Monkees vs Macheen: “Hillbilly Honeymoon” (a.k.a. “Double Barrel Shotgun Wedding”)

“Y’all come back now, y’hear!”

“Hillbilly Honeymoon” aka “Double Barrel Shotgun Wedding” was written by Peter Meyerson and directed by James Frawley. Meyerson wrote eight Monkees episodes including the debut episode “Royal Flush,” and the very similar-in-plot episode, (it’s doppelganger you might say) “Prince and the Paupers.” This episode debuted October 23, 1967 and was filmed September 12-15, 1967, after their big 1967, July 8-Aug 27 summer tour. The Monkees have a new look in the episodes that were shot from September onward. Micky’s curly hair is the most noticeable, but the Monkees started dressing in what I’d call a more “hippy” look and Mike didn’t always wear the green hat.

The story begins with the Monkees lost and driving their Monkeemobile through a small town that’s divided by a white line. On either side are two feuding families, the Weskitts and Chubbers. The Monkees ask for directions, but gun-toting Weskitts and Chubbers warn them to stay on the white line. The Weskitts and Chubbers parody the Hatfield and McCoy real-life family feud that occurred between two rural families in the West Virginia and Kentucky area from 1863-1891. Mike sends Davy to follow the white line out of town and find some help.

Davy starts to walk the line but gets pulled into a haystack by a pretty young woman in pig-tails, Ella Mae Chubber. She kisses him (with a pop sound effect) and then has the nerve to warn him her boyfriend won’t like it. Ella Mae resembles Elly May Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies with her name, hair, and costume. The other three main characters in “Hillbilly Honeymoon” also have Beverly Hillbillies counterparts: Maw equals Granny, Paw resembles Jed, and Jud is a Jethro type. The Monkees were parodying this popular television show that ran from 1962-1971. Both are “fish out of water” stories: The Beverly Hillbillies is about a group of hillbillies trying to navigate their way through society in Beverly Hills, while “Hillbilly Honeymoon” has our California boys trapped in hillbilly country. Admittedly the “Hillbilly Honeymoon” versions of these characters are lot nastier, in a fun way of course.

Paw points his rifle at Davy and Ella Mae and makes it clear Davy has to marry her. Jud Weskitt approaches with his rifle and makes it clear Davy’s going to die for kissing Ella Mae, because she’s his girl. Since Ella Mae’s a Chubber and Jud is a Weskitt, I can add Romeo and Juliet to the list of things parodied in “Hillbilly Honeymoon.”

After the opening theme, Ella Mae tries to keep Paw and Jud from killing both Davy and each other. Micky pops into the frame and tries to talk the men out of fighting but they just shove rifles in his face. Micky and Davy run off, and the two feuding clans start shooting at each other, accompanied by banjo music. There’s lots of bullets flying around but no deaths occur that we see. Micky pops up in the haystack and Ella wants to kiss him now. He points out he’s not Davy but she kisses him anyway. Micky responds, “Well, I tried,” and makes out with her. Now Paw wants Micky to marry Ella Mae because she’s about to turn 16 and he doesn’t want anyone calling her an “old maid.” Yep, those kind of stereotypes. Paw takes Mike, Micky, and Peter away at gunpoint. Maw tricks Davy into thinking she’s a helpless old lady and asks him to help her cross the street. As a reward for his kind service, she and Jud kidnap him.

At Maw and Jud’s, cabin, Jud wants to put Davy into his vat to make liquor out of him while Maw explains the health benefits of anger and hate. At Paw and Ellie’s cabin, Paw wants to know which Monkee will marry Ella. Micky, Mike, and Peter eagerly volunteer Davy. Paw points out that Jud’s got Davy and going to get him will get them shot. All three declare in unison, “We’ll risk it.” Paw agrees to send Micky and keep the other two but Ella wants one for herself. She approaches Mike, “I think you’re cute.” Mike breaks the fourth wall in terms of actor/character and says, “So does my wife and kids.” He volunteers to go with Micky. Peter frets that they’re abandoning him but Mike promises they’ll be back for him “or we’ll die trying.” Paw gleefully points out, “That’s a distinct possibility.”

I love that Dub Taylor plays Paw with a menacing smile. Sure he’s going to blow your head off, but he’ll have a good time doing it. I also figured out that I recognized Dub Taylor from the old Hubba Bubba “gum fight” commercials. Big bubbles, no troubles. You 70’s-80’s kids will know what I’m talking about.

Jud has Davy in a sack. Between this and “Everywhere a Sheik, Sheik,” people really enjoy putting Davy in sacks. He’s ready to boil Davy when Micky and Mike arrive outside, dressed as hillbillies. They push a pig wearing a baby bonnet in their baby carriage. The pig, the bonnet, and carriage seem to be a nod to the book Alice in Wonderland, when Alice takes the Duchess’s baby outside and discovers it’s a pig. Mike and Micky try to convince rifle-wielding Jud that they’re cousins. Jud doesn’t recognize the names Claude and Roy, or Luke and Ezra, but seems to remember a Roland and Clem. He still wants to get rid of them until Maw insists, “That’s no way to treat kinfolk” and lets them inside. Meanwhile at Paw’s, Peter becomes Ella’s next victim [She’s a lonely woman, apparently – Editor’s note]. She chases him, and he gives in to her kiss as Micky did, with a resigned, “Well, I tried.”

Micky and Mike see Davy in the sack, but they’re intimidated by Maw and Jud. Jud wants Mike to prove he’s a cousin by playing his nose. Mike (in a line delivery worthy of Jim Parsons) tries to stall, saying his nose is “out being fixed.” He gets nervous when Jud points the gun so he starts tapping the side of his noise, and the sound editors help Mike out with a “boing, boing” sound. Micky accompanies Mike by tapping the pig. This begins the romp to “Papa Gene’s Blues” (Michael Nesmith), a first season song that’s perfect for this romp and episode. During the song, Maw, Jud, Mike, and Micky play in a jug band, and also do some square dancing, joined by Davy in the sack. There’s some footage from “Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth” with the Monkees performing farm chores, bailing hay,etc. My favorite bits are Micky and Mike smoking ears of corn and Mike politely attempting to light Maw’s pipe with a match, but failing until she eventually just busts out a Zippo. Billie Hayes, the actress who plays Maw, is a lot of fun to watch.

After the nose-playing, Maw welcomes them to the family. Micky frees the pig to create a distraction. Maw and Jud chase after it, giving Mike and Micky time to look through the sacks for Davy. When they just find oats, they start crying that Davy Jones is dead. Funny gag as Davy comes up behind them joins in the crying over his own death. They all abruptly stop to figure out what to do now.

Mike pulls out a script and they use it to figure out that they need to get Peter from Paw and Ella Mae’s. With this, and Mike’s earlier mention of his family, this entire episode feels looser than usual. The first season episodes, for the most part, create the reality of them as a band with the fourth wall breaks as a knowing “wink” to the audience. This episode and some others after it make no pretense at creating a reality; I’m constantly reminded I’m watching a show. With this episode, there’s so much funny stuff that it doesn’t hurt the energy of the episode. There’s never a dull moment.

Outside Paw’s place, Micky, Mike, and Davy start making pig calls. Ella Mae and Paw come out, and Micky and Mike rush in to get Peter, but Davy’s pants are caught on a nail. Paw turns around and cocks the rifle at Davy. He asks Ella if Davy was the one kissing her. Ella isn’t sure, “Maybe. I can’t tell one from the other no more.” Paw makes Davy drop to his knees and tries to force a proposal. Instead, Davy starts singing “I Wanna Be Free.” Paw isn’t impressed, “Anybody who sings like that deserves to die.” The other three Monkees run out on the porch. At Paw’s gun-pointing threat, Davy finally says “Will you marry me?”

Outside Paw’s, Mike, Micky, and Peter agree they’ve got to stop the wedding so they head for Jud’s. I love Micky leaping over the porch rail and posing as he proclaims Davy’s predicament. He looks like he’s trying to crack Mike up. Those little moments, they can’t be scripted. Inside, Paw and Ella have dressed Davy up in a suit for the wedding. Elly thinks he’s “purdy” but Paw’s not satisfied: Davy still looks like a city slicker. Davy suggests, “Why don’t you rub dirt all over me or something?” Unable to detect sarcasm, Paw and Ella go for this idea.

Mike and Micky tell Jud that Ella’s getting married. Naturally Jud grabs his gun. Mike and Micky stop him. Mike tells Jud he’s got to treat Ella like a gentleman. Jud’s response, “But she’s a girl!” inspires the first “Isn’t that dumb” recurring line from Micky. Huge compliments to all the guest cast actors. The episode is packed with over-the-top and corny stereotypes but the actors make it into great comedy. Billie Hayes and Lou Antonio have the most ridiculous lines but I still laugh every time I hear them delivered.

