Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Monkees, Episode 16: "Son of a Gypsy"!

And we're up to episode 16 of The Monkees, "Son of a Gypsy," which was written by Treva Silverman and Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso. I believe I've covered their other credits before.

The only song performed in this episode is the Neil Diamond-penned "I'm a Believer," which, as I've noted before, was on the Monkees' second album, however, "Let's Dance On," from the first album, is performed in part at the ball. Guest stars in this episode were Jeanne Arnold as Maria, Vincent Beck as Marco, Victor Tayback as Rocco, Mario Roccuzzo as Zeppo, Gene Dynarski as Kiko, and Elisabeth Camp as Madame Ramtha. Also look for director James Frawley as a Yugoslavian guest! The same year she appeared in this episode, Jeanne Arnold played Grace in Munster Go Home, and appeared in two episodes of Bewitched in 1972. Vincent Beck had played Voldar in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, guested in episodes of Mister Ed, Gilligan's Island, Get Smart, Honey West, The Girl From UNCLE, The Man From UNCLE, T.H.E. Cat, The Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, The Wild Wild West, The Immortal, Alias Smith and Jones, Mission: Impossible, The Magician, and The Invisible Man (1975). He'd previously appeared in the first episode aired of The Monkees, "Royal Flush," playing Sigmund, and returned to play Ivan in "The Card Carrying Red Shoes." Mario Roccuzzo later guest starred in the 1974 TV movie Wonder Woman, appeared in the TV movie The Clone Master, guested on an episode of the 1985 Tales from the Darkside as well as appearances in episodes of Sledge Hammer!, Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Flash, and played Nick Bezis in the 2001 TV movie Earth Vs. the Spider. Vic Tayback will be forever remembered as Mel  on Alice, but he'd also previously appeared in episodes of The Man From UNCLE, I Dream of Jeannie, Captain Nice, Get Smart, and Star Trek (playing Krako in "A Piece of the Action"). He previously played George in the episode "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers," and would appear again, playing Chuche in "Art for Monkees' Sake" in 1967. Later, he appeared in episodes of Mission: Impossible, Land of the Giants, Bewitched, multiple episodes of Fantasy Island, two episodes of the 1984-1988 Tales From the Darkside, and voiced Carface in All Dogs Go to Heaven. Gene Dynarski had previously played Benedict in the Batman two-parter "An Egg Grows in Gotham/The Yegg Foes in Gotham," would later appear in another Monkees episode, playing Toto in "Monkees Chow Mein," two episodes each of Mission: Impossible and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, appeared in two Star Trek episodes (playing Ben Childress in "Mudd's Women" and Krodak in "The Mark of Gideon"), and would later appear in single episodes of Land of the Giants, Kung Fu, The Invisible Man, Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (playing Lawrence in "Beyond Witch Mountain"), Star Trek: The Next Generation, and The X-Files. He also played Ike in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Elisabeth Camp had previously appeared in a small role in the episode "Dance, Monkee, Dance."
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Maria wants the Maltese Vulture!
The episode opens as the Monkees and a group of gypsies await word on which of them will be entertaining at a ball being held by Madame Ramtha. Maria is the matriarch of the gypsies, and she's with her sons, Marco, Rocco, Zeppo and Kiko (given the third son's name, I wonder if these are parody names based on the Marx Brothers?). Maria is very confident that she and her sons will get the gig. When the Monkees attempt to be friendly with their rivals, they just growl -- especially Marco, who's known for keeping a grudge for years. Madame Ramtha comes in and tells them that the Monkees have the gig, which puts a crimp in Madame Ramtha's plans to use the ball as a way of stealing the fabulous Maltese Vulture statue! Madame Ramtha leaves the two groups, and Marco is about to attack the Monkees, but Maria stops him. She tells the Monkees that to show there are no hard feelings, they should visit her at the gypsy's camp. Peter, of course, thinks of camp in terms of summer camp. The invitation is accepted for noon tomorrow... although the Monkees aren't too sure about the idea!

