Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Monkees--"The Spy Who Came in From the Cool"

    The spy genre was extremely popular in the mid-'60's. Both the big and small screens featured espionage themed stories in earnest and parody. It was only a matter of time before the Monkees were embroiled in the cold War. More specifically, it was a matter of five episodes. Six, if you count the pilot episode that gets sneaked into the late season rather than being aired first as per custom.
    The bumbling spies in question are Russian accented Boris and Madam Oilinsky. The two intended to pass off stolen microfilm to a short man looking to buy a pair of red maracas but he only has fifty cents. Enter Davy, who has convinced the guys to let him look for a pair a pair of red maracas even though he only has fifty cents. Naturally, Davy is given the maracas containing the microfilm by mistake. Boris realizes hi error when a midget shows up looking like a spy out of central casting.
    Davy discovers the microfilm while performing. Well, the other guys are performing. Davy is just shaking his maracas. It is probably unintentionally funny how he stops in the middle f the song, finds the microfilm, and stuffs it in his pants all while there is no difference without his contribution. Boris and Oilinsky fail to retrieve the microfilm even after their brilliant effort to blend in by disguising themselves as hippies.
    The Monkees are recruited by the CIS (not a typo) agent pursuing Boris and Oilinsky to record their confession as spies during the exchange for the microfilm. The effort is flubbed, leading to q wild romp in which Boris is captured, Oilinsky escapes with the microfilm, and a karate chop to the neck becomes the latest dance craze. Oilinsky sells the microfilm to the Chinese only to discover it has been switched for a music video to “Saturday's Child.”
      The title of this episode is a play on John Carre's novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. It is apt to replace the word “cold' with “cool” because the main source of comedy is the indifference the young people exhibit towards the tiny corner of the Cold War occurring in front of them. The Monkees are completely irreverent when being vetted by the CIS. The teenagers continue dancing during two confrontations with the spies and even adopt some fighting moves as part of a new dance style. The Cold War is someone else's problem.  It is all about fun.  let the squares deal with the serious stuff.
      This is my favorite of he initial episodes. The story feels complete rather than just an excuse for nihilistic antics. Although there are plenty of nihilistic antics. It is an ensemble episode playing to the strengths of each character. Noticeably beyond, a well. Micky, usually a major ham, plays the straight man for a guest star during a training sequence. You will not see him so subdued often.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

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