“HERE COME THE MONKEES”
(ORIGINAL PILOT FILM)
The boys, renowned quick-change artists, use their Monkee
magic to give a cram course in history to a young girl.
|Technical & Telecast Info:
Production No.3811 (David Jones' screen test), 2657-15 (Michael Nesmith's screen test), 4091 (this pilot)
First Draft:August 17, 1965
Revised Final Draft:November 9, 1965
Filmed At:Screen Gems Studio 7, Hollywood, CA, and on location in Los Angeles, CA, at Malibu Beach, CA, and in San Diego, CA.
Filming Dates:October 7, 1965 (David Jones' screen test); October 19, 1965 (Michael Nesmith's screen test); and November 13-23,1965 (this pilot).
Original Air Date:November 14, 1966.
Ratings:18.5 rating/30.5 share (10,160,000 viewers)
© Raybert Productions; 11-14-66; LP37613
Sponsor This Week:Slicker and Black Label by Yardley Of London™
Rerun Date:August 7, 1967 (NBC).
Written byPaul Mazursky and Larry Tucker.
Directed byMike Elliot.
Produced byRobert Rafelson and Bert Schneider.
Associate Producer:Ward Sylvester.
Music Supervision:Don Kirshner.
Background Music Composed and Conducted byAllyn Ferguson.
“I Wanna Be Free”:Written & Produced by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart.
“Let’s Dance On”:Written by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart; Produced by Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart & Jack Keller.
Jill Van Ness|
Richard St. John|
June Whitley Taylor|
- The Monkees - Volume 3 (Musicvision VHS #60714/Beta #20714, November 1986)
- Image Entertainment laserdisc #ID7461RC (1991)
- The Monkees: The Collector's Edition - VHS Tape #9 (Columbia House #13222, May 22, 1995)
- The Monkees Deluxe Limited Edition Boxed Set - VHS Tape #1 (Rhino R3 2960, October 17, 1995)
- Rhino VHS R3 2235 (March 26, 1996)
- 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 2 (Rhino BD2-552705, July 8, 2016)
During a rainy evening, a T.V.
reporter, amidst a small crowd, conducts a man-on-the-street interview with Dr. Lionel B. Turner regarding innocent bystanders ignoring violence on the streets in which the doc swears his duty to defend anyone in need. They're soon interrupted by
The Monkees—David, Michael, Peter and Micky—four talented musicians; they stage a
mock assault on David, who calls to Dr. Turner for help to but he flees in fright. To avoid the reporter, the doctor ends up helping an old lady across the street who then charges him $.15 in return. At Rudy’s Record Rack record store, Rudy Gunther,
The Monkees manager and owner of the store, tells the foursome about a gig at The Riverdale Country Club; the owner, his old
Marine buddy Charley Russell, is auditioning bands for his daughter
Vanessa’s sweet sixteen party. The Monkees are skeptical at first, but are won over when Rudy states the gig pays $150 in cash. That night at the country club,
Mr. Russell and Vanessa are sedately dancing to the square melodies of Sven Helstrom
and his Swedish Rhythm Kings, although Vanessa isn't enjoying the music. When
The Monkees arrive, both David and Vanessa get stars in their eyes upon sight as
they become smitten with each other and Michael has to drag him to the stage.
Soon they're performing the song
“I Wanna Be Free”
(the fast version) while David fantasizes about him, Vanessa and the guys having fun in the park and at the Kiddieland amusement park.
After they finish, Mr. Russell hires them and soon
David and Vanessa start going out. Vanessa is about to kiss Davy on her front porch at the end of their date when Mr. Russell interrupts. The following night,
David is preparing for his next date with her as the guys start teasing him and at the end of that date
(which ends at 1:00 in the morning!) David and Vanessa do get to kiss before she enters her home. Once inside, she's confronted by her parents who complain of her neglecting her studies for her history final to spend time with
David. Vanessa swears she'll pass her final but she ends up flunking it instead. At the beach,
Jill Gunther, Rudy’s 16 year-old daughter and Vanessa’s friend, explains to the
boys that Vanessa will get a makeup final, but they are in danger of losing a
job if she flunks it, too—and that her admirations for David is the
reason for her failure to concentrate on her schoolwork. Upon hearing this, an upset
David walks off in the middle of their volleyball game and strolls along the
beach to a much slower rendition of “I Wanna Be Free.” Back at their pad,
David expresses to Michael his guilt over Vanessa flunking and wants to help her. Michael declares a meeting and in a fantasy sequence, the guys are lawyers
at the firm of Vanessa Russel and Vanessa in a board meeting who select David to help Vanessa pass her make-up exam.
