Monday, May 29, 2017

Monkees--"It's a Nice Place to Visit"

      “It's a Nice Place to Visit” serves as the second season premiere of The Monkees. It is the first time, but not the last, the guys will visit another country. Considering their heavy involvement last season manipulating the European ruling class and engaging in Cold War espionage, it is surprising they have rarely left Los Angeles. The Monkees first foreign trip is to Mexico, which translates to the usual antics on top of send ups of Western tropes. Westerns ruled the airwaves at the time. It is no surprise there will be three episodes this season with western/rural themes.
      It is never established why the guys are traveling through Mexico, The Monkeemobile has broken down. While a mechanic looks the car over, the guys visit the local cantina. Naturally, Davy falls fr the lovely waitress, Angelita. I do not blame him. She I gorgeous. But she is also the girlfriend of a bandit named El Diablo. One of El Diablo's men warns Davy off. Surprisingly, agrees to do so. But when the Monkees play a gig to pay for car repairs and Davy lightly takes a few liberties in saying goodbye to Angelita, El Diablo arrives to cart him back to the bandit camp.
     Micky attempts to inspire the townspeople to revolt against El Diablo, but they do not buying it. The guys disguise themselves as bandit El Dolenzio, El Nesmitho, and El Torko to infiltrate El Diablo's gang and rescue Davy. They manage to pass the brutal initiations by bumbling in their usual manner. They sneak off with Davy, but Micky winds up challenged to a duel with El Diablo back in town at high noon. Why Micky instead of Davy? He is the funny one I guess Micky wins the duel because he is the star of the show. The rest of the bandits are defeated in the musical romp.
      “It is a Nice Place to Visit” is the first episode in which I laughed out loud multiple time. I only have a passing interest in westerns, but I am familiar enough with the tropes to appreciate their parody and satire. So many of them are turned on their ear with typically irreverent Monkee humor. Gags featured in the episode obviously influenced future comedy westerns like Blazing Saddles, Three Amigos, and even Back to the Future III. Some bits from those films may have been directly lifted from this episode.
     The episode is a good start to the second season. Not much from here on out is quite as good. The powers that be must have known this to be true and aired it first. Always start on a strong note. Of course, you cannot just phone it in the rest of the season, but we will deal with that as we go along.
      Rating: **** (out of 5)

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