Monkees Vs. Macheen: “Monkees in Manhattan”


“Darling, I love you, but give me Park Avenue.”


“Monkees, Manhattan Style” or “Monkees in Manhattan” first aired April 10, 1967. Written by Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso, the plot is very similar to the 1938 Marx Brothers film, Room Service. Russell Mayberry directed this episode and the one that follows: “Monkees at the Movies.” Mayberry had many television directing credits, including episodes of: Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Rockford Files, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and In the Heat of the Night. He had a few directing credits before The Monkees, such as Love on a Rooftop and an episode of National Velvet, making him one of the more relatively experienced Monkees directors. The episode was filmed in October of 1966, shot 17th, but airing later at #30.

To set us up with the notion that this takes place in NYC, the opening sequence begins with stock footage of Times Square. As the Monkees enter the Compton Plaza Hotel lobby, Davy is singing “New York, New York” from the movie musical, On the Town (1949). At the desk, Buntz, the concierge (inexplicably listed as “Buntz, the Compton” in the credits) is on the phone. The Monkees explain that they’ve come to see McKinley Baker, Broadway producer, who wants them to star in his new musical. Buntz is unimpressed, “great more showbiz types.” He distractedly tells them Baker is in 304.

Baker lets the Monkees into the room. They came from California on a “Blem” bus, and Micky says, “It’s such a pleasure to take Blem, and leave the driving to them.” This alludes to the Greyhound Bus slogan, “Go Greyhound and leave the driving to us.” They have no money for a hotel so Baker says they can stay with him. Hotel manager Mr. Weatherwax and Buntz come in to kick Baker out for not paying his bills. Baker is waiting for his backer to send money. Weatherwax gives them one hour.

The Monkees plot to stay for three hours so Baker has a chance to get money from his backer by 12 p.m. Should be easy for the clever Monkees! The room set, by the way, was used for the Monkees debut episode, “Royal Flush.” In the lobby, Weatherwax tells Buntz he wants to give the room to a big shot from the rabbit breeder’s convention. The conventioneer comes out, drunk and carrying two rabbits in his arms.

When the hour is up Weatherwax and Buntz go back to 304 to throw them out. Mike answers the door and lets them in to see a “sick” Peter and Dr. Micky. *Note the room number as Mike opens the door says 305. This is one of my favorite scenes, a classic Micky-con. He’s ridiculously funny: the lab coat with nothing under, the faux-serious acting, and upside down glasses. Weatherwax wants to move Peter of course, but Micky says they can’t move someone with the plague. The house doctor, played by Alfred Dennis who we also see in “Monkee Mother” comes to the door. Micky chases him off with a threat about an “ethics practice committee.”


The Monkees really do love impersonating physicians, don’t they? I’m pretty sure that’s illegal…


The Conventioneer now has more rabbits–three in his arms–and wants to know if his room is ready yet. Weatherwax wants to get the Monkees out by refusing to send room service to 304. So, Mike calls down to order food, pretending to be from 305. The waiter comes up and knocks on 305; the bride and groom staying in that room don’t appreciate the interruption. Mike catches the waiter in the hall and cons him into bringing food to 304 by convincing him he could be a Broadway star. That makes no sense at all, but it works on the waiter, Bronislaw Colonovski. Mike repeats the name-in-lights “all the way around the theater Marquee” gag with him, also used in “I Was a Teenage Monster.”

The Conventioneer keeps coming back, more inebriated and now has so many rabbits they’re in a cage. Get it? Because rabbits breed a lot and very fast? I enjoy The Monkees use of corny jokes when they do it with some style, but no such luck here. The Monkees decide to “try on” one of the songs from the musical. Weatherwax brings the house detective to chase them out, which launches a romp to “The Girl I Knew Somewhere” (Nesmith). (Listed incorrectly as “A Girl I Knew Somewhere” in the end titles of this and the previous episode, “The Monkees Get Out More Dirt.”) This song was recorded in January 1967, a few months after the filming of the episode.


The romp shots outside the Compton hotel with the wet sidewalk and the scenes of the vendor carts are the only things in this episode that convey any feel of New York City. It disappoints me as a New Yorker sure, but I think they missed an opportunity. After all, this is “Monkees in Manhattan.” Surely there was a standing NYC set from some other show or old movie they could have borrowed for a scene or two? The action is mostly inside a hotel, which could have been anywhere. Back to the romp, there is footage from “The Case of the Missing Monkee” (shot after “Monkees in Manhattan”) and from “The Pilot,” as well as some shots where you see a California landscape in the background. The song ends as the Monkees use the fire escape to get back into the room and sit down to eat the food that Bronislaw sets up.

Weatherwax comes to kick the boys out again but he accidentally barges in on the honeymoon couple shouting, “All right, you’ve had your hour. Your time is up!” He realizes the mistake, backs off and apologizes. Weatherwax notes that 304 should be across the hall and accuses the Monkees of switching the room numbers.

*Wait, they did? They’ve established that the Monkees are in 304, and the couple is in 305. However, the Monkees never mentioned a scheme to switch numbers. That’s not how Mike got the waiter to bring food; he just called the waiter to 305 and intercepted him in the hall. Since Weatherwax suspects that they swapped the numbers, and there’s the earlier doctor scene where we see that the Monkees room incorrectly read 305, it seems some other plot point got dropped. The joke of Weatherwax busting in on the couple is weak, because the setup never occurred.

Weatherwax bursts in on the Monkees telling them the room is “under siege.” The bride and groom unexpectedly come in ask for help with the cork, the Bride making the suggestive complaint that, “He can’t do anything.” Micky walks into the shot in his cowboy hat and holster to tell us it’s “High Noon,” the time Baker should be back from his backer. Well, Baker comes back, but his backer backed down. Weatherwax gives them 20 minutes or he’ll call the cops. Speaking of cops:


The Monkees all start shouting. The groom gets the cork out and it breaks the window, cutting to the breaking window footage from “Monkee Vs. Machine.” The bride is thrilled and hugs her hubby. Glad someone’s happy.

The Monkees help Baker pack. Actually at first, they unpack him as he hands them things, until they realize the hopelessness of the situation and start to pack again. They get ready to go home, but then Peter notices a Millionaire’s Club across the street.

Now is the best part of the episode. The Monkees go in disguise to find a new backer at the Millionaire’s club. The Butler who answers the door is played by American character actor, comedian, and musician Doodles Weaver. Davy introduces himself as David Armstrong Jones: His family “dates back 400 years to the earliest rich people.” Mike is H.L. Nesmith (in his Billy Roy Hodstetter outfit) who owns Houston. Micky is Sheik Farouk Dolenza, and Peter is Peter Dewitt, a rich man’s son. They con their way into the club to look around.

Inside, Davy plops down next to a millionaire and asks the obvious, “You’re a millionaire, aren’t you?” Millionaire: “That’s right, how did you know.” Davy: “Oh, that’s easy. I watch What’s My Line a lot,” (alluding to the TV show they parodied in “Captain Crocodile.”) My daughter wants one of the fuzzy toys that Davy is carrying but I don’t think they make them anymore.


The Monkees try to sell the show to potential investors. Mike does a wipe with his arms, a clever way to introduce another romp. This one’s an edit to “Look Out, Here Comes Tomorrow” (Neil Diamond) with footage from previous episodes: “Dance Monkee Dance,” “Monkees at the Circus,” “Son of a Gypsy,” “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers,” “The Chaperone,” “I’ve Got a Little Song Here,” “Captain Crocodile,” “Monkee Mother,” and “Monkee See, Monkee Die.” I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what I caught. Playing into the episode’s rabbit theme, at the club there’s a girl in a bunny costume, and Davy and Peter wear bunny ears in a few shots.



The romp puts all the millionaires to sleep. Not really. The Butler drugs them because he has some money and wants to invest in the show. Happy Monkees celebrate finding a backer. But not for long. Baker meets the Monkees in the hotel room and tells them the new backer wants the leads to be four girls. Baker doesn’t want to go through with it after all they did to help him find an investor. The selfless Monkees tell him he should take this opportunity, and this is his chance to get a start etc. Davy handles the awkward sentimental dialog in this scene.

Weatherwax stops the Monkees from leaving the hotel to tell them they owe $180 for room, food, and incidentals. Of course they have no money, so Weatherwax puts them to work in the hotel. If you were enjoying the rabbit joke, there’s a final payoff gag of Davy, Micky, and Peter as bellhops bringing three cages filled with the growing family of bunnies to the hotel desk.

There’s an entertaining interview segment, during which Peter and Davy introduce makeup artist Keeva Johnson. Mike sarcastically deflects Bob Rafelson’s question about why he wants a house. “Why do I want a house? To keep the wind off of me!” There’s also this funny exchange:

Bob: “You’ve reached a certain amount of success. If that were something, like taken away, wiped out, where would you be today?”
Peter: “I’d go back to the Village and be a folk singer.”
Bob: “How about you, Davy?”
Davy: “I’d go back to the Village and watch him be a folk singer.”
Bob: “Mike?”
Mike: “I’d probably go burn the Village!”

After this bit, there’s a performance film of them playing an earlier version of “Words,” recorded in August of 1966, before the version from Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, Ltd was recorded in June of 1967. In the performance clip, Micky is in front and Davy is on the drums. It it would have been cool if they done it that way the entire series since Micky was the lead singer and a great front man. Davy could have been a charming Ringo analog.

This is one of those episodes that’s cute but bland. If you consider the interview, the two romps, and the performance there’s not a lot there. Micky has some fun moments, and Mike is the idea man, but mostly the Monkees personalities don’t get a chance to shine. Many of the jokes are clichés, and it all feels a little mild and colorless for a Monkees episode. The best comedy from this show is subversive, surreal, or specific to The Monkees humor. Shot in between the much stronger “One Man Shy,” and “Dance, Monkee, Dance,” I wonder why this one falters. The next episode, “Monkees at the Movies” has a similar structure and the same director as “Monkees in Manhattan” but is more successful. More about that in two weeks.

Shout out to the books Monkee Magic: a Book about a TV Show about a Band by Melanie Mitchell and The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation by Andrew Sandoval, which helped me piece together the shooting order and dates of episodes and recording dates of the tunes.

On December 14, we bade a sad farewell to Bernard Fox (also known as Dr. Bombay from Bewitched), who played Sir Twiggly Toppen Middlebottom in the episode “The Monkees Mind Their Manor.”


Thanks for reading! I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday and Happy New Year!



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 Chow Mein”


“If you’re going to steal, steal from yourself”


Similar to “The Spy Who Came in From the Cool”, “Monkees Chow Mein” compels the Monkees to help out the CIS (a quasi-CIA) against our nation’s cold war enemies. The title indicates that this time the villains are from China rather than Russia. James Frawley directed and Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso wrote this episode, which aired March 13, 1967. Gardner and Caruso borrowed heavily from one of their other writing gigs, Get Smart, for this one.

The Monkees are eating in a Chinese restaurant, and Peter is packing many leftovers. In the back-room of the restaurant, the villains, Dragonman with his assistants, Toto and Chang discuss their nefarious plans. They’re putting a “secret formula” into fortune cookies; each cookie will contain a different part of the formula to be put together. Spies will sneak the cookies out of the country and give them to their “Asian Masters.”

Joey Forman, who played the title character in “Captain Crocodile,” plays the Dragonman in this one. As far as I know, Forman isn’t Asian, so they’ve got a heavy makeup job on him for the part. Dragonman is a parody of pulp fiction super-villian Fu Manchu, created by British author Sax Rohmer. There was a series of Fu Manchu films produced around this time, from 1965-69, starring British actor Christopher Lee. [Don’t forget the Peter Sellers parody! – Editor] 

Forman underwent a similar makeup process when he played Chinese-Hawaiian detective Harry Hoo, on two episodes of Get Smart, “The Amazing Harry Hoo” (1966) and “Hoo Done It” (1966). Both episodes were written by Gardner and Caruso. Harry Hoo is also a parody of another pulp fiction character, detective Charlie Chan. The villain in “The Amazing Harry Hoo” was another Fu Manchu analog, known as The Claw. In that episode, he has a very similar scheme to the one here in “Chow Mein”: The Claw was sneaking out parts of a secret formula in dry-cleaned shirts.


Back to the Monkees: Peter (of course) accidentally grabs one of the fortune cookies containing the formula. The restaurant staff and other customers detain him. Peter calls Mike for help and the Monkees manage to get out onto the street, where they hide from their pursuers behind a newspaper. After the spies pass, Peter says, “Boy, those Chinese were sore at us.” Micky responds, “Maybe they thought we were Russians” in an allusion to “The Spy Who Came in from the Cool.”

Davy wonders what they wanted. Mike offers, “You never can tell. Orientals are a curious people.” Agent Modell (Mike Farrell from M*A*S*H) approaches and forces them all into a car at gunpoint. Davy wonders what they want, and Mike points out, “I don’t know. Occidentals are a curious people.” Aside from poking fun at the possible cultural insensitivity of Mike’s previous line, it also evens things up. People from the western or eastern parts of the globe are hard to understand.

At the CIS office, Agent Modell shines a light on the terrified Mike, and Micky and Davy who cling to Mike’s arms. Modell explains they haven’t been kidnapped; they’ve been taken into custody by the CIS for picking up stolen security information [Sure looks like a kidnapping. – Editor]. He’s tough and no-nonsense, in contrast to their cartoony panic. Modell, “You’re frightened, aren’t you? Mike, “Oh, you’re very perceptive.”

Inspector Blount comes in with Peter and clears them, “They’re in a rock n’ roll band!” Blount pulls Modell away to tell them he’s found one fourth of the formula for the Doomsday Bug. There’s a funny sight gag as the Monkees celebrate their freedom behind the two agents. Davy asks about the Doomsday bug. (Davy is a “curious people.”)


Blount tells the Monkees that Dragonman is a “weirdo” with long hair and strange clothes, inadvertently insulting the Monkees. Embarrassed, he concedes that maybe Dragonman is not that weird. There’s a theme of insults that runs throughout this episode. The Monkees don’t want to help the CIS. As they leave, they back into the intimidating Agent Modell and scare themselves. The stern Modell and daffy Blount seem to be a reverse of the solemn Chief and bumbling Honeywell characters from “The Spy Who Came in from the Cool.”

Back at the Monkee’s house, Mike speculates that the inspector was just trying to scare them into helping. Micky is not so sure.


The joke in the graphic above was borrowed from the Get Smart episode, “The Diplomat’s Daughter” (1965), written by Gardner and Caruso. Agent Smart and the Chief have the following exchange: Agent Smart: “We just came from the Smithsonian Institute, and we saw the plane, The Spirit of St. Louis.” Chief: “So?” Agent Smart: “Chief, Was Charles Lindbergh Chinese?” Chief: “Of course not!” Agent Smart: “Then, I think we’re being followed.”

Right after the Monkees go to bed, Chang and Toto sneak in to kidnap Peter. They take Mr. Schneider instead, indirectly insulting Peter by mistaking him for a wooden dummy. (And repeating a joke from “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers.”) After Dragonman scolds them, they return to the Monkees pad and nab Micky. Toto’s in trouble for bringing the wrong one yet again. Toto, “Forgive me master, but all Americans look alike to me.” This punch line was also used in “The Diplomat’s Daughter” when the villain, The Claw, explains to Smart why they kidnapped many blonde women, not just the Princess they wanted, “Unfortunately, Mr. Smart, all Americans look alike to us.” A joke deriving humor from the reversal of the usual stereotype.

Mike, Peter, and Davy go to the CIS to get help. Blount is comically inept at security in this scene. He takes a phone call and fills the caller in on the situation. Mike asks, “Who was that?” Blount enthusiastically replies, “I don’t know!” Blount assures them that they’re in secret headquarters and the enemy has no idea of their location. Yet, he shows no alarm or suspicion when a little boy comes in, takes their picture and runs off. Blount tells them to go home and “put their faith in the CIS.” I really enjoy the actor playing Blount with his energetically goofy performance.

