Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Monkees, Season 1, Episode 4: "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers"!

This episode of The Monkees was written by Dave Evans (who would write seven more episodes), and directed by James Frawley. The songs performed in this episode are (once again) "Last Train to Clarksville" and "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone," both written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, as well as "Let's Dance On," also by the duo. "Steppin' Stone" would appear on "More of the Monkees," while "Clarksville" and "Let's Dance On" are both on "The Monkees." Guest stars in this episode are Andre Phillippe as Trump, Victor Tayback as George, David Hull as the Contest Manager, Ken Del Conte as Swine #1, and Louis Quinn as Horace.

010402The episode opens as the Monkees wait backstage at a talent contest for the previous act, "The Four Swines," to finish. Micky says the Swines are really seedy, but Peter defends them, saying that underneath their seemingly hard exterior, there's four pretty decent guys -- a sentiment echoed by the host of the show! However, as the Swines come backstage and see the Monkees waiting, they show they are pretty rude guys, smoking all the way, handing Micky a banana, and making monkey sounds, to which Micky remarks, "Peter, you're a great judge of character." The Monkees are announced as the last group, and get onstage. Backstage, the Swines' manager tells them to wait for his signal, and as the Monkees get ready to start playing, he signals them to put the needle on a recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, which plays over the loudspeakers.

This time around, the opening credit scene of the episode is Mike riding on a motorized skateboard, which I believe was originally shot for the closing credits (it's seen on the original version of the pilot, which I'll get to sometime).

When we return from the opening credits, the Monkees are at their pad, and approached by Nick Trump, who is the manager of the Swines. He tells the Monkees (Mike is jumping on a pogo stick, Micky is wearing glasses and a false mustache and handling a cigar a la Groucho Marx, Peter appears to be making a martini in a shaker, and Davy is standing on his head in a chair) that they made the finals (as did the Swine), and Trump says he's been assigned to publicity -- and that the Monkees are a shoo-in (immediately, a shoe flies into Trump's hand). Mike says they don't want publicity, to which Trump asks if they want to be famous. Davy says they just want to be revered by a small minority. Micky makes a Groucho-esque joke about this, and then Trump asks Peter if he's mixing a drink (Pete's just washing his socks). Trump says if they don't have publicity, nobody will ever hear of them, but Mike says, "You heard of us," and Davy says they need to rehearse. Trump, however, says that in the contest rules, every applicant must submit to exploitation and publicity. His plan is to have the Monkees go to a new discoteque, the Vincent Van Go-Go.

010405They're to go to table #3, without bumping into table #2 (which Peter does anyway). At exactly eight o'clock, a group of screaming teenage girls is to enter and rip off Davy's clothes. At three minutes till, Micky and Mike do a NASA countdown schtick, complete with astronaut helmets -- Mike wears his wool hat over his helmet). The girls break in and immediately rush off to table #4 instead, ripping off the clothes of some businessman!

010406Of course, the next day, Micky reads about that guy in the newspaper instead of them. Trump, naturally, has another plan: To get their handprints in cements, like all the other celebrities at the Chinese Theatre! The guys show up, put their hands in the cement (which is quick-drying cement) while pictures are taken, and then Trump and the photographer take off, leaving the Monkees stuck in the cement!

Later, at the beach house, the guys are still stuck in the block, and Trump is about to break them out, complaining he had to pay for the sidewalk. Peter apologizes, Micky complains that if Trump isn't careful, he'll never play guitar again, but Davy points out he's the drummer, which makes it okay (oddly enough, Micky did -- and continues to -- play guitar in real life). Trump says if there's one more foul-up, he'll drop them. Trump asks if they've ever been kidnapped (Micky says he was when he was a kid, but his parents were so poor, they gave the ransom note to the neighbors). Trump figures that the "fake" kidnapping will get them publicity -- or so he says. Mike wants to draw the line here, but the contest rules are pulled out again. Trump promises if it doesn't work, he'll forget the whole thing. The Monkees talk it over, and agree.

010408Trump calls two "actor clients" of his who play great hoods, and their phone rings as they're stirring up cement in a large tub -- with someone standing in it! The hoods negotiate a price, and the deal is made. Trump says the guys will be there in an hour, and are told that they should dress in black tie for the kidnapping. Later, after Mike suggest they get dressed, the guys disappear one at a time in their casual clothes to reappear one at a time in tuxes -- except for Peter, who goes through a series of outfits before he gets it right.

