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Episode No. 1:

“The Royal Flush”

The Monkees are hip to an evil archduke's plot endangering the
life of his niece The Princess Bettina, Duchess of Harmonica.

Vital Stats, Credits and Releases On Home Video:

Production No. 4701
Final Draft: May 6, 1966
Filmed At: Screen Gems Studios, Hollywood, CA, and on location in Malibu Beach, CA.
Filming Dates: June 7-10, 1966
Original Air Date: September 12, 1966
Ratings: 15.4 rating/28.5 share (8,450,000 viewers)
© Raybert Productions; 9-12-66; LP37269
Sponsor This Week:
Kellogg’s™
Rerun Dates: May 8, 1967 (NBC); February 13, 1971, February 12, 1972 (CBS); December 23, 1972, July 28, 1973 (ABC)

Written by Peter Meyerson and Robert Schlitt.
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.
Musical numbers produced by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart.
Songs by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, Carole King & Gerry Goffin.
Cast: David Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork.
Guest cast:

Sigmund....................................................................Vincent Beck
Bettina..................................................................Katherine Walsh
Chambermaid................................................................Ceil Cabot
Theo Marcuse as Otto

Home Video Releases:

Synopsis:

On the beach, David Jones, percussionist and lead singer for a local rock band called The Monkees, witnesses a girl going out on the beach on her raft. She starts to ride the raft out into the ocean when it suddenly bursts and sinks, much to the delight of the girl’s uncle, Archduke Otto, along with his chauffer Sigmund, who bear witness from afar via telescope. Their glee soon turns to outrage when they spot David diving in and saving her from drowning. Then the two show up on the beach and thank David for saving his niece Princess Bettina, The Duchess of Harmonica. Just before they depart with the princess, David bumps into Sigmund's intimidating chest, and The Archduke tells him of a saying in Harmonica: "A man who saves a drowning person risks drowning himself," from which David divines Otto and Sigmund plan to kill the Princess and take over her country (Otto gave the raft to Bettina as a present, which he deliberately sabotaged!). Then he realizes she has left with his jacket!

Later, at The Monkees' ramshackle beach pad, with his mates Micky Dolenz (drums), Michael Nesmith (lead guitar) and Peter Tork (bass), David tries unsuccessfully to contact the princess by phone, while Michael gripes about no food in the cupboard and being unemployed for a month. David explains to his friends that the princess's uncle plans to kill her and after reading in the newspaper that the princess and her uncle are staying at The Ritz Swank Hotel, he manages to persuade the others to go with him and warn her (and get his jacket back!). In a fantasy, The Monkees are all dressed in combat army uniforms with helmets and war paint with Micky giving the others an army briefing using a chart for a strategy in how to get into the hotel. With Michael, Micky and Peter, David checks into a suite next to the Royal Suite at The Ritz Swank hotel. Impressing the chambermaid, Michael, masquerading as building inspector W.H. Woolhat, advises her to work hard, play hard, and get plenty of roughage in her diet in that she may own the hotel someday. He also tells her to buy International Steel at 28 ½, as a stock tip. The group then gets to work and using tape recorder and a stethoscope to listen in next door, they manage record Archduke Otto telling his henchman Sigmund of his plans to poison the princess. Then Micky calls the Archduke on the phone, claiming to be a throne salesman and manages to convince him come over to their suite in order to sell him a throne and some royal supplies. The band redress an ordinary chair into a throne in about a few seconds before Otto and Sigmund arrive.

Michael, Micky and Peter distract The Archduke and his henchman, while David convinces Bettina of her uncle’s wretched plan. Told her uncle can't get arrested because he has diplomatic immunity and, as region, controls everything until she becomes queen upon her 18th birthday tomorrow, when there will be a ball which will mark her accession to her throne.  David decides to keep her out of circulation until midnight, and he escapes with her just as Otto and Sigmund who are losing their patience with the other three exit their suite but David and Bettina manage to sneak away unseen along with the others. After the departure of The Monkees and Bettina, Otto becomes suspicious, since she wouldn’t leave on her own and that somebody had to have known he wouldn’t be in, until realizes he has been tricked by “those throne merchants!”, and starts Sigmund on a mad pursuit of Bettina and her rescuers; he crashes through the suite doors at which Otto shouts out, “Sigmund, how many time have I told you?! Only when they’re locked!”