Dragonman and Toto have Micky tied up in their backroom. Dragonman wants Toto to “find the Monkeee, get the cookie and bring the Monkee and the cookie to him.” Toto can’t get it right and Micky further confuses him by repeating it as, “you monk the cookie, cook the Monkee then find the cookie.” It’s similar to the “good and the hoods” bit from “Alias Micky Dolenz.” Toto is played by Gene Dynarski and was also in “Son of a Gypsy” as Zeppo. I know there’s concern about the characters in this episode that are played by non-Asian actors. I want to point out that Chang is played by Kay Shimatsu, who does appear to me to be Asian.


Chang comes into the restaurant backroom to tell Dragonman that Peter is there. Micky rolls his eyes so hard it must have hurt. Dragonman says: “So, he has fallen into my crutches!” Micky: “You’re crutches?” The Dragonman: “Not my crutches, my crutches!”

This joke was recycled from (you guessed it) “The Diplomat’s Daughter” when The Claw introduces himself to Smart: Claw: “My name is the Craw.” Smart: “The Craw?” Claw: “No, not the Craw, the Craw!” (Here’s a little info on this myth about East Asian people and the r/l pronunciation.)

Back in the restaurant, Peter tries to order food but instead gets a mallet to the head from Toto. Peter cracks me up by stating gravely before he passes out, “No, I don’t think I care for that a bit.”


Toto proudly drags Peter into Dragonman’s office, now that he’s got the right one. Micky sarcastically says, “Thank heavens, you’ve come!” Micky’s attitude toward Peter, with this and the earlier eye roll, is an insult. He knows Peter didn’t mean to do this, but he’s openly annoyed with him anyway.

Dragonman and his minions resort to torture to get info from Peter and Micky. Toto starts describing red ant torture. Dragonman says, “Stop! I thank you to do your fiendish work. But don’t tell me about it.” Yet another instance of repurposing “The Diplomat’s Daughter” as The Claw says the very same thing to his henchman, Bobo. The line is verbatim so I won’t retype it. (Bobo was played by Lee Kolima who was in two Monkees episodes, “The Spy Who Came in from the Cool” and “The Devil and Peter Tork.”)

Meanwhile, outside the restaurant, Davy and Mike attempt to rescue their pals. They wear lab coats and pose as inspectors from “The Pure Food and Drug Administration.” The boys try and push their way in to “inspect the kitchen” but Chang pushes them back out.


Dragonman wants to move up to Chinese ice torture. Micky and Peter are frightened, “Chinese ice torture!” But then they ask, “What is Chinese Ice Torture?” They’re afraid of something they don’t even understand. Misunderstanding is the source of much of the xenophobia they satirize in this episode. Brilliant.

Davy and Mike return to the restaurant to engage in a different ethnic cliché: they pose as Italians wanting pizza, complete with accents and curled mustaches. Chang tells them they don’t make pizza there, so Davy and Mike aim for the kitchen to fix it themselves. Once again, Chang blocks them. I truly enjoy Mike and Davy working together in all these bits.

As Toto conducts the Chinese Ice Torture, Micky breaks down and admits they don’t know anything. They’re a singing group, which they demonstrate with an off-key rendition of “Last Train to Clarksville.” Dragonman is skeptical, “You expect me to believe you make money singing like that?” Micky clarifies, “I didn’t say we made money, I said we sing.”

Outside, Mike and Davy go into a phone booth to change into Monkeemen. The transformation includes putting on, instead of removing, Clark Kent-style glasses. It’s wonderful to see the Monkeemen again.

Dragonman decides to kill Peter and Micky if they have nothing to tell him. But, he offers them a Let’s Make a Deal-style choice to save their lives, There’s four doors, three will reveal sudden death, but the fourth leads to freedom. All they have to do is pick the right door. The bad guys leave them to it. Door one, we don’t see but hear an animal roar. The second door contains our old friend Reptilicus from “I Was a Teenage Monster.” The third reveals a cannon. The fourth door should be a way out, but instead the spies enter and menace Peter and Micky with weapons.

Just in time, the Monkeemen break down the door. An incredulous Dragonman shouts, “The door was open!” Peter and Micky declare, “We’re saved!” The Monkeemen prepare to fight Dragonman and his minions with insults, or as they call it, “psychological warfare.” Davy and Toto circle around each other and do faux martial arts moves.

Davy to Toto: “You’re a nail biter. You’re a nail biter and your mother never, ever loved you.” Toto to Davy: “You are too short. You are too short and you have no ear for music.”

Davy takes this hard, and turns to Mike for help with Toto.


Toto is wounded, but Dragonman has had enough. He orders Toto to get the formula for the Doomsday bug. Mike fakes them out holding a pretend bug. Davy “takes it” and flings it at them. This brand of psychological warfare works on Toto and Chang. Dragonman orders his men to “get them”. A waiter with a gun prevents the Monkees from escaping.

Time for a romp to “Auntie Grizelda” (Hildebrand/Keller). Lyrically, this is a good one for this episode, since it’s about an unpleasant aunt who dislikes the song’s narrator. The romp makes use of the doors with the Monkees and the spies running in and out of them. Peter, Mike, and Micky carrying some girls through the doors, and a man in a gorilla suit carries Davy. The chase ends up in the restaurant where the Monkees put in earplugs and use the giant gong to stun the bad guys. The CIS agents come in and arrest the spies, who are quivering from the gong.

Tag sequence where the Monkees are hungry and eat more Chinese food in the restaurant. Mike notes, “Gee, I didn’t realize you could get so hungry saving your country” and Davy points out, “I come from England, and I’m hungry.”

Obviously, there was a recycling of dialogue from Get Smart to The Monkees. Interesting that the jokes they chose to repeat were those that satire Hollywood and literary stereotypes of Asian culture. The comedy is subversive and reflects back on US and British paranoia toward other ethnicities, which had been going on since the 19th century and termed “Yellow Peril.”

I do see a notable difference between the two shows. On Get Smart everyone is a straight man for Don Adams and the story follows a standard spy plot. There’s more flexibility on The Monkees and more opportunity to make a statement about relations between different cultures. Possibly even an anti-war statement, given that this was during the Vietnam War, and China was backing North Vietnam. In “Monkees Chow Mein,” there is a parallel between the way the CIS suits view the “long-haired weirdo” counterculture Monkees and the Asian spies, the fear and the distrust. At the end of the day, it’s the “long-haired weirdos” who save the day, not the g-men.



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 Mode”


“We don’t follow fashion. That’d be a joke.”


“Monkees à la Mode” is one of my favorites, if not my very favorite from the first season. The storyline plays as a culture war between the Monkees and a high fashion magazine staff. The Monkees are at their best working together, defying authority. There’s no high adventure here. No one’s life is in danger. What is on the line is the Monkees identity and individuality. It’s an important concept for young people – then and now. This was the first episode directed by Alex Singer, who directed five more after this. Episode writers were the usual suspects, Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso.

The action starts, not with the Monkees, but in the offices of Chic magazine; an allusion to Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar. Anna Wintour stand-in Madame Quagmeyer asks her staff for new ideas for their “Young American” issue. The photographer gives Madame Q names of various socialites, all of which she rejects as “stale.” One of his suggestions has the amusing name, “Vernon Equinox.” Toby, a young writer, played by Monkees frequent extra Valerie Kairys, suggests The Monkees. The photographer calls them “long-haired weirdos,” marking the second episode in a row the term was used. Since Chic is a magazine of “style”, of course their hair would cause comment and the magazine’s main audience probably isn’t teenagers anyway. But Madame Q loves the idea and says she’ll make them over in the magazine’s image. She wants fresh and new but plans to turn it into the same old thing.

