Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Monkees--"I've Got a Little Song Here"

     “I've Got a Little Song Here” is one of favorite episodes of the series. In many ways, Mike is the heart of the show. He is the most normal character in spite of the beanie, so it feels more emotional when bad things happen to him. The guys really demonstrate their bond here, too, without sacrificing any of the laughs.
      The episode begins when Mike receives a Dear Occupant letter from a music publisher. Songwriting is a million dollar business, so naturally Mike wants in. He submits his song to publisher Bernie Class who loves it and thinks starlet Joannie Jans will use the song in her net film, but Mike needs $100 to cover publishing fees. Mike reluctantly agrees. This is his big shot at success. It is clear how excited he is as he immediately rushes to a payphone to call his mother, Micky, and a guy he randomly met on a bus five years ago. Mike has to pawn his guitar for the $100. It is not the money that is important to him. It is the idea he has made it as a success.
     All of which makes the obvious scam more brutal when mike discovers the hard way—he arrives on set to thank Joannie personally, but she has never heard of him—he has been fraudulently cheated out of his money. The situation reminded me of the ads I would see in newspapers and magazines for poetry contests that guaranteed publication in a hardbound book for the winners, but only if you bought the book. I am certain a poet was a shoo in winner if he had the cash.
    I like the sequence in which the guys each try to cheer mike up in their own way. Each offer to do something fun with him, but he refuses. Micky does his James Cagney impression for the umpteenth time. Peter reveals his mother thinks Mike has the best posture of anyone she knows. Mike genuinely laughs, but none of it cheers him up. Finally, the guys decide to run a scam of their own to get mike money back. It involves Micky posing as a big shot movie producer everyone at the studio is afraid to admit they have never heard of before. He requests a song for his latest film. Mike's fits the bill, so bernie sells it back for $200. In a nifty moment, Mike gives the other hundred to the old fellow who was also fitting in Bernie's office ready to sell his song.
      Mike Nesmith was a successful songwriter before being cast in the series. He wrote a number of Monkees songs early on as an appeasement for his clearly evident distaste for the bubblegum pop style of the band. Maybe that is why the song he “wrote” here is the goofy sounding “I'm Gonna Buy Me a Dog.” The song was actually written by Tommy Boyce and Buddy Hart, which explains the oddity of why Micky is the lead singer for a song Mike supposedly wrote. But really...why do the guys think it is so unusual for one of them to have written a song? Surely they are performing songs they wrote themselves.
    The Monkeemen costumes make their first appearance here when Micky, Davy, and Peter go off to secretly expose Bernie's scam while Mike is discovering the truth himself through Joannie. The idea of the Monkees as superheroes was probably a nod to the popularity of the Batman television series. Several more homage will pop up throughout the series.
      Like I said above, “I've Got a Little Song Here” is one of my favorite episodes of the seris. It is a bold statement for me. As a cat person, anything focused on something called “I'm Gonna Buy Me a Dog” suffers a strike or two against it coming out the gate. But the episode keeps the balance between comedy and hart just right. There are any episodes with a harsh turn of cynical humor. It is nice to see the rare gem in which it does not happen quite so brutally.
      Rating: **** (out of 5)

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