Friday, June 30, 2017

Monkees--"The Monkees Race Again"

      “The Monkees Race Again” features the Monkees racing again. A clear, straightforward title with no tricks. How quaint. Since the beginning of the series, the Monkees have raced horses and motorcycles. It is only natural they would move on to racing cars next. Since we are talking about reused plot elements, the catalyst for the misadventure is Davy being recruited by his family to save the ay for the glory of England. He will do so again in the episode after next. They really knew how to space out their similar plots to make the series appear more original, did they not?
      For some inexplicable reason, a race car driving friend of Davy's grandfather, T. N. Crumpetts, enlists Davy's help because his car is being sabotaged. All the Monkees, save for the absent Micky, agree to help. Micky's absence is a deliberately ironic twist. The others agree to work as mechanic even though they have no knowledge or experience while the real Micky worked as a mechanic during more lean times in his show business career. He does join in later without musing a beat.
    Crumpett's saboteurs are two German rivals, Baron von Klutz and his assistant, Wolfgang. Are they German stereotypes? Of course, they are German stereotypes. We have both world wars covered here. The Baron wears a monocle and spiked helmet from World War I. He speaks of racing in similar terms of biplane dogfights, although he uses a periscope to relive unrestricted submarine warfare. Wolfgang avoids any overt Nazi symbolism outside of his Hitler mustache and briefly goose stepping during the musical romp. He strikes me as an homage to Sgt. Schultz from Hogan's Heroes. The baron and Wolfgang are played for laughs, not to court any controversy.
      Fretting over the new, unorthodox help, the baron kidnaps Crumpetts and Mickey. No worries. Davy will race in Crumpetts' place. Hearing this, the baron arranges to steal Crumpetts' car. Still no worries. Davy will race the Monkeemobile. The actual race is a real life Mario Kart with the Baron pulling dirty tricks to wreck Davy. The Baron falls prey to his own dropped tire when Davy dodges it, but it crosses the road to impede the Baron. Davy wins.
      The race I not the musical romp you would suspect it is. The romp actually comes subsequently as Mike and Peter rescue Crumpetts and Mickey. Everyone, including inexplicably Davy and the Baron, get in on the act. The sequence feels awkwardly tacked on. Maybe it should have only been Mike and Peter versus Wolfgang interspersed with the racing scenes instead of all afterward. The race scenes were more interesting, so the comparably subdued romp is a let down.
      There I one seen worth mentioning. Towards he end of the race, the guy who is supposed to wave the checkered flag does not have one. When a girl walks in front of him wearing a checkered miniskirt, he rips it off her to use instead. She covers herself an runs off screen in embarrassment. Her underwear I not revealing, but the act is a pretty risque on to commit during family hour of 1968 prime time television.
      In a series full of dumb, but funny episodes, this is one of them. There is not a single aspect of it that that make a lick of sense. But there are some funny bit, and the racing scenes are more elaborate and exciting than I expect from a relatively low budget show. It is worth watching, but I would not call it a classic.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Monkees--"The Devil and Peter Tork"

    “The Devil and Peter Tork” is the second of back to back episodes to parody a famous short story. This one is a take on “The Devil and Daniel Webster” with mike—yes, Mike—supplanting he famed orator besting Old Scratch in a court room argument. There is a different feel to this episode. While it is still a comedy, there is an air of genuine fear throughout. No other episode is so eery in tone. Yet it is also beautiful if you can cast assie your modern cynicism for bit.
      Monte Landis makes his penultimate appearance in the series. He portrays the villain in every episode but one. He reaches he pinnacle of his villainous career here by playing the Devil. The Devil goes by the name Mr. Zero while coming across much like the figure in the Rolling Stone's “Sympathy for the Devil.” He is a mysterious man of wealth and taste who has been around a long time and stolen many a man' soul. He can give your your heart's desire, but it will cost you.
      Case in point—Peter. Peter wanders into Mr. Zero's music shop and falls in love with a harp. It is an instrument he has always loved but cannot afford one even if he knew how to play, which he does not. Mr. Zero convinces Peter to sign a buy now, pay later contract that grants him the ability to play. What poor Peter does not know is he has sold hi soul for his new talent. The irony of the deceased ascending to heaven as harp playing angels should be noted.
      With the addition of the harp to the band, the Monkees finally achieve their wealth and fame. But it all comes crashing down one night when Mr. Zero arrives to force Peter to keep his end of the bargain at the stroke of midnight. Mike notes there is still time left, so Mr. Zero promises the full extent of time. They use most of the time for a musical romp through hell.
      The vision of hell on display is a strange combination of horror and hedonism one would expect from a fictional story presenting general stereotypes of hell rather than a description from religious doctrine. The Monkees are surrounded by fire before being attacked with tridents by the skimpiestly clad women ever on the series. Peter is brought in to bow before Mr. Zero, but is pulling away by the guys. They all don devil costumes and dance around with the women. The misguided line from John Milton's Paradise Lost “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven” comes to mind, as does Mark Twain's “Heaven for climate, hell for company.”
      What I find interesting here is the rebellious counterculture gaining influence in Hollywood at the time, mostly driven by hippie culture, was heavily influenced by the establishment of the Church of Satan established in the late '60's by devout Satanist 9and accomplished musician in his own right) Anton LeVay. His influence on television, and especially music is abundantly clear from pop culture of the late '60's and early '70's. It is an interesting topic to explore in future blog posts, particularly how LeVay's influence on American pop culture parallels the similar Alestair Crowley's influence on British pp culture. It is a topic I am likely to dwell on across my blogs some time in the future.
      I also need to mention I was educated from elementary to high school in a strict Baptist school in the buckle of the Bible Belt. The people who ran the school saw Satanic imagery and influence in anything and everything largely out of Original Sin guilt combined with a paranoid obsession of the End Times. It has been a long time since I was immersed in such an environment, but I remain skittish at overt representations of anything hellish or demonic. I felt that wariness during “The Devil and Peter Tork,” too. It is strange how such emotions can stick with you even during such innocuous content. As if it was necessary to demonstrate how far couture has fallen, the word “hell” is bleeped out at every mention because it was not allowed on television in 1968.
      When Mr. Zero arrives near midnight, Mike challenges the validity of the contract. Mr. Zero obliges the challenge by establishing a kangaroo court presided over by Judge Roy Bean with a jury of condemned men from Devil's Island. He calls Billy the Kid, Blackbeard, and Attila the Hun to the stand at witnesses. They each serve as a for laugh foil to Mike, Davy, and Micky in cross-examination. The key point is Mike's awkwardly charming closing argument Peter's talent came from his love of music, not Mr. Zero. In response, Mr. Zero remove his influence from Peter, then challenges him t play the harp. Peter plays a beautiful and beautifully appropriate rendition of “I Wanna be Free.” It is an overly sentimental ending, but this is where I advise dropping modern cynicism and just going with the intent.
    Scoring “The Devil and Peter Tork' is tough. It is the most thought provoking this silly series ever gets. Yet I also suffer the uneasy feeling I gt from any bit of entertainment that take a dip into the subject of hell. Peter is presented as a naively innocent person rather than the usual idiot for making his mistake, which is refreshing. There re also some good laughs mixed in. Micky argues with Attila the Hun in his native language, but subsequently reveals he has no idea what was said by either Attila or himself. I am going to rate this one good, but not great. Letting my bias show here more than usual, probably.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Monkees--"The Monkees Paw"

   “The Monkees Paw” is the first of back to back episodes parodying famous short stories with horror elements to them. This episode obviously parodies 'The Monkey's Paw” by W. W. Jacobs. In the story, a cursed monkey's paw grants three wishes, but terrible things occur when the wishes are made carelessly. So you have the plot down pat, but how is the episode? I would call it middle of the road.
      The Monkees are hired to be the house band for a high end restaurant. Their hiring unceremoniously ousts an old magician named Mendeck who has worked there as the entertainment for a dozen years. The Monkees intervene in the owner's heated exchange with Mendeck. During the tense encounter, Mickey takes a liking to a monkey's paw among Mendeck's belongings. He tells them it was given ti him in Tibet many years ago and grants wishes. He conveniently omits the part about the paw being cursed. Feeling sorry for Mendeck, Mickey buys the monkey's paw for a quarter.
       Mendeck's fortunes immediately turn around when he wins a million dollars in a contest. The Monkees' luck turns even worse than usual as all of mickey's wishes backfire on them. First, their new boss agrees to pay their back union dues, but at 140% interest. Second, a wish for a spaghetti dinner covers Micky in noodle. Finally, and most devastatingly, Micky misspeaks on his lat wish and loses his voice. With no lead singer, the Monkees get fired.
     The Monkees try hilariously to bring Micky's voice back through medicine, psychology, and elocution lessons before seeking out Mendeck's help. In a surprising twist, he is more than willing to help. He has been portrayed as a particularly nasty fellow with a chip on his shoulder. He was dishonest about the true nature of the monkey's paw when he sold it to Micky. There was a strong hint becoming wealthy would turn him into an even bigger jerk, but the opposite happens. His willingness to help is a pleasant change from the usually cynical resolutions in the series.
      The resolution is still cynical, mind you. In order to break the cure, the monkey's paw must be sold to another person. They con the restaurant owner into buying it. His first wish is for a million dollars. It showers down on him, but so does the IRS. He is arrested on the spot for ta evasion. At least Micky gets his voice back.
      My favorite bit is when the Monkees, in a desperate attempt to keep their new gig in spite of Micky's inability to speak, change their act to mimic the Marx Brothers. Micky is naturally the ever silent Harpo. John Lennon once quipped the Monkees were the modern day Marx Brothers, an ironic comment considering the Monkees wanted to be the American Beatles instead. Way to rub it in there, John.
   The series was not famous for much social commentary, but there is a blink and you will miss it comment on police brutality when the guys attempt to beat lately beat Micky's voice back in him with a night stick. Who does not enjoy an old fashioned, hippie smack down?
    “The Monkees Paw” pretty humorous. If nothing else, it reminds us the Monkees are a band. We have not seen them perform since the second season premiere. They had a gig in Las Vegas a few episodes ago, but we never saw them perform. No wonder they are always broke. The comedy relies heavily on physical comedy, particularly from Micky, and visual gags. It works to good, but not great effect.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Monkees--The Monkees Monster Mash"

      I am more a science fiction than horror fan, but I do like the genre. When I say horror, I am referring mostly to the classic Universal Monster sort of stories, not so much the slasher flicks that became popular in the '80's and till plague cinemas these days. Considering Tom Cruise's lackluster turn in the recent re-imagining of The Mummy, the slasher flicks will probably continue to plague cinema for some time to come. But I digress. The point is the Monkees encounter some of the Universal Monsters in this episode and I like it.
      Davy returns his latest date, Lorelei, to her haunted mansion after an obviously unsuccessful date. He is ready to spit, but Lorelei traps him there with a magic necklace. She is in cahoots with Dracula, who wants to turn Davy into a vampire. I want to say that sucks, but I am reluctant to make a joke so bad. When Davy does not come home late into the night, Mike, Micky, Peter go to his rescue even though all they have is the phone number to Lorelei's house, not the address. Of course, it is a haunted mansion in the hills. How difficult could it be to identify? Lorelei is one creepy chick. She would definitely live there.
      When they arrive, Dracula comes up with pans for them, too. He decides to turn Micky into a werewolf because of that huge, curly hairdo. He also wants to put Peter's brain into his Frankenstein monster because peter is dumb and easy to control. Peter had to endure quite a lot of humiliation playing such a dumb character. He faces an unusually large amount of insults to his intelligence her. I feel bad for him since the line between the character Peter and the real Peter are probably fuzzy in many people's minds. By all accounts, the real Peter was extremely intelligent and artistic. The difference between fact and fiction compelled him to be the first member to leave the band a little more than a year after this episode aired.
      There appears to be no plans for mike to become a monster. It is presumably so he can play the hero who saves the others. He doe wraps himself up in a mummy's wrappings—complete with toilet paper headband—in order to accomplish the rescue. A musical romp ensues in which the monsters are defeated. Mike inexplicably finds a book which explains the monsters cannot return for a thousand years after they are defeated. Maybe there will be a formidable boy band available in 2968 to take them on again.
      The jokes come so fast and furious, it almost feels like many were improvised. Adding to the feel of improvisation is the numerous fourth wall breaking. At one point, Micky does a scream, is called out by the director, and hen does another more effective scream all in one shot. When Dracula takes over Davy and Micky's fantasy sequence in which they are pretending to be monsters, he declares the two will not be able to remove their make up. When they realize it I true, they panic and yell for someone from makeup to help. When a book starts floating, the guys declare it is being held up by wires and cut them. The episode really piles on that everything is phony bologna, but it comes cross as hilarious.
      “The Monkees Monster Mash” is hilarious in general. It feels much like one of the wacky first season episodes where things made absolutely no sense, and everyone appeared to b enjoying themselves. There is a lot of fun missing in the second season. It is often obvious the cast is sick of the lackluster scripts and are just phoning it in at this point. Bet this episode is different. Everyone—including Mike—gets to shine while tweaking classic horror movie monster tropes. It is another rare gem in a season full of rocks. 
     Rating: **** (out of 5)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Monkees--"The Monkees Watch Their Feet"

      The Monkees plays around with its format quite a bit in the second season. The reason is the cast was growing tired of the standard—some say substandard—sitcom plots. I did not see the problem when I enjoyed the reruns back in the '80's, but now with my critic's eye, I can. There is a lack of variation in story lines. I will elaborate more a couple review down the road. Just now for now, “The Monkees Watch Their Feet” is a mockumentary and much better than last episode's fairy tale pantomime.
      Pat Paulson guest stars as the narrator of the mockumentary. He had probably already announced his 1968 bid for president by this point. His dry, straightforward delivery is perfect here for drawing awareness of the threat space aliens present to the United states by corrupting the youth. The documented example is Micky, Davy, and Peter. Mike appears briefly to introduce Paulson, but dos not appear in the story. Some of Peter's lines sound much like something Mike would have said, so it appears he was written out for whatever reason.
      Two aliens lure Micky too their ship by taking his clothes and drums in order to make a robot copy of him. Only it is not perfect. His feet are on backwards, hence the seemingly unrelated episode title Micky's job is to spy on the Monkees ahead of an invasion. Micky is discovered to be a fake by his odd behavior, like trying to kill Davy and peter, and not because of his backwards feet. The pair realize he is a robot when he shorts out after being sprayed by a seltzer bottle.
      Davy figures out how to reprogram the robot to find Micky. Talented guy, that Davy. The plan sounds like something Mike would initiate if the whole band was together. The robot leads them to the space ship parked at the beach. They had passed by it earlier, but assumed it was a new drive in. A musical romp ensues in which the aliens are defeated. The robot takes them back to their home planet. Earth is safe!
      Regardless of Earth being safe, Paulson sounds like alarm of aliens still secretly hiding among us with nefarious plans. He sows paranoia at the same time admonishes us to stop stabbing our bayonets into each other and stab them into space instead. Fight the real enemy, folks! Whoever that is.
    “The Monkees watch Their Feet” is one of my personal favorites. I am a science buff buff who enjoys political satire. How could it not b right up my alley? The humor is solid, mostly because of Paulson's deadpan humor and Micky's over the top hamming it up as the robot duplicate of himself. There are lots of references to classic science fiction films like The Day the Earth Stood Still. (The password to enter the space ship is Klaatu Nikto Barada.) It is probably unintentional, but the space ship is much larger on the inside jut like the TARDIS. It is probably more a matter of low budget for props than a Doctor Who reference. Regardless, I am a big fan of this episode.
      Rating: **** (out of 5)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Doctor Who--"World Enough and Time"

      “World Enough and Time” is the first episode of the two part finale of the tenth season. It was net to impossible to avoid spoilers for the big event. In fact, the two biggest were exposed in March and April before the series even began. At least they have been able to keep the identity of who with play the Thirteenth Doctor a secret. There were still enough surprises to make the episode something special. I was, in parts, both scared and saddened. When it is only the penultimate episode of the series, that is a good sign of things to come.
      The Doctor now trusts Missy enough to offer her a test run at investigating an issue her would normally handle. Bill and Nardole are wary, but agree to g along based on the Doctor's sincere desire to see Missy reformed. The TARDIS arrives on a 400 mile long, 100 mile wide ship heading away from a black hole. The Doctor remains in the TARDIS for Missy to take the lead. It ends in disaster as Jorj, shows up demanding to know which one of them is human. Something dangerous is coming their way because of the human. When Bill admits to being human, Jorj seemingly kills her. The CGI of the hole through Bill's chest is amazing.
     When the people finally arrive, they take Bill. The Doctor assumes they can help bill, so he lets go, but not before implanting a message in Bill's subconscious to wait for him. The doctor is right Bill is helped. He has a cybernetic device permanently attached to her chest to serve as her heart. He was also right to encourage her to patiently wait for him. Since the ends of the ship are at opposite ends of a black hole, time moves at opposite speeds. As time runs fastrr at he end closest to the black hole here bill is being taken, time will move faster for her. To put it exactly, the Doctor spends tn minutes explaining the situation and devising a plan to rescue Bill. But that ten minutes is nearly three years for Bill.
      Bill's experience is the most chilling thing I have witnessed in a while. Generations have passed in the few days since the ship reversed course from the black hole. Bill is stuck in a hospital with patients with their heads covered by masks who think only of their pain and desire to die. Bill befriends Mr. Razor, a scruffy man who appears to be a low level worker. She spends the bulk of her time with him.
      You know things must go from bad to wore, o here it is. Mr. Razor is actually Jon Simm's Master He hands Bill over to doctor who convert her into a full blown Mondasian Cyberman. The Master then seemingly convinces Missy to join him in whatever plan he is hatching. The Doctor discovers both bill's cruel fate and Missy's apparent betrayal. To be continued.
      It took a few scenes before I figured out Mr. Razor was Jon Simm under a lot of make up. The hair and make up looked fake fro the beginning, but I still did not guess right away it was Simm. The make up job was impressive. Or my eyesight is worse than I thought. Or both. Credit where credit is due. Speaking of make up/costuming, I was concerned the original '60's look of the Cybermen would not fly in 2017, but I was wrong. The idea of being converted into one of those things is terrifying. It is the sing-song, emotionless voice that gets me. So does bill's pitiful plea in that voice, 'I waited for you.” What a heart breaking moment.
      It is going to be difficult to top “World Enough and time,' but I am anticipating the conclusion. Unfortunately, Steven Moffat has a habit of fizzling out when it comes to resolving storyline. My fingers are crossed for the best. The pacing and mood were excellent. As I said above, I was both frightened and saddened at parts. It is not too often I feel such strong emotions over fictional characters.
     Rating: **** (out of 5)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Monkees--"Fairy Tale"

