Monkees Vs. Macheen: “Too Many Girls” aka “Davy and Fern”


“Talent Show, My…(Whistle)!” 


I wasn’t super excited to write about this one, I admit. The storyline for “Too Many Girls” revolves around an often used plot device: Davy is in “love.” On the plus side, writers were obviously aware of it and making fun of it themselves; using a well-established trait of Davy’s to drive the story. Similar to “Success Story,” the conflict is about the possible loss of Davy as a band member. The best part is the talent show – that’s the centerpiece and most memorable sequence. The teleplay was written by Dave Evans, Gerald Gardner, Dee Caruso, from a story by Dave Evans. The episode aired on December 19, 1966, and James Frawley directed.

The opening scene is the Monkees rehearsing, and I do love it when they have story elements about them as a band. The actors are actually playing this bit of “Stepping Stone” that you hear. They had just returned from a two-week promotional tour of the series, in September of 1966, when they started production on this episode, so the four of them were probably very used to playing together by now. Davy spaces out during the rehearsal when he sees a girl. The object of his affection is Valerie Kairys; it’s always fun to spot her in an episode.

The Monkees that are not love-struck get rid of Valerie, and Davy snaps out of it and starts playing the maracas solo. He realizes what’s happened and makes a vow to the others: “no more girls.” Mike, who dominates in this episode with his efforts to keep control of things, wants to hold Davy to his word. Davy doesn’t even get through the vow before he’s locked eyes with yet another girl. Micky, Peter, and Mike find young women stashed all over the apartment and they escort them all out. They think they’ve found them all and collapse against the door, but when they look up, there’s Davy, surrounded by all the girls.


The Monkeemobile screeches to a halt on the street. Our villains of the episode, Mrs. Badderly and her teenage/young adult daughter Fern, watch the Monkees from outside the tea room. Mrs. Badderly, says “the little one is Davy. He’s English. He likes tea.” But how did she know they were pulling up just then? Holy cow, maybe she really is psychic.

These women plan to swindle Davy, but not for money this time. Mrs. Badderly insists Fern needs Davy as a partner for a show business career. Davy’s such a sweet guy. I’m sure if Fern had just asked him to be her partner for the talent show, he would have said yes. No need to trick him. But that’s not enough, as Mrs. Badderly wants Fern to have a career with Davy. She’s on the phone with Mr. Hack, assuring him that Fern has an act for his TV amateur show. Mrs. Badderly has pepper and a nail and tells Fern to do as she says, laughing manically for good measure.

The Monkees conveniently decide to patronize the tearoom. Ms. Badderly goes to their table to read their tea leaves. She “sees” that Mike’s a musician, composer, and raconteur. Micky does a W.C. Fields impression to add that Mike “also contains lanolin and won’t upset your stomach.” (I enjoy noting Micky’s various impressions. Unlike Locksley, he is a master.) Mrs. Badderly also sees that Mike’s about to have a flat and Peter will come down with a 24-hour virus. Fern sprinkles pepper on Peter’s coat and presumably off-screen she stuck that nail in Mike’s tire. It’s easy to predict the future when you create it. I’ll have to give that a try.

Now the hook: Mrs. Badderly tells them that Davy will fall in love within 24 hours and he’ll leave his friends and home over it. Davy denies the possibility, but she says the tea leaves “never lie.” There’s a stand-up sit-down gag as the Monkees stand politely when she leaves the table. The score of violins crescendos whenever they stand. I suspect they used some of this music again in “Son of a Gypsy.”

Practical Mike’s not buying any of this. He goes on about the silliness of believing tea leaves as they approach their car, which indeed has a flat. When Peter starts sneezing, Davy reasons that’s two predictions and asks big brother Mike if his will come true too. Mike stuffs Davy into the back of the car and starts blowing up the tire with his mouth. In addition to being a “musician, composer, and raconteur,” his spit patches nail holes.

At home, Mike forgets he doesn’t believe Ms. Badderly’s predictions. He wants to keep Davy isolated from women for 24 hours. Davy says, “that’s half the world.” The other Monkees ignore Peter’s obsessive freak-out about “half the world” with half a globe. Mrs. Badderly and Fern have stalked the Monkees back to their home, and Mom pressures Fern into continuing with their nasty plan to break up the Monkees.

