Saturday, April 1, 2017

Monkees--"Royal Flush"

     I have made some odd choices in the past for shows to review. There is no sense in breaking with tradition now. Like many people my age, I was introduced to the Monkees in the mid-'80's when MTV aired a weekend marathon of their television series. I was hooked on their goofy antics. Supposedly, John Lennon told Mike Mesmith he thought the Monkees were modern day Marx Brothers If memory serves, that is an apt description. But we shall see how well the show holds up.
      “Royal Flush' establishes the frequently utilized plot of one of the boys falling for a girl who either is in trouble or gets them into trouble and them extricating themselves with varying degrees f ensuing hilarity. In the initial example, it is Davy who rescues a girl from drowning only to discover she is Bettina, Duchess of Harmonica. After being 'thanked” by her siniter uncle Otto, Davy suspects him of attempting to murder Bettina. He connives the other to help him expose Otto. They do, by recording him explaining his plan to poison Bettina to his assistant, Borat...er, I mean Sigmund. I defy you to watch the episode and not be reminded of Borat whenever Sigmund engages in his antics.
     Davy plays sneaks into Bettina's hotel room while the other distract Otto and convinces her she I in danger. Otto plans to kill her before midnight tonight when she turns 18 in order to take the throne for himself. The Monkees offer to hide her until midnight, but Otto and Sigmund catch up to them. Sigmund holds the Monkees hostage while Otto escorts Bbettina to her birthday celebration where he plans to poison her. The Monkees outsmart Sigmund-not hard to do—and show up to rescue Bettina. Davy stalls for time until midnight by fencing O too. The witching hour arrives just in time for Queen Bettina to order Otto and Sigmund arrested.
      Is “Royal Flush” one of those alleged Hollywood cured productions? Katherine Walsh, who played Bettina, was found murdered in her London flat in 1970. she was only 23 years old. As of 2017, her murder remains unsolved. Not only Walsh, but but Theodore Marcuse, who played Otto, met an untimely death in a traffic accident a year after “Royal Flush.” I do not believe in curses, but the deaths of two main characters in such tragic manners haunts the episode.
      “Royal Flush” is mildly entertaining. Unlike most news shows at the time, the first episode is not the pilot because it tested so poorly with audiences. I am not certain how far along in production “Royal Flush' was made, but the Monkees clearly did not have their shtick down pat yet. There were some humorous moments, but “Royal Flush” really is not a highlight of the series. The songs featured are “This Just Doesn't Seem to Be y Day” and 'Take a Giant Step.”
     Rating: *** (out of 5)

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