That night, the guys disguise themselves as
deliverymen and sneak Vanessa out of the house in a big dresser drawer. The next
morning, Mr. Russell complains to Rudy about Vanessa’s disappearance and Jill
explains that The Monkees are only helping her pass her final. Meanwhile, The Monkees
help Vanessa by dramatizing historical events with a musical number at the beach
and an re-enactment of the Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton duel at the park that
ends up scaring away picnickers until Mr. Russell's arrival sends the guys
fleeing. Vanessa does indeed pass her make-up exam and at the party at the country club,
Vanessa's teacher explains what The Monkees did for Vanessa but her
rock-and-roll-hating father still refuses to let them in while Sven Helstrom
and The Swedish Rhythm Kings perform in their stead, driving away the
uninterested teenage guests. When The Monkees show up,
the guard sends the away while inside Vanessa and then Mrs. Russell start crying
until Mr. Russell relents. He goes outside to question the guard about The Monkees
who informs him he sent them away as ordered but they hear the sound of The Monkees jumping over the wall. As
the guard shines his flashlight on them there’s a fantasy sequence of them as fugitives dressed in black and white striped prison outfits in which ends with Micky in a hysterical fit at the sound of police sirens. As Mr. Russell is about to explain to the boys that they’re invited, they run off. Then he and the guard give them a wild comical chase all over the country club from the card room where they do another fantasy sequence as mavericks playing cards to the game room and a few times in the bar where they repeatedly knock a waiter carrying a tray of dishes down.
When they enter the ball room, Mr. Russell explains that they’re invited and the guard replies that he sold out his country club and himself and storms off. To get Sven Helstrom
and The Swedish Rhythm Kings off stage, Michael announces on the microphone that
Norway just declared war on Sweden and that all Swedish Nationals are to report
to their embassy and with that the band, patriotic beings they are, march off
the stage. Then The Monkees gets the party rolling to the song “Let’s Dance On.”
and everyone from the drunk at the bar, Dr. Turner and the old lady, Vanessa
with another boy and Vanessa’s parents are dancing while the TV Interviewer,
tries in vain to conduct a "Man-In-The-Ballroom" interview until he cracks up
and dances along. From the bandstand, David sees another girl, and again sparks
fly. Afraid that David’s new passion may cost them their first job (seeing
as this is how all the trouble started to begin with!), Micky,
Michael and Peter, brandishing balloons as weapons, madly dash after David and chase him out of the ball room with the crowd in pursuit.
Micky and Peter introduce black and white segments of spontaneous, unrehearsed screen tests featuring Michael and David from October 1965.
Director Mike Elliot was a commercial director for the Screen Gems
would produce Monkees commercials for Kellogg's Rice Krispies and Yardley
Black Label Aftershave.
The concept of the guard not letting The Monkees into the club was reused
for the 1997 ABC-TV special Hey Hey It's The
All the scenes in The Riverdale Country Club were done at The Del Coronada Hotel in San Diego, the location of the classic Some Like It Hot (United Artists, 1959) (whose title
would inspire that of Episode No. 56 of
The Monkees, "Some Like It Lukewarm" [a.k.a. "The Band Contest"]); the Kiddieland amusement park scenes during the “I Wanna Be Free”
sequences were shot at Belmont Park, also in San Diego.
Trivia Footnote: The Monkees (sans Peter Tork) later revisited San Diego's
Belmont Park in February 1970 to film a Kool-Aid TV commercial for their
CBS Saturday Sfternoon repeats.
Early names for the band include "The Creeps," "The Impossibles" (later
used by Hanna-Barbera for a CBS Saturday Morning series debuting in 1966),
"The Turtles" (already used!), and "The Inevitables." Raybert finally settled
upon the correctly-titled "The Monkeys," until they dropped the "y" in the
name and substituted it with a second "e" (noting an impressive spate of rock
combos with misspelled names [The Beatles, The Byrds, The Cyrkle, etc.]), and
thus and therefore,
The Monkees were born.
The initial names of the title characters in the pilot's script were
"Biff", "Dicky", "Fred" and "Suds".
