The Show Flipped The Generation Script
As the AV Club notes, when “The Monkees” debuted in 1966 there was something extremely unusual about the show that today’s audiences might not notice: There was no “adult” character to offer the band moral guidance and advice. As guitarist Peter Tork told the Concord Monitor, this was really unheard of every comedy before had a “senior adult figure,” but “The Monkees” presented a group of young people figuring stuff out all on their own. As the generation gap widened in the 1960s, this was a pretty notable artistic decision.
It was also a step that almost didn’t happen. As Micky Dolenz explains in his memoir, the original pilot for the show did have a senior adult figure to offer guidance to the band their manager. Envisioned as a “manager knows best” character, there’s little doubt his presence would have completely changed the tone of the show.
Luckily, the original pilot for the show failed and had to be re-envisioned. Producer Bob Rafelson re-edited the pilot and cut the manager character out completely. As reported by Monkees Live Almanac, the manager character Rudy Gunther only appeared in the pilot , where he got the band a gig playing a sweet 16 party, and he’s never referenced again.
The Monkees Were Explicitly Based On The Beatles
According to Biography, the idea behind “The Monkees” TV show predated the Beatles. Bob Rafelson was a musician, and he’d been floating the idea of a TV show based on his experiences since at least 1963. But no one was interested until Beatlemania and the success of the Fab Four’s movie “A Hard Day’s Night.” So it’s not too surprising that the personas of the Monkees were explicitly based on the Beatles.
The Chicago Tribune explains that part of Beatlemania involved each of the Fab Four being given simple identities: Paul McCartney was the cute one, John Lennon was the smart one, George Harrison was the quiet one, and Ringo was the clown. Closer Weekly reports that the four guys cast in “The Monkees” were explicitly given similar roles to play: Davy Jones was the cute one, Micky Dolenz was the funny one, Mike Nesmith was the smart one, and Peter Tork got the thankless role of the clown. According to the AV Club, Tork fell into that role easily because he’d perfected a “dummy” persona while performing in New York City’s Greenwich Village folk music scene.
The way the Monkees were linked so explicitly to the Beatles earned them one of their earliest and most dismissive nicknames: the Prefab Four.
People Were Shocked The Monkees Wasn’t A Real Band
The Monkees were hugely successful and popular during the first season of their show, but much of the viewing public assumed, incorrectly, that they were a real band that wrote and performed their own music.
Yahoo! News explains that the Monkees weren’t talentless hacks Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork had professional experience as musicians, Davy Jones had been nominated for a Tony Award, and Nesmith had even written a hit song, “Different Drum” . But they’d never played in a band together, and Micky Dolenz had never played drums before.
A killer group of songwriters wrote most of the material on the Monkees’ first two albums, including Carole King, Neil Sedaka, Paul Williams, and Harry Nilsson, and some of the best session musicians in the world recorded the music for their albums .
The Hollywood Reporter explains that when the band’s lack of involvement in their early songs became widely known, there was a backlash. Closer Weekly reports that the band began taking on more and more playing and songwriting duties, and toured extensively to practice.
However, even with their improved musical abilities, a third season of “The Monkees” never happened. According to Woman’s World, the show had “begun recycling old scripts,” which the band didn’t like. They reportedly wanted to create an hour-long variety show for the third season, but NBC wasn’t on board. When the band refused to do a third season as a sitcom, it brought “The Monkees” to an end.
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The Untold Truth Of The Monkees TV Show
The 1960s was a weird time. But like many weird times in history, it was also a time of creative revolution, as the constraints of a prior generation were stripped away. As silly as some of the fashions and attitudes might seem to people today, the 1960s saw new technologies and new artistic paradigms transform just about every medium, including television. And one of the most important television shows from the decade is “The Monkees.”
If you think “The Monkees” was just a silly show about a fake rock band cynically designed to profit off of Beatlemania … you would not be entirely wrong. But somehow the show achieved real, lasting cultural impact so much so that we’re still discussing both the show and the band today, decades after it went off the air. In just two seasons, “The Monkees” managed to have an outsized impact on popular culture.
But that impact is often hidden behind the false idea that the Monkees was a fake band that had a brief moment of popularity. The fact is, the band was actually very real and remains incredibly popular today. Here’s the untold truth of “The Monkees” TV show.
Talk To Your Kids About
Families can talk about the fact that the band didn’t exist before the TV show. Does that make the guys seem less like real musicians? What do you think the motivations were for creating both the band and the show? Are there any parallels in today’s TV/media world?
