The Monkees have an unusual and dangerous habit of tangling with the mob. “Monkees a la Carte” is the second of at least four or five episodes featuring the plot. The band exists in the era when the small clubs they play still have mob ties, but it is surprising how often they get into hot water with the criminal element rather than quietly taking the money for performing while turning a blind eye to the shady stuff.
The Monkees are enjoying not only a steady gig playing at Pop's Italian restaurant, but enjoying the free food when two gangsters straight out of eentral casting enter and muscle Pop into selling the place. The Monkees stand up to them and are promptly fired. Pp is one of the few older adults who I nice to the guys, so they decide to help him gt the restaurant back. They are hired back to serve as wait staff because they work cheap, but their incompetence on the job leads them to the police for help.
The Monkees live in a warped reality in which the authorities use citizens to go undercover against spies and gangsters all alone, so the guys are assigned to gather evidence to incriminate the entire crime syndicate at an upcoming meeting. The Monkees pose as the recently incarcerated Purple Flower Gang to gather dirt n the syndicate. Mike, Micky, and Davy stall the meeting while Peter goes for the police. The syndicate winds up killing each other. The Monkees wind up arrested when mistaken for the real Purple Flower Gang, but things much get cleared up quickly. In the end, Pop owns the restaurant again with the Monkees back as the house band.
What stands out most about “Monkees a l Carte' is the violence. It is the sort of no blood sort of violence from cartoons, but it is jarring when it happens here. The most unsettling is how often Peter is slapped around by the monsters, the police, and even in comedic fashion b Micky. Peter is the quiet, passive one of the group. His beating feel more like bullying than comedy shtick. It is also strange to watch the mobsters kill each other in a shoot out. It is all cops on a and robbers kid's game level, but yikes. The show can be violent, but we do not often see corpses.
There is still much comedy in traditional Monkees style. The musical romp tie into the plot as the guys destroy the kitchen attempting to cook. There are many gangster tropes from old Hollywood films. My favorite gag is during the middle of the shoot out, icky calls for a ceasefire so a pretty girl wearing a fur coat can enter and flash the audience with her skimpy outfit before waling off. Micky notes the director thought the episode needed a pretty girl. I agree. The episode also needs a bit lighter tone. I could have use a few more laughs and less cringes.
Rating; ** (out of 5)