Now begins the series of scenes where Fern becomes a worthy opponent for the Monkees, borrowing their tactics of changing voices and disguises to get Davy alone. She is a bunch of different girls, trying to figure out which one can ensnare Davy. I wish there were more characters like her. The Monkees rarely came up against anyone their own age. Most of the baddies are older, established authority figure types. It would have been fun to see them in conflict with more girls like Fern, or competing with other bands that were their equal in antics. That said, Fern is acting on her Mother’s instructions.

First, Fern shows up at the Monkees door as a curvy and mature looking Girl Scout. With a squeaky voice, she pretends to sell cookies, hoping to get to Davy, but they quickly shut her out. Micky says, “Girl Scout my…” and the soundtrack helpfully fills in the implied “ass” with a whistle. Micky’s mouth didn’t say it, he just stopped at “my.” (Different than “The Devil and Peter Tork” when they’re all clearly mouthing the word “hell” that gets bleeped out.)

The next day, I assume, since they’re all wearing different shirts, they send Davy upstairs when they hear a knock at the door. It’s Fern posing as a passport photographer. Micky foolishly says yes to her, and she takes a picture of the three of them with a turn-of-the century camera, which magically gives them turn-of the century costumes for a second. The flash blinds them and she rushes upstairs to find Davy. Mike quickly stops her, trying hard to keep control of this situation. The boys show her the door.

Davy is tired of being confined and he starts to lose it, but Mike is firm with him. Davy argues they’ll have to tie him down if they want to keep him inside. Mike and Micky exchange glances and Mike makes a comical face, ridiculously pleased with the idea.


Mike, you da man in this episode. They chain Davy to a chair and give him the TV to keep him occupied. When the others leave, Davy gets a “special delivery” note under the door. He makes an excited “whoop” and leaves, dragging the chair outside. The other Monkees find the note and tell us that it’s an invitation to judge a beauty contest, the ideal lure for Davy. Off they go to try and catch up.

Two funny sight gags as the Monkees search. The first is on the street when they ask a group of strangers which way he went; all of them point in different directions. I’d love to hear how that conversation went, “Have you seen a little guy chained to a big chair? He’d be sort of dragging it?” They think they’ve found Davy, but it turns about to be…another identically dressed guy, also dragging the same chair. This had me falling of my chair laughing.


Davy arrives, not at all suspicious that the pageant is at the same tea room where they met Mrs. Badderly or that there’s only one contestant. It’s Fern, disguised in a cave-girl costume and long brown wig. This is the scene with the blurring where her bikini would be, due to NBC-TV Broadcast Standards and Practices (the same standards that didn’t want anyone to see Barbara Eden’s belly-button on I Dream of Jeannie, or any woman’s navel on Star Trek). YouTube has an uncensored clip, with some full body shots of her. On my DVD, they go right to a close-up of her face.  In the context of the un-blurred version, Davy’s expression changes from “stunned” to “turned-on.”


The couple hears music every time they touch. Davy think it’s love, but it’s Mrs. Badderly in the next room with a record player. Davy says “I’m Davy Jones, and I think I love you.” (Wrong show, Davy, “I Think I Love You” is The Partridge Family.)   The Monkees arrive too late. Mrs. Badderly comes out and Davy “introduces” her to Fern. She reads Fern’s tea leaves and tells her she’s going to be a great success on a television show with Davy. Fern coaxes Davy into helping her. The Monkees sit in Davy’s chair to stop him. But…


That was pretty hot – rubber chain or no. [I noticed that Davy’s shirt is designed to resemble a straitjacket – Editor.] Davy, Fern and her blurry body leave, and the Monkees sit in the chair and sulk. The phone rings and some unseen person [Frawley, I presume – Editor.] pushes it out to them. After a little hand-over-hand contest, Peter answers. Who picks up the phone in someone else’s place of business? The Monkees, that’s who. It’s Mr. Hack calling Mrs. Badderly to say that her daughter and Davy are scheduled to appear last on the amateur hour. Peter hangs up and relays to Mike and Micky. They all realize “her daughter and Davy!” They’ve been had again.

Now comes the part I’ve been waiting for: the talent show. The other three Monkees are at Mr. Hack’s televised Amateur Hour, performing under aliases to cause some trouble, as usual. Very nice Dickensian naming convention for Mr. Hack by the way. Although it’s also a reference to Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour. First up is the Astonishing Pietro. Peter is less than competent as a magician, but he gets the best line: “You’ll notice that my fingers never leave my hand.”

