Wednesday, February 05, 2014

The Monkees, Episode 12: I've Got A Little Song Here

We are up to the 12th episode of the Monkees' TV series, and this one, "I've Got A Little Song Here," was written by Treva Silverman, and directed by Bruce Kessler. The two songs featured in this episode are "Gonna Buy Me A Dog," written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and "Mary, Mary," written by Mike Nesmith. The first song was featured on The Monkees' self-titled first album, while the latter was on the second one, "More of the Monkees." The guest cast included Phil Leeds as Bernie, Irwin Charone as the Producer, Joseph Mell as Harry, Owen McGiveny as the Old Man, Buddy Lewis as the Watchman, Mary Foran as Hilda, Bobby Johnson as the Postman, Larry Gelman as the Director, and Leigh Chapman as Joanie.

Writer Treva Sylverman wrote five episodes of Captain Nice, and six episodes of The Monkees (the next episode written by her is "One Man Shy," also known as "Peter and the Debutante"). Director Bruce Kessler directed four episodes of The Monkees, the next being "Monkees at the Circus." He also directed single episodes of The Flying Nun, Mission: Impossible, I Dream of Jeannie, Alias Smith and Jones, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, T. J. Hooker, and Knight Rider, and five episodes of The Greatest American Hero, among other credits.

Phil Leeds is one of those character actors that you seem to spot all the time... and he has a great list of credits, but we'll focus on those that might be of more interest to you: He played Blackie Sorrell in a 1962 episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, appeared in two episodes of Car 54, Where Are You? in two different roles, played Dr. Shand in Rosemary's Baby, appeared in an episode of The Second Hundred Years, played three different parts in three different episodes of The Odd Couple, was in the TV version of It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! playing an MIT technician, was Keek in an episode of The Lost Saucer, was the Chief Monk in History of the World: Part 1, was Banker Schlockmocker in Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie, one episode of ALF, but may be best remembered for his seven different roles in seven episodes of Barney Miller, Uncle Mel in Everybody Loves Raymond, or perhaps as Judge Dennis "Happy" Boyle in Ally McBeal. He died in 1998.

Irwin Charone had credits in one episode of My Favorite Martian, two episodes of Mister Ed, three on The Jack Benny Program, two on The Munsters, one episode of  My Mother The Car, would appear in a 1967 Monkees episode, "Monkee Mayor" playing the Major, two roles on Get Smart, two on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, five roles on Bewitched (most of them as clients for McMann and Tate), and also appeared in the movies Herbie Rides Again and The Strongest Man in the World. Joseph Mell previously had an uncredited role in When Worlds Collide, as well as The Atomic City, played The Professor in a 1953 episode of The Adventures of Superman, Lah in The Lost Planet, Dr. Hugo Wagner in I Was a Teenage Werewolf, appeared in a single episode of The Twilight Zone, one episode of The Munsters, two episodes of My Living Doll (playing different parts each time), two episodes of Bewitched, one of It's About Time, two of Get Smart, one  Nanny and the Professor, one The Magician, but if you recognize him from anything else, it's probably from playing the Earth Trader in the original Star Trek pilot episode, "The Cage" (later reincorporated into "The Menagerie, Part 1 and 2").

Owen McGiveney earlier appeared in uncredited roles in Journey to the Center of the Earth as a shopkeeper, as well as a physician in Snow White in the Three Stooges, guested in an episode of The Outer Limits as well as an episode of Bewitched, and played Charles in an episode of Batman. He died in 1967. Buddy Lewis had appeared in an episode of Adventures of Superman, My Living Doll, The Munsters, I Dream of Jeannie, two Man From UNCLEs, and a Mission: Impossible. He died in 1986.  Mary Foran appeared in single episodes of Mister Ed, It's About Time, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Girl From UNCLE, and The Second Hundred Years. She died in 1981. Leigh Chapman also appeared in eight episode of The Man From UNCLE, playing different parts in nearly every episode, but she's got more geek credits as a writer, writing single episodes of My Favorite Martian and Mission: Impossible, as well as eight episodes of The Wild, Wild West.

