Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Monkees--"Everywhere a Sheik, Sheik"

     “Everywhere a Sheik, Sheik” inflicts such mixed emotions. On the one hand, it is the third time the plot of Davy intervening in a royal's arranged marriage in order to prevent the villain from coming to power is used. But third time is the charm. It is the funniest version of the story. I should probably be more critical of the recycling, but I just cannot bring myself to be.
     The King of Nehoudi, fearful of dying without a successor, pressures his daughter Collette to marry. He suggests she marry Vidaru, a trusted associate. Vidaru is old, creepy, and cn only grow half a bear. He will not do. Collette has rejected every other eligible bachelor in Nehoudi, but she finally agrees to marry one fellow—Davy.
     Even though Davy is kidnapped and the guys come to his rescue, Davy agree to marry Collette because she is hot and his band mates will have their choice of cushy jobs and a harem of wives. As an added incentive, Davy will be killed if he does not marry Collette. Vidaru is not happy, and comically plots to murder the Monkees. Hi first effort to kill them individually fails with near misses. His final attempt to use exploding goblets for the banquet toast fails due to peter's bumbling. Vidaru reveals himself to really be from Oklahoma. He is only after the oil. A musical romp ensues in which Vidaru and his henchmen are defeated in scimitar battle. As a reward, Davy is freed from the arranged marriage. Collette has her heart set on another guy, anyway—Peter.
     Character actor Monte Landis makes his first of seven appearances on The Monkees. He plays the king. It is he only time he does not play the villain. In fact, he goes on to portray the Devil himself in a later episode. Oh, and the king is not considered a villain here only by comparison to Vidaru. He does threaten to kill davy if he refuse to marry Collette, but he does sweetn the deal to make matrimony worth Davy's while. Vidaru wants to kill Davy for hi own selfish ends. Nuance, people! Nuance!
      So what makes “Everywhere a Sheik, Sheik” the best version of a pot done three times over? It is the two layers of comedy. The guys put on some classic slapstick moments as well as some clever con jobs. The musical romp is ne of the best in the series with the gags of both side huddling like football teams repeatedly before attacking each other and the Monkees tagging out of the scimitar fight to make out with the same girl. But there is also the satirical level. The episode tweaks militarism with over the top impression of German field marshals and Napoleon. A more obvious jab is Vidaru as an American manipulating a Middle Eastern country t obtain its oil. Nothing terribly incendiary, but highly amusing.
    I assume the title “Everywhere a Sheik, sheik' I a play on “Everywhere a sheep, sheep” frm the Children's song “Old McDonald Had a Farm.” but for “sheik” to rhyme with “sheep,” the outdated pronunciation would be used. Sheik, referring to an Arab tribal leader, is properly rhymes with “shake.” See? My political science degree is good for something. Correcting the mislabeling of political title in episodes of The Monkees.
     There is not much else to be said about “Everywhere a Sheik, Sheik'” other than I like it. The episode would probably be more highly regarded if it had come firt rather third in the plot recycing.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

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