After the opening credits, the Monkees are making their way to the gypsy camp in the woods, and waiting for them are Maria and her sons (including Marco, who's playing with a yo-yo). Marco expects to kill them when they arrive, but Maria has other plans... at least until the Monkees help them get the Maltese Vulture. The Monkees arrive, and Maria greets them, saying she wants them to feel like one of them, and has Rocco give them a set of gypsy clothes to wear, as well as a good luck charm to wear around the neck (a boar's tooth -- Mike notices his has a cavity, but Marco says his group had 27% fewer cavities). Micky promises he'll never give his away -- he couldn't! Peter gives Marco a shaker of salt in return for good luck, and Marco throws the whole thing over his shoulder, shattering it.

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Rocco prepares to read Micky's tea leaves.
Maria's sons them show the Monkees the camp, except for Marco, who Maria has hold back for a moment, instructing him to drug the Monkees, drag them, and then tie them up... but no roughhouse! Marco, frowing, agrees, and Maria rewards him with a sugar cube, feeding it to him like she would to a horse. Meanwhile, Rocco shows Micky where Maria reads the future. Micky asks what one pin in a chart stands for, and Rocco says it's for the flow of the tide. Micky pulls another pin out, asking what it stands for, and as the chart falls to the ground, Rocco tells Micky it stands for holding up the chart! Rocco says he can show Micky his future by reading the tea leaves, although Micky doesn't believe in that stuff. Micky sits and drinks the tea Rocco prepares for him, then Rocco looks at the leaves, telling Micky (who's been slipped a Mickey in the tea) that he's growing tired... and then he'll fall down and become unconscious... which Micky does.

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Davy's pinned by Marco's knives!
Next, Marco is showing Davy where he learned knife throwing from his father, and shows Davy how he fights with a knife. He shoves a handkerchief into Davy's mouth, saying that the first one to let go is a coward, then he takes the hankie in his own mouth, lifting Davy off the ground! Davy lets go, joyfully saying he's the coward! Davy hands the knife Marco gave him back, and tries to leave, but Marco starts throwing knives at Davy, pinning him to a board!

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Peter's all tied up!
Then, Zeppo is with Peter, saying that when people think of gypsy, they think of a dancer (Peter thinks of Ethel Merman). A pretty gypsy girl approaches, and Kiko and the girl start to dance around Peter. As Peter says "Dance, gypsies, dance!" he's completely unaware they are tying him up! Then, Zeppo is showing Mike about phrenology, the reading of bumps on the forehead. Mike has no bumps, so Zeppo gives him some by hitting him on the head with a vase!

Later, the Monkees are tied up and telling Maria that they're not going to steal the Maltese Vulture for her. (Marco is surprised to find Micky knows Maria's name, but it's on her tent -- to which Marco says, "Who told you to read tent?!?" Maria gives him another sugar cube). Micky explains that they're not thieves, but Maria insists the urge to steal is universal (Davy asks Mike where she got that idea, and Mike says she stole it). She says if they won't help willingly, they'll use other means of persuasion (brandishing some hot pokers from the fire). She gives them five minutes to think it over.

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Davy's taller than his bandmates!
While they're alone, the Monkees imagine the tortures the gypsies will put them through, such as using the rack. We then get a fantasy sequence with Davy on the rack, being stretched out as his bandmates watch. He's released, and when Davy stands up, he's a good foot taller than the rest of the Monkees! Fantasy sequence ends, and they decide they're not going to be tortured... for about five seconds, then they start calling for help. Maria and her sons return, and ask if they're going to steal the Vulture or die... and as she waits for their answer, Marco rushes to the fire to get a hot poker, picking up Kiko's cooking lamb chop at first by mistake. The Monkees, threatened by the poker, decide they'll steal the Vulture. The gypsies celebrate by untying the Monkees and welcoming them into the family, but Marco's disappointed.

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It's no Michelangelo... no Charlton Heston, either!
Inside the tent later, Maria shows the Monkees the floor plan of the Ramtha mansion, pointing out the ballroom where they will be playing, and where Vulture is. She asks how they'll get into the guarded room the Vulture is kept in, and Micky takes a marker and draws out his approach, but then Mike takes another one and marks his own path, followed by Peter and Davy, turing the floor plan into a mess. When they're done, Micky holds it up (now framed) and says it's no Michelangelo (Mike quips, "It's no Charlton Heston, either!"). Later, the Monkees are dressed in their blue eight-button shirts, ready to go, except for Peter. Maria says Peter's staying as a hostage, and tells them Marco will take Peter's place.

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Micky tries to alert a Yugoslavian guest!
Later, at the ball, the Monkees play "Let's Dance On" as Madame Ramtha greets her guests. The camera pans over to the Monkees just as the song fades out, with Marco making an idiot of himself with the maracas, clearly having no idea what he's doing. He's not even aware the song's ended until they stop him. Mike wants to get out of there and call the police, so Davy suggests that Marco go check out what guards are where the Vulture is. Marco insists that the Monkees don't give him orders, Maria does -- when asked what his orders are, he says it's to see what guards are at the station. Madame Ramtha goes to greet the Monkees, but she's unaware of their attempt to warn her about the theft. Micky goes to get a drink and approaches one of the guests, and tries to tell him about the planned theft, but after he's told all, Micky finds the man is Yugoslavian, and doesn't understand a word of English! This man is played by James Frawley in a fake mustache (it looks rather like the real mustache Roger Carmel is known for).

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Marco performing "Shake, Rattle and Roll."
Meanwhile, Mike and Davy go to a window to put a note in a bottle and toss it out the window -- and after the bottle is thrown, a hand reaches in and gives Mike the two cents deposit on it! Marco returns and tells them about the guards, and Davy checks his watch -- they only have until midnight, or it's curtains for Peter (Marco helpfully points out, "No curtains -- death for Peter!"). The Monkees rush off to deal with the guards, and Marco gets back on stage to deliver his unique version of "Shake, Rattle and Roll."

In the hallway, Davy suggests that if Mike and Micky distract the guards, he'll try to get in the room. Davy goes to the guards and waves his hands in front of their faces for some reason, while down at the end of the hall, Micky pretends to hold Mike up at gunpoint! The guards pay no attention to it, telling Davy they're not supposed to leave their posts. Next, Mike and Micky fake a fight, but it's still no dice. Next, Mike and Micky come back with lit matches, shouting "Fire!" but there's no reaction from the guards until Micky drops his burnt-out match, which they go to pick up and throw away. When one guards asks don't they know how to read, Micky replies, "No, we're musicians." The guards return to their post, but Davy's already entered the room.

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The safe plays "Last Train to Clarksville"!
Inside, Davy prepares to steal the Vulture. He's carrying a large valise, and says all he needs now is a light. He pulls his other hand up, and there's a lit candle in it ("Wrong light!"). He puts that hand down and brings it up again with a flashlight.  Checking his watch, Davy approaches the wall safe where the Vulture is kept, first removing a painting covering the safe (revealing a smaller painting of a safe, which he then removes to reveal the actual safe, also framed). Davy goes into the valise and pulls out all sorts of tools (many of which couldn't possibly fit into the valise, such as a long-handled sledgehammer) as well as a rabbit before he gets a detonator, which he attaches to the safe. Backing away, he pushes down the plunger, causing a lamp behind him to explode! This gets one of the guards to look inside, but he figures everything's okay. Then, Davy gets a stethoscope and proceeds to try to open it up like a safecracker, but when he turns the dial, he hears "Last Train to Clarksville"!

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"You can see the flaw in the midnight!"
Next, Davy dons thick gloves (somehow putting them on an extra set of hands that have popped out of nowhere in particular) for some reason,.. but he's interrupted when Madame Ramtha comes to the room to show one of her guests the Maltese Vulture! Davy hides behind the curtain of a window as they enter, and she opens the safe (without using the combination, just pulls it open -- she also doesn't notice the paintings are gone, nor the still-attached wires from the detonator that disappear in the next shot). She takes the statue out and shows it to her guest, as Davy checks his watch.

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Peter catches the Vulture!
Outside, Maria, her other sons, and Peter are waiting, and Maria tells Peter they have five minutes to get her the vulture, or it's curtains for Peter! Peter's relieved, because for a minute, he thought they were going to kill him! Inside, the guest admires the Vulture, asking how something so beautiful could have come from such an ugly bird, to which Ramtha replies, "Oh, you've met my husband?" Suddenly, Micky and Mike enter, and Micky's hair is all wild, and he's using one of his standard voices (this one involving a lot of lisping and making his voice somewhat screechy). He's wearing all kinds of buttons on his suit (no, I don't know where the suits he and Mike are wearing came from), and he tells Madame Ramtha you can hardly see the flaw in the statue. Madame doesn't see the flaw, so Micky tells her you can see it in the sun (of course, it's midnight, which Micky says you can see the flaw in). Outside, the gypsies are about to knife Peter when Micky drops the statue out of the window into Peter's hands, giving him a reprieve! Madame orders her guards to grab the gypsies and bring them in.

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A good thief, but a bad speller!
In the ballroom, Madame Ramtha has brought in the Monkees and the gypsies, pointing out who stole the Vulture. Maria insists you can tell Peter's a thief, it's written all over his face (and Peter does have it written on his face, although misspelled -- Maria says, "A good thief, but a bad speller."). Mike insists that Davy tell him who they are, and Davy starts out with "Once upon a time, there was a group of..." but is interrupted when the guard presses his gun into Davy's chest. Micky says, "I don't like the way that guard's acting," and Davy replies, "What, are you a talent scout or something?"

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Performing "I'm a Believer."
Madame thanks the gypsies for helping her, and offers to take one of them to lunch this week, and says if there's anything they want to just take it, and Maria says, "The Vulture!" and grabs it! "I'm a Believer" starts to play, and it's time for a romp! The Monkees try to head off the gypsies, but they stop them. The Monkees huddle and try to hit the gypsies, but they easily duck the blows, sending the Monkees back into a huddle again. The guards are useless. Other attempts to take on the gypsy sons are useless, but as they continue to try, Maria starts stealing the guests' jewelry. We cut to the Monkees performing the song (wearing light tan eight-button shirts) for the second verse. It seems the final mis of the song wasn't finished, as Peter's clearly not playing the correct keyboard part of the song. We cut back to the Monkees trying to take on the gypsy sons when the chorus comes back. We get another cut to the performance intercut with the Monkees fighting (or trying to) with the gypsies. Oh, and there's been a few shots of Marco playing with his yo-yo during this, until Peter cuts the string with scissors. One huddle has the Monkees in football helmets, and they go into a regular football game with the gypsies! The Monkees get the Vulture back, and Davy shoots a cannon at Marco, and then finally the guards apprehend the gypsy sons.

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Maria and her boys are still thieves!
Later, we find the gypsies plan to turn over a new leaf, as they've decided it's easier to make money in show business. and Maria and Marco bid the Monkees goodbye, and the guards take them away. The Monkees are glad the gypsies have reformed, but then discover that Mike and Davy's watches, Micky's wallet, and Peter are all missing!

So, overall this was a fun episode, although there are one or two things that slightly mar is -- the gag with the detonator blowing up the wrong thing was used in another episode, for example... and then there's really nothing in the romp that has the Monkees turning the situation around so that the gypsies can be captured. Typically, they'd either tie them up or wear them out, but it's really just pushing a suit of armor at them that gets the guards to finally put an end to things. There's a surprising number of jokes made that the intended audience might not get -- such as the Ethel Merman and Charlton Heston references. Getting back to the detonator gag, this was one of the things that Mike Nesmith in particular grew tired of in the show, complaining that it was becoming too formulaic. It was nice that there wasn't any particular focus on one member of the group for the episode... if anything, there was kind of an unfocus, if you will, on Peter! One would've expected to get a bit of Peter while he was held hostage to make up for his lack of screen time while his bandmates were stealing the Vulture.

Next time around: "The Case of the Missing Monkee," as the Monkees get involved with foreign espionage once again!                                          

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