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Episode No. 26:

“Monkee Chow Mein”

The Monkees tangle with a Red Chinese spy ring when
Peter takes the wrong fortune cookie.

Vital Stats, Credits and Releases On Home Video:

Production No. 4735
Filmed At: Screen Gems Studios, Hollywood, CA.
Filming Dates: January 2-6, 1967
Original Air Date: March 13, 1967
Ratings: 21 rating/34.1 share (11,530,000 viewers)
© Raybert Productions; 3-13-67; LP37975
Sponsor This Week:
Kellogg’s™
Rerun Dates: July 31, 1967 (NBC); October 17, 1970, April 10, 1971, July 29, 1972 (CBS)

Written by Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso
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.
“Your Auntie Grizelda” Written byJack Keller & Diane Hilderbrand; Produced by Jack Keller & Jeff Barry
Guest cast:

Toto.........................................................................Gene Dynarski
Agent Modell................................................................Mike Farrell
Chang........................................................................Kay Shimatsu
Dave Barry as Inspector Blount
Joey Forman as Dragonman

Original Commercials This Week:

  • Kellogg’s™ Raisin Bran (:30)
  • Slickeringo by Yardley (1:00)
  • Kellogg’s™ Sugar Frosted Flakes (with Tony The Tiger) (:30)
  • Kellogg’s™ Pop Tarts (:30)
  • The Monkees for Kellogg’s™ Rice Krispies (:30)

Home Video Releases:

  • The Monkees: The Collector's Edition - VHS Tape #11 (Columbia House #VHS 13689, May 22, 1995)
  • The Monkees Deluxe Limited Edition Boxed Set - VHS Tape #7 (Rhino R3 2960, October 17, 1995)
  • Rhino VHS R3 2241 (June 18, 1996)
  • The Monkees - Season 1 DVD Boxed Set - Disc 5 (Rhino RetroVision DVD R2 976076, May 13, 2003)
  • The Monkees - Season 1 DVD Boxed Set - Disc 5 (Eagle Rock Entertainment DVD EM351359, September 27, 2011)
  • The Monkees - The Complete Series - Blu-Ray Disc 4 (Rhino BD2-552705, July 8, 2016)

Synopsis:

The Monkees are dining at the China Boy Club Chinese restaurant where Peter takes egg rolls and puts them in a doggy bag to bring home to a dog (that they don't have!). Unbeknownst to them, The China Boy Club is in actuality a front for spies who hide messages in fortune cookies! In the back room, The Dragonman informs his sidekick Toto about a formula for a “Doomsday Bug,” a vicious green-spotted, hairy-legged, 200-eyed germ cell that is being hidden in the fortune cookies for Red Chinese agents in the restaurant posing as customers to collect and distribute to their Asian masters. While Toto takes a plate of fortune cookies to the spies, Peter who's now collecting fortune cookies and he mistakenly takes a cookie Toto has containing part of the formula and when he's surrounded by foreign spies, Michael drags him away and soon the guys are chased out of the restaurant by the spies but they manage to elude pursuit by using a newspaper to hide behind. To make matters worse, a man approaches them at gunpoint and orders them into a car that speeds off.

Michael, Micky and David are being interrogated by the man, who's Central Intelligence Service operative Agent Modell at CIS Headquarters. Inspector Blount enters with Peter impressed with his obtaining the formula he picked up earlier and claims the guys are clean. He reports The Doomsday Bug is the CIS' warfare branch's most powerful chemical, and shows them a large photograph of it which looks like a tarantula! Apparently the CIS have been trying to learn the ID of the master of the spy ring (the #2 man being The Dragonman), and now wish to enlist The Monkees’ help in rounding up the spies. However, they decline, so Blount warns them of the impending danger since The Dragonman knows Peter took the formula and may come looking for him. At The China Boy Club, as The Dragonman shows the exact same photo of The Doomsday Bug, informs his henchmen Toto and Chang that they need to get the 1/4 of the formula back from Peter. That night, Michael puts all the locks on the door before going to bed since they're still jumpy about Inspector Blount’s warning. Then Toto and Chang arrive with a bag and rope and they mistakenly abduct Mr. Schneider, their pet dummy. Then they return only this time they snatch Micky by mistake. Micky’s abduction finally scares Peter, Michael and David into helping Blount and Modell at CIS HQ. The inspector reassures them they're safe—and that’s in spite of a little Chinese boy enters and takes a photograph of them before exiting! Later that day, Michael and David find a large letter from Peter explaining his guilt over Micky's abduction and his plans on going confronting The Dragonman and getting him back, and the two start after him. When The Dragonman learns of Peter's arrival, he sends Chang and Toto to fetch him and while he's sitting at table to order, he suggests Plan A or B, which Chang declares are unavailable. Chang offers Peter “Plan C”—which entails the latter being clunked unconscious by a large gavel.

With both Peter and Micky tied and gagged, they are threatened with torture, first by a pack of ants in an ant farm then by The Chinese Ice Torture, where a dagger is suspended by a rope over the victim's throat and tied to a clunk of ice, and as the ice melts the dagger inches closer and closer to the victim's throat! Meanwhile, Michael and David attempt twice to enter the restaurant by disguising themselves as inspectors from Food and Drug Administration and Italian restaurateurs only to be thrown out. Finally they decide that this is a job for Monkeemen and resort to using a phonebooth to change into superhero costumes; as an old lady watches, they reemerge in Monkeeman garb wearing Clark Kent glasses. After Micky and Peter admit to knowing nothing just being mere musicians, The Dragonman considers just killing them but he decides to give them a chance to escape by giving them a minute to choose which one of 4 doors (3 of which marked for death!) will lead to freedom. After leaving, the two try the first 3 doors, which prove to be futile: one has a monster behind it, the second, a sea monster, and the third a cannonball. Micky and Peter choose the 4th and final door, convinced it's the one to freedom; unfortunately, instead the whole gaggle of Red Chinese spies are waiting on the other end, and they emerge, with the ringleader, The Dragonman, ordering their death (he admits didn't say it would positively lead to freedom!).

Suddenly, Michael and David, The Monkeemen, cometh, knocking down the door. David does psychological warfare on Toto giving insults but when Toto retaliates, Michael takes over and succeeds in subduing Toto. In order to distract the villains, Michael pretends to have The Doomsday Bug tossing it on the scared villains as a means of a diversion while they escape, which fails. The Dragonman realizing it was a trick sends his henchmen after them, and in the musical chase set to “Your Auntie Grizelda” that ensues, The Monkees take on all comers, including gorillas, mobs of teenage fans, and chickens. The boys stuff cotton in their ears and use a gong in self-defense, and when the CIS arrives all combatants are shaking to the vibrations from the gong. The spies are rounded up and Blount expresses the country’s gratitude.After their plight, the guys becoming hungry decide to eat some of the Chinese food. However, Peter opens another fortune cookie and reads a secret note giving spy instructions to which Micky, David and Michael grab Peter and drag him out of the restaurant.

First Rule of A La Spy Organization:

“He Who Eat Cookie—Screw Up Formula Somethin' Terrible!”

Production Notes:

The Monkees put their concert tour on hiatus to film "Monkee Chow Mein" and Episode No. 24, “Monkees A La Mode”.

Ed Walsh is given credit in Screen Gems' original storyline for "Monkee Chow Mein" as Policeman, but never in the end credits of the actually aired segment.

Deleted from the final cut of “Monkee Chow Mein” is a battle involving charging rhinoceroses and whooping Indians, the ants breaking loose and causing the combatants to scratch busily, and an alternate ending in which the boys are arrested for changing clothes in a public phonebooth! (Blount cannot help them, however, for his work is top-secret.)

“Your Auntie Grizelda” was replaced by "Words" on “Monkee Chow Mein”'s soundtrack when the episode reaired on NBC in July 1967.

