NEW PODCAST: “Save The Texas Prairie Chicken”


This is BlissVille, Misadventures In BlissVille, an American variety podcast presentation that premiered December 5th of the year 2014 featuring host David Lawler and guests including Colin Hall, Bronwyn Knox, Andrew La Ganke, Nicole Phelps, Sarah La Puerta, Alex Saltz, Mark Jeacoma, and Denny Spangler, who is with us tonight to discuss all-things-Monkees.  I’ve got two Michiganders on one podcast, Denny and my wife, Bronwyn.  Basically it’s a shameless plug for Bronwyn’s new series, “Monkees vs. Macheen”, exclusively on BlissVille, which, I think basically means I’m the Raybert to her Nesmith.

So the Sixties were hip, dig?  Lots-a crazy cats, dig?  Crazy drugs – MDMA, which was a purer form of Ecstasy, if I’m not mistaken.  You could take pills.  You could buy pills at the drug store without having to show your I.D.  I wasn’t there, but that’s what I’m told.

I wonder if we can talk about Michael Nesmith without getting sued?  He seems to keep a close eye on YouTube.  “Elephant Parts” is an extremely difficult show to find.  It is available in a very limited run on DVD, the price is high so I’m guessing another run will not be in the offing, perhaps Blu-Ray if the 50th anniversary Monkees box set sells, but when you try to look at clips from “Elephant Parts”, you’ll get a nasty notice saying, “This video was removed at the request of Michael Nesmith”.  He has a net worth of $50 million, but whatever!

In the years before Cable Television, higher ratings and viewership were easier to assess.  There were only three networks, and some haphazard attempts to create fourth networks, such as Dumont, but it was mainly CBS and NBC, later ABC; the running average of viewership hovered between 55 and 60 million viewers, divided between the three television networks in the mid-to-late sixties, the time when The Monkees was broadcast, and I believe The Monkees was broadcast in a very easy time slot for their viewers, which was mainly kids and young adults.  The show aired on Monday nights as 7:30PM, and handily won it’s time slot every week, running against a western called The Iron Horse and Gilligan’s Island.

Written by: David Lawler with Bronwyn Knox and Denny Spangler
Audio Clips: “Save The Texas Prairie Chicken” uploaded to YouTube by classical56, “Save The Texas Prairie Chicken (Outtakes) from the episode, “Monkees on the Wheel”, “(Theme From) The Monkees” (Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart), “Don’t Call On Me” (Michael Nesmith, John London), “Randy Scouse Git” (Micky Dolenz), Excerpt from “The Monkees Watch Their Feet”, Excerpt from “Fairy Tale”, “My Heart Will Go On” (James Horner, Will Jennings), “For Pete’s Sake” (Peter Tork, Joey Richards).


Monkees vs. Macheen: “Royal Flush”


“This Is Supposed To Be About A Band, Right?”


The Monkees television show debuted 49 years ago, and as the 50th anniversary approaches, I wanted to write a little bit about each episode of this amazing show that makes me laugh as much now as it did when I first saw it in syndication as a tot. “Royal Flush,” the first Monkees episode, aired September 12, 1966 on NBC. It was the third episode shot and the first directed by James Frawley, who went on to direct 32 of the 58 Monkees episodes. Frawley won an Emmy for “Royal Flush”; Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy Series, 1966-67. He worked with the Monkees for a few months before the show started to develop the spontaneous improvisational style that defined the Monkees humor.

“Royal Flush”  was written by Robert Schlitt and Peter Meyerson. The story begins, as so many of these episodes do; with the romantic British pop star character Davy Jones falling for a pretty girl. He saves Princess Bettina of the kingdom of Harmonica (where?) from drowning and then meets the first of many Monkees bad guys: her Uncle Otto and his bodyguard Sigmund. Otto and Sigmund clearly want to eliminate Bettina and possibly Davy as well. The actors playing the bad guys are really funny. I never appreciated the guest actors enough when watching this as a kid.


After the opening theme we see the first shots of the Monkees beach house, accompanied by the Harpsichord version of The Monkees theme, composed by Stu Phillips. Inside the house, we see the famous Monkees décor. Micky helps Davy find Bettina in the newspaper while Mike talks about their lack of jobs and money, setting up a central show premise. Mike tells Davy not to get involved but the Monkees go into a fantasy sketch, dressed for a military invasion. Micky’s got his British military voice on, and he leads them through the plan to break into the hotel where Bettina is staying.

we wool hat

The Monkees arrive at the Rich, Swank Hotel in individually styled gray suits. These scenes are the best part of the episode, with the Monkees doing what they do best: using their wits to con their way into or out of trouble. They get the maid to leave and spy on Otto and Sigmund. After they find out he is indeed up to no good and get it on tape, Micky uses a phony salesman-voice to get Otto to come to the room to look at some thrones. Otto and Sigmund show up and Micky dazzles them with his spiel and appeals to Otto’s vanity, while Davy sneaks off to warn Bettina. Davy and Bettina figure out Otto wants to get rid of her before she officially becomes queen that night at midnight, so he can take the crown. This takes a while because Davy sucks at operating tape recorders. The Monkees distract Otto and leave the hotel.


Next we get the Monkees traditional musical sequence, this time to “This Just Doesn’t Seem to Be My Day” (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart). There are some pretty funny moments while Mickey tries to evade Sigmund and Bettina and Davy frolic on the beach. Micky jumps into Sigmund’s arms, mimicking Bettina and Davy. Peter digs a hole and as he goes along progressively sillier signs warn: “Danger Hole Started,” “Watch Out Half Hole,” and then “Caution Whole Hole.” Sigmund, of course, falls into it.


Outside the Monkees house we see the “Keep Off the Grass” sign for the first time. Inside, Micky rigs a safe on a rope to trap Otto, but it fails. Bettina tells Otto she’s sent a letter to the embassy, to be opened if she doesn’t arrive at her own birthday reception. Otto takes Bettina away, leaving Sigmund with the Monkees to make sure she behaves. Later, The Monkees try to get away from Sigmund, who jumps up and blocks the way. Catch Micky’s look to the camera to tell us, “He’s fast!” The safe finally falls, and the Monkees split.

At the birthday reception, Otto sees the Monkees and tries to abscond with Bettina. Bold little Davy jumps in front of him and they have a duel to the song “Take a Giant Step,” (Gerry Goffin/Carole King) complete with instant Errol Flynn costume changes. During the fight on screen captions during the fight read “We can’t go on meeting like this” and “It always worked for Errol Flynn.” Otto corners Davy and is about to go in for the kill, but Peter calls for “the time.” (Remember before the days of cell phones and digital cable boxes, you could call for “the time” if you wanted to set your watch?) It’s midnight and as Bettina’s first official act as Queen, she has Otto arrested.

web eating plates

In the tag sequence, The Monkees go back to the hotel room and run into the maid again, who now owns the hotel. There’s an interview sequence because the show is one minute short, and 11 more would be featured on the show. Peter thinks Davy’s too short to do a fencing scene. This begins the running gag about Davy’s height.


I love watching the Monkees trick the bad guys with their logic-defying, Marx-Brothers style antics. Many of my favorite gags originated in this episode such as breaking the fourth wall by looking at the camera, the screen caps, and the fast-motions scrambling around. I only wonder why they chose this episode as the debut, since the story has nothing to do with them as a band. It’s barely even referred to, which is an interesting choice for a show about a rock 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.