Sunday, April 30, 2017

Monkees--"I Was a Teenage Monster"

     I am a confirmed science fiction geek. Not so much of a horror fan, but I appreciate homage to the classics. The Monkees head into science fiction/horror themes when their twist on the drive in, teenage monster flicks of the '50's. It makes for an absurd episode, and I tend to lake the most absurd episodes.
      The Monkees arrive at the usual haunted house at the top of a hill in a thunderstorm you have seen in stock footage throughout the '50's and '60's. They are greeted by Dr Mendoza and his hunchback assistant, Igor. The Monkees believe they are here to play a party, but are asked to teach rock and roll to a 'little monster.” The little monster turns out to be an android Frankenstein. The fearful Monkees are reluctant, but agree when Mendoza doubles the money.
     The Monkees set out teaching the Monster rock and roll with the superficial first; long hair, dark glasses, groovy clothes, and a guitar. Because that is all you need to be a rock star, kids! It apparently takes more than that as the Monster accidentally destroys his instruments and cannot carry a tune in a bucket. The Monkees offer o come back the net day or more lessons, but Mendoza gas them kidnapped in order to use a device to transfer their musical ability to the Monster then wipe their memory of the process.
      The device works. The Monkees cannot play a note or carry a tune, but the monster is all that and a bag of chips. The Monkees suddenly realize what happened—just go with it—and use the deice to reverse the process after a few hilarious mistakes which turn the Monster into a hippie and a gay interior decorator. A musical romp ensues when Mendoza discovers what has happened. It is the most humorous romps so far with sight gags galore. My favorite is villagers chasing the Monster with torches and pitchforks only to roast marsh mellows with them. In the end, Mendoza and Groot are arrested We never find out what happened to the Monster.
      If Mendoza wanted to create the world's greatest rock star, he should have kidnapped the Beatles or Elvis. I like the Monkees, but they are low hanging fruit in the garden of rock and roll. But it I their show, so I suppose that is the way it must work out
      “I Was a Teenage Monster” is one of my personal favorite. I tend to like the episodes that play with the genre of science fiction and horror. There are plenty of fun jokes and sight gags, but the best part is Richard Kiel as the monster. I have covered him before here as Ruk in Star Trek and Voltaire in The Wild Wild West, but the monster is his most colorful, charming role on television yet. He will go on the play the iconic henchman Jaws in James Bond films. Kiel is a real treat here.
      Rating: **** (out of 5)

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