 Let’s have breakfast with the Monkees, shall we? I love these scenes of them hanging out, doing everyday things. Someone has delivered a copy of Chic to their doorstep; a magazine they do not subscribe to. They make fun of the magazine for a bit and then find the letter from Madame Q, saying they’ve been chosen as the “typical young Americans of the year.” Great fourth-wall-breaking gag with the edit-in of the closing title images of all the Monkees making goofy faces.


There’s a knock on the door and Davy dramatically poses and declares, “Hark, I hear a knock upon yon door!” There’s a motif of the Monkees mock “posing” during this episode that compliments the fashion theme. The title image I’ve chosen at the top of the post is a classic example. The visitors are Toby and the photographer from Chic who introduces himself as Rob Roy Fingerhead. Toby explains that Chic wants to do a story about them.



Rob Roy, acting a lot like Ronnie from “One Man Shy,” proceeds to insult the Monkees appearance and taste. He describes their furnishings as “cheap, ugly clap-trap.” The Monkees defensively show Rob Roy a couple of historical items they own, leading to quick George Washington and Paul Revere fantasy sketches. An unimpressed Rob Roy leaves, declaring he’ll do Madame Q’s bidding. Toby, who is obviously a friend of theirs and more their speed, tries to appeal to them to do the story, despite Rob Roy. The Monkees protest that they’re not right for the magazine, because as Mike puts it, “young people aren’t typical anything.” That’s really one of the key points. Toby says the publicity will be good for their career, so Davy agrees they’ll participate. He has to talk the other three into it a bit more after she leaves.

At the magazine, the arriving Peter tries to explain who they are: “Madame Q…You may not remember about us.” Madame Q’s sarcasm-laced response: “Your intuition is faultless.”  So many good lines, it’s tempting to transcribe everything. Peter explains they’re the “typical young people of the year” and the editors cue up their faces from the titles again.

She introduces the Monkees to her snooty editorial assistants: Miss Collins, Vassar ’64, Miss Osborne, Bryn Mar ’63. Miss Delessips, Bennington ’62. Mike mocks them by introducing himself as “Mike Nesmith, Eagle Scouts ’61.” (Similar to Peter introducing himself for the gangsters in “Monkees à la Cart.”) Madame Q assigns the sister-school beauties to gather background on the boys. Micky and Davy flirt with the young women of course, while Peter talks to the lamp. Of all the Monkees, Mike is clearly the most irked by Madame Q and her staff. He’s as disdainful of Miss Vassar’s narrow-mindedness as she is of his perceived lack of sophistication. 



Rob Roy struggles to prepare the Monkees for the fashion shoot. According to him, Peter has bad posture, and Davy doesn’t know how to pose. The best segment of this is Rob Roy with Micky. Rob Roy instructs Micky on “good taste” in matching clothing by color. At first, Micky ignores him with incessant drumming (sounds like the beat from “Randy Scouse Git”). Rob Roy stops this by unexpectedly threatening him with a gun! Micky looks startled but quickly shifts to mischievous. He responds to Rob Roy’s lessons by manically throwing clothes all over the place while reciting his own take on the “rules.” Rob Roy follows him around, flustered and yelling at him. There’s something so satisfying about watching Micky’s childish rebellion against Rob Roy’s fashion edicts.


Now it’s time for the romp, set to “Laugh” (Medress/Margo/Margo/Siegal), which is a great song choice for this episode. The lyrics are perfect for these characters who take themselves oh-so-seriously. Throughout, The Monkees wreak havoc in the Chic offices as Rob Roy tries to complete his photo spread.

Sometime later, Toby turns over her story on The Monkees to Madame Q, saying it captures them “just the way they are.” Madame Q doesn’t want that so she asks Rob Roy to step in. Rob Roy anticipated this and hands over a story that’s full of lies. The fashionable Rob Roy, by the way, is wearing one of the Monkees plaid suit jackets that show up squiggly on my monitor. Divoon!

Back at the pad, we’re treated to more of the Monkees chilling while they wait for the Chic article to come out. A couple of entertaining moments: Mike prunes the ball on his hat and Davy punches a toy giraffe that refused his offer of cheese. There’s a knock on the door and a classic sight gag when Davy goes to the peephole: He’s too short to see out of it, so he just opens and shuts it for no real reason. It’s an angry girl, coming to give Davy back his friendship ring. Next up is Linda, who comes by just to slap Micky and leave. Mike gets a phone call from a guy who’s clearly not happy with him. Then, someone tosses a rock through the window with a note full of insults for The Monkees, signed, “A friend.” In other words, all their friends hate them now.

(Side note to mention that Mike is excellent with the physical comedy in this scene, from answering the phone awkwardly through the staircase, to unwrapping the note around the rock, he does it all in a way that’s funny.)

Another knock and Davy repeats the sight gag with the peephole. Toby arrives with the article, and Mike guesses that all their friends have already seen it. She reads it to them. According to Rob Roy and Chic, the boys are gourmets who enjoy pheasant under glass, their favorite sports are polo and croquet, and their taste in music runs from chamber music to organ recitals. Obviously these are silly and trivial but they are still lies. It’s also a meta-comment since real life publicity and magazines will exaggerate and make up little fibs to make their famous subjects fit a certain image.


Toby tells them she quit her job in protest. Madame Q sends them a telegram reminding them to be at the banquet that night, to receive their “Young Americans of the Year” award. (Goofy face titles again.) Micky and Davy respond with a telegram of their own, “Monkee telegram 26A: You can take your trophy and…”

We’ll just have to imagine what they want her to do with the trophy, as they cut to the banquet scene. Madame Q is on stage at the podium and her speech lets us know these stuffy middle-aged adults dressed up and sitting at the tables are Chic’s advertisers. Even if you were watching this for the first time, you had to know that the Monkees aren’t going to behave. What’s fun is to see how they’re going to wreck her day.

As much as I love the drama here of The Monkees versus fashion elite, there’s also an interesting bit of serendipity. This episode aired on the same date that Don Kirshner was fired from Colgem records, and as the Monkees music supervisor, supposedly for choosing the next single (“A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”/”She Hangs Out”) without the Monkees (or Raybert’s) knowledge or agreement. In “Monkees a la Mode” the boys are rebelling against being told what they are, and what they should be by Madame Q and Chic. The conflict echoes the real life struggle of The Monkees, who were tired of the music for their albums and the show being produced without any input from them.

Madame Q announces that Chic is awarding the “Fine Young American” trophy to four young people who are the “epitome for everything the magazine stands for.” The Monkees, who are seated on the stage off to the side, stand up and greet the room with an off-key Three Stooges “Hello” harmony. The Monkees have all the power here since they have nothing to lose.

Each one makes a fool of Madame Q by clownishly contradicting her introduction. She calls Peter the “picture of grace” and he proceeds to stumble all over the podium. She declares that Davy embodies the “chic coiffure.” He removes an obvious wig and reveals a smooth, sham bald head, making him look like a toddler with a cocky swagger. Madame Q describes Micky as the “paragon of quiet gentility.” He jumps to the mic, performing a similar hack-comedian shtick like he did in “Too Many Girls,” “I’m kinda new in town, can you direct me to your apartment?”

When she gets to Mike, Madame Q is twitching from humiliation and has clearly had enough of the Monkees. She gives him the trophy and tries to get rid of him fast. Stylish hats-off to Patrice Wymore, who played Madame Q. She was delightfully unlikeable and haughty throughout. Madame Quagmeyer is also a great Dickensian name, resembling the “quagmire” she got herself into.

Mike pushes her aside and insists on speaking. He announces that the trophy should really go to Rob Roy Fingerhead since he’s the one who “made them what they are today.” Rob Roy tries to sneak away. Peter, maintaining his characteristic sweet expression, stands up and physically stops him from exiting the stage. This is as innocent as anyone has ever looked while menacing another human being. 


Rob Roy accidentally sits on and breaks his camera. He’s so upset, I almost feel sorry for him.  Micky says, “It was a mercy killing.” I want to know what it was made of that you can break it that easily. I could understand it bending slightly with the weight, but the whole thing falls to pieces.

