Monkees Vs. Macheen: “Dance, Monkee, Dance”


“If You Can’t Beat ’Em, Annoy ’Em”


Bernie Orenstein is the only writer credited for this episode. He wrote two others, “Success Story” and “Monkees a La Carte” with the team Gerald Gardner & Dee Caruso. Since this is his third and final in the broadcast order, I’ll mention some of his credits: He was a producer and writer for That Girl (1966), The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971), Sanford and Son (1972), Love, American Style (1973) and What’s Happening! (1976) among other shows. He also appeared in four episodes of The New Dick Van Dyke Show. “Dance, Monkee, Dance” first aired on December 12, 1966 and was directed by James Frawley. There’s some fun, surreal humor in this episode, and with lots memorable dialogue and sight gags.

The story starts off Miss Buntwell, with her big hair and New York accent, calling to offer Peter a free dance lesson if he can answer a question. All Peter has to do to win his dance lesson is to name the eighth president of the United States. After much prompting and a bit of a mental struggle, Ms. Buntwell finally gets him to say “Martin Van Buren” and he races off to pick up his free dance lesson. Through the scene, there was one action that distracted me:


She’s holding a cigarette, never taking a puff, but it still surprised me. When I watched in the mid 80s I thought I didn’t consider this odd because it wasn’t that unusual to see smoking on films and TV throughout the 70s-80s.  But in more recent years, it’s not treated so casually. According to “TV Stubs Out Smoking” on, over time, fewer and fewer characters on TV shows are shown smoking, especially if the entertainment is geared towards young viewers. Recently, I can only recall evil characters like the Smoking Man on The X-Files, or Patty and Selma on The Simpsons and all of whom suffer for their habit. Around this time in the mid to late 60s, there was growing information about the health risks of smoking. Even writers on The Monkees seemed to be expressing an opinion about it, calling the smoking Four Swine, “seedy characters” in “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers.”  I’m not sure if they’re saying she’s a seedy character, or if her smoking is meaningless. Radio and TV advertising of cigarette’s wasn’t banned until 1971, so at this time it was still legal.

Now, we return to this episode’s scam. Peter is excited to have won something he never wanted or needed before getting her call. Now, here he is at Renaldo’s Dance au Go Go enjoying his “free” dance lesson with Miss Buntwell, who flatters and flirts with him even though he’s stepping on her feet. Renaldo himself comes in to get what he’s after: Peter’s signature on a lifetime contract of dance lessons that Peter will pay for. Miss B flirts and growls and calls Peter “tiger” and Peter eats it up.

At home, Peter practices dance steps while the others fret about the contract he signed. Peter rolls out the very long document for Mike to look at. It’s a lifetime contract, with option for renewal. Where Peter is standing, we can see the “Money Is The Root Of All Evil” sign over his shoulder, just like it was emphasized in “I’ve Got a Little Song Here.”  The Monkees are caught in the web of yet another money-making scheme.

Peter’s insistence that no court in the world would convict him leads to a hilarious courtroom fantasy with Mike as the judge. As the prosecutor, Micky has a headshot of Hal March, who plays Renaldo, and asks Peter if he recognizes him. Peter wonders if this is a “trick question.” Clever, as Hal March was the host of The 64,000 Question in the 1950s, a game show that was part of the rigged quiz show scandal. Throughout the scene, watch Peter’s face as he looks like he’s on the verge of cracking up. Maybe it’s because Mike goes hysterically over the top. Usually that’s Micky’s job, while Mike plays it cool. Here, Mike takes the crazy-ball and runs with it, eating his wig, clubbing everyone on the head with his gavel and maniacally repeating that Peter is “Guilty, guilty, guilty…!”


Micky thinks he can get Peter out of it, because one good hustle deserves another. He goes to Renaldo’s pretending to be Peter’s “solicitor” and says Peter has ballpointitis, making him sign long-term contracts. Renaldo says there are no loopholes, so, in demonstration Micky signs the contract binding him to a lifetime of dance lessons. Micky kind of fell on his own crafty sword there, huh.

Peter and Micky dance together at the pad while Mike watches with concern. He does that cute, striving-to-be-manly-but-ending-up-awkward shtick again. He looks at us and says “Well, I see you can’t send a boy to do a man’s bodge..uh, j’uh, job, badge…” etc. 

Mike is tricked into signing the same way Peter was; he gets seduced by Miss Buntwell. In his case, at least he gets to make out with her first. It’s nice to see Mike kiss a girl for once. It’s usually Davy, with Peter a distant second. It’s a good choice, as Miss Buntwell seems a little too mature for any of the other Monkees to handle. However, this is what happens when you send a “man instead of a boy.” He falls for a woman. At home, he tells Davy that he signed the contract and enrolled for graduate work. She must be a helluva kisser. So Micky and Mike, the “smart ones,” are just as foolish as Peter this time. Finally, a possible solution as Davy says what they need is a “man on the inside.”

Davy can dance, so he auditions to be one of Renaldo’s instructors. Renaldo probably sees Davy’s potential in charming ladies and hires him. There’s a clever edit between two scenes while Renaldo briefs Davy, and in the outer room, Miss Buntwell is getting another pigeon to sign a contract. Everything Renaldo says contradicts what Miss Buntwell says. Renaldo says he doesn’t care if Davy has ever taught at all, while Miss Buntwell assures her customer all the instructors have four years experience. Renaldo tells him the three most important words are “just sign here” and “money is everything,” just as Miss Buntwell asks her victim to sign and says, “money isn’t everything.”


Davy’s first lesson is with none other than Mike, Micky, and Peter. Renaldo says he’s leaving the boys in Davy’s capable hands, “or should I say feet.”  He laughs at his own joke and The Monkees all mock him. Another note about Hal March, the Internet Movie Database and Wikipedia both note that Hal March died from lung cancer that he’d developed as a result of his chain smoking. Pointing it out so I don’t miss the irony of my earlier paragraph about smoking.

How is Renaldo hooking all these people? He’s not preying on the hope for success like Bernie Class. It must be sex, not actual sex, but the promise of becoming sexier after these lessons, and being around the hot dance instructors. The Dancing Smoothies are comic, stereotyped lady-killers, even down to naming them “Smoothies.” Renaldo’s using seduction on these men and women and they go for it. Ms Buntwell wears a flashy, tight outfit and is flirty and sexy. She implies Peter will become studly after the lessons, and you can see his smitten look. Is Miss Buntwell a crook too? She seems to be in on the set-up, but comes to Peter’s defense when Renaldo calls him a sucker. She is clearly afraid of her boss, so maybe she desperately needs a paycheck.

Davy “teaches” them to dance in a romp of “I’ll Be Back Up on My Feet” (Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell). They do various dances, including the iconic footage of them dancing up the side of the rooftop in tuxedos and top hats. At the end, three of The Monkees say how fun it all was but Davy breaks the fourth wall with, “You must be joking. You know how much it costs for those sets and costumes.”

At home, The Monkees try to figure out how to get out of the situation.


This leads to Micky breaking the fourth wall in an extended bit. He walks off set and into the “writers’ room” for a fast, hip, groovy idea. The writers are older Asian men with long mustaches, and traditional garments. There’s a young guy in the back with a whip. That’s the part that kills me. The “writers” were a surprise, but the implication of the other guy? This is so absurd, subversive, not very PC, probably offensive, and very, very funny. You could almost miss the guy in the back, but once I thought about, it gave a weird edge to what I was seeing [Especially when I note the whip-master is white. – Editor]. [That could be your modern cynicism acting up again – Editor’s wife.] The writers start frantically typing and hand Micky paper. Micky takes the idea back to the set, say it’s terrible, and the writers are overpaid.


No problem, because Davy has seen Renaldo’s ad in the paper and says tomorrow the studio will be filled with suckers. Peter says “all day” and pulls out an all day sucker. Micky gives me one of my favorite quotable lines when he says: “Little joke. About that big,” and shows the tiny space with his fingers.

At the studio, Davy sets Mike up to keep Ms. Buntwell busy. This leads to the segments of Mike chasing Buntwell around the office, like he’s Pepe Le Pew, and she’s the painted cat [I never understood why a skunk would be attracted to a cat. – Editor]. The soundtrack aids the cartoony feel with zany music and sounds. Of course Mike just wants to occupy her, not actually catch her, and since Mike is more awkward than aggressive, this isn’t as creepy as it could be. In addition to the the funny dialogue, the thing that kills me about the scene is that both actors are incredibly expressive and huge with their facial expressions. We never forget it’s a comedy.


In the ballroom, Davy sets his plan in motion to chase off the potential customers. (You can hear a lady whisper “isn’t he cute” about Davy when he enters.) Similar to “Monkees vs. Machine,” the Monkees are here to ruin a business. Davy tells the ladies that the teachers are patient with mistakes. Peter comes out in a dress, and Micky pretends to be an angry, threatening instructor. Next, Davy tells the crowd they’ll learn all the latest dances and Micky and Peter contradict this by dressing and dancing as cavemen. Davy assures the ladies that the instructors are all perfect gentlemen. Micky’s in drag and Peter chases him, pulling his hair and pestering him for a kiss, while Micky shrieks a lot. Davy gives a big over-the-top wink to the camera.

Meanwhile, Mike’s got Miss Buntwell trapped on the table. Renaldo comes in and tells her to go talk to the new applicants. He’s smiling angrily with lots of white teeth. He’s looks like a mad game show host, and I thought this is before I knew he hosted The 64,000 Question.

Renaldo talks to the women in the ballroom, attempting damage control. Miss Buntwell prepares the Smoothies: four identical male dance instructors with matching outfits, mustaches and poses. The Monkees see them and approach, after plotting together with a round of “rhubarb, rhubarb. Mike offers to teach the Smoothies the Magooma: “first you raise your right arm, then you raise your left arm.” Smoothies raise their arms, and The Monkees hold them up at gunpoint. Probably toy guns, but if not:


Our boys come out in the Dancing Smoothies clothes and take over the ballroom, to a romp of “I’m a Believer” (Neil Diamond). Renaldo recognizes them and is horrified. The Smoothies appear in underwear and loose ropes. I guess The Monkees are bad at knots. The Monkees play volleyball against The Smoothies, and there’s lots of dancing and running around. Mike coaches the women and gets them to surround Renaldo and The Smoothies. The Monkees tie them up with the “Renaldo’s Dance Au Go Go” sign.

Tag sequence where the Monkees go into Renaldo’s office and jump around, annoying him. Renaldo rips up their contracts to get rid of them. Mike says the contracts are binding, and they’ll show up for every lesson unless he tears up all the lifetime contracts. Renaldo heads for the filing cabinet and they all start throwing papers all over the floor and tearing up the contracts. They love tearing up papers!

That was a lot of fun. There are a few elements to this episode that play differently now then they did when I watched them in reruns in the ’80s, and I imagine they played differently in the ’60s as well. I like that all four Monkees work as a team, none of them takes the spotlight or dominates the action. One thing about the storyline, they don’t really mention them as musicians or in a band at all. If this was the first and only one you watched, and you didn’t know the premise, you wouldn’t have a clue after this episode. Like Royal Flush, they seem like four guys just occupying a house. It’s another con-artist plot, but the comedy is satisfying: weird, and frequently over-the-top in both the jokes and the execution.



by Bronwyn Knox

Every couple of weeks, “Monkees vs. Macheen” examines the crazy, spirited, Ben Franks-type world of the Pre-Fab Four: David Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork alias The Monkees.


Monkees vs. Macheen: “Monkees à la Carte”


“If You Can’t Beat ’em, Confuse ’em.”


I’m really relieved to be past the pilot. For some reason, I found that to be a daunting task. Now we’re on to more fun episodes, like this one where they run into the mafia. Honestly, I always forget about this episode. It blends together with some of the other gangster-related stories. They do run into gun-toting crooks quite a bit: “Monkees in a Ghost Town,” “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers,” “Alias, Micky Dolenz,” “Monkees on the Wheel,” and “The Picture Frame” all have those types of antagonists. The Monkees live in a violent world, and they (mostly) don’t have any guns.

“Monkees à La Carte” was written by Gerald Gardner & Dee Caruso and Bernie Orenstein, directed by James Frawley and aired for the first time on November 21, 1966. At the start of the story, the Monkees are in an Italian restaurant, sharing a large cliché submarine sandwich. A nice old guy, Pop, is encouraging them to eat. That’s sweet; he hired them to play and he’s also feeding them. The actor playing Pop has an accent that’s hard to understand. A couple of unpleasant-looking men in suits come in and threaten and intimidate Pop into selling the place. Peter helpfully asks, for the benefit of the audience, if they are “hoods.”

The hoods do some very familiar shtick. Fuselli, the leader, throws a coin up, and Rocco, the henchmen tosses him a new one when he drops it. This echoes the entrance of Micky and Peter in “Monkees in a Ghost Town,” when they were pretending to be Big Man and Spider, and Spider hands the Big Man a coin to toss up. I was aware this was a homage to classic Hollywood gangster films, but wasn’t sure of any specific one. The pop culture-savvy group members of the Monkee Magic group suggested George Raft as the coin-tossing Guino Rinaldo in Scarface (1932).


The new owners fire the Monkees, and Davy confronts the larger one, Rocco, telling him to pick on someone his own size. Rocco’s about a foot taller than Davy, and he points out there is no one his size. I’m already impressed with Davy for standing up to this giant, and then he gets even braver: When Rocco pulls a gun, Davy brushes it aside and tells him, “You’re pretty tough with a gun in your hand.” Rocco punches him and knocks Davy and all the other Monkees back.


Since Pop is an underdog and a rare older adult that is kind to them, the Monkees have to help him out. Back at the pad, they have a meeting to discuss that. Mike has his gavel and wants suggestions from the “floor” about dealing with Fuselli, leading to a gag where Peter listens to the floor, the wall, and the ceiling. Davy, I guess dizzy from being hit (see the cute band-aid?), has lost his earlier bravery and thinks the gangsters are too tough. Mike’s already decided that they’re going to help Pop and ignores Davy’s protests that there wasn’t a vote. I love that they end the meeting by throwing papers all over the place, and I wish we could end meetings like this at work.

The Monkees go back to Pop’s former restaurant and ask Rocco for their jobs back. Rocco hires them to wait tables since they “work cheap.” The other Monkees stick this job on Peter. This sets up the main theme in this episode: sticking Peter with everything. Peter auditions, successfully carrying large stacks of plates across the restaurant. In the kitchen, Peter lets go of the tray, which hovers (if you look close, you can see wires) for a few seconds, and then falls.

The Monkees are all in waiter’s uniforms, lined up for inspection. Fuselli shows them how they deal with people they don’t like by cuing Rocco to slap Peter. Micky gets in Fuselli’s face to show him how the Monkees treat people they don’t like, After an intimidating glare from Fuselli, Micky also slaps Peter. Peter wants to know what he did to deserve that.


That was such a cartoon violence moment. It’s more fun to see an aggressive, obnoxious character get knocked around, rather than a laid back, passive personality like Peter.

Fuselli lists their jobs: Chefs, dishwashers, musicians, hat check girl, cooks, cigarette girls. Well, we know they can dress as girls so, okay Fuselli. Now it’s time for a kitchen romp to “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” (Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart). This is another good plot-relevant romp. They run around the kitchen mostly; cooking, juggling plates, playing sides of meat like guitars, and dropping stuff. Don’t miss Peter sneezing on the salt shakers. Maybe he was hoping to make Fuselli and Rocco very sick? Mike gets tangled in spaghetti, and this was the same shot used in Success Story (shot later but aired earlier). The best part of this is Peter’s struggles with the pizza dough. He tosses it up and it doesn’t come down, so he gets a gun and tries to shoot it down.

Since their antics aren’t working, they go to the police station where they meet with the Inspector who is very intense, and possibly insane. The actor is hilarious, flipping emotional temperature in a split-second. He tells them they are dealing with part of the Syndicate, and “The Only members of the syndicate we’ve captured belonged to the Purple Flower Gang. But, we got all four of them!” Mike asks, “How’d you do that?”


The Inspector tells them they must connect Fuselli to the violent Syndicate. Micky says they’re violent too, and attempts to demonstrate on Peter again, but Peter evades him and they all run out. I’m glad Peter got away from him that time. Peter is my hero in this episode, he takes all the abuse and does all the work. It occurs to me that in most of the other episodes I’ve looked at for these posts so far, Peter hasn’t been given much to do. The character in previous episodes is good for a few sight gags, or to say humorously clueless lines but generally Mike or Micky do most of the useful things. This is an ensemble episode with all the Monkees working together to defeat a common enemy, but Peter is the standout, stand-up guy. And he’s STILL performing the best sight gags and lines.

The Monkees attempt to get fingerprints is foiled by Fuselli wearing gloves, and their plan to record an incriminating conversation is ruined by the usually mechanically adept Micky screwing up with the tape recorder. (A common problem for the Monkees, see Davy in “Royal Flush“) Next, they go for breaking and destroying. They sneak into the office, in bandit masks, planning to use explosives to blow open the safe. Instead, they blow up the desk and scramble to replace it with the still intact safe. Micky looks at the camera and assures me, “They’ll never know the difference.”

Fuselli holds a meeting with the Syndicate, which gives the Monkees an opportunity to help the police arrest them all at once. Out in the dining area, the Syndicate introduces themselves, including a female gangster, Big Flora. Peter gets into it and offers his own introduction, and he really deserves the applause they give him.


The Monkees want to stay and listen to get the goods on the Syndicate but Fuselli gives them the boot and breaks out the big map, used to divide up the city among the Syndicate members. The Monkees re-enter disguised as the Purple Flower Gang, looking fabulous in cool gangster suits with white flowers in the buttonholes and fake mustaches. Flora questions the flower color, but Micky covers this in his gruff “gangster” voice.


Peter slips up and says they’re hungry, so now they have to also be the waiters to serve themselves food on Fuselli’s orders. In the kitchen they “choose” to see who will go get the Inspector, but end up just making Peter go. Of course they do.

At the police station, Peter is immediately arrested as part of the Purple Flower gang. He protests that his flower is white, but crazy inspector offers a call-back gag, “Don’t try to kid me, I know how tough it is to find purple flowers.” They put him under hot lights, and shake him down, then play nice and offer him coffee. He enjoys the attention and being fed. Truly, the police are treating Peter better than the other Monkees do in this episode. Peter takes credit for every criminal activity including the sinking of the Lusitania, the Great Train Robbery etc.

At the restaurant, Micky, Davy, and Mike run back and forth, quick-changing costumes from crooks to waiters as the meeting continues. The Syndicate members continue to fight over Fuselli’s map. Mike and Davy turn it into a giant game of tic-tac-toe. The chaos-loving Monkees start tearing up the map and handing out the pieces of paper. Davy stuffs some of the map into a gang member’s mouth. As the crooks start fighting, Micky and Davy shake hands on a job well done and look at us knowingly. This is one of their favorite maneuvers, delaying the antagonists by creating chaos and confusing them.

One hood says this room isn’t big enough for all of them, so the Purple Flower gang volunteers to split. The real gangsters start pulling out guns and shooting. Under the table the Monkees agree they’d better do something. Micky stands up to stop the proceedings and calls a cute young woman in a fur coat to the scene.


Thank you, James Frawley. Or the writers, or whoever came up with that. That was a really well-placed use of a unexpected, unrelated joke.

The shooting continues. Micky pops up behind the shoulders of various bad guys and tries to get them to stop: “Five people should be able to get along!” (Bang!) “Four people should be able to get along.” That was a funny, dark joke. This is a weird, bloodless bloodbath as bodies drop on the table but no blood effects are used. The gangsters are disposable, and their faux-dramatic deaths are played for humor, they’re not deaths we feel in anyway. Under the tables, Davy and Mike coolly ignore all the chaos and gunfire and continue to play tic-tac-toe. Every crook is dead, and the Monkees are not at all bothered. They got out of the situation by letting the adversaries destroy themselves.

Peter brought the police, hurray! But no, as the Monkees, still dressed as the Purple Flower Gang, are the last men standing, the Inspector arrests them. More of “Stepping Stone” is heard with some footage from other episodes, the most relevant being the bits of them walking around the cell in Ghost Town, playing with the flood lights from “I’ve Got a Little Song Here” mixed with the prison break bit from the pilot.

They don’t show us how they straightened things out with the inspector. Maybe Pop helped, because here he is, in his restaurant saying “Play for me boys, play like you used to.” The performance is separately shot footage of “She” (Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart) with the band in grey suits and a blue background. They do some interesting angles, with Mike blurry in the foreground and the focus on Micky, who is singing. On a shallow note, Micky looks very handsome. Shots of the band are mixed in with some old black and white footage of women in bathing suits and circus performers, and other footage of people dancing. I don’t get the relevance.

Maybe I won’t forget about this one next time. There were many funny lines and this must hold the record for the most deaths in a Monkees episode. There are other violent episodes for sure. In “Everywhere a Sheik, Sheik,” a character dies on screen from poisoned meat. Many more bullets are fired in “Hillbilly Honeymoon” but we never see bodies. When we see the thugs in “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers” they are putting a guy’s feet in cement, so surely he’s about to be a corpse. Something about dark humor like this always appeals to me. On a show like The Monkees, it’s even better because it’s unexpected. It’s one of the things that keeps me coming back to the show as an adult, laughing at things that, most of the time, we’re expected to take seriously.



by Bronwyn Knox

Every couple of weeks, “Monkees vs. Macheen” examines the crazy, spirited, Ben Franks-type world of the Pre-Fab Four: David Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork alias The Monkees.

Monkees vs. Macheen: “Success Story”



“The Monkees Probably Should Have Been Arrested”



The 6th episode, “Success Story” had an emotional story-line compared to other episodes and was also the first to feature a Monkees family member. There was an unusually stereotypical situation-comedy feel with a character getting in trouble for deceiving a loved one. I wasn’t really looking forward to writing about this one, but as I watched I rediscovered a lot of funny moments.

One of the elements creating the mood was the incidental music, composed by Stu Phillips, which expresses the sensitive nature of this episode. Mr. Phillips began composing for movies and television in 1958 and was the founder of Colpix Records (a label that signed Michael Nesmith and Davy Jones as solo artists before they were cast on the show, and later became Colgems). Phillips’ music can be heard in 54 of the 58 Monkees episodes. He’s known for his work on Quincy, M.E., Knight Rider, and many other television shows and films, including two of my favorite Sci-Fi shows from childhood, Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

“Success Story” debuted October 17, 1966 on NBC. Oddly, the writing/directing credits run at the start of the episode instead of the usual spot after the opening theme and they are as follows: Written by Gerald Gardner & Dee Caruso and Bernie Orenstein, Directed by James Frawley.

The Monkees play cards with Mr. Schneider, who gets his first line, paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw: “It’s a shame to waste youth on children.” The plot kicks off with Davy receiving a telegram from his grandfather who’s coming to visit. Davy’s distressed because he’s been lying to him about being rich and successful. Micky selfishly (and amusingly) tells Davy it’s his problem. Davy explains that when his grandfather finds out the truth, he’ll have to leave the band. Meanwhile, the telegram man is trying to shake down Mr. Schneider for $1.80 for the collect telegram.



Mike suggests they make Davy “look” rich and so begins a series of scenes where the Monkees steal the appropriate costumes and props. Usually they just quick-change into disguises, but in this episode we see how they acquire their costumes. Micky swipes a Rolls Royce by tricking the owner into letting him “exercise” his car. Micky’s character is mechanically inclined, maybe echoing the real-life fact that Micky Dolenz worked as a mechanic for Mercedes Benz in 1964.

Mike appropriates a chef’s costume by getting hired and immediately fired as a chef, complete with a cute look to the camera when he gets away with it. The kitchen is the same set from the later “Monkees a La Carte” episode. Micky acquires a fake chauffeur’s costume by convincing the telegram man to switch clothes with him, so he can demonstrate how to get the $1.80 from Mr. Schneider.

Peter approaches an ice cream cart. In a very Harpo Marx way, he gets the ice cream seller’s jacket without even speaking. This impresses me, but not as much as the weirdness that follows: The now topless ice cream man is suddenly stampeded with men in suits, demanding ice cream as though his bare chest made everyone hot and hungry. Charlie Callas has funny, exaggerated facial expressions in the scene.



Davy reviews his “staff” in their new costumes to prep for gramps. He takes to his rich kid roll a little too well, getting annoyed with the other boy’s antics. Davy is seriously hoping he’ll look convincing as a successful star. The storyline relates to the overall theme of the Monkees quest for success, though this time it’s just the appearance of success to keep an older adult from worrying.


At the airport, pretend chauffeur Micky repeats his nasal doorman voice from “Monkee See, Monkee Die.” Davy picks up his grandfather while Mike and Peter work to make Davy look famous. Mike plays various autograph seekers and Peter takes pictures for the “press.” Cecil Cabot from “Royal Flush” is back and she approaches him for an autograph when she sees all the fuss. Davy thinks she’s Mike in disguise and kids around with her. The fact that Mike is about a foot taller than Cecil Cabot didn’t really clue him in to his mistake.

Mike and Peter play chef and houseboy roles while Grandfather and Davy have dinner at the house. They don’t have money for two fancy meals. Davy has plastic/rubber food, and the film rewinds to emphasize him bouncing it off the table. Davy complains that he’s hungry enough to eat a horse and we’re treated to a flash to future episode “Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth” with the boys pulling a horse through the house. It’s all over when the various victims of the Monkees theft show up wanting their stuff. Grandpa catches on quick, and Davy is busted. To make matters worse, the lights go off because they didn’t pay the electric. Grandfather tells Davy to pack for England.


This is one of the rare times on the series where we see an older adult on the show taking care of the young Monkees or having their best interests at heart. In previous episodes the boys were on their own, facing older adults who wanted to destroy them or at least take advantage of them. This time the grandfather, though we certainly don’t want him to break up the Monkees, has his heart in the right place. There’s some nice acting on Davy Jones and Ben Wright’s part where Davy is sorry for lying and compliant about leaving with him. The music score is noticeably more serious here. Mike isn’t having it though, and tells Grandfather he’s only taking Davy because he misses him and needs him around. Grandpa won’t own up to this. For those of us living far from our parents, I think we’ve all been here. The older generation can’t understand why the younger ones aren’t living the way they want them to live. It doesn’t change when you’re out of your 20s either. The generation gap that’s represented here is something that resonates today.


Davy walks around with pretty hair and sad eyes as the song “I Want to Be Free” (Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart) plays, and there’s footage of the Monkees playing with the kids that was used in “Monkee Vs. Machine” and other footage “memories” of them hanging out. Emotional scenes are not really what this show does best, but you have to have serious or touching moments sometimes in order for the comedy to have impact. Davy says a sad goodbye to the other Monkees and Peter gives him a parachute just in case Grandfather changes his mind on the way over. Aww…Peter. Peter is the only one he hugs. I guess the others are too manly. Looking at this now, it has an especially poignant feeling with David Jones’ sad death in 2012.

The three orphaned Monkees cry comically for a few seconds and then Mike gets it together and tells the other Monkees and the audience they’re going to stop Davy from getting on the plane. Of course they are; they’re off to create havoc!


Now we get the scenes of airport mayhem, and watching it in this new millennium, it’s hard not to think about how much they’d be suspected of terrorism. On the other hand, I’d be disappointed if they did anything less.

Micky sets up a fake baggage claim for Gramps, and busts out a British twit voice while messing up his suitcase and directing him to the wrong gate. Peter freaks out Grandpa with an Icarus/Daedalus impression, running around with fake wings screaming “don’t fly!” Mike arrives driving an airport golf-cart and pretends to take Grandpa to his flight. He drives around chaotically, terrorizing and nearly running over other travelers. Meanwhile, Davy waits and wonders what’s keeping his grandfather. Really? I think he knows his buddies better than that.

Grandfather Jones is smarter than most of the opponents they’ve tried to fool thus far. Even quicker than Daggart, he has the wit to see through their disguises. Their insane behavior convinces him that Davy has good friends that really care about him, and he lets him stay. In the meantime, he’s picked up the Cecil Cabot character and he’s taking her to England. Well, I guess “fast-mover” is a trait that runs in the Jones family!


In the tag sequence, the Monkees sit at the same park from “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers” and “The Spy Who Came in from the Cool.” Micky realizes they could have tried actually playing music to impress Davy’s grandfather. This launches a video for “Sweet Young Thing” (Michael Nesmith, Gerry Goffin and Carole King) where some senior citizens dance and frolic with the Monkees. Toward the end there’s a weird bit where the seniors chase them around with cards in their hands, maybe BINGO cards. Mixed in are shots of the Monkees playing instruments with close-ups of Mike looking slightly sweaty and very attractive.

The episode ran short again and they fill time with another interview segment. This one appropriately features Davy talking about going home to visit his family. It’s a cute story about his father thinking his hair is too long and making him get his haircut twice before letting him into the house. Davy says he bought a house to give his father in Davy’s own name so that can’t happen again.

Speaking of long hair, in the documentary We Love the Monkees (2012) Micky notes that the television network at the time must have been nervous about putting The Monkees on TV because “the only time you saw long-haired kids on television, they were being arrested.” Growing up in the 70s and 80s, some men and boys had long hair and no one thought twice about it. It’s hard to imagine long hair being associated with a criminal element. But, in the episodes I’ve written about so far they’ve done a few insane things that could’ve gotten them arrested. Just for fun, here’s the rap sheet:


Monkees in jail_sm



by Bronwyn Knox

Every couple of weeks, “Monkees vs. Macheen” examines the crazy, spirited, Ben Franks-type world of the Pre-Fab Four: David Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork alias The Monkees.