The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

UPDATED 8/25: Daydream Believing: “The Monkees” Returns To DVD

with 14 comments

When the winner of Outstanding Comedy Series was announced at the 1967 Emmy Awards, it came as quite a shock.  It wasn’t the timeless magic of Elizabeth Montgomery and co. in Bewitched, nor the homespun sweetness of The Andy Griffith Show.  Agent 99 and Agent 86 of Get Smart didn’t win the prize, and Colonel Klink and the gang at Hogan’s Heroes were similarly empty-handed.  The winner that year was The Monkees, a kooky and wildly irreverent comic romp starring those crazy kids, Micky, Davy, Peter and Mike.  And while show depicted the foursome as constantly struggling to make it as musicians, life had done art one better. 

It was no matter to America that The Monkees had been hired as actors playing musicians, first and foremost.  (The original casting announcement that kicked off the exhaustive talent search was seeking “Folk & Roll Musicians-Singers for acting roles in new TV series.”  The groundwork was already laid for the group’s eventual rebellion and fight for creative freedom.  While the audition notice is for “acting roles,” the producers were seeking musicians and singers from the outset, and the four Monkees eventually blossomed into fine songwriters and producers, too.) The group’s first album, released in October 1966, yielded the hit single “Last Train to Clarksville,” penned by the in-house team of Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.  A scant three months later, More of the Monkees arrived, replacing its predecessor at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and remaining at the top spot for a staggering eighteen weeks on the strength of another smash, Neil Diamond’s “I’m a Believer.”  (It took Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ Sounds Like… LP to dislodge the Monkees!)  When The Monkees took home the top prize at the Emmys, Monkeemania was in full swing.  And now you can relive it.  TVShowsonDVD.com reported earlier this month that, with Rhino’s 2003 releases long out-of-print and commanding exorbitant prices, Eagle Rock is bringing The Monkees back to DVD on September 27 with the release of The Monkees: Season One and Season Two.  Now, that esteemed site has confirmed the complete details of the set from the label.

If you’re like us, and can’t get enough of The Monkees’ unique brand of musical mayhem, hit the jump for the full scoop!

It still comes as a surprise to many that the men behind The Monkees went on to produce some of the most important films of the “New Hollywood” in the late 1960s and early 1970s: Easy Rider (1969), Five Easy Pieces (1970) and The Last Picture Show (1971) among them.  Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson, under their Raybert Productions banner, envisioned a freewheeling weekly romp that would take the best elements of The Beatles’ films A Hard Day’s Night and Help! and further develop the techniques used by those films’ director, Richard Lester.  Quick cuts, jump cuts and improvisation would be applied by Rafelson, Schneider and director James Frawley to loose storylines and embryonic music videos to create hip, cutting-edge and fast-moving comedy week in and week out. 

The series would also, of course, be designed to sell records.  Screen Gems, the television arm of Columbia Pictures (also the production company of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie), drew on the best talent from its music publishing department headed by the legendary Don Kirshner.  That meant that Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Neil Sedaka and Carole Bayer (pre-Sager) and many other Brill Building notables would be given a crack at creating the pop symphonies performed onscreen by Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith.  The Monkees’ albums would be released on Colgems, the studio’s own label.  The Monkees was poised to become a one-show industry, even challenging the chart supremacy of The Beatles.

The series premiered on NBC on September 12, 1966, and 58 episodes were filmed over two seasons.  The Monkees was followed by the band’s trippy film Head (released on DVD and Blu-Ray last year as part of The Criterion Collection’s The BBS Story box set collecting the films of Rafelson and Schneider) and finally the NBC special 33-1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, which will be collected as part of the Season Two box set.  That special, in certain aspects a boiled-down remake of the psychedelic Head, was the last time all four Monkees would appear on film together before the (first) break-up.

These two seasons represent the complete original television series run of The Monkees.  News of Eagle Rock’s releases couldn’t come at a more exciting time for Monkees fans.  The band, save Mike Nesmith, recently criss-crossed the country on a reunion tour, and Friday Music has launched a Monkees reissue campaign, most recently announcing the first-ever CD issue of Davy Jones’ pre-Monkees solo album for Colgems.

UPDATE 8/25: TVShowsonDVD.com has confirmed with Eagle Rock that the upcoming sets are the exact same DVDs released by Rhino in 2003, this time in standard packaging rather than Rhino’s lavish phonograph-style cases.  The episode counts (32 for Season 1 and 26 for Season 2) will be the same, and so will the distressing edits; these are the “censored Saturday-morning versions” of the episodes.  The same bonus features will also be carried over: band/director commentary, trivia for each episode, the Monkees pilot in its 16mm version, a discography, Monkees commercials for Kelloggs, and the 1969 special 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee.

Are you ready to say “Hey! Hey!” to The Monkees?  Season 1 is available for pre-order here and Season 2 here.  Both sets arrive in stores on September 27!

Written by Joe Marchese

August 25, 2011 at 10:22

Posted in DVD, News, Reissues, The Monkees

14 Responses

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  1. Beg to differ about the “33-1/3 Revolutions” being the last time all four Monkees were together on film. There was a TV special which aired on ABC in early 1997 called “Hey Hey We’re The Monkees” which was written (and I believe also directed) by Nesmith which was a 30th anniversary reunion under the concept that the show had never gone off the air and the 4 Prefabs were still living together in the old beach house and strugging to pay the rent.

    Brian Curtis

    August 9, 2011 at 16:27

    • Thanks for reading, Brian! Happy to clarify; we were referring to the fact that “33-1/3” was the last on-screen project with all four Monkees before the band “broke up.” I wasn’t speaking of future reunions, interviews, etc. Sorry ’bout that!

      Joe Marchese

      August 9, 2011 at 16:34

      • Actually, the less said about that 1997 TV special, the better.

        Don’t get me wrong… I love the Monkees, and I was heavily into them at the time of 1986-87 comeback, but that ’97 special and the “Justus” album were *terrible*. Given the choice, I’d rather watch the Star Wars Holiday Special over “Hey Hey We’re The Monkees.” I thought Nesmith’s participation might result in something good, but I was wrong.

        Anyhow, I might have to plunk down for the new DVDs. Especially season two, which is a bit trippier, more daring, and the boys became a bit more outspoken (the music got better too). If Eagle Rock is smart enough to include 33 & 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, I will DEFINITELY buy it!

        Also, I keep hoping that Criterion will put Head out as a Blu-Ray all itself. While all the movies in that boxed set are great, the only one I would watch repeatedly, and therefore want to buy, is Head.

        Shaun

        August 9, 2011 at 18:50

  2. Of course, The Monkees canceled their entire August and September tour dates yesterday. Hopefully they will be rescheduled and the reissue of Instant Replay will happen soon as well.

    Robert Hollowood

    August 9, 2011 at 16:29

  3. Is this a further sign that Rhino (and Rhino Handmade) are divesting themselves of the Monkees brand?

    Hank

    August 9, 2011 at 17:33

    • I still believe another deluxe Handmade box set (INSTANT REPLAY!) is a distinct possibility, and I’m certainly rooting for it to happen! I don’t think it’s a bad thing that Rhino is opening itself to licensing Monkees product; Friday Music is putting out some fine reissues, and who knows what might come next? 🙂

      Joe Marchese

      August 11, 2011 at 01:36

  4. Will these DVD releases be remastered or enhanced in any way? I think that Rhino could have done a better job with their 2 box sets – some episodes were a little grainy or looked like they may have come from videocassettes……

    Rich Dudas

    August 9, 2011 at 18:29

    • No word yet from Eagle Rock, but we’ll be sure to pass the final specs on as soon as they’re confirmed.

      Joe Marchese

      August 11, 2011 at 01:37

  5. Seeing as Friday Music issued CDs of The Monkees Present and Changes just a few months ago I am certainly hoping that Rhino Handmade will do a Deluxe Edition of Instant Replay as there’s loads of material from the sessions surrounding the LP. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for these new DVDs as I never got round to buying the Rhino box sets. Hopefully any bonus features that were on the Rhino box sets will remain intact.

    Scott Charbonneau

    August 9, 2011 at 18:31

  6. Will the guest musical performances be included. For example, Tim Buckley’s solo acoustic performance of “Song For The Siren” – present on YouTube if you’re curious and the “My Fleeting House” DVD – would be worth the purchase price alone, but there are many, many more. Also, when the series debuted here in Australis, the first broadcast episode included audition footage. (Not sure if Charles Manson made that cut.) Any news about possible inclusion of that?

    Les Greene

    August 10, 2011 at 17:29

  7. “… Australia …” of course

    Les Greene

    August 10, 2011 at 17:31

  8. Thanks for the update. I have now pre-ordered both sets, “distressing edits” and all. I like the price point much better than the Rhino versions, (I had no desire to pay that much for the deluxe packaging) and am glad to get all that material including the “33-1/3 Revolutions” special. I had asked Rhino last year if there were any plans to re-release the series with more basic packaging, seeing as they were doing so much withthe music catalog, and they replied that nothing was in the works. That left me feeling I’d be dead long before the TV show ever came out again. I am glad to be misled!

    Jason Michael

    August 25, 2011 at 13:37

  9. Edited versions of the show?? WHY?? I understand why older shows get chopped up for syndication now, since there’s more commerical time than ever on TV (any fan of the original Star Trek can tell you all about how butchered the shows are on TV), but there is NO excuse whatsoever for releasing edited versions of the shows on DVD.

    I remember when Nick At Nite was showing Monkees reruns in the late 80’s. Those were unedited, and I know that because there was additional stuff in the episodes that I wasn’t seeing in those same episodes that my local station was showing.

    I would like to see 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee again, but the butchered episodes are enough of a turn-off that I may have to rethink that.

    Shaun

    August 25, 2011 at 20:04

  10. Oh, and a stand-alone blu-ray of Head from Criterion would still be most welcome!

    Shaun

    August 25, 2011 at 20:05


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