I love The Monkees. Monkees Monday on Nick-at-Nite was the center of my universe as a young child (and I roamed the earth like a zombie for years afterward once it was no more). Programming the VCR to record a single episode of The Monkees at 3 A.M. gave me the will to live as a young adolescent. Staying up until 2 A.M. marathoning episodes of the show during finals week at Ohio University was my modus operandi. (OK, so I should qualify that was somewhat involuntary, since college students are exceptionally loud and idiotic creatures. Especially during finals week. Especially at Ohio University.)
I’ve seen and loved all 58 episodes countless times (I raise my hands in supplication to the invention of DVDs), but I will always only ever have one favorite episode of The Monkees: the ninth installment of the first season, “The Chaperone.”
“She’s divine, lovely, beautiful, devoon, marvelous.” Uh oh. Davy’s in love. As usual.
“The Chaperone” features The Monkees‘ single most-used plotline: Davy falls in love with a girl. A blonde girl. A blonde girl with no personality. Not that he would know that because he’s never actually said more than three words to this girl and he’s not that bright anyway.
This particular vacuous blonde girl, though, has an exceptionally strict father, a former Military General who only allows her to attend chaperoned parties. So what do The Monkees do?
“What do you mean you don’t remember? Everyone remembers The Battle of the Bulge. Oh! It’s me you don’t remember.”
Micky, alias Colonel Dolenz, phones the girl’s father, General Vandenberg, and informs him that his son, Micky, and his friends are throwing a chaperoned party and would his daughter, Leslie, like to come? Of course she would. So the Monkees have got to get their place decorated for party! This leads to one of my all-time favorite Monkees “romps.” (“Romps” are the hip word used to describe the music sequences of the show. They’re pretty much music videos. Only way more fun.)
Some of my favorite things that happen during this romp:
Mike trying to open the pretzels. Yeah, so Mike Nesmith is totally my favorite Monkee. I know, I know. I KNOW. I’m pretty sure 90% of this blog’s readers are my family members, and I’m pretty sure all of them hate Mike. Every time the conversation of favorite Monkees comes up everyone gags when I say Mike. I’m never going to live it down. But that’s okay because I don’t really want to. Mike Nesmith always has been and always will be my favorite Monkee. I mean, let’s look at the competition: The New and Improved Stephen Stills, Circus Boy, or A Short, Annoying British Guy Who Will Grow Moobs faster than you can say…well, you’ve already said it. That’s how fast Davy Jones grows moobs. It’s nasty. So of course I’m gonna pick the Texan Twig with the Wool Hat. Of course I am. That ONE TIME my family did a road trip across the entire country, we stopped in Texas and went to the Alamo and I was all, “Why are we here? Where’s Mike’s house?” Anyway. Mike trying to open the pretzels is literally the cutest thing in the world.
Peter making orange juice or something. Who knows? Not Peter. Because Peter’s the dumb one.
Micky spiraling down the staircase straight into that nasty cake Mike just finished frosting. This is seriously one of my favorite things in the world. It’s my favorite part about the opening credits of the show’s first season. (The fact that they removed it from the second season’s opening was a bad omen. Season two is definitely inferior because of this, Micky wearing tablecloths, and the storylines making less and less sense and therefore becoming less and less funny. Unless you were smoking pot. Which everyone probably was.) I still laugh every time. You can ask my sister because she always gets annoyed and says, “Why do you always laugh? It’s not that funny.” Uh, yeah, it is. It totally is.
Peter blowing up a balloon. Self-explanatory, I think.
Once the place is decorated, the real fun begins. The boys need to find a chaperone. They first try to coax their bloodsuckin’ landlord, but he insists he’ll charge them by the hour for the service. Then their feather-brained drunken cleaning lady falls into the role. Then she (literally) passes out of the role and it then goes to…
Mrs. Arcadian aka Micky. Micky makes such a pretty lady. General Vandenberg is, of course, smitten. He even gets up to dance amidst the party’s illustrious guests, which include Mr. Clean and Tarzan. Micky just can’t take it anymore, though, and laments to Mike because Mike is always a supportive friend, a good listener with sound advice. What’s the problem, he asks. “He’s getting fresh,” Micky tells him. Mike reminds him that he is doing it for a friend in need who happens to be in love with General Vandenberg’s daughter.
“Yeah,” retorts Micky. “And I’m going to be his mother-in-law.”
“If you play your cards right,” qualifies Mike.
General Vandenberg does end up proposing marriage to Micky, after the boys’ landlord arrives, also becoming infatuated with Mrs. Arcadian, and after he overhears Davy blowing Micky’s cover to Leslie.
Micky is initially repulsed by the idea and tries to reason his way out of it. But once General Vandenberg promises a Honeymoon in Venice, Micky is sold. No one, not even Mike, can get him to reveal the truth to General Vandenberg.
But it’s no big deal because General Vandenberg already knows. “There is no excuse for this kind of deceit!” he roars. Oh, but there is, his daughter tells him, explaining that all she wanted was a date with Davy. You should have just asked me because, he says, he is not an unreasonable man. A resolution is reached. It’s a touching moment of understanding between father and daughter. As Mike declares, “All’s well that ends well.”
One thing is troubling Micky, though: does he gotta give back the ring? (“Return the ring,” advises Morrissey.)
The tag scene then finds Davy and Leslie on a chaperone-free date:
It’s okay, Davy. You’ll get over her by next week’s episode because you go through more girls than Brandon Walsh.
The Monkees will always be one of my favorite television shows for so many of the reasons illustrated in this episode–the ridiculousness, the humor, and, of course, the music. I remember being outraged the first time I discovered the Monkees were accused of not being a “real band.” Of course they were a real band! My dad owns all their records! Ah, youth. This is the part where Micky uses his line that the Monkees did become a real band just like Leonard Nimoy became a real Vulkan.
Real, fake, human, Vulkan, I really love The Monkees.