This episode of The Monkees was written by Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso (who wrote a total of 21 episodes, more than anyone else), and directed by Robert Rafelson. Guests in this episode are Jacques Aubuchon as Boris, Arlene Martel as Madame, Don Penney as Honeywell, Booth Coleman as the Chief, Billy Curtis as the Midget, Arlene Charles as Genie, and Lee Kolima as Yakimoto. Songs in this episode are "Last Train to Clarksville" and "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and "The Kind of Girl I Could Love" by Michael Nesmith. The first song appears on the album "The Monkees," while the latter two songs appear on "More of the Monkees." Also heard in the episode are "All The King's Horses" (by Mike) and "Satruday's Child." "All the King's Horses" was never released on the original Monkees' albums, as fans had to wait for Rhino Records to release it on "Missing Links 2," along with other songs unreleased in the 1960s.
As the episode opens, the Monkees are driving in the Monkeemobile when Davy asks Mike to pull over at a music store so he can get a new set of maracas. Micky points out that Davy already has a set of maracas, and Mike insists that Davy should save his money for a rainy day (this causes Peter to look up in the sky, saying, "Hey, I think it's going to rain!" Inside the music shop, a spy, Boris, is hiding a microfilm inside a maraca when his partner, Madame, enters. She reminds Boris that their contact is a short man who will ask him for some red maracas. Boris is to say they're six dollars, and the contact is to say that he can only give him 50 cents, and then Boris is to say, "They're yours." When Boris protests, she points out that while they lose money on the maracas, they'll make it up on the microfilm.
Outside, Davy tells Mike that he's just seen a man talking to a popsicle, and Mike looks and sees the same thing... and then says, "Oh, yeah! Let me know if the popsicle talks back." The Monkees head to the music store, and inside, Boris offers to show Madame out, but since there's a CIS man watching the shop (the guy talking into the popsicle), she'll use the secret exit (opening up the door of a large harp crate). Boris closes it, remarking that he thought the secret exit was elsewhere. The Monkees enter the shop, and Davy asks for a set of maracas. Of course, he manages to say what he needs to say for Boris to sell him the red maracas with the microfilm! Micky is amazed at the price, and Boris says they'll make it up on the microfilm -- then he directs them out through the secret exit (Micky makes the same joke about being sure it was through the accordion).
Right after they're gone, a midget goes to Boris' window and asks for a pair of red maracas... and Boris realizes he's made a terrible mistake! Then we go to the opening credits.
When we return from the credits, the Monkees are performing at a club the song, "THe Kind of Girl I Could Love," and Davy notices the maracas sound strange. Examining them, he opens one up and discovers the microfilm, which he pockets. Just then, Boris and Madame enter, disguised as "hippies" to blend in with their surroundings. Boris tells Madame a teenager just asked him for a date, which causes Madame to comment that girls are very aggressive in this country, to which Boris responds, "It wasn't a girl." By the way, I've read that some or all of the Monkees' stand-ins are among the kids dancing to the music here, and there are a few that do slightly resemble the Pre-Fab Four! Also, Mike seems to definitely be enjoying himself in this performance much more than I've seen in previous episodes, possibly because it's his song they're performing.
Boris and Madame make their way into the crowd and dance, but once the song is over, they approach the Monkees, and Madame pulls a gun out, saying, "We came for the film!" Peter quips, "Oh, you didn't have to do that, we usually drop it off at the drugstore!" When Madame says they will hand over the microfilm or die, they make Peter cry! Mike takes advantage of Boris and Madame being put off by this to go to the mike and announce that they've got a famous folksinging duo with them tonight, Honey and the Bear -- aka Boris and Madame (of course, this is a pun on "Sonny and Cher"). The crowd applauds them, and the other Monkees get them to come up on stage. Mike hands his guitar to Boris and the mike to Madame, and comes off the stage. Not knowing what to do, Boris and Madame start to sing one of their country's songs while the Monkees sneak out, encouraging the crowd to boo them and throw pillows.
