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)

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