Back in the 80s, the legendary Monkees made a pretty big comeback. Their first album in many years, Pool It!, was a success – at least with me it was. But we can’t forget a dark underbelly of the Monkees reunion: the creation of the New Monkees.
My memory is a bit sketchy. I do remember the basic plot device: the New Monkees live in a giant mansion with “rooms” that really lead anywhere. Every week, something wacky happened. And music was played. That was about it. Oh, and the theme song – “Turn It Up” (“Let the music thunder/ and don’t turn it down/ Turn it up!”) – was acceptable late 80s pop. So acceptable that I referenced it in some Ping comments five years ago.
But enough about that. There’s a swell backgrounder on the show that includes some info on the general concept. And I’ve got to say, it sounds ridiculous.
For members of rock n’ roll bands, a fantasy existence is somewhat normal, but the NEW MONKEES’ mansion takes their fantasies and extends them to the limit. Behind any door can be any environment imaginable: From the unusual (a gymnasium, a library, a bowling alley or roller rink), to the bizarre (a desert, a room with no gravity, or Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s living room). The boys can end up anywhere, without ever leaving the mansion.
Oh, swell. There was also a permanent butler, a 50′s-style diner in lieu of a kitchen (remember how the 50s were popular in the 80s for about 12 seconds?) and a supercomputer that ran the whole house – with an attitude! Like Poochie!
But what of the music? Sadly and predictably, it lacked the charisma of the original Monkees. It’s my opinion in retrospect that affixing the Monkees name to anything but the original four guys actually tarnishes their legacy. Oh sure, you can laugh – but “Pleasant Valley Sunday”, “Porpoise Song”, “Circle Sky” and “Steppin’ Stone” hang comfortably in the classic pop realm. They’re timeless, solid pop songs – pre-fab or not. I don’t think anyone’s going to remember “Burnin’ Desire” by the New Monkees in ten years. Heck, even ten seconds.
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