Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Monkees, Season One, Episode 10 - "Here Come the Monkees"

This episode was written by Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker, and directed by Mike Elliott. Songs featured in the episode are "I Wanna Be Free" and "Let's Dance On," both written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Both songs were included on the Monkees' self-titled debut album, but a second version of "I Wanna Be Free" (which appears first in the episode) would have to wait for official release until Missing Links, Vol. 2. Guest-starring in this episode were Bing Russell (who could also be seen in The Deadly Mantis as a state trooper, a radio operator in The Land Unknown, as Robert in The Magnificent Seven, two episodes of the original Twilight Zone, an episode of The Munsters, as Dan "Red" Thorpe in Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula, an episode of I Dream of Jeannie, the race track starter in the original The Love Bug, Deputy and later Sheriff Clem Foster on Bonanza, and his last genre-related role was as a Club Ritz Patron in Dick Tracy. He's the father of Kurt Russell), Jill Van Ness, Richard St. John (he'd appeared in episodes of Mister Ed, Hazel, and a tv short based on Dick Tracy, probably the unaired pilot), Robyn Millan (she was Roz on The Patty Duke Show, and also guested on episodes of Mission: Impossible, The Partridge Family, The Magician, and Tucker's Witch), episode writers Mazursky and Tucker, Joe Higgins (he'd guested on a Twilight Zone in 1962, played Nils Swenson on The Rifleman, played Mr. L.C. Porett in Flipper and Flipper's New Adventure, guested on episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, I Dream of Jeannie, My Favorite Martian, Daktari, It's About Time, two other episodes of The Monkees -- "The Prince and the Paupers" and "Find the Monkees" -- and played Sheriff Chuck Bevans on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters), and June Whitley Taylor (who'd guested on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The Lone Ranger, Mister Ed, The Flying Nun, The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk (1977), Rescue from Gilligan's Island, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and appeared in four episodes of Alice).

This episode was actually the pilot, so there are a few differences between this episode and others... as you'll see!

"How about you, sir?" "Aaaaaaaah!"
The episode opens with a man on the street style interview, with the interviewee being Dr. Turner, who's asked about acts of violence being committed on the street, with people just standing by and doing nothing. Dr. Turner says it's each man's duty to protect his fellow citizens, and insists he'd involve himself physically if such a thing happened. Just then, the Monkees burst in, with Mickey, Mike and Peter pretending to attack Davy, who asks Dr. Turner for help. Dr. Turner, in terror, flees! When the interviewer tries to get more information, Turner helps an old lady across the street, and she charges him fifteen cents, providing change.

With manager Rudy at the record store.
After the opening credits, we're at a record store where the Monkees meet with their manager, Rudy, (yes, they'd planned to have a manager on the show originally), who tells Mike (whom he calls "Wool Hat") to take the Monkees to an audition for Mr. Russell at the Riviera Country Club. It seems that Rudy and Mr. Russell were in the marines together, and it's his daughter's sweet sixteen party next week (Davy first utters his catchphrase, "You must be joking!" in response to this). If they get the gig, it may open up a lot of work for them -- and it pays $150! After Rudy walks away, Mike plays a chord on his guitar and they break into four-part harmony on "When You Were Sweet Sixteen."

Davy exchanges twinkle eyes with Vanessa.
Later, at the Riviera, Rudy drops the Monkees off (the Monkeemobile is nowhere to be seen, naturally), and the Monkees pile out, wearing dark pants, orange shirts, and black vests (the distinctive eight-button shirts are also nowhere to be seen yet). As they enter the auditions, a polka band (Sven Helstrom and the Swedish Rhythm Kings) is playing. Vanessa Russell and her father are dancing to it, but she doesn't care for the music at all, despite what Mr. Russell thinks. Vanessa's sure her father's not going to let the Monkees play at the party. When the Monkees see the Swedish Rhythm Kings sing, "Good Night," they're about to turn and walk out, but Mike insists on their coming in. They meet Vanessa and her father, and as the other three Monkees go to the stage to audition, Davy stands still, staring at Vanessa... and they both exchange twinkles in their eyes. Mike drags Davy to the stage, while Mr. Russell muses that he hopes they don't play too loud, as he doesn't want to lose his membership.

