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Episode No. 3:

“Monkee Versus Machine”

In a computerized toy factory, The Monkees foil an efficiency
expert who wants to replace an old toymaker with automation.

Vital Stats, Credits and Releases On Home Video:

Production No. 4700
Final Draft: May 2, 1966
Filmed At: Screen Gems Studios 2, 3 and 7, Hollywood, CA, and on location at Malibu Beach, CA.
Filming Dates: June 13-17, 1967
Original Air Date: September 26, 1966
Ratings: 15.7 rating/27.4 share (8,620,000 viewers)
© Raybert Productions; 9-26-66; LP38294
Sponsor This Week:
Kellogg’s™
Rerun Dates: May 22, 1967 (NBC); October 4 and 25, 1969, January 10 and July 25, 1970, October 9, 1971 (CBS); October 21, 1972, June 9, 1973 (ABC)

Written by David Panich.
Directed by Robert Rafelson.
Produced by Robert Rafelson and Bert Schneider.
Associate Producer: Ward Sylvester.
Music Supervision: Don Kirshner.
Background Music Composed and Conducted by Stu Phillips.
Musical numbers produced by Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart & Jack Keller.
“Saturdays Child” by David Gates.
“Last Train To Clarksville” by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart.
Guest cast:

Guggins.................................................................Severn Darden
Pop Harper...........................................................Walter Janowitz
Miss Zuckerman.....................................................Dorothy Konrad
Secretary................................................................Elaine Fielding
Stan Freberg as Daggart

Home Video Releases:

  • The Monkees - Volume 1 (Musicvision VHS #60642/Beta #20642, July 15, 1986)
  • Image Entertainment laserdisc #ID6267RC (1989)
  • The Monkees: The Collector's Edition - VHS Tape #3 (Columbia House #13692, May 22, 1995)
  • The Monkees Deluxe Limited Edition Boxed Set - VHS Tape #10 (Rhino R3 2960, October 17, 1995)
  • Rhino VHS R3 2317 (April 22, 1997)
  • Our Favorite Episodes - The Monkees (Rhino DVD R2 4464, November 17, 1998)
  • The Monkees - Season 1 DVD Boxed Set - Disc 1 (Rhino RetroVision DVD R2 976076, May 13, 2003)
  • The Monkees - Season 1 DVD Boxed Set - Disc 1 (Eagle Rock Entertainment DVD EM351359, September 27, 2011)
  • The Monkees - The Complete Series - Blu-Ray Disc 1 (Rhino BD2-552705, July 8, 2016)

Synopsis:

At The Monkees' pad, the group search the want ads for work to raise rent money after a nasty phone call from their landlord. David finds an ad applying for mealtime at the lion's cage in the city zoo, which says "If the lion likes you, the job's yours!" (Micky quick-changes into a lion tamer and sticks his hand into mouth of a mounted lion's head.) Michael finds another ad which requires the applicant to have his own bicycle. David whizzes by on his unicycle, but topples to the floor in shock when Michael reveals the job is for piano deliveries! Then Micky finds an ad in the paper for a position in a toy factory that doesn’t require any training or experience and select Peter to apply since he’s the only one qualified. At the company, Peter greets the secretary who guides him into a side room...with DJ61, a talking, computerized machine (which avoids the human error)!

Peter is interviewed by DJ61, but the machine throws a monkee wrench in the works by getting all his personal information mixed up and rejects him. Peter is upset about failing to get the job and explains to Michael exactly what happened. Then Michael swings to the rescue by going to the toy company, where he confronts DJ61 and, reversing the procedure, he asks the machine questions. He deliberately gets information wrong and stumps the machine, causing it to explode. Daggart, the company’s headstrong efficiency expert, arrives and, so impressed by Michael for confounding DJ61, he hires him on the spot. He then introduces Michael to the company’s president, J.B. Guggins Jr., who inherited his late father’s company and appears to be a spineless man who agrees with virtually anything Daggart says. Daggart loathes the traditional techniques of his boss and lambastes him for inheriting the firm from his father without ambition and leadership. As Daggart introduces Michael to his other computers, he meets Pop Harper, the company’s elderly toy designer. The old man tries to show Daggart his latest invention: a toy that can assume any shape or form. However, the ambitious Daggart prefers the new computerized toys created by the company over the hand-made ones Pop Harper has made over the years and declares him obsolete. Back at the pad, Michael is downcast upon learning that Pop is being replaced by Daggart’s computers; trying to cheer him up, The Monkees sing “Saturdays Child” and engage in a musical romp in a playground with children, riding on unicycles and motorcycles.

Michael wants to help the old man keep his job, and, learning the company is testing new toys created by computers with a panel of children, he hatches an idea. At the company, David, Micky, and Peter arrive before a panel of parents and their children, in various disguises as toy testing tykes and their moms, each tyke-disguised Monkees take great delight in kicking Daggart in his right shin. First, Daggert shows the product’s attention span; David as a kid (with Peter as his mom) distracts the class by playing with a yo-yo and when Daggart takes it away it causes a raucous in the room. Next, when the toy’s durability is demonstrated, Micky as a child (with David the mom) arrives, and while the children are playing, he attaches explosive charges to Daggart's blackbird-baked-in-a-plastic-pie toy and blows it up. Finally, there’s the toy’s ease of assembly; and Peter as a child (and Micky the mother) who infuriates Daggart by incorrectly assembling a toy bridge which leads to another huge raucous! After witnessing the collapse of his toy samples, Daggart is reduced to covering up by explaining to Guggins that the toys plan to not grab a child's attention, not properly assemble, or be quickly broken, so the child's parents will have to buy new ones to replace them (“planned obsolescence,” designed to triple their sales!), thus throwing a monkee wrench into Michael’s plan. But Michael intervenes and tells Guggins that the toys lack a very important part of toybuilding which no computer can create as well as humans: happiness. He then brings Pop Harper in to show him his latest invention making Daggart suspicious.

When he confronts Micky and Peter still in disguises, Peter inadvertently gives himself away and Daggart takes off their disguises. He even mistakes a mother of a child as another imposter and rips off her skirt causing the lady to assail him with her purse. Daggart later browbeats Guggins into authorizing his firing of Michael and Harper. Later at their home, a depressed Pop Harper tells The Monkees to throw his toy away. However, the toy keeps coming back whenever David and Micky throw it out the window. Michael finds that Pop’s toy (now shaped like a boomerang!) returns no matter how it is thrown and as such can be used another way, and they show it to Guggins and demonstrate how it works. Guggins is impressed by the toy and, finally asserting himself, overrules Daggart’s objection, fires the greedy manager and his computer, and rehires Pop Harper as the company’s new general manager. Michael throws to toy out of the window while trying to think of a name, expecting Peter to catch it in the other window but Peter closes the other window and it crashes in.

Later at their home, Michael is showing the others a DJ-69 computer that Guggins gave them to help them out with their careers and bring in a little extra rent money. In an ensuing romp to “Last Train To Clarksville,” DJ69 offers them every type of job from construction worker to fireman to farmer, none of which appeal to the boys’ likings!

Production Notes:

The script of "Monkee Versus Machine" also credits Treva Silverman as co-writer!

The version of “Saturday's Child” (listed in the end credits without the apostrophe) used in this segment is alternate to the take which was used on the first album, as it featured different vocal parts. Snippets from its accompanying musical romp featuring The Monkees playing with children by the beach and in a playground, swinging on swings, and sliding down a slide are encapsulated in Episode No. 17, “The Case Of The Missing Monkee”. The clip of the boys seen zooming down the street in their Monkeemobile (interior and exterior shots), riding on motorcycles and unicycles with training wheels which was used in The Monkees' first season opening credits sequence is also from this romp as well. The final minutes of Episode No. 8, “Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth”, also utilizes footage from this romp featuring The Cool Quartet riding on motorcycles.

Collector's Note: The special Mono TV Version of “Saturday's Child” is included as a bonus cut on Rhino Handmade's limited-edition, November 11, 2014 3-CD, 100-track set, The Monkees (Super Deluxe Edition) (R2-543027).

This is the first of three Monkees scripts by David Panich (including Episode Nos. 22, “The Monkees At The Circus,” and 50, "The Monstrous Monkee Mash"). Panich later copped an Emmy for his writing efforts on the debut season of Rowan And Martin's Laugh-In (NBC, 1968-73), which followed The Monkees midway through the 1967-68 season (in lieu of the late Man From U.N.C.L.E., which was dumped by NBC at midseason, to make way for Laugh-In's debut). Incidentally, the writing staff of Laugh-In also retained another Monkees writing alumnus: Coslough Johnson.

A repeat of this episode on May 22, 1967 (which coincided with the release of The Monkees Headquarters [#COM/COS-103]) added a new song: Michael Nesmith's "You Told Me" (the album's introductory track), and when it appeared during the CBS/ABC Saturday Afternoon run, it was updated again, to include another Michael Nesmith tune, "Listen To The Band."

“Monkee Versus Machine's” original synopsis from Screen Gems indicates a different ending in which the landlord phones The Monkees for the rent, infuriated about Peter's sending him a bunch of toys instead of a checque!

A jungle safari musical cue first heard in “Monkee Versus Machine”--in which "lion tamer" Micky sticks his hand in the mouth of a lion's head on the wall--is reused in Episode No. 12, “I've Got A Little Song Here”. Speaking of lion tamers, Micky reprises his role as one in Episode No. 22, “The Monkees At The Circus”, in a fantasy sequence in which he is seen as tamer Clyde "Lefty" Greedy, who verbally abuses his pet "lion" (Michael Nesmith) and pays for the privelege!

In the scene where tyke-disguised Peter totally ruins the toy's ease of assembly, a musical cue composed by The Monkees' background music composer-conductor Stu Phillips based on Patrick S. Gilmore's 1863 war ballad "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" can be heard. It is reused in Episode No. 53, "The Monkees Race Again" (a.k.a. "Leave The Driving To Us").

“Monkee Versus Machine” also retains the first use of a transition guitar "twang" cue. This cue would come and go in various later Monkees episodes; coincidentally, it was also used on Filmation's The New Adventures Of Superman (CBS, 1966-68).

J.B. Guggins, Jr.'s office was later reused as Renaldo's office in Episode No. 14, “Dance, Monkee, Dance”. It resurfaces again, in No. 23, “Captain Crocodile”, as J.J. Pontoon's meeting boardroom.

For the first time on The Monkees TV series, Igo Kantor recieves a Music Coordinator's credit and will remain so throughout its run and into the 1968 movie HEAD. The first 2 episodes had Kantor listed as Music Editor.

Continuity Goofs:

When DJ-61 spits a stack of forms out at Michael, he brushes them off onto the floor, but after Daggart enters the room they are again in a neat stack on the machine!

When David is dressed as a mother, you can see Michael shoo him away. The same shot is seen twice: one up close and one in the distance. 

Before the intro Peter is walking toward the bottom right of the screen, after the intro Peter is walking toward the top left of the same shot.

Trivia Notes:

“Monkee Versus Machine” was one the very first four episodes of The Monkees TV series to be released on home video, along with “Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth”, “Dance, Monkee, Dance” and "Hitting The High Seas"; they were released in 2-episode volume on VHS, Beta and laserdisc by Musicvision through RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video on July 15, 1986 (in time for The Monkees' 20th anniversary). The movie HEAD and 4 more 2-episode volumes followed suit, and no more new Monkees video material was distributed until Rhino snatched up the rights to The Monkees in January 1994; after which, more VHS (including all 58 episodes packaged into a 21-videocassette Deluxe Limited Edition Boxed Set!) and DVD releases were issued, along with CD rereleases of all The Monkees original albums (timed with their 30th anniversary). DVD season sets were released in May and November 2003, and a Complete Series set was distributed Internet-only on Blu-Ray DVD in July 2016 (in time for The Monkees 50th anniversary!).

Trivia Footnote: The version of “Monkee Versus Machine” as released by Rhino in October 1995 on their Deluxe Limited Edition Boxed Set, in April 1997 on the individual VHS select release, and in May 2003 on The Monkees Season One DVD Boxed Set features Kellogg’s™ cereal packages in the end credits; as opposed to the version of the episode as released on VHS in July 1986 by MusicVision/RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video, which didn't. 

Mr. Schnieder, The Monkees' card-playing, proverb-spouting dummy named for their creator/co-producer Bert Schnieder, makes his debut appearance here.

A clip from Episode No. 8, “Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth”, in which The Monkees are seen as farmhands pitching hay, can be seen during the “Last Train To Clarksville” romp. Another scene from this romp featuring The Monkees in hardhats and blue pantsuits as construction workers hacking the ground with pickaxes resurfaces in Episode No. 40, "Monkees Marooned".

Parts of “Last Train To Clarksville” musical number is reused from the previous episode, “Monkee See, Monkee Die”. Others to use footage from this number will be the next episode, “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers”, and No. 56, "Some Like It Lukewarm" (a.k.a. "The Band Contest").

When Michael declares that Peter has no training or no experience, he says "You're the only one qualified!"--a line which he first rendered (with a surprisingly rare British accent!) in Episode No. 10, “Here Come The Monkees” (Original Pilot Film).

One of the dolls seen in the toy-testing room reappears as a "Derby Doll" in Episode No. 13, “One Man Shy” (a.k.a. "Peter And The Debutante"), which Micky (disguised as a toy salesman) tries to sell to Ronnie Farnsworth (George Furth).

When Daggart tells Michael that he can't immedaitely fire Harper for Guggins promised him his job for life, Michael replies, "Wow! You're all heart!" Micky Dolenz repeats this phrase in Episode No. 51, "The Monkee's Paw".

Monkee director Jim Frawley provides the voices of both DJ61 and DJ69 in “Monkee Versus Machine”. Frawley was also the voice of the spy on the phone contacted by Sigmund (Vincent Beck) in Episode No. 1, “The Royal Flush”, and the spirits (the late John Cunningham and The Ghost Of Christmas Past) in the previous episode, “Monkee See, Monkee Die”; he would continue to lend his voice in future episodes of The Monkees, including No. 18, “I Was A Teenage Monster”, and No. 45, "The Monkees In Texas".

This episode marks one of 2 rare occurrences on The Monkees of the utterance of the word "sex"! Here it is referred to in gender only, but 10 episodes later, in No. 13, “One Man Shy” (a.k.a. "Peter And The Debutante"), Peter, in a mock session with Micky "Dr. Sigmund Freud" Dolenz, coyly spells out the word.

Michael is seen wearing a navy blue suit and red tie he will also wear 9 episodes later, in No. 12, “I've Got A Little Song Here”. In No. 55, "The Monkees Mind Their Manor", David will be seen wearing a similar navy blue suit, but with a different tie.

The prop used as computers DJ61 and DJ69 in "Monkee Versus Machine" was first seen in an October 1, 1965 episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (NBC, 1964-68), "The Ultimate Computer Affair" (prod. #7462), as THRUSH's Ultimate Computer, a super machine which runs the entire Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity. The computer had its bubble cover removed for use in this Monkees episode.

This episode also sees the first use of an intricate "boo" track! It is the same one which is reused in Episode No. 23, “Captain Crocodile” and No. 51, "The Monkee's Paw"

The lion tamer's outfit Micky wears in “Monkee Versus Machine” and “The Monkees At The Circus” is the same one he wears as an explorer in a jungle scene in the movie HEAD, where, having seen a “Lancashire midget greenie!” through a magnifying glass, screams, jumps in horror and stumbles downhill—right into the waiting arms of natives. 

Mattel toys are frequently featured throughout “Monkee Versus Machine”: on the shelf in the main office is an American Girl Barbie, a Francie doll, Barbie fashions, and a gold statute of Barbie on the desk; in the toy testing room, Michael is playing with the Blackbird Pie (the 1966 model), the kids are asked to build a bridge with Hot Wheels tracks, and there is a See-N-Say displayed with other toys on a table.

Suspicious that The Monkees are pulling a fast one, Daggert intones, "I think I smell a small, furry rodent!", foreshadowing a similar remark from equally-apprehensive Ronnie Farnsworh in Episode No. 13, “One Man Shy” (a.k.a. "Peter And The Debutante") ("I am beginning to smell a rat!").

Guest Cast Notes:

Walter Janowitz (Pop Harper)'s real name is Walter Janovitz. He's best remembered by fans of the sitcom Hogan's Heroes (CBS, 1965-71) as recurring character Oscar Schnitzer.

Stan Freberg (Daggart) loaned his voice to a number of Looney Tunes characters between 1944 and 1958. He's best remembered as the voice of Junyer Bear in Chuck Jones' Three Bears cartoons. Freberg's most recognizable work was for novelty records, including St. George And The Dragonet.

Severn Darden (Guggins) later appeared with Monkee guest actor Vince Howard (“Monkee See, Monkee Die”) in a December 5, 1967 episode of I Dream Of Jeannie (NBC, 1965-70), "Jeannie And The Great Bank Robbery". He was previously seen in a March 18, 1966 episode of Honey West (ABC, 1965-66), "Little Green Robin Hood," directed by Sidney Miller (“I Was A Teenage Monster”).

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