Joey Forman guest starred in "Monkee Chow Mein" as The Dragonman, a parody of Forman's character Harry Hoo from Get Smartnote who in turn is a parody of Charlie Chan.
Adored by the Network/Screwed by the Network: The series was unavoidable on MTV in 1986, running several times a day, plus weekend marathons every couple of months. Davy, Micky and Peter did lots of on-camera work, and even starred in the annual MTV Christmas video (with a surprise cameo by Mike). Then they pulled out of an appearance on an MTV Super Bowl Sunday special.note There are lots of conflicting stories on why this happened, but it boils down to lack of communication between the guys, their then-manager, and MTV executives. After that, The Monkees suddenly became personae non gratae on MTV. They refused to play the video for "Heart and Soul" despite it being among the most requested, which played a big role in both the single and the reunion album Pool It! tanking. In the 1989 The Decade in Rock special, MTV voted The Monkees as "Most Unnecessary Comeback of The 80s", blissfully ignoring their important role in that comeback.
Channel Hop: The show originally ran on NBC. The Saturday morning reruns were broadcast on both CBS (1969-72) and ABC (1972-73). Then came syndication, the 1986 MTV run, Nickelodeon/Nick At Nite in the late 80's and 90's, more syndication, and as of 2010 Antenna TV...
One reason that the group didn't last long past the end of the TV series was that the four members brought radically different musical preferences to the table. Tork was a folk singer, Jones favored showtunes and ballads, Nesmith favored either country-rock or straight-up country, and Dolenz was into rock and soul.
By the time the band recorded its fifth album, The Birds, the Bees, and The Monkees, the group had completely abandoned recording together. Each member chose his own songs and produced his own sessions with his own musicians of choice, then the results were pooled and the best songs chosen for the album.
Creator Backlash: None of the four were pleased with the album More of the Monkees, and Mike Nesmith especially has never had a kind word to say about it. The album was compiled without any input from the group and released behind their back; reportedly, the band didn't find out about its existence until one of them saw it in the record store. Additionally, the album contained a few tracks which they felt were substandard. They also hated the cover shot, which featured them in what they considered to be extremely tacky JCPenney clothing.
The Danza: Each character was essentially a Flanderized version of the actor, with the exception of Peter, who played The Ditz on the show. However, they did all use their own names.
Dawson Casting: Some episodes indicate that the boys are supposed to be teenagers. Davy was 20 at the time filming began, Micky was 21, Mike was 23, and Peter was 24.
The CBS/ABC reruns replaced some songs with tracks from the band's current releases.
When the show went into syndication, MTV and Nick At Nite kept the episodes intact, for the most part, but local stations tended to cut out stuff. The interview tags were always the first thing to go, and sometimes even a song would be cut if it was featured separately rather than integrated into the body of the episode.
Later syndication packages avoided the deletion of songs and interviews by Ramping; that is, randomly speeding up the film and songs to save time...except this gets extremely ANNOYING.
Executive Meddling: Largely the story behind the assembling of the group's second album, More of the Monkees. Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, producers of the first album, recorded what they believed was to be the follow-up to the group's debut, not knowing that Don Kirshner was having the boys record lots of tracks with other writers and producers as well. Kirshner then assembled his own version of the album and released it behind everyone's back. Only two of the tracks Boyce and Hart recorded were included.
Hitless Hit Album: Headquarters, which had no singles released in America. ("Randy Scouse Git"/"Alternate Title" was a hit in England.)
Henry Corden, who had a recurring role as the boys' landlord, was also the second voice of Fred Flintstone, among many other roles.
Jerry Colonna (a.k.a The March Hare) appeared in "Don't Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth" as a veterinarian.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: Reruns of Monkees episodes often replaced the songs from those episodes with more current ones in order to promote the band's most recent releases. Some songs were replaced multiple times. The syndication versions sometimes have the original songs and sometimes have the replaced songs, with no real pattern to it. Thus while all Monkees episodes are currently available on DVD with original songs intact, there are some fans who insist on trying to obtain copies of every variation of each episode they can, leading to a thriving tape trading market.
MTV ran a 24-hour marathon called Pleasant Valley Sunday on Sunday, February 23, 1986. The reaction was so positive that they ran a few more weekend marathons along with daily airings of the show through the rest of the year. Pleasant Valley Sunday is considered to be the event that launched their 1986 comeback.
Antenna TV aired every episode back-to-back followed by Head on March 3-4 2012 in honor of Davy Jones' passing.
Missing Episode: The 2-part Japanese special "The Monkees In Japan." A concert performance from their Far East tour only aired once in October 1968, and hasn't been seen since. However, the audio from both parts can be heard in the bootleg Made In Japan.
This was referenced in the episode "Hitting the High Seas". The ship's captain learns that one of the boys is named Davy Jones and assumes he is the descendant of the famous character from folklore - Micky quickly plays into it: "...and when he's 25, he inherits the Locker!".
This was also referenced in the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Spongebob Vs. The Big One", in which Davy guest stars.
Also referenced in an episode of the '90s remake of the Pink Panther cartoon (in which the title character was voiced by Matt Frewer). The episode had a pirate theme, so upon being threatened with being sent to Davy Jones' locker, the Panther deadpanned, "wasn't he the lead singer of The Monkees?"
Screwed by the Network: No one was happy with the band's post-series TV special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, least of all NBC, which buried it opposite the 1969 Oscars. On top of the hopeless scheduling, the network also managed to broadcast the show's segments out of order. No one noticed or cared, save for the boys themselves (especially Mike Nesmith, who was livid about the screw-up).
They recorded two unrelated Davy Jones-co-written songs called "You and I".
Changes was the original title of Head, plus a song Davy wrote and recorded for the movie (but it got passed over for inclusion), then became the title of their final first-run album in 1970. Not to mention a song by that otherDavid Jones.
Mike's "Good Clean Fun" was a Non-Appearing Title but the phrase "here I am" features prominently in the lyrics. A couple years later he released a completely different solo song called "Here I Am".
The song "Gonna Buy Me a Dog" from the first album was intended to be a quirky novelty tune to wrap up the album on a light-hearted note. However, Micky and Davy found the song corny rather than funny, and used one take to goof off and just basically make fun of the song. This version was the one that got released.
The band included "Band 6" and "Zilch" (both of which were short clips of the boys cutting up in the studio) in the final track listing for Headquarters to add to the off-the-wall, spontaneous atmosphere of the project.
Ad libs and outtakes were frequently left in the finished product of the TV series. This was designed to be a part of the show from the very beginning; when they were casting the series, the producers made certain to hire actors with strong improvisational skills.
One of musicians who unsuccessfully auditioned for the group was Stephen Stills. Had he been accepted, there would have been no Buffalo Springfield or Crosby, Stills & Nash. As it happened, Stills wound up recommending his then-roommate, Peter Tork, for the gig, and the rest is history.
A fanciful Alternate History timeline following Stills' acceptance into the Monkees (with cataclysmic consequences for a huge chunk of subsequent rock history) can be found here.
Another auditionee who received serious consideration was Van Dyke Parks. Who would Brian Wilson have collaborated with on Smile if Parks had become a Monkee? And the relationship between Parks and Don Kirshner would've been...interesting.
One of the reasons the show was canceled was a disagreement with the network over the show's format. The band felt that the sitcom format had grown stale and tried to sell NBC on a variety show, with skits and special musical guests. Considering that they'd already managed to work appearances by Tim Buckley and Frank Zappa into the second season, the latter could have been especially interesting.
The series was originally going to feature the real band The Lovin' Spoonful, but lead singer-songwriter John Sebastian had already signed the band to another label, which meant the producers of The Monkees couldn't distribute their music.
Nick Lowe was the first choice to produce Pool It! but he was too busy and had to turn down the offer. (The job went to Roger Bechirian, an engineer who had worked with Lowe, Elvis Costello and other performers.)