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)

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