Larry Gelman has credits for single episodes of Mission: Impossible, I Dream of Jeannie (playing Sigmund Freud in a 1966 episode), Batman, Get Smart, and Nanny and the Professor, would later appear in two more Monkees episodes, two Flying Nun, and had roles in Now You See Him, Now You Don't and The Strongest Man in the World and Wholly Moses!, had an appearance in Mork & Mindy, but may be most remembered as Officer Bernstein in eight episodes of Eight is Enough, or as Hubie Binder in six episodes of Maude, Dr. Bernie Tupperman in 13 episodes of The Bob Newhart Show, or 12 episodes of The Odd Couple as Vinnie.

monkees12-01The episode opens at the Monkees' beach pad, with the camera pulling out to view Mike and Peter playing checkers when there's a knock at the door. Mike answers the door, and it's the Mailman, delivering a booklet to Peter from a body-building school (Peter asks "Who needs that?" and when Mike tosses the book to him, Peter's knocked back to his seat) and an letter to "Dear Occupant" telling Mike (who's opened it -- Peter is busy trying to tear the booklet to prove he does have strength) that because of his talent, he's been picked for a special opportunity from High Class Music Publishers. Since Mike's written a song (to the surprise of the rest of the boys -- odd, considering how many songs they've performed on the show that Mike's written), he figures he'll apply. This causes Micky to suddenly appear in vaudeville clothes as a song peddler (with Davy faking piano accompaniment, until he tries to perform a run on the keys, causing him to fall down). Mike takes their kidding,  but decides he'll apply anyway since songwriting is a million dollar industry. The door knocks again, and the mailman is there to tell Mike there's six cents due on the letter.

After the opening credits, Mike shows up at the offices of High Class Music Publishers, talking to an old man who says his song is called "My Funny Valentine." Mike points out there's already a song by that name, and the man shushes him, saying, "Do you want to ruin everything?" Bernie comes out of the interior office to tell Mike he's next, and they go into the office, where we see that among the other businesses offered there are greeting cards, storm windows, reconditioned vacuum cleaners, and magazine subscriptions! Bernie asks Mike what they can do for him (there's a bit about Bernie's last name being Class, and Mike assumes he's High Class, but the firm was started by his brother, Irving -- who would want to go to the Irving Class Music Publishing Company?). Mike shows Bernie his song, "I'm Gonna Buy Me a Dog," and Bernie reads through it. He doesn't seem impressed, and Mike looks uncomfortable. However, Bernie says he loves it, and that he'll get the song to Joanie Jans, the hottest thing in show business right now. Bernie tells Mike that if he gets him $100 for legal fees and incidentals that the deal will be in the bag, but of course, Mike doesn't have the money. Bernie talks Mike into getting the money somehow, and Bernie tells Mike to picture his name on a marquee someday (although he can't ever seem to get Mike's last name right). Mike dashes out to a phone booth and calls the boys to give them the good news, as well as his mother and Mr. Conway (whom Mike had met on a bus five years ago).

monkees12-03Later, at the pad, the boys are talking about the good news, and Peter starts to play his guitar, and we lead into a performance of the song Mike's written (which, as you'll note from above, was not a Mike Nesmith-written song in reality!). We get some shots of the Monkeemobile with the boys inside, then at a park where they're enjoying some chocolate milk shakes, shortly joined by some dogs. Then we get shots of the boys playing with the dogs, including riding their unicycles with training wheels. The middle part of the song where Micky and Davy are exchanging old jokes is cut from the song. The segment ends when a dog catcher is spotted, but the dog catcher captures the Monkees instead!

monkees12-04Mike gets the money to Bernie, but is a nickel short (he had to pawn his guitar to get the money). Mike's uncertain that Joanie's going to perform the song, so Bernie calls up Joanie (in reality he's calling up an older couple, but they know nothing about it -- the wife thinks that it's her boyfriend calling!). Mike's convinced by this, and rushes back to the phone booth. Back at the pad, Micky's convinced that Mike's been had (an odd turn of events, as it's usually Peter who falls for a scam like this one). Davy figures they'll get the goods on Bernie, and the three Monkees changes into the Monkeemen, and Davy and Micky fly off, although Peter can't seem to get any air at all.

monkees12-05Later, they show up at High Class Music Publishers wearing coveralls (Peter shows up last, still in costume, but ducks into a phonebooth to change, initially coming out in glasses). They enter the office saying they've come to tune the piano, and Bernie points it out to them before continuing to do some dictation. At the movie set for Joanie Jans' movie, Mike approaches the star. Bernie's dictating letters to other suckers, and the three Monkees leave, planning to call Mike and tell him the news. Back at the set, Joanie greets Mike and gives him her autograph. Mike tells Joanie he's proud that she's doing his song, but of course, she knows nothing about it, and can't see how it fits with her current film, a horror flick with a werewolf and a vampire! Mike realizes he's been taken.

monkees12-06Back at the pad, Mike's sitting by himself in a room, and the other Monkees try to cheer him up to no avail (it doesn't help that Peter suggests going to a movie called "With a Song in My Heart"). Finally, Davy goes into the room, and asks Mike what he wants to do. Mike says he just wants to sit around the house and fail, but Davy points out that Bernie tricked him. Mike figures the song wasn't that groovy, but Davy insists it would've been a smash hit. Micky then enters to do his Cagney impression, which makes Davy smile but doesn't cheer up Mike at all. Micky leaves and Peter enters to tell Mike that his mother says Mike has the best posture of anyone she knows, which makes Mike smile. Then the three insist that they have a plan to get Mike's money back. Micky disguises his voice and calls up Bernie, telling him to be at Mammoth Studios in one hour.

monkees12-07At the studio, the Monkees arrive first, with Micky disguised as M.D. Mammoth, owner of the studio, with Davy and Peter as his aides. They bluff their way past the guard and onto the set of a film. Bernie shows up on the set, and Micky says he wants a new song for Joanie's movie, and that the song must have a dog in it. Bernie offers Mike's song, and Micky accepts it, saying he wants the song. Bernie offers to be back in 10 minutes, but Micky says make it eight. Bernie returns with Mike, but Micky says he wants the song on exclusive terms, requiring Mike to sign a new contract. Mike insists he won't sign it for less than $200, and Bernie gives him the money (but he's a dollar short), so Mike signs the contract. Bernie gives Micky the contract and leaves the set, and the gang's happy.

monkees12-08Then it's time for another romp, with "Mary, Mary" playing while the Monkees fool around on the movie set, Mike shining spotlight towards Peter, Micky and Davy as they're running around on the catwalks. This may be one of the least "fun" of the Monkee romps, as there's not a lot of visual gags, mostly just running around, until Mike "shoots" Peter, causing a dummy of Pete to fall down.

monkees12-09Later, Mike gives half of his money to the old man from the beginning. It turns out the old man has written a new song, "I Want to Buy Me a Dog!" Mike figures that's that, and then notices that while Micky and Davy are with him, Peter is missing! They hear a rush of air, and look up in the sky to see Peter flying in his Monkeeman costume!

So, that's the episode... not one of the great episodes, but not bad. As I noted, it's usually Peter who gets caught in a scam like this, as Mike's usually portrayed as the most intelligent of the boys. However, we do get the first appearance of the Monkeemen, and the scene with Micky, Davy and Peter taking off will later appear in the opening credits of the season two episodes. It's too bad that they didn't actually use a song Mike had written for this episode, but I suppose someone realized that it was about the only song left from the Monkees' debut album that had yet to appear in an episode!

Next: "One Man Shy," aka "Peter and the Debutante"!

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