I’ve gone through many interests throughout the years, and one of them revolved around The Monkees—a TV show band that consisted of Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, and Peter Tork. I’d always check to see if any reruns would be airing on television, otherwise I’d head to YouTube. I regularly listened to their music, and even saw all four members in two separate concerts between 2011 and 2012. This past Saturday, all those nostalgic sentiments resurfaced, since the Egyptian Theatre was screening The Monkees in celebration of their 50th anniversary.
It was my first time working in a theater that day, and I had assumed the responsibilities of ticket taker (which, despite any pre-jitters, I actually really enjoyed doing). While I was busy directing someone to the correct theater, a fellow volunteer mentioned that Micky Dolenz walked right past me once I had my back turned. I feel like that would happen to me. Nevertheless, I found myself unintentionally sitting in the same row as him once the show was about to begin. On that note, can I just take a moment to say how wonderfully surreal it was to be watching The Monkees with an original member in attendance?
This evening’s program consisted of four screenings of selected episodes, along with a Q&A with Micky Dolenz. “Monkee vs. Machine” screened first, followed by “Monkees Get Out More Dirt.” I was also in the lovely and surprising company of two friends, and we joined in with the assorted outbursts of laughter coming from audience members all around us. Although it had been a while since I last watched an episode or listened to an album, I still remembered the scenes and lyrics as clear as yesterday.
After the second episode, Micky Dolenz was welcomed to the front by Illeana Douglas, who would be moderating the interview and Q&A session. It ended up lasting for about an hour, but it felt a bit rushed since the poor guy had a plane to catch. Dolenz talked about auditioning for The Monkees, and how he was in school at the time studying to become an architect. He said that once he got the part, he didn’t quit school just yet. They would just be filming the pilot episode, and it would’ve been a risky move to pull at that point. Once things picked up for the show, however, he decided to quit school then and worked those long hours at the studio to produce fifty-eight episodes in two years.
It was so great getting to hear his first-hand accounts in person, which is something my teenage self wouldn’t have dreamed of experiencing. Here are just a few things from the interview that stuck with me the most:
- Dolenz mentioned how they would all watch the Marx Brothers and Laurel & Hardy for comedic inspiration. He went on to say that the episodes were basically “a half-hour musical Marx Brothers.”
- It was brought up that each episode showed The Monkees working through their struggles and whatever obstacles came their way, only to maintain their “all-for-one” kind of a friendship in the end. Dolenz explained that they were an imaginary band who wanted to follow in the footsteps of The Beatles, and the bare-bones takeaway is that a band must work together in their path towards success, even if it isn’t instantly found. He paused, then amusingly pointed out, “I never understood how a struggling band could live in a Malibu beach house in the first place.” Laughter ensued.
- Lastly, he went on to say that the show was written without any use of topical or satirical elements, which is probably why it continues to hold such a timeless essence with today’s audiences.
Sometime after the Q&A was over, a short intermission followed. I went home on account of a pounding headache, so I had to miss the last two episodes (which I was looking forward to because I don’t recall having seen them yet), but regardless, I’m happy to now add this evening to my growing list of favorite screenings.