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YMMV / The Monkees

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The show contains examples of:

  • Bizarro Episode: Even for a show known for madcap absurdism, "Mijacogeo"/"The Frodis Caper" sticks out with its completely surreal tone.
    • Then, of course, there's Head.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Peter Tork. Despite playing "the dumb one" on the show and making only a handful of vocal appearances on the original albums, Peter is beloved in the fandom, because of his witty, self-effacing personality, his candid remembrances of The '60s, and his inspiring life story (his recovery from substance abuse and later struggles with cancer). At one point in The '80s he had more individual fan clubs devoted to him than any of the other Monkees.
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    • Mike Nesmith appears to be the favorite among younger fans in The New '10s. Especially notable in that Mike never got an individual episode dedicated to him having a love interest because he was already married in real life, but it seems Millenials and Gen Z love his status as the Team Dad. (It also helps that the real life Michael Nesmith likes to keep up on current trends and is a fan of Vaporware)
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In "The Spy Who Came in from the Cool," Mike tells Peter that they're forming a trio without him. Of course, Mike was joking, but in 1968 Peter would be the first member to leave the group.
    • And in "Monstrous Monster Mash," when they can't find Davy, Micky says that they could form a trio and then a duo when Peter disappears. Davy Jones passed away in 2012, and in 2018 Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz announced that they would tour as a duo (Peter wanted to focus on other projects and decided to officially retire as a Monkee). Tork's death in February, 2019 left Mike and Micky with no choice but to be a duo, eerily fulfilling the episode's prediction.
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  • Fair for Its Day: The depiction of Chinese characters in "Monkee Chow Mein" would likely be considered appallingly racist if the episode were released today; however, in early 1967, it wasn't seen as problematic. This also applies to other ethnic stereotypes featured in the show, such as Travellers and Mexicans.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: "The Devil and Peter Tork" is considered a series highlight for both Peter and director James Frawley (who got an Emmy nomination for the episode). Frawley and Tork died almost exactly a month apart in early 2019.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The smooth-talking manager in "Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers" is named Trump.
  • Ho Yay: Mainly between Mike and Micky.
  • Padding: Whenever an episode came up short in editing, Bob Rafelson would do a short interview with the boys to fill out the necessary run time. In fact, in the first episode to air, Mike is asked what he thought of the episode and he quips how short it was. It's also referenced in an alternate outtake version of "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)" where Peter does vocal interjections between verses.
    Ladies and gentlemen, this part of our record is here because if it weren’t, the record would be seventeen seconds too short, and we would have to do an interview at the end.
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  • Referenced by...: Uncle Croc's Block, by the "Captain Crocodile" episode.
  • Vindicated by History: Clever writing and good music has given the Monkees staying power regardless of their so-called "fake band" origins.
  • The Woobie: Peter.

The band's real-life career contains examples of:

  • And You Thought It Would Fail:
    • Michael Nesmith's reaction to "I'm a Believer" was, "I'm a songwriter and that's no hit".
    • Many people did not think that "Daydream Believer" would be popular. It had been turned down by Spanky and Our Gang as well as We Five (despite songwriter John Stewart's brother being a member of the band!), and even Davy Jones was "pissed off" about recording the song. His vocals show a hint of annoyance at the ongoing takes.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: May 1968. The TV show is off the air, and every single they've released up to this point has made the Top 3. Obviously, their next single is going to be crucial in establishing whether The Monkees can sustain a music career even without TV exposure. So what do they release? "D.W. Washburn", a Dixieland Jazz-flavored song about how much fun it is to be a homeless alcoholic. It's a Leiber and Stoller song, so it's not bad, but still, it was so out-of-place not only for The Monkees, but pop music in general. The executive who chose the song for the group was said to have instantly regretted the decision. The single limped to #19 in Billboard, was their last Top 40 hit until 1986, and didn't even get released on an album until the 80s.
  • Covered Up:
    • "I'm A Believer", first made famous by The Monkees (Neil Diamond recorded his version a few months after The Monkees), and then much later, brought back into the mainstream by Smash Mouth.
    • "That Was Then, This Is Now" brought the Monkees back to the Top 40 during their '80s revival. It was originally written and recorded by a now-obscure '80s pop band called The Mosquitos.
    • Several of the Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart songs were recorded by other groups first, such as "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" (Paul Revere and the Raiders) and "Words" (The Leaves).
    • The Paul Butterfield Blues Band recorded and released the Nesmith composition "Mary Mary" before The Monkees did. The early pressings of their East-West album didn't include a songwriting credit, leading fans to assume it was either a Butterfield original or an old blues song. After the Monkees version came out, properly credited to Michael Nesmith, Nesmith was accused of stealing credit for his own song.
    • "Do It In The Name of Love", the last song released by Micky and Davy before they split up in 1971, became a Top 20 R&B hit for Candi Staton a couple years later.
    • "I'll Be True to You" was originally released by The Hollies under the title "Yes I Will". However, their version was not a hit in the US, and American listeners are more familiar with the Monkees' version.
  • Critical Research Failure: The two main knocks against them in The '60s were: The Monkees relied on session musicians (so did The Beach Boys and, to a lesser extent, The Byrds), and they were a manufactured group, i.e. a bunch of guys thrown together for the express purpose of making money (so were The Byrds—again, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience).
  • Dork Age:
    • In the 70s, we have Micky Dolenz's "glam rock disaster."
    • The 1987-89 period isn't considered one of their finer moments. The anticipated reunion album Pool It! was disappointing, with a few good moments buried in a pile of We're Still Relevant, Dammit! misfires (like a Davy-sung Reggae song called "She's Movin' in with Rico"). Concerts went from ambitious multimedia shows featuring lots of deep cuts from the original albums to Greatest Hits-heavy with stale banter between Davy, Micky and Peter. There were also Vaporware plans for movies and albums that never happened. Micky himself got fed up and basically quit, putting the band on hiatus for a few years.
  • Ear Worm: Too many to list.
  • Epic Riff: "Last Train to Clarksville", "Pleasant Valley Sunday", "As We Go Along" (an unusual acoustic ballad example, with a flute doubling up the guitar riff before the second verse).
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: After their initial success waned in the US, they still remained popular in Japan and Australia. They had a successful tour in those places in late 1968, and various combinations of the four Monkees toured there in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Growing the Beard: The 1967-68 psychedelic period, when they began taking more control of their musical activities, and their music became more complex and varied as a result.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Micky was in a pre-Monkees band called The Missing Links. Even funnier after they made the 33 & 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee TV special, which featured Charles Darwin as a character.
    • Anticipating The White Album and Spinal Tap, a 1967 New Musical Express article reported Micky's rejected idea for the cover of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, Ltd.
    Black! That's what I want. I want the whole sleeve black--black, black, black!
  • Narm: "The Day We Fall in Love" from More of the Monkees would otherwise be your typical schmaltzy Davy Jones ballad, but in this one, Davy speaks the lyrics instead of singing them. He had recorded a similar "spoken word" love song on his 1965 pre-Monkees solo album, David Jones called "Theme For a New Love," possibly the reason why "The Day We Fall In Love" was chosen to be included on the album. It's commonly considered by fans to be one of the worst songs the band released.
  • Never Live It Down: Mention The Monkees and several people will comment on the fact that they didn't play on the albums. Despite the fact that they were furious when they were told that they couldn't record (Mike Nesmith reportedly punched a hole in the wall while arguing about it), despite that they eventually got creative control over their music, and despite that they were vindicated by history multiple times, some people still remember The Monkees as that one band that didn't play their own instruments, even incorrectly assuming that they couldn't play at all, or play well.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: A few of their songs were meant to sound like hits by other artists; some of the songwriters have even admitted that this was done intentionally.
    • "(Theme From) The Monkees" = "Catch Us If You Can" by The Dave Clark Five
    • "Last Train to Clarksville" = "Paperback Writer" by The Beatlesnote 
    • "Let's Dance On" = "Good Lovin' " by The Rascals
    • "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" = "Cherry, Cherry" by Neil Diamond (which makes sense, as Diamond wrote both songs)
    • "Your Auntie Grizelda" = "19th Nervous Breakdown" by The Rolling Stones (Peter Tork's comic vocal masks it a bit, but the songs are structured very similarly)
    • "Sunny Girlfriend" = "It's All Over Now" (originally by The Valentinos, Covered Up by The Rolling Stones)
    • "Salesman" = "She's About a Mover" by The Sir Douglas Quintet
    • "Daydream Believer" = "Happy Together" by The Turtles (the melodies are much different, but producer Chip Douglas had arranged "Happy Together" and re-used its basic formula on "Daydream Believer": simple, calm verse leading into a rousing, intense chorus).
    • "Goin' Down" = "Parchman Farm" by Mose Allison (which they freely admitted to)
    • "Porpoise Song" = "Strawberry Fields Forever" by The Beatles
    • "Me Without You" = "Your Mother Should Know" by The Beatles
      • "Cuddly Toy" also sounds a lot like "Your Mother Should Know", but they were recorded and released around the same time. "Good Day Sunshine" seems to be the Beatles song that was the model for "Cuddly Toy".
    • "Teardrop City" = "Last Train to Clarksville". Yes, they imitated their own earlier hit.
    • They've also been on the receiving end. "The Letter" by The Box Tops was at least partly inspired by "I'm a Believer". Smash Mouth's "Then the Morning Comes" sounds a bit like "Love to Love". Normally, you'd say that sounding like an obscure Monkees song written by Neil Diamond is just a coincidence, until you remember that this is a group who had a big hit with a Cover Version of "I'm a Believer".
  • Vindicated by History: The show was relatively popular and well-received in The '60s (even winning two Emmys), and their records were top-sellers, but after the group was "discovered" to have been manufactured, anyone who wanted to look remotely hip or intellectual completely disavowed them. A couple decades later, an MTV marathon of the show and Rhino's re-releases of their albums incited renewed interest in the Monkees' music. As the story of the band's successful overthrow of their musical puppet-masters became more widely known, and the legitimate innovations and influences became more apparent (Michael Nesmith, for example, should probably share credit with Gram Parsons for inventing country rock), they finally started getting some critical respect for the music they made post-overthrow.
  • The Woobie: Peter left the group fearing that his time with the band had irreparably damaged his reputation as a legitimate musician. Micky once responded to an interviewer's remark about being lucky to survive the whole surreal experience unscathed with "Peter didn't".
  • Yoko Oh No:
    • Micky reportedly allowed his then-wife Trina to have major input in the song-selection process for the 1987 reunion album Pool It!. One label executive later cited this as one of the reasons the album bombed.
    • Jessica Pacheco, Davy's third wife (and eventual widow), joined the band onstage during their 45th anniversary tour in 2011 for some flamenco dance routines, drawing the ire of fans (and allegedly, bandmates). After his death, negative rumors about her relationship with him, plus her legal battles with his children over his estate, lowered her reputation among fans even more. One blogger wrote that she "could give [Don] Kirshner a run for the money in the Worst Monkee Villain Ever competition."


Example of: