Friday, April 14, 2017

Monkees--"Dance, Monkee, Dance"

      It is not too often I cover an episode of television which inspired a minor internet meme. “Dance, Monkee, Dance” is used sardonically in reference to living a life when there is no meaning or purpose. An existential crisis, as it were. And you thought the Monkees meant nothing but prefabricated bubblegum pop for mass consumption. Well, they were. But the internet improves upon most everything.
    “Dance, Monkee, Dance” is one of the classics in the series. As with most of the bet episodes, the guys get themselves into a ridiculous situation with a goofy villain, then work together in order to extricate themselves. Add in fun musical romps that actually advance the plot and plenty of sight gags and you get a great episodes.
      The story begins with Peter winning a free dancing lesson before being duped into signing a lifetime contract to the dancing school. Micky, posing as Peter's lawyer, inadvertently signs a lifetime contract, too. Mike goes to the dance school in order to dissolve the contracts, but winds up singing a lifetime contract himself when seduced by the secretary, Miss Buntwell. Only Davy handles himself well when he gets a job as a dance instructor. The guys set out to destroy the dance school by alienating potential clients with their antics. The plan works when the school's owner, Reynaldo, agrees to tear up everyone's contract.
      In order to win the free dancing lesson, you theoretically needed to know the eighth president of the United States was Martin van Buren. Only two legitimately get the answer right. One is told she is wrong by Davy to save her from being scammed. The other I van Buren himself who shows up for his lesson. I am a history buff. The gag amused. Too answer the next obvious question, I did not know which number President van Buren was. Miss Buntwell would have given me the free lesson regardless.
    In addition to van Buren's appearance, there were two other bits that particularly amused me. The first features Micky, desperate for a brilliant idea, breaking the fourth wall and approaching the writing staff for a solution. The writing staff is a room full of elderly Chinese men. The gag might be a reference to the frustration the cast felt towards the weak scripts they were receiving. The problem would get worse as scripts rejected in the first season for being too bad were filmed in the second. The second is how Mike distracts Miss Buntwell by chasing her around the office professing his love while Davy convinces the latest group of free dancing lesson winners to reject their prize. It was a more innocent time when sexual harassment was a laugh line.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

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