A non-broadcast version of this pilot featured an alternate soundtrack featuring Boyce & Hart singing the vocals to their songs (“I Wanna Be Free”,
“Let’s Dance On” and "(Theme From) The Monkees"); the songs were redubbed with The Monkees' versions when the pilot was broadcast. (Listen for the very end of the original Boyce-Hart sung fast demo of
“I Wanna Be Free”, as David imagines he’s handcuffed to Vanessa Russell, and the opening guitar licks of the original demo of
the ballad version, as David takes leave of the volleyball game to take a stroll down the beach.) Also in the unaired pilot, different sound effects were heard during the Kiddieland romp sequence over Boyce & Hart's demo version of
“I Wanna Be Free”, which was considerably faster than the actual track; the tempo in the demo of
“Let’s Dance On” was much slower, which in turn extended the ballroom dance climax and accommodated some extra scenes of the dancers; and finally, Micky Dolenz was credited under his moniker from
Circus Boy (NBC/ABC, 1956-58), Micky Braddock.
A disastrous January 1966 test screening of the pilot for the Audience Studies Incorporated (ASI), a research subsidary of Screen Gems which measured samples of a viewing audience and tallied their findings via computer, sent Robert Rafelson into the cutting room for 2 days, which he spent inserting the "spontaneous, unrehearsed" screen tests of the boys (which were featured @ the outset of this networkcast version) at the very beginning of the pilot. Only
then did Raybert Productions get what they so coveted from the
National Broadcasting Company: firm commitment to at least 32 episodes of their strange new sitcom,
Composer Allyn Ferguson scored this episode's incidental soundtrack. Other episodes which feature background music not composed and conducted by Stu Phillips are No. 39,
"Hillbilly Honeymoon" (a.k.a. "Double Barrell Shotgun Wedding"), No. 54,
"The Monkees In Paris" (a.k.a. "The Paris Show").
In this pilot, Michael Nesmith was given an appropriate yet rather strange moniker:
"Wool Hat" (Rudy the manager addresses Nesmith by that name at the beginning of this show). Nes balked against the producers' strategy, despite his comfort with the novelty, and added "I'd rather do it my way and less," thus prompting the producers to use his given name. (Many early
TV Guide listings for
The Monkees list Nesmith with his original sobriquet.)
In the close-up shots of the band playing
“I Wanna Be Free” and
“Let’s Dance On”, the band look older and are sporting their mid-1966 hairstyles (and Michael is seen playing his "blonde" 12-string Gretsch as opposed to the dark one he played in the pilot), which suggests that these scenes were re-filmed sometime during summer 1966.
2 publicity photos from the pilot can be seen on the rear of the LP
More Of The Monkees. colour stills from this episode can be found in the 1994 Rhino
release of The Monkees LP, as well as the 2006 Deluxe Edition. A b/w still can be found on the CD release of 1987's Missing Links (RNCD 70150).
An alternate version of the ending had the other Monkees dashing after David brandishing their instruments (instead of baloons!) as weapons.
Rhino painstakingly remastered “Here Come The Monkees” (Original Pilot Film) for home video/DVD release; however, the low-quality 16mm print continues to air in syndication as it has for over 30 years.
Said low-quality print was even released on VHS and Beta by Musicvision in November 1986 and on laserdisc by Image Entertainment in 1991. However, the newly-remastered version of "Here Come The Monkees" made its basic cable TV debut on May 25, 2015, during a Memorial Day marathon of episodes of
The Monkees on IFC (albeit with the redubbed summer 1967 soundtrack!).
Yes, believe it or not, The Monkees were slated to have a manager to keep them in line! Record store owner Rudy Gunther, The Monkees manager, was obviously patterned after The Beatles' manager, the late Brian Epstein, who, like Rudy, also ran a record store prior to discovering The Fab Four. Ironically, the date of Epstein's accidental death at age 32, August 27, 1967,
occurred on the eve Episode No. 27 OF The Monkees,
“Monkee Mother”, was repeated, the official end of The Monkees' first season on NBC Television (“Monkee See, Monkee Die”, Episode No. 2, aired
first-run on his 32nd birthday).
There are several differences in the interior of The Monkees' pad: there is a regular staircase instead of a tornado staircase; the exit is on the right; and the living room layout is much different, for all of these shots were done in an actual house!
Here, David Jones utters his trademark line, "You must be joking!" for the first time on
The Monkees (3 times, yet!). He can be heard repeating this phrase in Episode No. 14,
“Dance, Monkee, Dance”, No. 24,
“Monkees A La Mode”, No. 31,
“The Monkees At The Movies”, and No. 46,
"The Monkees On The Wheel" (which is the only time a Monkee other than David [Peter] speaks his line).