Mr. Hack announces “very gifted folk singer” Billy Roy Hodstetter. Mike gives a flustered performance of his own composition “Different Drum”. Hats off to him for this awkward self-parody, and he even mocks his own wink to the camera. I always loved “Different Drum” even before I knew Nesmith wrote it. This episode debuted almost a full year before the Stone Poneys’ version and this probably played even funnier once the popular version of the song was known.


Locksley Mendoza: “Master of Impersonations” is up next. This is Micky as a comedian, being so unfunny, he’s back to funny again. All his impersonations sound exactly like his Cagney. While he does his act, Peter and Mike put rocks in Davy’s pocket and replace his dance cane with a rubber one. Peter helpfully tells the camera what they are doing. Mike gets Davy’s attention and sprays him with something to mess up his voice.

Davy and Fern go on stage to do a song and soft-shoe number, but Davy can no longer sing or keep up with her dancing. She screams at Davy, storms off stage and goes to her mother, who comforts her. A little contradictory, as it seemed at the beginning she was being pushed into this plot by her Mother, and now it seems like she wanted this to work. Davy is surprised to learn Mrs. Badderly is Fern’s mother.


Mr. Hack says there will be one more act after these words from our sponsor. The three Monkees let us know it’s “our” as in The Monkees sponsor. Mr. Hack advertises a product called SDRAWKCAB, which is Backwards, um…backwards. The last act is The Monkees, who play “I’m a Believer” (Neil Diamond) in beige Monkees shirts. Fern keeps crying to her Mom and, speaking for all the foes of the Monkees, Mrs. Badderly says:


Mike tells Davy that Fern and her mother were conning him. Davy blames himself for believing in the tea leaves. The winners of the contest? Davy and Fern. What? It’s not the Monkees? This is an outrage! Like in “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers,” the Monkees have unfairly lost a contest. As Davy said in “One Man Shy,” it’s not how you play the game, it’s whether you win or lose.

Of course the Monkees are never allowed to succeed in show business, but at least they didn’t lose Davy. It’s a more realistic plot-line, similar to “One Man Shy” where the story depends on character conflict and not high adventure, as in an episode such as “The Spy Who Came in from the Cool.” “Too Many Girls” isn’t as funny as some but there are a couple of laugh-out-loud moments. There’s also a central irony. Fern and Mom trick Davy into thinking he’s in love, because Davy’s always looking for love. He didn’t really love Fern, but he’s not in love with any of these girls anyway. The opening scene set that up very well. He gets infatuated with the next girl and the next girl and the next…He’s in love. For the very first time today.



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: “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 à 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 with lots memorable dialogue and sight gags.

Miss Buntwell, with her big hair and New York accent, calls the Monkees phone and offers 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, heh.

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 the 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: “One Man Shy” aka “Peter and the Debutante”


“We Attack” aka “War is all around us, my mind says prepare to fight…”


Ah, Peter. The dumb one. The naïve one. The shy one. The emotional one. The quiet Harpo Marx analog who gets relegated to sight gags. You could almost miss him in some of the episodes. He’s the main character of “One Man Shy” and, like the storyline from the previous episode, the Monkees band together to help an underdog who is one of their own. “One Man Shy” was written by Gerald Gardner, Dee Caruso and Treva Silverman and debuted December 5, 1966, directed by James Frawley. In an interview with Silverman, she mentioned that at one point the writers couldn’t decide if Peter should be an idiot, or a genius. They took a vote and decided on “idiot.” I think Peter’s a little of both [I think he’s more innocent, childlike – Editor]. Micky Dolenz said in the Monkees documentary, Hey, Hey, We’re The Monkees (1997), that Peter Tork had the toughest acting job, since he had to play a character the least like his real-life personality.

“One Man Shy” starts off in the same set where “The Chaperone” ended: a fancy parlor-type room where the Monkees are playing “You Just May Be the One” (Michael Nesmith) for Valerie and Ronnie. That seems fitting, since both episodes were about one Monkee needing help with a girl from the other three. Valerie, a pretty, young debutante, hires them to play for their party. Her friend Ronnie is appalled and even more so when Peter keeps staring at Valerie. After she leaves, Ronnie keeps insulting the Monkees to their faces. I think he’s terrified of them.

