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Episode No. 20:

“The Monkees In The Ring”

A crooked fight promoter prepares to cash in on a big bet—
by making David a chump in a bout with the champ.

Vital Stats, Credits and Releases On Home Video:

Production No. 4734
Filmed At: Screen Gems Studio 7, Hollywood, CA.
Filming Dates: December 6 (8:00am) - 8, 1966.
Original Air Date: January 30, 1967.
Ratings: 21.0 rating/31.6 share (11,530,000 viewers)
© Raybert Productions; 1-30-67; LP37671
Sponsor This Week:
Kellogg’s™
Rerun Dates: March 14, 1970, January 15 and April 15, 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.
“Laugh” Written by H. Medress, P. Margo, M. Margo & J. Seigal; Produced by Jeff Barry.
“I’ll Be Back Up On My Feet Again” Written by Sandy Linzer & Denny Randell; Produced by Jeff Barry.
Guest cast:

Vernon.......................................................................Joseph Perry
The Champ..............................................................D’Urville Martin
Smasher.....................................................................Robert Lyons
Fight Announcer.........................................................Jerry Hausner
Ring Announcer.........................................................Jimmy Lennon
Reporter #1................................................................George Cisar
Bully............................................................................Peter Canon
Reporter #2.........................................................Richard S. Ramos
Ned Glass as Sholto

Home Video Releases:

  • The Monkees: The Collector's Edition - VHS Tape #15 (Columbia House #19940, May 22, 1995)
  • The Monkees Deluxe Limited Edition Boxed Set - VHS Tape #14 (Rhino R3 2960, October 17, 1995)
  • 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:

The fight game gets its lumps in this episode. Walking down the street, David chides Peter about his leaving a trail of pistachio nuts across the city ("Y'know, if you comitted a crime, the police'd find you in 2 minutes!"). Peter apologizes and goes back to pick up the litter of nuts, when suddenly he bumps into a bully. The bully makes ready to slug Peter when David intervenes; the bully then swings at David but misses, and David accidentally subdues him with a light tap on the chin. Joey Sholto, a fight racketeer, bears witness and tells David he can become a world champ.

Back at the pad, David makes plans on seeing Joey Sholto since they need the money but his mates feel they’d rather see him alive and well than rich and famous since David has no experience in boxing; David recounts a tale concerning him being a scrapper at school and nonetheless goes along with Sholto, Meanwhile, Joey tells Vernon, an ex-boxing champ turned hood, that he’ll arrange a series of setups for David; when he fights the champion, they’ll bet against David and make a killing when he loses. When The Monkees arrive at The Sweat Shop Gymnasium, Sholto decides to test David by first have him use a punching bag that Vernon had previously loosened. Then he has him take on a boxer called The Smasher, who takes a dive when David taps him on the chin; but when Micky tries a go at The Smasher to prove it's easy he finds he can't beat him! Back at his office, Sholto gives David a robe that says "Dynamite Davy" on the back and thus bestows upon him the sobriquet “Dynamite Davy Jones.” When Micky, Michael and Peter are still doubtful, Sholto promises them that if David doesn't win the first 3 fights via knockouts, they can have him back.

At the pad, David packs for his boxing tour and Michael gives him a talk about going to into a strange city where there'll be one hotel with a lot of gambling, fast women, drinking and loose talk and tells David he'll know what to do when he gets to that city; David replies "find that hotel!"  In a romp set to “Laugh,” David is put through a rough training regimen and goes on the tour—where every bout he competes in is thrown by men set up by Sholto: Slasher, Tiger Smedley, and The Smasher. During a press conference, David, deluded by his obviously bogus boxing talent, absorbs the glory as he's being surrounded by reporters while his mates unhappily watch on. When Michael answers the phone, it's The Smasher who expresses his fury over only getting $500 to take a dive while Tiger Smedley got $800 and Michael realizes the Sholto's scheme. He tries to warn David, but he refuses to believe the fights were fixed, impressed by his easy victories, and to further that belief Vernon fakes a thumping when David accidentally punches him (although it was merely a tap on the chin!).

Dressed as trainers at The Sweat Shop Gym, Michael and Micky approach David's next opponent, The Champ, a boxer who's given to speaking in rhyme, and try to convince him not to fight David while Peter impersonates a opponent in bandages and a cast, but soon The Champ sees through them and chases them off. Vernon, who bore witness to the futile affair, rushes to inform Sholto, who, having bet $10,000 on The Champ, instructs Vernon to slip David a sleeping pill before the fight to insure The Champ’s victory, and make sure David’s friends don’t get out of their pad. By mistake, The Champ gets the pill; meanwhile, at the pad, Micky, Michael and Peter, about to go to the arena to stop the fight, are stopped at gunpoint by Vernon and are forced to watch the brutal carnage of their buddy on television. In the ring, the champ is groggy for the first three rounds, but wakes up at the fourth, just as Michael goads Vernon into a boxing round with him with Micky and Peter as his second and the referee, respectively; they all lock Vernon in their closet and rush to the ring in time to save David and stop the fight.

Soon, as The Monkees sing “I’ll Be Back Up On My Feet Again,” three fights are on: David and the champ, Sholto and Michael, Micky and Vernon, whilst Peter takes over as timekeeper. With his help, The Monkees win and are declared world champs. When Sholto is arrested for kidnapping, assault and attempted bribe, he shouts to David that he's the most harmless boxer in the business, and complains that guys like The Monkees are ruining the fight game. David is finally convinced that all his fights were all fixed, but Michael cheers him up by praising him. Soon afterward, timekeeping Peter announces the national anthem; David raises his right gloved hand to his forehead to salute—so hard that he knocks himself unconscious.

Production Notes:

Production on The Monkees television series' first season was just winding down at the time “The Monkees In The Ring” was first run on NBC.

“Laugh,” a staple from The Monkees’ second album, More Of The Monkees (Colgems #COM/COS-102), is featured here in an alternate mix, with no backing vocals accompanying David Jones during the first verse.

Writers Gardner and Caruso and director Frawley return to create Episode No. 26, “Monkee Chow Mein.”

Notice the Screen Gems building behind Peter, Sholto and David in the teaser.

When “The Monkees In The Ring” reaired on CBS Saturday Afternoon, its soundtrack was altered to include Boyce & Hart's "Looking For The Good Times".

The boxing ring set seen in this episode was also employed for use in the movie HEAD, in the very scene which the highly-touted Main Event of Jones Vs. Liston took place. In the film, David Jones even wears the same dark blue boxing trunks he did in the scene from “The Monkees In The Ring” where he takes a poke at The Smasher (Robert Lyons).

The “Laugh” musical romp features a clip of David losing control of an exercise bike which previously appeared in Episode No. 17, “The Case Of The Missing Monkee”.

Scenes in Sholto's office were filmed on the same set used as The Monkees' upstairs bedroom. The set was also used as the living room in a home for an elderly couple in Episode No. 4, “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers”, and the kitchen for Harry (Joseph Mell) and Hilda (Mary Foran) in No. 12, “I've Got A Little Song Here”.

Inconsistencies:

The announcer knows The Monkees' names, despite never previously hearing them.

One of the reporters states that David calls his mother after he wins a fight. Rather strange that he should, since David Jones's mom, Doris, passed away when he was 14.

Trivia Notes:

The script for “The Monkees In The Ring” was basically a carbon copy of Dee Caruso's teleplay for the November 12, 1965 episode of The Smothers Brothers Show (CBS, 1965-66), "Halo In The Ring" (prod. #6226). David spoke Tommy Smothers’ lines, while Dick’s lines were tendered to the other Monkees. Incidentally, the episode happened to feature Louis Quinn (“Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers”).

In the scene when Peter is showing The Champ the "injuries" that "Dynamite" Davy Jones inflicted on him, he is wearing the dark red top he sports on the cover of the Monkees' Headquarters LP.

David Jones was an actual boxer; he once fought at Newmarket in the lightweight class.

During his press conference, just before his bout in the ring with The Champ, "Dynamite Davy Jones" quotes the words of an "old Yugoslavian philosopher": "Haber reeber sacken rober soaken raber seeken rober." The Yugoslavian philosoper in question was of course actor/comic Bill Cosby, then a major fixture as crack agent Alexander Scott on I Spy (NBC, 1965-68). Aside from the opening of that rave-up rocker from The Monkees' Headquarters, "No Time," other Cosby-like euphemisms pop up in Episode No. 33, "It's A Nice Place To Visit...", No. 41, "The Card-Carrying Red Shoes", and No. 51, "The Monkee's Paw"

When Micky and Peter comment that David would be safe at the corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset, they're referring to the former location of a popular (now defunct) teenage nightclub, The Pandora's Box. The consequences that led to the burning down of The Box are discussed at the outset of the previous episode, “Find The Monkees” (a.k.a. "The Audition").

The Champ (the late D'Urville Martin)'s penchant to rhyme ("I work and train the whole day through!/So, buddy, I'm not #2!") is derived from for-real heavyweight champ Cassius Clay, b/k/a Muhammad Ali; The Champ even goes so far as to utilize Ali's catchcry ("I Am The Greatest!!!"). A brief reference to Cassius Clay is given in Episode No. 4, “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers”, in the form of an on-screen caption ("CASSIUS CLAY WATCH OUT").

Trivia Footnote: The champ who Ali defeated in 1964, the late Charles "Sonny" Liston, appeared briefly in The Monkees' 1968 Columbia feature film HEAD as a movie extra who beats David Jones bloodily about the face.

Posters of the movies Fine Feathers (1921) and Knock On Any Door (Columbia, 1949, starring Humphrey Bogart) can be seen decorating The Monkees' pad (among other things).

Monkee stand-ins David Price and David Pearl can be seen in the crowd during David Jones' bout with The Champ.

When Micky, disguised as "Papa", urges David not to fight, he adds "Think of your hands, your beautiful hands! You'll never play the violin again!" David replies, "I don't play the violin!"; sure enough, a scene in the movie HEAD does indeed find him, in knickerbockers, playing a violin (albeit miming to a soundtrack!). Furthermore, on January 26, 1967 at RCA Victor Studio B in New York City, David even took a double-tracked lead vocal to a previously unreleased Joey Levine/Artie Resnick tune entitled, oddly enough, "If I Learned To Play The Violin," which has turned up on Rhino's November 1996 CD-ROM of Hey, Hey We're The Monkees (R2 90172) and as a bonus track on their July 2007 2-CD Deluxe Edition reissue of Headquarters (R2 77760). 

The gag during the “Laugh” romp of pulleys yanking Vernon into the wall is cribbed from “The Case Of The Missing Monkee”

This is one of 5 occasions on The Monkees TV series of characters speaking lines of dialogue nearly throughout the full length of a musical sequence; the others can be found in Episode No. 4, “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers”, No. 5, “The Spy Who Came In From The Cool” , No. 10, “Here Come The Monkees” (Original Pilot Film), and No. 56, "Some Like It Lukewarm" (a.k.a. "The Band Contest").

Number of times David gets knocked senseless in this episode: 4.

Number of times Sholto's name is mispronounced: 3.

This is the first of 2 Monkees episodes to deal with a sports theme; the second is No. 53, "The Monkees Race Again" (a.k.a. "Leave The Driving To Us").

For the third time on The Monkees a character named Rocco is featured, though in this episode, he is never actually seen; only the name is mentioned. Previous occasions were Episode No. 11, “Monkees A La Carte”, and No. 16, “The Son Of A Gypsy”.

Peter Tork is seen strumming a banjo for the first time on the show. Look for him to strum it again in Episode No. 32, “The Monkees On Tour” (performing “Cripple Creek” at The Coliseum); in the “What Am I Doing Hangin’ ‘Round?” musical number seen in No. 33, "It's A Nice Place To Visit...", and No. 40, "Monkees Marooned"; and in No. 49, "The Monkees Watch Their Feet".

According to Michael, Joey Sholto's motto is "Violence Is Our Business."

The premise of a crooked fight promoter cashing in on David's boxing persona is, of course, recycled in a scene in the film HEAD, in which The Extra (Sonny Liston) beats him bloodily about the face and knocks him continuously down for the count, much to the chagrin of Micky, his manager who shouts at him to "Stay down!" in hopes of impressing Michael, a fight racketeer who has made a bet on David to take a dive.

“The Monkees In The Ring”'s first-run telecast on NBC fell on the eve of the birthday of Christian Du Val Nesmith, Michael's eldest son. He makes reference to Christian in Episode No. 48, "Fairy Tale".

Guest Cast Notes:

The late Ned Glass (Sholto) played landlord Sol Cooper on Julia (NBC, 1968-71) and Uncle Moe Plotnick on Bridget Loves Bernie (CBS, 1972-73). Glass previously appeared with Monkee guest alum Irwin Charone (“I've Got A Little Song Here”, "Monkee Mayor") in the November 24, 1966 episode of Bewitched (ABC, 1964-72), "Oedipus Hex," and later turned up in a March 12, 1971 episode of The Partridge Family (ABC, 1970-74), "A Partridge By Any Other Name," with another Monkee guest, Bernard Fox ("The Monkees Mind Their Manor"). Perry also appeared with “Monkees In The Ring” co-guest Joe Perry in "The Secret Powder Affair," the April 4, 1967 episode of Occasional Wife (NBC, 1966-67). 

D’Urville Martin (The Champ) was featured as Frankie in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (Columbia, 1967, which also featured Monkee guest actress Alexandra Hay as a Carhop) and partook in several blaxploitation flicks in the 1970s, including The Final Comedown (New World, 1972, which he also served as associate producer), Black Caesar (American International, 1973), and Dolemite (Dimension Pictures, 1975, which he also directed).

The late Joseph V. Perry (Vernon) had a bit part in The Greatest Story Ever Told (United Artists, 1965) as Archelaus. He also had a turn in a guest shot in a March 6, 1967 episode of the short-lived Captain Nice (NBC, 1967), "Don't Take Any Wooden Indians," which also featured Monkee guest Ben Wright (“The Success Story”) and was scripted by Monkee writers Treva Silverman and Peter Meyerson. He appeared with Noam Pitlik ("Everywhere A Sheik Sheik", "Hitting The High Seas") in the October 3, 1965 episode of The FBI (ABC, 1965-74), "A Mouthful Of Dust." Prior to his demise, Perry made several guest appearances as Nemo on Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS, 1994-2005). 

Trivia Footnote: A replacement for the ill-fated The Roger Miller Show, Captain Nice resided on the same NBC Monday night schedule as The Monkees for the entire second half of the 1966-67 season.

Robert Lyons (Smasher) previously appeared in an October 17, 1966 episode of The Iron Horse (ABC, 1966-68), "Broken Gun," with pre-Monkee guests Leigh Chapman (“I've Got A Little Song Here”), Phillip Ober (“The Monkees In Manhattan” [a.k.a “The Monkees Manhattan Style”]) and Kelly Jean Peters (“Too Many Girls” [a.k.a. "Davy And Fern"]). He would later on appear with Bing Russell (“Here Come The Monkees” [Original Pilot Film]) in the March 26, 1967 episode of Bonanza (NBC, 1959-73), "The Deed And The Dilemma."

Jerry Hausner (the fight announcer) is most famous for his roles as Jerry, Ricky Ricardo's agent in I Love Lucy (CBS, 1951-57), and also as Mr. Magoo's nephew Waldo in UPA's 1950s cartoon series. His relationship with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez deteriorated during taping of the third-season February 8, 1954 I Love Lucy episode "Fan Magazine Interview." He got into a fight with Arnez, quit the show, and remained bitter toward Ball and Arnez for the rest of his life - which nonetheless didn't stop him from appearing in the October 15, 1973 episode of Here's Lucy (CBS, 1968-74), "Lucy Gives Eddie Albert The Old Song & Dance". After appearing in two 1981-2 episodes of Alice (CBS, 1976-85), Hausner's final film role was in the 1985 television film Amos. Hausner succumbed in 1993 to congestive heart failure.

Jimmy Lennon, Sr. (Ring Announcer) was regularly cast as an Announcer in a variety of films including Kid Galahad (United Artists, 1962) and Rocky III (MGM/UA, 1982).

George Cisar (Reporter #1) played the role of recurring character Cyrus Tankersley in the TV seires The Andy Griffith Show (CBS, 1960-68) and Mayberry R.F.D. (CBS, 1968-71).

Devotees of Star Trek (NBC, 1966-69) will recognize Peter Canon (Bully) as the Gestapo Lieutenant in the February 16, 1968 episode "Patterns Of Force". Canon would later appear in the September 26, 1969 episode of Get Smart (NBC/CBS, 1965-70), "Pheasant Under Glass" (its 5th season debut and its first CBS episode), with Monkee guest alum Peter Brocco ("Monkee Mayor").

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