Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Monkees, Season 1, Episode 6: "The Success Story"!

"The Success Story" is a Davy-focused episode, written by Gerald Gardner, Dee Caruso and Bernie Orenstein. It was directed by James Frawley. The songs featured in this episode are "I Want to Be Free" by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and "Sweet Young Thing," by Michael Nesmith, Gerry Coffin and Carole King. Both songs appear on the Monkees self-titled album. Guesting in this episode are Ben Wright as Davy's grandfather, Ray Ballard as a messenger, Ceil Cabot as an old woman, Donald Foster as a Rolls-Royce owner, and Charlie Callas as an ice cream man!

"He's Davy!"
The episode opens oddly with a freeze-frame of Davy, Peter and Micky playing cards with Mr. Scheider, the dummy; the writing credits are superimposed, and the usual snippet of music played after the opening credits is played. Peter's protesting being the dummy, and that the dummy should be the dummy, but when Micky pulls Mr. Schneider's string to see what he says, the dummy replies, "It's a shame to waste youth on children." Mike then approaches the table with a telegram man, who demands to know who gets the telegram. Mike introduces the messenger as "the general," and the other three Monkees all stand at attention, as does Mike. When the messenger says he's no general, they all relax. When the messenger asks about Mr. Schneider, Mike says he's their advisor. Finally, the messenger asks who Davy Jones is, and they all claim to be Davy, but when he says the wire is collect, they all point at someone else. Davy finally says he'll take the wire, but it'll cost him $1.80, which Mike says Mr. Schneider will take care of, since he's the only one working.  The Monkees dart away as the messenger tries to get the money out of him. At the other end of the room, Davy reads the telegram and learns that his grandfather is arriving from England at six that evening, but Davy's told his grandfather that he's a big star now, quite wealthy! If Davy's grandfather finds out he's not a success, he'll take Davy back to England, and he'll have to leave the group. Meanwhile, the messenger still hasn't gotten the money out of Mr. Schneider!

"This car is like an athlete!"
After the opening credits, Mike's asking Davy why he had to tell his grandfather he was rich, and Davy explains that success is important to his grandfather -- he practically raised Davy, sent him to school and all that. Davy's afraid it'll break his grandfather's heart to find he hasn't made it. Micky points out that they can't make Davy a millionaire, but Mike says they could sure make him look like one! So, soon, Micky approaches the owner of a Rolls Royce who doesn't drive his car, he just polishes it! Micky says the car's like an athlete, it has to be kept in tip-top shape, but the owner insists it is! Micky then opens the hood, and birds fly out! When the owner admits that maybe he'd better get someone to exercise the car, Micky provides a card, selling the owner on the idea of him doing it!

Unbelievable spaghetti!
Next, it's Mike's turn, and he goes to Tony's and applies for the job of an expert Italian chef, insisting that the owner won't believe the kind of spaghetti he can make! Of course, he's only taking the job because he needs the uniform, as he's a disaster in the kitchen, and he's fired immediately! When the owner says, "I thought you said you could make excellent spaghetti," Mike quite honestly points out that he only said he wouldn't believe the kind of spaghetti he can make, and runs off with the chef's uniform!

Pete wants the shirt off his back!
Back at the pad, the messenger's still trying to get Mr. Schneider to pay for the wire, unsuccessfully. Micky offers to show the messenger how to get the money back, and talks him into exchanging clothes, and then he pretends to rough up the dummy, producing the money. Later, Peter approaches an ice cream vendor, but of course he doesn't want ice cream, no matter how many flavors the seller mentions... "Unless," he says, "you want the shirt off my back." Peter nods agreement (he hasn't said a word the entire time). Soon, Peter has the seller's jacket, and the ice cream man's got no shirt on at all! Amazingly, this helps his sales immediately.

Inspection time!
Back at the pad, Davy's straightening out his tie, and calls out, "Inspection time!" His bandmates walk in, Micky dressed as his chauffeur (Davy asks, "How would you help a young lady into the back of my car?" Micky replies, "As fast as I can!"), Michael as his chef (his three main dishes will be "vishy swats," "chateau brigand," and "chocolate mouse" -- when Davy points out he can't make those dishes, Mike agrees, saying, "I know, I can't say them, either."), and Peter has his devoted houseboy ("I live only to serve my master and do his bidding," Peter insists, but when Davy tells him to get his coat, Peter snaps, "Get it yourself!").

Davy realizes it wasn't Mike in disguise!
Davy's grandfather's plane arrives at the airport, and Davy meets him, Micky driving the Rolls. When his grandfather suggests he must be doing very well, Davy starts to say he's been fortunate, but then a Texan (Mike in disguise) approaches them, asking if he's Davy Jones, and wanting his autograph. Mike gets a bit over the top with his praise, ("My family sleeps a little better at night, knowing you're out there singing!") and manages to hint to Davy that Peter's next. Of course, Peter is next and he's posing as a press photographer, and gets a couple of shots. Two women notice this (one of them we've seen before -- she was the maid at the hotel in the first episode who ended up owning the hotel). Peter tells Davy that Mike's coming back in another disguise, but the two women approach Davy first, and ask for his autograph, and Davy, of course, thinks that Mike's pulled off the disguise of the century, and then MIke does approach him, and Davy realizes his mistake! Davy then rushes his grandfather to the Rolls so they can leave.

"Is the fruit rubber?" "No..."
Later, at the pad, Peter announces that dinner is served, and Davy and his grandfather sit down to a meal, but when Mike tries to tell Davy that one of the plates only has real food, while the other has rubber, but Davy ends up finding out the hard way -- they could only afford one serving! Davy asks Peter if the fruit is rubber, and Peter says it isn't -- it's plastic. After the meal, Davy says he's so hungry he could eat a horse -- and Mike says, "Why didn't you say so?" and we see a brief clip of Mike, Micky and Peter trying to pull a horse in to the house (this is a clip from a later episode of the series -- and it's been flipped, as we can see from the backwards writing on the "Money is the root of all evil" sign on the wall).

The deceit is uncovered!
Davy's grandfather says it's wonderful to see that Davy's so affluent, with a staff and all, in a quiet, beachside home, to which Davy says, "Well, if money can't buy you privacy, what good is it?" Just then, one of the neighbors barges in to borrow some hot dogs, and she points out that their cupboard is even barer than hers! This gets grandfather suspicious... and his suspicions raise even further when the messenger comes to the door, demanding his uniform back, followed shortly after by the Rolls owner demanding his car back, then the Italian restaurant owner shows up demanding his uniform, and finally, the ice cream guy arrives! Davy tries to provide some explanations to all this, but to no avail -- and then the neighbor leaves with a plate full of rubber food, because it's better than nothing! The arguing gets worse and worse, and finally grandfather calls for quiet, saying that everyone will be taken care of, and asks Davy if there's any other bills that haven't been paid, and Davy says no... and then the power gets shut off. Grandfather's very disappointed, and says he's going back to England tomorrow, and taking Davy with him!

A depressed Davy.
The next day, grandfather insists that Davy should've been honest with him, and Davy apologizes. Davy decides to take a walk on the beach before they leave for the airport. Mike approaches grandfather and says Davy did all this for him, he just wanted grandfather to be proud of him. Grandfather insists Davy needs a family, he can't just go on "frittering his life away," but Mike insists it's him -- he's not thinking about Davy at all, he just misses him, or because he needs him. Grandfather denies this, but Mike's not convinced, and walks off.

Davy says goodbye to the guys.
On the beach, "I Wanna Be Free" plays as Davy walks along the beach and looks out over the water, remembering some of the good times he's had with his fellow Monkees (we get some clips from romps of the boys on swings, riding their unicycles, and things like that - including clips of romps we haven't seen yet). He returns to the beach house as the song ends.

Broken up about losing Davy.
Davy says goodbye to his friends, and says, "I hate goodbyes." Micky says, "Okay then... welcome to America, Davy," and shakes his hand. Mike says, "Be good," and Peter hands Davy a parachute in case grandfather changes his mind on the plane. Grandfather then sticks his head inside and asks Davy if he's ready... and Davy insists that it'll be good to see England again... and says a final goodbye, and walks out.

Later, at the airport, Davy and his grandfather arrive. Grandfather asks what the problem is, and Davy insists there's nothing wrong, and he'll meet him on the plane. This gets grandfather thinking. At the pad, the other guys are all broken up about Davy leaving, and decide that maybe, Davy just won't make his flight, and head out!

Ten pounds under? Or ten pounds over?
At the airport, Peter, disguised as a baggage attendant, collects their bags and runs away with them! Inside, the counter is manned by Micky (also in disguise), who insists that grandfather is ten pounds underweight, and that's a problem! But when grandfather points out a bag Micky missed weighing, he's now ten pounds overweight, and fixes it by opening it up and emptying it out! But when grandfather insists he needs those clothes, Micky shoves them in grandfather's arms (without the suitcase). The flight is called, but Micky won't let him go until he's selected his seat, and then he gives him some bad directions as to which gate to go to for his flight. Grandfather gets greatly confused, but then suddenly sees the light. Next, he runs into Peter, dressed as Icarus, who insists that if he gets to close to the sun, his wings will melt, so he shouldn't fly!

"You've got three loyal friends here, Davy!"
Getting past Peter, grandfather next is offered a lift on a small electric cart (driven by Mike, barely disguised), and Mike drives him way out of the way, pursued by Peter and Micky! At the gate, Davy looks at his watch, wondering what's keeping his grandfather... and finally, they all arrive at the gate. Davy's grandfather says that Davy will be missing the plane, because he's got three loyal friends, and he can leave him safely in their hands. When Davy suggests that grandfather will have a long, lonely trip back, grandfather disagrees, and the woman from before (you know, the one from the first episode, in a different role this time) is going with him! Grandfather starts telling the woman about Davy, and he says all the lies Davy and the gang were perpetuating!

Performing "Sweet Young Thing"
Dancing with the senior citizens
Later, relaxing in a small park on a bench, Micky realizes that if they wanted to impress Davy's grandfather, they should've played for him! And suddenly, they have guitars and drums, and start playing "Sweet Young Thing," which a whole mess of senior citizens hear nearby, and rush over to dance along with the Monkees, interspersed with scenes of the Monkees performing on stage. Oddly enough, at the beginning of this scene, the Monkees are wearing their red eight-button shirts, but when they start dancing with the seniors, they're all in suits and ties! This is about as close as we get to a romp this episode, with a few gags involving Davy not being able to push one old man in his wheelchair, so they change places; another gag as the four Monkees losing a game of tug-o-war to an old woman who's only holding on the rope with one hand! And as I've noted before, in the sequences where they're performing on stage, Mike is much more into it than when he's not the lead singer. By the end of the sequence, the boys are back in their red shirts as they're pursued by the senior citizens, who now want their autographs!

Davy talks about his trip back to England.
The show ended up being a minute short, so the Monkees were filmed backstage answering questions. It starts with Mike sitting there, and then Davy approaches from across the stage (he explains, embarrassed, that he had to go to the bathroom). Davy's asked what his father in England will think when he sees the show, and Davy figures his father will like it. He makes a joke about his father living off of his money, then says his father has been very ill. Davy had gone back to England before the shoot started, and says it was funny, because his sister and her husband didn't expect to see Davy's long hair, and since Davy's rather baby-faced, they even thought he was a girl at first! (This prompts Micky to do his impression of Davy, portraying him as a baby) Davy went to see his father, and his father told him to get a haircut (apparently his hair was even longer before this trip), so he did, but his father insisted on getting it cut shorter! Davy says he fixed him, though, he bought him a house so he can't turn him away next time! Micky gets the last word, saying, "Tune in next week when we're another minute short!" And ironically enough, that will prove to be true!

Now, normally, I don't always care for the Davy-centric episodes of the Monkees, as it usually ends up being the girlfriend of the week kind of thing, but this one was, obviously, very different! Another thing I liked about it was that Peter wasn't shown as being stupid, but rather more innocent or naive. Probably the best thing was seeing the affection they have for each other portrayed on screen. I have to admit, watching the scene where Davy's leaving the beach house, I got a bit choked up (I am writing this not all that long after Davy passed away).

It was interesting that the episode featured Davy's grandfather (who's never given a proper name)... since Davy is sort of the "Paul" of the Monkees, and the show was influenced by "A Hard Day's Night" (in which Paul McCartney's grandfather is a character). The two grandfathers couldn't be more different, though!

Ben Wright, who played grandfather, had previously appeared as a Senechal in Prince Valiant, and played the small part of Paisley in Journey to the Center of the Earth. He also had a small role in the 1960 version of The Lost World, was the voice of Roger in the original 101 Dalmations, appeared in three episodes of The Twilight Zone, four episodes of The Outer Limits, guest-starred in episodes of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and My Living Doll (which starred future Monkee guest star Julie Newmar), played Herr Zeller in The Sound of Music (which, honestly, is probably where most of you would recognize him), and also did guest spots on Get Smart, My Favorite Martian, The Addams Family, appeared as Hennesey in Munster, Go Home!, and later guested on The Time Tunnel, Captain Nice, The Invaders, The Wild Wild West, Tarzan, Mission: Impossible, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, and voiced Wolf in The Jungle Book and Grimsby in The Little Mermaid.

You might remember Donald Foster, who was the Rolls owner, from his role of Herbert Johnson on Hazel. Charlie Callas should need no introduction, having had a long career in comedy, but he could also be seen in an episode of The Munsters, voiced Elliott in Pete's Dragon, played Sinestro on Legends of the Superheroes, played Dracula in Hysterical, did a voice in an episode of The Ren & Stimpy Show, a bartender in Vampire Vixens from Venus, and several other genre roles!

As I may have mentioned before, while the pilot episode was the first one to use "I Wanna Be Free," it hadn't aired by this point, so this episode was the TV debut of the song, along with "Sweet Young Thing."

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