This is the only episode of the entire run of the The Monkees series to feature a Monkees song (Boyce and Hart's
“I Wanna Be Free”) in two different versions.
Collector's Note: The fast version of
“I Wanna Be Free” was recorded on the same day as the
the ballad version in July 1966, and while the latter saw release on
The Monkees' first album, the former did not, and wouldn't until 1990, when Rhino plucked it from the vaults for inclusion on its
Missing Links Volume 2 (R2 70903) compilation.
A remix from the original multitrack master can be found on the 2001
Monkees Music Box (R2 76706) CD set; another remix boasting alternate vocal parts can be found as a Bonus Selection on Disc 2 of
the 2006 2-CD Deluxe Edition reissue of
The Monkees' first album (R2 77678). And a special Mono TV Version of the tune 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).
Paul Mazursky and Larry Tucker later collaborated on the films
I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (Warner Bros., 1968),
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (the
1969 Columbia picture and the ill-fated
1973 CBS series it spawned), and
Alex In Wonderland (MGM, 1970). Tucker fell victim to complications of multiple sclerosis and cancer on April 1, 2001 at age 67; Mazursky succumbed to cardiopulmonary arrest on June 30, 2014 at age 84.
As they drive up to the Riverdale Country Club, the boys are seen emerging from a woody station wagon—the original “Monkeemobile.”
These scenes from this segment were incorporated into the first season main title sequence for
The Monkees: David rising up and hitting his head on a test-your-strength device's bell; the boys racing uphill to escape the wrath of Mr. Russell; Peter by the beach quickly unzips his wet-suit, revealing himself to be fully dressed, wearing a seersucker jacket, shirt, tie, and slacks (from the non-broadcast version of the pilot); and Michael travelling down the street on a motorized skateboard.
In their pad, Michael can be seen pitching darts at a poster of John, Paul, George and Ringo--which is the first in a series of Beatles references on
The Monkees series (also notice that The Monkees, like The Fab Four, have
3 guitarists [including pre-maraca/tambourine shaker David Jones!]!). Others will be in Episode No. 18,
“I Was A Teenage Monster”, No. 32,
“The Monkees On Tour”, No. 35,
"Everywhere A Sheik Sheik", No. 40,
"Monkees Marooned", No. 47,
"The Monkees Christmas Show", No. 53,
"The Monkees Race Again" (a.k.a. "Leave The Driving To Us"), No. 56,
"Some Like It Lukewarm" (a.k.a. "The Band Contest"), and No. 58,
"Mijacogeo" (a.k.a. "The Frodis Caper"). And in The Monkees' 1968 feature film
HEAD, in the scene where Micky, Michael and David exchange insults with Mrs. Ace (T.C. Jones), "she" asks, "Are you still paying tribute to Ringo Starr?"; another scene from the movie has Peter whistling the chorus to "Strawberry Fields Forever."
Of the three lead guitarists of The Beatles, Paul McCartney was the lone left-handed guitarist of the quartet. Here in this pilot, all the 3 lead guitarists of The Monkees are right-handed. David Jones can be seen playing guitar again in the “Pleasant Valley Sunday” musical number shown in Episode No. 34, "The Picture Frame" (a.k.a. "The Bank Robbery"), and No. 36, "Monkee Mayor".
This is one of 3 rare occasions on
The Monkees TV show which find Michael Nesmith speaking with a foreign accent; others are Episode No. 33,
"It's A Nice Place To Visit..." (A.K.A. "The Monkees In Mexico"), where in Nez, as bandito El Nesmito, talks in a Mexican accent (with his post-tonsillectomy voice) and No. 52,
"The Devil And Peter Tork", in which he screams in unintelligible Oriental lingo.
Micky is seen imitating 2 prominent comedians: Jonathan Winters (as Maude Frickert) and Don Adams (as Maxwell Smart of
Get Smart [NBC/CBS, 1965-70]). This is his second impression of Adams as Agent 86, following Episode No. 5,
“The Spy Who Came In From The Cool”
; a third is in No. 41,
"The Card-Carrying Red Shoes".
The Monkees' early outfits consist of fuzzy brown vests, yellow shirts, and brown pants. Take notice of a certain black-and-white striped shirt David wears in the scene where he is interrupted from kissing Vanessa (who wears a similar shirt) by Mr. Russell ("I trust this isn't the start of a trend!"); he will be seen wearing it again in Episode No. 31,
“The Monkees At The Movies”, in the scene where he and the other Monkees draw pictures of straws.
