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)

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