Later, at CIS Headquarters, the Chief is briefed by Honeywell (the guy who was talking to a popsicle) about the film being picked up by "four boys posing as a rock and roll band," all of which was caught on hidden camera. Honeywell drops his gun while he talks, and it goes off. Honeywell then starts the film, which shows him approaching the Monkees as a man on the street interviewer. He asks Peter what he thinks about demonstrations, and Peter says, "They're the only way to sell a vacuum cleaner." Then he asks Mike how he'd revitalize the Republican party, and Mike answers, "Well, I'd get a lot of pretty girls, dancing, music, stuff like that, a few hors d'oveurs."
Then it's Micky's turn, and this time he's posing as someone from an advertising bureau, and he asks Micky how he responds to different faces. Micky replies, "Sorry, yours won't do." He then shows Micky photos of Boris and Madame and asks what Micky thinks their professions are -- Micky guesses shoemaker for Boris, because shoemakers have calluses on their hands, like Honeywell does! Micky hands over his boots for repairs. Finally, it's Davy's turn. This time, Honeywell's posed as a newsstand operator, but it seems that Davy spotted the hidden camera, as he starts dancing for the camera and singing, producing a straw hat and cane! The Chief can't quite believe what he's watching, and then he calls the Monkees in to CIS Headquarters.
When they arrive, he says the Monkees have a chance to be of real service to the CIS, but there is a real element of danger -- which causes the Monkees to turn and walk to the door. The Chief points out his men face danger every day of the week, and tells them about one of his men's most recent assignment. Peter then asks what the chances are, and the Chief says there's a 50-50 chance of survival. Micky then picks up the phone and does a Don Adams impression, saying, "Chief? Send in Schwartz, Harold B.!" (the man the Chief just told about) The Chief says it's not that bad, and suggests they may be able to save three of them -- Immediately, the Monkees play musical chairs with the three chairs in the room, leaving Peter standing alone, looking at the camera. Mike says, "Well, I guess we'll just have to form a trio." (Ironically enough, Peter was the first of the Monkees to quit the group). Mike says they'd like to help, but it's not their bag. The Chief says they'll provide all the help they need. Mike responds that while he trusts the Chief, Honeywell talks to popsicles!
Later, at the Monkees' pad, the boys are riding their unicycle/tricycles around the living room, and Mike says it's probably not a good idea that they do this spy stuff. Micky says, "We've watched every single spy movie, haven't we? There's nothing to it!" So then, there's a dream/fantasy sequence, with Micky playing "M", Peter, Davy and Mike as agents being handed over some special equipment -- Peter gets a cufflink with a miniature recorder, Davy's got a tie clasp with a hidden poison pill, and Mike has a cigarette lighter with a concealed miniature Japanese camera (plus a miniature Japanese cameraman, who burns when Mike lights the lighter). Next, Micky instructs the others on martial arts, with Yakimoto, a large Japanese man, doing the demonstration of breaking a board with his hand. Then, Davy's instructed to to give Yakimoto a karate chop on the neck, but it's ineffective. Micky then demonstrates the correct style. Then it's time to instruct them on small arms, but when Micky pulls out a pointer to point out each photo, Yakimoto karate chops it smaller (because he's angry about being karate chopped twice on the neck). Next, Micky pulls out a pencil, and the same thing happens to it! Finally, Micky uses his finger -- and Yakimoto breaks the board the photos of guns are on.
Back to reality, Mike realizes it's about time for them to go. At the club, Honeywell briefs them -- they've hidden a microphone in a table lamp, which Honeywell assures them the spies will never suspect. Mike asks about the big black cord coming out of it, and Honeywell says, "That's always been a problem." Honeywell goes to a back room to wait along with Micky, Peter and Mike. Davy gives the lamp a quick rub for luck, and smoke issues out of it, and a genie appears! Davy says, "Imagine that! Wrong show!" In the back room, Honeywell shows them his equipment, saying it'll record everything, and when there's a confession, he'll make the arrest. When he asks if there are any questions, Peter asks if it's too late to get Schwartz!
Later, the Monkees are performing "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" on stage, and Boris and Madame show up. Madame says, "Decadence -- have you noticed how everyone copies steps from one another? Sheep! They all follow one another!" As they walk up to the stage, Boris asks if, after they deliver the film, they'll go away together. Madame says, "Yes, Boris, we'll go away to Brazil!" Boris says, "You told me Argentina!" Madame replies, "All right, Argentina." Then Boris says, "Brazil is nice!" The Monkees continue to perform -- by the way, they still don't have the logo painted on Micky's drum, just taped on.
The boys finish and sit down at the table with the rigged up lamp, and Boris and Madame show up. Madame tosses down an envelope with money for the microfilm, but Davy asks them, "Before we give you the film, we have the right to know one thing: Are you really foreign spies?" Boris nods yes, but of course that doesn't do the trick, as Davy learns when he runs back to check with Honeywell. When he comes back, Mike's counting out the money -- and Davy trips over the cord, unplugging it. Mike notices the money's a bit short, to which Boris replies, "Cab fare." Davy's not happy about this, and asks again, "Are you really foreign agents?" Boris speaks out loud this time, but of course, since the mike was unplugged, the confession wasn't recorded!
Davy goes back and plugs in the mike. Madame says she grows impatient, and Peter quips, "I grow daffodils!" handing Madame a bunch. When Davy sits, he asks them if they have any advice for young people just starting out in the spy business. Boris says, "Be underhanded and dishonest." When Davy gets him to admit he's a spy, some kids at a nearby table laugh so loudly it drowns out Boris! Micky tells them to be quiet, they're trying to record... and then pulls out a clapboard and says, "Spy confession, take four!" Finally, Davy points the lamp at the spies and says, "Are you are you not foreign spies?" Madame says, "Of course we are! Enough of this stalling -- the film!" They push her into the crowd as the jukebox starts playing "All the King's Horses." But in the back room, Honeywell can't hear over the music!
Micky and Peter try to grab Boris, but Boris shrugs them off. Mike tries to distract Madame, but she karate chops him on the neck, knocking him out. This, of course, is immediately copied by all the teenagers, and soon, they're all karate chopping each other! Madame gets the film from Mike, and she and Boris start to flee, but Boris is pulled in by one of the teenage girls! As Madame is pursued by Honeywell, Davy jumps onto Boris' back! Then, Peter tries grabbing Boris' leg, but he's shaken off. Micky's similarly tossed aside. Mike decides, "No more Mr. Nice Guy," and grabs Boris' ear and twists! Boris collapses.
Honeywell returns empty-handed, figuring Madame's already on her way to Red China by now. Boris is sad because he won't be going to Argentina with her. Honeywell says he's going to Leavenworth. Peter tries to console Boris, saying he'll get to Argentina someday, but Boris responds, "Leavenworth is nice..."
Later, in Red China, Madame shows her bosses the microfilm... America's latest secret weapon, or so she says... instead, it's actually film of the Monkees romping on the beach and elsewhere to "Saturday's Child"! Madame, of course, is aghast! (By the way, the footage of the Monkees running to the water, and then retreating from the incoming tide as seen in the second season credits is seen here, as is the footage of them wearing scuba suits and playing human croquet, pushing a bed down the street with Davy in it, all of them in nightclothes, and pushing a bathtub down the street with Peter in it bathing) Madame's superiors are not happy with her, and they start to surround her, and tie her up!
This was a very fun episode, and already a bit of a change of pace from the typical episode -- rather than the romp being a chase sequence, as previously seen in Episodes one and four, the romp was just in the film Madame showed at the end. There's also two sequences with the Monkees performing their songs, which is always nice (if for no other reason than to look to see how committed each member was to playing on-camera accurately -- Micky still looks like he's faking it, which he probably still was at this stage).
I find it interesting that we're on the fifth aired episode, and we've already heard "Steppin' Stone" twice (which appeared on the second album -- and the first album was just released when this episode aired for the first time, although at least the single of "Last Train to Clarksville" had come out before the show premiered), plus "All the King's Horses" (which we'll hear again in episdode 8, "Don't Look a Gift horse in the Mouth", and possibly other places). Notice I said fifth aired episode -- the first filmed episode was shown as episode #10, and features "I Wanna Be Free" (two different versions, one as it appeared on the album "The Monkees," the other wouldn't be released until Rhino's "Missing Links 2," like "All the King's Horses"). If the first Monkees album had been put together based on what songs were being used in the first bunch of episodes, we would've had a very different first album! Here's the line-up on the album as released:
1. (Theme From) The Monkees (NOTE: This is not the version of the theme used on the TV show, but sort of an extended version. The actual TV version was released on "Missing Links 3")
2. Saturday's Child
3. I Wanna Be Free
4. Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day
5. Papa Gene's Blues
6. Take a Giant Step
7. Last Train to Clarksville
8. This Just Doesn't Seem to Be My Day
9. Let's Dance On
10. I'll Be True to You (never used in an episode that I can recall)
11. Sweet Young Thing
12. Gonna Buy Me a Dog
If it had been based on the first 12 songs used on the show (in the order filmed, more or less), the songs would have been (with songs not on the original verson asterisked):
1. (Theme From) The Monkees
2. I Wanna Be Free (ballad version, although to be honest, the faster version should be on here too)
3. Let's Dance On
4. This Just Doesn't Seem to Be My Day
5. Take a Giant Step
6. Last Train to Clarksville
7. Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day
8. Saturday's Child
9. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone*
10. The Kind of Girl I Could Love*
11. All the King's Horses*
12. Sweet Young Thing (used in the next episode)
I find it interesting, and hopefully, in another few months, I'll remember to include in a future review what an alternative "More of the Monkees" might've been like, following the same guidelines. Now, on to what the guest stars did elsewhere!
Jacques Aubuchon had previously guest-starred in episodes of I Spy, The Twilight Zone, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, McHale's Navy (where he had a recurring role as Chief Urulu), The Ma From UNCLE, and Hogan's Heroes. He could also be seen playing Stefano in The Shaggy Dog. After The Monkees, he guested in The Green Hornet, Bewitched, Tarzan, Land of the Giants, Kung Fu, and many other roles. He passed away in 1991.
Arlene Martel previously appeared in two episodes of The Twilight Zone, single episodes of The Outer Limits, The Man From UNCLE, I Dream of Jeannie, and My Favorite Martian. She may be best known for playing T'Pring in the classic Star Trek episode "Amok Time." She would also appear in a 1968 Monkees episode playing Lorelei. Other shows she guested on include The Wild Wild West, The Flying Nun, Mission: Impossible, Hogan's Heroes (guest-starring in seven episodes playing at least three different characters), Bewitched, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Battlestar Galactica.
Booth Coleman appeared as a reporter in Them!, and guest-starred in episodes of Science Fiction Theatre, Zorro, Thriller, The Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Gilligan's Island, The Wild Wild West, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Invaders. Later, he guested on Tarzan, Mission: Impossible, The Flying Nun, and Kung Fu. Perhaps his most notable geek role was playing Dr. Zaius in the Planet of the Apes TV series! He was also later seen in the movie Time Travelers and an episode of Star Trek: Voyager.
Billy Curtis, who played the Midget, had appeared in The Terror of Tiny Town, Ghost Catchers, Superman and the Mole-Men, The Wizard of Oz, Jungle Jim in Pygmy Island, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Man of a Thousand Faces, and Angry Red Planet, guested in Space Patrol, The Adventures of Superman, I Spy, and Batman (two episodes). In the pilot The Adventures of Super Pup, he played Super Pup/Bark Bent! He later guested in episodes of The Wild Wild West, Get Smart, Star Trek, Monster Squad, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and the 1986 Twilight Zone. He also played a child ape in Planet of the Apes, and can be seen in Michael Nesmith's video Elephant Parts.
Genie Arlene Charles can also be seen as a robot in Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, two episodes of The Wild Wild West, a Flying Nun, and appeared in two Elvis Presley movies, Clambake and Speedway.