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Episode No. 7:

“The Monkees In A Ghost Town”

Stranded in a ghost town after The Monkeemobile runs out
of gas, The Monkees are held prisoner by bank robbers.

Vital Stats, Credits and Releases On Home Video:

Production No. 4704
Final Draft: June 14, 1966.
Second Revised Final Draft: July 8, 1966.
Filmed At: Screen Gems Studios, Hollywood, CA.
Filming Dates: July 11-15, 1966.
Original Air Date: October 24, 1966.
Ratings: 17.1 rating/29.2 share (9,390,000 viewers)
© Raybert Productions; 10-24-66; LP38295
Sponsor This Week:
Kellogg's
Rerun Dates: July 17, 1967 (NBC); January 19 and July 10, 1971, July 12, 1972 (CBS).

Written by Robert Schlitt and Peter Meyerson
Directed by James Frawley
Produced by Robert Rafelson and Bert Schnieder
Associate Producer: Ward Sylvester
Music Supervision: Don Kirshner
Background Music Composed and Conducted by Stu Phillips.
"Papa Gene's Blues" Written & Produced by Michael Nesmith.
"Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day" Written by Tommy Boyce & Steve Venet; Produced by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart.
Guest cast:

George..........................................................................Len Lesser
1st Cop....................................................................Hollis Morrison
Rose Marie as The Big Man
Lon Chaney as Lenny

Home Video Releases:

  • The Monkees: The Collector's Edition - VHS Tape #7 (Columbia House #19946, May 22, 1995)
  • The Monkees Deluxe Limited Edition Boxed Set - VHS Tape #19 (Rhino R3 2960, October 17, 1995)
  • 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 1 (Rhino BD2-552705, July 8, 2016)

Synopsis:

The Monkees drive The Monkeemobile from Clarksville to a job out of town. After driving for what seems to be endless in a desert, Micky mentions that they should’ve turned left at a corner drugstore about 150 miles back! The unnecessarily long trek resulting from Micky’s navigational blunder soon causes The Monkeemobile to run out of gas in a ghost town, where they decide to split up in pairs to find some gas. Michael and David play a Western fantasy scene (Michael plays double roles: Black Bart and Slade, David is Kincaid, in a showdown wherein “Kincaid” winds up getting shot by Black Bart); meanwhile, Micky and Peter encounter a rusty old triangle used to call cowboys to supper. Since Peter played a triangle in high school, he happily rings it with a hammer; the noise attracts two hoods, George and Lenny, hiding out in the town’s local jail, who decide to investigate.

The two find Michael and David, whom Lenny marches towards the town jail, while George searches in vain for the others, who are hiding in a stall just next door. Back at the jail, George and Lenny discuss their plans to get their cut and scram as soon as their boss, The Big Man, arrives. Lenny mentions they never met their boss, which Micky and Peter overhear and a lightbulb goes up over Micky’s head (held by Peter), as he hatches an elaborate Monkee scheme to spring their mates. Micky and Peter, disguised as gangsters The Big Man and Spider, respectively, try to overcome the hoods and rescue Michael and David, but the two crooks soon see through them when they stumble and they end up locked in the jail with the other Monkees. George warns them not to escape since "there's nothin around here but miles o'desert!" and The Monkees imagine having fun by the beach in bathing suits and romping around the desert dressed as Foreign Legionnaires over "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day".When George steps out, Micky spots a shovel and hatches another plot to escape via tunneling out. Then they trick Lenny into giving them a shovel and ball claiming they’re going to play baseball for recreation. While covering up the sound of their digging by singing "Papa Gene's Blues", the quartet begin digging all sorts of escape tunnels to the beach, a jungle, a railroad track, the desert, an Egyptian Pyramid, and a baseball diamond (!), but Peter has only surfaced in a cell next door.

When the real Big Man arrives, the crooks are surprised to find their leader is The Big Man's wife: Bessie Kowalski, The Big Woman, who took over since her husband got too big! She orders The Monkees killed but is impressed when she learns that there are singers since she was once in show biz claiming that she once won the hearts of millions. Despite this, Bessie still orders The Monkees to be taken out and shot but Michael and Micky buys time by asking for a last request to sing one last song and for Bessie to join them. She acquiesces, and soon, with Michael on the piano, Bessie starts singing “Everybody Loves My Baby” and “Hi Neighbor” off key as Michael sends David to call for help on the phone. David's attempts to phone for help fail when his contact with a primitive Indian chief at his tent has him put on hold, and by a southerner from another town offers to contact Bob Dylan, since he can write a song about his problem. Michael tries to stall some more by having all of them sing the "(theme from) THE MONKEES," and they asks George and Lenny to join in which Lenny ends up giving David his gun. Soon a shootout ensues with the group behind the bar and Bessie still singing the theme song with the piano now playing by itself. Then the gun David has at first appears to run out of bullets so he throws it away only to have a bullet discharge, ricochet and knock George's gun out of his hand, forcing him and Lenny to surrender.

Later, the police arrive to apprehend the three criminals and Bessie announces that while she and the boys are in stir, they'll work up a new act as "Bessie & The Bullets”! One of the cops gives them a ticket for the reward for capturing the three and tell the guys to take it the police station to collect the money. But as soon as they reach their car, the cop starts writing tickets for traffic violations and singing in a cabaret without a license--in a ghost town, yet! Michael winds up returning the reward ticket to the cop to cover the fines, and they start on their way ("Well, that's show business!").

Tag Sequence:

During a chat, Michael Nesmith writes the name "Lauren St. David" on a piece of masking tape and tapes it onto his chair to avoid being recognized; The Monkees monkee around with camera filters.

Production Notes:

The ghost town and desert settings for “The Monkees In A Ghost Town” were previously filmed for the chase climax in Episode No. 4, “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers”, in the scene where David, Micky, Michael and Peter (wearing cowboy hats) face Horace (Louis Quinn) and George (Vic Tayback) in a showdown. These settings were both reused for the following Monkees TV episodes: No. 33, "It's A Nice Place To Visit...", No. 39, "Hillbilly Honeymoon" (a.k.a. "Double Barrell Shotgun Wedding"), No. 42, "The Wild Monkees", and No. 45, "The Monkees In Texas", and in The Monkees' 1968 feature film HEAD.

Take notice of a certain dragchute pack on The Monkeemobile's rear. The dragchute was seen only on a biweekly basis, in the Kellogg's sponsor billboard sequence after the show's opening titles; the famed Kellogg's insignia could be seen emblazoned on the chute.

"Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day" and "Papa Gene's Blues" appeared in "The Monkees In A Ghost Town" in the exact order they do as tracks 4 and 5 on Side 1 of the then-newly-minted LP The Monkees.

Boyce and Venet's "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day" was replaced by a newly woodshedded remake of Boyce & Hart's "Words" when NBC reran "The Monkees In A Ghost Town" on July 17, 1967 (a full week after "Words" was issued on the B-side of the Colgems #1007 single).

For the first time in the series, the ever-present "Musical Numbers Produced by" credit in the end titles is not used.

Interview segments seen at the outset of this and Episode No. 4, “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers”, and the previous, “The Success Story”, were filmed back to back on the same backstage setting.

Pianist Joseph Weiss was employed to play tack piano for The Monkees' saloon scene.

Footage from this episode's "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day" musical sequence featuring The Monkees playing by the beach and romping in the desert as Foreign Legionnaires was recycled in Episode No. 4, “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers”, No. 5, “The Spy Who Came In From The Cool” , No. 6, “The Success Story”, No. 31, “The Monkees At The Movies”, and No. 35, "Everywhere A Sheik Sheik". The second season opening titles of The Monkees also uses clips from this romp.

In the original script, George was originally named Jojo; an unused character in this episode was Abe Lincoln. 

2 color production stills of The Monkees shot inbetween takes of “The Monkees In A Ghost Town” were used on the sleeves of foreign issues of The Monkees' third single “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” b/w ”The Girl I Knew Somewhere” (RCA Victor #66-1004) in the following countries (they can also can be seen in the 1994 Rhino rerelease of More Of The Monkees):

    Monkees on barrels (Great Britain); this was also used on the Chile issue of the album The Monkees' Headquarters (RCA #CML-2509-X) 

    Monkees on a ladder (Australia)

Inconsistencies:

At the beginning of the episode, The Monkees wear their traditional 8-button red shirts while driving in the car. After they drive past the Clarksville sign, they've changed shirts. 

At the start of the episode, The Monkees get stranded in the ghost town because their car runs out of gas; however, at the end, they are able to easily start the car and drive off without filling the tank! 

Trivia Notes:

“The Monkees In A Ghost Town” is the first of 14 Monkees episodes to take place outside of The Monkees' ramshackle beach pad; others were No. 16, “The Son Of A Gypsy”, No. 17, “The Case Of The Missing Monkee”, No. 18, “I Was A Teenage Monster”, No. 22, “The Monkees At The Circus”, No. 23, “Captain Crocodile”, No. 33, "It's A Nice Place To Visit...", No. 39, "Hillbilly Honeymoon" (a.k.a. "Double Barrell Shotgun Wedding"), No. 40, "Monkees Marooned", No. 42, "The Wild Monkees", No. 44, "Hitting The High Seas", No. 45, "The Monkees In Texas", No. 46, "The Monkees On The Wheel", and No. 48, "Fairy Tale".

Voiceover maestro Mel Blanc provides the sputtering noises of the severely gas-depleted Monkeemobile. Blanc later voiced specific parts for one of his best-loved vocal creations, Bugs Bunny, for the latter's appearances with The Monkees (sans Peter Tork) in their 1969 commercials for Kool-Aid, which were seen during the CBS Saturday Afternoon run of The Monkees TV series.

“The Monkees In A Ghost Town” makes reference to two popular TV westerns: Gunsmoke (CBS, 1955-75) and The Lone Ranger (ABC, 1949-57). A musical sting composed by Stu Phillips that is reminiscent of the theme from Gunsmoke (Rex Koury's "The Old Trail" aka "Boot Hill Theme"), heard in the scene where David puts through a phone call to a Chester Goode-like country bumpkin, is reheard in Episode No. 24, “Monkees A La Mode”, and No. 32, “The Monkees On Tour”. A different arrangement of "The Old Trail" will be recorded for No. 45, "The Monkees In Texas", another Monkees installment to lampoon Gunsmoke and The Lone Ranger. (The Chester Goode/Gunsmoke lampoon in this episode was, however, an antithesis of the actual CBS-TV Western at that time, since Dennis Weaver, the actor who originated the role of Chester, had left the series 2 seasons before.) 

This is the first time Micky does his unprecedented James Cagney impression. Other episodes to feature Micky as Cagney were in No. 12, “I've Got A Little Song Here” (trying to cheer up Michael), No. 15, “Too Many Girls” (a.k.a. "Davy And Fern") (as comic-mimic Locksley Mendoza on Mr. Hack's "Amateur Hour" on KXIU-TV), and No. 46, "The Monkees On The Wheel" (as The Insidious Strangler). All of these other appearances found Micky doing his “Cagney” by saying the line, “You dirty rat---you’re the rat that killed my brother!” However, James Cagney himself never said that line using those exact words, a fact he told the audience upon accepting a Lifetime Achievement award in 1974 from the American Film Institute!

The Monkees repeat this episode's closing line, "Well, that's show business!", in No. 51, "The Monkee's Paw".

While pacing in their cell (in the beginning of Act III), The Monkees are heard singing The Song Of The Volga Boatmen, an old Russian ballad. They sing it again in Episode No. 34, "The Picture Frame" (a.k.a. "The Bank Robbery"), No. 44, "Hitting The High Seas", and No. 57, "The Monkees Blow Their Minds". The Monkees' nominal underscore writer Stu Phillips tendered his own composition of The Song Of The Volga Boatmen, which can be heard in the next episode, “Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth”, Episode No. 36, "Monkee Mayor", and No. 41, "The Card-Carrying Red Shoes".

In this episode, The Monkees fall into the clutches of bank robbers; a future installment, "The Picture Frame" (a.k.a. "The Bank Robbery"), will see Micky, Michael and David being mistaken for bank robbers. 

As The Monkees enter the ghost town, Michael says, "Well, it's a nice place to visit; I don't wanna live here!" Interestingly, the title of the very episode which kicked off The Monkees' TV series' second season was "It's A Nice Place To Visit..." (its 33rd overall!)!

Micky is seen with a sextant (a tool used by sailors to measure the distance between the sun and the horizon) in the teaser of "The Monkees In A Ghost Town". Peter will be seen with the same sextant in the teaser of Episode No. 44, "Hitting The High Seas".

This is the second Monkee encounter with gangsters, the first being Episode No. 4, “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers”. A future episode, No. 11, “Monkees A La Carte”, would be The Monkees' first of many tangles with mobsters.

Here, in the "Papa Gene's Blues" number, The Monkees are seen engaging in a mock game of baseball. 9 episodes later, in No. 16, “The Son Of A Gypsy”, they will become embroiled in a mock football game against gypsies in the "I'm A Believer" number.

Michael Nesmith's disguise as Black Bart in the Western parody is the same one he wore in Episode No. 10, “Here Come The Monkees” (Original Pilot Film), as Jesse James.

The scene where Peter holds a lit lightbulb over Micky's head when he decares he has an idea replicates a similar gimmick seen in “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers”.

Guest Cast Notes:

Rose Marie is best known for her portrayal of Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show (CBS, 1961-66) and was the only regular of Heatter-Quigley's The Hollywood Squares (NBC, 1966-80, which was in its second week at the time of this episode's telecast) aside from host Peter Marshall and announcer Kenny Williams to appear in the series premiere (Oct. 17, 1966) and finale (June 20, 1980) and in the original 1965 Bert Parks-hosted pilot (without Peter Marshall); she appears on The Monkees again as Milly Rudnik in Episode No. 28, "Monkee Mother."

Prior to his demise in 1973, Lon Chaney Jr. was best known for following in his late father's footsteps in character and monster roles, including Larry Talbot, The Wolf Man in The Wolf Man (Universal, 1941) and Kharis, The Mummy in The Mummy's Tomb (Universal, 1942), The Mummy's Curse and The Mummy's Ghost (both Universal, 1944); his role of Lenny in this episode is a lampoon of his role of Lennie Small in the film Of Mice And Men (United Artists, 1939).

Hollis Morrison (1st Cop) later appeared with future Monkee guest star Billy Beck ("The Devil And Peter Tork") in a December 8, 1966 episode of Bewitched (ABC, 1964-72), "My Friend Ben," and in a November 16, 1967 episode of The Flying Nun (ABC, 1967-70), "It's An Ill Wind," with Monkee guest alumni Noam Pitlik ("Everywhere A Sheik Sheik", "Hitting The High Seas"), Pepper Davis ("The Monkees On The Wheel"), and Robert F. Lyons (“The Monkees In The Ring”). Morrison also appears as the Tonto and Chester Goode-wannabe characters in this episode.

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