Later while walking on the beach, Bettina expresses to David her lament over the many responsibilities for the welfare of all her people as queen. He declines her offer to visit her country for her coronation, because “what I have to do is here with the guys and our music.” While they romance, Micky and Peter keep Sigmund busy chasing them all over the beach to the tune of “This Just Doesn’t Seem To Be My Day,” finally resulting in Sig falling into a deep hole dug by Peter. David takes the princess back to the pad while Sigmund, hiding in the bushes, discovers them, phones his boss and he replies as a code: “The streetcar is going up the hill,” getting the wrong number at first before succeeding in contacting Otto to alert him as to the princess’s whereabouts. Inside, the four have fastened a safe to a rope and suspends it over an “X” on the floor, for the villains to stand on and be clunked unconscious by the safe when the rope is cut. But the rope refuses to do so when the villains arrive. Confronted by Bettina, Otto finally admits he plans to kill his niece that night before her birthday ball. David reports that Bettina has sent a message to her embassy in a sealed envelope, informing them of her uncle’s evil scheme, but Otto nevertheless temporarily postpones his plans. Leaving The Monkees as hostages with Sigmund (as insurance that the princess won’t talk), Otto forces Bettina to accompany him to the ball. After the boys’ attempt to jar the rope into fraying by jumping up and down fails, David reads “Snow White” to Sig as a diversion while Michael, Micky and Peter sneaks up behind him and tie him down. But the callous chauffeur breaks loose from his bind and pops up at the front door, blocking the boys’ escape. Just as he is about to pounce upon the boys, the rope holding the safe finally frays and Sig is knocked unconscious, permitting The Monkees to narrowly escape to The Ritz Swank Hotel.

There at the ball, the Archduke spots Michael, Peter, Micky and David in alternate corners of the ballroom and then he grabs Bettina and tries to escape. David blocks his exit, and after he releases his niece, he unsheathes a sword from his cane to attack him. Micky throws David a sword and they begin to sword fight to the song,  “Take A Giant Step” dressed in 18th century clothing. In the middle of the duel, a newly-revived Sigmund arrives but Michael and Micky soon handle of him by enticing him into ramming into a brick wall behind some curtains and he gets knocked out again. David loses his sword in the duel, and Otto makes ready to run him through when, thanks to Peter, everyone learns it's midnight and Bettina, becoming queen, orders Otto arrested; he is led away as he is booed by the crowd. Later The Monkees are ordered out of their hotel room by the chambermaid. She reveals she has become the boss by buying the hotel with the money she made on Michael’s stock tip!

Tag Sequence:

The Monkees sit for a casual interview about their feelings of this show.

Production Notes:

A table-read and rehearsal of “The Royal Flush” ocurred at SG Studios Stage 7, on Monday, June 6, 1966, the day prior to the beginning of shooting.

Underscore composer Stu Phillips recorded background cues for “The Royal Flush” at RCA Studio A in Hollywood from 3:00-7:00pm on Tuesday, July 26, 1966.

This was the only episode in the entire series not to have a reasonably full listing of songs in the end titles, which, in this case, were Boyce & Hart's “This Just Doesn’t Seem To Be My Day” and Goffin & King's “Take A Giant Step.” It showed the names of the composers (under an intricate "Songs by" credit), but not the titles of the songs they wrote.

“This Just Doesn’t Seem To Be My Day” appears here and in Episode No. 9, “The Chaperone,” in a alternate take, with an extra minute of music during the instrumental bridge not heard in the take on The Monkees’ first album.

Collector's Note: The special Mono TV Version of “This Just Doesn’t Seem To Be My Day” 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).

The third Monkees episode to be filmed, “The Royal Flush” was the first to be helmed by James Frawley, an initial member of innovative NYC comedy troupe The Premise, who would go on to direct the bulk of The Monkees' 58 half-hour segments (32 to be exact). Frawley would soon be greatly rewarded for his efforts on “The Royal Flush”; it won the Emmy for Outstanding Directorial Achievement In A Comedy Series for 1966-67.

The harpsichord rendition of The Monkees' theme (arranged by Stu Phillips) first appears here.

The concept of the little tag sequence where David, Micky, Peter and Michael sat and chatted (at the end of this and 11 more episodes of The Monkees) came about when director Jim Frawley found that “The Royal Flush” was very long in its original director's cut. He trimmed it very tight to accommodate tight airtime space for NBC, resulting in it being 2 minutes short. Instead of putting back those 2 minutes (6 frames @ a time), Frawley opted to put The Monkees in front of the camera and improvise a little tag. (The particular interview seen here was most likely shot during production on the musical numbers of "Last Train To Clarksville ," "[I'm Not Your] Steppin' Stone," and "Sweet Young Thing," which surface in future episodes, and that of the "[Theme From] The Monkees", which appears in the first-season opening titles.)

