'painted arrows', ending with Peter leaping into the camera.
Davy Love Rating: One. He's taken by surprise when the mother of a young baby kisses him on Mike's campaign trail!
Review: Though the plot is perhaps a little too serious for The Monkees, this is exactly the sort of episode the series should have been trying. Up until now we've had all sorts of authority figures and adults who are corrupt and working the system that The Monkees have to put right. This time round The Monkees stand up to politicians, with several jokes made on their behalf that's pretty daring for a show in 1967 (the literal skeleton the Mayor keeps in his closest, the lines about how politicians just 'rot away' - repeated twice to make sure you heard it -  and the way the Mayor's office deals with Mike's complaints, sending him out the door and into a brick wall - will be familiar to anyone whose ever tried to have a conversation with local Government, either side of the pond). It's a brave move for a series that more than ever is standing up as the lone voice on television of the youngsters watching it and perhaps the ultimate example of The Monkees standing up to the world as much as they can (though unfortunately this leaves them nowhere else to go - it's a shame that rather being a watershed moment this lot are treated as just like other Monkee rogues and it's sad to think we're back fighting gangsters next week as usual). This isn't quite the first time anyone had done this mind and more than usual this episode owes a lot to the Marx Brothers film series, being even more anarchic and anti-establishment than usual (the name 'Zackenbush' seems suspiciously like 'Hackenbush', Groucho's corrupted chief of staff in 'A Day At The Races', though the plot is more like the war spoof 'Duck Soup', with Mike's final speech recalling Charlie Chaplin's 'The Great Dictator'). Quite often Monkee villains have a softer side but the Mayor and his financial backer whose really pulling all his strings (again, quite a daring comment to make for the period - and one just presented to us as 'fact') really are 'evil', or at least corrupt. They don't care who gets hurt, which makes them far more threatening than the usual bumbling spies and spivs who'll get to see the error of their ways by the end of the episode. In fact the ending is the weakest aspect of the episode - do The Monkees win? The Mayor seems genuinely moved to change his ways, enough so to fool The Monkees at any rate, and yet the bulldozers still come in to knock down The Monkees' pad at the very end. If there's a fault with this episode it's that this feeling of threat and loss should be all the greater - it should be a real wrench when the Monkees' pad that we've come to know so well is about to be taken over, or when the Mayor's aides break in to 'sabotooge' The Monkees' house and especially when a wrecking ball hits it at the end - a place we've come to know and love so well and which represents the youthful idealism of the 1960s against the outside adult world. It should be the most moving moment of the entire series at the end and yet the band are stood around cracking jokes about the ball being 'the fob watch of the jolly green giant' and there's no resolution or mention of this change in next week's show. The result doesn't quite work - there's too much 'talking' and not enough 'chatting' for a Monkees episode, with everything concerned with 'plot' rather than 'character' this week, although one of the best romps of the series (with all four Monkees coming unstuck on their campaign trail in four very fitting ways) makes up for it. Mike hasn't had the lead in a series plot for ages (although he tends to be the de facto one in charge during plots that concern all four Monkees) and struggles a little to know how to play this part - for laughs, or for its serious message (so he settles for 'humble' and returns to his stuttering vocal trick throughout much of the episode). I can't say I blame him as I'm not sure how to play this script either, but it does lead to one of Mike's more uneven roles throughout the series and Micky, Davy and Peter get comparatively little to do this week. The end result is an episode I'm glad they tried and which is in some ways one of the most successful episodes of the second series - but which doesn't quite hang together like The Monkees' best.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) This week's use of stand-ins as extras: David Pearl is the cameraman that his 'double' Davy Jones coaches him. David Price, Peter's double, also turns up during the 'No Time' romp. 2) This episode's stock footage was actually taken from Herbert Hover's campaign of 1928 (probably chosen because it was one of the earliest filmed American electoral campaigns) 3) Peter starts off asking for (Charles) 'Lindburgh' to fly the plane featuring Mike's skywriting (the first person ever to fly the Atlantic in one go, from New York to Paris) but then asks for (Eddie) 'Rickenbacker' because 'his penmanship is better' (a world war one pilot) 4) Two of Peter's 'funny faces' from this episode were used in the series two opening credits sequence 5) The original script had Micky running for Mayor - it's unknown why this was changed but the decision to fight for injustice does seem much more of a 'Nesmith' character trait (at least out of the four fictional Monkees characters)
Ratings: At The Time 8.2 million viewers/AAA Rating: 8/10

TV Episode  #37
"Art For Monkees' Sake"
(Filmed April and August 1967; First broadcast October 9th 1967)
"An artist and a musician!"
Music: Randy Scouse Git (Romp)/Daydream Believer (End Performance)
Main Writer: Coslough Johnson   Director: Alex Singer
Plot: Out of nowhere, Peter suddenly discovers he can paint really really well. Tired of walking into walls that Peter has painted to look like doors the other Monkees tell him to go and put his new talent to good use by sketching works of art at the local gallery. By chance The Laughing Cavalier happens to be on display and two rogue security guards are preparing to steal it. Seeing Peter's talents they get him to draw a perfect copy - telling him to ditch the wool-hat he's given the figure - and then lock him up in the basement. Sensing that something is wrong, the other Monkees come to look for Peter and set him free, along with the 'real' painting. They try to alert the gallery owner, but he inadvertently sets off his own alarm. The Monkees feel they have only one option left - they break back into the gallery at night to switch the paintings back, but are discovered by the villains and a romp to 'Randy Scouse Git' ensues. The Monkees win - well sort of - with the gallery owner shocked to find a new exhibit in the main gallery: a cage containing all four Monkees and the two villains! In a tag sequence Peter reveals he's given up painting - he's taken up carpentry instead (just in time for Micky to sit on one of his collapsing chairs!)
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: In a voiceover describing the band while they climb to the gallery roof Mike refers to himself as 'a modest but towering Texan who needs no introduction - his stoiclike ability to endure pain reveals why he is the leader among men'. Micky: Ends up coming off worst with Peter's new hobbies, walking into painted walls and sitting on collapsible chairs. Insists on acting like a cat when told to act 'stealthily'. Mike's voiceover refers to him as 'The Los Angeles Leopard, also known as The Pantherman - somewhat hampered by his low resistance to the night air he is the only weak link in our chain' (a bit unfair given that it's Davy and Mike making all the real noise - all Micky does is sneeze!) Davy: Is referred to by Mike's voiceover as 'The Manchester Marauder'. Is trusted by Mike to wear the special goggles that can see infra-ray light, a decision soon regretted as Davy walks off in the wrong direction and knocks everything over! Peter: Is an incredibly gifted painter - which fits what we know of Peter's character as a sensitive imaginative creator but still comes as a shock (we've seen no evidence to back this up in any previous episode and it's never mentioned again, even in plots where it would be a really useful gift to have!) Though Peter hasn't been writing long, he does have a signature - the only way that 'his' painting and the real one can be told apart (once Peter has removed the woolhat anyway!) Once again Peter's undoing proves to be his trustworthiness and gullibility, never even questioning the baddies' motives even when they tie him up and lock him up in the basement! Mike's voiceover refers to Peter as 'The Connecticut Counterspy who combines nerves of steel, cool-eyed perception and some fancy footwork' (which doesn't stop Peter walking noisily into the TV aerial!)
Things that don't make sense: Peter's new talent - err since when? Even the art gallery curator can't tell the difference between the original and the copy (he clearly hasn't spotted the rather large signature at the bottom!) Micky is also having a rare off day, walking into a door that's rather more crudely painted than Peter's excellent copy of the 'Laughing Cavalier' and sitting down on a chair he's never seen before when Peter has a mad gleam in his eye! The art gallery clearly doesn't choose its security staff with much care - the two guards are clearly baddies from the moment we see them (doesn't the gallery owner watch this series for crying out loud - one of them has been a Monkee baddy several times before!) Oh and in 'our' world The Laughing Cavalier hangs in the Wallace Collection in London, even though it's actually a Dutch painting by Frans Hals, although it might have been on an 'overseas exhibition' to Americas in the Monkees' world.  Perhaps the biggest 'mistake' of all though comes in Mike's 'Mission Impossible' style voiceover where he refers to Peter as 'The Connecticut Counterspy' even though Peter was Washington DC born and bred (interestingly while there are several references to the long-standing friendship between Micky and Peter, there's less evidence in the scripts for Davy and Mike - did Mike join the band just before the point where we meet The Monkees?)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Davy - "Anyway, how much trouble can you get into at a museum?" (Dawning Realisation) Micky - "Right, Peter's in trouble isn't he?!" 2) Artist, whose just gripped Micky by the shirtsleeves as if to hit him - "By the way that will be 150 dollars" Micky - "What for?" Artist - "The painting on your shirt - one day it will be worth millions!" 3) Micky - "Did you check the basement?" Mike - "No, only a fool would be in the basement" Micky - "Right then, Peter's in the basement!" 4) Mike after Davy has knocked over an antique - "I mean that thing was several hundred years old!" Peter - "Well thank goodness it wasn't new!" 5) Mike's voiceover (shortly before Micky, Mike and Peter walk into the same aerial) - "Gathering our team of experts from the four corners of the earth we'll be a task force of deadliness, efficiency and teamwork!"
Romp: 'Randy Scouse Git' ought to be funnier than it is given that the props department has had great fun this week re-creating a gallery! The Monkees are clearly tired of thinking up gags, however. The music fits in nicely with the manic feel but as usual the lyrics don't fit (if indeed they mean anything at all!)
End Segment: It's hello to one of the most famous Monkee moments of them all: the music video sequence to 'Daydream Believer' which debuts here and will go on to be the most repeated Monkees clip of their entire run. It's a charming performance as Davy squeezes onto Peter's piano stool and Micky tries to get the camera to look at him, while a laughing Davy alternates between the giggles and trying to look cool performing his 'Davy dance' in front of a striped arrow background.
Postmodernisms: Only one this week and a gag we've had before - The Monkees re-use the same aerial set of a rooftop and apparently a huge drop - but during the romp we see Mike and Peter fluttering around like birds whilst standing on the ground, apparently hovering in mid-air!
Review: A so-so episode, 'Art For Monkees' Sake' is at least a slightly altered take on the usual 'buffoon villains who get caught up in the Monkee world' formula'. This time round the crooks are art thieves, bringing back memories of many Saturday morning serials from the inter-war years and the 1950s which would have been well known to young Monkee watchers from re-runs though the art form had rather died off by the 1960s. Putting the Monkees into this world ought to be a great idea - but alas the execution leaves a little to be desired. The fact that Peter can suddenly draw so brilliantly, mimicking all the 'old' series The Monkees laugh at where people develop powers that are never seen on screen again, ought to be a terrific punchline full of amazed Monkees. Don't forget too that The Monkees are still penniless and need every bit of acumen they can get their hands on - why does no one think to use Peter's talents, say, drawing caricatures outside on the street or working as an art teacher (I can just see it now - 'Your vase of flowers is so good it's given me *achoo* hayfever!') but instead Peter's new found talents pass without comment. The security guards are two of the most pathetic ever seen on the series and until Peter comes along seem to have no plan whatsoever to steal the painting (how long have they been in this job waiting for someone like Peter to come along?) In a neat twist on what usually happens in this series writer Coslough Johnson seems much more interested in the plot than the band, so the four Monkees all end up acting slightly out of character across this episode - Mike's 'Mission Impossible' voiceover, added later probably when the director realised how little action was taking place in the rushes, is very out of character while poor Davy barely gets a line the whole episode (even though his clowning around the with infra-red goggles is probably the highlight). The end result has some really funny moments, with Micky's exasperation as he comes out worse from Peter's hobbies only to be greeted with wide-eyed innocence something the band could have played on more, whilst the closing classic clip of 'Daydream Believer' manages to convey every bit of Monkee interaction inside three minutes despite only mimed vocals being 'spoken'! The whole is less than the parts though, seeming rather unsatisfying - even this early on in the series' second run the band seem tired and are to some extent just going through the motions.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Keep an eye out for the first of four unexpected cameo appearances by big names in The Monkees' series - piano player and fashion icon (of sorts) Liberace, who made bling fashionable a quarter century before rap started.  Liberace doesn't say a word and only appears with one Monkee (Mike) but he takes to his scene with relish, attacking a piano with a sledgehammer in  a Frank Zappa-style manner. Frank himself will be along to do just that in about another twenty episodes' time! 2) Micky will appear in another show with the rather stressed artist he encounters in this episode, played by Michael Bell. The duo will voice the lead roles in Hanna Barbera cartoon 'Devlin' (which ran between 1976 and 1978), Micky as 'Todd' and Bell as 'Ernie' 3) Funnily enough one of Bell's next roles was also one of director Alex Singer's first post-Monkee TV episodes - on  the show 'Mission Impossible' which part of this very episode parodies! 4) Mike had his tonsils removed between the recording of the bulk of this episode and the overdubbing made later (the 'Mission Impossible' style voiceover) - listen out and you can hear the difference, with the voiceover much deeper! 5) Mike also must have overdubbed the line 'only a fool would be in the basement' as he clearly mouths the word 'idiot' - was this changed because Peter objected to the name-calling? Or is this another weird Colgems thing? 6) The script includes a missing scene where Davy finds something 'weird' in studio 2 (just as Micky encounters the artist and Mike encounters Liberace) - the scene wasn't filmed for timing reasons and nobody can remember what it was supposed to be!
Ratings: At The Time 9.5 million viewers/AAA Rating: 4/10

TV Episode  #38
"I Was A 99lb Weakling"
(Recorded May and August 1967, First broadcast October 17th 1967)
"I wish Mike was here!"
Music: Sunny Girlfriend (Romp)/Love Is Only Sleeping (End Performance)
  Main Writer: Jon C Anderson, Gerald Gardener and Dee Caruso   Director: Alex Singer
Plot: It's a rare Micky-centred episode this week, following Dolenz's exploits as he chats up a girl he fancies at the beach (yeah - beach!) and is repelled by a rather large bully. Vowing to get fit while getting even, Micky joins Sha-Ku's training programme. Unfortunately for Micky it's yet another Monkee con and the gym has been kitted out to make Micky look weaker than he really is (the rope has been oiled so it's slippery and Sha-Ku leans on the bar-bell when it's being raised. However Micky has his heart set on beating the bully and threatens to hock his drums. Davy and Peter intervene and decide to teach the bully a lesson - they paint spots on him to make him think he's lost all his strength and fool him into trying to lift what looks like a football but is really made from cast-iron. Against all odds the plan works and Micky gets the girl - only to lose her to a passing intellectual (yeah - intellectual!) as the girl turns out to be obsessed with brains not brawn (yeah - right!)
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is absent for the first of three occasions (well, three and a half) for unexplained reasons. The others mention him through various lines of 'I wish Mike was here' but don't specify where the Monkee is. Micky: Keeps being told he looks thin and weedy and believes it enough to be fooled by Sha-Ku's con trick (usually Micky's character is to clever to be fooled by this - the bully must have touched a raw nerve). This brings out Micky's grumpier side when back with his friends (although he's quick to defend Davy even when Sha-ku makes exactly the same height gag he himself made earlier in the episode) and unusually there are no 'Micky' fantasy sequences this week!  Davy: Must be getting sick of all the 'short' jokes by now - both Micky and Sha-ku make the same gag. In Mike's absence Davy is the mastermind behind the plan to make the bully think he's lost all his strength. Peter: Is unusually bright this episode (perhaps because he gets so many lined intended for Mike?) and is the first to see through Ska-Ku's intentions
Best Five Quotes: 1) Peter - "You don't want to get strong just to hurt somebody!" Davy - "Yeah, I mean you don't really want to him do you?" Micky - "Alright then, you're right - how about I bite him?!" 2) Davy, to the bully "I dare you to step over this line! And I dare you to step over this line!" Bully - "And now what?" Davy - "You're always taking orders aren't you?" 3) Sha-Ku, after a demonstration of Micky's feebleness - "So, now do you believe me?!" Micky - "I'm a beliver! I'm a beliver!" 4) Davy - "What are you cooking Micky?" Micky - "Fried fermented goat milk curd burned in a dash of lemonseed oil to a crisp golden green!" Peter - "Is it too late to save the steak?" 5) Davy - "Before I came to Sha-ku's I used to be six foot two!"
Romp: This episode includes the only appearance of 'Sunny Girlfriend', Mike's charming rocker from 'Headquarters'. It suits the mayhem of the romp so well it's a wonder it wasn't used more often, although the sentiments really don't fit with shots of The Monkees disrupting the Sha-ku meeting of gym signees.
End Segment: Yet another filmed performance from the August 1967 post-break dates that have already seen 'Randy Scouse Git' 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' and 'Daydream Believer' featured in the series. This time it's the turn of 'Love Is Only Sleeping' with Davy back on drums and Micky playing with his moog synthesiser.
Monkee Men: The superhero costumes make their last of three appearances here in the briefest of brief scenes of the trio as super-heroes.
Review: Oh dear - a script rejected from the first season that doesn't make much sense, performed by a sulky looking band and leaden production, you don't have to be Peter's Sherlock Holmes character to work out that something has gone badly wrong behind the scenes during the making of this episode. Mike is missing and unlike future episode when he suffers from seasickness or has his tonsils out, it's for ideological reasons, calmly listed as 'artistic differences' during most discussions of this episode. What it really boiled down to was Mike's refusal to work with Don Kirshner any longer and his doubts about the quality of the scripts and songs the band were being presented with. Perhaps to calm him down Mike gets both performances in this episode, which almost makes up for the fact that he isn't here at all (except, weirdly enough, during recycled flashback scenes in the romp). However the script still seems unbalanced without him there and none of the other three act much like their usual selves either - Micky is usually too feisty to care what people think of him, Davy seems lost in a plot about him helping someone else get the girl for a change and Peter seems to have undergone a lobotomy this episode, proving to be the smartest of the three. Despite being re-written by the two most experienced Monkee script makers from a script sent in by Jon Andersen (who usually worked on the series as an un-credited staff writer and sometimes an assistant director), this episode has almost nothing Monkees about it apart from the music - and with Mike on lead for both songs, unusually, even that doesn't sound much like The Monkees as heard prior to this. Of course nothing with The Monkees in it is all bad - the thick girl stereotype is nicely undercut (she's a brunette not a blonde and given the twist at the end seems to appreciate intelligence in others, meaning she gets the better out of both the bully and Micky) and her habit of repeating things (repeating things - yeah) says more in one go than any long scene would say. Body builder David Draper, who plays the bully Bulk, also makes the most of his not that interesting part and the scenes of the Sha-Ku's gym membership meeting (which seems even more like a cult the more you see of it) are good. But the fact that we're picking out other people's contributions rather than their own says it all about how much commitment the band themselves put into this, with Micky especially seeming unusual flat just at the point when he's finally been given the lead role in an episode (one of only two, really, across the entire series run). In short, not good. And while I sympathise with why he isn't, I wish Mike was here.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Mike isn't here. Well to be fair you probably know that by now whether you're a mega-fan or not. No explanation for his absence was given on-screen (the band just inserted an 'I wish Mike was here' whenever he was supposed to have a line in the opening scene) and none was really given behind the scenes except 'artistic differences'. He still appears on the end credits 2) The odd Davy reference to 'knowing a girl called Mary Ann from Bayonee, New Jersey' refers to a character from 'Gilligan's Island', another popular series that was on near the Monkees slot for much of their TV run. 3) Sha-ku's business card address just happens to be the same as the Screen Gems movie lot where The Monkees episodes were shot: 1438 N Glower Street, Hollywood, California 4) A sad farewell to the dummy Mr Schneider, at least in terms of lines, as Davy uses him to mouth the memorable last line 'does hunger justify murder?' 5) Differences between the actors and the parts they play #3976: Peter, in real life a committed vegetarian long before becoming a Monkee, is most put out about not having a steak and is later told off by Davy for eating too many hot dogs 6) Many clips from this episode were re-used in the opening titles of the second season - one clip, of Peter about to prop up his chin, was filmed for this episode but cut from the final edit, just in case it's bothering you that you never saw that clip on TV!
Ratings: At The Time 9.5 million viewers/AAA Rating: 2/10

TV Episode  #39
"Hillbilly Honeymoon"
(Recorded September 1967, First broadcast October 23rd 1967)
"Is this the one whose been kissing you Ellie Mae?" "I don't know - I can't tell them apart!"
Music: Papa Gene's Blues (Romp)
(A 1968 repeat substituted 'Papa Gene's Blues' for the similar 'Tapioca Tundra')
  Main Writer: Peter Meyerson Director: James Frawley
Plot: You had to ask - I'm not too sure there is one! No hang on, there's something in the plot about Mike Nesmith bringing the other Monkees to call on his Texas cousin, but the plot actually starts with the band finding themselves in the middle of a hick town and in the middle of a row between two feuding families, the Weskitts and the Chubbs. Davy is forced to walk along a large white line painted down the middle of the road but a local girl called Ellie Mae fancies him and pulls him over to her side of the line. Her mad dad says that the only way out of this mess is for Davy to marry her daughter. So far so straightforward but it seems as if Ellie Mae ('an old maid at sixteen') can't tell The Monkees apart and also seduces Micky and Peter over the course of the episode (Mike refuses, telling her that he's married with kids). Micky and Mike try to come to Davy's rescue with the help of a local pig who causes a diversion, but Davy gets caught on a nail in a fence and ends up being sworn in to be married all over again. Only a timely intervention with her real love interest from across the tracks - Judd - prevents Davy coming to his latest marriage-worse-than-death.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Has a truly weird background - no wonder he relishes The Monkees' past so much (what on earth did Mike say on getting the script and finding out his background has been re-written to such an extent?) We never do find out why he's brought the other Monkees halfway across America with him. Comers up with a plan to rescue Davy. Micky: Is bad at navigating. Is oddly unlikeable in this episode, seemingly prepared to leave first Davy and then Peter behind to escape (to be fair Micky may be just using humour to wisecrack his way out of a situation and often appears to do this sort of thing, but this time he appears to mean it a bit more). He still plays a major role in busting Davy out of his imprisonment though. Davy: Would make a good English gin (or so he jokes). Unlike almost every other relationship Davy has with young girls throughout the series, this one is most certainly not reciprocated: instead Davy looks horrified (this might be because Ellie Mae is meant to be an awful lot younger, sixteen to his twenty, although actress Melody Patterson looks closer to Davy's age) Peter: Doesn't get much to do this episode, being left behind with the 'rival family' at the first opportunity
Things that don't make sense: Everything. Paw's motivation seems to change from scene to scene as to whether he's desperate for his daughter to get married to anyone and hating Davy's guts for being chosen. Even for hillbilly hicks with long hair surely The Monkees must be quite easy to tell apart? One of the reasons the band were so popular was that they had such defining characteristics (Mike's height, Davy's height, Micky's hair, Peter's funny faces). Ellie Mae comes awfully close to making Davy hers across this episode - are The Monkees really the first passers by they've seen in so long? If not you wonder how any other strangers (postmen, milkmen, travelling salesmen) ever escaped without the Monkee might to get them out of trouble. Why is Mike so quick to guess that Judd loves Ellie Mae? It's never even hinted at on screen (and even though it repeats the Romeo and Juliet story it's a bit of a leap just to assume the pair from the wrong side of the tracks are meant for each other). What kind of a wedding is this? The only preacher in towns seems to be part of the 'opposition' to Ellie Mae's family - why would he be involved? And while I'll accept for now that Maw really was born in 1815 (vengeance keeps you young and all that) - who thought it was a good idea to make an 150-year-old lady with a grudge against half the town the local sheriff? I'm going for a lie down now...
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mike - "Welcome to Swineville Peter, a happy sleepy little hillbilly town where seemingly nice innocent naive people turn just like that into a vengeful, hateful mob" Peter - How do you know this?" Mike - "Because these are my people!" 2) Davy - "But I'm an innocent bystander!" Maw - "Those are the ones I'm going to kill first!" 3) Ellie Mae - "I think you're cute!" Mike - "So do my wife and kids" 4) Paw - "Anyone who sings like that deserves to die!" 5) Peter - "Are you with the bride or the groom?" Micky - "It all depends on whose left!"
Romp: 'Papa Gene's Blues' is a giveaway clue that this sorry script was written for the first series and rejected. Usually the script would simply be adapted for a newer song The Monkees had recorded but 'Papa Gene' from the first album was such a good fit for the 'country' feel of the episode it was kept intact. It's about the best thing about the episode to be honest, even though Davy (whose in a sack) and Peter (whose still at Paw's house) barely appear.
Postmodernisms: When Peter is about to walk in dressed in a disguise Mike improvises an introduction for him and mentions 'Raybert Presents!...' Raybert was the production company that made The Monkees, named after co-creators Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider
Davy Love Rating: Minus several hundred points! Davy really really doesn't want to get married to Ellie Mae but his protests do become slightly less convincing after she kisses him. Ellie Mae goes on to seduce Micky and Peter, who put up a similar half-hearted struggle before falling for her charms, but she can't seduce Mike (this is the first mention in the series of him being married and having children and the only one in 'character' rather than as part of an interview).
Review: Well, I can see why they didn't use this one for the first series - the question is why was 'Hillbilly Honeymoon' revived at all? Nobody seems to have much enthusiasm for this one, from Monkees to guest cast, and even director James Frawley seems to be going through the motions (usually he has a few extra ideas to throw in to get the series out of trouble, but this one seems rushed and hurried, despite being the start of the band's fourth and final block of recordings after their summer 1967 tour and brief holiday). There are other Monkee scripts and performances out there which are bland, especially in the second series, but this one just seems wrong on so many levels. None of The Monkees are that likeable in this episode - Mike is dismissive of his family, Micky is ready to leave Davy and Peter in the lurch, Davy makes no attempt to rescue himself and Peter gets abandoned at the first opportunity. Splitting the band up so early on gives this episode a disjointed feel too, without the sense of 'family' this unit have always shared - anyone joining the series for the first time with this episode would have been clue-less as to why the band bother to hang around together at all. Moreover, while The Monkees have always been about laughing about stereo-types up to a point, usually it's crystal clear who the baddies are and that's part of the fun. But given that only two families are taken to represent a whole town (and beyond it a wider way of life) it seems a bit 'wrong' to have Maw and Paw as our only (extremely poor) representatives of a whole way of life. You can imagine several fans from the country, prepared to give the band one last chance after a dwindling second series, turning off in droves at the 'country bumpkins' stereotypes. Another thing that doesn't quite work is Maw's claims that 'hate and vengeance' have kept her young; did writer Peter Meyerson ever actually see an episode of The Monkees before he wrote this? (To be fair it might not have been on the air when he wrote the first draft). The whole point of the series is that youth is a state of mind and that being open to adventures and zany ideas is what makes the period's teenagers different from their parents - this line sits so oddly with everything else from the series so far that it really stands out (especially as nobody contradicts her - this would in other episodes be the start of a Mike Nesmith philosophical debate about Monkee messages of love and peace - instead the band just accept it as fact). This would all make more sense had there been a better 'Monkee' resolution at the end of all this, with Ellie Mae and Judd uniting the bickering families and with hints of their love scattered throughout the scripts - instead his love for her is so sudden that it looks as if Mike might have invented the whole idea in the poor simple lad's head just to get him away from Davy (in which case the poor lad is going to get eaten up for breakfast by Ellie Mae; not once in the script is it stated that marriage to Judd is what she wants too although she is kissing him at the end - then again she might have a compulsive disorder given that The Preacher is the only character she doesn't kiss during the episode!) There are, as ever, a few good lines to keep fans going and while performed with far less enthusiasm than normal Mike and Micky's attempted rescue of Davy with Mike 'playing his nose' and desperately trying to attract Micky's attention for a diversion with the pig at least feels like it could have been a great Monkee scene. But alas Micky's new and soon to be over-used catchphrase 'isn't that dumb?' rather sums up this unlikely, near-unwatchable episode up.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) As the first time we've seen the band in production block four they've all changes style - Mike will no longer wear his wool-hat except for the Frank Zappa cameo (he wears a Stetson for most of this episode, naturally enough) and Micky has much longer hair 2) You don't really need to know this given that all the officially available prints no longer use the adverts anyway but...for viewers of the time this episode was a big event: main sponsors Kellogg's replaced the 'Apple Jacks' box they'd used since the first episode for 'Puffa Puffa Rice'! 3) Two deleted scenes this week - one of Davy being led away to his wedding in handcuffs and yet another alternate ending which would have been far funnier - The Monkees say their goodbyes and get a kiss from Ellie Mae in return, starting another feud between the families as The Monkees run to their car for safety! 4) If you've owned the 'Pisces Aquarius' album for years but not seen this episode then you might not know that the shots of Mike and Micky used on the back cover come from this album - that's why they look like a couple of country hicks! 5) A Viewmaster set was released of this episode, sadly a little too late to kick-start a Monkees line of products as hoped. Back in the 1960s this was the closest fans could come to 'owning' the shows but it seems a very odd choice of episode given that not much happens in this one. The viewmaster has a far better title than the episode though: 'Last Wheelbarrow To Hicksville' 6) Unusually, most of the incidental music from this episode wasn't made for the episode and was instead 'borrowed' from the 'Flatt and Scruggs' album 'Foggy Mountain Banjo'
Ratings: At The Time 9.0 million viewers/AAA Rating: 1/10

