First Monkees Spectacular

by our Hollywood Reporter

Darwin was the man who thought up the theory of evolution and proved that man had descended from monkeys. Producer Jack Good made this his basic theme for the first Monkees TV Spectacular. He didn’t stick very close to the original theme, though. It became more of a Jack Good looks at the Rock and Roll scene and compares it with today’s music and today’s stars TV show.

Davy, Micky, Mike and Peter helped, of course, with the planning of the whole special and after several weeks of hectic preparation, everyone finally gathered on one of Paramount Pictures big sound stages in Culver City, Los Angeles, at the end of November. Three whole days were to be devoted to the recording of this very special Pop show.

The all-star cast was made up by Little Richard, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Buddy Miles Express, Julie Driscoll and the Brian Auger Trinity and, of course, the Monkees.

Brian Auger started the whole thing going as a sort of souped-up, rock-like Professor Darwin and his Trinity became a contemporary rock group. Then the Monkees rapidly come into the spotlight with Julie Driscoll trying to influence them to think modern.

The whole show is a build-up for the high spot solos and group efforts by its stars.

There are some really great sequences. The boys appear as mechanical dolls in the “Wind-Up-Man” sequence. This is a new twist on the old mechanical toy skit and the Monkees did it really well, acting as though they were no longer made of flesh and blood but bits of tin and metal, moving jerkily to the strains of a clockwork motor inside their tummies.

All Davy fans will be knocked out with his “Buster Brown” outfit—short pants, big collar and the rest.

Mike does a marvellous solo with his guitar dressed in a really fabulous cowboy outfit. Here Jack Good thought up the great idea of splitting the screen, so that half of it contains Mike as a cowboy and the other half Mike dressed as he normally is. Mike the cowboy sings to Mike the Nesmith, if you like. A marvellous bit of television.

Micky sings “I’m A Believer” with Britain’s Queen Jools of Pop, Julie Driscoll, bringing back memories of those months not so very long ago when the tune was constantly on our minds.

Peter does a great performance of “Prithee” in his usual characteristic manner.

But right through the Show the emphasis is on Rock and Roll and Jack Good who, as some of you may have read was responsible for the famous ‘Oh Boy!’ shows which introduced Cliff Richards, the Shadows, Marty Wilde and so many others to the British Pop scene in the late fifties, never lets us forget it, and you will all love the Monkees doing their Rock and Roll bit.

They all dressed for the part with typical rock hair styles, black shirts, silver ties, black pants, black winkle-picker shoes—the lot! The amazing thing is that they’re just as good doing their rock-type stuff as they are with their normal Monkee material.

The whole show ends with a typical Jack Good rave-up, with all the artists going absolutely wild.

Both Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll said afterwards that they were very impressed with the Monkees and felt that many people in Britain don’t give them credit for their talent.

The whole show was filmed in colour, and this immediately raises the question as to whether it will be shown on BBC-2, BBC-1 or even bought by ITV, which would mean that it could only appear in black and white. This has always been a sore point with the boys because their show was recorded in colour and, as you know only too well, when a colour film is shown in black and white, a lot of the impact must be lost through no fault of the artist at all.

On the other hand, I sincerely hope that it is shown in black and white so that every Monkee fan is able to see the boys’ first TV Spectacular. Then, afterwards, for all those lucky Monkee people who have BBC-2, let’s all try and persuade the BBC to show it on their colour channel as well.

We’ll be showing you lots of great pics from the show in next month’s issue. Don’t miss it!

Magazine: Monkees Monthly
Editor: Jackie Richmond
Issue: 24
Publisher: Monkees Monthly
Page: 31