Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Monkees--"Monkees Chow Mein"


     Brace yourselves, snowflakes. “Monkees Chow Mein” bases much of its humor on Chinese cultural stereotypes. It is 1967, and Caucasian actors can play oriental characters with racially insensitive humor and a mixing up of L's and R's. Those were the days, folks. This stuff was funny, and no one was triggered. Not like 2017 where everyone is offended and everyone walks on eggshells to avoid any accusation of cultural insensitivity.
     One other thing before I review “Monkees Chow Mein.” The writers, Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso, also wrote for Get Smart. This episode is famous for recycling jokes from several Get Smart episodes the pair wrote. I have not seen an episode of Get Smart since the '80's. I do not remember a single episode from the series. If there is any sense “Monkees Chow Mein” is a rip off of another show, I do not have it. So my review will not address the elephant in the room because I cannot see the elephant even if everyone else can. Take my review for what it is.
     My review says “Monkes Chow Mein” is mostly amusing. The Monkees become involved with a Chinese plot to create a Doomsday Bug when Peter snaps up a fortune cookie with part of the formula on it. The CIS wants to recruit them to help nab the Chinese spies, but they wisely decline. Th spies mistakenly kidnap Micky. Peter tries to rescue Micky and gets caught himself. The two are comically tortured. Mike and Davy come to the rescue as Monkeemen. The CIS arrive after the musical romp. Case closed, but peter finds another spy game afoot in another fortune cookie.
      There are a lot of culturally insensitive jokes. Some are funny. Others are so predictable they will compel groaning. There is a lot of clever wordplay. The episode relies on it more than the usual slapstick. The musical romp is one of the funniest of the series. The Monkees and the spies run in and out of a set of three doors chasing each other, women, and a guy in a gorilla suit. The only drawback is the romp is set to “Auntie Grizzelda.” I absolutely despise that song.
      I honestly do not know how my review would change if I knew how much dialogue and jokes were recycled from Get Smart. Maybe it is best I do not know. On its own merit, the episode is pretty entertaining. My favorite aspect may even be the Fu Manchu-lie villain, Dragonman. He reminds me of some classic villains. Well, a parody of them, at any rate.
      Rating: *** (out of )

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