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The show focused on four young out-of-work musicians and their various adventures. Sometimes their stories were more down-to-earth, as when they were cast as extras in a movie, or when one of them got swindled by a record producer ("The Monkees at the Movies" and "I've Got a Little Song Here", respectively), or they might have more outlandish adventures such as being trapped aboard a pirate ship or stuck inside a haunted castle (as in "Hitting the High Seas" or "Monstrous Monkee Mash").
The Monkees lived in a decidedly surreal universe where anything could happen. Costume changes could happen instantaneously, the camera would speed up or freeze-frame the action at will, and if the Monkees were pursued by their antagonists, the chase would often turn into a free-for-all "romp" accompanied by a song from one of the Monkees' albums. (The fast-paced editing and occasional "music video" showing the band playing together at the end of the show predated MTV by 15 years.)
In real life, the Monkees were two actors (Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones) and two musicians (Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork) who were hired to portray members of a fictional band (modeled somewhat after the Beatles) for the TV show. The albums would initially feature each member taking turns at lead vocals while studio musicians provided the rest of the soundtrack.
Though the albums and singles were phenomenally successful, controversy arose in the press over whether or not the public had been duped into thinking that the Monkees were a real functioning band instead of simply being actors. Though the Monkees would eventually play their own music and write and produce their own songs, the controversy would dog them for the rest of their career.
The show ended after two seasons, as the group felt that the writers were out of fresh ideas. The program went into reruns on Saturday morning starting in 1969, then went into syndication in 1972, finding new generations of fans. The show also enjoyed a brief revival in 1986 when MTV aired the reruns in honor of the show's 20th anniversary.
Raybert Productions produced the series in association with Screen Gems. Rhino Entertainment, a unit of Warner Music Group, now owns the series copyright and the show's underlying rights, with TV distribution handled by Sony Pictures Television. The Monkees had previously been syndicated by Colex Enterprises (a joint venture of SPT predecessor Columbia Pictures Television and LBS Communications) from 1986 to 1988, then solely by LBS from 1988 to 1993, before the distribution rights returned to CPT.
|Season One||September 12, 1966||April 24, 1967||32|
|Season Two||September 11, 1967||March 25, 1968||26|
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
|Season One||May 13, 2003||6|
|Season Two||November 18, 2003||5|