Sunday, May 7, 2017

Monkees--"Monkees a la Mode"

      It is ironic the Monkees, who are often derided as the Pre-Fab Four because they were created to capitalize o the popularity of the Beatles, would do an episode in which they rebel against a manufactured image of themselves. There are no mobsters, foreign agents, or crooked con artists to battle here. It is a struggle against the establishment to preserve identity and individuality. It is also hilarious.
    Chic magazine selects the Monkees as their Typical Young Americans of the Year. The author of a proposed article, a sweet girl named Toby, plans to cover the guys accurately. But the editor Madame Quagmeyer and snooty fashion photographer Rob Roy Fingerhead plan to make them into the epitome of high society darlings. It does not go well as the Monkees engage in their usual hijinks rebelling against the magazine when they realize what is really happening. When the plan to actually transform the guys fails, Rob Roy writes a misleading article describing them as high cultured.
     The published article causes the guys to lose friends. When they are invited to a banquet to receive the Typical Young Americans award, they take the opportunity for revenge by embarrassing Chic's advertisers with their uncouth nature. They are loud, clumsy, flirtatious, and in Davy's case, bald. The plan works as Quagmeyer and Rob Roy are fired. It fails because Toby is now in charge of the magazine and refuses a retraction. Meet the new boss, same as the old.
      The humor in “Monkees a la Mode" relies heavily on creating chaos as a form of rebellion against the establishment and simple, but funny sight gags. The combination works well. Quagmeyer and Rob Roy are unlikable from the start, so it is easy to cheer on the Monkee mayhem used to humiliate them. There are many small moment that are great, such as Davy peering the peep hole ever time there is a knock at the door even though he is too short to look into it. There is the usual absurdity, too, such as when Rob Roy pulls a gun on Micky to convince him to stop being so annoying.
      To add to the irony of “Monkees a la Mode,” it was the first episode to air after Don Kirshner was fired. Kirshner was supervisor for the Monkees' music. He was fired for releasing the next single without the Monkees' agreement. His termination, for better or worse, gave the Monkees themselves control over their music. So the Monkees defeated the recording industry elite to control their destiny as their television counterparts defeated the fashion elite to maintain their image.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

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