TV Episode  #40
"Monkees Marooned"
(Filmed May and August 1967; First broadcast October 30th 1967)
"Who writes this stuff?!?"
Music: Daydream Believer (Romp)/What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round? (End Performance)
  (1970 Re-Run substitutes 'Do You Feel It Too?' for 'Daydream Believer')
Main Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross   Director: James Frawley
Plot: Peter is approached by a dodgy salesman who offers to sell him a map of buried treasure. At first Peter refuses, saying he doesn't have any money but ends up swapping his guitar for the map. The other Monkees are less than happy but decide it's worth searching for the treasure anyway and after a few delays (i.e. Davy sinking) eventually make their way to a nearby island. However their rival Major Pshaw and his companion Man Thursday are after the treasure too and the English Major will stop at nothing to get his hands on it - including threatening the band. The band make their escape and encounter Kimba of the Jungle, Peter finding out that he's actually the star of a series of 'Tarzan' style shows who has continued to live out in the jungle after the cameras went home. Thursday tries to help them all and hide them by taking them to the 'last place the major would ever look' but unfortunately he works out where that is and tracks them down to the hut. Peter offers him the treasure map and to his shack finds out that it's hidden under the hut. An old chest is dug up and the treasure revealed - it's Jane, the 'other' lead in the Kimba films who stayed on the island to look for her leading man. The Monkees go home, with a tag scene where Peter is approached by the same salesman as in the opening scene who attempts to sell him Liverpool; annoyed he calls over a policeman who tells him he was right to ignore the treasure map but decides to offer to sell him Cleveland instead!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: The other Monkees all hide behind Mike when they're threatened, which angers him ('what good will that do?!') Micky: doesn't get much to do in this episode. Carries insect spray seemingly 'just in case' the band end up in a jungle (after 40 episodes he's finally learnt to be prepared!)  Davy: Turns very English when faced with the prospect of a sea journey, coming out with phrases like 'balderdash!' but under-estimates the weight of everything his boat is carrying and sinks beneath the waves Peter: Owns rather a nice acoustic guitar (even though he's primarily the band's bass and keyboard player). Is cynical enough to doubt the salesman's intentions at first, but gullible enough to go along with the deal anyway when he's conned/it's explained to him enough. Is rathert good at translating Kimba-ese, although doubt is cast on Peter's interpretation when he mis-interprets Kimba's words in English! Still cries easily when faced with danger.
Best Five Quotes: 1) Davy - "If we hurry, men, we can destroy the British at Trentham!" Micky - "But Davy, you are British!" Davy "Oh yes - I forgot!" 2) Davy - "That wasn't a rifle shot, not on a deserted island - it was probably just a car back firing or something!" 3) Kimba - "Kretch!" Peter - "He says that he's the original Kimba Of The Jungle and that when the movie company ran out of money in 1916 they left him to rot...." Mike - "All he said was 'Kretch!'" Peter - "Well, it was the way he said it!" Mike - "Can he understand English?" Kimba - "It be long time since I spoke in my native tongue" Peter - "He says no!" 4) Major Pshwar - "The die is cast!" Davy - "You know, I always wondered what that meant Major Pshwar - "The cast will die!" 5) Peter - "He tried to sell me Liverpool!" Policeman - "And did you buy it?" Peter - "No" Policeman - "Good! Would you like to buy Cleveland?"
Things that don't make sense: How do The Monkees know which island to go to? (We never see the map so it's hard to tell how old it is or if it has the same name). How can Kimba's girlfriend have survived so long living in a box? Why does Kimba's gibberish language sound just like The Monkees' superhero 'batman' style slapstick?! Thursday is watching a very odd episode of 'The Monkees' with sequences pasted together we never got in 'our' series - and oddly doesn't seem to recognise the band when they arrive on his island a mere few minutes later!
Romp: 'Daydream Believer', making it's umpteenth appearance, seems particularly at odds with the plot line here. Kimba's girlfriend Jane has just appeared and she and Kimba dress up likes the days of old, I suppose, but then the Monkees go wild like they usually do (with lots of high-flying Tarzan-style hi-jinks; note that everyone swings except Mike, who seems to have issues with heights again) and the song's quiet charms really doesn't fit. The repeat's substitute song 'Do You Feel It Too?' is a slightly better fit but even this isn't ideal.
End Performance: Yet another mimed performance of 'What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round?', parts of which have already been seen a lot this series. Not the fact that the make-up lady seems to be having an odd day: all The Monkees are marked in some way with Mike having particularly bad skin and Peter a beauty spot on his left cheek usually covered up for filming purposes
Postmodernisms: Quite a few this week. For a start, Thursday is watching 'The Monkees' on TV thus revealing it to be a fictional creation. His way of tracking the band down by scaring them with animal noises then revealed to be a tape recorder playing is also a very postmodern twist on the usual events of Tarzan films. In one scene Mike talks about the band 'splitting up' - meaning that they should go look in different directions - but the rest of the band assume that he means as a band and implore him to stay with them by singing the theme tune at him as a 'reminder' of all they've been through together (what other show would feature an ad hoc performance of the theme tune within the middle of the actual show?!) Later Micky gets concerned that they're lost and walking round in circles but Davy puts him right - 'Don't worry, it's just a small set!' Finally Thursday agrees to hide The Monkees and they eagerly ask him where. 'I can't tell you that yet' he replies - 'It's in the next scene!'
Review: Once again The Monkees save the day with an energetic and lively performance of a particularly dull script. It's nice to see Peter alone walking through The Monkees' neighbourhood, but it's with something of a sinking heart you realise that this episode is going to be all about the search for buried treasure and it sinks further when the OTT Major Pshwar is introduced - one of the series' most unlikely villains with no real back story or development. Poor Burst Mustin, making the first of a handful of appearances in the series as movie actor Kimba, is dealt a particularly ugly part to play. And yet the episode does shine, occasionally. It's good to see a bit of realism in the way The Monkees interact: they're all becoming a bit fed up of Peter by now although it's not really his fault (Peter has learnt to be more cynical of random strangers than in the first series and the salesman puts on a good show). The interaction between the band as they set sail is amongst the best in series two, with Davy's over-zealous attempts to row ashore with a heavy boat his best scene in many a long episode, making good use of his status as the English outsider whose now become a proud American. Man Thursday is a great innovation, subverting our expectations of the role straight away when we see him indoors watching The Monkees on television. There are some cracking parts here, from Peter suddenly understanding Kimba's speech (how perfect too that it's the ever underused Peter who does so, always the most sensitive and empathetic Monkee) to the  twist at the end when the buried treasure is revealed to be Kimba's lost love, now much aged. The underlying very Monkees message of 'capitalism' being the enemy (or at least that the adult world are crooks out to get money and the youngsters are somehow 'apart' from all this) is a god one, the 'second' twist at the end when even the establishment figure of the policeman is in on the con being a very Monkees vision of the adult world. However, these are merely great moments in a poor episode which suffers more than most from a confusing plotline (the band get captured a lot for a show that only last 22 minutes with a four minute performance stuck on at the end) and a less than interesting story. Marooned indeed, but the band still have the talent and the enthusiasm to make the most of it for now.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Look out for two cameo parts by regular friends. John London, whose time with The Monkees dates back to his college days when he was in a trio with Mike ('Mike, John and Bill), who guested on the 'Headquarters' album and will later join Mike's solo bands on bass, appears here inside the gorilla suit. Note the playful  'romp' gag where he scares Mike out of his chair, sunbathing, only to sit in an exact mirror of his friend! That's stand-in David Price walking past as the salesman tries to sell Mike Peter's guitar in the 'teaser' sequence. Oh and look out for the extra behind the first part of the scene when the salesman talks to Peter whose got so bored acting 'normal' that he's 'walking like an Egyptian' for  the second half of the sequence! 2) We've heard director James Frawley lots across the series but this is his only appearance, unbilled as ever, playing the German Dr Schwarzkopf who tries to sell the band various potions 3) The salesman's baby picture which he shows off to Peter look remarkably like the one supposedly of Micky which plays a crucial role in the episode 'The Picture Frame' (same photographers?!) 4) Three TV/film references: Mike hums a few bars of the theme tune to TV series 'Jungle Jim' during the scene when the Monkees land on the island, Peter refers to 1947 film 'Carnival In Costa Rica' (which does indeed star Dick Haymed and Vera-Allen like he says!) and Davy's quip to Thursday 'didn't I see you in a Stewart Granger movie?' refers back to the 1967 film 'The Last Safari' (there must be a really good cheap cinema near The Monkees' pad for them to know all this stuff!)  5) The treasure is said to belong to 'Blackbeard' (though it clearly doesn't if Jane only dates back to the 1920s film world) - Blackbeard gets so angry he'll put in an appearance during the episode 'The Devil and Peter Tork'! 6) This was the last Monkees episode filmed before Mike had his tonsils out and thus the last with his 'higher' voice (the music for the 'What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round' sequence was recorded later if that helps you spot the difference!) 7) Talking of which, the version of 'Hangin' Round' used here runs approximately 20 seconds longer and uses another couple of repeats of the chorus cut from the 'Pisces Aquarius' LP 8) Many many clips from this episode will be used as part of the title sequence of the second series: basically anything featuring the band in leotard (the scene of a leotarded Davy cycling into the sea is, presumably, from a sequence cut from this episode!) 
Ratings: At The Time 8.7 million viewers/AAA Rating: 4/10

TV Episode  #41
"Card-Carrying Red Shoes"
(Filmed August and September 1967; First broadcast November 6th 1967)
"Not bad for a long haired weirdo, eh, America?"
Music: She Hangs Out (End Performance)
Main Writer: Lee Sanford (a pseudonym for Treva Silverman) Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees' latest weird gig is to appear as a Dravanian trio (there's no Mike again this week - and does too exist! In the Monkees world at least...) at the Dravanian National Ballet conference taking place at a local theatre. The band are playing Dravanian instruments they don't even know how to play (Peter happens to be playing a table lamp by mistake!) Ballet dancer Natasha Pavlova is having a row with her partner Ivan when she sees Peter and takes a shine to him, calling him 'the face'. However Ivan (inevitable nickname 'The Terrible')  is up to no good and really is a spy (yes - another one!) who slips another of those world-threatening microfilms that appear in this sort of plotline into her ballet shoes. Natasha, wary of her ex-dancing partner, hides in The Monkees' trunk hoping for protection and they only find her when they get home. Natasha brandishes a gun at the trio, but Micky sweet-talks her into handing the gun over and she pours out her story - she can't bear being deported back to Druvania and this her one chance of staying in America. Micky and Davy go off to complain to the Druvanian ambassador, but he's a pal of Ivan's and tips him off about the band. Meanwhile Peter tries to fend off Natasha's advances but is interrupted by the crooks who have tracked her down to The Monkees' address. Returning, Micky Davy and Natasha set off in hope of rescuing Peter, listening in to their dastardly scheme through a glass they hold up to the wall (after first contacting the line operator!) Druvanian Nyetovich now has the film and has no need of Peter who he is planning to shoot during the big climax when Ivan leaps into the air. The Monkees must stop him dancing at all costs - but Natasha sprains her ankle and is unable to perform,  Cue Micky's debut as a ballet dancer in 'Chicken Lake'. While Micky blocks Ivan from dancing his big leap, Davy tries to distract the conductor and Peter flees from Nyetovich -- though oddly none of this to a romp this week! Eventually the conductor can't keep pace anymore and Nyetovich has run out of opportunities to leap, leaving The Monkees victorious. A tag scene later and Davy's been informed by the Druvanian embassy that Natasha can stay, leaving a besotted Peter delighted. However she tells him that she's found a new love - a Russian boy named Alexi who is Peter's double!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is missing once again, with no explanation given at all this week (though he's back for the 'performance' sequence of 'She Hangs Out') Micky: Introduces himself as 'Mikolei Dolenzovitch'. Hasn't got a clue about the Druvanian instrument he's given to play (he things it's a wind instrument and looks for something to blow down - Davy has to point out it has strings!) Is very reluctant to play the lead in 'Chicken Lake' - why doesn't the keener sounding Davy do it? Davy: Has a better understanding of Druvanian instruments than Micky, which is odd given that Davy is the least musical of The Monkees on screen (in terms of instruments played anyway). Davy gets noticeably jealous when Natasha falls for Peter instead of him as usual ('The face? What do you think this is - chopped liver?!') Has problems keeping his Russian hat on, which happens to be the same height as the ballet dancer's arms during the rehearsal. Peter: Is the main love interest for the one and only episode, although Peter is quite often used in the 'tag' of episodes suffering from the same infatuations and problems The Monkees have just cleared up with Davy. Knows little about Druvanian instruments and plays a lamp by accident (offering to put on a 'psychedelic light show' while the others play!) Peter appears to have a Russian doppleganger named Alexei. He also has his own personal brain-washing detergent 'Reebersober' which he's keen to plug during the episode (well, if anybody knows about experiences with brainwashing it's Peter!) While it's possible Peter is bluffing under Ivan's interrogation he says he no longer goes to the cinema - is this a new development as it's at odds with the film-loving Peter of series one?
Best Five Quotes: 1) Ivan - "Get out of my life!" Micky - "Well you've no need to beat around the bush, do you want us to play or not?" 2) Micky to Natasha - "You know, guns have never really solved anything, they're part of the problem not a solution, a coward's way out, wouldn't you rather hand it over instead of hiding behind a gun?...ALRIGHT NOW HANDS UP!!!' 3) Peter - "Don't worry, if the whole world is destroyed I'll take full responsibility" Micky to Davy - "You know, with a little more ego he could be president!" 4) Ivan - "Nice American traitor, what do you know about microfilm?" Peter - "Nothing - I don't even go to the movies!" 5) Micky - "I don't want to be a chicken! I don't want to be a chicken! Hey Ward - I don't want to be a chicken! Oh no - I'm a chicken!"
Things that don't make sense: The whole episode. Literally, every last plot-twist - none of which make any sense on any level. At All. At the beginning of the episode Ivan and Nyetovich appear to be on the same side. Why are they smuggling microfilm at all, what incriminating evidence does it show, who got hold of it and who is it being smuggled to? Why in the name of all things Thorkelson have the pair decided to involve a third party in the already suspicious Natasha? And if they're trying to frame her why hide the film in her shoes which are likely to get lost, stolen or at the very least danced on rather a lot on stage. Why hire a band for a Dravanian national dance without asking if they know how to play Dravanian music (which sounds like a very specialist field)? Why did The Monkees take the gig - given that they get fired from most rock and roll jobs they must have known they'd get fired from this one? Why does Natasha come on to Peter - and then reject him for someone whose identical (just Russian). And where did they meet? Very little time has passed for The Monkees at the end of the scene. What demented composer ever thought a ballet about a chicken would be popular - swans are graceful and serene, chickens are, well, less graceful and serene to put it mildly. Where oh where is Mike? (Was the chicken suit originally meant for him - is that why he didn't turn up to work that day?) Why on earth didn't scriptwriters Dee Caruso and Gerald Gardner not just start again after  Treva Silverman sent in her sypnosis - by all accounts they didn't keep much of it!
Romp: A half-hearted one trying to prevent Ivan leaping, the conductor weeping and Peter sleeping which is unique in the Monkees' show history for being set to classical music: Tchaikovsky's Symphony Number Four (The Finale) for anyone who wants to singalong at home!
End Performance: An energetic 'She Hangs Out' filmed alongside 'Pleasant Valley' 'Daydream Believer' and 'Randy Scouse Git' using the same 'arrow' background. Peter plays organ, Mike mouths the lyrics and Davy gets the giggles at the start when the band all leap in for the 'a capella' intro. It's the re-recording produced by Chip Douglas for 'Pisces Aquarius' (not the abandoned Don Kirshener produced version which was never featured on the show) but in a slightly different mix with the horn section missing (this mix was later included on the 'deluxe' re-issue of 'Pisces Aquarius')
Postmodernisms: Micky's long complaint of 'I don't want to be a chicken!' ends with him shouting out to Monkees executive producer Ward Sylvester 'Ward - I don't want to be a chicken!' The gag about the glass being put up to the wall being disconnected is also pretty postmodern.
Review: A bit of a ballet mess, 'Card Carrying Red Shoes' tries to take the formulas of past Monkee episodes without really adding enough unique to this episode to make it worth filming (and no, changing the Monkee in peril from Davy to Peter isn't enough of a change). A script already rejected from the first series and revived late on, nobody seemed to like this script - Micky, Davy and Peter who put in a half-hearted performance, the guest cast who go horribly OTT in an attempt to inject some life into this work, the script writers (Treva Silverman was so cross about what Monkee regulars Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso did to her script when they re-wrote it that she asked for her name to go out under a pseudonym) or Mike, who went missing again (officially for reasons unknown - unofficially because he refused to do any script he'd already rejected once on the grounds of quality). Though all the three shows missing Mike would have been better without him, this one in particular need his rooted presence here - without him everyone's trying that bit too hard and this must surely be the least realistic or believable Monkees script of them all. Spies hiding micro-film in maracas accidentally intercepted by passing musicians is implausible but just about possible enough to make sense - The Monkees being hired to make music they don't know how to play with a ballerina falling in love with one of them who happens to get stuck in the middle of a spy plot is one whacking coincidence too far even for The Monkees. Wew've reached a limit here of what the show can do without looking silly and we've no crossed it, with Micky gurning in a chicken suit while trying to prevent a ballerina making a high leap while Davy throws things at a conductor desperately needing one of those Man Thursday 'who writes this stuff?' captions. Many Monkees episodes look like Marx Brothers films, anarchic nonsense with slapstick and wordplay - but the script isn't clever enough for the wordplay this week, looking more like The Benny Hill Show (especially in Peter's silent chase scenes). All that said, it's not a complete disaster the way that, say, 'Monkees Watch Their Feet' is (probably not coincidentally, another episode with an awol Nesmith) - it's great to see Peter as the Monkee in love for a change, the scenes of Micky, Davy and Peter dressed up as Dravanians trying to work out how to play their instruments is very Monkees and a gag the band could have played on more, while even on auto-pilot Caruso and Gardner throw in enough good gags to hold your interest in between the giant chickens and ham acting (or is that chicken acting and giant hams?) The 'She Hangs Out' clip, sadly only seen once unlike the other famous clips shot that day, is a good one too with perhaps the ultimate 'Davy Dance' of the entire series. However these are good picking from a slender stew - worryingly things are going to get worse still before they get better...
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) The whole plot is taken from a Hans Christian Andersen story, now somewhat forgotten, named simply 'The Red Shoes'. In it a spoilt brat of a wannabe ballerina wastes all her family's money on shoes they can't afford and is doomed to dance in them forever, even when she amputates her feet (Russian fairy tales do tend to be grimmer even than then the Grimm Brothers!)  Luckily (I think) this script skips that part and goes straight to the giant chicken instead 2) Mike was indeed in the script for this one although he got less to do than 'Weakling' 'Feet' or 'High Seas', in charge of a sub-plot about arranging Natasha's clearance to stay in America 3) The next time The Monkees are faced with another plot about spies they rebel and refuse to film it - on screen! (See 'Monkees In Paris' which almost certainly refers to the problems during the shooting of this episode!) 4) The idea for Natasha disguising herself in The Monkees' trunk may well be based on a real life incident when a girl did just that to Davy - he recounts the story in the interview sequence at the end of 'Sheikh Sheikh' 5) The actress playing Natasha, Ondine Vaughan, had a long association with the show - she was in the pilot episode as one of the club 'dancers' wearing a pink dress!
Ratings: At The Time 9.1 million viewers/AAA Rating: 3/10

TV Episode  #42
"The Wild Monkees"
(Recorded October 1967, First broadcast November 13th 1967)
"We pledge to obey the laws of dirt and violence, to curb our desire for a bath and to offend all living things!"
Music: Goin' Down (Opening Performance)/Star Collector (Romp)
  Main Writer: Stanley Ralph Ross and Corey Upton Director: Jon C Andersen
Plot: The Monkees have got a job - yay! It's on the wilder side of town, though, at the Henry Cabot Lodge, a hotel frequented by leather-clad bikers. The Monkees ask when they can play - but they've been hired by manager Mr Blauner under false pretences when what he really needs is a waiter, a bell-hop and a gardener. The Monkees protest, but a job is a job so they get on with it - only to meet with and fall in love with a female motorbike gang. Things are going well until their  boyfriends show up and challenge The Monkees to a bike race. Which, predictably, goes wrong. There's an unlikely happy ending though as Butch's girlfriend persuades him to put down roots and settle down in the town - there's even a vacancy going after The Monkees hand their notice in!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Doesn't re-act well to drinking petrol. Is referred to by Mr Blauner as a 'troublemaker' - a possible in-joke given Mike's status in The Monkees! With no job to give him (was this script written when it seemed likely Mike might leave the band?) he gets the job as a wandering minstrel. Coughs easily from motorbike smoke and sand, though being scared by Micky at gunpoint snaps him out of it. Reminds his biker girl, Ann, of her cocker spaniel - warm, faithful and fluffy! Micky: Is hired as a bell-hop but struggles to lift the luggage of the female bike gang (presumably their luggage is still strewn across the lodge at episode's end...) His biker girl is Nan who nicknames him 'Fuzzy' and punched him when he tries to kiss her Davy: Is hired as a waiter, but doesn't do much waiting. Well he does - but waiting to wait on people. Oh you know what I mean...Fails to impress biker girl Queenie when he struggles to open a champagne bottle  Peter: Gives Mike petrol as it's the only liquid he can find in the car (the others really should know better than to entrust easily misinterpreted jobs like this to Peter by now!) Is hired as the gardener even though from what we can see the Lodge doesn't have a garden! His biker girl is Jan who dares to call peter a sissy for reading poetry ('They besmirch-be-surf be-dirtied - they hurt my feelings!') .
Things that don't make sense: Whilst anybody, even a hairy biker, is entitled to change their mind it seems awfully odd that bully Butch acquiesces so quickly to his girlfriend's demands to settle down and become a family man (he's not shy about shouting at her across the rest of the episode!) Also why does this mean he's no longer mad at The Monkees? As a family man-to-be surely he should be even crosser that they've tried to take his girl (and three others!)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Micky - "It's a virtual Disneyland for shut-ins!" Mike - No it's not - they don't people with long hair into Disneyland!  2) Mike - "How can we eat when you have no waiter?" Mr Braulen - "Oh I have a waiter! And I have a bellhop and a gardener but they're not working!" Mike - "Well, you should take it in hand as an employer and demand that they go back to work!" Mr Braulen - "Right - so go to work!" Mike - "But you hired us as a band!" Mr Braulen - "Oh I don't hire any bands. I hire writers and bellhops and gardeners and if they happen to play a few instruments on the side too then - wonderful! Wonderful!" 3) Davy - "What are we going to do?" Peter - "I don't know - your guest is as good as mine!" 4) Davy - "Please don't kill me!" (Biker Queenie takes off helmet, reveals herself to be a girl and starts kissing him) Davy - "Kill me some more! Kill me some more!" 5) Micky - "Gentleman, may I remind you as fellow chickens that fighting is number one destructive, number two frutiless in solving a problem and number three you can really, really get hurt!"
Romp: 'Star Collector' is a rather manic choice for a romp of the band driving motorcycles and a song that's been rather over-used in this second series. However this version of the song is a unique and dare I say better mix without Paul Beaver's moog improvisations over the top (he's meant to have been none too pleased at not getting a co-writing credit - was that why this song has been given this new mix?)
Opening Segment: For the only time in the show's history there's a musical performance before the opening credits as Micky sings Goin' Down'. This is a new performance with Micky stumbling a little through this tricky fast-paced song (the B-side to 'Daydream Believer') but he still acquits himself well on a solo performance with no other Monkee involved. Despite being something of a retro, jazzy song this is one of The Monkees' most colourful and psychedelic filmed performances with lots of Mickeys portrayed in a dazzling array of colours
Postmodernisms: Micky alters his lines at one point to make them more Monkees-like when researching how to be a biker: 'It says here in the script, I mean handbook...'
Best Ad Lib: Later Micky refers back to the handbook, Mike ad libbing 'you mean script!' much to everyone's humour. The band have already got the giggles after Peter comes back made to 'look like a biker' and his hands are not just spotted but covered with grease
Davy Love Rating: Actually everyone falls in love this episode, all starting off somewhere around an eight and falling into the minus figures by the end of the episode. Queenie must still have a soft spot for Davy, however, stepping in to save him at the end
Review: If you ever wondered what a Monkees episode by someone who didn't like or understand The Monkees then this is the one. Till now The Monkees have gotten away with the flaws in their personalities thanks to their charm, their brotherhood and their sheer exuberance - the very things that 'scared' parents of Monkee fans (until they, usually, found themselves won over by Davy's English charm, Mike's adultness, Micky's enthusiasm and Peter's cuteness). 'The Wild Monkees' falls down primarily because it features none of this: The Monkees are shown to be weak-kneed cowards throughout, interested only in dating unsuitable biker girls, who have a club named The Chickens and don't even stand up for their rights with the hotel boss (who disappears from the script early on). While Peter gets called a sissy, actually it's all four who take the easy way out across this episode, even Mike for once - in other words this is a middle aged man's (actually two of them)'s idea about what the hippies' peace philosophy is really about (running away as opposed to avoiding conflict). This flies so much in the face of what else we're given to think about this series that it seems odd that such a script got allowed through - and it certainly didn't get through thanks to the jokes which are amongst the weakest of the series run. While the band are still adding their own individual touches to liven up the script (the stairs they fall down - the biker girls do the same later in the episode, the funniest gag in the whole 25 minutes; Micky instructing the rest of the band how to act, the romp which is one of the best if only for Micky's icreasingly desperate attempts to liven up a chase scene that's obviously fake) anyone turning in to the series for the first time here would have been confused: these four  are meant to be our heroes? They don't even help each other out that much this episode: Peter's besmirching isn't avenged, Peter tries to poison Mike by accident and doesn't even say sorry, while Micky pulls a gun on his friend at one point. The anti-Monkees of Head starts here, but it's handled clumsily and comes out of left field if you're watching these episodes in order. All of which makes 'The Wild Monkees' one of the weakest and most misguided entries in the series. Our advice is to stop watching after the opening 'Goin' Down' performance and join in next week instead.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Corrine Cole who plays Queenie, Davy's biker girl, doesn't get a credit in this episode (she doesn't have a line - just a lot of kissing to do) but she would have been about the most famous guest in the cast at the time after appearing as a 1958 playboy bunny (no she doesn't seem old enough does she given that this programme went out nine years later does she?!) 2) 'The Wild Ones' is another Monkee spoof from the title on down, although this time the 1954 film 'The Wild One' is more of a general guide than a real inspiration for the plot (there are no Monkees or girl bikers in the Marlon Brando biker epic for starters!) 3) This is a good episode for spotting Monkee stand-ins, all during the 'Star Collector' romp. David Price is the construction worker about to eat a sandwich when Butch nicks it during the romp. His fellow Monkee stand ins David Pearl is the 'fourth wall breaker' who gives Micky a 'dust down' when he's meant to be delivering his chase scene. Finally Rick Klein, Micky's sometime song collaborator, appears near the end of the romp as a race official. 4) If the ending seems rushed and not much of a finale that's because the one in the script was much longer - Queenie saves Davy by throwing herself at Butch and proposing to him (not quite what happens on screen) and The Monkees agree to play at the wedding for free, which was intended to be shown on screen with the pair rising off for their honeymoon on motorcycles still in their wedding costumes! 5) Henry Cabot Lodge is shown to be crooked, dirty and outdated. This is in actual fact a political joke - Henry Cabot Lodge Jnr had been Richard Nixon's Republican running mate in 1960 when he'd lost to Kennedy. Something tells me this joke was added to the script by The Monkees (though in time for the boarding signs to be made) rather then the scriptwriters! 6) If the promoter Mr Braulen looks familiar then that's because he's played by Henry Corden. the same actor who played landlord Mr Babbitt in series one - this is his final Monkees appearance (was he a last minute replacement for a different actor who fell through?)
Ratings: At The Time A surprisngly high 9.9 million viewers/AAA Rating: 1/10

