Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Monkees--"The Picture Frame"

      “The Picture Frame” was filmed from one of several scripts rejected during the first season. I can find no official explanation as to why an of the scripts were ejected at the time, but I can say this episode has a distinctly different feel. With its illogical plot progression, site gags, and shtick lifted straight from cartoons, “The Picture frame' could easily be adapted into a Bugs Bunny animated short.
     Mike, Davy, and Micky arrive at a studio lot minus peter to meet with who they believe are producers. In fact, JL and Harvey are two crooks who con the guys into robbing a bank by convincing them it is a movie scene. Before that, an important plot point s established. JL asks for a photo to see how photogenic they are. The guys hand over a photo of a baby on a rug. L asks for something a little more recent, so they pose for a photo with the reluctant crooks. Both photos go into the trash can.
      The three are arrested and are shocked to learn they really did successfully rob a bank. Even some take it too literally gags like spilling an actual can of beans does not save them from being charged with the crime. A lawyer winds up being too expensive, so must defend themselves while Peter snoops around for evidence to exonerate them. He finds what we assume is the second photo with the crooks, but must engage in a musical romp from the studio to the courthouse. Peter hands the judge the photo. It happens to be the baby photo, but she is moved enough to declare the guys innocent. Th conclusion makes about as much sense as anything else in the episode.
    Mike Davy, and Micky place a “Vote innocent" sign on the defense's table during their trial. Now that is one trick they never taught me in law school. The wheels of justice move much faster in The Monkees reality, too. From arrest to trial in a matter f days. I am impressed. Impressed, but certainly would move for as much delay as reasonably possible to build the case against such overwhelming evidence.
      So how is "The Picture Frame” essentially a live action Looney Tunes? Some examples include Mike moving his arms like a clock in order to open a bank set set to a timer and dynamite blowing up in he district attorney's face while leaving behind soot. These jokes on top of the usual Monkee tactics of disguises and con jobs. The frequent circumstance of separating Peter from the rest of the group is utilized. It is an old trope, but at least he gets to save the day. He does so by a stroke of good fortune, but a save is a save. There are no pretty girls in this one, which is strange, but it is a decent episode all tolled.
     “The Picture Frame” also features the first of ten Rainbow Room performances to end the episode. I do not usually talk a lot about the music, but the Rainbow room is a big part of the second season lore. Several Monkees shows were canceled in Detroit and Milwaukee in August 1967 due to race riots, so the band had a little extra time to kill in Chicago. They used a studio to film performance segments for the upcoming season. The version of "Randy Souse Git" used here is from a rough cut.  The Monkees are lip synching and only pretending to play their instruments.  Or is that a joke on their critics?  I could not find a definitive answer.   
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment