Sunday, May 14, 2017

Monkees--"Monkee Mother"

      I took a few days off when the opportunity to review “Monkee Mother” on mother's Day presented itself. It was a fortuitous twist of fate. Not only is it mildly clever to review the episode on this particular occasion, but I needed the break. Reviewing The Monkees is more of a chore than I anticipated. Who would have thought?
      Mr. Babbitt has concocted another scheme to evict the Monkees, and this time has a new tenant lined up. It is a long time widow named Millie. The guys initially plot to get rid of her, but wind up her boarders instead. The crisis is not so much Millie is there, but the changes he forces on the guys. She emasculates them by mothering them Micky and Peter are the most receptive. Davy is at least sweet about it. Mike is uncharacteristically cruel and sardonic about her even after he shares a sympathetic moment with her about his desire for success.
     Things go from bad to worse as Millie domesticates the guys, plays matchmaker for Davy, and brings in obnoxious family for a visit. The Monkees decide the best way to get rid of her is find her a husband. They settle on Larry, the moving man who delivered her furniture. It is in the background throughout the episode he is infatuated with Millie. The guys set them up on a diner date. Millie seemingly bores Larry with inane gossip, but he falls for her, anyway. They marry and Millie moves out. Mr. Babbitt appears so happy to be rid of her, he drops his eviction plan
      Three points are worth considering. One, while there is not much in the way of continuity or logic in this show, but it is strange for someone as recognizable as Rose Marie to play two separate guest starring roles in one season and no one notices. Come on, guys. She was a mob boss who wanted to kill you last time around! Two, “Monkee Mother” is also the first of two episodes to take place exclusively at the beach house. The limited setting gives the episode a stage play feel. Finally, the show does a rare political joke At one point, the guys are playing dominoes. Mike asks Peter what this is. Peter replies, “Southeast Asia” before knocking over the first domino so the others fall in succession. This is a reference to the Domino Theory from the height of the Cold War. The theory postulated if one country in a region fell to the communists, others would follow. The rationale was used to justify American involvement in the Vietnam War.
    I am not a big fan of “Monkee Mother.” It feels out of place with the rest of the series. Th plot feels too much like a run of the mill sitcom shtick. The single setting makes the episode feel small. There are a few nice touches. The guys are less ccartoonist than usual. I particularly like the first musical number when Millie imagines herself as a young woman dancing which each of the guys dressed in turned of the 20th century garb I would go so far as to call it the episode's saving grace.
     Rating: ** (out of 5)

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