Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees

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Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees
Written by Michael Nesmith
Directed by Michael Nesmith
Starring Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Release
Original network ABC
Original release February 17, 1997 (1997-02-17)
Chronology
Preceded by 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee

Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees is a one-hour comedy special televised on the ABC Network on Monday February 17, 1997. The show features all four of the original Monkees and would be the last time Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork would appear together in a new television program. Michael Nesmith wrote and directed the program.

This is not to be confused with the similarly titled documentary from 1997, Hey, Hey, We're the Monkees.[1]

Overview

The special shows the now middle-aged Monkees trying to come up with a new plot (apparently they've all been done by now) while still trying to catch their big break.[2] Some of the music featured in the special came from the quartet's 1996 album Justus; the group also performs a medley of 5 of their biggest 1960s hits; "Last Train to Clarksville", "Daydream Believer", "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone", "I'm a Believer" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday". These songs are shown as performances by the group in 1997, intercut with performances of these same songs from their 1960s television series. As of April 2017, it has not been made available on DVD or Blu-ray.

Game show host Chuck Woolery makes a cameo.

Plot

The special opens with Micky presenting his new beverage that will give the Monkees a gimmick (specifically, vomiting on stage) and their "ticket to success." Davy is concerned that such a gimmick will not go over well at their prestigious gig later that night.

A lawyer arrives at the door, offering the Monkees an inheritance if they spend the night in a haunted mansion. Micky verifies with Mike that they already did that story line and sends the lawyer on his way. Soon after, a young woman rushes in with two more plot suggestions. The Monkees reject them and begin rehearsing.

Afterward, they go for a walk on the beach. Mike explains that he converted the Mokeemobile into a low rider and a "dimension machine". This leads to a discussion about the need for gimmicks for the band and story lines for the show. They meet up with a young boy who says his pet pig is going to be sold for bacon. The guys ultimately reject the plot, but Micky manages to cheer him up with special effects. They rehearse some more and then head back to the pad to get ready for the gig.

As the Monkees get dressed, a couple outside the pad discusses an urban legend about the four crazy guys who live there. Micky interrupts them before they decide to toilet paper the house. The Monkees then pile into the Monkeemobile, and Mike demonstrates the new functionality he installed, including buttons that revert the surroundings to the 1960s, or transform one object into another.

At the club, they meet the manager, who introduces himself as Chuck and his daughter as the "princess". He tells them that he could lose the club if they don't play their older hits, but the guys emphasize that they want to promote their new album. The princess talks Davy into playing a few old hits, and the concert begins. Outside, the young boy returns with his friends, and they start playing with the Monkeemobile's special functions, causing the Monkees and the club audience to bounce back and forth between the 1990s and the 1960s, and the musical instruments transform into various objects. The concert is a success, and Chuck announces that his club was saved. He also congratulates the guys on making it through the entire special without resorting to the silly antics their show was known for.

As the Monkees drive home, they wonder how many people realize that their show and other classics are still produced even though they aren't on television anymore. When they arrive at their house, it is completely draped in toilet paper. Having realized that the use of special effects was causing their show to run short (and so stock footage of a lizard sunning itself on a rock had been edited in at various points earlier), they agree that one last special effects display of confetti and fireworks is appropriate.

Development

The wheels began rolling when ABC approached Monkees manager Ward Sylvester in November, 1996 about producing a Monkees retrospective. Sylvester countered with the suggestion that they make a new episode of the original TV series.[3]

Shot the following January, the special was a complete collaboration of all four Monkees in virtually every aspect of the project, from writing and directing (Mike), to casting (Micky), to music supervision and mixing (Peter), to staging (Davy).

The special featured the return of the Monkeemobile and the beach pad, as well as location filming on the beach in Malibu. According to photographer Henry Diltz, the guys were "really into it" and "played up" their fictional personalities.[3]

Post production delays caused the final print to be delivered too late for advanced screening, but the marketing push was strong, starting on Super Bowl Sunday, January 26 and continuing with ads run during some of ABC's most popular shows at the time (including a scene of Home Improvement incorporating the "Monkees Theme"). Initial promos featured scenes from the film HEAD, since scenes from the new special were unavailable and the group did not want people to see shots from the TV series and think the special was merely a retrospective filled with old clips. Ad spots with actual scenes from the special began airing on February 9.

A week before the special aired, Mike Nesmith said that ABC was pleased with the way the special turned out and expressed hope that there could be more to come.[3]

Premise of the Special

The news media have described the premise of the special as, "the group had kept filming TV shows since its weekly TV series on NBC was canceled in 1968, but they didn't have any place to air them."[2] Micky Dolenz has been quoted as saying, "We thought we'd go all the way and do another TV episode." This included setting the special in the beach pad from the original series, and showing the group driving around in the classic Monkeemobile.[3]

However, other quotes from the parties involved would seem to directly refute this idea. The 1997 summer issue of the Monkees H.Q. quotes Monkees manager Ward Sylvester as saying that they could not legally create a new episode of the original series, Micky calls it "a show within a show," and Davy contends "anyone can see" that "it's not an episode." Mike and Peter said they were "glad" to be able to play themselves rather than their fictional characters. Nesmith is also quoted in the May 1997 issue of the fanzine P.O. Box 9847 as describing the TV special as being about "... us Monkees today. We made 'Justus'. It's about that. Obviously 'Justus', a real CD, wasn't made by fictional characters."

References

  1. ^ "1997 Rhino Monkees documentary". 2017-08-26.
  2. ^ a b Braxton, Greg (2012-02-29). "Davy Jones' last Monkees TV reunion was just like old times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  3. ^ a b c d "Monkee Business Fanzine details the making of The Monkees' 1997 ABC television special". 2017-06-03. Retrieved 2017-06-26.

External links

  • Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees on IMDb


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