Are you more inclined to buy a band’s music if you see them on TV or watch a movie that stars your favorite music personality? Why or why not?
How does the modern-day music industry compare to that of years ago? What similarities exist between The Monkees and current bands like the Jonas Brothers? How have the obstacles they face to success changed over the years? Do you think one is more deserving of fame than the other? Why?
Compare and contrast The Monkees and The Beatles. What were parents’ experiences with the two bands? How are they similar and different?
- Premiere date: September 12, 1966
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Is The Monkees On Disney Plus
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About Disney+: Disney plus is the new blockbuster streaming service from the Walt Disney Company. It features content from its rock-star franchises Marvel, LucasFilms Star Wars, Pixar, ESPN, National Geographic and its own retinue of Family-friendly Disney content. It will also feature content from soon-to-be-added 21st Century Fox. Very exciting times.
In Memoriam: TV Stars We Lost In 2019
The Monkees is a truly memorable series, the first TV comedy of the 1960s to showcase musician characters with original popular music that charted, combined with zany comedy and the teen heartthrob phenomenon, said Neal Sabin, vice chairman of Weigel Broadcasting Co., which owns MeTV.
Our recent tribute to Peter Tork sparked a significant amount of positive viewer feedback and delivered a very large national audience. Adding The Monkees as part of our Sunday afternoon lineup alongside The Brady Bunch and Gilligans Island gives our MeTV audience even more to cheer about.
More about The Monkees from MeTV:
The Monkees originally aired from 1966-1968, employing avant-garde film techniques such as improvisation, jump cuts and breaking the fourth wall, and earned two Emmy Awards in 1967 for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy.
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The Monkees Lived On In Syndication
For a show that lasted just two seasons in the late 1960s, “The Monkees” remains pretty prominent in pop culture. The reason for that is simple: syndication and MTV.
Closer Weekly reports that “The Monkees” went into syndication on CBS in 1969, where it ran on Saturday mornings. An entire new generation of kids was exposed to its charms as they ate their cereal. When the show went into general syndication in 1975, that audience expanded to include the entire country.
Then, in 1986, MTV began airing old episodes of “The Monkees” and something unexpected happened: Vulture reports that the reruns were among MTV’s highest-rated programs. This sparked a second wave of “Monkeemania.” Rolling Stone reports that four of the band’s old albums reentered the charts, the band reunited for a successful tour, and eventually began recording new music.
Perpetual reruns targeting new young audiences that would appreciate the band’s lighthearted humor and ear-candy music kept the Monkees going for decades.
Hey Hey They’re Not Always The Monkees
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The Monkees Pilot Tanked
Considering how incredibly successful “The Monkees” ultimately was, it’s easily forgotten that the first version of the show’s pilot was a disaster. According to Woman’s World, the original pilot was one of the lowest-rated pilots presented up to that time. In his autobiography, “I’m a Believer: My Life of Monkees, Music, and Madness,” drummer Micky Dolenz says that all the TV networks turned down the pilot. That could have been the end of the story, but producer Bob Rafelson who had been trying to get the concept off the ground since 1963 insisted on re-editing the pilot to try to save the day. Changes included cutting out the character of the band’s manager, removing some title cards, and introducing raw footage from the cast’s screen tests.
REBEAT explains that the end result which actually aired as episode 10 of the first season is pretty ragged. The story, which involves Davy falling in love with a teenage girl when the band is hired to play her sweet 16 party, makes little sense in its re-edited version. And many of the jokes were butchered, leaving behind punch lines without any sort of setup or context.
The changes clicked with audiences, however. Biography confirms that the new version was a hit with test groups, and NBC picked up the show in early 1966.
Micky Dolenz On His Time With The Monkees: Im Very Grateful
I cant speak for anyone else, he said. after The Monkees, I went to England and produced and directed TV shows and commercials for 15 years. I always looked at The Monkees as a blessing because it opened up so many doors for me. But you do get typecast. Ill be honest. It was a bit frustrating when Id hear that I was up for something as an actor or director and theyd say, We really dont need a drummer.
Im very grateful, he continued. Ive been blessed my whole life. Im blessed with my children. Im blessed with my marriages. And, of course, with getting cast on The Monkees.
Now the band is about to head out on the road for a farewell tour but Dolenz isnt going anywhere. This fall he will join fellow survivor of the band, Mike Nesmith, for the 2021 Monkees Farewell Tour. Yet, Dolenz says he intends to stick around.
I tried it once, and I got bored, so its not in my plans right now, Dolenz said about retirement.
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The Monkees Show Pioneered Modern Music Videos
The Monkees didn’t invent the music video there are plenty of examples of musical short films going back decades. And the TV show didn’t even pioneer the fast editing and energy that we associate with modern music videos the Beatles kind of did that with “A Hard Days Night.” But, as explained by The Diversity of Classic Rock, the musical segments on “The Monkees” differed from more traditional TV shows in that they were presented as separate from the narrative essentially as music videos dropped in the middle of the story.
REBEAT explains that these energetic scenes were called “romps,” and they were a big part of the show’s popularity, as they were different from anything else on television. The AV Club reports that these proto music video sequences influenced the Monkees themselves, and Michael Nesmith in particular.
Nesmith inherited a large fortune from his mother , and used it to “help kick off the music-video industry.” According to the Chicago Tribune, Nesmith created some of the first official music videos, and came up with the idea for a full-time music video television channel. That’s right, he essentially invented MTV.
The Monkees Show Won Two Emmy Awards
Even those who have fond memories of “The Monkees” sometimes fall into the trap of thinking of it as a slight comedy that rode the coattails of Beatlemania. But the show is recognized as introducing a long list of avant-garde film techniques to the American television audience. And such appreciation for the show isn’t new even back in the ’60s, people recognized that “The Monkees” was a really great show.
In fact, as reported by Woman’s World, the show actually won two Emmy Awards during its run, picking up one for outstanding comedy series and a second for outstanding directorial achievement in comedy in 1967.
Television Academy explains that the show was recognized for its innovative approach to the staid sitcom format. And, as noted by Closer Weekly, that’s more impressive than it seems. “The Monkees” beat out classic shows like “Get Smart” and “Hogan’s Heroes” to get those Emmys. To put the win in perspective, other sitcoms that have won an Emmy for outstanding comedy series include “All in The Family,” “M*A*S*H,” “Seinfeld,” “The Office,” and “Fleabag.”
In “Total Control: The Michael Nesmith Story,” author Randi L. Massingill reports that “The Monkees” taking two Emmy’s was a bit of a shock “The Dick Van Dyke Show” had just ended after dominating the award for years, and everyone expected an established show with better ratings to win.
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About The Monkees TV Show
The Monkees is an American situation comedy that aired on NBC from September 1966 to March 1968. The series follows the adventures of four young men trying to make a name for themselves as rock ‘n roll singers. The show introduced a number of innovative new-wave film techniques to series television and won two Emmy Awards in 1967. The program ended on Labor Day, 1968 at the finish of its second season and has received a long afterlife in Saturday morning repeats and syndication, as well as overseas broadcasts.
Season 2 | Season 1 |
List Of The Monkees Episodes
This is a list of episodes of the television series which ran on from to , on Monday nights at 7:30 PM Eastern .
The first songs listed are from the original NBC broadcasts. Over the summer of 1967, NBC reran multiple episodes with revised soundtracks to promote the Monkees’ then-current album, , and the singles released during that summer. Then, between 1969 and 1973, reran the episodes on Saturday morning, revising the soundtracks once again to promote the albums and . All alternate songs are listed where applicable.
Tracks with different mixes or versions as compared to the album versions are indicated.
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Europe And The Middle East
NBC no longer exists outside the Americas as a channel in its own right. However, NBC News and MSNBC programs are broadcast for a few hours a day on OSN News, formerly known as in Africa and the Middle East. Sister network also broadcasts occasional breaking news coverage from MSNBC as well as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. CNBC Europe also broadcast daily airings of NBC Nightly News at 00:30 CET Monday to Fridays.
NBC Super Channel becomes NBC Europe
In 1993, then-NBC parent General Electric acquired Super Channel, relaunching the Pan-European cable network as NBC Super Channel. In 1996, the channel was renamed , but was, from then on, almost always referred to on-air as simply “NBC”.
Most of NBC Europe’s prime time programming was produced in Europe due to rights restrictions associated with U.S. primetime shows the channel’s weekday late-night schedule after 11:00 p.m. , however, featured The Tonight Show, and , which the channel’s slogan “Where the Stars Come Out at Night” was based around. Many NBC News programs were broadcast on NBC Europe, including Dateline NBC, Meet the Press and NBC Nightly News, the latter of which was broadcast simultaneously with the initial U.S. telecast. Today was also initially aired live in the afternoons, but was later broadcast instead the following morning on a more than half-day delay.
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