That evening, Micky, Mike and Peter are primping in a mirror while waiting for the kidnappers, and Davy is out somewhere and hasn't returned yet. As they complain about late kidnappers, Micky suggests Mike calls them -- the two do another schtick about talking to the kidnappers on the phone. Later, the kidnappers show up at the wrong house, apologize for disturbing the elderly couple there, and continue to the right house. They then get to the correct house (1334 Beachwood), and come in with guns drawn, and proceed to tie up the three Monkees there plus their dummy, Mr. Schneider. Horace tells George (played by Vic Tayback) about his mistake, and to untie the dummy, and George starts untying Peter (poor Peter)!

010409The kidnappers ask where Davy is, but of course, they're all gagged, so can't talk! When Peter's ungagged, he tells them that Davy's with a girlfriend at the Vincent Van Go-Go. The kidnappers are about to head out to the disco, but George complains he can't do those dances. Horace starts to show him how they're done, and then George copies him. At the disco, George looks for Davy, and of course, when he finds Davy, Davy is willing to with him so long as he waits until the end of the song, but when George starts to dance, Davy decides to just leave now. His girlfriend wants to come, too, and when Davy says okay, she invites everyone to Davy's place for a party!

010410Back at the pad, Davy and George arrive, followed shortly after by all the teens from the disco, and a party breaks out! Davy goes to the jukebox and starts playing "Let's Dance On," and everyone starts dancing (the other three Monkees are still tied up, naturally). Horace and George can't quite figure out what to make of it, so Horace tells George to tie them all up while he calls Trump. George starts tying everyone up (not that anyone cares), but then even more people start to show up, bringing snacks! Next thing you know, there's chairs and tables being brought in, and a maitre'd at the door with a golden rope to keep the riff-raff out!

010411The party continues as Davy plays "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" on the jukebox (incidentally, this is the exact same jukebox seen at the disco). As Horace talks to Trump on the phone and tries to negotiate a higher price for the kidnapping (due to the extra kidnappees), more and more people show up, including the people from the first house the kidnappers showed up at! Horace realizes that he's got to get the extra kids out, and Davy says he can empty it out in two minutes -- and then he switches the jukebox to playing clarinet music, which clears it out in no time!

010412Later, when Trump arrives, Micky tells Trump to tell the "actors" to put away their toy guns, the show's over; Mike adds they have to get to the contest. Trump says, "You punks ain't going nowhere," and then the Monkees realize they're really being held prisoner! Trump tells Horace to keep them there until eight, and Trump leaves to watch the Four Swine win the contest! Horace tells George to lock the Monkees in their bedroom.

010413In the bedroom, they try to figure out how to get out of their locked room. Micky gets an idea, and a lightbulb appears over his head (which he complains about, so it disappears). Micky suggests they throw something out of the window to attract attention, but what? Peter's sitting on the windowsill, and the other three go to toss him out. Mike says Peter's too limp, and he needs to be stiff, so Micky instantly hypnotizes Peter, and then they pick Peter up to toss him out! Davy stops and says it's cruel of them to do this -- what if Peter lands on someone? Micky snaps Peter out of it.

010414Next, Micky tears a bedsheet into strips to lower themselves out, but Mike says they're on the first floor (which is at odds with other episodes that have their shared bedroom on the second floor -- then again, other episodes have them split between two bedrooms, one on each floor). Plus, Peter notices that it's his sheets that were torn! Outside, the kidnappers are playing cards, and Horace tells George to check on them. Micky has a roll of pennies, which he figures he can hold in his hand to give him a fist of iron to smash through the door. Micky goes to knock the door down, but George is there, and Micky hits George, to no avail!

010415Later, the Micky gets the kidnappers attention, and says he's got a bottle of nitroglycerin, and if they don't get out of the way, he'll use it to blow them all up! They get the kidnappers to back out, and throw their guns down. The boys then get the kidnappers in their bedroom, and they head out -- but they only have five minutes! They grab their instruments -- and Davy asks what was in the bottle. Micky says, "How should I know?" and throws it out the window, where it explodes! But as the guys leave the house, George gets the door open, and the chase is on, to the tune of "Last Train to Clarksville"!

010416This is the romp proper, and the chase takes them to various situations, such as the Monkees driving on the beach with the kidnappers chasing them on a bike, being pursued through the desert (the Monkees dressed like French Foreign Legionaires, as seen in the opening credits of the second season), the Monkees as cowboys on a covered wagon being pulled by the kidnappers, and assorted other locales -- and the Monkees are no longer in their tuxes, but in blue pants and their red eight-button shirts. It's amazing that all this distance they're running still has them getting to the location in five minutes, but in the name of comedy, we'll suspend our disbelief! By the end of the romp, the boys capture the kidnappers in a net just in time to get onstage and perform their song (which, of course, is "Clarksville," using what has already been used of them performing the song onstage).

010417The crowd goes wild, and then we wait for the results of the contest (to which Peter quips, "What he means is we'll find out after the commercial."). The contest host announces that the Four Swine and their manager are in jail, offer special consideration to the Monkees for what they had to overcome to get there, and the winnner is announced... and it's not the Monkees, it's the guy who was mistakenly mauled at the disco, who's formed a band of his own (and they appear to be using the same guitars that the Four Swine used at the beginning of the episode)! Immediately, teenage girls rush the stage! The Monkees, of course, can't believe it. Peter suggests all it takes to be a star these days is to get your clothes ripped off, and so they immediately start tearing each other's clothes off!

010418The episode is running a bit short, so the guys are interviewed off-stage for a minute or two. They're asked if anyone from their past has gotten in touch with them since the show's been on (odd for them to ask it, as this is the fourth episode aired -- although probably the fifth one filmed -- and there's no way anyone's seen it while this is being filmed, unless it was filmed much latter and added in, which it could've been). Mike makes some jokes about the predictions that were made about him as a kid. He also talks about how he's enjoying the money that the TV show has brought him. Then, when they're told they have a minute to say whatever's on their minds, they all start talking at once! Mike jokes that a minute is entirely too long to tell what all is on their minds.

This was really a fun episode, even if the Monkees take way too long to realize that something's up with Trump! This was also the second time they were captured and held in their house (the first being in episode one, naturally). As noted before, there's a discrepancy so far as where the bedroom or bedrooms are in the house -- most of the time, it's shown as one communal bedroom upstairs. Also, I should note that "Steppin' Stone" is miscredited at the closing credits as "I'm Not Your Stepping Stones," and "Let's Dance On" isn't even listed! I do think it's rather odd that, four episodes in, they're already putting songs in the episodes that weren't on the first album!

In fact, let's see... on the first album, "Papa Gene's Blues," "I'll Be True to You," "Sweet Young Thing," and "Gonna Buy Me a Dog" hadn't been used yet. I don't know that "I'll Be True to You" ever appeared in any episode, to be honest. Oh, I didn't mention "I Wanna Be Free," but I know that comes up in the Pilot, "Here Come the Monkees" (aired as episode 10). The two Nesmith songs get a lot of use -- "Papa Gene's Blues" probably more than "Sweet Young Thing," especially when there's a farm setting. "Gonna Buy Me a Dog" appears in Episode 12.

Andre Philippe, who played Trump, had previously played Paul the MC on Hawaiian Eye, but had also guest-starred in an episode of The Man From UNCLE. He also played four different characters on four episodes of The Wild Wild West, three parts in three episodes of Get Smart, and a variety of other roles. He died in 2007. Victor Tayback, who played George, is of course best known for playing Mel on Alice, but he'd also guested on episodes of The Man From UNCLE, I Dream of Jeannie, Captain Nice, Get Smart, Star Trek (In "A Piece of the Action"), Mission: Impossible, and many other shows -- and would be in two more episodes of The Monkees, too! He passed away in 1990. Louis Quinn, who played Horace, started out as a comedy writer for Milton Berle and others in radio and the golden age of TV, played Roscoe in 77 Sunset Strip, and guest-starred in episodes of Gilligan's Island, Honey West, Get Smart, Batman, The Wild Wild West, and many other shows. He passed away in 1998.

Oddly, Davy's girlfriend in this episode is uncredited, despite having a bigger part overall than the host of the show! I was able to find out that her name was Valerie Kairys, and she was in at least 13 Monkees episodes, including the second episode (she was the girl being rescued by the Monkee firefighters during "Last Train to Clarksville"), and can be seen in all sots of other parts! She was also in two episodes of Batman, "The Sandman Cometh/The Catwomen Goeth," playing Kitty, had a cameo in Head, and apparently her last onscreen role was in the movie Vanishing Point. You can even find her on Facebook, if you want!

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