Madame Q yells at Rob Roy to get rid of Monkees before she loses her job, but it’s too late. Thanks to the Monkees, Madame Q and Rob Roy are ruined. They caused their own problems by creating a false version of the boys that their advertisers would find acceptable. Advertisers, then and now are a powerful force in any kind of media. The Monkees head out into the crowd to create more chaos, stacking dishes and taking flowers off the table etc. Hysterical Madame Q has to be physically restrained by the wait staff.

Tag sequence where The Monkees go back to the Chic office to see if they can get a retraction. To their surprise, Toby is now in charge of the magazine. She firmly refuses their request and her new attitude and style is exactly like the old Madame Quagmeyer. Davy points out that it’s a big responsibility, but Toby reveals her new assistants are none other than Madame Q and Rob Roy. It’s a cynical touch since these two haven’t learned anything. They’re stuck in the bottom of their own machinery, and Toby is now one of them. Next, the performance of “You Just May Be the One” (Nesmith), previously seen in “The Chaperone” and “One Man Shy.”

One of the reasons for my everlasting-love for this show is because the Monkees are nearly always creating chaos and fighting against various representations of establishment and authority. “Monkees à la Mode” is the quintessential example of this kind of story from The Monkees. This episode also stands out as the Monkees display more anger than usual toward the villains, and I like that. But should they be angry? They could have backed out of the Chic article once they saw what Madame Q and Rob Roy were like. Instead, they were hostile participants. The episode resonates in a similar way for me as “One Man Shy,” which is another story about class war. The antagonists aren’t really evil, just threatened by anything that challenges the status quo.



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: “The Prince and The Paupers”


 “Everyone in the world has a doppelganger” 


“The Prince and The Paupers” first aired on February 6, 1967. The teleplay was written by Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso, from a story by Peter Meyerson. It’s a spoof on the Mark Twain novel, The Prince and the Pauper, but just barely. The novel is about two boys who look alike; one’s a prince, one is very poor. Through a plot of mistaken identity, each boy learns what it’s like to live like the other. “The Prince and The Paupers,” on the other hand, has more in common with The Monkees earlier episode, “Royal Flush.”

Davy and Prince Ludlow are identical, but the plot revolves around Davy charming a girl and keeping a young royal from getting killed by an ambitious, greedy adult relative.

 “The Prince and the Pauper” was the only Monkees episode that James Komack directed. He has many credits as a director, including Get Smart, Welcome Back Kotter, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Star Trek. I don’t find this episode as funny as it could be. I don’t know if that has anything to do with the director, since he was very experienced with comedies. For whatever reason, most of the jokes fall flat and no one seems to be having much fun.

The story starts off with the Monkees hoping to get a gig at the embassy. The Count’s assistant, Max, comes out to the hall where they are waiting. He tells Davy the Count has been looking everywhere for him and insistently drags Davy into the throne room. The Count wants to know why Davy is wearing “bizarre clothes.” (He’s wearing his red Monkees shirt.) A young man, identical to Davy, enters from a side door. The Count realizes his mistake and dismisses Davy, but Ludlow wants to talk to him.

Ludlow tells Davy his troubles; he has to be married by his 18th birthday or lose the throne to Count Myron. Davy’s awkward characterization of Ludlow is adorable. It’s fun to see him pull off a different character. Ludlow explains he’s shy and bad with women. How is this possible?  Davy tries to pump him up.


Meanwhile, corrupt adults Count Myron and Max fence in another room and discuss their plan to prevent Ludlow from ever getting married. Seems Ludlow’s personality has been doing most of the work for them up to now. Ludlow’s best prospect is Wendy Forsythe, but the scheming Count has told her that Ludlow’s no good.  Unfortunately, though the guest cast is made up of talented actors, they aren’t as entertaining as the cast from most episodes. These two don’t seem to be having much fun, and feel a bit stiff. The guest cast is usually one of the best elements of any given episode, especially when the performers are really relishing their “evil” roles.

Mike, Peter, and Micky enter and see the two doppelgangers. Davy fills them in on Ludlow’s problem. A courtier (played by Donald Foster, who was also the Rolls Owner in “Success Story”) announces the arrival of Wendy. Ludlow panics so Mike, Micky, and Peter decide Davy should talk to her as him. They dress him in Ludlow’s clothes.

Everyone but Davy hides and watches as Wendy enters. Davy really does charm her somehow. It’s certainly not the lines he says that get her to want to come back, messing up her name and telling her to call him “high.” But their eyes and facial expressions convey that they like each other. Davy Jones was good at generating chemistry with other actors. That’s not an easy task for a performer so I’m always impressed when it happens. I wish the scene would’ve been longer though. He should have had to work harder, and had wittier dialog to work with. After Wendy leaves, Ludlow asks Davy to substitute for him for a few days and convince Wendy to marry him.  [These are the kinds of problems you WANT to have – Editor] 

Davy sits on the throne dressed theatrically in a crown and robe. Mike’s staying behind because he doesn’t trust the Count and suspects he’s up to no good. Ludlow will go back with Micky and Peter and learn how to behave around women. Peter says he’ll teach him “all he knows.” Presumably what he learned in “One Man Shy?”

Micky gets one laugh from me in the scene, telling Davy to “free the serfs.” Maybe because it felt spontaneous. Micky and Peter carry “Ludlow” away from the embassy. Most likely they were carrying Rodney Bingenheimer who is the Ludlow/Davy stand-in for this episode. Bingenheimer auditioned to be a Monkee himself. He later became a successful and prominent DJ on the Los Angeles rock station, KROQ.


Max approaches and offers to tell “Ludlow” information about treason for a bribe of $1,000. Davy doesn’t have that of course. Max’s “offer” confirms Davy’s suspicions that he’s in trouble. Mike and Davy head out of the throne room, and Davy says when he opens the door, he’ll be the Prince of “Peruvia” (which is a less funny, but more realistic sounding country name than “Royal Flush’s” fake kingdom, “Harmonica”). He opens a closet and everything falls on them, then looks at the camera to tell us, “wrong door.” As far as fourth-wall breaking jokes go, that one is too obvious to get a laugh from me.

At the Monkees pad, Peter and Micky entertain Gloria, who has a loud, squeaky voice. She’s there to give Ludlow a chance to practice talking to females. Mostly, he bores her with his genealogy while Micky and Peter worry about Davy.


So far as I’ve been recapping this, I’ve been ignoring the creepy chemist character, played by Monkees stand-in David Price. He has intercepted a note from Wendy, written to express her love to Ludlow. The chemist gives the note to Max along with some poison so they can just kill Ludlow in case he actually succeeds at getting a girl to marry him. I don’t see the point of this guy. These plot-points could have been handled through dialog between Max and the Count. The Chemist is not interesting or funny, and he’s not a reference to anything in the Mark Twain novel.

I’m not slamming David Price (my irritation is with the writing). He was usually Davy Jones stand-in and also an extra in many of The Monkees episodes. My favorite bit of him is in “Too Many Girls.”  You can find a list with images of Price’s on-screen appearances at “Another Jumbled Monkees Archive.” 

Max poisons “Ludlow’s” saber, as Davy prepares to take Ludlow’s fencing lesson. Davy brags to Max that he’ll compose a poem, Cyrano de Bergerac style, as he duels with him. Max somehow doesn’t notice “Ludlow’s” much cockier personality. They duel and both drop their weapons. The chemist picks them up but Davy wants to trade swords. Max suddenly makes an excuse to leave. Davy wonders why and demonstrates “sticking” Max by poking a plant, which then dies from the poison. Max, by the way, breaks the usual Monkees stereotype of the villain having a clueless sidekick. He’s fairly sharp. (No pun intended.)

Back in the throne room, Mike points out how “uptight” Myron is. I’d say we’re seeing that more from Max than Myron. But all the same, Davy needs to move fast with Wendy. When the Courtier brings her in, Davy immediately asks her to marry him. Mike notes, “ooh, that’s fast!” Okay, Mike’s reaction was a little funny. She says yes. Wendy runs to the throne and she and Davy gaze at each other fondly.


