I commented in a couple past reviews how the elements that make this show fun were taking form, but not all there yet. “The Monkees in a Ghost Town” is the first episode in which it all comes together. It is an ensemble episode in which the guys comfortably fit into their respective roles. The musical romps are a more comfortable fit. The comedy runs seamlessly from slapstick to cultural references, and there are plenty packed in.
The Monkess take a wrong turn heading to a gig and wind up out of gas in a ghost town. They split up into pairs to look for help. Mike and Davy discover the town is not deserted when they are captured by two gangsters waiting for the Big Man and are thrown in jail. Micky and Peter as the Big Man—the gangsters have never seen him—and his henchman. Micky utilizes his James Cagney impression for the first of many, many times. The ruse fails and they are all thrown in jail. Their time in the clink leads to two musical romps nearly back to back. Both revolve around failed escape attempts.
The Big Man arrives. He turns out to be Bessie, the big man's widow. Fortunately, she is a former singer in possession of a huge ego the Monkees can play to while plotting their escape. Bessie perform repeated songs oblivious to the guys attempting to out maneuver the gangsters until help arrives. Eventually, the cops arrive and the guys start their long drive back home even though they are out of gas.
The gangsters are named George and Lenny in a nod to John Steinbeck's famous novel Of Mice and Men. Lenny is played by Lon Chaney, Jr., who is not only famous for portraying classic horror monsters, but played Lenny in a film adaptation of Of Mice and Men. There is a also a bit in which Lenny pulls a live mouse out his pocket. Bessie is played by Rose Marie. She is probably most famous for her role on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Marie was a talented singer. It took a lot of courage to purposefully perform badly for the role of Bessie.
“The Monkees in a Ghost Town' is not the best episode, but it is the funniest one so far because it works better than the previous. I am tempted to point out the plot holes, but it is a wast of time to apply logic to a show like this. Just go with it.
Rating: *** (out of 5)