Mike is not amused at Davy's antics.
Things don't start off well for the Monkees, as they stumble into each other and Micky's drums. Watching this, Mr. Russell notes, "Yes, there is something primitive about them." Mike starts to tune up his guitar, and asks Davy for a "G," to which Davy responds by yanking the g-string off his guitar to hand to Mike (another of those things that changed after the pilot, having Davy playing a guitar instead of his now-traditional maracas or tambourine... interestingly, Davy later learned how to play guitar and did so for various Monkees reunion tours). Mike tells Davy to quit clowning around, and the audition begins with an upbeat version of "I Wanna Be Free," which differs from the slower version featured on the Monkees' debut album not only in tempo, but also features Micky singing harmonies as well as taking the lead on the middle eight).

Davy hits the bell!
As the Monkees perform, Vanessa stares at Davy dreamily, and we shortly go into a dream sequence, with Davy and Vanessa in a park, Davy pushing her on a swing while the other Monkees play at a nearby tree; Davy and Vanessa run to an amusement park called "Kiddie Land," where Mike puts Davy on a "test your strength" machine, hitting Davy to the bell (this bit is used as the opening clip in the first season opening credits), and Peter goofing off at a funhouse mirror, Davy shooting an apple off Micky's head, Mike riding around on a motorized skateboard type of thing (also seen in the first season opening credits), and bits on a merry-go-round as well as other antics. Several of these sequences will appear in brief in future episodes. The dream sequence ends as the song wraps up.

Vanessa applauds the performance, and begs her father to hire the Monkees, and Mr. Russell hires them. A short clip is inserted of Davy and Vanessa dressed as a bride and groom, handcuffed together. Later, Davy tells Vanessa he doesn't want to see her again, but when Vanessa says, "How about tomorrow night?" Davy thinks she has to study for her history final. They're at the front door of the Russell home, and when Mr. Russell opens the door, he says, "I hope this isn't the start of a trend!" Davy walks away.

"I think we've started a trend."
The next night, at the Monkees' pad (which is not the beach house we're familiar with), Davy's getting ready for his date while the others fool around (Mike throws a dart at a poster of the Beatles, Micky's fooling with the stuffed monkey that will be seen in the pad in later episodes, while Peter's got a giant wooden carving of a hand pointing). Davy leaves, and we cut to the end of his and Vanessa's date, as they kiss at the door of her house. Before she walks in, she says, "Davy? I think we've started a trend." But as an insert card tells us, "But inside, all is not well." Vanessa's parents are playing cards, and Mr. Russell is not happy that Vanessa's just getting home at 1 am, with a test tomorrow! Mrs. Russell's concerned Vanessa's spending too much time with Davy when she should've been studying. Vanessa insists she'll pass her test the next day...

Jill (Rudy's daughter) gives the Monkees bad news.
...but the next day, she has to tell her parents she flunked her history final. She can take a make-up exam, and one of her friends tells the Monkees about this, but if Vanessa flunks that, the Monkees will lose their job. Vanessa's friend doesn't think she'll pass, because the only thing on her mind is Davy Jones. Davy wanders off from their volleyball game, and walks down the beach, thinking as the slower version of "I Wanna Be Free" plays. This version is slightly different from the album version. Davy walks back to the beach pad (the exterior is the same as is used in later episodes, but the interior is much nicer than is seen in other episodes). Davy broods about the situation, and as the song ends, Mike enters  the pad and asks Davy what's really the matter. Davy says Vanessa's a "groovy kid," and now she's failing her tests. Mike insists that Vanessa got hung up, and Davy didn't hang her up. Davy decides that what he wants to do is help her. Just then, Micky and Peter enter, and Micky quips, "Sure you want to help! I want to help Peter, but he's a bird brain."

"I think we need a new gavel."
So, Mike calls the Monkees to a meeting at their table, and as he strikes the gavel, the Monkees are suddenly dressed in business attire. Mike announces that the firm of "Vanessa Russell & Vanessa" is failing rapidly. Micky says they must send in their most brilliant man, Davy -- who responds, "Me?!? You must be joking!" (there's that catch phrase again). Mike adjourns the meeting, breaking their gavel in the process. Davy doesn't see how he can help Vanessa with her history when Mr. Russell won't even let her out of the house. Soon, the Monkees in disguise are at the Russell home, carrying out a large bureau or possibly a wardrobe, thanking Mr. Russell for his donation to the gift store. They get out of sight, and open the doors, revealing Vanessa inside.

Singing the Patrick Henry song.
Later, at the record store, Mr. Russell is talking to Rudy, saying Vanessa's been gone since early that morning. Jill (Vanessa's friend) tells them that the Monkees are trying to help Vanessa pass her final. And indeed, they are... as Davy and Vanessa are at the beach, Davy pulls up three beach buckets, revealing his bandmates buried in the sand, and they sing a song about Patrick Henry. Later, at the park, as Vanessa and Davy relax, the others appear in costume re-enacting the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Dan Barr. When they fire their pistols, it sends a couple picnicking nearby running in terror. Just then, Mr. Russell shows up! The Monkees flee as Mr. Russell takes Vanessa away. As they run, Davy calls back reminding Vanessa about Dec. 16, 1773, the Boston Tea Party.

At the make-up exam, Vanessa scores 100% on the exam, and tells her teacher she owes it to a Monkee, and that her father is prejudiced. The teacher responds that Vanessa must've worked very hard. Later, at the party, the polka band is playing. Vanessa's teacher tells Mr. Russell that the Monkees were responsible for Vanessa passing, but he still says he won't permit them to come in. Outside, the Monkees show up, but the security guard chases them off (Mike says to the guard, "You're evil!"). Inside, Vanessa starts crying, and says she wants to go home. Mrs. Russell starts crying, too!  Outside, the Monkees prepare to scale the wall into the country club, and Mr. Russell asks the guard if the Monkees were there. The guard says they were, and Mr. Russell says it's just as well.

Monkeeing around, prison escape style!
Just then, the Monkees land inside the club, and the guard flashes his light at them. Naturally, the Monkees are suddenly wearing prison stripes as the light plays over them! They play out the prison escape bit for a minute, then Mr. Russell re-appears. When he tells the guard he'll talk to them, the Monkees split! As old-time piano music starts playing, it's time for a chase! Mr. Russell and the guard start chasing the Monkees, who run through the country club's bar, knocking down a waiter and causing a patron at the bar to stare at his drink. The Monkees duck into the card room, and then Mr. Russell shows up with the guard. He asks the guy at the bar if he's seen any Monkees, to which the patron says Russell's been drinking too much!

An epic card game!
They check the card room, and Mr. Russell asks if the Monkees are in there, only to be shushed! When Mr. Russell leaves, we see the Monkees are in there, dressed in Western attire and playing poker. Peter (as Wyatt Earp) has three queens, Davy (as Bat Masterson) has a straight to the ten, Micky has a flush, but Mike says he has a chandelier! When Micky asks what's a chandelier, Mike pulls a pistol out and shoots down a chandelier over another table! The Monkees take off running again, and the other card players are unaffected. As they leave, the guard spots them, and tells Russell where they are. Russell begs them to stop and let him talk to them, but they keep running.

"I've sold out!"
They head down stairs, and run into the bar again, where the bar patron asks if they happen to be the Monkees. The Monkees, now wearing monkey masks, all shake their heads silently before running out again (and knocking over the same waiter as before). They enter a game room and start an impromptu game of ping-pong, sending a ball first into the mouth of a woman admiring their game, and then into the guard's mouth! The guard chases them around the table before they run out of the room. Mr. Russell runs into the guard and asks him what happened, but the ping-pong ball's still in his mouth. They run through the bar again (this time the waiter just throws the tray), and the Monkees enter the party. Davy tells Vanessa her father's chasing them, but Mr. Russell insists they're invited! The guard tells Mr. Russell he's sold out, and Vanessa begs him to let the Monkees stay. When Mr. Russell shouts, "I've sold out!" Davy kisses him on either cheek, French style, and says, "Merci, mon capitane! And now, in gratitude, we must play!"

Performing "Let's Dance On."
Micky wonders how they're going to get the Rhythm Kings off the bandstand, and Mike goes to the microphone, and announces that Norway has just declared war on Sweden, and that all Swedish nationals are to report to their embassy. The Rhythm Kings march off stage, and the Monkees start performing "Let's Dance On." Everyone starts dancing, and the interviewer from the beginning shows up trying to get an interviewee. Even Mr. Russell is dancing, saying he's in terrible pain, but he likes it! Vanessa's dancing with another boy, saying he can really swing. The interviewer's in tears as he can't get an interviewee. One of the women dancing is suddenly freeze-framed, with an overlay asking, "A typical American teenager?" a few seconds later, she's freeze-framed again, this time with an overlay saying, "No, a friend of the Producer!" Even the Dr. and the old lady are there, dancing.

Trouble spelled "G-I-R-L"!
Suddenly, trouble looms! A girl in the audience fixes eyes with Davy, and they share twinkle eyes. The song ends, and the other Monkees, realizing Davy's going to cost them a gig, chase him off the stage and out of the country club, brandishing balloons as weapons.

Davy's audition for "The Monkees."
Then, Micky and Peter (obviously shot later, given that Micky's in an eight-button shirt and Peter's in gypsy attire) introduce two of the screen tests that were done, of Davy and Mike. Davy's interviewed about his father, how he got into show business, and how he wanted to be a jockey. He's asked about his height (he admits to being 5'3" in boots), and says he likes tall girls. Davy also talks about getting his appendix removed, and how he was told to put his hair over his ears for the interview. He's asked what kind of sound he makes, and he says he makes a terrible sound. He's also talked into doing a bit of a dance for the audition (he actually says, "You must be joking!" in response to this), and afterwards, is told he really should've been a jockey, which he laughs about.

Mike's audition.
Next, it's Mike's interview, on the set of "The Farmer's Daughter." He introduces himself as Michael Blessing (the stage name he'd been using), and is wearing a harmonica around his neck. When asked why he's using the name Blessing, he tells the interviewers that's a weird thing to ask. He tells them about when he was in the air force, and tipped over a general's airplane, then he's asked why he's into music... but he says it's just where it's at, and that he came into it two years ago. Before then, he says he was a failure, he didn't do anything. Mike also says he doesn't think he's a goof... he thinks he's out of work, and hopes he'll get the series, but not a goof. He doesn't want to answer any more questions, so he goes to a hutch and starts looking in drawers and cupboards, finding a plate and bowl. He's asked if he can be strong and silent, and then to be a girl, and when he's told they're the same thing, he responds, "Well, that's your hang-up, man! I know where it's at." Then he's asked if he ever was a strong and silent girl before!

The original pilot didn't include the interview segments, and when it was tested, it tested very low. The producers realized that they didn't really know the boys at all, so recut it, and added these two interview segments, and showed it to a new test audience, and it scored high enough for NBC to give them a 32-episode commitment!

It's a fun episode, and part of the fun is seeing what was kept from the original pilot and what was redone. Certainly, if the Monkees were a struggling band, they couldn't afford a place as nice as the one they're shown living in here! One of the elements that is missing was having the Monkees' music used for the romp -- as here, they had the old-time piano score running.

I hope you've enjoyed the return of the Monkees episode reviews! I'm hoping to get back to doing these at least monthly!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments relevant, I delete all spam! Thanks.