      You can almost always tell when a series is sputtering to an end when it does an out of continuity episode which winds up being a dream or fantasy or otherwise never really happened. What happens when a surreal show like The Monkees reaches that point? You get the worst episode of the series. No, seriously. I almost decided against reviewing The Monkees because I would b forced to sit through this episode again. But I soldiered through it, folks.
      “Fairy Tale” is set in a medieval kingdom designed in the style of a high school play. Cardboard cut outs and such. Mike is a cobbler. Davy is a tailor. Micky is an innkeeper. Peter is unemployed because he is infatuated with a princess, who is played by Mike. While riding through town, the princess' carriage gets tuck in the mud. Peter lets the princes step on him to avoid the mud, and she rewards him with a locket. Peter discovers her guards plan to imprison hr in a tower before executing her. So he sets off to rescue her with the power of the locket which the princes did not know was magic.
      On his hero's journey, Peter meets various fairy tale characters. Each encounter ends with a Fractured Fairy Tales sort of joke. Except that Fractured Fairy Tales was a humorous series. Peter's rescue attempt fails when the princes learns the locket is magic and insists on taking it back. So then he is captured, too. The guys come to his rescue, but are losing until the princess is convinced to give the locket back to Peter. The good guys subsequently win. The viewers inevitable lose.
      There is a rare for the second season post-episode interview in which the guys talk about filming 'fairy tale.” Mike sums up his experience—in particular his appearing in drag—with open irritation. “I'm pretending it didn't happen,' he says. So am I, Mike. So am I.
      Rating: * (out of 5)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Monkees--"The Monkees Christmas Show"

      Are you ready to celebrate Christmas in June? Neither am I. It is difficult to even think about Christmas until Thanksgiving is over. Of course, these days Christmas decorations are often in store displays right after Halloween. We are obsessed with the consumer culture aspects of holidays, folks. But that is a rant for another time and blog. Now we are going to see the Monkees' idea of Christmas spirit.
      The guys arrive at the vandersnoot Mansion on Christmas Eve expecting to play a party. Instead, they are hired to babysit Mrs. Vandersnoot's son while she goes off to spend the holidays with her sister. Melvin is not so much a brat or even spoiled so much as he is he type who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing. Melvin does not understand love, fun, or especially empathy. Naturally, he does not know about the true meaning of Christmas.
     If this situation occurred today, the guys would simply sit Melvin in front of a television and play a DVD of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Actually, if this happened today, DSS would take Melvin away from his mother for leaving him with four strangers, the Monkees, suspicions of pedophilia would end the Monkees' chance at stardom, and Nancy grace would have enough material for at least a week's worth of shows. But this I the more innocent time of 1967. The situation is more lighthearted. The lighter tone is a good thing. I seem to be even snarkier than usual today.
     The guys make three big efforts to show Melvin what Christmas is all about. Each one ends in disaster. Christmas shopping destroys the mall and injure peter. Searching for a tree earns mike a karate chop from an old lady and a poison ivy infection for Micky. Decorating the tree causes Davy to gt hurt when he falls trying to place the star on top. Taking care of all these problems take up all the cash they were paid to look after Melvin. Unimpressed, Melvin leaves the pad for his empty mansion.
      While alone in his living room, Melvin fantasizes about everything above going much better than it did while enjoying Christmas with the Monkees. The fantasy sequence takes the place of the usual musical romp. What Melvin needs is love, so the Monkees arrange for his mother to come home for Christmas. Everyone celebrates happily with Micky in a Santa suit and Davy as his elf.
    The episode ends with two tags. Both are great. The first involves the Monkees sing an a cappella rendition of “Riu Chiu.” The band has a reputation for bubblegum pop, both they do have harmony. The second tag features a holiday greeting from the cast. They then bring on and introduce the entire crew. A few of these folks were never acknowledged in the credits.
      Look for the bit in the fantasy sequence in which Melvin, who is abut ten or elven, slow dances with a mall employee, a hot girl in her early to mid-20's. He paces his hand on her hip rather than the small of her back or on hr shoulder. He may not know much about the Christmas spirit, but he is obviously aware of something equally important—if she will let you touch it, go for it. Now there is a message for the kids!
      “The Monkees Christmas Show” is as over the top as you might imagine. I will give it credit for being less cynical in its humor than the show often is. When a girl his age asks to cut in, he dances with her, but this time with his hand on her back. There is as genuine a holiday message a possible when a Christmas episode excludes any references to Christianity. I enjoyed the spirit of the two closing tags more than the episode itself.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Monkees--"The Monkees on the Wheel"

      The Monkees run into the mob yet again. This time it is in the city the mob built, Las Vegas. The Monkees are in Sin City to play a gig at a casino. One would think becoming a regular act at a casino would mean the band finally “made it,” but that would appear not to be he case. Thy must have blown the opportunity off screen somehow.
      Micky is busy hitting on Zelda, a pretty blonde who is only interested in cleaning him out of coins for the slot machine. He hits it big on his last coin and earns the nickname Magic Fingers. His luck runs out when he accidentally places bets on a rigged roulette wheel intended to enrich two mobsters. The Monkees take the loot back to their hotel room. The crooks promptly steal it back. By this point, the casino has discovered the rigged wheel and assume the Monkees are responsible.
      The Monkees are given 24 hours to give the money back to the casino or they will be sent up the river. They locate the two mobsters and pose as a gang with an infallible system to cheat the casino. The plan is actually to lose every dime of the stolen money, but they win every time—even when naming imaginary numbers. Zelda recognizes Micky, thereby blowing the ruse. A musical romp ensues. You can fill in the rest.
      If I appear short with the review, it is because “The Monkees on the Wheel” is unusually short. There is only about fourteen minutes of story. Then there s the musical romp, an unrelated tag sequence, another musical performance, and then bloopers from an upcoming episode. The script was supposed to be written by a writer who had to decline due to scheduling conflicts. Perhaps his departure forced the creative team to cobble together an episode in a hurry.
      Micky does his James Cagney impression for the final time. I must confess, the impression was getting a little old. But it earns a good send off. The mob boss mimics Cagney from the beginning. He and Micky get into a Cagney-off upon their first meeting. Speaking of first meeting, a casino patron mistakes Mike for the Wizard Glick. The Wizard Glick is the name of Rip Taylor's character in the final episode of the series. Rip Taylor also plays the roulette wheel manager in this episode.
      “The Monkees on the Wheel” has way too many elements lifted from past episodes to be particularly entertaining. So much fluff had to be added at the end just to fill up the remaining time. The cast even seems to realize how overdone the material is. They are mostly phoning it in while Micky hams it up for the camera.
      Rating: ** (out of 5)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Monkees--"The Monkees in Texas"

      The Monkees return to a rural setting for a third and mercifully final time. Sorry, guys and gals, but I have never been a fan of the genre. I will concede the final foray ends on a higher note than usual with a straight up satire on westerns that pokes fun at every horse opera trope you can imagine. “The Monkees in Texas” directly parodies Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Big Valley, and The Lone Ranger.
      The Monkees arrive at Mike's Aunt Kate—on a golf cart, no less-- just in time for a shoot out with Black Bart's gang. Through nothing but luck, they fend off the gang. Davy goes into town to locate the Cartwheel family for help. Micky and Peter, dressed like the Lone Ranger and Tonto, go to the sheriff's office and the saloon to recruit some outlaws for a posse. Mike has some soil analyzed and discovers his Aunt Kate is sitting on a fortune in crude oil.
      Micky and Peter wind up inadvertently joining Black Bat's gang only to discover they are actually the Cartwheels in disguise. Ben Cartwheel is Black Bart, if you have not guessed. He has both offered to buy the ranch cheap as Cartwheel and force Aunt Kate off as Black Bart. An amusing musical romp ensue in which the gang is defeated. Interestingly, it ends abruptly and segues directly to Micky crooning “Goin' Down” on stage.
      Texas has not advanced since the 1870's in the reality of the series. Peter never uses a gun because of his stance on violence. “The Monkees in Teas” is one of a handful of episodes not t air on Saturday morning reruns because of the gun violence. Even though it come across as cartoonish. Considering the backlash against Johnny Depp for whitewashing Tonto a few years ago, Peter might regret his portrayal in hindsight.
      “The Monkees in Texas” was subject to re-writes, and it shows. The abrupt ending bugs me, as does the plot hole Micky and Peter know Ben Cartwheel is secretly Black Bart even though there was no moment of revelation in which they figured it out. But hey are a few good laughs throughout, so I cannot criticize the episode too much. It is definitely not one of m favorites.
      Rating: ** (out of 5)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monkees--"Hitting the High Seas"

    The Monkees seem to get caught up in an awful lot of international intrigue and criminal plans. They manage to land themselves into a bit of both as they wind up impressed by a ship of pirates bent on robbing the pirate captain's last legitimately captained ship, the Queen Anne.
      The guys lose their current job as house band for a waterfront bar. They are so desperate for money they agree to become ship hands on a run down schooner. As cabin boy, Davy overhears the captain reviewing his plan to rob his old hip, the Queen Anne as revenge for firing him after thirty years of service. The Monkees try to incite mutiny that fails, but successfully save the Queen Anne by catching the pirates in a net during the musical romp.
      Mike only appears briefly in the beginning of “Hitting the High Seas.” The character Mike got seasick because real mike also got seasick. He disappears below decks for the remainder of the episode. The script was rewritten to accommodate his absence without missing a beat as far as I can tell. The captain's parrot is voiced by Micky, which makes it amusing when Micky secretly imitates the parrot to force the captain to elaborate on his plan of robbery.
      “Hitting the High Seas” is an amusing episode even if it is short a Monkee. I like the numerous references to Moby Dick, Horatio Hornblower, and The Mutiny on the Bounty. The plot certainly defies all semblance of plausibility, but it does bring the laughs. Ironically, it is the first scripted episode to not feature a canned laugh track.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Doctor Who--"The Eaters of Light"

      “The Eaters of Light” sounds eerily familiar. Bill falls down a hole only to discover lost soldiers. Those soldiers are concerned bout cowardly actions, but must stop fighting and band together in order to stop a greater enemy. Where have I seen that plot before/ oh, yes...the previous episode. I did not care for the plot then, either.
      The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole travel to Roman era Scotland to settle a wager. Bill has a theory on what happened to the missing Ninth Roman Legion. The Doctor has another. Bill stumbles across what is left of the Legion after most were slaughtered by a monster. The Doctor and Nardle find Roman corpses along with a group of kids calling themselves the Gatekeepers. They found a portal and let the monster out to destroy the Roman invaders. Now the Romans and the Gatekeepers must work together to lure the monster back into the portal. Kar, the leader of the Gatekeepers, offers to stay in the portal with the Romans to hold the monster and his brethren at bay forever. Crows say “caw” in honor of Kar. No, seriously.
      The main plot is done in record time to make room for an extended epilogue in which Missy is trusted to make TARDIS repairs. Interesting, since the Master once stole the TARDIS. She and the doctor are slowly bonding because f hr new found remorse over past actions. /the main plot feels even more condensed because of an odd conversation between Bill and the Ninth Roman Legion about sexual orientation. It is mentioned for the umpteenth time Bill is a lesbian. I thought being gay was not such a big deal in the United Kingdom these days? Why bring it up so much with bill?
      “The Eaters of Light” does have a couple good points. The CGI monster is pretty cool, especially when its lighted tentacles are the only visible part in the dark of night. The second high point is the scenery. The episode was filmed on location in the Scottish countryside. It is a breathtakingly beautiful landscape.
      But neither of those is enough to save the episode. Save for a change of setting, the plot is virtually identical to the previous episode. T least space them out a bit! The Doctor's obnoxious attitude gets on my nerve, too. He is a pacifist with a contempt for soldiers. But it is ridiculous how he lectures both the Legion and the gatekeepers about fighting, then drafts them all to fight he monster. The monster and his brethren in the portal are said to be powerful enough to eat the stars. Yet the sense f menace is not present. In that case, the doctors attempt at self-sacrifice felt flat. I did not particularly like this one.
      Rating: ** (out of 5)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Monkees--"A Coffin Too Frequent"

     The episodes of The Monkees may be my favorites, but the supernatural themed episodes run a close second. The series did absurd well, and they are few episodes more absurd than 'A Coffin Too Frequent.” It features a non0ensical pot with holes one could drive a truck though, yet it is one of my favorite episodes.
     Near the stroke of midnight, the Monkees discover a visitor downstairs. Henry, a self-described scientist, points out a clause n their lease requiring them to vacate their house from midnight to dawn on that day's date. They are reluctant at first, but agree to split when they find out Henry plans to raise his Uncle Elmer from the dead to appease his wealthy aunt, Mrs. Weatherspoon. She arrives with Henry's giant henchman Boris in tow. Mrs. Weatherspoon insists the Monkees remain as witnesses to the occasion.
       Henry is scamming hi aunt for her money, of course. She plans to give him her fortune if he successfully raises Elmer from the dead. He will drug her so she will hallucinate seeing her late husband. Cue one of the less subtle drug references on The Monkees. The guys try t convince Mrs. Weatherspoon Henry is a fraud, but she is a batty old lady who is not convinced until Micky poses as the ghost of Henry, thereby forcing him to confess. One of the wilder romps ensues. I like it in particular because Ruth Buzzi, who plays Mrs. Weatherspoon goes way overboard on the slapstick during the romp.
     “A Coffin Too Frequent” certainly makes no sense. The plot element of using the pad for the resurrection is only to save money on sets. The entire episode takes place I the pad. The limited setting gives the story the feel of a one act play. Henry never drugs hi aunt or the Monkes, so one wonders how he planned o pull off his con. Or maybe it was not a con? The ending I which Elmer seems to appear leaves the issue open. In spite of some loose logic, “A Coffin Too Frequent” is fun episode.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Monkees--"The Wild Monkees"

    The best episodes of The Monkees are the ones parodying elements of pop culture. “The Wild Monkees” is a parody of the 1954 Marlon Brando film The Wild One. The Wild One is about a motorcycle gang entering a legitimate motorcycle race. The episode does not break the tradition of pop culture parodies being among the best in the series.
      The Monkees arrive at a hotel in the middle of the desert for a gig. They discover they are not meant to perform for hotel guests, but serve a group of new arrivals as hotel staff. The guests turn out to b a girl biker gang. The girls and guys woo each other with varying degrees of success. The Monkees decide their best shot is to pose as a biker gang. But when they do, the girls' biker gang boyfriends show up and challenge them t a race. The losers get beaten up by the winners. In with their typical trickery, The Monkees lose. They are saved by the intervention of the girls. The biker gangs decide to give up the road and settle down.
     The hotel is called Henry Cabot Lodge. Henry Cabot Lodge was Richard Nixon's running mate in the 1960 presidential election as well as ambassador to South Vietnam among other prominent positions. Mike, Micky, and Davy were experienced motorcyclists and actually rode the bikes. Peter was not a rider, and as a gag never could get his bike to crank. This is the only episode to begin with a musical number. Micky croons a jazzy version of “Goin' Down” as the teaser.
   "The Wild Monkees” is frivolous, but funny. The guys are all working together for a common goal—their survival—while accentuating their best character traits to do it. It is all quite amusing.
     Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Doctor Who--"The Empress of Mars"

      If I had to sum up “The Empress of mars” in a single word, it would be cliched. Writer Mark Gatiess was probably aiming for an homage to Jules Vverne and cheesy move serials from the '30's, but he was not up to the task of tying it all together. The episode was the subject of numerous re-writes which involved settings changes and character additions, which usually is not a good sign. Whatever the cause there definitely was problem.
      The Doctor, Bill, Nardole travel to Mars after NASA discovers a “God Save the Queen” message on the planet's surface. Team TARDIS discovers a group of Victorian Era soldiers who have allied themselves with an ice Warrior they named Friday. Friday allows them to mine mars supposedly for treasure, but he is actually looking for his Empress. They find her ad her warriors. She is temporarily convinced the war the ice Warriors were fighting ended 5,000 years ago, but a trigger happy soldiers sparks a new conflict. There is a pointless battle before n officer who previously deserted redeems himself by pledging loyalty to the Empress. Because betraying Britain twice makes everything all right. The end.
    Okay...not exactly the end. The TARDIS acts up by taking Nrdole to Earth and refusing to return to Mars. He recruits Missy to help him. When they arrive on mars, h doctor is shocked to discover she was helpful and even more so was concerned for his well-being. Or maybe he was afraid of the consequences of letting her out of the vault. Would letting her out before the 1,000 years is up cause her to revert back to The Master? The possibility might explain his return for the finale.
     I can understand naming the ice Warrior Friday. The soldiers were referencing Robinson Crusoe. There is even a movie named Robinson Crusoe on Mars, so that is kind of clever. As an unintended coincidence, the movie featured Adam West, who died on Friday. But some of the other aspects of “The Empress of Mars” are cringe-worthy. Captain Catchlove? Colonel Godsacre? A soldier showing another a photo of his girlfriend back home before he is killed? The dialogue straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon does not help give this one any air of tension. I wanted to like it. A retro-science fiction story combining elements of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Edgar Rice Burroughs sounded great. But it did not turn out that way.
      Rating: * (out of 5)

Monkees--"The Card-Carrying Red Shoes"

      “The Card-Carrying Red Shoes” sees the Monkees involved in Cold War espionage for the fourth and final time. The plot re-use appears to be one time too much. For whatever reason, Mike sits it out while the other three look like they wish they had thought of ditching the episode, too. Old plot, old jokes, and a partial cast. If that does not sound promising, that is because it is not.
    Micky, Davy, and Peter are hired to play for the National Druvanian Ballet. The NDB is actually a spy ring that hides a stolen microfilm in the star, Natasha's, ballet shoes. Natasha is sick of the whole ballet stick, so she stows away with the Monkees' instruments trunk with plans to defect. She develops a thing for Peter, which prompts him to be kidnapped by the spy ring. They plan to kill him when the cymbals crash at the big performance. Micky dresses in chicken suit to sabotage the performance and Davy does everything possible to keep the cymbal from crashing while Natasha rescues Peter.
     The plot is pretty much paint by numbers. This is not the first time microfilm has been a MacGuffin. This is not the first time Peter is kidnapped and threatened by the villains. It certainly is not the first time he is separated from the rest of the band fr much of the action. The only aspect of the episode that is original or funny is Micky acting up on stage in the chicken suit. It is not enough to save the episode, however. I imagine whatever Mike was up to during this time was far more amusing.
      Rating: * (out of 5)

Friday, June 9, 2017

Monkees--"Monkees Marooned"