The Courtier brings Myron in. Davy tells him they’re getting married right away and orders him to see to the details. Wendy and Davy kiss and Mike wanders around embarrassed. He finds that early twentieth century-phone prop they always use and calls Micky, telling him to bring Ludlow back to get married. Pan over to Wendy and Davy, who are still making out.  [A bit weird and inappropriate – Editor]

Davy gets ready for Ludlow’s wedding. Mike does what he’s been doing for most of this episode; fussing over Davy and his clothes, prompting Davy to shout, “You’re not my real mom!” Davy’s upset that he might end up “marrying a beautiful girl and ruling a nation of millions.” Yeah, that would be terrible.

Myron enters with Ludlow, Peter, and Micky; they are clearly busted. Count Myron orders Ludlow put in the dungeon and tells the Monkees to leave. Mike and Micky try to stand up to him but he threatens to have them killed. If Myron were smart, he would have had The Monkees put in the dungeon as well.

Myron enters the throne room where guests have gathered for the wedding. He announces that the prince was called back to Peruvia on business. The Courtier breaks his cane, the fourth one he’s broken since the beginning of the show. Not a sight gag that’s working for me, sorry. Neither is the Count losing his monocle all the time, which had to be a tired gag, even in the 1960s. The Courtier is wearing the same jacket that Mike has been sporting. (By same, I mean the same style; during the wedding there’s a shot with both men in the jacket. It doesn’t look like trick photography to me.) Davy and Mike enter and announce that the wedding will take place. Davy whispers that Mike should stall until Micky and Peter can get Ludlow out of the dungeon. I guess Myron can’t kill them all in front of the embassy wedding guests.

Micky and Peter arrive in the dungeon and ask the jailer if he’s ever seen The Road to Morocco (1942). He hasn’t, so Micky and Peter play patty-cake and punch him, taking his keys. This is a reference to the road movies starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, where they would play patty-cake before throwing punches. (However, in The Road to Morocco the patty-cake trick didn’t succeed.) We don’t usually see the Monkees punching people. In “Monkees in the Ring,” sure, but it’s not their usual tactic. They tend to be tricksters, not fighters.

At the wedding, the cardinal gets to the point in the ceremony where they ask if anyone knows a reason these two “should not be joined…,” etc. Mike stands up and starts his established awkward shtick, which he usually does so well, but here it doesn’t get a giggle from me. He’s just meandering with no impact. Micky, Peter, and Ludlow burst into the scene and Ludlow and announces he’ll marry “the girl.”

Then, the best thing happens. Micky goes temporarily nuts. He jumps up and down excitedly, boxing the air, saying something unintelligible that sounds like, “Right, hey baby, come on mother, yeah!..” Peter’s reaction is also hysterically funny as he flinches away from him and tries not to laugh. Micky keeps this going as the romp to “Mary, Mary” (Michael Nesmith) begins. I wound that back and watched it several times. The little bit of unexpected and random craziness made my day.


The romp itself is a brawl/food fight between the Monkees against Max and The Count. There’s some “cowboy” business where Micky and Peter tie up the baddies. Kind of a lame, unfocused romp, but the Monkees look like they’re having fun at least. At the end, Ludlow kisses the bride; the newly married King has the villains taken away (like in “Royal Flush” when Bettina turns 18 and orders her uncle arrested).

Davy wonders if Wendy is going to be all right. Good question, since she’s marrying someone doesn’t know instead of the person she’s actually into. Mike’s response to Davy is the other bit that makes me chortle with glee. The lines are helped tremendously by Mike’s folksy delivery and Davy’s rapt attention:


Aftermath. Micky reads the newspaper story about Ludlow and Wendy’s honeymoon. Davy mopes because he has feelings for Wendy. Mike tries to make Davy feel better, and then they leave him alone to get over it.  A reporter from Teen Tale Magazine enters through the back door, looking for the Monkees. She looks exactly like Wendy! Davy invites her to sit down and they go right into making out.


Overall, “Prince and the Paupers” has far too few laugh-out-loud moments and feels a little drab. Some of the usual elements seem forced to me, like they were put together with no enthusiasm (now it’s time to look at the camera, now it’s time for Peter to misunderstand, etc.). I’ll put up with anything from this show; plot holes, nonsensical dialog, bad lighting, film stock that doesn’t match, recycled gags, anything as long as it’s still funny. There’s also some missing piece: The Monkees never go into a shared fantasy in this one, and they’re split into two groups so we don’t get the pleasure of seeing them working together. The con they come up with isn’t even that much fun because it’s mostly perpetuated on poor Wendy, who doesn’t deserve it.  For me, this is a rare dud from the first season which was mostly pretty consistent.



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 in the Ring”


“’Round and ’Round We Go!”


“Monkees in the Ring” was directed by James Frawley and written by Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso. This is a combination of director/writers that frequently worked on these Monkees episodes, yet somehow this episode for me, doesn’t feel like a Monkees episode. This could be because the story is very similar to a 1965 episode of The Smothers Brothers, also written by Dee Caruso (and Richard Newton and Aaron Spelling.)

Round I

Peter and Davy are walking along the street when Peter accidentally bumps into a really large man. Big guy wants to start a fight with Peter so Davy jumps in and defends him. I love Davy’s nerve, I really do. The man takes a swing, and Davy taps him on the chin and he goes down. There’s an older man watching this entire thing, which is clearly a set up. They’re looking for a patsy. The older guy, Mr. Sholto, tells Davy he’s going to make him a featherweight champion after seeing what he did. I note that Davy’s British accent is especially strong in this scene.


The Monkees are at home, and they try to talk Davy out of going to see Mr. Sholto. Davy points out they need the money and he has fought before. In actuality, David Jones did do some boxing. He boxed at a place called Newmarket, the same place where he trained to be a jockey. Micky pops in as an old man and tries to “guilt” Davy into giving up this idea. What’s funnier than Micky’s little sketch is Mike’s over the top laugh at him and the look Peter gives Mike. You can’t script something like that. Almost makes this episode worth the trouble.


At Mr. Sholto’s office, Sholto and his stooge Vernon discuss the plan to build Davy up by having other boxers take a dive, and then make a killing when Davy loses to the champion. Davy arrives at the office with Micky, Peter and Mike. Sholto wants Vernon to get rid of the other three Monkees, but Davy firmly states he won’t stay without them. This is one thing that makes me feel this isn’t a very Monkees episode: It’s all about Davy. Davy is the main character and the other three act as his backup band or Greek chorus. “Royal Flush” and the pilot were a bit like this too. Not that I expect every episode to be structured the same. That would be boring.

Sholto, who’s name they keep mispronouncing as Shakespeare character “Shylock,” decides it’s time to see what Davy can do in the gym. Vernon says “right boss” and his gesture/voice telegraphs that they’re up to something. Continuing the precedent started with “Royal Flush” with a smart bad guy and a dumb bad guy, Vernon is obviously the “dumb one.”

The Monkees, Sholto, and Vernon go to the gym. The boxers currently working out there all laugh at them. Is it the hair? Or is it that they don’t look like boxers? Davy is in his boxing shorts and gloves and he tests his skills on a light bag, which he sends flying. The other Monkees look surprised; they didn’t know he had such talent. Next, Sholto brings over “The Smasher” and he asks Davy to punch him with his left. Smasher falls right over. Micky decides it must be easy so he takes a few cracks at Smasher. He can only injure himself on The Smasher’s solid jaw and stomach.


Back in Sholto’s office, the con-game on Davy continues. Sholto bargains with The Monkees that if Davy doesn’t win his first three fights by knock-out, they can have him back. Sholto and Vernon give Davy a boxing robe, christening him “Dynamite Davy Jones.” Sholto taps Davy on the jaw in an “atta boy” way, and Davy falls to the sound of shattering glass.

