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Episode No. 22:

“The Monkees At The Circus”

To save a bankrupt circus, The Monkees pose as a troupe
of dazzling, supreme high-wire artists from France.

Vital Stats, Credits and Releases On Home Video:

Production No. 4706
Filmed At: Screen Gems Studio 9, Hollywood, CA.
Filming Dates: December 9 (8:00am), 12-13, 1966
Original Air Date: February 13, 1967
Ratings: 22 rating/33.3 share (12,080,000 viewers)
© Raybert Productions; 2-13-67; LP37673
Sponsor This Week:
Kellogg’s™
Rerun Date: July 17, 1971 (CBS)

Written by David Panich
Directed by Bruce Kessler
Produced by Robert Rafelson and Bert Schneider
Associate Producer: Ward Sylvester
Music Supervision: Don Kirshner
Background Music Composed and Conducted by Stu Phillips.
“She” Written & Produced by
Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart
“Sometime In The Morning” Written by Gerry Goffin & Carole King; Produced by Jeff Barry
Guest cast:

Susan.......................................................................Donna Baccala
Pop............................................................................Forrest Lewis
Sword Swallower........................................................Carl Carlsson
Juggler......................................................................Ruth Carlsson
Strong Man............................................................Gene Rutherford
Midget.............................................................................Felix Silla
Richard Devon as Victor

Original Commercials This Week:

  • Kellogg’s™ Corn Flakes (:30)
  • Slicker Lip Polish by Yardley (:45)
  • Eyelighter by Yardley (:15)
  • Kellogg’s™ Pop Tarts (:30)
  • Kellogg’s™ Raisin Bran (:30)
  • The Monkees for Kellogg’s™ Rice Krispies (:30)

Home Video Releases:

  • The Monkees: The Collector's Edition - VHS Tape #5 (Columbia House #13227, May 22, 1995)
  • The Monkees Deluxe Limited Edition Boxed Set - VHS Tape #5 (Rhino R3 2960, October 17, 1995)
  • Rhino VHS R3 2240 (June 18, 2000)
  • The Monkees - Season 1 DVD Boxed Set - Disc 4 (Rhino RetroVision DVD R2 976076, May 13, 2003)
  • The Monkees - Season 1 DVD Boxed Set - Disc 4 (Eagle Rock Entertainment DVD EM351359, September 27, 2011)
  • The Monkees - The Complete Series - Blu-Ray Disc 3 (Rhino BD2-552705, July 8, 2016)

Synopsis:

During a nice, quiet drive in The Monkeemobile, The Monkees invade Arcady Circus, saddling up and making ready to thrill yet another crowd with another show. They sneak into the tent fool around with its equipment reminiscing about the circus, until Victor, a maniacal knifethrower, arrives and sadistically uses David as a target, warns the guys that they’re trespassing and orders the boys to leave or he'll call the police; Micky responds, "You do and I'll be sorry!" A traumatized David then chides Michael for not intervening when Victor assailed him with knives; Michael says he didn't want to antagonize Vic...who, off-camera, tosses yet another near-missing knife at David!

The boys soon learn the truth when Victor announces to the crowd of circus performers that they should all leave since people have all but lost interest in the circus and that the circus is dead. One performer in the crowd blames the rock-and-roll discotheques for being the major contribution to the circus’ downfall, rousing Micky's ire. David then spots and instantly falls in love with Susan Arcady, young daughter of ringmaster/owner Pop Arcady, who explains that the circus is folding because people have stopped coming to see it and that she and her father can’t afford to pay the performers or feed their animals. David comforts her and as Victor is trying to convince the performers to leave, David steps in and makes a moving speech to encourage the performers not to give up and manages to convince them to stay except Victor. Susan thanks David for his speech and explains that Victor who’s their star performer is bitter because people choose seeing rock n’ roll bands over him and when she asks what they do, the boys don’t dare disclose their identity to her, presenting themselves as brain surgeons.

In a dream sequence, Peter, Micky, Michael and David don the guise of, respectively, a ringleader, a lion tamer and his lion, and an acrobat as they take part in a wacky circus scene: Micky as Clyde Greedy, "the world’s greatest lion tamer," known to his lions as "Lefty," and Michael as his lion and soon they argue as Michael ends up getting his tamer Micky to jump through the hoop; David is The Great Zambini who without using a net holds on to a trapeze with his teeth suspended only a mere few inches of the ground!  Not long after, they overhear Victor declaring that he has persuaded the troupe to sign an ultimatum threatening to quit unless they receive their back pay. The Monkees break in, clad as aerialists. Posing as Amazing, Incredible, Colossal, and Stupendous, The Mutzarella Brothers, the toast of Paris, they announce they are joining the troupe, to help out. They claim to do the act of walking on the wire 500 feet in the air forming a human pyramid on Colossal shoulders and bicycling on the wire carrying twenty glasses. Impressed, Victor goes to convince the others to stay but Susan is upset, aware of The Monkees’ deception, and worries what will happen when the crowds come to see an aerialist act which doesn’t really exist!

Later, while the guys are hanging out with troupe with Michael watching the swordsman swallow a sword, Micky juggling with the juggler, Peter watching the strong man trying to lift a 1,000 lb. dumbbell with difficulty which Peter can lift easily and David watching with the midget whom each informs them that The Mozzarella Brothers are coming to save their circus and the guys become oblivious to their own deception. Then the boys attempt to practice their so-called highwire routine, but, inexperienced as aerialists, they botch every part of it, as Susan bears painfully witness. She reports the evening show is a sell out and wonders how they can amuse the crowd; Micky suggests leaving town as The Monkees' first act! She then asks David for the truth; overhearing his admission that they are rock-and-roll singers, an enraged Victor exposes them to the troupe as frauds and they all decide to leave after all. The Monkees also decide to give up and leave but when Susan breaks down in tears, they cheer her up by going into a musical romp of set to “Sometime In The Morning” with a clown act that is witnessed by the other performers. So impressed are the performers, they reconsider leaving, and do a show.

On the night of the performance, a still-brooding Victor refuses to go on with his knife throwing act, and David manages to coax him out by introducing himself as The Invincible Victor. Horrified by David’s near-misses as a knife thrower, Victor changes his mind and takes over the ring. Pop thanks The Cool Quartet for their help and tells them to get ready for their act, which surprises them since they’re not really aerialists; Pop says just to do what they do best, which puts them at ease. Then Pop announces The Monkees in which now dressed in suits they do a rendition of “She.” While Susan smooches David, the troupe, as a token of their appreciation for saving their circus, each give them one of their equipment: David a large golden key from the midget, Michael a sword from the sword swallower that becomes stuck in his throat, Peter the 1000 lbs. dumbbell from the strong man which he can now barely lift and Micky on a unicycle, juggles and a lion’s head from the juggler. The Monkees depart in their Monkeemobile towards their next gig.

Production Notes:

In the end credits for "Circus," only Jeff Barry is given producing credit for “Sometime In The Morning,” though he did produce it with its composers, Gerry Goffin and Carole King. 6 episodes later, the record was finally set straight in the end credits of Episode No. 27, "Monkee Mother," which, coincidentally, also featured “Sometime In The Morning.”

In Screen Gems Synopsis for “The Monkees At The Circus”, Pop Arcady (the late Forrest Lewis) was originally going to be called Pop Wooster, the original name for The Monkees' aerialist act was The Santinis, and an alternate ending found Pop and Susan thanking The Monkees, on leaving, for saving the circus.

10 days after “The Monkees At The Circus” aired, NBC renewed The Monkees' television series for another season.  

Seven color stills from “The Monkees At The Circus” were used on the front cover of the rare 1973 Great Britain Monkees compilation album The Monkees (A.K.A. 'The Best Of The Monkees') (Sound Superb #SPR 90032), which is the UK issue of 1972's Refocus (Bell #6089).