Maw wants to know, who’s going to teach Jud how to treat a girl? Micky announces, “Raybert presents, coming straight from the mountains, Uncle Raccoon!” Peter enters and speaks in a German accent until Mike stage whispers, “wrong accent.” Peters tries again with a hillbilly accent that’s awkwardly over-the-top. I dig the fact that all the Monkees get a chance to shine and be funny in “Hillbilly Honeymoon.” The Monkees have Jud practice proposing using Micky in a bonnet as a stand in for Ella Mae.

The scenes of Jud’s training are intercut with Davy fussily complaining about being covered in soot and Paw’s spitting and so on. I’ve never seen this fastidious side of him before. They’re contrasting a British fastidious persona with the dirty hillbillies, I suppose. Davy tries to convince Ella to elope with Jud, but Paw won’t have it because Jud is “dirty, dumb, and violent.” Well, yeah. There’s a subtle anti-violence message here.

The same barn used in “Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth” and also “The Monkees in a Ghost Town” is decorated for a wedding in this episode. Paw bullies Ella and Davy down the aisle with his gun. The preacher, played by Jim Boles, who also played the Dad in “Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth,” starts performing a funeral service. Once he restarts the right ceremony, Ella Mae is reluctant to take this “stranger to be your lawfully wedded husband,” so Paw jabs her. Jud walks in wearing a suit and followed by the other Monkees and Maw. He announces, “Gentleman Jud Wescott, come to claim his bride.” Paw isn’t happy and renews the fighting between the two clans, despite Micky and the Preacher’s efforts to keep the peace. The barn is crackling with gunfire and the families divide across the white line again.

Ducking behind a hay bale, Ella admits to Davy that she loves Jud the most. Davy plays matchmaker and summons Jud and the preacher. The preacher marries the hillbilly couple behind the hay stacks as the gunfire continues.

Jud and Ellla are about to kiss when Paw comes up with his gun and says, “I got you at last.” Ella updates him that they’re married. Paw happily says, “You son-in-law” and hugs Jud. He takes the couple to the center of the barn and makes the announcement that the feud is over, “the houses of Weskitt and Chubber are joined.” Everybody celebrates. A Romeo and Juliet where no one has to die. Paw invites Jud to go ahead and kiss. Jud leans in, and Paw clarifies, “Not me, her!”

Despite all the hillbilly clichés, I love this episode. It’s so funny, even just thinking about it makes me laugh and it’s easily one of the best of season two. One thing that these recaps have taught me is a true appreciation for director James Frawley. I knew nothing about him before I started this recap project. There’s an interview with James Frawley here where he talks about directing The Monkees. The four actors were encouraged to go off the script, and they would disregard written scenes for ad-libbed versions. I would speculate this extended to the guest cast as well if they were up for it and willing to play. (I realize that when they were actually shooting they probably couldn’t improvise so much due to lighting placement and other technical needs.) According to the book, Monkeemania: The True Story of the Monkees by Glen A. Baker, 29 of the first 32 Monkees episodes directors had no previous television directing experience. Frawley’s willingness to experiment might have been because he didn’t have much experience at the time as a director so he wasn’t encumbered by having to do things the “right” way. The natural-seeming bits of comedy and interaction combined with the elements of magic and fantasy are part of what makes “Hillbilly Honeymoon” and many other episodes watchable over and over.

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.

 

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Monkees vs. Macheen: “Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth”

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“The Year of the Monkee (Horse)”

"Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth"

One of the wonderful things about this television show is watching it with my nine-year-old daughter. I discovered The Monkees when I was five on WKBD 50 Detroit. (“In Detroit, the kid’s choice is TV 50”) Last summer, I was feeling a bit down and was looking for something to cheer me up when I noticed IFC was running The Monkees. And what a great thing to be able to share with her, this show that I fell in love with as a child. She especially likes this episode, and I can see why it might appeal to children. It has animals and a little kid; silly comedy, fun sequences. The Monkees are the Nicest Guys in the World, helping out the boy the way they do.

“Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth” was the first episode shot after the pilot but the 8th one to air on October 31, 1966. (Another shout-out to Melanie Mitchell, whose book, Monkee Magic, allowed me to see the shooting vs. airing order of the episodes.) The episode was written by Dave Evans and directed by show producer Robert Rafelson. Compared to the pilot, which moves very fast, this one takes its time to show the Monkees interacting together, and to make them likable; make them, in fact, into sweet, selfless good guys. There is more character development and less style and techniques. For instance there are no onscreen captions at all, nor do I notice much in the way of breaking the fourth wall. The main thing that is missing for me though is the usual dose of ironic and subversive humor that was present in most episodes. That type of humor is one of the elements that kept me enjoying the show well into adulthood.

The first part of the episode is a screwball comedy with lots of wacky misunderstandings. It starts with Davy alone on the beach (like “Royal Flush”). A little boy brings him a horse (a real horse – Editor) and asks him to watch it. The kid runs off and vanishes, leaving Davy stuck with the animal. By the look on Davy’s face, he knows he’s screwed.

I never would’ve thought Peter would be the one to do the cooking but he’s made cream of root beer soup for Mike and Micky. Micky gives his review of the meal by turning into a werewolf and howling all over the place. Peter says “here we go again” and it cracks me up that this is common behavior for Micky. Mike helpfully salts his hand and offers it to Micky for a snack. Henry Cordon is back as nasty landlord Babbitt, and he enters with his villainous organ theme music (dun, Dun, DUN). Micky’s howling convinces Babbitt they’re keeping a dog, which they’re not allowed to do or he’ll kick them out. Micky awkwardly explains he was just doing his werewolf impression.

Babbitt lays down the law.

Just as they get rid of him, Davy enters with the horse from the entrance by the windows, with a comical apologetic look on his face. Mike looks stunned as they roll into the opening theme. Davy explains how the kid abandoned him with the horse on the beach. Mike is worried about Babbitt and the conversation turns into a wacky verbal mix-up, which Micky tries to sort out by howling again.

The noise brings back Babbitt. The boys try to hide the horse in the bedroom but he won’t budge. Mike tells Davy and Peter to hide in the bedroom and somehow convinces Babbitt that the actual horse is Peter and Davy in a horse costume. Both the werewolf bits and Davy bringing the horse were really nice scenes, with lots of character interaction.

None-too-bright landlord taken care of, Mike wants to get rid of the horse, but he still won’t move. Davy stands there looking at the other three like they’re the idiots. They think the horse is hungry and feed him some of the root beer soup, which sounds like a bad idea. Sure enough, the horse licks it and collapses.

See, somebody appreciates good soup.

Mike goes to see the veterinarian, Dr. Mann, who has a huge mustache and magnifying glass. After more wacky verbal mix-ups, the vet agrees to come see the horse. Mike gets so flustered in this scene. One of the charming things about the Mike character/Mike Nesmith’s performance is the awkward, stammering bits he does. He’s natural, he’s affable, and it’s funny. Micky and Davy are pretty slick but Mike’s charm comes from seeming a little unsure sometimes, despite being the leader. This scene was good example of that.

Mike and Dr. Mann

There are a lot of out-of-focus shots in the episode, including some here when Mike brings Dr. Mann back to the pad. There is also a grainy look that makes me think it was shot on a higher speed film stock to accommodate the later outdoor setting.

Anyway, Dr. Mann finds Peter and Davy in an actual horse costume so he starts examining them. Even by The Monkees standards this is all very silly.

Yegads! This is worse than I thought!

They hear a knock and assume it’s Babbitt. Now they have to hide the vet. But it’s their nice, elderly neighbor, Miss Purdy, with a cake to share with them. Miss Purdy faints when she sees the horse and then two more times when she sees Dr. Mann in the horse head and finds out he’s a veterinarian. “Why did she faint?” My daughter wants to know. “Well um, I guess people were more fragile in the ’60s?” But my actual guess is that writers thought fainting was really hilarious back then. To prove my point, Mr. Babbitt strides in, preparing to catch them with all kinds of animals, but he collapses when he hears Peter talking from inside the horse costume.

Then, the tone of the episode changes  to become more laid-back and outdoorsy, beginning with Davy riding the horse on the beach. He finds the boy who explains he can’t keep Jeremy (now we have a name for the horse) because his father thinks he costs too much. Jonathan (whose name they have not said yet) wants Davy to talk to his father. I guess he thinks his Dad is susceptible to English accents like the rest of us!

They drive out to the kid’s father’s farm in a jeep, no Monkeemobile. I wonder if the jeep is borrowed and has a trailer for the horse. They don’t give us a clear shot of it, so who knows? The father says the horse is useless and too expensive to care for (Why did you buy it, Dad? – Editor). Davy offers to pay the original investment, but they don’t have $100 of course. Mike suggests the Monkees pay it off by offering their labor on the farm for a week. Farmer Fisher wisely takes one look at this bunch and wants to try them out for a day first (The whole thing smacks of a “Paper Moon”-style scam – Editor).

Fisher wakes up the Monkees at sunrise; they’ve been sleeping in the barn in their farming overalls. He gives them their list of chores that they are too sleepy to comprehend. Later, they are enthusiastically doing chores when Jenkins, a suave looking farmer in a leather jacket, comes and mocks the kid’s father for having “city slickers” working for him.

They don’t mention the character names here. It takes 2/3 of the plot to mention the kid’s name is Jonathan. We never hear the adult farmer’s names. I got the names from the IMDB because I didn’t want to call them “Farmer” and “Other Farmer in a leather jacket.”

Peter gets ready to feed the hogs, but Micky has to demonstrate the hog call for him. It brings chickens (“now why don’t you try the chicken call?”). There’s a funny call-back gag where Micky’s attempt at a hog-call reaches Babbitt back at the house, who thinks they’ve got some other animal in there.

You know, it's just as well the hogs didn't come. Why's that? I forgot their food.

The Monkees aren’t very good at the farm chores. They’re supposed to milk the cow but start playing catch/football/kick the can with the milk bucket, inspiring my daughter to say “They’re just too much fun for this work.” The game leads to an accompanying romp to “Papa Gene’s Blues” (Mike Nesmith), the Monkees song my daughter and I are most likely to be found singing out loud. There’s a romp/fantasy sequence where they picture themselves as bullfighters, complete with stock footage of real bullfighters, and costumes. Mike mirrors the stock bullfighter using his moves on the cow. He successfully gets milk, but Peter spills it all over Fisher. Fisher is now done with them.

The episode uses the usual guitar wipes, but here there’s this weird dripping transition to this next scene. Maybe representing the milk spilling?

Davy says a sad goodbye to Jonathan and apologizes for failing him. Jenkins pulls up and says the horse is useless anyway. Davy and Jenkins make a bet that Davy can beat his horse Charlemagne in a race*. If Davy wins, Jenkins will pay the $100 for the horse. If Jenkins wins, he gets to keep the Monkees guitar. The Monkees are far too nice, putting their guitar on the line like this to help this kid. I don’t get what’s in it for Jenkins either, unless he needs a guitar and bragging rights for Charlemagne?

(*Note from the Editor – farm horses are not the same as race horses. There is a world of difference between both horses, involving a regiment of training and exercises that farm horses would not be required to accomplish.)

Micky does his WC Fields impression while giving Davy advice on how to race and Davy and the horse have racing silks (… blouse and cap worn during a race …) from somewhere. Various methods are used to start the race: a bugle, a racing checkered flag, and a gun. The racing scenes are set to “All the Kings Horses” (Michael Nesmith). The racers race, the other Monkees jump around on the beach; the farmer and his kid cheer. Davy wins! Even the father is happy about it. Davy gives him the money (exactly $100, suspicious – Editor) (You’re viewing this with 21st Century cynicism – Editor’s wife) he won to keep the horse, and Fisher invites them back to visit, but not to help with the chores.

Tag sequence where another kid approaches Davy, this time with a camel.

Davy and the camel.

The others haul him out of there and we hear more “Papa Gene’s Blues,” with some of the performance footage used in “Monkees In A Ghost Town”, where they’re wearing the gray suits. Mike looks like he’s having so much fun playing this song, and he does that famous wink to the camera.

Mike's wink.

So there we have it. The Monkees help the underdogs as they did in “Monkees vs. Machine,” “Monkee See, Monkee Die,” and other episodes later in the run. (I won’t count “Royal Flush”, though they did help her selflessly, because a princess about to be a queen is not an underdog.) I have to admit, if my daughter hadn’t enjoyed it so much, I would have had a hard time finding so many positive things to say. I always found this one a little dull and not as funny, and I didn’t understand why the Monkees were being so altruistic when the stakes weren’t that high this time. But I have a final word from my daughter, who wanted to know: “Why did you wait so long to show me The Monkees, Mom?” Better late than never.

Guest Cast

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.