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Episode No. 11:

“Monkees A La Carte”

A gangster has taken over the boys' favorite Italian restaurant,
so they disguise themselves as The Purple Flower Gang.

Vital Stats, Credits and Releases On Home Video:

Production No. 4718
Filmed At: Screen Gems Studio 7, Hollywood, CA.
Filming Dates: August 9-12, 1966
Original Air Date: November 21, 1966
Ratings: 19.9 rating/33.1 share (10,930,000 viewers)
© Raybert Productions; 11-21-66; LP37614
Sponsor This Week:
Kellogg’s™
Rerun Dates: May 9, 1970, May 27, 1972 (CBS)

Written by Gerald Gardner & Dee Caruso and Bernie Orenstein.
Directed by James Frawley.
Produced by Robert Rafelson and Bert Schneider.
Associate Producer: Ward Sylvester.
Music Supervision: Don Kirshner.
Background Music Composed and Conducted by Stu Phillips.
“(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”, “She” Written & Produced by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart.
Guest cast:

Rocco.................................................................................Karl Lukas
Inspector............................................................................Dort Clark
Red..............................................................................Paul Sorenson
Flora...........................................................................Helene Winston
Paddy..................................................................................Jon Kowal
Benny............................................................................Mousy Garner
Pop...................................................................................Paul Deville
Policeman........................................................................Don Kennedy
Harvey Lembeck as Fuselli

Home Video Releases:

  • The Monkees - Volume 4 (Musicvision VHS #60715/Beta #20715, November 1986)
  • The Monkees: The Collector's Edition - VHS Tape #11 (Columbia House #13689, May 22, 1995)
  • The Monkees Deluxe Limited Edition Boxed Set - VHS Tape #7 (Rhino R3 2960, October 17, 1995)
  • Rhino VHS R3 2319 (April 11, 2000)
  • The Monkees - Season 1 DVD Boxed Set - Disc 2 (Rhino RetroVision DVD R2 976076, May 13, 2003)
  • The Monkees - Season 1 DVD Boxed Set - Disc 2 (Eagle Rock Entertainment DVD EM351359, September 27, 2011)
  • The Monkees - The Complete Series - Blu-Ray Disc 2 (Rhino BD2-552705, July 8, 2016)

Synopsis:

The Monkees are eating a three feet long submarine sandwich at Pop’s Restaurant where they work as waiters, when Fuselli, a gang boss, and Rocco, his torpedo, enter and begin browbeating Pop to sell him the place until he finally caves in and then throws him out. Then they fire the guys and when Rocco starts shoving them about David asserts himself only to wind up with a right cross to the jaw, sending all of them sprawling to the floor.

At a meeting, Michael, Micky, Peter and David determine to get the restaurant back for Pop, and Michael votes in favor for everyone. Then they show up at the place to reapply for their jobs as musicians; Fuselli is at first reluctant to rehire them, but agrees when they offer to work cheap. He doesn't hire them as musicians but instead sets them to work at everything from waiting on tables to cooking spaghetti and acting as hatcheck girls. He then puts them to the test at first by having Peter carry a tray containing a lot of dishes into the kitchen without breaking them which he successfully although he later breaks them in the kitchen. After they're hired, Fuselli in an attempt to intimidate the guys out of going to the police, demonstrates to them how the handle people they don’t like and sends Rocco to smack Peter. Then Micky retaliates by trying to show Fuselli how they handle people they don’t like and winds up smacking Peter too. Fuselli sends them off to work and the boys, having no experience whatsoever in any of their new jobs, wreck the entire soup kitchen in a hilarious musical sequence set to “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone.” They decide to get outside help and head for the police station. The police inspector agrees to help them and mentions that the only syndicate members captured so far are all four members of The Purple Flower Gang, and tells the guys they have to get the goods on the hoods, warning them of the dangers. But back at the restaurant, all of The Monkees’ attempts to link Fuselli to the syndicate miserably fail: David tries to get Fuselli’s fingerprints by powdering up a glass of liquor which he hands to the gangster, but he takes the glass with his other hand which is gloved; Micky records a tape of Fuselli’s conversation with Rocco and calls The Monkees over to listen, but finds he inadvertently recorded himself when he plays it back; and Michael tries to destroy a large safe in the office with dynamite, but ends up blowing up Fuselli’s desk and to hide their actions they quickly make the safe resemble a desk.

Later Fuselli who is planning a meeting with all members of the syndicate, orders the foursome to wait on tables. When the members arrive, they introduce themselves (having never seen each other before for self-protection reasons): Red O’Leary, (bank robbery-protection), Big Flora (fraud-extortion), Paddy The Fix (drugs-diamond smuggling) and Benny The Book (bookmaking-numbers), and soon the meeting begins as Fuselli orders The Monkees out of the room. The Monkees see this as an opportunity to employ a little quick-change magic, and they pose as The Purple Flower Gang. When Flora inquires about their wearing white carnations, Micky replies, “Y’know how tough it is t’get poiple flowahs, baby?!” But Peter nearly blows it for his mates when he insists on being served food and Fuselli calls out to the waiters for services, but the guys cover themselves by insisting on checking the food first to make sure it isn’t poisoned; they go into the kitchen where they select Peter to get help from the police. He manages to overcome Rocco the torpedo with a toy gun that pops up a sign saying “I Go”. He then escapes to Police HQ, where, since he is dressed as a member of the PFG, the inspector holds him for questioning. Meanwhile, Fuselli starts dividing up the crime operations among the mobsters by using a board containing a large map of the city, while Micky, Michael and David repeatedly quick-change from gangster to waiter to gangster to accommodate the guests.

After he’s finished, Michael and David intervene and complain about the split being unfair, and, with black paint, divvies up different crime operations to the mob in a tic-tac-toe pattern (which Michael wins), while Micky whispers in each mobster’s ear about suspicions of a double-cross, rousing up the mobsters’ ire. Then all heck breaks loose as the mobsters ends up tearing the map up and draw out their guns leading to a violent gunfight while Micky, Michael and David hide under the table. Micky stops the deadly gunfight long enough to allow a pretty girl enter, smile, and exit. (The director wanted to a pretty girl on the show.) Despite Micky's efforts to temper them, the entire syndicate knocks off each other, while Michael constantly defeats David as they continue playing tic-tac-toe---until David finally wins. By the end of the gunfight, Fuselli is the only one left alive until Benny The Book, barely alive, raises his slumped head long enough to gun him down (“You d-d-d-dirty rat!”) before he slumps over. Peter arrives with the police who arrests the other Monkees, thinking they are Purple Flower Gangsters and they are responsible for the lifeless mobsters strewn all over the room; a romp set to a reprise of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”concludes with the boys moaning as they pace in their cell. When Pop returns and tells the boys to play like the used to, the boys end with a musical number: “She.”

Production Notes:

“Monkees A La Carte” originally ended with Pop stopping The Monkees from rehearsing another musical number and ordering them to act as cooks, dishwashers, delivery boys and bouncers.

The set which was used as Pop's restaurant here was first used as The Ritz Swank Hotel ballroom in Episode No. 1, “The Royal Flush”. It was later used as a room for a seance in No. 2, “Monkee See, Monkee Die”, and a discotheque in No. 5, “The Spy Who Came In From The Cool” , and it will be used as the interior of Renaldo's Dance Au Go-Go in No. 14, “Dance, Monkee, Dance”, Madame Roselle (Elizabeth Camp)'s party in No. 16, “The Son Of A Gypsy”, a banquet for Prof. Schnitzler (Norbert Schiller) in No. 17, “The Case Of The Missing Monkee”, a bandstand in Dr. Mendoza (John Hoyt)'s castle in No. 18, “I Was A Teenage Monster”, Prince Ludlow (David Jones/Rodney Bingemheimer)'s throneroom in No. 21,“The Prince And The Paupers”, a kiddie TV show set in No. 23, “Captain Crocodile”, the advertisers’ banquet in No. 24, “Monkees A La Mode”, a hotel suite for King Hassar (Monte Landis) in No. 35, "Everywhere A Sheik Sheik", an art museum in No. 37, "Art For Monkee's Sake", a gambling casino in No. 46, "The Monkees On The Wheel", a department store in No. 47, "The Monkees Christmas Show", the setting for The Secretary (Pat Paulsen)'s speech in No. 49, "The Monkees Watch Their Feet", a nightclub in No. 51, “The Monkees Paw,” and No. 57, “The Monkees Blow Their Minds,” and the stage in the KXIW-TV studio for The Rockathon Contest emceed by Jerry Blavat in No. 56, "Some Like It Lukewarm" (a.k.a. "The Band Contest").

This is one of 2 episodes of The Monkees this season to feature the words "A La"; the second is No. 24, “Monkees A La Mode”.

The Boyce-Hart tune “She” is featured here and in Episode No. 22, “The Monkees At The Circus,” in an alternate mix with more audible backing vocals and different organ parts.

At the beginning of the tag sequence, listen for a brief snippet of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” as Pop orders The Monkees to play for him, preceding the “She” musical number.

Stu Phillips taped background music stings for this and the next episode, “I've Got A Little Song Here”, on Thursday, November 3, 1966.

“Monkees A La Carte” is one of 27 episodes of The Monkees not to be redubbed with new music for repeats on NBC in summer 1967 and CBS/ABC Saturday Afternoon; others are “Too Many Girls” (a.k.a. "Davy And Fern"), “The Son Of A Gypsy”, “Find The Monkees” (a.k.a. "The Audition"), “The Monkees At The Circus”, “Monkees A La Mode”, “Alias Micky Dolenz”, “Monkee Mother”, “The Monkees At The Movies”, "It's A Nice Place To Visit...", "The Picture Frame" (a.k.a. "The Bank Robbery"), "Everywhere A Sheik Sheik", "Monkee Mayor", "Art For Monkee's Sake", "I Was A 99-lb. Weakling" (a.k.a. "Physical Culture"), "Hillbilly Honeymoon" (a.k.a. "Double Barrel Shotgun Wedding"), "The Card-Carrying Red Shoes", "The Monkees In Texas", "The Monkees On The Wheel", "The Monkees Christmas Show", "Fairy Tale", "The Monkees Watch Their Feet", "The Monkee's Paw", "The Monkees Race Again" (a.k.a. "Leave The Driving To Us"), "The Monkees Mind Their Manor", "Some Like It Lukewarm" (a.k.a. "The Band Contest") and "The Monkees Blow Their Minds"

Equipment visibility:

Wires are seen when Peter lets go of the stack of plates and they're suspended in the air for a moment.

Trivia Notes:

“Monkees A La Carte” is the first of 3 Monkees segments featuring The Monkees mixing with The Mob; the other 2 are No. 25, “Alias Micky Dolenz”, and No. 46, "The Monkees On The Wheel".

“(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” appears here and in Episode No. 5, “The Spy Who Came In From The Cool”, and No. 17, "The Case Of The Missing Monkee," in a slightly extended version found only on the mono version of The Monkees second LP, More Of The Monkees.

“Monkees A La Carte” incorporates footage from Episode No. 6, “The Success Story”, No. 7, “The Monkees In A Ghost Town”, No. 10, “Here Come The Monkees” (Original Pilot Film), and the next episode, “I've Got A Little Song Here”.

The Purple Flower Gang is based loosely on The Purple Cross Gang, a group of bank robbers which appeared in the comic strip Dick Tracy, who had purple crosses tattooed on their tongues.

“Monkees A La Carte” is the third in a line of Monkees episodes whose soundtrack is entirely comprised of tunes written by the team of Boyce & Hart, behind No. 4, “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers” and “Here Come The Monkees” (Original Pilot Film).