Ronnie is supposed to be a relatively young man, though clearly not as young as the Monkees. He comments with disgust on their hair and “primitive” music instead of being curious or even tolerant. Remembering that long hair and rock music were relatively new at the time, Ronnie represents the establishment and is disdainful of the Monkees youth culture. He’s similar to the characters in “Monkee à La Mode,” who’ve decided they know what good music and style is and the Monkees don’t pass muster. For Ronnie, the Monkees pose a threat. Not just because Peter likes Valerie, but the Monkees challenge his way of life. What if everyone adopted the Monkees hair and music style? He wouldn’t be superior anymore. He’d have to change, or at least open his mind. The Monkees have decided to take Ronnie personally.


In the car, the Monkees discover Peter has stolen Valerie’s portrait, so they speed off in the Monkeemobile. At the pad, Peter continues to talk to the portrait, causing the others concern. Mike tells Peter he should try actually talking to Valerie. Micky has an idea to help him, Cyrano de Bergerac-style. They go back to her house and Peter stands on the lawn, miming words of love spoken by the others. Valerie is on her balcony, but can’t hear them, so she goes back in. The gardener does hear them and punches Peter when he gets the wrong idea. Micky points out it didn’t work for Cyrano either.

Valerie and Ronnie pay the Monkees a visit, and the boys do not want to get caught with her portrait. They scramble around to hide it before letting them in, putting it behind a mirror where Mike pretends to comb his hair. Valerie came by to see what music they were planning to play for the party. She catches Peter’s eye and smiles. Peter returns the smile. Good grief, he’s adorable.

Ronnie strolls in and proceeds to insult their home. He notes Mike combing his hair in front of the “mirror,” and he does the same. They compare comb sizes and Ronnie’s is bigger. Mike, unperturbed, gives him a sarcastic wink, but then he fumbles the mirror and reveals the painting. Busted!



Peter confesses to taking the portrait but Valerie is sweet about it and says he can return it at the party. She orders Ronnie to leave with her. Valerie is clearly in charge of this relationship, whatever their relationship is. Ronnie waves a riding crop in the air in a comically threatening way and follows. Once they go, Micky has a mini-fit over Ronnie. Mike is the voice of reason but the others launch into one of my favorite bits that I love to quote when I meet someone I don’t like too much.


An attack from the Monkees involves disguises and making a fool of Ronnie. Davy pretends to be a waiter at the café where Ronnie has taken Valerie for some champagne. Davy jams the cork into the bottle with a hammer, and there’s a huge struggle to get it out. It shoots into…black and white footage of a collapsing building and they all look horrified. Ronnie tries to impress Valerie with his knowledge of art while they’re on a walk in the park. He wants to buy a crazy contraption of pipes and tubes, calling it a “comment on our over-mechanized society.” Mike, posing as a maintenance man, says it just turns the fountain on and squirts Ronnie in the face. Strike two for Ronnie.

On the street, they run into “street merchant” Micky, selling baby dolls. To refute Micky’s accusation that he doesn’t like kids, Ronnie picks up a doll, which Micky rigged to squirt him and scream at him. Later, Ronnie gets a photo of the Monkees and shows it to Valerie, pointing out that they were the waiter, the maintenance man, etc. Ronnie is one of the rare characters who can spot the Monkees in disguise and calls their antics, “a feeble plot to discredit me.” Valerie seems mildly amused. Notice Peter is not involved in any of these tricks.

Ronnie decides to strike back; he invites the Monkees over for lawn games, challenging Peter to skeet shooting, archery, and badminton. Each time he calls Peter over, a different Monkee takes the task instead. I crack up when Ronnie calls Peter over for archery and Mike shows up, Ronnie says, “Tork, you look exactly like Nesmith.” Smug, smarmy prick. I enjoy the sarcastic humor in this episode and I’ve got to hand it to George Furth. He is hysterically, enthusiastically unlikable. If you’re going to be insulting, you’d better be funny. Especially since he’s picking on the kindest, gentlest Monkee.

Who is Ronnie, anyway? He acts like he is Valerie’s boyfriend, but she behaves otherwise. My theory is that he is a friend of the family. I speculate that her parents and his parents are friends, and they are the same social class. Ronnie knew Valerie all his life and he just assumed they would marry. He treats her like she’s “his” but gets distressed when she shows independence.

Back to Peter, he’s at home, looking sad and the other Monkees apologize for failing him. But it’s not their fault really; they’re just bad at lawn games. Valerie tells Ronnie off for shaming the Monkees and she calls Peter and asks him to be her date for her party. She called him up and asked him out. I’m guessing this was a big deal in the ’60s. Maybe not so much in progressive, liberal Hollywood, but to the TV audience possibly.

Peter is not as happy about this as you’d think. He’s anxious because he doesn’t know how to behave on a date. The other Monkees agree, but decide he could learn. Cue the romantic romp to “I’m a Believer” (Neil Diamond) where the Monkees show Peter how to treat a lady, with Valerie herself as a demonstration model. It doesn’t go too well as he throws her coat in the mud, slams her ankle in the door, and nearly burns her with a blow torch. This is intercut with scenes of Valerie and Peter having a romantic day at the park, and ends with them kissing in the sunlight. Taking these in broadcast order, this is the first real bit of kissing, other than Davy and Vanessa in the pilot.

Peter is still discouraged, so the other three promise to think of something. In a weird, cute line Mike says they’ll sell candy or greeting cards, like Peter needs a fundraiser. They invite a girl over to play spin-the-bottle and hopefully improve Peter’s luck with women. Peter says the bottle always points to Davy and sure enough, he’s right. Mike sends Davy out to improve Peter’s odds, but when the girl spins again it flies up and sticks to the door Davy’s standing behind. Peter is despondent so he goes to therapy with “Freud,” aka Micky.


Guitar wipe to the painting at Valerie’s house and the party in full swing. Peter is floundering in his attempt to make conversation with Valerie. He starts recapping Hamlet, and the Monkees, looking on, decide they better do something. They go for a similar plot device that was used in “Success Story,” trying to make Peter look rich. Each of them pretends to work for Peter: Micky as an accountant, Davy as a personal tailor, and Mike as his yacht captain. They have costumes and disguise their voices of course, but I get the feeling Valerie is pretty sharp. She pretends to be surprised but looks charmed and amused that they’re going to the trouble. (I want to know what voice Micky is doing: sort of a sputtering, squeaky, lisping character, but I don’t recognize it as a reference to anything.)

Uh-oh, here comes Ronnie, wearing one of the Monkee Men capes with his suit and looking like a vampire. Ronnie declares them “5th rate musicians” and hilariously, Micky comes back with “3rd rate!” Ronnie also calls them “fraudulent frauds.” Pardon me Ronnie, but wouldn’t that mean they’re frauds at being frauds? Peter admits his friends were lying because of “how much she meant to him.” Valerie explains to Peter that he’s enough just being himself. He gives her that adorable smile and I just melt. She smiles back while nearby Ronnie eats his cape in frustration.

On stage, Mike misspeaks his own song title as “You May Just Be the One.” Peter wants the first dance, but Ronnie tries to claim it. Peter tells Valerie to decide. Duh. Valerie had already decided. She’s the smartest person in the story. Peter held her in such high esteem that he convinced himself he could never be good enough for her. Ronnie plays right into Peter’s fears, trying to prove Peter doesn’t fit in her world, and rich people should keep to their own kind. The Monkees are so busy trying to help Peter look good, they never stopped to think maybe he didn’t need that. Valerie knows there are more important things than money. Maybe Valerie doesn’t know Peter well enough to know this yet, but Peter is sensitive, gentle, and has a good sense of humor. She isn’t an object to be won; she made her own decision.

The Monkees play the song and the performance is mixed with a romp of Peter beating Ronnie at various games that are Peter’s speed: arm-wrestling, hopscotch, lifting a dumbbell, shooting toy guns, boxing, fencing, marbles etc. Valerie watches, smitten with Peter, who has confidence now, so he wins these contests in his mind.

In the tag sequence, the other Monkees tells us about the change in Peter thanks to all this. Davy misquotes the old expression “Which proves more than ever, it’s not how you play the game, it’s whether you win or lose.” I don’t know about that. I think Peter played fairer that Ronnie did. The conclusions of these episodes often don’t have any consequences. Indeed, we never see Valerie again, but after this Peter does show character development, and he successfully relates to girls.


Well, that was a fantastic episode and deeper than I first thought. It’s not just a fairy tale about shy Peter gaining some confidence with women. It is that, but there’s also a subtle culture clash and some feminism suggested here. Ronnie has more significance than a romantic obstacle and part of a love triangle. It’s easy to see him as the bad guy, but he’s also a man who fears he’s losing his hold, not only on the girl he wants, but on the world as it changes around him. Wow, I never would have thought I’d be sympathetic to Ronnie.



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.