The Monkees are coming: Singers-spoofers offer ‘crazy’ fun
by Don Royal
They’re cute as a button, sharp as a tack, hot as a firecracker, new, entirely different from any group you’ve ever seen or heard before — and they’re a bit on the kookie side. They’re The Monkees, individually and collectively, and if there had been such a thing as television in the Roaring Twenties, and if The Monkees had been around (they weren’t even born then!)… well, they would have been called the cat’s whiskers.
Call them the newest “in” group, or call them “camp,” and you may call them the most refreshing thing in show business. The Monkees is the new Screen Gems series, co-sponsored by Yardley and Kellogg’s, and they’ll be seen in vivid color — yeah, man, vivid — Monday nights, early, on NBC-TV and in El Paso on KTSM-TV. Early, so the teenagers may see and enjoy. And it’s a safe bet parents will join in for the fun and crazy doings, too. It’s that kind of show.
It’s also the kind of show that’s almost impossible to describe. Reasons? Several, but two specifically serve to add to its appeal. Every photographic trick in the book is used in the offbeat series. You’ll enjoy some of the wildest chase scenes ever filmed — another excuse for mom and dad to watch. Shades of the Keystone Kops!
In the bag
The Monkees are real though, all four of them. In the 19-20 age bracket, the fellows are in the same “bag” (English translation: one’s likes, talents, attitudes and behavior patterns). More definitively, their “bag” is, in a general sense, life itself. The cameras follow them through their collective lives, accompanied by their own music, adventures and misadventures. But, beyond that, the best way to become familiar with The Monkees is to watch the show.
Each member has a name. It’s easier to remember them, individually, that way. The names are, in order, Micky Dolenz, David Jones, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork.
It may be disappointing to learn that they’re all conventional, standard American kids, except the one called “Davy.” He’s standard enough, but he’s from overseas someplace. Your researchers were unable to trace the accent. He comes well-recommended, though, and he’s compact, alert, and athletic. They’re all athletic.
Have to be, because co-producers Bert Schneider and Robert Rafelson put them through weekly paces which would bring on the horrors to anyone not physically qualified for a life of derring-do.
About the Monkees individually
Pint-sized David Jones, smallest and swingingest of The Monkees at a strapping 5 feet 3, gave up a career as a jockey to become an entertainer. He played the role of The Artful Dodger for two years in Broadway’s version of “Oliver” and it was there that Bert Schneider spotted him and signed him posthaste to a Screen Gems contract.
Micky Dolenz is the tall one, a long-legged drummer who is no stranger to television. He was Circus Boy. Recall? That was 10 years ago, and Micky starred in the role for three years. High school and the study of architectural drafting at Los Angeles Trade and Technical College has occupied his time since. He sings, plays guitar and has made night club appearances and television guest shots.
Dallas-born, San Antonio-reared Mike Nesmith will be quickly called “Wool Hat” by his fans, because he always wears one. Everywhere. To bed, even. Someone gave him a guitar once, but he didn’t know any songs. That didn’t stop “Wool Hat.” He made one up, has been working at it ever since, and eventually he piled into his sports car and headed for Hollywood, a five-a-day road tour as member of a trio, and eventually, to The Monkees.
Peter Tork, Monkee No 4, is a native of Connecticut, where his father is an associate professor at the University of Connecticut. Peter worked in a thread mill after a brief (and unsuccessful) try for a higher education at Carleton College, Minn, but decided that wasn’t for him, either. But he had always been something of an amateur musician-singer so he got a job in Greenwich Village as a folk singer, went on a tour, and he has been a working professional ever since.
All share a deep understanding of creative dogma, whatever that means.
Like most basically nice — and occasionally nutty — youngsters, The Monkees are in the throes of that “we-have-opinions-too” age. What follows is an exclusive interview granted, under rather mad-cap conditions, on the set.
If you think it’s confusing, consider this: Our reporter dictated the interview from the hospital. It had to be dictated. His arms, locked tightly behind his back by a restrainer, could not manipulate his typewriter.
QUERY: Gentlemen, since this is the first time I have ever interviewed four people at one time, I’d like to suggest we try not to interrupt or talk all at the same time. Agreed?
MONKEES: (Peter): Hey, what is this? (Davy): Right-O! (Mike): You gonna teach? (Micky): This is fun!
QUERY: Now, now! Remember the rules! Seriously… what’s The Monkees all about?
DAVY: It’s a tidied-up version of the Patty Duke Show. Mike thinks a lot of Patty.
MICKY: It’s really a down-to-earth Face the Nation. Diplomatic, nonviolent, cautiously frank.
MIKE: Would you believe a Mod Documentary?
PETER: Or the Hit Parade of the soaring ’60s.
QUERY: Look here, I suspect you’re just doing a spoof on The Beatles. After all, I’ve seen the pilot film and…
DAVY: By George, he’s got it! We’re spoofing. It’s Spoof City all the way. But we’re spoofing the Bronte Sisters.
QUERY: Now we’re getting someplace. Another question. Why do you and so many like you wear sloppy clothes and long hair?
PETER: Because we’re indifferent to fads.
QUERY: I get the message. I think. Now, about respectability. What do you guys really think of it?
MICKY: Do you mean fiscal integrity — balanced budgets, and all that?
QUERY: I mean respectability and social acceptance as opposed to offbeat behavior.
DAVY: We think they are groovy and we also think respectability is not always a symptom of sanity.
PETER: You read that on a box of cereal, Davy.
DAVY: No, I saw it on Lawrence Welk’s tee-shirt.
QUERY: I don’t know whether you’ve given me much of an interview. But I must say I have enjoyed your humor — off and on.
MICKY: You’re no sore?
QUERY: I guess not.
MIKE: You’ve been a real sport.
QUERY: It’s my job. I know you’ve been putting me on. Why be sore about it? Besides, I always shake like this at 11 in the morning.