Guest Cast Notes:

Making the first of three appearances as a law official on The Monkees TV series is late character actor Dort Clark; the other two include a Sergeant in Episode No. 34, "The Picture Frame" and a Policeman in Episode No. 46, "The Monkees On The Wheel." Clark also portrayed cops in such films as Close-Up (Eagle-Lion, 1948), Bells Are Ringing (MGM, 1960), and Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex * But Were Afraid To Ask (United Artists, 1972, which also featured Monkee director Sidney Miller [“I Was A Teenage Monster”] and Monkee guest alum Oscar Beregi Jr. [“The Prince And The Paupers”]), as well as the short-lived drama A Time To Live (NBC, 1954).

The late Harvey Lembeck (Fuselli) was best known for his portrayal of Baron Eric Von Zipper in Bikini Beach (American International, 1964, which starred future HEAD co-star Annette Funicello) and its sequels, and to fans of The Phil Silvers Show (CBS, 1955-59), as Corporal Rocco Barbella. Lembeck also turned up as Eagle-Eye in a March 23-24, 1966 episode of Batman (ABC, 1966), "The Penguin Goes Straight/Not Yet He Ain't" (#8723), whose Special Guest Villain, Burgess Meredith (as The Penguin himself), would cameo in Episode No. 57, "The Monkees Blow Their Minds".

Karl Lukas (Rocco) is another alumni from The Phil Silvers Show; he is best remembered for his role on the series as Private Stash Kadowski. Lukas later appeared with “Monkees A La Carte” co-guest star Paul Sorenson in the December 12, 1968 episode of Bewitched (ABC, 1964-72), "I Don't Want To Be A Toad, I Want To Be A Butterfly," and appeared with Monkee guest actor Arch Johnson (“The Chaperone”) in a March 18, 1971 episode of the series, "Money Happy Returns."

Paul Sorenson (Red O'Leary) was with Monkee guest Rex Holman ("The Monkees In Texas") in the guest cast of the September 30, 1969 episode of The Mod Squad (ABC, 1968-73), "My Name Is Manolette." He is best remembered for his role as Andy Bradley in the TV series Dallas (CBS, 1978-91). He has a brief role as Captain of The Merchantship in the film Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (Paramount, 1984). Sorenson and “Monkees A La Carte” co-guest star John Kowal both previously turned up in the September 19, 1966 episode of The Iron Horse (ABC, 1966-68), "The Dynamite Driver."

Star Trek fans will also recognise John Kowal (Paddy The Fix) as Herm Gossett in the October 13, 1966 episode "Mudd's Women" (#6149-04).

The late Paul "Mousie" Garner (Benny The Book), "The Grand Old Man Of Vaudeville," was the only Vaudeville headliner who still performed into the 21st century, and was the sole surviving member of Ted Healy's original Three Stooges act. Still performing in Las Vegas, Garner was born in 1909 - and thus experienced 16 Presidents in his lifetime. His stage debut came in 1913, at the age of 4, imitating Al Jolson in his father's musical comedy act. Garner entertained soldiers in World War I and joined Moe Howard and Larry Fine as the third Stooge when Shemp Howard was unable to perform; he thus performed through all itinerations of the long-running slapstick act. He also performed with Spike Jones - and thus he acquired 2 Stars on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, for his work with The Stooges and for his days with Spike Jones. In World War II he served as a Technical Sergeant and was wounded in North Africa. He has appeared on Broadway as well as TV, movies, and radio. Sadly, Paul Garner and "Monkees A La Carte" co-guest Heline Winston both have passed on in 2004, within months of each other.

And positively the most important note of all:

This is the first of the only two episodes of the entire Monkees series in which characters actually buy the farm! (Episode No. 35, "Everywhere A Sheik Sheik", in which Shazer [Noam Pitlik] expires after tasting poisoned meat which was about to be fed to Peter, is #2.)

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