TV Episode  #43
"A Coffin Too Frequent"
(Recorded August and September 1967, First broadcast November 20th 1967)
"So at 12 o'clock the coffin opens and out jumps crazy dead Elmer!"
Music: Goin' Down (Romp)/Daydream Believer (Performance)
  Main Writer: Stella Linden Director: David Winters
Plot: The Monkees are going to sleep when they hear noises downstairs. That's alright they think, it's only burglars and go back to sleep - before getting in a panic and going downstairs to see what's a happenin'. It turns out that a weird bit of small print in the lease on the pad means that The Monkees can be evicted without any notice just for an hour at a certain time of day so that a seance group led by a crook named Henry can meet. The band reluctantly pack their bags, but the visiting Miss Wetherspoon is keen for them to stay and witness the arrival of her son Henry from the dead. After becoming friendly with the band (especially with Peter, who gets trapped in bed after a single sneeze and is thought to be seriously ill!) The Monkees do a bit of snooping and find out what's really going on: if Miss Wetherspoon gets a sign from the dead that her son is ok then she can die in peace, leaving all her money to Henry's organisation. The band smell a rat - but unfortunately Henry has a cousin, Boris, who resembles Frankenstein's Monster  so the band can't do as much snooping as they'd like. However Micky foils Henry by 'escaping' from the séance under cover of darkness and being replaced by the dummy of Mr Schneider. He climbs unseen into a coffin and under the fanfare of trumpets speaks back to the assembled crowd as Henry, telling everyone what a crook he is. Even Boris is no match for The Monkees and soon gets tied up during an energetic 'romp' scene. Miss Wetherspoon is thrilled and thanks the band for saving her money which she gives to the boy scouts, while the band congratulate Micky and tell him he ought to use the trumpet in their act. A sheepish Micky replies 'but I don't play the trumpet!' which then plays from the Monkees' front room and a hand reached out from the coffin holding the instrument. Spooky!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Takes a back seat in this one, letting Micky do most of the organising work. However Mike is  again the bravest and most keen on investigating the noise going on downstairs. Wears psychedelic, circle-style pyjamas in blue.   Micky: Is the 'brains' this week, working out what's going on and setting his own plan into motion to thwart the conman without even telling the others of his plan. Micky puts his gift for mimicry to good use in this episode too, although we also see him 'fail' a few times too. His 'famous triple reverse twist' he carries out on Boris doesn't work for instance and he gets knocked out by a single blow from Miss Wetherspoon's umbrella (we know from the  'Weakling' episode that Micky worries about his strength). Once again while all The Monkees are scared Micky is the first to voice his fear and suggest running away. Wears striped blue pyjamas - somewhat more traditional than you might expect. Davy: Is gloriously vain in this episode, running away from Boris by shining a mirror in his face, only to be caught again when he stops to admire his reflection! Used to be in a double act named 'Hi Low' before he joined The Monkees, a dance partnership where Davy would go 'hi' and his very tall partner would go 'low' (though we don't get any more specifics and the partnership is never mentioned again - was this back in England? It sounds like a music hall joke!) He wears spotted pyjamas by the way. Wears spotted pyjamas in purple. Peter: Sneezes when nervous - at least according to Davy (has he progressed from hiccups now?) Has been able to read since he was fifteen as he proudly boasts - though he clearly doesn't read aloud very often as it comes as a surprise to his fellow Monkees that he can read at all. Wears all-orange pyjamas with a logo of a bunny rabbit in blue on the pocket. We also see a washing machine in the band's pad, suggesting they've gone back to cleaning clothes themselves after their experiences in 'Monkee Get Out More Dirt'.
Things that don't make sense: What a weird lease The Monkees' seems to be - with it's 'hidden small print' about tenants vacating premises so that a séance can take place at a certain hour - and what a weird landlord Mr Babbitt must be. Despite not being seen on screen in this episode we perhaps learn more about Mr Babbitt's past than ever before in this episode as he's clearly taken pity on the 'weirdoes' in this episode and quite possibly joined a séance group for his own reasons. For all Mr Babbitt's huffing and puffing he's yet to evict the band after two years of no payment - has he lost a relative, perhaps about The Monkees' age? Are the band substitute children? (Not that the Mr Babbitt we see on screen seems to like youngsters - but then we do know he's lonely given the events of 'The Chaperone'). Perhaps the biggest question mark of the whole episode, though, is that if this line has been in the contract from the beginning (and we don't see any new leases signed on-screen) then why haven't the group met here before? What kind of a séance group doesn't meet for at least the 18 months the show has been on the air (and presumably a while before that - The Monkees have clearly been living together before the events of either The Pilot or 'Royal Flush'). Or if Henry only meets to con clients, he can't be very good at his job if this is the only one he ever finds during the course of the series!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Micky - "It's not the 'passing on' bit that bothers me so much as the coming back!" 2) Peter - "Gee, are you sure it's alright to force all this tea on me?" Miss Wetherspoon - "Now now, if you have a cold you must force fluids!" Peter - "Gee, I had a friend once who had a terrible cold and they forced about twelve gallons of the stuff down him" Miss Wetherspoon - "Oh, and what happened to him?" Peter - "Well the cold got better, but then he drowned!" 3) Henry - "I told you, I am a scientist!" Micky - "A mad scientist?" Henry - "No, but I will be if he keeps making those sorts of remarks!" 4) Peter - "I'm going to go downstairs and get my bank book" Mike - "Now what do you need your bank book for?" Peter - "Security!" Micky - "Now isn't that dumb?!" 5) Peter - "Now I know why you hold hands at a séance" Micky - "Why?" Peter - "Because everyone's scared silly!"
Romp: 'Goin' Down' is the most eventful Monkee romp in ages and the only one in the entire series run that takes place entirely in the band's pad. Note though that Mike isn't in the romp except for the 'cut' scenes back to the court room - he was away for that day's filming and if you watch the opening notes of the romp he half-waves to the camera and skips out to the left of shot and away to the Monkees' door...
End Performance: The first appearance of perhaps the most-screened Monkees clip, 'Daydream Believer'. This is largely a straight mimed performance in front of the 'striped' set seen on 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' and includes Peter on piano (showing off the tattoo on his wrist!) It's a sweet performance with all the band keeping very in character: Davy charmingly shows off with his special 'Davy dance', Mike looks serious, Peter is playful and Micky - wearing a tablecloth - disrupts proceedings by trying to 'push' Davy out of shot at the end. All the band are full of grins and are clearly having a great time. Oh and the song's pretty good too!
Davy Love Rating: Actually it's Peter this episode and the feelings clearly aren't mutual, with Miss Wetherspoon very much taking a shine to him this episode! (Makes a change from Davy anyway!)
Review: Though still not quite as clever or as well crafted as the episodes in series one, 'Coffin' is the best Monkees episode in a very long time. The script subverts the usual formula of 'the Monkees go to them' (which is becoming a bit of a yawn by now) in favour of a 'they come to us' script. This is the only episode in The Monkees' entire history that is set entirely within the Monkees' Pad and it's a great chance for fans to see the band at play here in a way we haven't seen for a very very long time. This is as particularly good episode for Micky and Peter, the former getting all the action and the latter getting all the best lines - by contrast the writers clearly don't know what to do with the more 'natural' leads of Mike and Davy who are rather left as spare parts. The script is basic and the con trick easy to see through, but Miss Wetherspoon is an interesting variant on the usual guest stars seen so far - an active old woman who isn't a bully, a villain or a dumb sidekick - and the band seem genuinely fond of her even though she isn't quite scripted as well as 'Monkee Mother' from earlier in the run. You can generally tell how enthusiastic a band are about the script and the guest stars by how much effort they put into the romp and - Mike's absence aside - this is one of the best in ages, with much joking around and inventive use of props. The first appearance of the famed (and in truth over-used) clip for 'Daydream Believer' is the icing on the cake. You'd never want to show this episode to your non-Monkee friends as an example of why you love this series - some of the joke timing is still off and the script is corny as often as it is clever. But this is a fan favourite for the way it offers up a 'new' way of doing a Monkees episode, pretty much the last 'variant' of the series to come before it's cancellation, and it's a shame this way of doing things wasn't taken up more with The Monkees' Pad now a place of mystery after the wackyness always taking place in the outside world before this. The best episode for quite a long time - suddenly the painful memories of last week seem a long time ago.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) The title refer is thought to the 1946 play 'A Phoenix Too Frequent' - an obscure reference, true, but the fictional 'Monkees' clearly know of it - you can see a copy of the play propped up against the coffin in some shots of this episode 2)  There's a few curious 'continuality errors' in this one - in the romp Henry throws a series of lit candles at Mike and the camera then cuts to him - only Mike is standing by the exact same bit of wall with the same 'totem pole' on it (The Monkees only own one - I checked in the other scenes!) Also Boris breaks the band's front door down when he first enters and yet it's back on its hinges in the next scene! 3) The latest version of 'Goin' Down' is the third and final mix of the song used in the series and differs from the B-side version in a few subtle ways - mainly less horns and more echo. You can hear this mix on the deluxe edition of the 'Pisces Aquarius' CD 4) Davy and Boris dance to the tune 'Teas For Two', a song written by Irving Ceasar and Otto Harbech for the musical 'No No Nanette' in 1947
Ratings: At The Time A surprisngly high 10.1 million viewers/AAA Rating: 7/10

TV Episode  #44
"Hitting The High Seas"
(Recorded October 1967, First broadcast November 27 1967)
"You see this is a fantasy. He's not really going to rob the Queen Anne, it's something that developed in his sub-conscious mind to make up for the hostilities that he endured as a child... "
Music: Daydream Believer (Romp)/Star Collector (Performance - End Segment)/(Very Briefly) Tear The Top Right Off My Head
  (1970 Re-Run substitutes 'Oh My My' for 'Daydream Believer')
Main Writer: Jack Winter   Director: James Frawley
Plot: Things still aren't going well - the band only has two fans and one of them has just walked out on the band mid-song. Atypically the band decide to get drunk (well, on milk but they are in a bar for once) and forget their problems where they over-hear two mean looking men named Harry and Frank talking about needing a ship's crew. It turns out that - surprise surprise - it was all a ruse to get them to work hard for slave labour. The last laugh is on the pirates though as three of The Monkees are hopeless - and a fourth, Mike, is so seasick he goes for a lie down early on. Deciding to cut their losses, the pirates order the trio to walk the plank - but find out Davy Jones' name and get all superstitious about it (much of the episode hinge on the name as an old nautical term for drowning and the bottom of the sea being 'Davy Jones' Locker' - no don't ask, nobody's quite sure why). Instead Davy gets promoted to cabin boy where he overhears the Captain talking to his parrot about hi-jacking the nearby ship The Queen Anne and taking all the treasure on board for himself. Micky impersonates the parrot so they can find out more information and when they get it try to raise a munity of their own - which goes wrong when the captain finds out about it. When a planned mutiny fails the Monkee first (pri) mates are forced to walk the plank again, the band are interrupted by the arrival of The Queen Anne, whereby a quick romp later they save the day and hand over control of the ship to the very grateful Captain (a rare Monkees episode with a happy ending!)
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Gets sea-sick really easily, especially when taking Monkee pills to control it (usually this is something Peter would be teased mercilessly about and seems out of character for Nesmith, although there's a good reason for his being written out of most of the episode...)    Micky: Demonstrates his strength by breaking a chair, noisily. Sounds remarkably like the ship's parrot, which comes in handy for the plot.  Davy: Demonstrates his dexterity by juggling. Has a useful naval name which gets him out of trouble when about to be keel-hauled, although this does lead to awful jokes about his 'locker'.  Peter: Demonstrates his knowledge of the 'seven seas' by naming them, although this doesn't impress the pirates as much as he hopes. Is surprisingly good at climbing. Has a new song named 'Tear The Top Right Off My Head' and can play it on guitar, although we only hear a snatch of it.
Best Five Quotes: 1) Peter - "But only one person left before the end of the gig this time" Micky - "Yeah - but that was half our audience!" 2) Davy - "Peter's so tough his teeth get rusty! He likes the look of blood so much he has ketchup on everything - even cornflakes!" 3) Micky, as the ship's parrot "What do I want money for? Squawk! To splash out on some pretty Macaw?" 4) Davy, denying that he knows Micky after an aborted mutiny "We wouldn't hang out with long-haired weirdoes like that!" Peter - "Yeah, dirty commie!" 5) The Captain - 'You're all in trouble for mutinying and even worse impersonating a parrot!" Peter - "I've never impersonated a parrot in my life! I can't even do a good cow! Moo! See?"
Romp: 'Daydream Believer' is a little too gentle for the gun-ho slapstick going on aboard ship as The Monkees wrestle control from the pirates. The routines seem more tired and rushed than normal (perhaps because of problems with filming, as a heavy fog meant this section had to be delayed), with lots of face-saving cuts to stick footage. You wonder why, in the context of the plot, the band didn't do all this earlier in the episode rather than when the Queen Mary appeared.
End Segment: A mimed and very psychedelic 'Star Collector' with a psychedelic backdrop. The band start the song in a huddle before looking towards the camera and apart fro Davy's tambourine are miming their instruments with some air guitar before a 'fight' breaks out between Micky and Mike over gets to play a 'pole' (is this a comment on the 'Monkees don't play their own instruments' argument?)
Best Ad Lib: A real ship is coming in to land with a bell tolling loudly, causing Davy to interrupt his own speech 'Tell me...who keeps ringing that bleeding bell?', later joking 'There's that bell again!' when it starts up once more
'Imagination' Sequence (as seen by Davy): Micky is Captain Ahab, Peter is Casanova (an unusually kind role - was it originally written for Mike?) and Micky again is Captain Hornblower, inevitably blowing a horn
Review: The Monkees 'belong' in this episode in a way they haven't for so long across series two. Swash-buckling pirates really suit the Monkee mix of bawdy fun and bad puns and their postmodern send-up of every film genre going works particularly well given that many 'sea' films were doing exactly the same already. Given the pun on 'Davy Jones' Locker' it seems surprising that no writer had thought of doing this episode a year early. The loss of Mike early on is a shame, but his absence gives the other three a real chance to shine, with Micky getting more in terms of quantity, Peter in terms of quality and Davy more at home with the best ad libs of the episode. The ship itself is gorgeous and it's the much-seen prop (which was often used on 60s television)'s last hurrah before it sank shortly afterwards. For once this year the guest cast - who are all 'new' to the show - are right on the money, acting as the increasingly annoyed straight-men with special mention to Chips Rafferty as the Captain, one of the better wearied authority figures. So with so much going for it why isn't this episode one of the all-time classics? Well, even an on-form Monkees can't make up for what isn't there and all the best lines in the scripts seem the result of ad libbing this week. The plotting is clichéd and confusing (I get that the pirate talks to his parrot a lot but he ought to be more suspicious that he's only now being answered back by his pet) and the ending is particularly terrible - The Monkees are saved from walking the plank when the ship the pirates are meant to be capturing comes up alongside, which is rather convenient.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) This was a troubled shoot for all sorts of reasons: That isn't just a joke - Mike really did get sea-sickness badly and the shooting had to be altered to accommodate this and spread his lines to the other members (this is why both Micky and Davy are 'bossier' than normal! Mike still looks awfully queasy during the one scene of him onboard ship hastily re-written to cover his absence) Seeing as the script was hastily re-written on the spot he's very cleverly written out by switching from being the only Monkee not getting sea-sick to being the only one who is after taking Monkee sea-sick pills. It was lucky that the first scene recorded for the episode was the first on the boat, although sending Mike home means he isn't there for the pre-credits sequence where the band get 'hired' (what would 'his' skill have been alongside the toughness, dexterity and knowledge of the seven seas one wonders?) 2) Also the changing weather conditions made filming difficult - the 'Daydream Believer' part was particularly delayed due to heavy fog. 3) That's Micky voicing the part of the parrot - no actor had been cast for the role in the hope that one of the Monkees would do the voice and link it to the plot - Micky was the keenest, or at any rate the least reluctant to take on the part and sounds pretty good actually (he even makes Davy giggle forty years later on the DVD commentary!) 4) If something's bugging you about why this episode seems different but you don't quite know what, then it may surprise you to learn that this is the first 'normal' episode of the series not to feature a laughter track ('Monkees On Tour' doesn't either, but then it's not an episode made for laughs!) 5) The Monkees fell in love with the ship 'The Seadog'  used in the shooting so much that they tried to buy it for $400,000 - only for the vessel to sink due to unknown reasons mere days after shooting on the series had finished (a good job it wasn't during or the shoot would have fallen even more behind!) 6) The Peter Tork song 'Tear The Top Right Off My Head' makes its only appearance in the Monkees' life-time when an imprisoned Micky and Peter perform a version of it at the start of a scene in their cabin (a finished version was re-recorded three months later  intended for the 'Pisces Aquarius' album but won't be used until 'Missing Links III' in 1998). 7) Keep an eye out for three of the pirates: as well as extras you can see Mike's friend and future 'National Band' colleague John London and Monkee stand-ins David Price and David Pearl 8) The original ending featured in the script had The Monkees taking over the ship by throwing cannonballs at the pirates to make them fall over. 9) The small photos of the four Monkees used on the front cover of 'The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees' album were still photographs taken during production of this episode 10) Chips Rafferty, who plays 'The Captain' in this episode, had appeared in the 'Monkee' part as a cabin boy during the 1942 film of 'Mutiny On The Bounty' references many times across this episode
Ratings: At The Time 11.1 million viewers/AAA Rating: 6/10

TV Episode  #45
"The Monkees In Texas"
(Recorded October 1967, First broadcast December 4th 1967)
"You started this ranch with a handful of dirt and a dream. Now with this oil we've found you're one of the richest ranchers in Texas. Not to mention having some of the dirtiest hands!"
Music: Words (Second Version) (Romp)/Goin' Down (End Performance)
Main Writer: Jack Winter   Director: James Frawley
Plot: Mike's off visiting another relative - his Aunty Kate. The Monkees arrive at a band time, though, when a bunch of no good bandits led by Black Bart are trying to frighten her off her own premises (Davy saves the day when a flaming bath on wheels - and no I'm not making this up - gets pushed towards the house, simply by turning the taps on!)  By coincidence local landowner Mr Cartwheel keeps popping round trying to get Kate and Mike's cousin Lucy to sell up. Micky and Peter leave to try and get hold of the Marshall - only he's busy shooting (no not that sort of shooting, he's making a TV series!) The dastardly duo decide to hire some men of their own by walking into a saloon in disguise - a plan that backfires when they accidentally get hired to join Black Bart's gang. Micky and Peter appear to go along with the planned ambush of Kate's house, but break away to warn the others and a madcap shootout begins. They also dicover that Black Bart is actually...Mr Cartwheel (Sorry if I spoiled that revelation for you, but it's not exactly a surprise!) Mike, meanwhile, has found out why everyone is so keen to get a hold of this house in particular - he thinks he'd discovered crude oil in his aunt's back garden (and no, that's not a euphemism!) Mike goes off to see an expert who after telling him the stuff is messy confirms his suspicions. Mike tells his aunt the good news and the ranch appears to be saved - hooray!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: His ever-=growing family now includes an Aunt Kate and two cousins, Lucy (who he clearly hasn't seen for a long time)  and Clara (who never is seen on screen. The Nesmith clan doesn't appear to be a very close one - Mike was invited round to visit but many many years ago and doesn't seem to have written or rung ahead. He appears to stay out of a split sense of responsibility to his family - and the fact that the Monkee golf cart (they don't seem to have the Monkeemobile this week) needs repairs. Is bright enough to work out what the rest of his family hasn't - that there might be a reason so many people want Kate out of her house and he immediately sees through Mr Cartwheel's 'kind' offer. He also recognises what he thinks is crude oil and less obviously knows just where to go to find a local expert in these matters - at the saloon of all places!    .  Micky: Uses his errand to find the Marshall as an excuse to try on a disguise as 'The Lone Stranger' (something Micky soon regrets when he discovers the 'real' Lone Stranger has a price on his head!) Micky is less scared in this one, eager to get guns and join in the fighting although he goes to pieces when he's held to ransom when Peter rides off outside with the threat that he'll be shot if his friend 'isn't back in ten minutes!' Micky breaks off in mid-conversation but appears to be saying that he can't shoot Peter because they've known each other for 'two years' (pre-dating the actual series by a year). Knows the English 'V' sign (did Davy teach him?) and flashes it while fleeing into the ranch at the start of the 'Words' romp - apparently the American censors don't know it as this scene (with the equivalent of 'the finger') would normally be cut  Davy: Saves the day when the bandits send 'The Kitchen Sink' over to the house on fire - by managing to turn the taps on to extinguish the flames. Has a head for heights, acting as lookout at the very top of Aunt Kate's roof. Oddly, something seems to have changed since the episode 'Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth' and Davy can no longer ride a horse properly - instead he sits on his the wrong way round and when mistaken as a stable boy misinterprets Cartwheel's demands to 'water my horse' - with hilarious consequences! Peter: Disguises himself as Tonto, a native American Indian chief, for reasons best known to himself. Probably as a result of the 'real' Peter's objections, the fictional 'Peter' is never seen to handle a weapon in this episode - instead he 'shoots' with his 'finger'! Refuses alcohol and drinks a pint of milk instead
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mike - "The last time I was here she said 'come on over any time!" Micky - "And when was that?" Mike - "The summer of '54!" 2) Black Bart - "We won't quit until we see you running away from the ranch" Peter - "Oh you don't have to do that - we could just take a taxi!" 3) Mike - "Whatever happened to the buck-teethed knock-kneed bad complexion little girl I used to hang around with?" Aunt Kate - "That's your other cousin Clara, she still looks the same!" Mike - "Oh merciful heaven!" 4) Micky - "You look really psychedelic as an Indian!" Peter - "How!" Micky - "Well, the beads mostly"  5) Davy - "Water your horse? But I'm not a stable boy" Mr Cartwheel - "I don't care about your mental condition!"
Things that don't make sense: Kate and Mike recognise each other straight away suggesting not much time has changed - but can he really not tell his cousins apart? Where is Clara anyway, aside from one mention she's never referred to again - you'd think Mike would be asking over his 'favourite cousin'! Also has no one before Mike noticed either the suspicious yukky stuff in the garden (even if Kate didn't know what it was you'd have thought she'd have been intrigued enough to ask somebody what it was) - why doesn't Mr Cartwheel simply ask Kate to buy the land at the back of her house as she doesn't seem to do much with it! Has nobody else really noticed the link between Black Bart's menaces and Mr Cartwheel's offers coming in such close proximity? And why does Mike accept the opinion of a doctor in a saloon about what the substance in the garden is after the use of just a magnifying glass - that doesn't seem like the most thorough examination!
Romp: A rather manic 'Words' - the re-recording as featured on 'Pisces Aqurius' this time. There is absolutely positively no link between the lyrics and what's happening on screen.
End Segment: The exact performance of 'Goin' Down' used as the opening pre-credits teaser on episode #42 'The Wild Monkees'
Davy Love Rating: A three, with Davy snogging 'cousin Lucy' during the 'Words' romp, even though it's not referred to in any of the script. This is the only time we ever see Davy kiss one a 'family member' on screen! (He and Mike were nearly second cousins there for a minute!)
Postmodernisms: More captions - this time reading 'For Emmy Consideration' (a running gag!) Look out too for Micky's saloon entrance as 'The Lone Stranger' where a girl tries to come up and kiss him - 'Not now' he says, 'This is a family show!'
Review: Hot on the heels of 'Hillbilly Honeymoon' is another less than believable journey to see Mike's family, even though what we see on screen and are told across the series again doesn't tally at all. In terms of plot this is equally uninspired, with a 'Scooby Doo' style revelation that the villain is....the only real suspect and a much repeated story of a gutsy farmer doing good simply by holding out against the good guys and coming into a fortune.  This time round, though, it's all far more enjoyable: the witty script makes up for great gags and inspired Monkee moments what it loses out in terms of plot and all four are well catered for with their own special scenes across the episode. Highlights include the oh-so Monkees like gag about a saloon filled with people 'who have a price-tag on their heads' (quite literally!), Mike puts his foot in it with his family by accidentally insulting them quite wonderfully, Davy gets to do some stunt work and ride a horse backwards and Micky and Peter make for a terrific double act whilst dressed as The Lone Stranger and Tonto (nobody even bats an eye lid at seeing Peter in a Red Indian's outfit!) The Monkees are back to performing with the passion and spontaneity that made season one so good, although the guest cast have very little material to get their teeth into (the two lead bandits cope rather well with the Monkee romp - more than most guest performers in the series ever do - so it's more a problem with the script than the acting this time). I would have liked too for this episode to have continued the good work of earlier Monkees episodes about peace and being anti-violence but only Peter is reluctant to take up weapons. This will backfire on the band when it becomes the only episode to be initially 'banned' from lunchtime repeats (as children weren't allowed to see people using handguns, even in Western parodies where nobody gets hurt the entire episode!) The ending too is most peculiar - this is the only Monkees episode in the series' history to end on a romp without a tag scene and the band have only really got at best a temporary truce by the end of the episode (what if Black Bart and co come back before Kate has a chance to sell it to an oil developer at a decent price?) Having the romp so near the end of the episode and following it up with the repeat performance of 'Goin' Down' also makes for a rather evenly paced episode. Still, forget the ending and maybe even part of the middle as well - for ten whole minutes this is the best and brightest we've seen The Monkees all series and some of the script's terrible jokes are the most quotable in ages.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) This episode cleverly mirrors what happened not to Mike's aunty but his mum Bette Nesmith. She had invented ;liquid paper back in the 1950s when working as a secretary but the invention but had only begun trading in it with a proper company in the 1960s. By the time Mike was a Monkee her invention had 'struck oil' if not quite gold - her son inherited the business on her passing in 1980 when it was deemed to be worth $47.5 million. Bette appears briefly in the episode 'Dance, Monkees, Dance'  2) This was Jacqueline De Wit's (Aunt Kate's) last role before retirement in a prestigious career that lasted several decades and included the Twilight Zone classic episode 'Time Enough At Last' 3) The Monkees had already met 'Black Bart' - during a dream sequence in the episode 'Monkees In A Ghost Town' - where he looked far more like Mike Nesmith! The real 'Black Bart' was an English Highway robber notorious in the 1770s and 1780s who left poetic notes of apology alongside his victims 4) Look out for a few people in the 'Saloon' scene. The bandit with the droopy moustache Micky bumps into after the 'family show' line is Davy Jones in disguise (he didn't get many lines that week so was probably bored!) The men with 'prices on their heads' is yet another starring role for the Monkee stand-ins: that's new stand-in Nyles Brown (left) alongside old-timers Richard Klein (middle) and David Price (right) 5) The script had Micky and Peter sobbing into each other's arms when made to shoot the other and revealed Black Bart's real identity by shooting off his mask rather than simply finding out he was up to no good! 6) Weirdly enough, this episode saw a slightly changed line-up for The Monkees' regular competitors on first broadcast, two of whom chose this week to start broadcasting Westerns! (the long-running 'Gunsmoke' was on CBS, with short-lived newcomer 'Cowboy In Africa' over at ABC!) 7) In case you were wondering why everyone seems to have 'Emmys' on their mind this week, the Monkees' first year had just been nominated for this award when the first draft of the script was being written - 'The Monkees' won the award for 'outstanding comedy series' back in June, beating the likes of Bewitched, Hogan's Heroes, Get Smart and The Andy Griffith Show (James Frawley also won an award for his direction on first episode 'The Royal Flush')
Ratings: At The Time 10.2 million viewers/AAA Rating: 7/10

TV Episode  #46
"The Monkees On The Wheel"
(Recorded October 1967, First broadcast December 11th 1967)
"Play, Magic Fingers!"
Music: The Door Into Summer (Romp)/Cuddly Toy (End Performance)
Main Writer: Coslough Johnson   Director: Jerry Shepherd
Plot: The Monkees are having fun in Las Vegas chasing girls and placing bets. Micky gets a little lucky trying to impress a girl and suddenly everyone thinks he has magic fingers (though surprisingly nobody says the obvious line 'of course he has - he's a drummer!') Micky breaks the band with his lucky '16 red' and the band retire to their hotel rooms with more money than they've ever seen before (this is The Monkees after all!) However, it's all a con, with a rogue implausibly named Biggy stealing all their money back again when the band are distracted by a pretty bar maid. The police arrive and confide Micky into signing a confession and suddenly everyone's down at the police station again. The manager allows them to be released on the condition that they win the money out - which they do, eventually, after several disguises (including Peter as an unlikely numbers geek with a foolproof formula). The band now face a dilemma - if they 'lose' then they'll go to jail but if they 'win' the original bunch of crooks will beat them up. Several James Cagney impersonations later, this stalemate is made null and void by Micky's previous girlfriend works out who it is and the band's cover is blown. A quick romp later and everything has worked out - well, nearly everything as in a rather grumpy tag scene the others lake fakely and uproariously as Micky gets hooked all over again.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Seems to have forgotten all about being married this week as like the other three he only has eyes for the ladies. Mike's gangster pseudonym is 'Vicious Killer'. Otherwise Mike has very little to do with the action this week, which mainly centres around Micky - until he 'shows' the audience at home how the Monkees tag scenes are put together, ordering the camera to cut between the action and the band laughing. Is mistaken for 'Wizard Glick' (to be seen in final episode 'The Frodis Caper') although he looks nothing like him. Micky: Is ready to believe he has magic fingers, despite the fact that The Monkees have been caught up in several similar traps with conmen over the years. He feels angry more at not being as special as he thought he was than at losing all his money, although he cheers up when he gets to do his James Cagney impersonations (for the final time on screen). Micky's gangster pseudonym is 'The Insidious Strangler'.  Davy: Finds his catchphrases keep being spoken by somebody else this week, much to his annoyance! Davy's gangster pseudonym is 'Muscles The Mauler'(!) Peter: Is more interested in toy tigers than girls apparently, according to a cutaway scene, despite the opening scene where Peter chases women as much as the other three. His gangster pseudonym is 'The Professor', who sounds rather convincing with his tales of formulas and equations , baffling the villains this week (oddly none of the other three pick up on how out of character this is - perhaps they should get Peter to 'play smart' when they need him not to be dumb more often, even if he gives the game away at the roulette table anyway eventually). Peter hands out flowers to everyone, goody and baddy alike, as he spins around on a roulette wheel.
Best Five Quotes: 1) Micky - "Tell me how much you love me!" Zelda (at a fruit machine) - "Two lemons and a pineapple" Micky - "What will be the token of our love?!" Zelda - "Two lemons and a crabapple" 2) Mike - "You know, we really ought to invest this money in something we're interested in..." (Cut to Mike, Micky and Davy showering girls with gifts, while Peter cuddles a stuffed toy tiger...) 3) Micky to policeman - "You're not supposed to arrest the victim! You're meant to arrest the one that, you know, uh, actually perpetrated the crime?" 4) Peter (in English accent) - "You must be joking!" Davy - "Wait a minute - that's my line!" Peter - "Ahm terribly sorry!" 5) Mike - "For all practical intents and purposes the show is over now but we have what we call in the television industry a tag, which is a sort of just a complete laugh riot at the end of the show, so that you all tune in next week, you see, because it's so hilarious!"
Things that don't make sense: While The Monkees are obvious targets for conman, the plan to 'frame' the band for taking the money illegally is rather flawed. What would have happened if the band had driven off in the Monkeemobile instead of staying put where the conmen can get at them? (It's not the nicest of hotels and the quartet are now millionaires as far as they know so it seems odd they should stay there). Also, are the conmen really that confident that the police will frame Micky with a fake confessional instead of listening to their story and going after the real crooks? It's also unclear just how involved the manager is: what is his motivation for the rather odd request to allow The Monkees out on bail 'as long as you can get all the money back'. While 'we' know The Monkees are good at this sort of thing, the manager must have just seen four teenage long-haired weirdoes, surely likely to scarper and never be seen again. Oh and the obvious question - where did The Monkees get the money from to gamble in the first place? Expensive Las Vegas clubs don't let you in for free and you have to start with something - have they finally had a paying gig? In which case why did the level-headed Mike for one 'allow' them all to spend their hard-earned money gambling?
Romp: 'The Door Into Summer', which must be the slowest song for a 'romp' sequence since Davy sang 'I Wanna Be Free' in the Pilot. However this lovely song is a fitting choice, containing the opening lines 'with his fool's gold stacked up all around him' and (in a later line) 'In his counting house where nothing counts but more' as The Monkees wreak havoc in the casino.
End Performance: A different performance of 'Cuddly Toy' to the one heard at the end of 'Sheikh Sheikh', with the band still in their music hall outfits but no girl dancing with Davy this time or fun with collapsing canes. This is about as 'straight' a performance as The Monkees ever give, actually, although they're clearly having fun with Mike perched on top of Peter's piano and both him and Davy trying not to laugh at Peter's hilariously mimed playing! This version ends after the third 'full stop' without the echoey vibrato of the last 'la la la la' segueing into 'Words' as per the record.
Davy Love Rating: A one? Unusually Davy doesn't seem to get very far this week, with Micky having the longest lived relationship of the episode even though Zelda makes it clear she's after him for his money rather than his looks or personality.
Ad Libs: Micky's getting carried away back at the hotel room when he thinks the band have won a whole load of money. So much so he's singing and singing and singing. Davy can't take it anymore and suggests 'hold it Micky - doesn't she get a line or something?' referring to the 'decoy' maid. However she laughs her head giggling and Micky shrugs and says 'I didn't think so!'
Postmodernisms: Well, the one above for starters, not to mention the example outlined above of Peter 'pinching' Davy's words (which makes the point that the Monkees really are working from a 'script'!) but there are plenty more this week. For instance check out the references to two other episodes that haven't been broadcast yet: in one scene extra  David Pearl walks up to Mike and honks his nose, saying 'take that Wizard Glick!' Mike looks confused, as must the audience watching as the incident is never referred to again - however it all makes (sort of) sense when you've seen season finale 'The Frodis Caper' (episode 58) where Pearl plays a character apparently working for Wizard Glick (played by the same actor whose fiddling the casino tables). In between the episode and 'Cuddly Toy' performance we also get one of the most unusual 'extras' of any Monkees episode - a two-minute long sequence of outtakes where Mike and Micky get the giggles during the filming of 'The Monstrous Monkee Mash' (not shown for another four weeks!) It's the scene with the 'save the Texas prairie chicken' scene if you're coming to these episodes out-of-order.
Review: I would love to tell you that this episode was a deep and meaningful extension of what The Monkees series had been telling us until now - that the modern world of capitalism is a corrupt world only for adults and  bygone generations and that The Monkees are here as representatives of the 'new', not caring that much when their money is stolen and which has the symbolic shot of Peter on a spinning roulette wheel handing out flowers not to random individuals but to everyone. I'd love to tell you that this is an episode designed to warm the cockles of your heart, where The Monkees speak out against the oppressed and unlucky and help change a greedy and outdated system built on corruption and lies with their purity and talent. Except that 'The Monkees On The Wheel' is one of the most lightweight episodes of them all and at times seems to side more with the inventive crooks than the conned Monkees. Micky is a gullible fool for believing he has 'magic fingers', the girl Zelda who he tries to date throughout the episode (and is if anything even younger than 'this generation' with 'something to say') is the most capitalist and opportunist character of the lot and The Monkees win not through their usual disguises and brilliance but by an endless romp that involved the crooks just apparently giving up. The Monkees themselves are at the start of a trend of seeming much more cynical too, hence the very Monkees tag line that makes a joke about how hopeless and pointless the endings in these stories really are, but they do so in a very cynical, awkward way, laughing at us for watching this episode as much as themselves. Frankly, the four characters on display in this episode aren't that likeable, suddenly turned into wise-cracking girl-chasing know-it-alls and it's only through old loyalties that you keep watching
The episode makes more sense when you realise who wrote it and why. Chip Douglas' decision to use a horn section for 'Daydream Believer' - and the very large list of famous contacts Screen Gems provided - meant that The Monkees became involved with two very key members of the 'Las Vegas' big band sound, arranger Shorty Rogers and trumpet player Peter Candoli. The Monkees are said to have been entranced by their tales of  the 'old days' in Las Vegas and the band used the pair more and more so they could talk more (Peter especially). Somebody somewhere joked about writing a whole Monkees TV episode around Las Vegas and having the pair appear as cameos in it somewhere - sadly that never happened (the pair were just too busy recording) but the idea got as far as The Monkees submitting the idea to Rafelson and Schneider, who commissioned newbie writer Coslough Johnson to write an episode. By the looks of things Coslough was hired for his knowledge of Las Vegas rather than his knowledge of The Monkees and turned in a script quite at odds with what the series usually did. Stuck for material The Monkees did it anyway, but used it as an excuse to 'send the episode up' in an even bigger way than ever before. The result is an episode that isn't all bad - Peter makes a wonderful nerd and his accurate forecasts for Micky's gambling bets (especially '212 green' which comes up despite not actually being a number/colour on the roulette wheel! Sadly the band don't get to use his next suggestion '87 plaid!') easily steal the show this week. The romp is a good one too (the most inventive Monkee romp in several episodes, if only for the fact that it's set to a slow and wistful song rather than an uptempo manic piece of music) and the 'Cuddly Toy' tag sequence is charming, with The Monkees 'genuine' in a way that the artificial air of this episode rarely is. This is, ultimately, an episode that looks like it was a lot more fun to act than it is to watch and it marks a definite downward turn in the band's fortunes as boredom, wearyness and a lack of new ideas begin to spell the end for what was not so long agio the most inventive, rule-breaking, energetic programme on television. The Monkees really need a holiday, but they won't get one for oh so many weeks yet.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) We'll put this here as this is (I think) the first time Mike introduces his second season catchphrase 'Save The Texas Prairie Chicken'. Though usually said as a 'joke', Mike was actually making a serious point about his home state - Texas in the 1960s had been turned so quickly from an rural area to an urban one that a breed of chickens mainly found in Texas were in real danger of extinction as their natural habitat disappeared, first to make way for farmland and then for industry (Mike probably meant the 'Attwater' variety and while still in existence today has gone down from somewhere around a million breeding pairs in 1900 to just two hundred around the year 2000, despite the efforts of several breeding programmes - including some funded by Monkee fans no doubt!) 2) This week's extra - Davy's double David Pearl walks up to Mike to give Wizard Glick a telling off! Meanwhile Micky's double David Price can be seen playing at one of the gambling tables 3) It won't surprise you to learn that the script originally had a different ending to the one where Mike sends the whole formula up. Originally Micky was to have sworn off gambling forever and meekly goes to collect a 'reward' from the police for his part in capturing the crooks. Looking for the other Monkees to go home with, Micky discovers Peter has cashed in his money and is now playing the fruit machines furiously with Zelda at his side!
Ratings: At The Time 9.5 million viewers/AAA Rating: 2/10