“The Monkees At The Circus” was the highest-rated episode of all the Monkees shows, which pulled in a 22.0 rating/33.3 share, with a massive 12,080,000 viewers tuning in and turning on!

“The Monkees At The Circus” made its only showing on The Monkees TV series' Saturday Afternoon run on CBS in July 1971.

Stu Phillips cut background music cues for use in this and the next episode, “Captain Crocodile”, from 10am to 1pm on Tuesday, January 24, 1967.

The fanfare heard after Pop Arcady's introduction of The Amazing Victor is reused 4 times: in Episode No. 31, “The Monkees At The Movies”, after Luthor Kramm (the late Jerry Lester)'s introduction of Frankie Catalina (Bobby Sherman), No. 40, "Monkees Marooned", in the scene where Jane (Georgia Smith) pops out of the treasure chest and knocks Major Pshaw (Monte Landis) unconscious, in the tag sequences of Episode No. 46, "The Monkees On The Wheel", where the camera rapidly cuts back and forth from Micky playing with one-armed bandits to Michael (saying "And now you cut back to us..."), David and Peter standing together, and in No. 56, "Some Like It Lukewarm" (a.k.a. "The Band Contest"), after Jerry Blavat's introduction of The Monkees and The Westminstrel Abbies in The KXIW-TV Rockathon contest. 

The final shot in this episode featuring a rear view of The Monkeembile driving down an L.A. street, with Peter leaning out of the left side and David and Micky looking out of the rear ragtop window, is reused from Episode No. 17, “The Case Of The Missing Monkee”.

Continuity Goof:

Susan calls David by his first name despite never having heard it.

Trivia Notes:

This episode marks a return to the big top for Micky, once Corky on TV’s Circus Boy (NBC, 1956–58), the theme song for which he happily hums to Michael (“It’s great! It’s terrific!/It’s the best show on earth!”); and, by coincidence, aired on Peter Tork’s 25th birthday! (Interesting footnote: Irving "Lippy" Lippman, The Monkees' chief cameraman, previously worked with Micky Dolenz [nee Braddock] on the set of Circus Boy as cameraman as well!)

Micky makes a second use of the phrase "Little joke, about that big!"; the first occurred in Episode No. 14, “Dance, Monkee, Dance”.

“The Monkees At The Circus” employs the use of footage from The Monkees' musical number for “She”, which first appeared at the outset of Episode No. 11, “Monkees A La Carte”, whereas snippets from the musical interlude in this episode featuring The Monkees performing “Sometime In The Morning,” were reused for Episode No. 27, "Monkee Mother."

In his guise as a cotton picker, Michael Nesmith does a parody of America's longest-running agricultural news program, The U.S. Farm Report ("Pigs is down to 3, hawgs is down to 5, and cows is fine like they are!"). 10 episodes later, in No. 32, “The Monkees On Tour”, the show's first season finale, in the scene where The Monkees take over the KRUX radio station in Phoenix, AZ, Papa Nez lampoons The Report once again.

Michael and David are seen here wearing the same shirts they did in Episode No. 27, “Monkee Mother”. (David wears his black turtleneck shirt in these episodes and also in Episode No. 24, “Monkees A La Mode”, No. 32, “The Monkees On Tour”, No. 37, "Art For Monkee's Sake", and No. 58, "Mijacogeo" [a.k.a. "The Frodis Caper"].).

Susan's job at her father's circus, it is revealed, is a Living Target for The Invincible Victor's knifethrowing act. We also learn that Victor is a third-generation circus performer.  

“The Monkees At The Circus” and Episode No. 26, “Monkee Chow Mein”, are the last 2 episodes of The Monkees in which Michael Nesmith is seen wearing his dark green wool hat.

In his guise as The Great Zambini, David Jones can be seen wearing Monkeeman cape and trunks. In their disguises as The Mutzarella Brothers, The Monkees wear their red Monkeeman leotards (with the "M" on the front cleverly hidden by sleveless gold mesh shirts) and boots. These exact same costumes can be seen worn by The Four Martians in Episode No. 19, “Find The Monkees” (a.k.a. "The Audition").