Footage of the exploding cannon from Episode No. 16, “The Son Of A Gypsy” (which is used by David to fire a small cannonball into the mouth of Marco [Vincent Beck]), is edited into “Monkee Chow Mein” in the scene where Micky opens one of the 4 doors.

Blooper:

When everybody starts chasing each other through the three doors, a Chinese lantern at the top left of the screen disappears between cuts. 

Trivia Notes:

In this episode, Peter puts egg rolls and fortune cookies in a doggy bag to bring home to a dog which they don't have. This isn't the first time The Monkees are associated with dogs. In Episode No. 8, “Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth”, Micky's imitation of a werewolf leads their landlord Mr. Babbitt to believe they're keeping a dog. A future episode, No. 29, “The Monkees Get Out More Dirt”, sees Michael fib to his mates about getting some dog food so he can sneak off to see April Conquest. Episode No. 57, "The Monkees Blow Their Minds", ends with The Monkees, The Great Oraculo and Rudi engaging in a dog act. A person in a dog costume can be seen dancing about at the end of several romps in the 1997 ABC-TV reunion special Hey Hey It's The Monkees. And leave us not forget that memorable romp between Monkees and mongrels set to “Gonna Buy Me A Dog” in No. 12, “I've Got A Little Song Here”!

Peter promises David his new sportsjacket should he be captured and killed. In Episode No. 47, "The Monkees Christmas Show", Peter (in backstory) is seen giving David a sportjacket (ill-fitting) as a Xmas present. 

This is the second time the Central Intelligence Service (CIS) has enlisted The Monkees' help in defending their country; the first time was, naturally, in Episode No. 5, "The Spy Who Came In From The Cool."

Under the powerful grip of The Chinese Ice Torture, Micky and Peter run through a whiney rendition of Boyce & Hart's “Last Train To Clarksville”.

At one point Mr. Schneider can be heard quoting "It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all!", which is based on Section 27, Stanza 4 of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem In Memoriam. Also, Peter makes reference to the closing lines of Charles Dickens' A Tale Of Two Cities (spoken by Sydney Carton) at the end of his note to Michael and David: "It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done before." We never see Dragonman's agents return Mr. Schneider, yet the next day (after they realize Micky's gone), he's sitting in his chair!

In another scene, Toto and Dragonman make a swipe at Charles Perrault's 1697 fairytale Little Red Riding Hood ("But Master, why does bug have so many eyes?" "The better to see you with, my boy!"), something which, 10 episodes ago, in No. 16, “The Son Of A Gypsy”, The Monkees also made reference to. And David Jones can be briefly seen as Little Red Riding Hood in No. 48, "Fairy Tale".

There are three references to Get Smart in “Monkee Chow Mein” (four if you count the fact Joey Forman is made-up to look like his Get Smart character), all of them concerning lines of dialogue:

Micky: Is Gary Cooper Chinese?
Michael: No.
Micky: Then we're being followed.

This is a reference to the September 25, 1965 Get Smart episode "Diplomat's Daughter" (the first episode to air in color) where Maxwell Smart asks the Chief of CONTROL if Abraham Lincoln was Chinese, and then saying that he thinks that he and 99 are being followed. (This line comes after Michael mentions passing a wax museum on their way home; the wax museum adds pretext to why Micky would ask if Gary Cooper is Chinese.)

Dragonman: So! He [Peter] has fallen in my crutches!
Micky: Your crutches?!
Dragonman: Not my crutches, my crutches!
This is a reference to the KAOS villain The Claw (played by the late Leonard Strong) who always pronounced the letter 'l' as the letter 'r'.

Micky reacts when Dragonman mentions The Chinese Ice Torture as if he knows what it is, but then both him and Peter ask Dragonman what The Chinese Ice Torture is, a reference to an oft-quoted line, spoken by Maxwell Smart.

A previous Monkee reference to "Diplomat's Daughter" can be spotted in a scene from "The Spy Who Came In From The Cool," where the discotheque dancers using Karate on each other thinking a new dance step has been added (having witnessed Madame Olinsky [Arlene Martel] do so on Michael) parallels the bit wherein 86 and 99 karatechops the bad guys as if it was part of their dancing. Coincidentally, all 3 installments (in addition to this one, "Monkee Chow Mein") were written by Gardner and Caruso! 

The final scene which finds Peter opening his fortune cooky and reading the secret note is in homage to Mission: Impossible (CBS, 1966–73). Another Monkees episode to use a reference to Mission: Impossible is No. 37, "Art For Monkee's Sake", whose director, Alex Singer, would go on to helm 5 episodes of Mission: "The Seal" (Nov. 5, 1967), "The Heir Apparent" (Sept. 29, 1968), "The Execution" (Nov. 10, 1968), "The Freeze" (Dec. 22, 1968), and "The Exchange" (Jan. 5, 1969).

Note of irony: 9 episodes ago, in No. 17, “The Case Of The Missing Monkee”, David expresses his dislike of Chinese restaurants and, in a kind of foreshadowing of “Monkee Chow Mein”'s events, his reason why ("One hour after you eat there, you disappear!"). Yet here, as he dines with his fellow mates at The China Boy Club, he has an unprecedented change of heart!

This is the only Monkees episode which sees Michael Nesmith donning a Monkeeman costume.

The gag of Micky and Peter choosing doors for a means of escape is a satirical jab at the Stefan Hatos-Monty Hall game show Let's Make A Deal (NBC/ABC/Syndicated, 1963–77).

The gong The Monkees use to subdue The Dragonman and his minions is reused by Mendrek The Magician (Hans Conreid) in Episode No. 51, "The Monkee's Paw".

The Pontiac sedan that the guys are forced into at the end of the teaser to "Monkee Chow Mein" is the very same car that Micky pulls up next to in the teaser of the previous episode “Alias Micky Dolenz”

The Chinese-themed "Monkee Chow Mein" aired on NBC during The Chinese New Year of 1967, The Year of The Sheep.

Guest Cast Notes:

In 1975, Mike Farrell (seen here as Agent Modell) would go on to portray Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt, replacing Capt. "Trapper" John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers) as sidekick of Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce (Alan Alda), on M*A*S*H (CBS, 1972-83). Coincidentally, M*A*S*H also featured Monkee guest actors Kelly Jean Peters (“Too Many Girls” [a.k.a. "Davy And Fern"]), Eldon Quick (“Monkees A La Mode”), Hamilton Camp (“The Monkees At The Movies”) and Michael Bell ("Art For Monkee's Sake") in guest roles, and Peter Tork would make a brief mention of M*A*S*H in the 1997 60-minute ABC-TV special Hey Hey It's The Monkees

You may recognize the man behind the sinister Dragonman - the late Joey Forman - from his role in Episode No. 23, "Captain Crocodile," as its namesake protagonist. Forman is best remembered for his roles as Freddie in The Mickey Rooney Show (a.k.a. Hey, Mulligan, NBC, 1954-55), Harry Hoo in Get Smart (NBC/CBS, 1965-70), and Dr. Sam Nolan in The Joey Bishop Show (NBC/CBS, 1961-65). He was also another Monkee guest actor to be seen in a guest role on M*A*S*H, as comedian Jackie Flash in its first season finale, "Showtime" (#J324, Mar. 25, 1973). Among Forman's other roles was alongside Micky Dolenz in the 1976 movie Linda Lovelace For President (as Chow Ming) and also as Walter Winchell in the May 19, 1980 TV movie The Scarlet O'Hara War, which also featured Monkees guest alumni George Furth (“One Man Shy” [a.k.a. "Peter And The Debutante"] and "A Coffin Too Frequent"). Forman appeared as Agent 13 in the ill-fated big-screen Get Smart vehicle The Nude Bomb (Universal, 1980), which also featured Monkees guest alumni Ceil Cabot (“The Royal Flush”, “The Success Story”) and Vito Scotti (“The Case Of The Missing Monkee”, HEAD). 

The late Dave Barry (Inspector Blount) worked in Las Vegas as the opening act for many of the top performers. 

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