TV Episode  #47
"The Monkees' Christmas Show"
(Recorded November 1967, First broadcast December 25th 1967)
"The Monkees' Christmas message of 1967 is peace, love and everything else!"
Music: Riu Chiu (Performance)
Main Writer: Dave Evans and Neil Burstyn   Director: Jon Andersen
Plot: It's the Monkees' festive episode! In a re-telling of 'A Christmas Carol', Monkee-style, the band are hired to go to a Stately Home, the wonderfully named Vandersnoot Mansions. Thinking they've been hired to play The Monkees arrive with instruments but find out that instead they've been hired to baby-sit a little boy, Melvin, who doesn't believe in Christmas. Melvin is old before his years, far more grown up than the silly Monkees will ever be, and pooh-poohs their attempts to teach him about Christmas spirit. The Monkees' ideas prove to be quite dangerous in fact, with Peter losing control of a scooter when the band go Christmas shopping, Micky coming down with a mysterious illness after mistaking poison ivy for mistletoe when the band go to chop down a tree and Davy falling over when trying to put the star on top of a Christmas tree. All these injuries also cost money, thanks to a generously charged doctor, and The Monkees don't seem to have helped Melvin's demeanour at all. Mike gives in and admits to Melvin that he was right all along - that the Christmas spirit really doesn't exist. Melvin goes back home, alone, but is deeply unhappy - he misses his new friends. Luckily The Monkees don't give up that easily and Santa Micky and Elf Davy arrive down his chimney, with Peter and Mike bringing presents at the door. One present they bring is the best of all - Melvin's aunt who the band have brought home so that this rather creepy and cold family can finally admit their love for one another. The episode then ends with 'The Monkees Christmas Message' where every member of their crew gets thanked and sends their festive greetings home.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is surprisingly the Monkee most insistent on believing in Christmas and it's the moment when the band become broke and Mike stops believing that's the real turning point of the episode. Peter bought him snow-skies last Christmas. Micky: Can't tell the difference between mistletoe and poison ivy, with the latter making him come out in bright red spots. Also makes a convincing Santa Claus. Peter bought him a chemistry set last Christmas which turned him into a werewolf -  he still has random 'turns' (usually when he's standing next to Davy!) Davy: Makes a convincing elf. In another insight into the character's persecuted childhood, he complains he never had the chance to hang the star on top of the Christmas tree at home and seems oddly hung about his height during the 'down the chimney' scene. Got a sports jacket from Peter last Christmas which didn't fit him at all. Peter: Can't ride a scooter very well and struggled to find suitable presents. The intelligence test he bought for himself last Christmas exploded when he tried to use it - the hint is that Peter is too thick, but as the cause is unspecified could it be he's really secretly highly intelligent?
Things that don't make sense: That doctor seems to be available an awful lot considering it's the Christmas holidays - and shouldn't poor Peter be in hospital? Also where did the band get the money to pay for all the presents at the end? (And why do they buy the reformed Melvin, a most un-athletic boy, a basketball instead of, say, a joke book?!)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Davy - "What did Peter buy you last Christmas, Mike?" Mike - "When I saw what you guys got I wouldn't open my present till July!" Davy - "And what was it?" Mike- "Snow skies!" 2) Micky "He's just a little kid, right? So let's use child psychology on him!" Davy "Yeah - do I beat him up now? Micky "No wait on second thought, we can't do that!" 3) Shopkeeper - "That's $20 for the stretcher!" Mike - "What's that for? A carrying charge?!" 4) Davy - "How come I'm clean and you're all dirty? You're always getting at me for being little teeny tiny Davy, you see, so I figured I'd come down the middle of the chimney and avoid the sides" Micky - "Oh right! (Micky blows smut into Davy's face) Davy - "Oh, that's charming that is!" 5) Davy, during the crew 'Christmas message' - "I don't know who this guy is or this guy - but they're very special too!"
End Segment: A gorgeous 'first version' of  traditional Italian Christmas Carol 'Riu Chiu' (a later re-recording with Chip Douglas stabnding in for Mike can be heard on 'Missing Links Two' (1997) with this TV version not released till the deluxe re-issue of 'Pisces Aquarius'). All four Monkees sing a capella, with Micky on lead, Mike and Peter sharing the bass and Davy at his more natural 'baritone' level. The song is an unusual choice and it's seriousness sits in great contrast to the rest of the rather slapstick episode, but it suits the Monkees' four voices to a tee and is a good place to start the next time your ill-advised friend tells you 'but The Monkees can't really sing!' A Spanish Carol about the birth of Christ and the baby being kept safe by all the animals, the strange title itself isn't Spanish and is thought to derive from the call of a kingfisher.
 Interview: Well, it's not strictly an interview this time but we're not sure what else to call it. This is instead the 'Monkees Christmas Message for 1967' where all the crew who don't usually get seen on screen and who'll be working across Christmas get to say 'hello' to their families. Davy makes for a good emcee controlling the chaos, with Mike and Peter chipping in but Micky seems unusually surly. Along with the names who can be seen at the end credits of The Monkees' series are two key figures who never were recognised with a proper credit: Property man Jack Williams who the band adored so much he got two unbilled cameo parts in the final two episodes of the series and Les Fresholtz, the sound recordist for the series. If what Davy says is true the camera is running without a cameraman at the end, as their normal person enters the shot - which must be a first for a TV series!
'Imagination' Sequence: Suddenly the rest of the band are horse-racing commentators as Peter breaks everything in sight on his scooter
Best Ad Lib: Micky gets his line 'How come I'm dirty and you're all clean?' wrong but given Davy's speedy response it seems likely Micky got it wrong in rehearsals and the gag was kept in.
Postmodernisms: 'You guys think you're so funny!' snarls the shopkeeper after Peter wrecks his stall. 'You should be in the movies - or better yet on television!'
Review: The only Monkees Christmas episode - broadcast in the prestigious Christmas Day slot - is part tinsel filler, part genuinely moving festive viewing. It's a curious mix of 'Scrooge', a Swingle Singers Christmas Special and 'Magical Mystery Tour' this one, too varied for it's own good as The Monkees try to appeal to a family audience who don't know who they are all over again - and risk leaving a lot of their 'real' audience behind. It's a shame that the band didn't shoot the episode the year before when they were sharper as their performance is one of the most tired shot for the second season (it doesn't help that the bulk of this episode was made over the Thanksgiving Weekend, so the end bit about The Monkees wishing they could go home and rest for the holidays is only a slight lie). Micky is particularly grumpy in this episode - the look he gives the actor playing Melvin when they're off buying Christmas Trees could kill. However the foursome still get lots of good material: the opening scene about what Christmas presents Peter bought them all is superbly done, with the usual Monkee wit and quickfire cut shots - and the final contrast between the oh-so serious 'Riu Chiu' and the chaotic 'Monkee Christmas Message' with cast and crew is very Monkees, going from one extreme to another in such quick succession as if both tragedy and comedy live side by side. The bookending material is a lot better than the actual plot then, which borrows a little too heavily from the tales of Scrooge and various comedy Christmas shows about orphans (the plot is very similar to the Hancock's Half Hour show 'The Christmas Orphans' - and that one didn't work as well as normal either). The plot just doesn't give everyone enough to do and the fifteen minutes of misery for the band can't be rescued by it all coming together at the end, however well played the final scene of them all together is. The story also seems weirdly plotted, veering from action scenes that are too short (Davy's Christmas tree scene could have gone for much longer) and other bits that are far too long (Melvin's dream sequence, set to some godawful classical Christmas carols, and, erm, 'Pop Goes The Weasel', takes forever with no dialogue being spoken). There are good bits even here though, such as Mike telling Melvin about the importance of the Christmas Spirit while still wrestling with an old lady for the last Christmas tree!  Perhaps the main problem is that this script just isn't Christmassey enough: yes there's a Christmas carol, a tree and a spread of Christmas joy by the end, but Melvin's realisation that the silly Monkees suddenly mean a lot to him isn't clear enough - it could be simply loneliness that changes his mind at the end (while The Monkees end the story more broke than ever). The plot itself is made considerably more watchable thanks to Butch Patrick playing the young Melvin (although he was actually fourteen when this episode was shot, much older than the eleven or twelve-year-old Melvin seems). Patrick is one of the few guest stars to ever outshine The Monkees (is that why Micky glares at him so?) and would go on to lead a fascinating rollercoaster life; he signed up to The Munsters as their son Eddie before The Monkees and went on to star in 70s drama 'Lidsville' as an adult before suffering from heavy depression when the work dried up and attempting suicide many times. His career went through an upsurge in 2010, though, when he married a Munsters fan whose letters of support moved him greatly and he fought off the diagnosis of prostrate cancer, saying that he 'realised how badly I wanted to live'.
 Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Mike sings '#Deck The Halls With Boston Charlie' when he's meant to be doing 'Deck The Halls' a reference to a character in newspaper cartoon strip 'Pogo' by Walt Kelly 2) Look out too for how the Monkees sing the line 'don we now with 'gay' apparel' during 'Deck The Halls'. This is such an early use of the word for 'homosexual' (the original definition of ;gay' as used in the carol simply means 'happy') that you can imagine all the parents watching this saying 'what's going,. on, darling?' as hip teenagers everywhere spluttered into their Christmas pudding. It's a very Monkees moment of gentle subversion, with no attention really being drawn to it. 3) The dummy Mr Schneider makes his last appearance in this episode being attacked by Micky as a 'werewolf' - did he come to a sticky end during Micky's next transformation off-screen? 4) Look out for the word 'Beatles' scrawled on the Monkee chalkboard as the band try to decipher Melvin's maths problem (The answer is '263' in case you hadn't worked it out yet!) 5) This is the only Monkees episode ever to depart from the usual credit sequence and is unique in listing 'Micky' and 'Davy' the other way round 6) This was the only Monkees episode repeated in the 1970s but after 1970 itself, with a repeat on Christmas Day 1971 6) Currently writing his own script for the Monkee finale 'The Frodis Caper', Micky has the presence of mind to shout 'Frodis Forever!' during the Monkee Message. This will leave fans scratching their head until all is revealed three months later. 7) Mike Nesmiths' woolhat makes its penultimate appearance on screen - worn by Davy as part of his 'elf' costume rather than Mike 8) There is no Monkee 'romp' this week, the middle of three occasions where this happens.
Ratings: At The Time 7.1 million viewers/AAA Rating: 5/10

TV Episode  #48
"Fairy Tale"
(Recorded November 1967, First broadcast January 8th 1968)
"Anymore of this and I'm going to get a different princess to worship!"
Music: Daily Nightly (End Performance)
Main Writer: Peter Meyersen Director: James Frawley
Plot: In the little town of Avon-On-Calling, Peter, Peasant of Tork cannot find a job like his friends Davy the Tailor, Mike the cobbler and Micky the Inn-keeper because he's in love with a groovy looking princess with sideburns. When her carriage gets stuck in the mud he rushes over to help her out but she merely tramples on him, throwing him a bit of 'junk' that turns out to be a magic locket. Later in the episode Princess Gwen is kidnapped by rogues and taken to a castle guarded by an im*penetrable dragon. Peter, using the magic locket, is told by the fairy (who was busy washing her hair) that he is the only one to rescue her with his three friends told to make objects that he'll need in his quest. Peter sets off on his journey where he meets Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and Hansel and Gretel. Getting past the dragon by confusing it more than anything else, he climbs up the castle wall in Mike's special shoes and tries to rescue the princess. Only she demands the magic locket back and both are caught. Mike, Micky and Davy hear from the town crier that Peter too has been captured and set off in search of him, defeating the dragon's riddle and set off on a giant battle, which pacifist Peter refuses to fight. Gwen throws her magic locket to Peter who wins and the princess promises him anything. After asking for her hand in marriage the princess refuses because she's already married, with Mike taking his wig off and revealing that it was really him all along.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is  the village cobbler who can make shoes that can scale high walls, enable Peter to walk up a vertical wall (thanks to some camera trickery). Thinks the princess Gwen - who looks just like him, only blonder - is 'the grooviest looking chick I ever saw'. The 'real' Mike reveals that he can't marry Peter because he's already got a wife and a son named Christian.  Micky: Is the village inn-keeper who can make a sharp blade out of a kitchen knife. Bears a real resemblance to Goldilocks and Hansel. Davy: Is the village tailor, who can make an impenetrable suit of armour for Peter to wear. Bears a real resemblance to Little Red Riding Hood and Gretel. Plays Gretel very 'Gretely' according to Peter. Peter: Is described as 'a lowly peasant, a wayward serf - the lowest of the low' and is currently out of work and receiving the town's state benefits (which is a bit mean given that The Monkees aren't much better off in their own universe). Has loved Princess Gwen from afar for a long time, although this seems to be the first time they meet. Is brave enough to face the many dangers to get her back. although he changes his mind early on after Gwen is rude to him and would rather some other hero has a go! Considers himself 'too young' to get married (Peter was a month shy of 26 at the time of broadcast).
Things that don't make sense: Well, it's a fairytale so, hey, not a lot makes sense to be honest. However salient points include how the town crier can possibly know what is happening to Peter and the Princess when he's still in the village (the castle doesn't seem to have good mobile or wi-fi reception!) and why the dragon lets Peter through at all given that his answer 'I don't know' isn't really 'close enough' to the riddle answer of 'a dumb peasant'.
Best Five Quotes: 1) Soldier - "Grovel! Grovel!" Innkeeper Micky - "It's not gravel - I'll have you know it's concrete tile!" 2) Cobbler Mike - "Why that's the grooviest looking chick I ever saw - dig those sideburns! Check out that body! Wow!..." 3) Peter - "But the wolf's already been to your Grandmother's house and eaten her up and he'll do the same to you!" Little Riding Hood - "Sure kid - and the cow jumped over the moon!" 4) Peter - "I think I ought to warn you, don't get into the bed of the three bears or there'll be very angry!" Golidlocks - "Don't worry - nothing can happen to me" Peter - "Why not?" Goldilocks - "Because I'm one mean little girl!" 5) Princess Gwen - "Defending my honour! Now isn't that groovy? A bunch of long haired weirdoes..."
Interview: This is the last interview sequence in The Monkees' series. Mike is interviewed about dressing up in drag for the role of the Princess (who Davy mistakenly calls a 'Queen', with knowing looks) and declares himself 'twenty-four-years old and spry as a chicken!' Mike is asked what Christian's re-action is going to be, meaning his son's, with Micky doing baby noises but Davy takes the pun another way 'the same as a Jew's I suppose'. Micky is confused and says 'that was random before Davys explains the joke to him! Mike, the last of the four to appear in drag, tells Bob Rafelson that 'I refuse to admit that I did that' before the camera turns back to Davy who talks about his experiences dressing up, saying that he played 'Gretel very...what's the word?' Peter chimes in 'Gretely'.
End Performance: A swirling psychedelic monochrome clip of 'Daily Nightly' with Micky doing all the work on vocals and moog while Davy and Peter dance sitting down and composer Mike stares from the back
Postmodernisms: In a way the whole show is postmodern, a spoof of a pantomime as seen on stage with obviously painted backgrounds, cardboard props and the lowest budget (if sweetest) dragon ever shown on national television. However the big postmodern reveal comes at the end of the episode when Princess Gwen gives her reasons for not marrying Peter, Peasant of Tork - because he's only acting, he's really Mike Nesmith and is already married in real life with a son. A rather neat twist on the usual blurred lines between fantasy and reality across the series!
Review: A pantomime special, in which The Monkees appear to be more for children than ever before, even if many of the lines and plot developments are actually rather adult (this isn't a 'fairy tale' where the hero gets his gentle soulmate girl, but a tale of unemployment and state benefits and a wife who refuses Peter and treats him like dirt). Had this episode come earlier in the series' run it would have done rather better in context, breaking up the usual formula and stretching the format to it's maximum. Unfortunately for this episode the series has already been stretched way past breaking limit recently and the people who are starting to get a bit bored of The Monkees' hi-jinks see a low-budget episode that nobody is taking seriously (plus one with very little music on offer) and declare 'your career's behind you!' The general public still don't really 'get' this episode, which probably isn't the one you want to show your friends first, full of in-jokes and gags even cornier than normal, plus a shoe-string budget. Just compare to the very first episode 'The Royal Flush' which in fact concerns almost the same plot (the band rescuing a princess locked up) to see how far we've come - there's no real danger in this episode and the comedy doesn't come from the drama but is shoe-horned in. True fans however rate this one highly because it is so far outside The Monkees' box and it is full of worthy moments. Mike, the last member of the band to dress up in drag, makes a laughably wrong princess in every way - he's mean, butch and aggressive and quite unlike any fairytale princess in any storybook. The script also spends such a long time pointing out Peter's deficits that you wonder whether the script writers had just had a falling out with him the week before, although this is more to make him the least likely hero ever. The result is a plot that delights in turning pantomime on its head, in the same way that The Monkees turn so many other genres on their head, with a dragon whose peaceful, a princess whose most un-Royal, a fairy whose downright bad-tempered and a hero most unsuited to his task. The trouble is, pantomime is already a colourful exaggeration of life and this means that there's practically no 'reality' left to ground the episode in - and it's the dual strands between reality and fantasy that makes the series stand out so much. The one without the other just seems a bit self-indulgent at times really, good as many of the individual jokes are. The highlight - and something the plot should have concentrated more on - is the fairytale cameos played by Micky and Davy having great fun in costume. Davy is an excellent Little Red Riding Hood who makes the point that everyone has two grandmas and doesn't seem fussed about the one that's been eaten at all, while Micky plays the meanest looking Goldilocks ever portrayed, complete with a romance with Papa Bear, while the pair's double act as Hansel and Gretel is delightful. Even Mike's powerhouse performance as the Texan Princess and Peter's rather subdued romantic lead can't compete somehow. So ends one of the weirdest Monkees episodes of them all - something you're glad the band tried once for the late Christmas holiday season as a jokey knees up that allowed everyone to let their hair down (or indeed put on wigs), but something you're also rather pleased they never tried again...
 Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) This is, in case you hadn't noticed, the 'low budget' episode of the season. It's though that one of the earlier episodes had gone way over budget - although no one can remember which episode it was! 2) The 'basic' set was leftover from several earlier Monkee clips: the music performances of 'Papa Gene's Blues' 'Words' 'Valleri' and 'She', although it had never been part of a 'full' Monkees episode before 3) The village name 'Avon-On-Calling' refers to the catchphrase of the perfume manufacturer and Shakespeare's English home-town Stratford-Upon-Avon 4) Director James Frawley makes the last of his unbilled appearances, as the voice of the Dragon 5) The Monkees are singing the main theme to the TV series 'The Adventures Of Robin Hood' (as performed by Beatles music publisher Dick James in his 'earlier' career as a singer) as closely as copyright rules will allow! 6) This week's Monkee stand-ins: Micky's double Richard Klein gets a credit as 'Horseman #1' though oddly Davy's double David Pearl doesn't as 'Horseman #2'! 7) This is the only Monkees episode which features a 'narrator'
Ratings: At The Time 9.4 million viewers/AAA Rating: 4/10

TV Episode  #49
"The Monkees Watch Their Feet"
(Recorded May and September 1967, First broadcast January 15th 1968)
"My feet aren't on backwards - yours are!"
Music: Star Collector (Romp)
Main Writer: Coslough Johnson Director: Alex Singer
Plot: This episode is introduced by the Secretary of the UFO Committee who shows us part of his project's investigation into alien visitations on earth. In between dodging flies and smashing his cane on his desk, Pat Paulson's secretary warns us to be vigilant and that aliens are among us. Just take the story of this local rock and roll group The Monkees: they're meant to be dressing for a gig but every time Micky mentions parts of his clothing they disappear into thin air. Next his tom-toms go! Micky rushes outside and gets beamed aboard, but doesn't believe he's in an alien spaceship at first. Two aliens from the planet Zlotnik  lock him up and send a duplicate back to Earth while they question him. A fault in the design means that the alien Micky's feet are on backwards and he acts rather strangely talking to Davy and Peter. Working out what's really happened they go to report all this to their local Government Offices the USO. However they soon twig that The Captain is one of the aliens himself when they spot his feet too are on backwards. Returning to the alien Micky, Peter discovers by accident that water disrupts his circuits and force him to tell them what he's done with the real Micky. Peter and Davy rescue their drummer to the sounds of 'Star Collector' and the show ends with Paulson commentating on 'the ugly truth'.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Apparently friends with the UFO Committee given his introduction of Pat Paulson as the Secretary. He's absent for the rest of the show, though, with no explanation of where he is. Micky: Reckons the alien spaceship is a 'groovy pad'. His alien double is even more manic than he is - the aliens chose a good specimen though as it takes a while for Peter and Davy to twig what's happened to their friend.  Davy: Is the first to twig that Micky might have been switched with an alien duplicate Peter: Jams an un-named guitar part (which is actually the opening to 'Pink Shoe Laces' as a 1959 #3 hit for a singer named Dodie Stevens) when the alien Micky first enters the house.
Things that don't make sense: I'll accept that Zlotnik aliens live in outer space - hey The Spice Girls exist so anything's possible, right? But why are they on Earth? One minute they seem to know nothing about it and need to interrogate Micky - and the next the aliens are undercover everywhere (is this a quest for knowledge or infiltration and power?) Why do they randomly beam up Micky's clothes and his drums just when he happens to mention them? (Can they hear him?) Why are Davy and Peter unbearably thick at spotting their friend is acting strangely - and yet when they do notice this immediately assume he's an alien duplicate (given the amount of other examples in The Monkees series I'd have assumed he was a Russian prince or a mafia gangster who just happens to look like Micky!) The aliens keep referring to Micky as a '[teenager' but he's clearly older (he was 22 when the episode was recorded). Where on earth is Mike - and how did he get to be so close to the UFO committee? Where did the band get their scooters from aboard the alien spaceship?!  Oh and not a 'things that don't make sense' for the episode as such but the DVD print: why does the official release of this episode randomly include a Monkees 'Kellogg's' commercial in the middle? (These were in most episodes on first transmission).
Best Five Quotes: 1) UFO Committee Secretary: 'Many of us blame our leaders - and many of our leaders blame us!' 2) UFO Committee Secretary on Micky - 'Here he comes, walking down the beach, gets the funniest looks from everyone he meets, feelin' groovy...' 3) 'Is it all the fault of the kids? Not entirely - sometimes it's the fault of the aliens as well!' 4) Davy - 'You know, I've got the feeling that there's something different about Micky' Peter - 'I've felt that way for years!' 5) UFO Committee Secretary - 'The time has come to stop sticking our bayonets into ourselves and to start sticking our bayonets into space!'
Romp: A manic 'Star Collector' - the album mix this time, with Paul Beaver's synthesiser intact, although there's a small edit about two-thirds of the way in. This song is presumably here because of a typical Monkees pun: the 'real' message of 'star collector' is to beware of groupies interested in being associated with 'stars' but the joke is that the aliens are after collecting a very different sort of stars...
Postmodernisms: As early as the first scene the Secretary states self-deprecatingly: 'Certainly if it was intended to be humorous, it would have been funnier than this -  unless it was a TV show...'
Review: This is an odd one. No Monkees book ever mentions it so I might be wrong here but I'm convinced that something went wrong during the production of this episode and that it was only revived at the last minute in desperation near the end of the band's second series. Note the fact that the bulk of the episode - which features Micky, Davy and Peter - was filmed in May 1967; the Pat Paulsen and Mike Nesmith parts were only filmed in September 1967 while the whole episode wasn't broadcast until the following January (the band were approximately a month ahead of broadcast by this point). Something clearly happened - we just don't know what it was. Mike's disappearance might be one reason why - this script sounds like another script leftover from the first season that Mike simply refused to do (see '99 lb Weakling', also filmed in May 1967) and unlike that script there's no mention of his disappearance made here (chronologically this came first, although in terms of episodes broadcast it's the fourth). Was the episode delayed by the confusion over 'Star Collector'? (guest artists Paul Beaver was reportedly miffed not to get a co-credit for his moog improvs on the 'Pisces Aquarius' album which might be why the other mix of this song from the series - see 'The Wild Monkees' - is a remix that doesn't feature his contributions at all). Was the episode delayed when Pat Paulson announced he was running for presidency in 1968 (as a protest vote half-dared by The Smothers Brothers rather than as a serious candidate; as it turns out he gains just enough votes to keep Nixon out of office for a while longer, ha ha ha ha!) Or did the episode under-run (hence Pat Paulson's scenes to pad things out)? The script seems mighty insubstantial even by Monkees standards (we don't get to know the aliens at all well, unlike most Monkee 'villains') - but if it was under-running then why not do the usual thing and stick an interview/performance at the end? Perhaps it was simply a matter of quality as this is a particularly weak episode in the Monkees canon, though sadly enough its the 'extra' bits with Pat Paulson that just aren't funny, despite the fact that he was one of the most famous guest parts the series ever had. Now this could just be a case of American humour in The Monkees that doesn't travel well to other countries - I never found  The Smothers Brothers Hour funny either (where Paulson was a regular) and never laughed at 'Laugh In' either - but Paulson misses every cue he delivers and even the Monkee laughter track seems muted and confused about where exactly the laughs are this week (the humour is a different humour to The Monkees and clashes with it - instead of being colourful and full of wordplay and slapstick it's subtle and dry, a 'did I just hear that?' sly nod rather than a falling-off-the-chair-laughing motion; yes I have fallen over laughing at The Monkees, hasn't everyone?!) The bit with The Monkees is fun, with Micky an excellent alien (his special cheesy grins to the camera as the duplicate are particularly funny) and the scene of Davy and Peter confronting 'The Captain' to find out that he too is an alien is a classic bit of Monkee switching. However Davy and Peter and the two guest aliens get very little to do and the decision to make this episode mainly a 'voiceover' one with only 'clips' of The Monkees effectively being played means the band seem distant compared to normal and the 'beats' of this episode are all wrong  (another sign, perhaps, that it was rushed or resurrected). The loss of Mike is particularly felt in this episode because the band need his sense and organisation to see through the robot duplicate and argue with the aliens - instead Davy's left to fill that role (which doesn't come as naturally) while Peter is brighter than normal with moments of Davy's charm. The first Monkee episode about aliens (you'd have thought it would be a natural subject for them and appear much earlier in the run than this), this all feels a bit of an anti-climax and the beginning and end monologue by Pat Paulson must count as two of the most excruciating and unfunny scenes ever shown in The Monkees' run. In the final run, Micky's own written farewell episode 'The Frodis Caper' is better than this by a country mile. Perhaps the entire Monkees crew, usually so solid, got abducted by Zlotnik aliens during the making of this episode?
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Little do The Monkees' team know it but there really was a UFO committee that investigated reports of UFO sightings - though 'Project Blue Book' (which started in 1952 and ran till 1969, a year after this episode aired - did they uncover the truth perhaps?) met in private and was only made officially known much later. As far as I know there were no sightings of aliens who looked like Micky Dolenz with their feet on backwards but who knows who was brainwashed into forgetting that fact? 2) It's all change in the credits, as Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson are credited as 'executive producers' and Walter Shenson merely as a 'producer' for the first time 3) The clip in the main titles of series two of the band riding scooters is taken from the 'romp' scene in this episode 4) Micky's line 'Klaatu Barada Niktu' was the line spoken by the alien in the 1951 film 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' while the mention of 'Robbie The Robot' refers back to the 1956 film 'Forbidden Planet' 5) The original line from the opening sequence has Mike mention 'The National Broadcasting Company'. This is changed to 'The Columbia Broadcasting System' for the later repeats on the network, probably with a Nesmith sound-a-like doing the voice 6) The American flags on Pat Paulsen's desk are wrong (or at least very very old!) with either 35 or 48 stars resembling each state. Is the Secretary an alien too whose failed to do his homework? Or is this just a faulty prop? 7) Several scenes were cut from this episode (most of which is funnier than the stuff we actually got): originally when Peter discovers water freezes the aliens he heads to the ufo with water, freezing and un-freezing the aliens in a 'comic' routine; the final scene has the alien Micky refusing to stay because he needed a '12,000 mile service' and The Captain was to have played a larger part in the episode, duplicating himself to better track down The Monkees

Ratings: At The Time 10.8 million viewers/AAA Rating: 2/10

TV Episode  #50
"The Monstrous Monkee Mash"
(Recorded October and November 1967, First broadcast January 22nd 1968)
"What a necklace! I've never felt this way before!"
Music: Goin' Down (Romp)
Main Writer: Neil Burstyn and David Panich Director: James Frawley
Plot: Davy has a new girlfriend called Loreli who lives in a spooky looking castle with her uncle, Count Dracula. When Davy doesn't come home (because he's been bewitched with a special magical necklace as part of a plot to turn him into a vampire) the others get worried and go to look for him. The three Monkees get split up, with first Peter then Micky also being bewitched by the magic necklace - Micky is going to be turned into a 'wolfman', whilst Peter is going to have his brain transplanted into Frankenstein's Monster! Mike discovers a secret passage and swaps clothes with a mummy so he can pretend to be 'Mummy Man' and save the others. It almost works, but Count Dracula can bewitch the others from afar and in the middle of congratulating Mike, Davy and Micky are bewitched into biting him. A quick romp set to 'Goin' Down' later and The Monkees have turned the tables on the creepy monsters and fled, pausing only for a quick tag scene in which Peter gets scared by a flying book which the others point out to him is only a prop held up by wires.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is back to his bossy, organising best, although even he gets as scared as we've ever seen him during the closing scenes where he discovers Micky has disappeared. Does a good impression of 'Mummy Man', scaring the Wolfman with a cry of 'Mummy!' Loreil never tries her necklace on Mike, interestingly - is this because he's 'married' as per 'teenage Monster' and the love spell won't work? Micky: Is a right scaredy-cat in this episode, keener on beoming a trio (then duo, then solo act) than he is on rescuing his friends - although, once again, it may be that humour is just Micky's self-defence mechanism. Is turned into a Wolf-man. Wears oddly traditional striped blue pyjamas. Davy: Has a strange taste in girls this episode - presumably no one has bewitched him into falling in love with Loreil before he walks her home. Is turned into a vampire, but doesn't like the thought of being a 'bat getting in people's hair'.  Peter: Has orange pyjamas, with a rabbit logo in blue. Is a scaredy-cat too, refusing to look for Davy because he has a 'healthy respect for fear - it scares me to death'. Loreil and Count Dracula decide early on to use his brain to swap with the monster, although oddly there are no gags about it being the 'smallest' in this episode
Things that don't make sense: Davy doesn't seem the sort to leave a 'forwarding address' when he's seeing strange girls home and the hint is that he's only just met Loreli - so how do the others know where to look for him? Why are Loreli and Count Dracula so keen on turning Davy and Micky into a vampire and wolfman (although Frankenstein's brain makes more sense)? They already have one of each! How exactly are Micky and Davy turned back again to normal at the end (or are they? This makes the next few episodes a lot more interesting if we assume that Micky and Davy are hiding some grave secret!) What is the relationship between the Count and Loreli - the script sometimes say they're uncle and niece but Peter for one assumes they're husband and wife (the age difference isn't that great, but then again can we count by what we see on screen when they're supernatural entities?!)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mike, as Peter and Micky run away - "Once again, courageous American youth leaps into the fore - or five!" 2) Davy to the Wolfman - "I don't want to be catty, but they're treating you like a dog!" 3) Peter - "I don't know what you guys are so upset about, here we are in the home of some awfully sweet people, an ordinary man and his wife who just happen to keeps bats in the living room!" 4) Micky - "I've told Davy a million times, stop hanging around with vampires....Aah!" 5) Davy, sticking up for the Wolfman - "He wants a share of the profits, cookouts on weekends and he wants to play his own music!"
Romp: A manic 'Goin' Down', a rather odd choice of soundtrack to a spooky romp full of werewolfs and vampires and the like. This is the same mix of the song as featured on the B-side of 'Daydream Believer', although note the change of writer's credit in the end captions (the track is normally credited to Dian Hildebrand, Peter. Micky, Davy and Mike - Nesmith's name is missing from the episode titles).
Postmodernisms: This is perhaps the best example of postmodernism in The Monkees' series with lots of terrific examples. Davy's mention of the wolfman being exploited and wanting to 'write his own music' is of course a reference to The Monkees' decision to play their own instruments from the 'Headquarters' album onwards. Several lines are greeted with knowing looks to camera, notably Mike's 'oh boy!' when he realises Micky has gone missing, Davy's comment to the camera after the 'Blood? Blaah!' gag with Count Dracula that 'I think we've got a hit here!' and Micky's new version of the theme tune convinced that he'll be the only one left ('Here I come, walking down the street...Hey! Hey! I'm a Monkee!'...')  Another example has director James Frawley interrupting Mickey's scream to ask for a different sort ('That was my medium scare...oh you want a small scream, OK?') However the big one comes near the end when Micky and Davy have their usual imagination sequence only to find it interrupted by Count Dracula. Davy breaks the 'fourth wall' and explains: 'In every show we do a fantasy sequence where we run around and do funny things and nobody ever stops us - nobody!' Dracula replies that 'fantasy is over - this is for keeps!' and tells the pair that they are now permanent vampies/wolfmen. Davy is so horrified he even calls for makeup to help him out (calling out for props man Jack Williams by mistake - he really means Keever Johnson as introduced to camera earlier in the year in the tag sequence to 'Sheikh Sheikh'!) This is also, of course, the 'sequel' promised during the course of the 'Teenage Monster' episode, though with a few differences (Micky is the wolfman, not Davy and the Count's daughter is his niece played by a different actress - does The Monkees' universe have a 'missing' episode before this one?!) By comparison the finale, where the band reveal that a floating book is really just on wires, seems a tad too obvious and a joke too far.
Review: While this is really just a repeat of all the elements that have worked before (on 'Monkees See, Monkee Die' and 'I Was A Teenage Monster'), this third go at a haunted house-style Monkees episode is made with a lot more care and more importantly a lot more fun than some of the other series two episodes around it. The band seem to be having fun again on a script where all four get lots to do and the romp scene in particular is full of life with lots of inventive and less obvious ideas (such as Mike lighting up Frankenstein with a battery). Mike hasn't had this much light behind the eyes for a year or more and really relishes his sequences as 'Mummy Man' . James Frawley is clearly the quartet's favourite director and they're having much more fun with him than everyone else (the wonderful postmodern sequence of Micky offering up a 'different scream' reveals just how much input he gave the band). There are oodles of terrific moments only this series could offer up, such as the repeated gags ('What a kiss! I've never felt this way before!' 'You fools it was not the kiss but the necklace that bewitched you!' 'What a necklace, I've never felt this way before!'), Davy's encouragement of the Wolfman to rebel against his captors by offering him financial advice and best of all the usual Monkees imagination sequence subverted and turned on its head by revealing that Count Dracula has taken over and Micky and Davy are stuck like that for (most of) the rest of the episode. The end result isn't as original and pioneering as the two earlier goes at this formula and to be honest you know which way the plot is heading from the opening lines of the first scene. However considering this is a third go at breathing life into the Hammer Horror genre and this episode dates from near the end of the second series (when the band are plainly tired and past their best) this is an enjoyable little episode, rightly one of the few from the second season to be released on home video alongside the first series.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) The title is of course taken from the hit single by Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and titled 'The MOnster Mash' - you might know it, it was a Graveyard Smash I believe! 2) Long-time stand in David Pearl, who appears in almost as many episodes as the band, receives his only credited part as 'The Wolfman' 3) That's director James Frawley's voice again, un-credited, being the bat (altogether now 'I vant to drink your blood!') 4) This is David Panich's only script for The Monkees - he's better known for his work on 'Laugh In' , which funnily enough ran directly after The Monkees during 1968! 5)  That weird ending with Peter scared by a flying book with the others quickly revealing how it was done is lifted directly from an Abbot and Costello film 'Meet Frankenstein' which would have been well known to viewers of the time, being regularly repeated on television across the 1960s 6) The Monkees were as busy as ever - instead of going home after the first day's filming for this show they headed to the studio for the first official sessions for 'The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees'! (no wonder they all look so tired for the rest of the TV run!) 7) This is something that must surely only have ever happened to The Monkees in TV history - outtakes from this episode were actually broadcast a month early, when used as part of 'The Monkees On The Wheel'!(On what other show could that possibly happen?!)
Ratings: At The Time 9.7 million viewers/AAA Rating: 6/10

TV Episode  #51
"The Monkees' Paw"
(Recorded November 1967, First broadcast January 19th 1968)
"So you're unable to talk, huh? What was that? Speak up!"
Music: (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone (Half Performance)/Goin' Down (Aborted Performance)/Words (Second Version) (Romp)
Main Writer: Coslough Johnson Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees are one of two acts under consideration for a job as a club house band. Heck it's The Monkees they'll probably wait, The Monkees win! Much to the horror of their rival Mendrek the Magician whose been performing his tricks at the club for twelve years. The club owner is less than civil about parting with his long-term employee and tries to have him thrown out for vagrancy; Micky buys one of his props for a quarter - but the magician gets thrown out for peddling goods instead! The prop is a monkey (monkee?) paw that has special powers - Mendrek reveals that he got it from a hermit up a mountain on a quest he went on and the band's luck immediately gets worse: the union's been on the phone about their non-paid dues and won't let them perform until they pay (even though they have no money if they can't work!) Without knowing about the paw's magical properties Micky wishes for a solution and gets one - the club manager gives them the money as a loan at 142% interest (which even by Wonga standards is pretty poor). Next the band are hungry so Micky wishes he could have enough spaghetti for all four of them - with the band's supper suddenly raining on them from the ceiling. Micky, aware of his obsession with the paw, wishes he could stop talking about it...but the minute he mentions 'stop talking' he loses his voice and is unable to say another word until the tag scene (well except for the single word 'crayon' for some reason that's never explained!) The band turns to Mendrake for help - but he's to busy to see them with his phones ringing constantly. Believing Micky to be sick the band cook him in a giant cauldron of chicken soup and went that doesn't work decide he needs to see a psychologist - only the psychologist, who clearly needs a shrink himself, throws the band out for arguing over what a Rorschach ink test looks like. Dejectedly the band turn up to the gig without their lead singer and explain to an incredulous manager that Micky is really 'singing with his feet'. The band return to Mendrek's office and discover that he's now made his fortune and wants to help the needy - including The Monkees. Davy and Mendrek's daughter go to the office to look up the 'monkey's paw' in one of his dictionaries and discovers that Micky needs to sell the paw on to someone else to break the spell. The obnoxious club manager arrives to re-hire Mendrek at that point so Micky sells the paw to him, discovering to his joy and the other's chagrin that his voice is now intact again.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Plays the peacemaker twice throughout this episode, a role he hasn't really had to do since the first season. The first is between Mendrek and the club manager (never named on screen or in the credits) and the second between the other Monkees and the irate psychologist, neither of which works too well - Mendrek stands on his foot for interfering and Mike's calmness just makes the psychologist even madder! For his part, Mike sees a bunch of flowers in the 'Rorschach blot' test (where patients are encouraged to see patterns in random images) which is apparently 'normal'. Plays 'Groucho' in the band's improvised 'new act'. Apparently looks just like the High Llama. Micky: Buys the Monkee paw after taking pity on Mendrek and has at least 25 cents on his person. His wishes: to pay off the band's union fees, spaghetti for four and to stop talking! Acts like a dog when he can't talk, and is patted on the head by Mendrek. Clearly can't stand being unable to talk and chatters away non-stop when his voice comes back in the tag sequence. Apparently looks just like Mendrek did when he was young. Plays 'Harpo' in the band's new act, complete with blonde wig. Davy: Sees a bunch of birds dancing in his Rorschach test which is also apparently 'normal'. Thinks the word 'monkey' is spelt with two 'es' like the band (so he's spent eighteen months at least with this band without getting the joke spelling in their name?!)   Peter: Is notably more intelligent in this episode, with several deliberately out of character long lines this week (Peter was apparently in a rotten mood when this episode was filmed - was this done at the last minute to placate him?)  Seems particularly cross with Micky this episode, angry at Micky spending so much time on the Monkee paw (instead of on him? Other episodes have revealed how needy Peter can be and he does seem closest to Micky) and making jokes about first his singing voice and then his mental health (Micky doesn't seem to re-act to any of these 'digs'; actually Peter was cross at a different Monkee this week...) This is the first example of Peter 'popping' his 'P's (as recently recorded for 'Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky' on the 'Pisces Aquarius' album. Peter sees a simple tomato ketchup stain in his Rorschach ink test, which probably just means he's hungry. He also plays 'Chico' in the band's new act, with a similar costume, although we never get to hear him do an Italian accent. Peter once again gets hayfever while holding plastic flowers! Finally, Peter makes another film reference - to one so obscure it doesn't even seem to exist on 'our' universe, hinting again that's he's a passionate film-goer.
Things that don't make sense: I'll buy the superstition and the high llama and the dangerous Tibetan objects with mystical powers malarkey (some objects do seem to be cursed - namely Spice Girls CDs) - but the thing I really don't get is why the band are fired if Micky can't sing. Can't Davy, Peter or Mike sing for a change? Or can't they make The Monkees an instrumental band for the duration of the gig? Also Mendrek's motivation changes throughout the episode - at the start he's effectively being rude to the people trying to help him (so in the opening teaser scene he's actually less reasonable than the manager is being) and later on he helps The Monkees pass on their paw when he doesn't have to. Also why does Mendrek have a daughter who plays such a small role in the plot - she only gets three lines the entire episode (making Davy's love interest seem even more grafted on this week!)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mike as the High Llama - "What are you doing up here? You must be some kind of nut to come all the way up here, it's cold and horrible and miserable up here, what are you doing?" Micky as the young Mendrek - "I have come hand over hand, foot over foot to reach the top of the mountain" Mike - "For real? Ooh tell me how you did it - I've been trying to get off this mountain for twelve years!"  2) Micky on the phone - "How can we pay our dues unless we work?" Mike - "Was that the union man? What did he say?" Micky - "He said we can't work unless we pay our dues" Peter - "And we can't pay our dues if we can't work" Micky - "That's what I told him!" Mike - "And what did he say?" Micky - "He said don't confuse me!" 3) Club manager - "I've just been to the union and they say you boys haven't paid your dues in a long time" Mike - "We paid our dues the last time we worked!" Club manager - "And when was that?" Mike - "It's been a long time!" 4) Mike "Anybody can sing with their feet! Didn't you ever see 'Young Man With A Corn'?" Peter - "Or Flat Foot Floozy With A Floy Floy?!" 5) Mike - "Come on Micky you can sing - there is absolutely nothing wrong with your voice!" Peter - "haven't you heard him sing?!"
Romp: A better than average romp set to 'Words', where the Monkees are let loose on all of Mendrek's magic tricks.
Performances: Two, both of which are cut short. The Monkees play a few bars of 'Steppin' Stone' for real in the opening sequence before the manager offers to hire them. The Monkees also perform a mimed 'Goin' Down' for their actual performance - but a kamikaze karaoke version as Micky mouths the words but is prevented from actually singing them (it sounds like a completely different song!) Note that Davy is on the drums again while Micky is up front solo singing (which makes his inaudible performance all the more obvious!)
Interview Sequence: It's a sad end to something of an institution this week, with a rather rushed eleventh and final entry in the series of 'one minute short' tags the series used so well. Much like the episode itself, this show features the band in an ugly mood. Peter commanders the episode to talk more about what it means to be a hippy, declaring that the movement is now 'dead' because the mainstream have adopted it and turned it into a joke. Mike jokes that Peter is going to start his own movement 'and has got six people signed up so far!' but Peter's not in a jovial mood. Davy jokes that he's not a hippy even though he wears beads, adding 'Charlie got me these!' (but does he mean Monkee roadie and Davy co-writer number one Charlie Rockett or Davy co-writer two Charlie Smalls, who'll appear with his friend in the finale of the forthcoming episode 'Some Like It Lukewarm'?) Peter is adamant that both Mike and Davy are hippies but they're rolling their eyes and denying it (while Micky stays quiet) before Davy breaks the ice by joking 'don't hit me with the stick!' (a running gag- Davy made the comment in an interview asking about the show's violence that a lot of the band's romps ended with Peter hitting him over the head with a big stick!) Peter now has the space to speak his mind but he's not ready for it and can't quite put his feelings into words, eventually spitting out how the establishment always break things that look nice by embracing them, the hippy philosophy included. Peter says the hippies are going to reclaim their movement 'by inventing new words' but Peter gets stuck again and says 'uh...' which is where the last ever Monkees interview tag pulls away, mid-sentence, the frostiness between the band members only temporally soothed...
Best ad lib: Micky's long speech to the High Llama ends with the mistake 'Dands and Seserts' instead of Sands and Deserts - he grins at the camera, says the words the right way round then carries on like the trooper he is! Davy also innocently asks Mike 'how' they're going to conduct their great plan, before realising that he's stood next to a large wooden indian and, giggling, makes an indian pose!
Mr Schneider: Seen but not heard, with a mute Micky talking silently to him in the background of a scene
Imaginary Sequence: Uniquely amongst the 58 original TV episodes, Micky and Mike imagines themselves as part of a story Mendrek is telling them about his past - Micky is the magician when he was younger (although they don't look that much alike) while Mike is the very high Llama whose, like, out of it, man!
Davy Love Rating: Only about a three/ten this week, with Davy barely getting any screen time with Mendrek's daughter as they go off to find her dad's dictionary of spells - they don't get much further than gazing into each other's eyes this week!
Postmodernisms: The tag sequence, which is one of the band's more deliberate destructions of the 'fourth wall': Mike says "Well, that about wraps up another hilarious episode!" and the band say goodbye, accidentally giving themselves the wrong names along the way before they start singing the opening theme (shouldn't it be the closing one?) - Peter really goes for it 'acting' the part of the drums!
Review: How ironic. Fifty episodes of pure Marx Brothers and the band never mention their biggest influence after The Beatles during the programme. And now, just when  The Monkees disguise themselves as Groucho, Harpo and Chico to cover up the fact that Micky can't sing, is when the Monkees formula begins to shift ever so slightly. This episode and many of the ones to come are less slapstick and more cerebral and sadly come without the band's old status as lovable anarchists. If anything this last phase of The Monkees' canon is pantomime, where the audience know things that the band don't, so that we can all yell at the band to not buy the Monkee paw and to know before they do what's wrong. The result ought to work well, for this week anyway, with a better than average script (one by someone else other than Dee Gardner and Gerald Caruso for a change) and which is modelled on an old folk tale that's ripe for this series (there really is a horror novel named 'The Monkey's Paw', published in 1902 and written by William Wymark Jacobs and it really does concern a talisman that brings bad luck, a subject that's ripe for picking on a show that to some extent is all about karma in the 'hippiest' sense of the word, full of consequences and good winning out over evil). Desperately trying to transcribe this episode I was struck by how much stronger most of it is under analysis than when I simply sat back and watched it - I wore out two pens trying to notate the 'classic quotes' selection alone and could have added plenty more, with the most consistently quotable Monkees script in ages. So why doesn't it work better on screen?
Because this isn't 'The Monkees' we saw a year earlier. The older Monkees would surely have done this script justice, latching onto the tale of greed and capitalism and turning it into another first season tale where good people are saved and bad people fall into the bait of taking what isn't theirs. The band would also have come together as a unit in the first series when their 'brotherhood' was at its peak, protecting Micky as much as they could and with a real hearty-in-the-mouth moment as they realise their lead singer might never sing again. Instead all the band do here is crack jokes about Micky's voice and mental stability and their worry seems to be more about losing their new job than what's happened to their friend. The tagline, in which Mike openly mocks the fact that this is 'another hilarious episode of The Monkees' is what's wrong with this episode in a nutshell - the series has gone from being about a band that occasionally drew attention to the fact that this is merely a series for laughs when things are getting too stressful to a series that none of the cast seems to believe in too much anymore. The band are too busy goofing and putting everybody down to sing or stand up to authority figures the way they once did and this is the start of a downhill trend that will run from here to the end. It speaks volumes that its this episode where a guest actor finally has enough of The Monkees improvising during screen time and explodes, Hans Conreid finally blowing up and declaring 'I hate these kids!' as the band mess up their big entrance (a scene ultimately cut from the episode's final edit, although characteristically long-term director James Frawley adds it to the end of the episode for us all to see!) Not so long ago the audience was rooting for The Monkees to overcome even the likeable and famous guest cast; now they're more likely to side with Conreid. It's all gone just a bit too far.
Normally Frawley would be the perfect person to get the most out of this episode, turning even the more unpromising scripts into gold, but he's got a problem. The band are no longer merely tired but exhausted, pushed way past the point most bands would have lasted (filming a 58-part TV series and touring back to back with four albums all inside two years) and they're getting ratty. Matters came to a head on the second day of shooting for this episode when a barb between Davy and Peter went too far and the pair ended up in fisticuffs, serious enough to have Davy sent to the set doctors for a scratch (though not serious to alter their long-term relationship: it was more about needing a break from each other and clearing the air than wanting to kill each other). Watching this episode once you know this fact suddenly puts everything into place - Peter's clearly in a foul mood when he thinks the camera isn't on him but gets his aggression out of his system by a slightly altered script that allows him to shine more than usual rather than play dumb and direct his witticisms at a fellow Monkee - though his barbs are at Micky. Davy, meanwhile, gets most of his scenes away from the other Monkees this week with Micky and Mike carrying most of the plot. Frawley, one of the series' more likeable directors given what cast and crew have said down the years, also gives all four more breathing space than usual and a chance to be indulgent rather than 'authentic'. This one time it was probably the right idea and the best way of saving face so that the other ten odd episodes in production could get made - but unfortunately it set something of a precedent to come. Not that The Monkees are entirely bad - Micky always shines when given something to do and is excellent even when mute, while the three-way argument with the psychologist (about the only 'adult' figure the band haven't laughed at yet) is hilarious. The romp is good this week too, the best in ages with Mendrek's magic collection the perfect set of props for the band to have fun with. Nor are The Monkees the weakest aspect of the show by any means - Hans Conreid isn't just one of the band's grumpiest guest actors he's also one of the worst and much of the episode's feelings of lifelessness and unreality stems from him hamming the part of Mendrek up in a bad approximation of what he thinks the main cast are doing. Henry Backman as the Club's Manager (who perhaps symbolically isn't enough of a 'character' to even get a name this week) isn't much better either. Typical - one week we get the script working properly and everything else goes to pot! The end result is something of a curate's monkee egg: at times excellent, but alas only in parts - the rest is inedible and has gone a bit 'off'.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Mandrek The Magician is probably named for a comic-book hero 'Mandrake The Magician' 2) This week's stand-in cameos: David Pearl is seated at a table watching The Monkees perform (or not perform as it turns out...) and David Price walks past as a janitor 3) When Mike quips about the foot-film 'Young Man With A Corn' he does of course mean the jazz film loosely based o the story of trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke - there is, sadly, no film with Peter's chosen title 'Flat Foot Floozy With A Floy Floy'. Yet! 4) This week's alternate scripted ending: Peter finds a box in Mandrek's house that looks interesting and buys it from him, discovering that it's a cursed toad! (this is so much better than what we get on screen...) 5) There were two scenes cut, probably so that Frawley could fit his 'outtake' into the episode: the other Monkees try physically to make Micky speak again, making him fall head first into the cauldron of soup that's still on set (probably abandoned due to insurance reasons) and the band going back to visit the psychologist, only to meet him being carried out of his surgery in a straightjacket 6) The band's fourth album 'Pisces Aquarius Capricorn and Jones LTD' was released in the middle of this episode's production week - 'Words' from this week's show appeared on the album
Ratings: At The Time 9.8 million viewers/AAA Rating: 4/10

TV Episode  #52
"The Devil and Peter Tork
(Recorded May and August 1967, First broadcast February 5th 1968)
"You'll soon be one of us!"
Music: Salesman (Romp)/I Wanna Be Free (Peter on the Harp!)/No Time (End Performance)
(The 1970 repeat substituted 'I Never Thought It Peculiar' for 'Salesman')
Main Writer: Robert Kaufman, Gerald Garnder and Dee Caruso Director: James Frawley
Plot: Peter's in town when he spots Mr Zero's music shop and goes in to have a look around. He falls in love with a gorgeous harp he sees in the corner but has no money to buy it - Mr Zero though accepts his offer of giving 'anything' to own it and without telling Peter draws up a contract to reclaim his soul. On returning home Peter discovers he can really play and the band eagerly add the harp to their act, unusually going to win fame and fortune in the process. However Mr Zero comes back and reveals himself as the devil, demanding hat Peter's soul be given over to him on the stroke of midnight (while showing them what *cuckoo* - sorry  it's catching - what hell looks like via a romp to the tune of 'Salesman'). The Monkees try fighting, arguing and sacrificing themselves for their friend but it's only when Mike changes the legality of the contract that the devil takes any interest. The Devil puts Peter on trial with a jury of twelve men from devil's island and fellow signees Billy The Kidd, Blackbeard and Attila The Hun as witnesses. However it's Mike who saves the day with a moving speech about how Peter didn't want fame or fortune, just the ability to spread love with his music - and how it wasn't the devil who gave him that gift as everyone with a love for music has that ability lying inside them anyway. Peter is returned and the devil is defeated!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: When asked by Mr Zero what he does Mike says he 'does odd jobs like sweep up' and ends up with a running gag where the devil keeps adding a broom to his hand! He doesn't seem at all shocked when the devil arrives in a puff of smoke, merely joking that 'Smoky The Bear' should give up his cigarettes. His response to the devil trying to take Peter is to do what he does best: argue, challenging the devil to a legal battle. Picking the Monkees game of 'odd finger', Mike struggles to interrogate Billy The Kidd ('Mr Kidd') but has more luck when a moment of inspiration makes him put Mr Zero in the dock and one of Mike's greatest moments in the series is his stuttering speech on why Peter has the music 'inside' of him without any need of instruments to set it free. Micky: Is the quickest to see the potential of Peter's harp in The Monkees' act. As proof of who he is the devil causes his chair to break - Micky doesn't have much luck with furniture! He's quick to fight the devil when he's out of shot - but loses his nerve when the devil re-appears and turns his broken chair leg into a tickling stick. Micky interrogates Attila The Hun ('At last - a reasonable witness!') and appears to converse with him in his native Mongolian, although he admits on sitting down that he didn't understand a word. Davy: Though no one comments on it Davy offers his own life in return for Peter's - a true Monkee sacrifice. Davy is the least keen to add the harp to the act and complains it takes up too much room - until Peter plays it, at which point he pretends it was all his idea! The devil proves himself to Davy by removing his shirt (much to the delight of most of the audience no doubt!) Davy's interrogation is Blackbeard ('Mr Beard') who takes much delight in Davy's sea-faring name (again!) Peter: Has no money (well duhhh!) and yet still wants the harp so badly that the devil in hiding offers it to him for the exchange of his soul (though he doesn't exactly tell Peter this, he's gullible enough to sign a contract without reading it despite several other examples of the band being fleeced in similar ways and the fact he sees the contract arrive out of thin air in front of him!) The devil explains that he wants Peter in patticular because 'innocence is at a premium'. Peter says that he's 'always' loved the harp, although the other Monkees know that he couldn't formerly play one (so he's loved the sound but never had a chance to play or learn?) Peter proves throughout the course of the episode that he's not interested in fame or fortune and just wants people to be happy, as proved by Mike in court. Even the devil refers to him as an 'innocent'. Peter seems to struggle with the concept of the strange Monkee game of 'odd finger out' and simply holds out his hand while the other three play. peter considers himself a 'kid' still and somehow learns how to play Davy's song 'I Wanna Be Free' on the harp even without special powers.
Things that don't make sense: Well, that's a bit tricky to work out this week and basically comes down to whether you believe in supernatural demonic entities and whether they'd really be bothered enough to gain souls to go to the lengths of establishing their own record shop round the corner from The Monkees' pad or not. If you do then everything in the episode is part of the devil's magic and makes perfect sense - and if you don't then nothing said this week makes any sense at all! Oh and despite the band's incredulity at having harps in a rock and roll band it wasn't unprecedented - Mike Love's sister (the Wilson's cousin) often played the harp on The Beach Boys' early records.
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mike to Peter - "It's a beautiful harp and beautiful music comes from a beautiful harp. I mean, everybody I know loves the harp. There's just one thing man - you can't play the harp!" 2) Mike - "Now come on Micky, no one was ever an overnight success" (the phone rings) "You hear we've got a harp act? Well isn't that a bind - we're an overnight success!" 3) Davy after his shirt disaappears - "He really is the devil!" Micky on the floor - "Devil or not, he's a rotten house guest!" 4) Mr Zero - "According to the terms of this contract  Peter's soul must be claimed by midnight" Mike - "But it's only 8 o'clock" Mr Zero - "Just trying to beat the rush-hour traffic!" 5) Mike (his speech, tidied up to remove the pauses)- "You didn't give Peter the ability to play the harp. You see, Peter loved the harp and he loved the music that came from the harp. And that was inside of him. The power of love that was inside Peter, it was there from the first. And it was that kind of power that enabled Peter to play the harp. You didn't have anything to do with it at all! And if you love music then you can play music. All it takes is love, because in the final analysis, baby, love is power! That's where the power's at!"
Romp: A key one, as The Monkees find themselves in hell, filled with fire (despite Zero's later comment that hell isn't full of fires just 'a slight depression') and four demonic girls with horns. The soundtrack is 'Salesman', a sleazy song about sleazy peddlars by Craig Vincent Smith which Colgems became convinced was really about drug pushers. The use of this song was a bone of contention between band and TV company, officially given as one of the reasons they decided to take the series off at the end of the year (though the band themselves had another theory as to why this episode brought such wrath...more of this coming up!)
Performances: Peter plays (or at any rate mimes) an exquisite harp rendition of 'I Wanna Be Free', the song not heard since the band's early days. There's also a fun tag performance of 'No Time' featuring the band in the same clothes and on the same set as 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' 'Daydream Believer' 'Randy Scouse Git' et sequence (you know the one, with stripes and arrows at the back of the set very similar to The Beatles' Ed Sullivan show background but more psychedelic). This performance is interesting in that it's Mike playing the 'dummy' and getting his directions wrong when the band do their 'tah-dah!'s to camera and Mike is always facing the wrong way (look how much Peter relishes the chance to put him right for once!)
Postmodernisms: Another key entry and - so the band were convinced - the real reason the show was taken off the air. There were certain NBC protocols that even The Monkees had to follow about what they could and couldn't say. Hard as it may be to believe now, no one was allowed to say 'hell' on television, which was considered a strong enough swear word to bleep. This was clearly an obstacle for a show involving the devil and typically The Monkees didn't back down from it. This is the full transcript of what was said on screen and which NBC felt was 'mocking' them a bit too strongly (complete with the revelation that this is a TV show): Mike - "So that's what [cuckoo] looks like!" Davy - "Yeah [cuckoo]. Pretty scary" Micky - "You know what's even more scary? You can't say [cuckoo] on television!" There's another example too when Micky declares that the band should call another witness. When asked on what grounds he declares 'because the television show's not over yet!'
Review: A glorious episode that's easily the highlight of the band's second season and which is very Monkees pushes the envelope as far as it will go, commenting on religion, censorship and the power of music. Suddenly everything has come together but in a more 'adult' way than much of the first series, with The Monkees defeating a 'real' foe who can do them real harm - not the bumbling amateur spies and kidnappers of previous weeks. The Monkees are more than equal to the task and we learn so much about their characters this week with them all dealing the supernatural entity in their own ways - Mike with logic, Micky with bluster and energy and Davy by being the good guy, while Peter continues winning people over with his innocence and likeability. Together they make a formidable team. There are many parts of this episode people always quote as evidence of the series at its peak - the Monkees trying to politely interrogate ruthless tyrants and Mike's speech at the end which is really what The Monkees is about in a nutshell (surely addressing the audience at home as much as the people present in hell's court-room Peter explains to the 'adults' that you don't even have to be good at music to be able to play it - that loving music and wanting to express it is a noble art form in itself; the perfect moment for a series created basically out of love for the Beatles films and a desire to mirror the many struggling teenage groups out there which had been created in their wake). However I say it's another line that's the highlight, one which always goes un-noticed. Micky does what he always does when he's nervous - he makes bad jokes and makes a quip about Billy The Kidd that goes down like a lead balloon. 'Sorry' he says sheepishly. 'No, that's ok' says surrogate parent Mike (whose never more adult and responsible than in this episode), realising that Micky's only trying to cope with something he's struggling with. The other telling example is when Davy offers straight away to give his soul in return for Peter's - it's no mean threat either as Mr Zero is the devil and can do anything including taking them both, but Davy makes the offer anyway. The Monkees have never been more like a band of brothers than in this episode, risking everything for each other and this is how the series should always have been. Some Monkees episodes seem like they can't wait to get home to be honest, especially towards the end of the run, but every single line is spot-on this week and Monty Landis as Zero gives one of the best performances of the series' run, a devil whose played straight instead of hammed up as he will every other Monkees villain he plays, but with sly nuggets of comedy gold delivered with perfect timing.
We've already seen how controversial this episode was - providing a family audience in the mid 1960s comedy fare involving the devil was quite extreme anyway, even without the filters on what could be said and what 'Salesman' is really about (it doesn't sound like a 'drugs' song to me - and as Mike said 'if we'd wanted to make that message we'd have come out and said it, instead of slyly') but I can still see why NBC would be nervous - and why this episode, actually recorded fifth in line in the second series (ie around episode 37) was delayed for so long. It is essentially a debate about the evils of capitalism. Every other person who signed the Devil's contract did so to be rich and powerful - glorious cameos by actors playing Billy The Kidd, Blackbeard and Attila The Hun (his action-packed scene with Micky is great and the meaning comes through loud and clear even without the words!) However Almost uniquely we also see The Monkees become rich and famous for once over the course of this episode which takes place over several months (although funnily enough they still own the same run-down pad and are wearing the same clothes as when we last saw them) and actually get a taste of how great the lifestyle is they've all been dreaming of for so long, And yet The Monkees are a 'new' breed who turn the money and power down flat. Mike proves successfully that Peter never wanted any of those things - that they're a side effect of why he really became a musician, to make people 'happy'. This is a major breakthrough in The Monkees' status as 'representing' hippie youth ideals on television back when no one else did, explaining to disbelieving mums and dads why so many kids were dropping out of good jobs to make music that nobody ever heard - because the ability to be part of something, to make a statement, to comment on your times and make people happy is the whole reason the 60s music scene took off the way it did, offering a new way of life to teenagers who till then were facing a life ruled by their parents full of responsible jobs, babies, mortgages, the draft and keeping quiet on big political matters. The Monkees have never been more important than here and when they stand up to the devil and 'prove' him wrong (even to a jury of hardened convicts!) they're really standing up to society as a whole. It's the Monkees' generation on trial here, not the band themselves, and they come out of it with flying colours. What a shame, then, that the delay over showing this episode meant it got 'hidden' towards the end of the series run when a lot of fans had given up watching. However as well as being serious this episode is also downright funny, full of some great jokes, terrific quips, a fun performance of 'No Time' and a terrific romp and some 'roflimmh' moments ('rolling on the floor in my Monkees hat' - what, is that just a me thing? I wondered why no one else ever understood that pneumonic!) This is if not quite the series peak then certainly a peak - alas it will all be downhill from here and after defeating the devil all the Monkee villains to come will just seem second rate...
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) In 1968 censorship meant that you couldn't say [cuckoo] on television! Hmm apparently you can't say it in books in 2018 either... 2) The episode was based on the short story 'The Devil and Daniel Webster' by Stephen Vincent Benet (published 1937), which comes with a few key differences - the simpleton is a Hampshire farmer whose trying to escape his bad luck  and who is 'let off' his trial through his calm demeanour rather than the words he says 3)  That voice you hear speaking over the end of the 'teaser' sequence is Monkee co-creator Bob Rafelson's (unbilled): 'The soul. Some say it's man's harp for a spirit. certainly without it we cannot survive, for no man can live without love" 4) The writer of 'salesman'. Craig Vincent Smith, went up for a part on The Monkees series back in 1965, but was busy the day of the interview so pulled out 5) This week's alternate ending - Peter is back in the music shop where he falls in love with a french horn and tries to buy it from the shoplady with horns. Micky, Mike and Davy see what's happening and rush in and save him. A deleted scene from the end of the 'romp' also had The Monkees forced to dance until they collapse exhausted (taken from the Hans Christian Andersen story 'The Red Shoes' which has already had a Monkees episode based on it during the run). 6) This was the last episode broadcast with a laughter track - although it's a bit hit and miss, with the 'audience' missing several gags and laughing uproariously at lines only half-funny! 7) This was the second and final Monkees episode to be nominated for an emmy in the 'director's category - sadly unlike 'The Royal Flush' it lost to the spy series 'Get Smart' 8) Those Monkee newspaper headlines in full: 'Monkee harp is happening' and 'Monkee harp a hit!' The newspaper is the fictitious Hollywood Evening Star (have the band stopped taking their other subscription?) and has the wonderful strapline 'A newspaper dedicated to the losers of the world!' 9) Several clips of the band in the court-room (against a red background) were used in the opening credits, mainly for the parts where the Monkees' names go up (Davy, Micky and Peter)
Ratings: At The Time 9.9 million viewers/AAA Rating: 9/10

TV Episode  #53
"The Monkees Race Again"
(Recorded December 1967, First broadcast February 12th 1968)
"Those are the strangest techniques I have ever seen!"
Music: What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round? (Romp)
Main Writer: Dave Evans, Elias Davis and David Pollock Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees are repairing their Monkeemobile which has gone wrong again when Davy gets a call from an English friend of his grandfather's T N Crumpets. He's a major racing driver whose won all sorts of trophies - so it seems odd that Davy hasn't mentioned him before - but needs a bit of help with a race that he thinks is being sabotaged by his rivals. The Monkees agree to be his mechanics, even though they have minimal understanding of how cars actually work, and eventually uncover what is really happening. Rival Baron Von Klutch and his comrade Wolfgang are cheating, sabotaging their rivals in the hope of winning the race and ensuring that everyone around the world will know the name 'Klutzmobile'! The Baron knocks out the band and Crumpets with a poisonous gas and kidnaps both Micky and Crumpets after wrecking the car (which didn't take much anyway the state the band had left it in!) When the trio wake up their chance seems to be over but Davy realises he can still race the Monkeemobile and take part as a 'British Subject'. He does and wins while the other three Monkees chase Wolfgang around his garage to the tune of another Monkee musical romp.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Ought to know better than to ask Peter for a 'shove' (a mechanical tool) - Peter naturally shoves him and sends him flying! Mike seems a long way from his usual brainy, bossy self this week, completely outwitted by the baddies (most notably on their 'fake tannoy' trick) and even takes a while to realise their car has been stolen! (Does this episode date from the period when the real Nesmith's involvement seemed uncertain and was Peter's part split between the two of them this week?!)  Micky: There's an odd opening for Micky to this episode where without mention he simply isn't there for the opening eight minutes or so of the episode and you've sort of assumed he's gone AWOL like Mike and Davy have in other stories, before suddenly appearing through the door of T N Crumpets' garage dressed in the right clothes and carrying on as if he knows all about the unfolding plot of the week. Did Micky have somewhere to be in real life? Micky is kidnapped seemingly at random alongside T N Crumpets and spends a lot of the episode tied up (or is it because he's wearing official looking blue overalls? If so, why is he wearing official looking blue overalls?!) Can apparently start a car simply by hitting it, although it seems more a lucky guess! Davy: Is back to being the hero of the hour, like the days of season one, driving The Monkeemobile to victory even though it's the first time we've ever seen Davy drive on screen. he defeats The Baron who clearly reckons he has some talent to enter a competition. Davy has never mentioned his grandfather's famous friend T N Crumpets before and it's unsure just how well the pair know each other - they recognise each other and Crumpets has The Monkees' phone number, but they don't spend the episode reminiscing about the old days or anything. Peter: Seems to be here more to make bad puns than actually take part in the plot this week. From what we see on screen though Peter has more mechanical talent than any of his colleagues, even if he accidentally sets the telephone up on wheels and with an engine instead of the Monkeemobile! Oh and another first - he tells henchman Wolfgang that he has a nice voice even if his pitch is 'lousy' and invites the villain to join the group instead of the missing Micky!
Things that don't make sense: There's a lot this week, so strap yourselves in. let's start with where this race is held - Davy asks his fellow Monkees to go with him with the shrug of a musician who says 'it's only a few miles out your way, lads' but the rules of the race stipulate that only English subjects can take part, suggesting the band have flown out to Britain (we can't judge it by the accents because we only ever see the German competitors outside the band and T N Crumpets). If not, why isn't there more of an outcry that only specifically foreigners are allowed to race? Just where has Micky been during the opening eight minutes of the episode - and how come he's up to speed on the plot and properly dressed when he arrives? To date Micky has always been greatly gifted in terms of mechanics and gadgets and till now it's been a safe assumption that as The Monkees can never afford to have the Monkeemobile fixed and the car is always breaking down one or other of them knows some rudimentary engineering (and its probably Micky) - yet all four are apparently useless. How come the race officials don't consider it a little odd that only two cars start the race - we don't know how many were meant to begin before the 'sabotooge' began but surely this would lead to a major enquiry? Equally we don't see any appearance of anyone else the whole episode - surely some official would have dropped by to pass out rules, check for cheating, taking measurements and weighing, etc. It's almost as if this was the cheap budgeted episode of a TV show! (Just dig the appalling 'background painting' just outside the door that even on the lesser picture quality of the mid-1960s would have looked fake). Oh and if Crumpets really is as good and successful as Davy says why doesn't he a) have the clout to go to the officials with his suspicions of sabotage (a first-time race might not have the clout but a regular winner whose never made the complaint before surely would!) and b) have mechanics from all over the world ringing him up when they know he's in trouble (The Monkees wouldn't be my first choice if I needed a mechanic in a hurry!) While I'll buy the fact that as an English subject Davy can race instead of Crumpets (even if in reality it would mean a tonne of paperwork and be too late in the day for an official substitution) how come The Monkeembile is by chance the right specifications to be allowed to race? (It looks nothing like the Klutzmobile). Oho and an even bigger one - what is The Baron trying to achieve by making his car win the race but only by taking out the other competitors? If I know my motor enthusiasts he'd go down in history as 'the winner of that odd race when no one else started' rather than 'the fastest car on Earth we all need to buy'. If there had been a prize for the race as usual then he might have had more motivation this week!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Baron - "Zo, Crumpets I zee you are having trooble wid yoor kar!" Crumpets - "Yes and I see you are having trouble with your accent!" 2) Crumpets - "What would you say to a spot of tea?" Peter - "No problem, I've got several spots already!" 3) Baron - "If we win tomorrow the name 'Klutzmobile' will be on the lips of every car drive in America!" 4) Official - "I'm sorry boys but I just can't let you into the race without a car" Davy - "Are you kidding? I happen to be a very fast runner!" 5) Wolfgang - "Ten, Nine..." Micky - "No wait, err...after ten comes eleven!" Wolfgang - "Nein Nein!" Micky - "No, not ninety nine, eleven!" Wolfgang - "Alright, alright - ten, eleven, four, three..."
Romp: A rather unsatisfactory one based partly around the garage  and with shots of davy in the race, to the tune of 'What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round?' which sounds like the comment of the Monkees who want to go home having already done all the primary shooting. Uniquely in the history of the show, the episode ends on a romp with no tag scene, minuet-short interview or performance to follow. The editing team even cut the third verse out to fit the song to length - the cads!
Postmodernisms: More debate about violence from Mike who asks Wolfgang 'What is this gun thing? Where did you get it from?'His inevitable reply: 'From the prop department' You could also add the scene where the Klutzes are sneaking a look at what The Monkees using a periscope that they think can't be seen - The Monkees and Crumpets wave in reply!
Review: 'Just because it's different you can't accept it!' An episode that's more like the 'Wacky Races' than a normal Monkee episode, this is about as close to a cartoon as the series ever gets. The main portagomnist (T N Crumpets) has a silly, descriptive name, the villains speak with zer exaggerated German accent that shtinks so badly the cast even comment on it at one part and The Monkees win out despite the odds being stupidly stacked against them. When The Monkees TV Show started it was one of the most realistic series on television, in between the kidnappers and spy rings - but now things have gone wildly out of control. There's also not one mention of The Monkees being musicians in this episode, the defining factor of the series initially, with the four in danger of becoming ciphers this week on a script that feels as if it was submitted to a wide range of programmes before this one before Rafelson and Schneider accepted it. However an awful lot of people seem to like this episode, which regularly tops polls of 'fan favourite' episodes (especially those for the second series) suggesting that at least the fabs were getting a dose of what they'd wanted to see: Davy exploiting his English background, the first ever joke at the expense of his home-town of Manchester and the Monkeemobile  seen in all its roaring beauty. This can perhaps be explained by the fact that this episode tends to stick in the mind with its broad brush-strokes and exaggerated characters and the fact that the style of this episode is so unlike any around it that it's a lot easier to remember this episode twenty years after the series was last on air than, say, the ins and outs of 'Monkees Marooned'. It's also very much of its time but in a different way to usual ; in the past The Monkees seemed like the single most 1960s programme on television - vibrant, young and colourful with themes of friendship and playing music for the love of it not for money or glory - but this week The Monkees seems like every other show on television, with the slapstick run-around of 'I Dream Of Jeannie' and the 'Smothers Brothers Hour' and the comedy German accents of 'Allo Allo' (as an Englishman I'm also horrified at the treatment of an entire stereotype in the form of T N Crumpets. He'd have stopped for a tea break so much earlier than that!) If that sort of comedy is your thing then you'll love this episode and had there been no other Monkee episodes around to compare it to then I might have loved it too (I'd be fascinated to know what might have happened if American networks were as keen on wiping their TV shows as the BBC were in Britain - what would we have made of The Monkees if only a handful of episodes existed, with very few of the original 58 having anything in common in terms of style and plot and contents!) But up to this point (if you watch this show in order) you'll have seen The Monkees as a realistic, heart-wrenching adult drama, as savage political commentary, as a romantic teenage comedy and as a straight-out parody of other programmes and genres around at the times. Seeing The Monkees become a childish grotesque parody of itself is the start of the least effective phase in the show's history and this episode suffers from the problems of belivability and freshness more than most. Perhaps the biggest crime though is that The Monkees play such a little part in events and get less screen time than the bumbling criminals. Only the inventive teaser (in which the Monkees accidentally lace up their telephone instead of their car on wheels) adds any real Monkee flavour this week and even the romp seems out of place and thrown together at the end in a 'do we have to?' rather than a 'look at this kids - you can't see this anywhere else on television!' kind of a way. The Monkees have won out against the odds most weeks but they've lost the race this week. 
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Perhaps the funniest scene of the script was never filmed - Davy and Crumpets have a preliminary qualifying race in which they stop for tea breaks, a relay race, a man on a skateboard and of course a group of girls Davy just has to chat up! The scripted end involved Micky and Crumpets getting their own back on the Baron and Wolfgang by putting tyres around them just like they had to them earlier in the episode! 2) You wouldn't guess it from the tone of the script, but writers Davis and Pollock won fame by writing several scripts for the drama-comedy Mash later in the decade 3)It's a fond farewell this week to the show's longest serving director James Frawley, instrumental to the show's success and tone and who directed an impressive 32 instalments in total (the final five episodes will all be directed by newcomers including Micky himself) 4) This is Davy's first duty as a Monkee after his rushed and hushed first wedding, to Linda Haines a mere three days before shooting started (and no he isn't wearing a ring!) 5) This weeks' extras, all seen driving the Monkeemobile in different shots: David Pearl, executive producer Ward Sylvester and show co-creators Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider. David Price can also be seen cheering Davy on at the finish line.  6) The gag where Micky finds a striped tail in the Monkeemobile petrol gauge is a gag on the petrol company Esso's advert of the day 'Put a tiger in your tank!'
Ratings: At The Time 11.0 million viewers/AAA Rating: 2/10

TV Episode  #54
"The Monkees In Paris"
(Recorded June and December 1967, First broadcast February 19th 1968)
"It's always the same story and they just change it around!"
Music: Love Is Only Sleeping (Romp)/Don't Call On Me (Romp)Goin' Down (Romp)/Star Collector (Romp)/Toccata and Fugue In D Minor (!) (Romp)/The 1812 Overture (!) (Romp)
(The 1972 repeat substitutes 'I Love You Better' and 'Tell Me Love')
Main Writer: Bob Rafelson Director: Bob Rafelson
Plot: In December 1967 The Monkees are trying to film a plot about a secret micro-film in which a bad guy jumps out of the closet to scare them. However The Monkees aren't buying it - they've done this plot so many times before and they're tired of the whole thing so they simply leave - turning into their May 1967 selves on a romp through the streets of Paris early in the morning. That's it really for the full episode as we see The Monkees chased by a quartet of girls, wreak havoc in a French market, climb the Eiffel Tower and fall off an endless sea of bikes and go-karts and the like. The only dialogue comes from hapless director James Frawley (who isn't technically director this week) back at base and The Monkees' wrath when they come back home again to discover that the plot they promised would be re-written is still virtually the same (the villain doesn't have a moustache and the secret plans are now in a golden apple!) The episode ends on the band's promise that they'll get things right by next week!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: 'Wins' the brief Monkees motorbike race. Just as with previous episodes, Mike doesn't get involved in all the running around and especially the heights of the other climbing Monkees - Nesmith is clearly the more cerebral, less physical type! Drives the three other Monkees and four girls in a sort of jeep version of the Monkeemobile (which breaks down in the middle of a busy Parisian road!) His 'type' of girl seems to be blonde. Micky: Is quick to befriend an elderly man he accidentally runs into at the market and an old lady who gets a big fat Monkee kiss! Micky can be seen dressing up as a gendarme and looking for his missing girl in a pile of mattresses during the course of the episode. His 'type' of girl appears to be brunette. Davy: 'Wins' the Monkees go-kart race from what we see on camera. Seems the most comfortable Monkee with running around endlessly and makes full use of the chance to dress up, 'borrowing' various items of clothing including a Gendarme uniform and a market trader's outfit. Davy's type appears to be 'brunette' too, but a much taller model than Micky's! Peter: Gets overly dramatic when The Monkees are fleeing from the girls on a boat. Is worried about the level of violence in the band's recent shows (a scene parodied in 'HEAD'). His 'type' appears to be redheads.
Things that don't make sense: Who agreed to pay the insurance on this episode??? Even given that there are some trick camera angles and photography involved, this is still four of the most popular entertainers on the planet in May 1967 let loose on a bunch of daring escapades including falling off scooters, jumping around a giant truck, operating a barge in a lock singlehanded and most amazingly of all climbing the Eiffel Tower! (Where did they get the permission to do this then?!) Why does the 'plot' (such as it is) suddenly veer from The Monkees being chased via 'Love Is Only Sleeping' to being in love via 'Don't Call On me' and back to being chased again via 'Star Collector'?
Best Five Quotes: 1) Peter - "Listen guys listen! We know who you are so don't try to deny it. We also know where you live or else how could we have sent this letter? We're coming to get you so don't leave. This is a threatening letter and a warning. Unless you return the micro-film and get off the ranch we'll kill you!" 2) Director - "Bob, man, I don't know where they went! They just said something about going to Paris. It's not my responsibility, I'm not a babysitter! What am I meant to do? Show half an hour of commercials and turn this into the Johnny Carson show?!" 3) Director - "Now I've changed the concept completely: no moustache, no foreign accent and this time instead of asking for the secret micro-film they ask for the secret apple!" Monkee Villain - "So what exactly is the difference in the script?" Director - "Now don't get smart with me!" 4) Davy - "The secret apple? What is this, Jim?" Mike - "We wanted to get away from this" Micky - "And it's just the same old thing!" peter holding prop gun - "And what's this? More violence on the show? Everytime we turn round it seems someone has got a gun!" Davy - "Yeah and when's the short heavy going to come in? It's the same every week!" 5) Mike - "Man this is terrible!" Davy - "Yeah it's just the same show and they turn it around!" Micky - "We'll see you next week kids!" Mike - "Yeah, we'll have thought of something by then" Davy - "It's a drag!" Director - "Alright, one more close up on the monkey!"
Romp: You had to ask. We see the Monkees running riot on scooters and being chased by girls to the sound of 'Love Is Only Sleeping'. We see the girls catch the Monkees as all eight get loved up to the sound of a very echoey remix of 'Don't Call On Me'. We see yet more chaos and costume-changing in the market to 'Star Collector'. We see The Monkees get ever more manic in a very 'A Hard Day's Night' style chase sequence to a particularly manic 'Goin' Down', which is curiously interrupted in the middle when Micky and Davy run Notre Dame Cathedral and get all solemn, slowing their pace to a dignified walk as 'Toccata and Fugue' plays. Finally they climb the Eiffel Tower to the strain of the 1812 overture where they apparently all jump off onto the ground below!
Postmodernisms: The whole show. Seriously, what other programme of any era do you know which commented so openly on the fact that the script used the same formulas and who decide to have a holiday on-screen? The Monkees' frustration with the scripts on screen reflects their real-life concerns about using so many recycled second-hand scripts and their comments on how the plot never changes are spot on (Davy's right, there is always a tall and short heavy and Mike is right that the micro-film and spy ring seems to crop up an awful lot!) That really is Monkees director James Frawley (acting rather than directing this episode, which was managed by co-creator Bob Rafelson) shooting the episode and his hapless attempts to get close-up shots of the stuffed monkey are an equally spot-on comment on his directing technique (when in doubt cut to a favourite prop for a reaction!)
Love Rating: Five/Ten for all four Monkees - who receive a kiss for their love letters, but only after getting a slap each for their first draft!
Review: A sequel of sorts to 'Monkees On Tour' but made with more 'permission' this time after the 'success' of the last time out, this is Bob Rafelson killing two birds with one stone again, allowing the band a mini-holiday and filling up another slot on the tiring production of their series in return for a bit of running around. However the fact that this episode was in the works from May - nine months before broadcast - and the fact that the episode was only completed with the 'argument' tag as late as December suggests that instead of being seen as a crucial development in the history of the series it was a bit of filler held in reserve until the creators felt they had no other choice but to screen it. The episode is a daring move, with The Monkees commenting openly on everything that's gone wrong with a series that's beginning to get stuck in a rut and everything they'd hoped to change the following year with their planned looser 'interview' format. In a way it's the ultimate Monkee episode, in which the world's ultimate rebels finally rebel against the restrictions of their own format's limitations and which the band need no plot, no guest cast and nothing to reign their freewheeling madcapness in any longer with their director the latest authority figure to get the worst of it .  (despite the vibes the band give off here, they loved director Frawley, who knew just when to take control for the good of the series without treading on their toes or inhibiting their creativity). This was a canny move, allowing The Monkees' show to side itself with the fans and prepare fans for the proposed changes to come which might have benefitted from coming even closer to the end of the series run as a 'reminder' of why things had to change, whilst allowing a tired and grumpy band to air their grievances and tick another episode off the list with as little effort as possible. It's only a short stop from here to the creative anarchy of 'HEAD' and '33 and 1/3rd' and an episode as daring as any The Monkees ever made. However, what's a great idea on paper is less likeable to look at. All we get for a good eighteen of this show's twenty-two minutes are the band running around on scooters or being chased by girls to a soundtrack of songs the audience would have already known well. The Monkees don't interact much with each other and the humour is almost all slapstick, ie only one of the usual many layers of comic talent in this show (which makes it like one long icing romp without the cake; if you're British it's like watching The Chuckle Brothers when you expected to be watching The Marx Brothers - or if you're American it's like one of those interminable Smother Brothers comedies where the hosts are so busy laughing amongst themselves about jokes we don't understand they forget to actually bring their guest on). Mike and Peter seem to have got bored of the idea early on too so a good half of this episode only features Micky and Davy running around madly to save it - which they nearly do but not quite. The whole thing is oddly cut too, so that the unexplained plot involves a group of girls who start running after the band for no reason and then being in love and then running away again - a plot without dialogue needs to be completely clear and easy to follow, but this one seems to be stitched together at random (it doesn't even have the internal logic of 'HEAD'). What might have been funnier would be to have The Monkees consulted about the changes while they were away, with a bigger promise of how wonderful the changes are going to be - but then it doesn't seem to me as if the two halves of the plot are related at all this week, with all the postmodern criticism added very much at the last minute. The result is an episode that's easy to admire but one you really don't fancy having to sit through again in a hurry, unless seeing The Monkees climb the Eifel Tower to the strain of the 1812 overture is really your thing (and if it is your 'bag' then congratulations - scenes like this one are unique to this series and impossible to imagine in any other show).
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) France has an unusual relationship with pop stars. Unlike most of Europe they never really got the whole British/American Invasion' thing and even The Beatles were greeted with confused silence rather than deafening applause during their tour there in 1964 (the only post-fame one where they could actually hear themselves play). The Monkees were almost completely unknown in Paris and the movie cameras were greeted with puzzlement, which is why the market trader scenes especially are so genuine - the real 'extras' this week think it's all a local prank not location filming for a TV show watched by millions 2) This episode is understandably skipped by many syndication packages, given how out of place it is amongst the rest of the show's run, and as a result wasn't stored as well as most of the others. The print that has survived is in very poor condition all round, with specs of dust and a pale colour even on the DVD box sets 3) This week's mistake on the credits - 'Jerry' Goffin, one half of one of the most famous songwriting acts in history, is credited for 'Star Collector' when it should be 'Gerry' (goodness knows they'll have written his name out often enough across this series!) 4) The girls you see in this episode are actually all models 5) The Gendarmes you see in this episode are actually all extras: David Price, Micky collaborator Richard Klein, Monkees songwriter Bill Chadwick (who got through to the final auditions alongside Micky and Peter) and Monkee roadie and Davy songwriting partner Charlie Rockett 6) Micky's then-girlfriend and future wife Samantha Juste - famous in England for her work on the music show Top Of The Pops - can be seen in a cameo when the pair are aboard a bus 7) The 'I've had enough' opening and finale were the last bits of footage ever shot for The Monkees' show on Christmas Eve 1967 (two days after filming on 'Some Like It Lukewarm' finished). Though the band were expecting to return the next year for series three, in retrospect there's a certain finality about the way they walk off set here with the last ever glimpse of the set before it was axed and broken up 8)The Monkees TV Series was officially cancelled just two days after this episode was broadcast, one of eight long-running shows getting the axe that week. Was it a coincidence that it came just after a show openly critical about the series and it's recycled plotlines?
Ratings: At The Time 9.5 million viewers/AAA Rating: 4/10

TV Episode  #55
"The Monkees Mind Their Manor"
(Recorded December 1967, First broadcast February 26th 1968)
"Gee, what an exciting time we're having, Micky!"
Music: Greensleeves (!) (Performance)/Star Collector (Performance)
Main Writer: Coslough Johnson Director: Peter H Thorke3lson (Peter Tork)
Plot: Davy is busy working on his second ever song when there's a knock at the door and a message for him - Young Lord Malcom Kibee, who ran the English Kibbee Estate at which Davy used to be a stable boy, has just died and left the house to the young Monkee in his will. Davy has to go back home to hear the will but can't afford to pay for the others - so he sneaks Mike, Micky and Peter in as mummies instead! The terms of the will dictate that Davy has to spend five years living in the manor before it can be his, otherwise the estate will pass to the Lord's nephew Lance who has plans to sell it, leaving the locals without anywhere to live. The only other alternative is raising £50,000 so the Monkees try to do that with a Medieval Fair, but while the event is a success (Davy winning at jousting and singing but not fencing!) it only raises £10,000. The locals seem about to be turfed out but then the Will Executor's quiet daughter Mary speaks up in a tirade tells the nephew what she thinks of him and they fall in love, unwilling to sell the estate after all.
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Makes rather a good 'Monkee mummy'. It's Mike's idea to hold a Medieval Fair - the other Monkees think it's a rotten idea but still go along with it (because it's Mike's idea and they trust him or because they can't think of anything better?) Micky: Takes admissions at the fair and introduces the fencing and singing championships - the others have to pull Micky away when he gets carried away the second time! Davy: has just written his second song, but only Peter seems to like it - Mike calls it 'rotten' and Micky 'awful'! As in 'Gift Horse' (but unlike 'Texas' where he claims he wasn't) Davy has a background as a stable boy and is used to horses, with this episode revealing that he once worked on a giant estate. He didn't know the Lord of the manor very well and 'never talked' but must have done a good job as Lord Kibee remembered him (and 'got stuck' on his memories of Davy!) Davy wins the jousting by default (he hides behind Lord TopNMiddle-Bottom who refuses to be killed!) but loses the fencing, perhaps because he's dressed in his boxer's outfit. Apparently he wins the singing contest (although it's a close call!) He doesn't even for a second think of re-locating back to England even though it would save a lot of time and bother in this episode (and the others never ask him, despite the obvious wealth they would share).  Peter: Is the most enthusiastic supporter of Davy's new song, playing guitar to Davy's singing and Micky's reluctant drumming. Takes admissions with Micky.
Things that don't make sense: How many Lords do you know who would hand their estate over to an employee from twenty years earlier they barely remember and who they know has since become an unemployed rock and roll musician in America? Now that's what they call eccentric lords of the estate! Mary and Lance have been around each other for years and clearly knows each other well - would they really fall in love instantly just because Mary starts being rude to him? (This is not going to be a happy marriage if that's what it takes to stay together - I have visions of this episode recurring every five years in the Monkeeuniverse, with Davy forever going back over to patch things up between them!) The relationship between the characters is also oddly defined when the pair are introduced to everyone - for an awful minute I thought they were cousins till rewinding the scene and going through it again carefully (perhaps a jab at the English too far even for The Monkees!) Oh and to my ears Davy's growly rendition of 'Greensleeves' is awful, worse even than Lance's!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mr Friar, Will Executor - "Davy me lad I've been asking for you up and down the beach! What's a long-haired weirdo?" 2) Customs Man - "Have you got any animals or foods to declare?" Davy (innocently) - "No, just three genuine mummies!" Customs - "Man they look old - and ugly!" 3) Butler - "Gentlemen you must be tired after your long journey, let me take you to the...stables" 4) Davy - "What do the young people do in this town for excitement?" Mary - "They move to the big city!" 5) Mike - "You'll be fine as long as you remember everything I taught you" Davy - "But you didn't tell me anything" Mike - "Oh, then fake it as best you can!"
Performances: Challenged to a singing duel Lance complains that he can't sing at all, until he's told what's at stake if he loses - the mansion and the inheritance that comes with it. Suddenly he can sing like a bird! He does however struggled with the chosen song 'Greensleeves' (written by King Henry VIII' traditionally - or more likely by somebody who didn't want to lose his head to the King so credited it to him!) which Davy apparently sings better (though I'm not so sure!) Finally at the end of the show we get yet another showing of that much-seen psycho-jello clip for 'Star Collector'
Postmodernisms: Jack Williams the props man walks on to play the part of the customs officer. Davy can't take it seriously - 'but you're Jack Williams the props man!' 'Look sunshine' he replies 'I might be Jack Williams the props man to you, but to millions of kids out there I'm the customs man!' Jack then thanks all the fans at home for ';sending in those peach preserves' for his role on the show and breaks off to sing a burst of the old song 'Everybody Wants Somebody Sometime'(the closing theme of Dean Martin's TV series) - and gets mobbed by Micky playing a mummy! The ending is also very postmodern, with Mike breaking up the plot to say 'goodbye from The Fantastic Four Daby, Peeky, Micky and!' promising to be 'back next week with more riotous fun and laughter and hilarious bits of antics and humour' Peter then interrupts to offer his Monkee Christmas message (the filming of this show taking place in early December 1967) but Mike interrupts to tell him it's February (the date of broadcast!) When the coffin lids are opened the Monkee Mummies are referred to as 'Pisces' (Micky) Aquarius (Peter) and Capricorn (Mike) by Davy (their real zodiac signs - Davy is another Capricorn), in honour of the band's fourth album that has just been released.
Captions: In a remarkably prescient attack on reality television talent shows in the future, Micky invites listeners at home to call in with who they think is the winner of the singing competition while a caption reads 'In The Sticks - Call Hayseed 7-4000'
Review: Traditionally 'Manor' has been reviewed solely because of who directed it - sensing that The Monkees were slowly growing mutinous and wanted control of their TV show as much as the records Bert and Bob decided to offer each of the band creative freedom, with the chance to write ands direct an episode. Davy and - uncharacteristically - Mike declined the offer but Micky jumped in headfirst, penning the final episode of the run 'The Frodis Caper' and directing it too. Peter meanwhile agreed to direct a 'normal' Monkee script and probably chose this one because it's the most traditional Monkee script of them all, recycling bits and pieces from other episodes (mostly 'Monkee See, Monkee Die'). As a script its boredom personified (The Monkees even spend five minutes sitting around bored wondering what there is to do) with ill-defined cipher characters and very little for any of the band except Davy to do. Traditionally reviews of this episode tend to run along the lines of 'what a shame Peter stayed so traditional - not like Micky!' However to my eyes (and ears) Peter's direction is what 'rescues' this episode, with some nice inventive 'bonuses' (such as Peter adding The Monkees actually making music together at the beginning of the script and their inventive way of walking out a room, bouncing off the same bit of furniture). Though less OTT Peter actually shows that he has more directing nous than Micky does on his well-received episode (which is great more because of the script than the direction). Had The Monkees series run to a third season and Peter had done a few more of these then he might have proved to be the  quiet talent of the group in this respect. It's especially delightful to see Peter do what he's always wanted the Monkees show to have done - not for his character (who gets even less to do here than normal) but by showing the band actually making music together (however reluctantly!) and giving screen time to his favourite behind-the-scenes men like property man Jack Williams (who easily steals this episode with his cameo as the customs man and should have been in it for longer!) and the four Monkee stand-ins who quite blatantly walk across the screen for no other reason than to be 'shown off' to the viewers. Peter also rights a 'wrong' he's been cross about since 'The Royal Flush' when he can be seen in the tag scene arguing that 'Davy's - you know - short and I could have done the duelling scene better'. It seems likely that Peter was originally given the role in the script to 'flesh out' his part in the opening episode but someone thought that as Davy had carried most of the plot it deserved to be him fencing. Here Peter has Davy deeply unprepared for the jousting sequence, dressing him up as a 'boxer' (a role Davy had also done in the series) and having him lose badly, thus parodying his role in the series twice over!
That said Peter's too nice a person to mean any of this nastily - what could have been a very biting script (full of rude comments about the English and country dwellers) is toned down in Peter's hands so that this is a much more 'polite' show than normal this week (the band do indeed mind their manners compared to some!), with the villains not that villainous and the end message that love wins out. In terms of the script, though, the only really inventive idea is that in the old days real men used to solve things by fighting to the death - the modern method of 'competition' in the 1960s is the much healthier method of singing, which hurts nobody (even when Davy sings a bit flat!) 'See' the script goes to the mums and dads at home 'isn't this a much better way of doing things?' However, by Monkee standards (even Monkee series two standards) this is a terribly empty script with a convoluted plot and not many quotable lines this week, smartened up only by some of the performances (Davy's and Jack Williams' especially) and a triumphant production. It almost works, but is ultimately far too obviously a script leftover from the first year and abandoned for not being good enough. Peter deserved better.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) The original script ended with The Monkees' flight being cancelled and them facing the prospect of a long journey back to America - by rowboat! Also there was a fourth contest which Davy loses - a dance where the competitors had to say 'Hey Nonny Nonny' while hitting each other with a stick! 2) When the planned car for Lance and TopnMiddle-Bottom fell through production assistant Marilyn Schlossberg bravely loaned her MGB Roadster which she'd bought with her wages from the series - even though it's not the sort of thing an old English Lord would normally own! The scene was 'flipped' in editing to make it look like a left-hand drive (as people have in England (not a right-hand one (as they have in America!) 3) Davy didn't write the song heard in the teaser sequence, which is a folk tune named 'Iranian Tango' apparently 4) Lance Kibee actor Jack Good was a big name back then after his work on the early TV music shows 'Oh Boy!' and 'Shindig' and was trying to break into writing at the time. He'll write the script for '33 and 1/3rd Revolutions Per Monkee' screened the following year 4) That's Monkee extras Rik Klein, David Price and David Pearl moving the band's luggage inside the mansion and lingering on screen despite playing no 'real' part in the script! 5)
Ratings: At The Time 10.3 million viewers/AAA Rating: 4/10

TV Episode  #56
"Some Like It Lukewarm"
(Recorded December 1967, First broadcast March 4th 1968)
"That means that one of us will have to be a chick!"
Music: The Door Into Summer (Performance)/She Hangs Out (Version Two) (Romp)
Main Writer: Joel Kane and Stanley Cherry Director: James Frawley
Plot: The Monkees have entered into a singing contest and try their best to be nonchalant about winning the $500 prize money. However they haven't read about a special rule in the contest - they have to be of mixed gender to perform. Clearly one of the band has to dress up and after 'memories' of all four Monkees in drag the band decide Davy is the best fit. He's mortified, especially when the contest promoter Jerry Blavat comes on to him/her and tries to leave the stage during a Monkee performance of 'The Door Into Summer', hauled back on stage by Micky. Against all odds and 55 episodes of history, The Monkees are a hit and score a massive 98.6 on the 'clapometer' (measuring the audience's response to the act) - unfortunately another mixed gender group of three girls and one guy gets the exact same result so they have to come back for a re-match. Worried that someone will find out their ruse The Monkees insist that Davy wear his costume at all times - which is lucky when Blavat turns up at the door trying to date him. While the other Monkees go out to eat Davy is stuck at home, but sneaks out to go to some out of the way place where nobody ever goes (their Southern Branch, to be exact). While there he falls in love with a girl named Daphne - yeah right no surprise there except that the girl just happens to be the 'opposite' of Davy, a girl dressed up as a boy. Davy doesn't know that yet and sneaks off when he sees The Monkees choose the exact same club, leaving her puzzled and clutching the shoe he left behind - one of a pair of high heels! A dressed up Davy turns up for the competition but accidentally walks into the wrong dressing room and 'meets' her again and after the pair confess all they find a new way of getting round the contest rules: both bands will perform together!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Is the bossy one introducing the band to the competition and it's his idea to act nonchalantly - a plan not really followed by Micky! His first response to seeing Davy dressed up is to giggle. Openly winces at Davy's singing during the performance of 'She Hangs Out'! Micky: With Peter missing in the opening scene, Micky takes on the part. Mike tells him to act unconcerned about the money but he veers between desperation ('we'll do anything for money!') and insolence instead, not quite understanding the 'act' they're putting on! Micky takes on the role of blocking Davy's exit to the wings but it's a close run thing a few times. Davy: Is deeply reluctant to dress up in drag (though all four Monkees have done so before this is the first time its more than just a disguise, fairy tale or imagination sequence) but goes through with it for the sake of the competition. Davy reveals a bit more background in this episode, about growing up with 'three sisters' (which is in keeping with the real Davy's life but not what his 'fictional' self says in other episodes) and talking about 'all the noise' at home (which he compares to the pots and pans tied to his hips to train him to 'walk' like a girl - it's a failure). Davy is willing to confess his subterfuge at the end even with a girl he really likes and assumes that his 'dishonesty' will mean the end of their relationship - he doesn't seem fussed at all that Daphne has been fooling him too all this time! Likes tuna fish sandwiches. Peter: Is absent in the opening scene  with no reason given but is back for the rest of the plot. Peter only seems to half understand what's going on with Davy acting and smirks as he slaps his/her bottom on stage during 'Summer'! Oddly Peter just happens to own a book 'How To Act Like A Feminine Female In Three Easy Lessons' - is this is a new hobby we haven't heard about?! Rather sweetly, his idea of 'hiding' is to put his hands over his eyes so he can't see the concert promoter at the door (Peter is being turned more and more into a young child across this second series!)
Things that don't make sense: Talking of which, why are The Monkees hiding when Jerry Blavat comes to the door? They're a group so even if they don't live together (scandalous even in 1968) surely they could meet up to rehearse together? The big one though is why the contest exists at all - why on earth would a promoter care about only mixed groups taking part? It could be that there are simply so many groups around The Monkees' town that they had to cut down the competition down somehow (I can see it now - The Jolly Green Giants with One Giantess or The Three Martians and A Martlady!) but in that case then surely the fact that this is a 'mixed group' contest and not like the other ones always being held would be the whole point of it - not some small print conditions tucked away at the end of a poster The Monkees haven't spotted. The script hints that this takes place just because promoter Jerry Blavatt wants to meet some young girls - but if so then why not make this an all female contest? Also, who is playing the drums when Micky is busy forcing Davy back on stage during 'The Door Into Summer'?! (Surely The Monkees can't be - shock horror - miming?! And if they are surely that's bigger grounds for dismissal in a competition than being the wrong gender!)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Mike - "Are you the guy for the rock and roll contest where we pick up our $500?" Blavat - "Why yes it is!" Micky - "Well who needs it?!?" Mike - "We'd like it in small bills you know, something easy to carry out in a guitar case, tens, fives, fifties..." 2) Mike - "And so once again ladies and gentlemen this is a broadcast from Sam Francisco with those how ground sounds asking that musical question now hows about you?!" Blavat - "The rules clearly state that this is a contest for mixed groups only" Mike - "Oh - basses and baritones?" Blavatt - "Girls!" Micky - "Broad beans and carrots?"  Blavat - "No, girls!" Micky - "Republicans and democrats?" Blavat - "No, girls!"3) Davy in drag - "That girl with the beard's a bit effeminate isn't he?!" 4) Micky on Blavatt - "Actually, I think he's kind of cute" Peter - "You would!"5) Peter - "All you have to do is go out with him and we're a cinch to win" Mike - "Yeah if you let him kiss you you might end up coming out of it owning a television station!"
Performances: For once there's no romp this week but there are two songs performed as if we were watching them in the band contest. 'The Door Into Summer' features Davy continually trying to run away before being hauled back by Micky, leaping from his drum-stool to do so. 'She Hangs Out' - the Pisces Aquarius one - features Davy singing lead in front of all three Monkees and all four girls, dancing on podiums. Davy gets up on the left-hand side one too next to Daphne and  does his special dance which doesn't look easy crammed in such a small space! The mix of the song runs a little longer than the version on record and includes a few extra 'gonna be fine's. 
Interview: An absolute classic in which Davy introduces us to his writing partner Charlie Smalls, carrying on a conversation as if they haven't noticed we've arrived. Charlie, a broadway writer most famous for creating 'The Wiz' (the black Wizard Of Oz with Michael Jackson and Diana Ross) explains to Davy what he was saying 'before' about the difference in soul. White western music accents the first and third beat ('Ringo plays hard and funky on the heaviest one and three I've ever heard!') while Motown and black soul accents the two and the four ('So everybody's got soul but everybody's is different!') Charlie on piano and Davy on percussion then perform a few bars of their new composition 'A Girl Named Love' where the accent is on all four beats. sadly this lovely song -  recorded during the early sessions for 'The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees and intended as a medley with Carol Bayer Sager's 'The Girl I Left Behind Me' - has to date never been officially released. This charming section, which takes part on a piano right in the middle of The Monkees' pad, was the penultimate sequence ever filmed for the TV series (on December 22nd 1967).
Caption: The small out of the way place where nobody ever goes that Davy goes to is shown on screen with the name on the outside 'The Small Out Of The Way Place Where Nobody Ever Goes' (Southern Branch)
Improvisation: Mike gets into a right mess when pretending to be a San Francisco DJ talking over the top of Micky and Davy's 'doo-wahs' but despite them all getting the giggles, valiantly continues to the end
Davy Love Rating: We haven't had any for a while but this episode makes up for it, with a full on nine/ten. There are stars in the eyes and bird song and everything when Davy first meets Daphne hiding, like him, in a secluded booth. 'You're beautiful' is Davy's first words but she loves him too and answers 'you're divine'. This looks like a relationship that might run past the end of the episode, but Daphne isn't seen again in the last two episodes broadcast.
Review: It's a fond farewell to The Monkees' series with the last episode to be fully filmed in terms of the production order (with just the 'wraparound' on 'The Monkees In Paris' to follow). Whether by coincidence or intention, 'Some Like It Lukewarm' has the feel of a more traditional episode to it - Davy is the lead role and the other three his 'backing band' as in the opening flurry of episodes, there's dressing up galore and the band are involved on something that could happen - a competition. However much has changed too - Davy isn't a hero so much as a figure of fun (it's hard to imagine the slightly vain Davy of 'Gift Horse' or 'Royal Flush' dressing up in drag) and for once The Monkees are actually popular, scoring highly on the audience rating along with their rival act (who oddly are never named). The episode hints that at last Davy has found true happiness with his mirror double (the band even play a sped-up version of 'The Last Train To Clarksville' and Daphne enjoys the same love of tuna fish sandwiches, oddly) although we don't hear from her again in the short run of episodes left to go. In a way this episode is doing the logical social point left for the series to make: gender issues and women's rights. For once Davy is the chasee as much as the chaser and it is perhaps key that the star in the eyes and bird calls take place in both their eyes this time - this isn't a crush, but real love. While the contest rules are a little odd (and from what's said on screen are the result of the rather sexist approach by Blavat who wants to see pretty girls on stage) it's notable that the girl band do everything the boy bands can do - and that Daphne can get away with impersonating a boy (which back in 1968 would have been just as shocking as seeing Davy as a girl). Alas things go wrong at the end when the two bands come together and yet Daphne's group end up just becoming backing singers but hey ho - we don't actually see the full performance, so perhaps The Monkees get up on the podium next to back her band through a sped-up rendition of 'I'm A Believer'?!
Interestingly The Monkees seem far more comfortable making the point about racism on Davy's tag sequence with the late, great Charlie Smalls (the pair are probably making great music together right now!) than they do on feminism and Davy's choice of interview is much more 'normal' and expressive than either Mike's rather off-the-wall discussion with Frank Zappa or Micky's dull introduction with Tim Buckley to come on the next two shows (a planned segment of Peter interviewing Janis Joplin sadly never materialised but was still loosely pencilled in for 'series three'!) At the time this was a format The Monkees were testing out ahead of their planned third season, which was to be more of a 'variety' show, with shorter plotlines and more songs and chats like these as The Monkees introduced middle America to the acts on the fringes of society. However the series was cancelled before they ever got the chance - which is a shame going by this one charming sequence in which Charlie 'gets' The Monkees humour and illustrates the fascinating point about how two different branches of music evolved, differently yet equally. It's all very Monkees, simple yet profound and Charlie is a charming raconteur who deserved a far better career than the one he got, dying largely unknown in 1987 at the age of 43. The end segment is by far my favourite of this episode and yet there are quite a few other stand-out moments: the opening sequence with Micky and Davy providing a doo-wop backing while Mike plays the part of a DJ is one of the greatest moments certainly of the second series and Micky playing the part of the dummy instead of Peter for a change is hilarious. However the plot itself feels slightly rushed, perhaps because the viewer can work out where it's going pretty much from the moment we see the girl group on stage (can no one else honestly see through these disguises?!) In a way it's a shame The Monkees' production run had to end on such a run-of-the-mill episode - and yet in other ways it makes perfect sense, with The Monkees format now safe and stable enough again (after a wobble at the beginning of the seconds series) for them to make even average episodes like this one seem like something special thanks to some great cast performances and a sense of invention matched by no other series before or since.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) In case you hadn't guessed the title refers to the influential cross-dressing film 'Some Like It Hot', starring Jack Lemon and Tiny Curtis and released in 1959. Fans tended to rename this one 'The Band Contest' anyway back in the days before home video and DVD! 2) Jerry Blavat - 'The Geeter With The Heater' - is rather forgotten nowadays but would have been a big name back in 1968. A sort of 'hipper' Ed Sullivan, he 'discovered' many acts as part of his influential radio series (mainly east coast acts such as The Four Seasons and 'Twist and Shout' writers The Isley Brothers) and was well known for his work on TV talent shows in the 1960s. It makes perfect sense that he should be invited to oversee this contest, although its odd that the Monkees aren't more star-struck to be honest. Blavat is like many a Monkee guest star playing a caricaturised version of himself however - he wasn't quite that much of a womaniser in real life! He was rumoured to have Mafia connections, however, which when revealed rather ended his career prematurely (with Blavat pleading innocence - a court case was still ongoing last I heard) 3) Almost as famous was the actress playing Daphne, Deana Martin - singer Dean Martin's daughter who got the gig because of Davy. Dean had invited him to his son Dino's 16th party on condition he be her 'date' for the night, an event which made all the papers not long before this episode's broadcast! 4) This week's scene cut from the script sounds like a gem - The Monkees with Davy in drag try to enter under their name but are told its already taken, by three chimps and a baboon! (Upset with their run of bad luck The Monkees then re-christen themselves as 'The Lousy Breaks' and take part that way!) 5) Perhaps picking up where they left off, the 1997 TV Movie 'Hey! Hey! It's The Monkees' aka 'Episode #781' will feature a definite homage to both this episode and the pilot, with the band unable to get into a club unless they're accompanied by a girl - Davy in drag again! 6) The TV station KXIW sponsors the talent contest - it's the same TV studios at which the evil Wizard Glick will try to take over the world from in 'The Frodis Caper'
Ratings: At The Time 11.1 million viewers/AAA Rating: 7/10

TV Episode  #57
"The Monkees Blow Their Minds"
(Recorded April and December 1967, First broadcast March 11th 1968)
"They have a lot of crazy stuff on this show, don't you think?!"
Music: Valerie (Second Version) (Romp)/Gonna Buy Me A Dog (Half-Romp)/Daily Nightly (End Performance)
Main Writer: Peter Meyersen Director: David Winters
Plot: The Monkees have an important audition coming up and want to write a whole new batch of songs for it. Poor Peter has writer's block - he hasn't written anything for two whole weeks - so he goes to see master hypnotist Oraculo to see if he can be cured. Unfortunately Oraculo is an evil mastermind genius (yes, another one!) who wants to win the audition himself and so sets about sabotaging Peter's mind. Peter can no longer play and instead clucks like a rooster when trying to sing - the others aren't sure this isn't an improvement but they still lose the audition. Mike tries to trap Orcaulo by inviting him back to The Monkees' pad and offering him a large sum of money to help him - but Oraculo sees through the scheme and slips Mike a potion that knocks him out too. Micky and Davy have better luck when snooping around Oraculo's apartment and they manage to get Peter back home - though they still can't change his brain. To their horror they find Mike is missing so rush back to the theatre where Oraculo knocks them out. The hypnotist now has all four Monkees under his command and plans to use them in act as his 'Four Slaves', summoning Peter as well thanks to a 'mind call'. Oraculo's assistant Rudi accidentally slaps Micky, waking him up from the spell who wakes up the others and they merely 'pretend' to be hypnotised, doing the opposite of everything Oraculo tells them and turning into the worst 'dog act' in history!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Owns a very posh smoking jacket which he wears as part of his usual clever plan to con Oraculo while Davy and Micky go recue Peter. However Mike makes an uncharacteristic mistake of trusting the potion Oraculo slips him as part of the 'Valleri' romp (this is a very rare occasion of you actually needing to follow a 'romp' to understand the plot development of this episode!)  Micky: Knows the Dewey decimal system after taking books out of the library to lead - unfortunately he can't find anything on breaking hypnotic spells! Micky refers to Peter as 'my best pal and buddy for years and years and years (compare with 'Monkees In Texas' a few episodes back where they've only known each other for two!) Has a lookalike in the audience with a moustache and glasses. Davy: Has a lookalike in the audience with a moustache whose a lawyer aged thirty-five (at least I assume it's a lookalike - see 'things that don't make sense!') Peter: Has had songwriting block for two weeks - which appears to be a very long time for Peter given the way he treats it here (he clearly doesn't like letting down his friends!) Has really good insight into other people's motives under hypnotism - which fits with what we know un-hypnotised too (Peter 'understands' people very quickly but doesn't always act on the 'vibes' he picks up from them). The others spot Peter's slightly different straight away but can't put their finger on why - Mike says he 'always looks like that!' while Micky adds that Peter's 'sharp crisp intelligence is still intact!' Still has problems opening his jaw when shocked (now with an extra squeaky sound effect!)
Things that don't make sense: Everything! Well, no not quite everything - but this is a very strangely plotted episode. Peter goes to the hypnotist because he needs to write new songs for an important audition - why not stick the old and popular material (assuming anything the fictional Monkees performed is popular) - a big event is not the time to start adding untested material. Up till now the only mention of the band writing their own material has been when Mike got fleeced by a song publisher - since when did Peter become a main songwriter for the band? Why does Oraculo hypnotise him in the first place - the most he ever does with the band is try to enhance his act at the audition which he doesn't even appear to know about until he meets Peter (why not just hypnotise Rudi?) It's also a very strange contest with only a handful of tables at the club and no apparent voting system! Mike is also too intelligent to fall for the old 'why don't you have a drink?' ploy on which the plot turns. The ending though is particularly hard to follow: we see lookalikes of Davy and Micky in the audience and assume they're up to something - but they don't disrupt Oraculo's act, just go along with it - and then we cut to the four hypnotised Monkees back stage (did something in the script get changed or did the band fall behind time so cut some scenes out?) It's also unclear whether The Monkees truly wake up or not - they all go floppy when Oraculo demands they go rigid but go through with his 'dog' routine. We never go back to the plot after the 'Gonna Buy Me A Dog' romp either to clear things up. Odd.
Best Five Quotes: 1) Oraculo - "Look very deeply into my eye, so very deeply...what do you see?" Peter - "Dishonesty, cowardice and a lack of scruples" Oraculo - "No, not that deep!" 2) Oraculo to Rudi - "For a psychic slave you've got a very big mouth!" 3) Micky - "You can come back any time Pete old buddy - just write first because we'll have probably rented out your room!" 4) Oraculo - "Will you kindly hold up between one and thirteen fingers behind my back and I'll tell you how many you have!" 5) Micky - "Psychedelic!"
Pre-Credits Tease: Perhaps the most famous element of the episode is the opening pre-credits sequence where a rather Frank Zappa-ish looking Mike is in conversation with a very Mike Nesmith-looking Frank Zappa. The middle of this year's 'guest sequences' this was the last filming ever down at the Monkees' pad in December 1967 and came about at Zappa's suggestion (perhaps surprisingly he was a huge Monkee fan and loved the fact the band got 'kids with long hair' on TV, whatever he thought of their music). Mike looks rather good with a Zapata moustache and Frank in a Nesmith bobble hat (the last time this is seen on screen too) as they discuss in a stilted way their mutual musical ideas. The highlight of which is Zappa asking Nes what he'll do after The Monkees inevitably end (the look he gets in return is priceless) and saying that he'll probably join The Byrds (who were certainly going through an awful lot of new members in late 1967!) Nes-Zappa then conducts Mike-Frank in a conducted car wrecking to the strain of Zappa theme tune 'Mother People'. Until they've seen it with their own eyes most Monkees fans refuse to accept that the leading counter-culturalist ever appeared on a mainstream television programme or that the band ever let him - which makes this teaser sequence rather fitting for an episode that's all about hypnotism and delusion!
Romp: The re-recording of 'Valleri' takes place in Oraculo's flat where Micky and Davy are trying to rescue Peter, occasionally cutting back to Mike falling under Oraculo's power. The song's manic energy fits, but as ever the lyrics don't. Rather more obvious is the brief reprisal of 'Gonna Buy Me A Dog' when the band are being persuaded to do their 'song act' - however you'd have to be a true fan to 'get' the reference as the song is an instrumental with the dog sound effects removed and by the time this episode aired is a good eighteen months old!
Tag Sequence: 'Daily Nightly' in which a black and white Mike, Davy and Peter sit around in the background in various stages of being 'still' while Micky is for once at the front taking the lead. Micky sings and plays with the buttons on his own moog synthesiser just like the record, while an inscrutable Mike Nesmith - who wrote the song - looks on. As Micky says at the end, 'psychedelic!'
Postmodernisms: In the scene where the other Monkees are watching a hypnotised Peter in the club and working out what has happened, Micky delivers the line 'you've taken over Peter's Mind!' in such an OTT way that everyone - cast and crew - give him a round of applause, leading an embarrassed Micky to thank them all! The whole teaser sequence of Mike and Frank - never referred to again throughout the rest of the episode - is full of so many self-references and points about reality v fantasy that my postmodernism Geiger Counter has just exploded!
Schneider: In the last time we ever see him, the dummy of Mr Schneider 'swaps' over with Peter midway through the 'Valleri' romp as Micky and Davy are carrying their friend out the door!
Review: This episode is a mess. The show was filmed somewhere around the middle of the second season but kept behind so it could be 'buried' near the end and it shows (this also means we have an unfortunate finale to the series where Peter gets hypnotised for almost the entire last two episode, which means that the last 'normal' Peter we have appears in 'Some Like It Lukewarm'). Though Oraculo The Hypnotist is a good idea in principle and something a bit different than the usual Monkee villian, he has the flimsiest motivations of all - he doesn't seem the sort to be interested in just winning a contest and no reason is given for why he wants to win so badly and scupper The Monkees' ambitions. He seems to be working on his feet too given that Peter comes to him unexpectedly despite having a complicated plan. Spending so much time on Oraculo and the hypnotised Peter also means we get precious little Monkees - which is a shame given that, in broadcast terms, this is all but a 'goodbye' to The Monkees' pad and most of the Monkee traditions (which will be broken entirely by Micky's season finale next week!) Even the script doesn't have as many great one-liners as normal, although the parts about the other Monkees trying to work out what's wrong with Peter when 'he always acts a bit like that' is worth a chuckle or three and the two romps are at least more interesting and made with more enthusiasm than some others of late. In a way this is a 'dress rehearsal' for 'Head' in which the cast are rude to each other, Zappa returns in a cameo and the plot is less important than the random elements that happen within it, with the depiction of the band as 'four puppets controlled by a giant puppet master' a clear nod towards '33 and a Third' as well. Really, though, the entire plot is subservient to the great opening and closing scenes in which Zappa out-Monkees Mike and manages to be both supportive and destructive of the band at the same time and the glorious mimed performance of 'Daily Nightly' with Micky giving his all. The result is a largely poor episode with some great bits in it in which The Monkees don't so much blow their minds as promised as just act a bit odd for half an episode.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Rudi is played by long-term Monkee director James Frawley, whose had several voice-overs in the series but makes his only physical appearance here. He wasn't the director for this story! 2) That rather odd man laughing at the table in the club the director keeps cutting to is of course Burgess Meredith, who played The Penguin in the TV adaptation of 'Batman' which has already been mentioned a great deal across the series! 3) Zappa's track 'Mother People' has just been released a month before this episode's transmission date, on the Mothers Of Invention album 'We're Only In IT For The Money' 4) This is the only episode in the show's history to have both a 'teaser' and a 'tag' sequence unrelated to the plot - it's also the shortest episode in terms of pure plot at just seventeen minutes!  5) As you might have guessed, there was a lot more in the script that never got filmed again including an entirely new ending: The Monkees' dog act wins the audition in their own right, but Oraculo re-hypnotises them into making too many demands and even makes them turn a water pistol on the club owner! 6) The last Monkees credit mis-spelling: 'Valleri' becomes 'Valerie' (even though the song had been printed the 'right' way twice by this point!) This was the first time the song's full ending had been heard (both original single and the version on 'Birds, Bees and Monkees' fade out early) though most compilations in the CD age tend to feature these extra few seconds
Ratings: At The Time 9.4 million viewers/AAA Rating: 3/10

TV Episode  #58
"The Frodis Caper"
(Recorded November and December 1967, First broadcast March 25th 1968)
"Now to foil the plot of the evil wizard Glick!"
Music: Zor and Zam (First Version) (Romp)
(the last repeat of the last Monkees episode in 1969 featured the last song from the last Monkees LP 'Changes' instead - 'I Never Thought It Peculiar')
Main Writer: Micky Dolenz with Dave Evans (teleplay) and Jon Andersen (story) Director: Micky Dolenz
Plot: The Monkees wake-up to discover Peter Mmissing. They go downstairs to look for him and after mistaking him for a wooden indian find their friend hypnotised in front of the TV. Walking outside Mike, Micky and Davy find that everyone else in the neighbourhood is the same - slumped in front of the TV hypnotised. They try to change into their Monkeemen outfits - but there's a message up in the phone-booth banning them from changing. Instead The Monkees make their way to TV studios to stop the evil Wizard Glick who they've just seen during a cut-scene in his evil lair. Glick tries to set a two-headed org onto the band but they defeat it with their instruction booklet by jumping up and down three times, rolling a cabbage and giggling. They also evade four technicians sent with TV sets without actually noticing any of them. The trio do eventually get tied up though and are left unable to prevent Glick from unleashing his evil scheme of putting the alien Frodis on TV at noon to take over the Earth! The trio call up Peter telepathically using a buddhist chant Micky learnt from a cereal box-top and comes to their rescue - well sort of, as by the time he arrives Mike is already free. The Monkees then run after the Frodis and aim to destroy it - but he pleads with them to listen as he too is a pawn in Glick's evil plan. Instead The Monkees rush off to the Frodis' spaceship and allow him to escape to the sound of Monkee romp 'Zor and Zam'. The last shot we ever have of The Monkees in their own series is of them jumping up and down at having freed Frodis, with Peter suddenly 'awake' again!
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Seems to have the strongest mind, battling through to turn off the television in The Monkees' pad when Micky and Davy look like being affected. His favourite television programme is, naturally enough, 'The Monkees'! Appears in an imagination scene as the 'lost and found man' though he can't locate Peter whose right in front of him! Micky: Has lost his bass drum - which seems rather too big to lose - but finds it under a pile of clothes. Eats cereal and pays enough attention to remember Buddhist chants written o the box. Glick's henchman tries to trap him with a trail of money - but Micky's attention is distracted by a 'groovy' cardboard box instead! Davy: Doesn't get much to do this episode. Peter: is the most easily hypnotised and has apparently stayed up late to watch TV while the others have gone to bed.
Things that don't make sense: Surely Mike, Micky and Davy can't be the only people in the whole world who didn't happen to be watching television at the time Glick but his dastardly scheme into place? It's also a bit of a coincidence that a plot to take over the whole world should be launched in the  tiny TV studios that's in walking distance from The Monkees' pad. Peter doesn't seem at all surprised to learn of the plot to take over the world when he 'wakes up' from being hypnotised - but then foiling another 58 plots across previous episodes probably means he isn't surprised by anything anymore! How come releasing Frodis means that Glick's hypnotism ray is now broken and everyone watching television is now cured (including Peter?) I'm not entirely sure the band can just 'know' the plot by watching the 'next scene' but Ok I'll let that one roll - how come though The Monkees suddenly know Glick's name despite it not having been used on screen yet? (more telepathy? That must be a great brand of cereal!)
Best Five Quotes: 1) Micky - "What's happened to Peter?" Mike - "Perhaps he isn't back from his dream yet?" 2) Micky - "We've got to concentrate real hard on Peter through this great chant I learned" Mike - "A chant you learned whilst studying transcendental meditation under an Indian mystic, right?" Micky - "No it's a chant I learned when I sent in a cereal box top!" 3) Peter - "Hello! I'm here because I'm receiving a telepathic message to visit the TV studios!"   4) Micky - "I can't stand to see a grown bush cry!" 5) Glick, now that his powers have worn off - "I don't want to fight anyone - I just want to lie down on the grass and be cool!"
Romp: An early version of 'Zor and Zam' can be heard during the closing scene over which the caption 'typical Monkee romp' is inserted. Though the song doesn't fit plotwise (it's the tale of two related kings trying to fight a war to which nobody turns up) there are similarities with the sense of a hungry power-mad tyrant trying to rule a world that doesn't care. This early version won't appear on record until 'Missing Links Volume Three' (1998) and will be re-recorded for the 'Birds, Bee and Monkees' finale later in the year.
Tag Sequence: In what must surely be the most anti-climatic ending in television history The Monkees don't appear in the last scene of their last episode. Instead Micky off-camera introduces his 'special guest' singer-songwriter Tim Buckley who performs his rather boring composition 'Song To The Siren' (he wrote much better ones than this!)
Monkeemen: Are now banned from getting changed in a public telephone box according to Federal Law W443 Paragraph 7!
Postmodernisms: Oodles. For a start there are two captions: the dismissive ''Typical Monkee Romp' and another saying 'Freeze Frame' (clearly the result of Micky having fun in the editing suite as it bears no relevance to the plot!) We also have The Monkees actually watching the plot unfold which allows them to understand all about Glick's plans without them actually meeting him yet, though quite how they 'see' it is unexplained (they just find out thanks to the 'next scene').  Another scene has them contacting Peter by telepathy ('It's working!' 'How do you know?' 'I saw the last scene!') One section has Davy genuinely forgetting his lines and ad libbing 'what's this geezer called again?' before going back to do the take again - with all of this being left in the final cut. Much of this episode takes place 'backstage' at a TV studios with shots of the band walking through where they normally work complete with cameras and props piled up everywhere. Finally The Monkees even refer to themselves as a TV programme, Mike commenting on the time (a very precise '7.36' - which would have been the exact time the show was on the first time round, the comment arriving some six minutes into the action) and that his 'favourite show The Monkees' is coming on soon (a later reference to the time near the end of the programme when other people are turning in comments that 'it's time for Dragnet' - the police show that traditionally followed The Monkees show).
Review: This time it's Micky's chance to rummage in The Monkees' box as chief writer and director and he has much more 'fun' with his episode than Peter had. Like many a first script this episode has far too much plot to contain in one half-hour show (especially with Tim Buckley taking up three precious minutes) but The Monkees' format is looser than most and Micky has no qualms about breaking barriers and plot conventions to keep the plot moving. Though the plot itself isn't that interesting - another mad scientist plotting to take over the Earth - it's what Micky does to get there that's so clever. A lot of the budget is spent on scenes that don't 'matter' - we see The Monkees run up and down a 'real' street and several inside sets that are only seen for a few seconds and a most wonderful alien spaceship that takes off in the final scene that's more impressive than some period Hollywood blockbusters. And yet most of this episode takes place backstage at a TV studio that involves no set dressing whatsoever, the evil two-headed org is deliberately poorly realised and the Frodis - the star of the show in many ways - is just a plant with an American Football on his head. It's as if a child had been given free reign to put The Monkees episodes they've been creating in their bedroom onto television - rejecting all those adult things like plot and logic that just get in the way of the bright memorable scenes.
In many ways it's Micky's 'goodbye' to his memories of The Monkees, more than it's 'our' goodbye. The four extras whose done so much to help the show finally get to be seen on screen in full. The TV studios the band would have walked past are presented to 'us' as just another set. The interminable card games that went on while the cameras got ready are added to the script. The jokey banter and improvisations are even more OTT than normal, as if the band are trying to establish a 'folk memory' of what their show represented for future generations. Seen in that sense it's rather moving, with Micky making this as a 'home movie' for him to look back on later that was just lucky enough to get filmed. In many ways it's very accomplished for a first directors job - Micky will go on to become a fine TV director in his own right in the 1980s and his experiences here must have been highly valuable for his work on the similarly anarchic show 'Metal Micky'. The writing too is highly inventive if a bit on the wild side, with things like plotting not really holding up under scrutiny, though delivered with just enough pathos and feeling that this does 'matter' somewhere down the line, if only to the band themselves. Interestingly Micky seems to have picked up on the message of the whole series' run: that adults should listen to their children and then they might have world peace. The final scene of the evil Glick lying in the grass telling us he doesn't feel evil anymore and just wants a snooze almost comes with the haze of marijuana, while it's notable that the 'enemy' is not the triffid-like alien but the humans warring amongst themselves. Note too the idea that television can 'brainwash' and so must be used with care - a theme that will be developed in both 'Thirty Three and a Third' and 'Head' but impressively already clearly in The Monkees' way of thinking, turning a spotlight on the 'other' programmes that are to come in The Monkees' place and reminding the audience of the power they have to see through the 'lies' the adult world gives them. Very Monkees in other words, even if the stakes are bigger and even this series has never been mad enough to feature a talking plant at all.
  The only thing 'missing' really is the music and sadly the romp to 'Zor and Zam' isn't one of the best, with The Monkees basically being seen in slow motion. In fact the whole end is most unsatisfactory, not only because it follows such a full and busy episode that basically comes without an ending or tag sequence but especially because it's the very end of the series as a whole. The Monkees know they'll be back in a series of TV specials (although ultimately only one was ever filmed) but this is still an incredibly disappointing end to such an inventive series. What's more the entire episode ends not with The Monkees but Micky's voice introducing folk singer Tim Buckley, whose drag of a song is far less interesting than the cameos by Liberace (who plays against type), Frank Zappa (who spoofs the whole show) or Charlie Smalls (who 'teaches' the audience with Davy's help). Buckley just sits there and sings as if he's on 'The Smothers Brothers' or something (perhaps in his stoned mind he thought he was? He was certainly quick to disown The Monkees experience after he'd been on it and the band were suddenly the height of uncool). It's sad too that for this last hurrah peter spends so much of the episode zonked (the second episode in a row to do this to him) - though arguably one of The Monkees needs to gets 'zapped' early on to show the threat, Peter really didn't need to get 'zapped' a second time as it serves nothing to the plot. Our last chance to see the band as we remember them actually happened in 'Some Like It Lukewarm' two episodes back as things turn out (was Micky cross with Peter the day he wrote the script?)  Some of the execution is a bit clumsy, Peter and Davy might as well not have turned up for work, the plot just seems to give up partway through and the ending needed to be totally re-written. However 'The Frodis Caper' is a charming period piece full of lots of good bits and is a nicely bittersweet swansong to this phase in The Monkees' creation, a sort of 'folk memory' of elements of the series' past as seen through the eyes of one of it's main cast. If only other series had been brave enough to let the cast write and direct they too might have ended on as striking and imaginative a note as The Monkees' series.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) Micky's original title for this episode - still the one used by many fans though not features on screen anywhere - is 'Mijacogeo', his code name for his family ('Mi' is Micky, Jac' is his mum Janelle, 'Co' is his sister Coco who'll appear on many Monkee recordings from this point on and 'Geo' is his father George). Micky also coined the name 'Frodis' which he used as pseudonyms in hotels and things - he's already used the word a couple of times this series - check out the blackboard in 'Monkees Paw'! 2) Director Micky came up with the idea of filming the series from two different directions on two different camera to make things easier in the editing suite (another reason why this is the 'low budget' episode of the series)  - this is now standard practice on TV but daringly new at the time! 3) Micky also acted the voice of the Frodis in the editing suite, his voice 'sped up' to half again its usual speed (he read his lines get the desired effect) 4) This episode is the only TV programme of the 1960s to ever use a Beatle song, something Lennon and McCartney were very protective over. They gave Micky special permission to use 'Good Morning Good Morning' as the band's alarm call after Micky met up with them in London on mid 1967 and was working on an early version of the episode 5) 'Namyohorengyoko' is a real chant, a Buddhist technique that's supposed to allow all beings to reach a state of nirvana. Interestingly Kellogg's had returned as The Monkees' sponsor for one last time this week, which must have led to many Monkee-fans scouring their products for this 'box top' chant! 6) Rip Taylor, playing the wizard Glick, speaks almost solely in phrases he's already said in his previous appearance in 'Monkees On The Wheel' 7) The 'Freeble Energiser' sounds suspiciously like the bridge of the USS ENterprise from Star Trek (it's the same sound effect!) 8) Talking of which a cut scene from Micky's script had the freeble energiser refuse to work - Glick calls out a handyman to try the problem but gets it working again himself by kicking it with his foot! 9) As well as a two-headed org the Monkees' instruction manual includes instructions on defeating six-headed orgs and a three-headed gleeb . The AAA's advice is to keep a cabbage with you handy at all times just in case you meet one 10) We briefly see a picture of Monkee co-creator Bert Schneider's head during the final scene, for no apparent reason (Head...coming..soon?) 11) The episode makes good use of Monkee extras with David Price, David Pearl Rik Klein and Mike's new replacement for John London Bruce Barbour all seen in close-up as Glick's henchmen. Price and Klein do double duty as the 'two-headed org'. Nyles Brown, the hippie whose 'always like that' in front of the television also worked as a Monkee stand-in and once auditioned for the series back in 1965 (so did Bill Martin, the composer of 'Zor and Zam'!)
Ratings: At The Time 9.1 million viewers/AAA Rating: 7/10
TV Episode  #781
"Hey! Hey! It's The Monkees!" aka "Episode 781"
(Recorded January 1997, First broadcast February 17th 1997)
"Even if you're all grown up, you're just as dumb as you ever were!"
Music: You and I (Romp/Performance) Circle Sky (90s Version) (Performance) Antarctica (Romp/Performance) Regional Girl (Performance) Hits Medley (Performance)
Main Writer: Mike Nesmith Director: Mike Nesmith
Plot: There isn't one! Or rather, The Monkees keep trying to avoid one. It's 1997 and The Monkees' series has continued to run for thirty years even though we at home have never had the chance to see it. The Monkees still live together at their beach pad and are still musicians but they've become increasingly tired by having their lives interrupted by endless plots. In turn they throw out a butler whose comes from a 'mansion that some say is...haunted!', a girl in love with Davy whose being chased by 'guys with cell phones gloves' and a kid whose pet pig is about to be sold '...for bacon!' , but the closest the band come to a plot is performing at a prestigious country establishment where if it doesn't go well the owners may 'lose...the club!' Along the way Micky develops a new invention that allows him to throw up via a special effect ('Magnificent Monkee Hurl'), the laughter track breaks down and creates chaos, Mike re-develops the Monkeemobile so that it's 'dimensionally transcendent' (it now has a 'space' button, a 'time' button and has the ability to change objects at random - which causes a few surprises during The Monkees' actual performance!) Alas the Monkees end up using so much of their budget the episode has to keep cutting to footage of a lizard sunning itself on a rock and the episode ends prematurely, shortly after they find a kissing couple outside their house have covered it in toilet paper (it's an American thing, so I'm told!)
What we learn about The Monkees In This Episode:  Mike: Seems to have changed character with Micky for this episode, re-designing the Monkeemobile and cracking jokes. This aged Mike is far less bossy and no longer wears a wool-hat ('I haven't seen that hat in twenty-five years!') but is still game enough to run into the sea as per the Monkees' opening titles and demonstrate the news in interpretative dance. He's also the Monkees' memory checker, remembering old episode plots from years ago. Introduced by the club owner as Charlie.  Micky: Seems to have had a character transplant with Mike and has now become 'the bossy one', forever pushing the band to rehearse. Is still enough of an inventor to create 'Magical Monkees Hurl' although he reveals later it's just a special effect. Once had a tomato thrown at him during a concert in 1967 which for some strange reason the drummer still keeps in the fridge. Introduced by the club owner as Arlo. Davy: Is perhaps the most similar to his old self - he's still a sucker for a pretty face, seen trying to chat up girls who are now half his age during the video for 'Regional Girl' and even gets stars in his eyes and ears sometimes ('leftovers' from the old days). Dresses in drag as Ethel Merman to distract a guard. He's also slightly vain, going back to the broken laughter track to pretend that the applause of all for himself ('You like me! You really like me!'). Introduced by the club owner as Humphrey. Peter: Knows a lot of euphemisms for kissing, throwing up and being bonkers. Seems slightly smarter, if a bit quieter, than his 60s self though he still pulls many of the same expressions. He likes what the vandals have done to The Monkees' pad at the end of the episode. Introduced by the club owner as Bing. The Monkees 'probably' own the house 'by now', with no appearance by the landlord.
Things that don't make sense: There seems to be some confusion about how successful The Monkees ever were in this timeline. At times the band still seem to be unknowns, dodging rotten fruit in the past and greeted with silence when their name is announced. On the other hand the club owner insists on them playing their 'hits', which rather suggests they had some, and everyone in the audience remembers being beaten up for owning a Monkees lunchbox strangely ('it was quite a weapon though wasn't it?!') The fictional Monkees also had a glove puppet made of them which Peter happens to own - just like 'our' Monkees!
Best Five Quotes: 1) Micky - "What was the name of that other band, with all the blood and the make-up?" Davy - "Kiss?" Micky - "No thanks. You know, they have high heels and the guy has a nine-foot tongue" Mike - "Kiss?" Micky - "No, but Davy wants one!" 2) Micky "We'd better rehearse - before another plotline shows up!" 3) Davy - "Don't you think we really need a storyline?" Mike - "Not really, not as long as we're having a good time"  Davy - "You mean, you think it's alright that we have no visible means of support?" Micky - "Who says our means have to be visible?" Davy - "Don't you think we should have some dramatic tension, some drama, some distress?" Mike - "Not really, I mean we've been living like this for years. Once in a while a good storyline comes along, but other than that it's better hanging round on the beach, life's a bowl of oysters, what could be better?" 4) Girl in Car outside The Monkees' pad  "Once four boys moved into this house, went crazy and never moved out!" 5) Davy - "But she has had stars in her eyes!" Micky - "Yeah and oranges and grapefruits and the international symbol for slippery when wet!"
Romps/Performances: First up, 'You and I' in which The Monkees are seen to skate while miming their parts. Davy, Micky and Peter are all pretty good but Mike - traditionally the least physically active of The Monkees is amazing with a red bandana over his face (erm, is that really him as we're led to believe?) A random dog turns up to skate too! Second, the re-arrangement of 'Circle Sky' is performed by the band on the beach before the video cuts to shots of the band performing the song on a series of televisions. Note that Davy plays the guitar for this one. Thirdly,  'Antarctica' - a Bill Martin song that only ever appeared in this episode - starts with The Monkees performing out in the beach and cuts to them apparently at the South Pole dressed in furs looking cold. Fourthly, 'Regional Girl' features the band and extras walking past the camera, supposedly backstage, where only Micky mimes the song while Mike plays air guitar and Davy chats up his co-stars! Finally, The Monkees performance of old hits features 'Last Train To Clarksville/Daydream Believer/I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone/I'm A Believer/Pleasant Valley Sunday' and is an otherwise 'normal' performance except for the kids playing with the buttons on the Monkeemobile that suddenly change their instruments into different objects at random!
Postmodernisms: Lots. The doorbell at The Monkees' pad plays their theme tune. The fact that The Monkees' don't have a 'plot' suggests they know they're on television. The kissing teenagers out in the car referring to an 'outsider's view of The Monkees as 'four men who went inside that house and went mad!' The sight of 'Circle Sky' being performed on multiple TVs. The references to the budget and running out of film so that they have to keep cutting to a lizard sunning itself on a rock. The laughter track breaking down (interestingly, this wasn't used on the final few Monkees episodes - is this why?) The references to old plotlines (which interestingly aren't quite accurate - the one about a haunted house is of course episode two not 106, while the one about a pet being sold was actually a horse not a 'calf') plus Davy repeating his performance in drag from 'Some Like It Lukewarm', safe in the knowledge that viewers at home will know he's done this before. The club owner's references to Monkee lunchboxes and finger puppets.
Davy Love Rating: About a three. Davy gets only a 'hot dog' coming out of his ears when he meets the princess and is clearly worried about her stability even if he thinks she's pretty (however Davy clearly still has an effect on her - she gets most of the symbols from a fruit machine in her eyes at some point!)
Ad Lib: Micky's speech about not liking the changes to The Monkeemobile are followed by the drummer playing around with two crabs that try to eat each other, causing Micky to sob 'ohhh, he's dead!' catching both Mike and Peter off guard with their giggles!
Review: There was a lot being asked of the Nesmith written and directed reunion special. It had to remind people of the 'old' series without ignoring the changes that took place in 'Head' and '33 and A Third Revolutions Per Monkee' and try to make sense of the fact that The Monkees were still hanging out on the beach, largely unemployed, after all these years. Mike, never the fondest or most nostalgic of the Monkees, seems stuck between genuine affection for the band and respect for the audience and lampooning the whole thing a la 'Head', meaning that we get two great halves of an episode that never quite works. The decision to go 'plotless' is both the episode's strength (meaning we get to concentrate on The Monkees' characters - and let's face it the plots were never why we watched The Monkees in the first place) and it's weakness (the episode all seems a bit pointless, with the sense that The Monkees are just doing what they've always done - just on camera this time - not 'special' enough to quite pull off). There are lots of gags throughout this episode that work really well: the meddling with The Monkeemobile that moves everything outside the car back to the sixties or into random objects ('Very Monkees' as Peter puts it), the 'mini tour guide' round the fridge  (full of fruit thrown at the band and 'the first ever TV dinner') and the postmodern gags like the laughter track breaking down. The fact that The Monkees' pad still looks much the same (with the same 'money is the root of all evil' poster) but now comes with a psychedelic looking microwave is very clever too (we could have done with more of this actually: a Mr Schenider dummy dressed like one of The Spice Girls or something, or a collection of CDs to go alongside the records). However there are other parts that just don't work: the whole routine about Micky throwing up with confetti seems very 'off' somehow and what could have been a clever trick (the fact that The Monkees are themselves the 'monsters', 'going crazy' in a house they 'never left') ends up with a weak ending where two kissing teenagers hurl toilet paper over the house. The Monkees are noticeably less active in the music videos which are closer to straight performances than the 'romps' of old and whilst the instruments-becoming-fruit gag is very Monkees, the performance of the hits medley itself is awful. Oddly Mike gets Davy's character spot on (basically sweet, but still slightly vein and lovesick) but doesn't do so well with the others - Peter gets very little to do, whilst Micky has become the bossy one and Mike the wise-cracking one (you get the sense that Nes didn't actually bother to watch any of the episodes back to write this!) The result confused many fans, who were expecting a celebration rather than a 'Head'-like dissection of the TV business and the Monkees project, but actually those are the parts that work best: the poster of Magritte painting 'this is not a pipe' next to a shot of The Monkees captioned 'this is not a band' is priceless and easily the best gag of the episode, the only reference back to the 'Monkee backlash' of 1968 and beyond. This needed to be one of a handful of specials to go alongside more 'traditional' Monkee episodes - as a standalone reunion episode (and sadly the only one we're likely to get nowadays) it's all slightly underwhelming. Still, this special's heart is in the right place and it's great to see the band together as their 'fictional' selves again. The format of the show updates to the 1990s surprisingly well (modern TV owes more to The Monkees than it will ever admit, with all the fast cutaway shots and breaking the fourth-wall gags and the updated brief insert of The Monkees plugging their CD on a shopping channel) and this series could have gone on to run and run had the band been willing or had their 1997 reunion been greeted better by the national press. Micky's near-closing comment 'I wonder if the public know that TV shows like ours will never die, they just run and run even if they're never filmed' is a lovely Monkee moment that should have been where the episode finished (instead of the stuff with the papered house). However there just isn't enough Monkees here: where's the landlord, the dummy, the old guest stars (many of whom were still acting in 1997), the romps? This special sometimes surprises you with what it gets right and the attention to detail, but misses out on some of the obvious things along the way. The end verdict? This is better than many fans would have you think (many were quite bitter on first broadcast) and has some undeniably great moments, but in many ways it's a lost opportunity, more like the under-written over-cooked episodes of the second series than the brilliant gems of the first. A mixed bag, reminding you both why The Monkees was so brilliant in the first place and why it ran out of steam so quickly it was taken off the air after two series.
Things About This Episode You Might Not Know Unless You're A Mega-Fan: 1) The Monkees gave caret blanche to ABC to title this special whatever they wanted - the working title of this episode was 'A Lizard Sunning Itself On A Rock' 2) The project was Sylvester Ward's idea - the shows had been popular in re-reruns across the 1990s and the network asked him to come out of retirement to make a documentary. He contacted the other Monkees who were more enthusiastic about a one-off episode of the series updated to the modern day 3) most episodes of The Monkees took two days to film - this one took the record with six! 4) The old plots referred to in this special include  The Pilot, 'Monkee See Monkee Die'  'Gift Horse' and 'Some Like It Lukewarm' 5) The oddest moment in the special is 'Antarctica'. The song was written by Bill Martin (who also auditioned for The Monkees before writing 'All Of Your Toys' and 'The Door Into Summer' for the band and can be seen as the fridge 'tour guide' in this episode) and was first directed by Nesmith in his 'Pacific Arts' music video of 1980 'An Evening With Sir William Martin'. The pair had stayed  close friends since The Monkees' split and Mike wanted him in there somewhere!  6) ABC insisted on a 'new' version of 'Regional Girl' without the word 'bitch' so Micky re-recorded the line especially for this special- it's now 'making burgers for some cat!' 7) Mike's speech trying to cheer up the boy with the pig is the closing scene from 1947 film 'The Grapes Of Wrath'
Ratings: At The Time: Unknown/AAA Rating: 4/10

Join for our final mopping up of the Monkee filmography with' the film 'Head', the 1969 special '33 and a third Revolutions Per Monkee' and the multi-titled 1997 reunion special  in next week's exciting unmissable edition of Alan's Albums Archives asking those musical questions...
Or simply read our back issues again via the following links:


‘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: