“Monkee See, Monkee Die” is a terrible title, but a decent enough installment. It is certainly an improvement on the premiere episode. Puns and tweaks on the old tropes of murder mysteries take precedence over plot as the thin story is little more than an excuse for absurdest humor, but that is all right. Absurd humor is what you will come to look for with this show.
The Monkees' rehearsal is interrupted by their landlord. The months are three months late with the rent and on the verge of eviction. Fortunately, opportunity knocks net when they discover an eccentric millionaire left them a legacy in his will The Monkees travel to the deceased's mansion for the reading of the will. There they meet Ellie, the deceased's niece, whom Davy falls for, and a trio of weirdos including a creepy butler, a clairvoyant, and an untalented travel writer. The Monkees are bequeathed an organ—because they once returned someone else's wallet to the deceased with $600 in it—and Ellie is awarded the mansion provided she spends the night in it.
Fog traps everyone in the mansion for the night. Naturally, strange thing happen as the butler, clairvoyant, and travel writer are mysteriously murdered amid all sorts of strange noises, monster encounters, and the phone line going dead. It is all an effort by the “murdered” trio to convince Ellie not to accept the mansion. The Monkees overhear the plot the next morning and stop the bad guys with some of Micky's experimental knock out pills.
Wait...knock out pills? What would Micky want with knockout pills? It was a more innocent time in 1966, but thee days you cannot help but wonder if he was planning to use those pills on a date. How fifty years of change can give you a new, not necessarily better, twist on an old laugh line.
The organ the Monkees are given with the stipulation they perform one song is an excuse to premiere the Monkees' first big hit, '”Last Train to Clarksville.” Never mind there is no organ featured in the song or explanation how the other musical instruments appeared. The song is played over a montage of old locomotives and failed experiments in early aviation. It is a strange romp made even stranger considering the song I about a Vietnam draftee who is arranging for a last tryst with his love out of fear he may not survive the war. “Last Train to Clarksville” went t number one on the Billboard charts in November 1966 about six weeks after this episode aired.
“Monkee See, Monkee Die” is a fun entry, The show has not yet found it voice. A few of the staples are already there—disguises, sped up romps, nonsensical plot elements—but the chemistry is not quite there. But the fast and furious gags are enough to make up for the paper thin Scooby Doo-esque pot.
Rating: *** (out of 5)