Last year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Monkees as a band by counting down our top 50 Monkees songs. Now, we’re celebrating The Monkees TV show by profiling each and every episode — exactly 50 years after it first premiered.
Tonight’s episode: “I Was a 99-Pound Weakling” (Season 2, Episode 6)
Air date: October 16, 1967
This week’s glimpse into the world of the Monkees begins with Micky and a blonde, bikini-clad girl named Brenda cuddling on the beach. But their afternoon snuggle sesh (romantic for him, lackadaisical for her) gets interrupted when a guy who’s triple Micky’s size starts showing his bod off to the girl. His name is Bulk, and he looks like a more jacked up version of Rocky Horror.
Micky tries his best to beat up the burly Bulk, only to be comically injured and realize that he’s — you guessed it — pretty weak. Despite her seeming lack of enthusiasm, Brenda goes off with Hunky McHunkerson (I mean… Rock– no wait, Bulk…), and Micky is left all alone.
Already it’s apparent that the premise of this episode probably wouldn’t fly in this day and age. It’s a little awkward watching it in 2017, honestly, when “body positivity” is such a buzzword. I can only imagine the heated statuses and tweets that’d be posted if a modern equivalent of this show airing today. (#StandUpForMickyDolenz #MusclesArentEverything #MickyIsBeautiful)
Anyway, in the meantime, Micky and co. are still on the beach. Micky encounters a pensive (meditating?) dude in a tunic and lace-up sandals. It’s super convenient timing — because the man, whose name is Shah-Ku, just so happens to be a health and strength coach! OMG, just what Micky needs!
Seriously, how crazy is that? You’d really think this was a scripted TV show or something.
So Micky goes back to Shah-Ku’s gym, where he’s subjected to a few strength tests: climbing a rope, pulling some pulleys, and lifting a dumbbell. The tests are very much rigged, though (the rope is greased, the pulleys and dumbbells are too intense, etc), leading Micky to think he’s even more of a wet noodle than he actually is.
Shah-Ku wants Micky to sign up for his health plan. One problem: it costs $150. Obviously Micky can’t afford this, being, as he says, an “unemployed drummer” (I feel you, Mick). He decides it’s a great idea to sell his drums to conjure up the cash. He’s determined to build his bod and get his girl back.
Davy and Peter, however, have other plans. They plan to take on Bulk with something other than muscle (cause, let’s be real, they’re pretty scrawny themselves). The duo pull a series of tricks on Bulk to make him think he’s wasting away, like painting blotches on his back and throwing him an inconspicuous ball made of lead, which he can’t lift.
Since Brenda digs muscles, they dress Micky up in a puffy jacket and some football padding to simulate some gains. Still, though, he wants to build real muscle (so he can be Brenda’s type, duh) and so he heads back to Shah-Ku’s gym.
It just wouldn’t be a day in the life of the Monkees without some kind of bad guy trying to screw everything up, would it? Shah-Ku, it turns out, is the bad guy in question this time. His whole Instagram-worthy “#EatClean #FitnessIsLife” wellness program turns out to be just a gimmick.
After a montage of the Monkees monkeying around (oh man that is so overused and corny I’m sorry) in superhero suits to “Sunny Girlfriend,” the scene cuts back to the beach. It looks as though Micky and his girl will live happily ever after, without the intrusion of blonde bowl cut muscle boy.
That all changes when a scrawny guy (not trying to body shame, just being descriptive!) with glasses stumbles into the duo as he reads a book while walking. Brenda swoons over the bespectacled boy, once again leaving Micky alone. Our boy just can’t win, it seems!
But this wacky situation (and “wacky” would describe almost any situation in this episode) lets Micky’s brilliantly slapstick comedic skill shine at its brightest. While Mike and Peter are often better suited for dryly humorous bits (IMO, of course), Davy and Micky are at their strongest when acting out exaggerated, almost vaudevillian things. Since this episode revolves around Micky constantly winding up in wild scenarios, his performance really gives the viewer a good ol’ belly laugh. (And who doesn’t need one of those these days, am I right?)
Can we take a second to address something, though? You may have noticed something (or, rather, someone) missing throughout this episode.
IT’S MIKE. RED ALERT: THERE IS NO! MIKE! NESMITH! IN THIS EPISODE! (At least, there’s no Mike until the very end, when he appears in the video for “Love is Only Sleeping.”)
C’mon, though, what gives?! As a Mike fan (no, a Mike lover) ((actually, let’s be honest, a Mike “I wish I could travel back in time and hang out with you and laugh at your weird jokes and also maybe just kinda stare into your eyes for a little bit”-er)) his absence made me sad. Not sad enough, however, to dislike this episode.
And honestly, that’s really saying something.