  “Monkees Marooned” is my personal favorite episode of The Monkees. I like the most satirical, fun episodes the best. In the case of “Monkees Marooned,” everything from Robinson Crusoe and Tarzan to British stereotypes and old Hollywood business practices. You cannot go wrong with that kind of combination.
      A con man on the street trades Peter a map of blackbeard's treasure for his guitar. The guys are upset with peter's bad decision, but opt to make the most of it by following the map. They sail to the deserted island only to find themselves hunted by a cray retired British officer Major Pshaw and his native assistant, Thursday. The Monkees are sot of rescued by Kimba, an elderly actor who played a Tarzan-like character, but go left behind when the production company folded. To add insult to injury, his wife ran off with the casting director.
     Everyone winds up at pshaw's hut. He reveals he has spent the last decade on the island looking for Blackbeard's treasure. But he has had no luck without a map. Peter offers pshaw his map in exchange for their lives. The treasure turns out to be buried under the hut, but it I not riches. Kimba's wife paps out. They rekindle their romance. A musical romp ensues because why not and everyone other than Pshaw comes away happy.
      Thursday is part of an old trope in which a black character either fills a racial stereotype or is underemployed, yet is wiser than the white characters and so guides them along. “Monkees Marooned” was produced in 1967, so I would not call Thursday a racist character. More like antiquated. I still feel a bit guilty laughing at his antics. But he is one of the most amusing guest characters to appear on the series.
     “Monkees Marooned' is packed with more humor than most episodes. There are all sorts of clever jokes from visual puns, literary and historical references, and fourth wall breaking. All the elements that make the show fun are here. It is rare the gust cast gets as much good material to work with as the Monkees, but pshaw, Thursday, and Kimba are great.
      Rating: ***** (out of 5)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Monkees--"Hillbilly Honeymoon"

     It was inevitable The Monkees would eventually satirize the rural television show craze of the mid to late '60's. The only surprise is it took until the second season for it to happen. I never cared for the Lil' Abner portrayal of the South on television. I would rather be beaten with a sack of doorknobs than sit through an episode of Green Acres or The Beverly Hillbillies. Keep my bias in mind when reading my review for “Hillbilly Honeymoon.”
      The Monkees, lost on a road trip, come to a hillbilly town to ask for directions to the highway. There is a white line down the middle of town dilating two feuding families, the Weskitts and the Chubbers. Davy becomes a pawn in the battle between the two families when Ella Mae Clubber decides she wants to marry him, but he winds up on the other side kidnapped by her boyfriend, Judd Weskitt. As usual, Peter is held captive while Mike and Micky come to the rescue. Davy is still stuck marrying Ella Mae until the rest of the guys turn Judd into the closest hick equivalent to a gentleman and he marries Ella Mae, their marriage ends the feud.
      Country singers Lester Flatt an Earl Scrugs scored much of the incidental music in order to give the episode its rural feel. The rural feel is in stark contrast to the Monkees' incorporation of their own style of clothing. Peter in particular is wildly decked out in a paisley shirt, Nehru collar, and love beads. He is the George Harrison of the group. Micky sports his naturally curly hair for the first time.
      “Hillbilly Honeymoon” has some fun moments, but the whole rural theme just is not my thing. The plots of rescuing Davy from a situation involving a girl, separating Peter from the rest of the group, and playing match maker for a wedding couple have been used too many times so far to be amusing. There I no amusement factor for me. If you enjoy those rural shows of which it is poking fun, you might find more here to amuse than I did.
      Rating: ** (out of 5)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Monkees--"I Was a 99-lb Weakling"

      “I Was a 99-lb Weakling" is only the second episode of The Monkees to center on Micky. As a comedic actor, he works best when reacting to events rather than serving as the focus. He works well with the material he is given here. Everyone must put forth a greater effort to make up for the missing Mike. This is one of a handful of sea-sod season episodes without him.
      Micky finds himself in a Charles Atlas advertisement when a body building bully named Bulk kicks sand in his face and steals his girlfriend Brenda. Brenda is played by the gorgeous Venita Wolf. I would be distraught to lose her, too. Micky falls prey to fraudulent heath guru named Shah Ku who promises to whip him into shape. Davy and peter struggle train Mcky for free and humiliate bulk in front of Brenda by making him look like weakling. All efforts fail until a musical romp at Shah-Ku's gym exposes the fraud and convinces Brenda to take Micky back. The romance goes well until she finds a nerd with a mind.
      Wolf plays Brenda as vapid as Kelly Bundy, but in the end, she turns out to be Penny from The Big Bang Theory instead. Who knew pretty airheads liked men with minds?
      I Was a 99-lb Weakling” has a lot of amusing moments. As noted, the per-title sequence is a spot on satire of the old Charles Atlas advertisements from old comic books. I guess comic books geeks get beat up a lot—although I am sure having girlfriends stolen is a rarity for reasons I am confident you can figure out. Davy and Peter humiliate Bulk with a lead volleyball and a kite string actually attached to blimp. The romp is one of the better, but it is odd to see clips from old episodes wish Mike in them when he is bent romp the rest of the episode. Mike's voice of reason is sorely missing. The guys mention as much several times as a running joke throughout.
      Rating: *** (out of 5)

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monkees--"Art, For Monkee's Sake"

      “Art, For Monkee's Sake” is one of the strangest episodes of the series. That is a bold statement for a series as far out there as The Monkees. The peculiar thing is I am not even referring to anything psychedelic as you might expect from the late '60's, but absurd plot elements and odd characterizations. The cast complained bitterly about the poor quality of scripts they were receiving for the second season. With my critic's eye, I now see what they mean.
      Peter demonstrates a never before seen and hereafter never mentioned skill at duplicating paintings. Well, at first he only paints doorways, but when that causes problems for the guys running into them, they insist on him going to the art museum to seek inspiration. There he meets up with two security guards/art thieves who convince him to copy a famous work of art so they can switch it with the real one. When Peter finishes, they tie him up in the basement and successfully make the switch.
      The guys come looking for Peter when it does not return. While searching the museum, Micky runs into a weird, obsessive finger and toes painting artist while Mike encounters Liberace smashing a grand piano. Whatever Davy finds is not shown. They eventually discover Peter and free him. He tells them about the plot, but they cannot convince the curator. He demonstrates the tight security system. It involves a cage falling on anyone who lifts the painting. The curator suffers an emotional breakdown when he becomes entrapped n the cage. Like I said...weird.
    The Monkees decide the best thing to do I break into the museum to switch the real painting beck. Because the two security guards/art thieves lten them stroll out with it and take it home without attempting to take it from them even though neither is above violence and kidnapping. Even for a show without much logic in its plotting, this is a stretch. The plan leads to a Mission: Impossible parody self aware enough to call itself Mission: Ridiculous. The members of the RMF are:
      Manchester Marauder (Davy)
      Connecticut Counterspy (Peter)
      Towering Texan (Mike)
      Los Angeles Leopard (Micky)
     The cat burglar routine catches the attention of the guards. There is a musical romp in which they all are caught in the falling cage. But they are discovered in the morning by the curator. All appears to work out fine, as the guys are all back at the pad later on where Peter is takes up carpentry.
      The painting peter copies is Franz Hals' The Laughing Cavalier from 1624.
    “Art, For Monkee's Sake” has a few good laughs, but I cannot get past some of the wacky pot elements. The guys are unusually abusive towards Peter, as well. He I referred to as both an idiot and a fool. Micky tosses out both he insults, but mike and Davy readily agree. Their unusually cruel attitude towards Peter takes what little fun there is to be found in this mess of a story and ruins it.
      Rating: ** (out of 5)

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Doctor Who--"The Lie of the Land"

      Color me disappointed. With the strong start of The Monks Trilogy, I was expecting a big payoff. Last week, I made excuses for the bridging episode's uneventful pacing under he assumption all would make sense in the slam, bang finale. “The Lie of the Land” is the finale, but it ends, not with a bang, but a whimper. You know things are bad when the best episode of a multipart storyline was h simulation that never really happened.
      “The Lie of the Land” picks up six months after the end of the previous episode. The Monks have brainwashed the people of Earth to believe they have always benevolently ruled over them. Anyone who remembers the truth is hunted down by secret police. The Doctor is under house arrest on a ship at sea. Bill is laying in hopes the Doctor can defeat the Monks. She keeps her sanity by keeping her late mother in mind. Nardole locates hr, and the two sneak unto the ship where the doctor is being held.
      Those Whovians who were excited to catch a glimpse of the Doctor regenerating from the trailer, prepare to be disappointed. The regeneration does not happen. It instead part of a ruse carried out by the Doctor and Nardole as a test of Bill's loyalty. The Doctor pretends he is on the Monk's side. Bill is so distraught at the discovery, she shoots him. With blanks, of course. I did not expect the regeneration to occur before at least the series finale cliffhanger or Christmas special, so to take it that far was a cheap stunt. The fact Bill pulled the trigger is enough to prove she is not working with the Monks.
     Missy is finally tied into the story when our heroes sneak into the university to consult her in the vault. She has encountered the Monks before. She knows they broadcast the mind waves of the person who invited them—in this case, Bill—via statues all over the world. Kill Bill and save the world. Probably provoke a copyright infringement suit from Quentin Tarantino, to. The Doctor refuses to murder Bill or even allow her to sacrifice herself Instead, he plans to sneak into the pyramid o broadcast his own mind.
   Well, that does not work, so Bill broadcasts her own mind over the doctor's protests she will not survive. Bill goes for it, anyway. She projects pure love for her mother. That is enough to snap everyone out of their subservient trance. They rebel against the Monks. The Monks subsequently destroy all evidence of their existence on Earth and flee. No one has any memories of them now. What about all the people they killed? Plot hole, I guess. Anyway, the power of love saves the day.
     We never find out who the monks really are. It was established in the previous episode the robed corpses were not their true appearance. Hiding their true appearance implies we would recognize them in their true form. There is an expectation of a big reveal, but it never happens. There is still a chance the Monks may return later for a reveal, but I hope not at this point. Their potential as villains fizzled out when their only goal was to become bureaucrats. The only thing they received or ruling Earth was the brainwashed gratitude of humanity. I need more menace in my world conquering aliens.
    I am backing off my earlier prediction the monks are from Mondas. The Monasian Cybermen are in the series finale, but I hope they are part of a plot unrelated to the monks. Missy will revert to the Master in the series finale, so he probably has something to do with them. Since Missy says she has dealt with the Monks before, I hope that does not reinforce a connection between the Monks and the Mondasian Cybermen.
     After this episode, I now suspect something is special about Bill. Whatever it is might explain why she was drawn to the Doctor's advanced theoretical physics lectures.
    It must be obvious by now I did not like “The Lie of the Land” all that much. It felt like a letdown after all the build up. The Monks turned out to be duds as villains. Lord have mercy, they are defeated by the power of love like some Care bears villain! The one thing I enjoyed was Pearl Mackie as Bill. She is a fantastic companion, and I hope she sticks around for at least another series. But pretty much everything else fell flat.
     Rating: ** (out of 5)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Monkees--"Monkee Mayor"

    After several shots at reshaping the royal heads of Europe and the Middle East, the Monkees set their sights on something a little less ambitious—the mayoralty of Los Angeles. Any city that would elect Sam Yorty an Eric Garcetti is bound to think a Monkee would fit right In with city hall. In this case, the guys run mike for mayor.
     Mike decides to run for mayor of Los Angeles after he neighbors are evicted to make way for a parking lot ad he gets the runaround from the current mayor. Mike runs a legitimate campaign on a shoestring budget during a hilarious musical romp, but it does not have much impact. The campaign is successful enough for some ciiy hall goons to trash their campaign headquarters...which happens to also be their living room. This prompts the Monkees to snoop in the mayor's office and uncover the real estate scheme concocted by Zeckenbush, a shady campaign backer.
      The Monkees attempt to get photographic evidence fails when Peter opts to photograph something else instead. With no evidence of corruption and no money left, Mike considers withdrawing.. But Mike believes a sudden windfall of cash is a sign the little people are rooting for him. He spends the donations on a lavish campaign only to discover the money came from Zeckenbush. He offers Mike an ultimatum—drop out or be exposed.
     Mike goes n television and charmingly fumbles through a speech about how he idealistically entered the race because believed he could grant power to the powerless, but he ran into corruption that was too massive for him. In a particularly hokey development, the mayor is moved by Mike's peech and assures him live on the air things will be run differently from now on. But since a wrecking ball smashes through the pad's roof, perhaps the mayor was just attempting to capitalize on mike's aw shucks appeal to solidify his position and go through with the parking lot development.
     The romp was hilarious but it was about the only amusing aspect of the episode. The jokes were corny. Some o them were practically antiques, such as Micky finding the key to a filing cabinet on a skeleton in the closet and assuring Mike it would work because it was a skeleton key. I think it is interesting the show has slipped in some biting political commentary regarding protesters and the Vietnam War in previous episodes, but plays it safe with cartoon level humor in an episode about politics. Network interference, maybe? I do not know, but the satire in “Monkee Mayor” could have been more biting.
      Rating: ** (out of 5)