An alternate ending to “The Royal Flush” has The Chambermaid (Ceil Cabot) forcing Michael and Micky to clean up the battle-scarred ballroom!

Footnote: The most likely inspiration for the one-minute short interview would have to be the Press Conference scene from the film A Hard Day's Night (UA, 1964), where The Beatles are interviewed by members of the Press and give flippant/comical answers (eg "How did you find America?" "Turn left at Greenlands.")

A technique dubbed the "double-guitar iris" transition was first used here. It featured an outer guitar (shown in red, orange, light green, light blue, or black) slanted @ an approximate 180-degree angle, zooming into the screen (taking us out of the previous scene), followed by an inner guitar, which introduces the next scene. Other Monkees episodes to employ this technique were the next one, “Monkee See, Monkee Die”, No. 4, “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers”, No. 5, “The Spy Who Came In From The Cool”, No. 8, “Don't Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth”, No. 9, “The Chaperone”, No. 11, “Monkees A La Carte”, and No. 13, “One Man Shy”.

The end credits for “The Royal Flush” and all further Kellogg's-sponsored NBC-TV telecasts of The Monkees sported package faces of Kellogg's popular cereals: Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Sugar Frosted Flakes, Apple Jacks, Special K, Variety-Pak, and Pop Tarts.

An alternate print of “The Royal Flush” features a clip of The Monkees performing “Last Train To Clarksville” replacing the tag interview segment.

A distinct musical sting composed by Stu Phillips can be heard in the scene where David and Bettina converse with each other on the beach, just prior to the start of the “This Just Doesn’t Seem To Be My Day,” chase sequence. In the May 8, 1967 repeat of “The Royal Flush” on NBC (in which the song “You Told Me” replaces “This Just Doesn’t Seem To Be My Day”), the cue is no longer heard.

The Monkees started sessions for their first album after finishing production on “The Royal Flush.”

Three vital portions of “The Royal Flush”'s end-credit sequence---specifically the Producers, the Developers and the Script & Story Editors---are arranged much differently than they are in later Monkees installments.

Also, for the first 14 episodes of the series, Monkeemobile styler Dean Jefferies is miscredited as "Jeferies" (with one "F" in his surname).

The 1986 Colex syndicated edition of “The Royal Flush” featured the soundtrack from its May 8, 1967 repeat on NBC (featuring the songs “You Told Me” and ”The Girl I Knew Somewhere”) and the end credits augmented from its February 13, 1971 (Peter Tork's 29th birthday!) repeat on CBS Saturday Afternoon (which lists the songs "Apples, Peaches, Bananas and Pears" and "Good Clean Fun"). Rhino set the record straight on both counts for its 1995 inclusion in The Monkees Video Box Set, and the syndication package now uses the upgraded print of the episode with the original songs (though the CBS end credits remain intact!). The CBS version surfaced in October 1992 as part of a 40-episode VAP Japanese Monkees VHS/laserdisc collection.

Trivia Notes:

Peter wears an hourglass watch during the army briefing. 

The 309 Usurper throne, which "throne merchant" Micky pitches to Otto, was reused thrice: in Episode No. 21, "The Prince And The Paupers", No. 43, "A Coffin Too Frequent", and No. 52, "The Devil And Peter Tork". The Usurper throne can also be briefly seen in The Monkees 1968 movie HEAD, immediately following the "Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?" birthday party boogie sequence.

Note a certain incision on David Jones' lower left abdomen, which is due to an appendetomy he had years back. He refers to it in Episode No. 10, “Here Come The Monkees” (Original Pilot Film).

4 years after she guest-starred in this premiere installment of The Monkees, the late Ceil Cabot would also appear in the debut episode of another Screen Gems TV series revolving around a rock band, The Partridge Family (ABC, 1970-74): "What? And Get Out Of Show Business?".

The signs used by Peter for his digging project: "Danger Hole Started," "Watch Out Half A Hole," and "Caution Whole Hole."

A close-up shot from this episode of David clad in his swordsman refinery a la Errol Flynn with a sword (dueling with Otto next to the buffet table in the ballroom during the “Take A Giant Step” romp) is edited into the first season main title sequence for The Monkees. Another portion of “The Royal Flush” seen in the first season opening credits is the close-up shot from the minute-short interview seen at the end of this episode of Micky wearing his red eight-button shirt, sitting in a chair and waving a script.

Continuing with Errol Flynn, an onscreen caption reference to him flashes onscreen during the sword duel climax ("IT ALWAYS WORKED FOR ERROL FLYNN"). The last wife of the swashbuckling legend, Patrice Wymore, would later turn up on The Monkees as Madame Quagmeyer in Episode No. 24, “Monkees A La Mode”

In the interview, when told by Micky to stand up and show the audience how tall he is, David retorts, jokingly, "I am standing up!" This gag would be repeated in Episode No. 16, “The Son Of A Gypsy”, 23, “Captain Crocodile”, 38, "I Was A 99-lb. Weakling", and 46, "The Monkees On The Wheel".

David renews his fencing prowess (first displayed here in the swordsman climax with Otto set to the tune of “Take A Giant Step”) in Episode No. 21, “The Prince And The Paupers” (in a fencing lesson with Max [Joe Higgins]), No. 44, "Hitting The High Seas" (engaging Micky, Peter and the crew in mad swordplay in the romp set to “Daydream Believer”), and in No. 55, "The Monkees Mind Their Manor" (in a duel with Sir Twiggly Toppin-Middlebottom [Bernard Fox], which he loses!). In Episode No. 13, “One Man Shy” (a.k.a. "Peter And The Debutante"), Peter can be briefly seen fencing with Ronnie Farnsworth (George Furth) in the romp set to “You Just May Be The One”

In Rhino's restoration of the original first-run edition of “The Royal Flush” for its release as part of the 1995 Deluxe Limited Edition Box Set and the 1996 individual select release, its end credits has a beat missing where researcher Andrew Sandoval had to edit together 2 separate sets of end credits to get the proper song listing. That "beat" was, in fact, the portion of the credits which features the caption "Music Supervision DON KIRSHNER"; this is a native of the NBC repeat of the episode from May 8, 1967 (Kirshner was long gone by that point).

Both Otto and Bettina know David's name, despite never having heard it - Otto calls him Mr. Jones, while Bettina calls him Davy.

In the scene where The Monkees rig the front door for the villains, Micky boasts, "They have about as much chance of finding us here as I do becoming Miss America!" Sure enough, three loud knocks ring out, and Michael uses this opportunity to sing "There she is, Miss America!," the first line of that popular Bernie Wayne-composed tune which has become an American institution, heard each and every year of the annual Miss America Pageant.

Further royalty-themed Monkees episodes are No. 21, “The Prince And The Paupers”, No. 35, "Everywhere A Sheik Sheik", and No. 48, "Fairy Tale".

Prior to the airing of this debut episode, David Bordon of United Artists and David Yarnell of RKO sued Screen Gems to the tune of $6,850,000, claiming they unwittingly duplicated the idea of The Monkees from them (Liverpool U.S.A.). They tried unsuccessfully to stop the series from being telecast until the suit was settled, and the case was resolved, out of court, for an undisclosed amount.

This episode was one of David Jones' favorites, along with No. 44, "Hitting The High Seas", and No. 58, "Mijacogeo" (a.k.a. "The Frodis Caper").

Nesmith's pseudonym, W.H. Woolhat, marks one of only 2 episodes bearing direct references to Michael's old nickname, "Wool Hat" in the whole Monkees TV series, besides “Here Come The Monkees” (Original Pilot Film).

Throughout this entire episode, Micky Dolenz is the only one to mug the camera for comic effect---"breaking the fourth wall," as it were. This would be a major feature on the series throughout its run.

It is never established whether or not David got his jacket back!

Guest Cast Notes:

The late Theodore Marcuse (Otto) had numerous villainous stints, including the diabolical Dr. Gamma on Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea (ABC, 1964-68), and Lescaux in the November 11, 1966 episode of The Time Tunnel (ABC, 1966-67), "Devil's Island," which also featured future Monkee villain Oscar Beregi (“The Prince And The Paupers”). His appearance as Korob in the October 27, 1967 episode of Star Trek (NBC, 1966-69), "Catspaw", turned out to be his last, as it aired one month before his tragic death.

Among the few projects of the late Katherine Walsh (Bettina) was a role as Lulu in the 1967 American International release The Trip, written by Jack Nicholson (future cowriter/coproducer of the movie HEAD) and starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper (who cameoed in HEAD); all 3 would later star in the Monkee-financed film Easy Rider (Columbia, 1969). 

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