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)

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