Here Peter officiates at a mock duel involving Micky (as Alexander Hamilton) and Michael (as Aaron Burr). 3 episodes later, in No. 13,
“One Man Shy” (a.k.a. "Peter And The Debutante"), he can also be seen partaking in a mock duel with Ronnie Farnsworth (George Furth).
When they learn from Rudy that the gig at The Riviera Country Club pays $150 cash, The Monkees sing only the last line (in the key of 'g') of the 1898 James Thornton tune, "When You Were Sweet Sixteen."
At The Riviera, Sven Helstrom and The Swedish Rhythm Kings sing a polka-fied rendition of "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight,"
previously a hit for The Spaniels in 1954.
This is the first episode of the series to feature the submain title credits (writer[s] and director) superimposed in front of the boys' faces against a yellow background. Also, the harpsichord Monkees submain title theme is much shorter than it was in earlier segments; this became the nominal submain title used for the duration of
The Monkees' first season on NBC.
The silent movie-like piano-rendered chase cue first heard here is reused in “Monkee Mother”, No. 34,
"The Picture Frame" (a.k.a. "The Bank Robbery"), and No. 41,
"The Card-Carrying Red Shoes".
The portion of the tag which featured Micky and Peter was made during production of Episode No. 16, “The Son Of A Gypsy.”
Plans to retelecast “Here Come The Monkees” on NBC July 10, 1967 with its soundtrack revised to feature
“Words” were apparently scrapped. Instead its eventual repeat on The Peacock Network in August 1967 saw "Shades Of Grey" replacing the ballad version of "I Wanna Be Free"
(the same case as the May 29, 1967 repeat of Episode No. 6, “The Success Story”). The summer 1967 version of the pilot continued to air in local syndication until 1986, when cable TV (MTV) took hold.
This episode was passed completely over for repeats on CBS and ABC Saturday Afternoon, basically due to their Broadcast Standards and Practices objecting to the drunk at the Riviera Country Club bar.
The late Neil "Bing" Russell (Rudy) was the father of actor Kurt Russell and best known as
Deputy/Sheriff Clem Foster on Bonanza (NBC, 1959-73) and Robert in The Magnificent Seven
Trivia Footnote: On the same evening Russell appeared as The Monkees' manager on NBC, he also later appeared on another network as a Rancher in "The Man From Nowhere" (#7034), an episode of
The Big Valley (ABC, 1965-69), which also featured future Monkee guest Richard O'Brien (“The Monkees On The Line”).
Actress Robyn Millan (Vanessa) would later play a couple of regular roles in daytime drama series, like the first Vicky Lucas Hathaway on
Where The Heart Is (CBS, 1969-73) from 1969 to 1971 (she was superceded by Lisa Blake Richards), and the brief role of Delia Reid Ryan Coleridge in 1979 on
Ryan's Hope (ABC, 1975-89). Millan was also seen in a September 17, 1971 episode of
The Partridge Family (ABC, 1970-74), "Dora, Dora, Dora" (its second season premiere), as Dora Kelly
(she had dated star David Cassidy at the time), and she was in the "Portrait In Blues" episode of
Mannix (CBS, 1967-75) and the "Barefoot Girls Of Bleecker Street" segment of
McCloud (NBC, 1970-77), both of which aired on the same night--September 22, 1974! Robyn Ellen Millan passed away July 14, 2020 at age 71, the last survivor of The Monkees' orignal pilot's guest cast.
Trivia Footnote: Robyn Millan, whose character Vanessa Russell celebrates her 16th birthday in "Here Come The Monkees," actually was 16 at the time the pilot was produced, having been born on January 17, 1949.
Even more interesting is the fact that NBC purchased The Monkees television series for their 1966-7 fall schedule on Janaury 17, 1966---Robyn Millan's 17th birthday!
Joe Higgins (seen here as The Guard) turns up in 2 other episodes in The Monkees' first season: as the chubby Masseur in Episode No. 19, "Find The Monkees!," and as Max, the evil Count Myron (Oscar Beregi)'s equally nasty toady in Episode No. 21, "The Prince And The Paupers."
Jill, Rudy's daughter, played by Jill Van Ness, was also a would-be regular character in the pilot. After a highly-accomplished career as a model and actress in the 1960's and many appearances in many magazine ads and album covers, Van Ness
succumbed to multiple cancers at age 67 on April 3, 2011.
Mazursky and Tucker later showed up together in "The Fifty Dollar Misunderstanding," a December 20, 1966 episode of Love On A Rooftop (ABC, 1966-67).