Peter, as "Fantastic Mutzarella," calls to The Monkees' aerialist act The Budapest String Quartet. In the NBC-TV "Remember Next Year" 1967-68 Fall Preview (which promoted The Monkees TV show's second season) hosted by game show host Jan Murray and the late Danny Thomas, Thomas reports The Monkees are not The BSQ. Also in the preview, a reference is made to Darwin's theory, which foreshadows a role portrayed by Brian Auger in The Monkees' 1969 NBC-TV special 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee.

The Monkees, in their guises as The Mutzarellas, dub themselves "the toast of Paris" -- little suspecting that a later episode, No. 54, "The Monkees In Paris" (a.k.a. "The Paris Show"), would propel them into The French Capital for a 30-minute romp.

As The Monkees enter the circus tent, Peter uses a megaphone to mimic firing a machine gun. This gimmick would later be adapted by Micky, who would be seen doing so in Episode No. 25, “Alias Micky Dolenz”, No. 35, "Everywhere A Sheik Sheik", No. 48, "Fairy Tale", and No. 49, "The Monkees Watch Their Feet".

Guest Cast Notes:

Richard Devon (Victor) had a recurring role on Lassie (CBS/Syndicated, 1954-74) as Merle Dixon, played Sergeant Alden on Richard Diamond, Private Detective (CBS/NBC, 1957-60), and partook in numerous films, including Blood Of Dracula (American International, 1957, as Detective Sergeant Stewart), Kid Galahad (United Artists, 1962, as Marvin, Danzig Hood), and The Seventh Sign (Tri-Star, 1988, as 2nd Cardinal). Devon appeared with Monkee guest actor Tony Giorgio ("Mijacogeo" [a.k.a. "The Frodis Caper"]) in the 1973 Dirty Harry film Magnum Force (Devon as labor racketeer Carmine Ricca and Giorgio as mob boss Frank Palancio); with Monkee guest alumni Ben Wright (“The Success Story”) and Joe Mell (“I've Got A Little Song Here”), he previously turned up in a January 19, 1962 episode of The Twilight Zone (CBS, 1959-64), "Dead Man's Shoes."

Donna Baccala (Susan) later played Marguerita on The Survivors (ABC, 1969-70), Miss Anderson in The Last Movie (Universal, 1971), the third Dr. Gina Dante Lansing on the ABC Daytime drama General Hospital between 1978 and 1979 (preceded by Anna Stuart in 1977 and Brenda Scott in early 1978), and Mrs. Keller in Brainscan (Columbia/Tri-Star, 1994), her most recent work to date.

Felix Silla (the midget) portrayed Cousin Itt on The Addams Family (ABC, 1964-66). Silla is best remembered for his role in the TV series Buck Rogers In The 25th Century (NBC, 1979-81) as Twiki. Silla only played the body of Twiki; the voice was provided by Mel Blanc throughout the first season. Silla did provide the voice of Twiki for the firsthalf of the second season, but was (thankfully!) replaced by Blanc for the remainder of that season. Other Monkees guest alum to appear on Buck Rogers were Diana Chesney (cockney cleaning lady Ms. Weefers in “The Chaperone”) in the February 19, 1981 episode "The Golden Man," and Eldon Quick (Rob Roy Fingerhead in “Monkees A La Mode”) and Walker Edmiston (Typesetter's Union publisher in "Monkee Mayor") in the series' finale, "The Dorian Secret." Silla was seen with Monkee guest alum Billy Curtis (“The Spy Who Came In From The Cool” ) in an October 26, 1967 episode of Bewitched (ABC, 1964-72), "The Safe And Sane Halloween."

Felix Silla and Carl and Ruth Carlsson, all members of “The Monkees At The Circus”'s guest cast, previously appeared together in a December 6, 1966 episode of The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. (NBC, 1966-67): "The Romany Lie Affair."

Gene Rutherford (Strong Man) had a recurring role in three episodes of The High Chaparral (NBC, 1967-71) as Bart Kellog.

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