Round II

At home, the other three continue to worry about Davy and, though it’s unsaid, the future of the band, I presume. Peter plays a classical piece on the banjo in the background while Mike and Davy do my favorite bit of dialogue:


At the gym Sholto and Vernon prep Davy for his new grueling training schedule. The training becomes a romp to “Laugh” (Hank Medress, Phil Margo, Mitchell Margo and Jay Siegal). This isn’t much of a romp. Furthering my above argument, Davy is the only Monkee in the sequence. The best bits are him jumping rope with two cute girls holding either end, and Davy boxing and losing to his own shadow. On the other hand, Davy was actually a very athletic guy; this was a good part for him. Part of the romp shows Davy knocking down fighter after fighter in one punch.

Sholto holds a press conference in his office because Davy is set to fight “The Champ.” Davy annoys the other Monkees by working the press, making jokes and saying he had to fight his way out of “the slums.” Mike picks up the ringing phone: it’s The Smasher complaining he got paid less than other fighters to take a dive while fighting Davy. Now Mike knows what’s up. He grabs Davy right there in the office and tries to tell him, but Davy stays in his over-confident groove. Vernon approaches and Davy says he doesn’t believe Mike. He punches Vernon, who pretends to fall. Mike gives several helpless, flustered looks to the camera. 

Round III

Now it’s The Monkees turn to set up a counter-scheme. Mike and Micky are at the gym in Sweatshop shirts. They try to get into the practice ring and there’s a very long sequence of them getting comically tangled up in the ropes. The Champ watches them dubiously. Mike and Micky pretend to be from the boxing commission and they proceed to warn The Champ that Davy is too tough to fight. The Champ’s dialogue all rhymes and this character is loosely based on Muhammad Ali, who also liked to rhyme.

Peter arrives in bandages, posing as a previous, badly beaten opponent of Davy’s. While he talks to Peter, somehow the tricky Monkees bandage The Champ’s hands. He’s smarter than most and figures out that these are Davy’s musician friends, here to talk him out of fighting Davy. The Champ loses his temper and says he’ll slaughter Davy. Quoting Ali he shouts, “I am the greatest!” and chases them off.


Round IV

Vernon has overheard the whole thing, and he and Sholto must step up their game. Sholto tells Vernon to keep Davy’s friends out of the way until after the fight, and to give Davy a sleeping pill before the fight. Davy holds court with the press backstage before the boxing match, and says something that sounds like the lyrics at the beginning of the song “No Time,” “Hober reeber sabasoben Hobaseeba snick Seeberraber hobosoben.” Sholto tries to force Davy to drink water that’s been laced with a sleeping pill. The Champ comes over to wish Davy luck and he drinks the water instead.

Vernon arrives at The Monkees’ pad to hold the other three at gunpoint until the fight is over. At the fight, the announcer introduces Davy and the now sleepy Champ. The Monkees and Vernon watch this on the TV and irritate Vernon, requesting he make adjustments to the reception, since they’re in handcuffs. Micky remarks he wishes The Champ would go to the corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset, hoping no doubt he’d get caught in the Sunset Strip riots mentioned in “Find The Monkees.” Mike starts to mess with Vernon and asks if he was ever a prize fighter. Micky follows Mike’s lead and they suggest Vernon is out of shape now. Vernon challenges Mike to a fight and Mike quickly agrees but says Micky has to be his “second” and Peter’s the referee. All of this means slow-witted Vernon has to remove their handcuffs.

Round V

At the actual fight, Sholto is excited because they’ve reached the fourth round he thinks the pill should be wearing off by now. So far, The Champ has been too sleepy to fight and keeps grabbing Davy and the referee to stay upright. The ring, by the way, was also used in the boxing scene of The Monkees film, Head. Also appearing in Head was boxing champion Sonny Liston, who Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay ) defeated in 1964.

The Monkees meanwhile prepare Vernon for their “fight.” Peter does a Hollywood tough-guy accent. They get Vernon in “his corner,” which ends up being in the closet where they can trap him and help Davy. A little social commentary [A little more than social commentary, it’s almost like they’re making fun of their own television show – Editor]:


Now that the champ is wide awake, Davy’s strategy is ducking punches and telling him, “don’t do that.” A romp to “I’ll Be Back Upon My Feet” (Sandy Linzer/Denny Randel ) launches. Vernon arrives somehow, but it makes no sense that he got there before The Monkees, who left their pad first. While he had to struggle to get out of the closet, right? Vernon chases The Monkees into the ring. Mike and Micky run around the ring while Peter rings the bell. Mike keeps Sholto busy while Micky does the same with Vernon. Davy keeps sitting on Mike’s lap, while Micky and Vernon sit on each other. The announcer narrates all these goofy happenings. Peter announces that the winner is The Monkees.

The cops arrest Sholto and Vernon for fixing fights. Sholto says The Monkees are “ruining the fighting game,” and Vernon repeats it back as “fighting the ruining game.” That actually makes sense in a way. Mike and Micky try to make Davy feel better about the fixed fights. They tell him he’s gentle, kind, sincere, a great friend and musician, and a great man. They don’t mention he has a tendency to fall for this kind of stuff, like he did in “Too Many Girls.” Peter announces “The National Anthem,” and Davy knocks himself out as he salutes.

And that’s that. I had a few complaints obviously, but the episode has some funny, spontaneous-feeling moments. When it’s a James Frawley-directed episode, I can usually count on having a few laughs even if I don’t love the premise. Mike’s the only other Monkee who got much to do in the episode. As usual, Mike is the voice of reason trying to talk his friend out of a bad idea. There must be something special about Davy that makes outside characters always want to take him away from the group.



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: “The Case of the Missing Monkee”


“A Funny Thing Happened to Me on the Way to the Bandstand”


The Monkees really parodied a lot of genres didn’t it? It has more in common with cartoons than sitcoms in that way, as they don’t stick to the “situation.” There were Monkees episodes inspired by westerns, gangster films, science fiction, horror, mystery, and spy stories to name a few. If you were seeing these for the first time, you certainly wouldn’t be able to guess what they might try next. They just incorporate the notion that they’re a band right into the storyline, whatever it is. “The Case of the Missing Monkee” is a cross between mystery, sci-fi, and a spy story. Director and Monkees producer Bob Rafelson gives the episode a cinematic feel using more medium and close shots than usual. There is also a dark edge to the whole thing. “The Case of the Missing Monkee” which premiered January 9, 1967 was written by head writers Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso.

Speaking of the cinematic effect, the opening shot is a lovely pan across a banquet room where the scientist Professor Schnitzler is giving a speech. The Monkees sit on the bandstand, waiting to play. Schnitzler tells his audience, “war is war, peace is peace, and science is science.” Mike’s puzzled face reflects my own, but Peter’s impressed. He introduces himself to Schnitzler, who admires the Monkees music and discretely passes Peter a note. Peter reads. “They are taking me to the Remington Clinic.” He tries to tell Mike, but Mike’s all business because they have to perform. Peter ignores him completely and wanders off to look for Schnitzler. This week’s villain, Dr. Marcovich notices him. Good for Peter, doing his own thinking. Unfortunately, he wanders over to the curtain at the side, gets hit with a large mallet, and dragged off. The mallet is a silly contrast to the serious setup. This is one of the many instances in the series where Peter is the one finding trouble with his naivete and curiosity.

After the opening theme, Mike, Micky, and Davy look for Peter. Mike finds Dr. Marcovich and tugs on his coat, earning a “Don’t do that” from Marcovich. The Doctor dismisses them and tells them to play music as they’re supposed to. Mike remembers the note, reading it as “I am being taken to the Remington Clinic.” Outside the Remington Clinic, I’m surprised to see daytime as I assumed the banquet was at night. Inside, they attempt to get help from the Nurse at the desk and describe the missing Peter. The cheerful but clueless Nurse knows nothing about him or Schnitzler.


Go figure; Mike doesn’t mention Peter’s charming dimples and manly shoulders (like I would have). Also, in every picture I’ve ever seen of Peter Tork, his eyes look brown to me. The nurse tells them to go to the police. A subtle dig at authority as Davy mutters something about going to see “the man” and they go. Dr. Marcovich overhears the entire thing and denies to the nurse knowing anything about Schnitzler. He stops to make “evil faces” for good measure. I enjoy this actor; he is dramatic and menacing in most scenes and then he pulls off goofy stuff like this.

Davy, Mike, and Micky have indeed gone to the man, and bring a cop to the banquet location. The former French restaurant is now a Chinese restaurant complete with a ridiculous stereotypical Chinese restaurant owner. The owner makes The Monkees look like dopes and the cop tells them not to bother any more policemen until they know where they were. We have another situation where the boys have no responsible adult they can trust. “The man” indeed. The restaurant owner is of course Marcovich in disguise and he really hams it up, laughing and jumping up and down after peeling off his disguise.


The Monkees try to fool the nurse into rushing them into the clinic, but the Nurse is too diligent and bureaucratic. Davy gives her his address as 1438 instead of 1334. He either really hit his head or he doesn’t want these questionable people knowing where he lives. I love the performance of the Nurse. She’s aggressively perky and nice, pathologically efficient, and not at all helpful. The Monkees don’t love her and lose their patience, especially when she says she can’t admit Davy immediately. In the meantime, she gives him a cough drop. I don’t know what’s in it, but it motivates Davy to drop his crutches and dance and sing “Old Folks At Home” (Stephen Foster) again, as he did in “The Spy Who Came in from the Cool.” Coincidentally or not, both of these episodes were written and directed by the same team. Getting high on her own supply, the nurse takes a few wacky cough drops and inspires stock footage of rocket ships.

The Monkees resort to breaking in to the Remington clinic. Davy questions the legality of this. I can’t believe a Monkee is questioning breaking the law but it leads to the following witty exchange: Micky: “So what do you want to do? Do you want to run home where it’s safe and leave Peter here in trouble all alone?” Davy: “Of course not.” Micky: “Well, it was just a suggestion.” Instead, Micky busts out what he refers to as the Bathook. Mike sensibly points out the ladder right behind them. The Bathook, by the way, is one of the many references to Batman made by The Monkees. This is beautifully listed here, on The Monkees Go Ape for Batman!

Finally in the clinic, Davy, Mike, and Micky disguise themselves as patients and begin to search for Peter. A very creepy atmosphere was created in the hospital with the Monkees nervous reactions, the lighting scheme, and the music. It would have been even better without the laugh track. Meanwhile, Marcovich and his partner Bruno have Peter tied up in another room. They discuss how they will sneak Schnitzler out of the country and “America will lose one of its greatest scientists.” Finally, we have an idea of the plot of the villains. This dialogue makes me think it’s a sort of foreign espionage story they’re going for, though like the Maltese Vulture it’s just what drives the story along.

Bruno wants to know what to do with Peter. Peter lists his woes but he’s really quoting the medical drama Ben Casey. There’s a Ben Casey connection as David Jones appeared in the 1965 episode, “If You Play Your Cards Right, You Too Can Be a Loser” as a glue-sniffing wife-beater [What? – Editor]. Try to picture that, will you? Speaking of Batman, Davy’s co-star on Ben Casey was pre-Bat Girl Yvonne Craig.

Bruno pulls a gun on Peter since he “knows too much.” (Peter: “Thank you!”) Sidekick Bruno is truly threatening, enhanced by Vincent Gardenia’s intense, no-nonsense performance and dour expression. Marcovich has a better idea. Peter tries to rescue himself by calling “Shazam!” at the mirror but only manages to break it. Catch a little “Monkee Men” theme here. Meanwhile the other non-missing Monkees try to get out of the one room where they have been searching, but here comes Bruno to give physical therapy.


There’s a silly sequence as they receive their therapy using the (now ancient) exercise equipment. Micky pulls on the wall pulleys, Davy uses the “vibrating belt machine” to get rid of his spare tire, of course leading to a site gag where he pulls out an actual tire. Mike is on the rowing machine, but not exercising; he serenades the lovely and lucky Valerie Kairys with a banjo.

After Bruno leaves them, The Monkees resume the search for Peter but stop to answer the ringing phone. There they go, answering phones that aren’t theirs again. In a cute fourth-wall-breaking bit, Mike takes a call from TV Guide and updates them on the plot. Meanwhile, Marcovich uses his sci-fi, super-science ray on Peter to erase his memory. Peter writhes in agony and thinks about being on the beach with the kids in the “Saturday’s Child” romp.


Just as Mike, Davy, and Micky are about to give up hope, they enter a room and Peter wanders in behind them. Peter has no idea who they are. After a couple of false starts, they scare his memories back. Peter remembers that Marcovich and Bruno plan to smuggle Schnitzler out of the country. The nurse comes in and Mike, Davy, and Micky hide, telling Peter to play dumb. Peter gets sensitive about his perceived intelligence, “Why am I always the one to play dumb. Why can’t I play smart once in a while?” The Nurse covers Schnitzler’s face with an oxygen mask.

When she goes, Micky admires the villains’ plan to smuggle Schnitzler out in an ambulance. The mask gives Mike a plan of his own, and he puts Micky in the Professor’s place. Micky protests this with one of my all-time favorite bits of Monkees dialogue: Mike: “Believe me Micky, there’s no other way. Besides, Dr. Marcovich is an evil man.” Micky: “Well, what about me?” Davy: “You’re not evil, is he Mike?” Mike: “No, he’s not evil. He’s crafty and selfish maybe, but he’s not evil.” Dr. Marcovich and Bruno come to get Schnitzler and the non-disguised Monkees hide under the cart as they wheel out Micky.

This leads to my favorite bit of the episode, where Mike, Peter and Davy play “doctor.” In the operating room, Marcovich and Bruno prepare to do something to “Schnitzler.” Mike, Davy, and Peter enter in surgical scrubs. Mike adopts Micky’s typical shtick of pretending to have authority where he has none. Marcovich actually apologizes for questioning them. Bruno and Marcovich are marvelous at the thankless job of being straight men to the boys.



This whole scene is reminiscent of The Marx Brothers’ A Day at the Races scene where Marx Brothers take over the Standish Sanitarium. Many sight gags and one peanut butter sandwich later, Mike and Marcovich end up physically tugging the “patient” back and forth until Micky says he’s dizzy and sits up. Marcovich and Bruno recognize them as “those musicians” and it leads into a wonderful romp to “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” (Boyce/Hart).

The romp is also packed with silly, energetic gags, including a lot of running in and out of doors in the hospital corridor. All the characters, heroes and villains, do this funny run where they take little steps with their hands up like dog paws. In the equipment room, Micky rides the exercise bike like a horse and Bruno also rides it, cut together like a chase scene. Micky and Mike have binoculars and stop to ogle a pretty nurse for a moment. I love their saucy looks to each other. Mike does the frantic bit on the rowing machine we see in the second season opening credits. Bruno “chases” him on the same bike. The Monkees get the bad guys in a two-man pile on a gurney.

After the wackiness dies down, Schnitzler thanks them for saving his life. Micky and Mike tell the bad guys they’re going to get 20 years and a wrist slapping from the AMA. As they leave, Marcovich looks more relieved to be rid of these lunatics than upset at being caught.


In this episode, the comedy is stirred in beautifully with the mystery and adventure of the plot. There are lots of great scenes of The Monkees working together, even if Peter is missing a lot of the time. They do tend to isolate him a bit, don’t they? The guest cast is excellent as usual, these great characters were never afraid to go over the top, and always made great straight men to The Monkees. One element that keeps these episodes fun to watch for 50 years, is the fun with different genres. This is probably something they were willing to try with a show geared towards kids, not adults. Kids might be more open-minded and entertained by a show that regularly bends reality, even its own rules of reality. Of course I’m an adult and enjoy it tremendously even after watching for many decades. Although the writing of the episodes did eventually get into a rut, it was more the plots and the gags themselves, and not the styles they tackle that were ever lacking imagination.



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.