Last summer, 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: “Alias Micky Dolenz” (Season 1, Episode 25)
Air date: March 6th, 1967
“Alias Micky Dolenz” comes near the tail end of season one — and thankfully so. The show has really found its voice at this point, and laying a crime-drama plot on top of the goofy Monkees spirit works surprisingly well.
This episode shines by making excellent use of Micky Dolenz’s comedic chops and strong acting abilities. As much as I love the vibrant personalities of Mike, Peter, and Davy, “Alias Micky Dolenz” could only have been helmed by a strong performer like Micky Dolenz playing an effective double role. For Micky fans like myself, “Alias Micky Dolenz” really is a treat.
The episode opens with Mick parking the Monkee Mobile and being recognized by a common thug. He asks Micky, “When did you get out?” And then proceeds to beat Micky up with a newspaper, like he’s scolding a dog. It’s a typically goofy moment of The Monkees that also forwards the plot to the police station, where Micky and Mike file a police report about the newspaper beating.
I appreciate the police station scene because we get to the plot ASAP. There’s no beating around the bush when it comes to the fact that Micky has an evil doppelganger named Babyface who’s currently in jail. The cops want Micky to impersonate Babyface to collar the rest of his gang, borrowing a plot line from classic literature like Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper.
I also dig the fact that as Micky and Mike are leaving the police station, there’s a peace protestor being arrested in the background. Despite the fact that the Monkees are working with the police in this episode, they’re never fully portrayed as the good guys, thus keeping the aesthetic of “Alias Micky Dolenz” close to The Monkees‘ countercultural roots.
What follows is a series of scenes designed to showcase Dolenz’s stellar abilities of being a total goof for the camera. Micky visits Babyface in prison and plays against himself. It’s clear that it’s a stretch for Dolenz to play the rough and thuggish Babyface, and he’s having a lot of fun doing it. The scene ends with Micky and Babyface fighting with each other in a seamless blend of editing techniques and body doubles.
Micky, clad in full gangster regalia, goes to a sleazy bar to hook up with Babyface’s old thugs and cronies. This leads to the weirdest part of “Alias Micky Dolenz”: a romp set to “The Kind of Girl I Could Love” during a bar fight!
This didn’t muster much goodwill with the censors. After the first airing of this episode, it was left out of the lineup when the show was repackaged for Saturday mornings. Thus, it would be eight years until “Alias Micky Dolenz” re-aired!
This scene also has my favorite joke in the episode. One of the thugs says to Micky, “Babyface, you’re a has-been!” and Micky replies, “No, I was a has been. Now, I’m an am is!” That’s some classic Monkees-style wordplay there.
Micky then spends another scene slapping some of his goons around, which plays out like an extended and very entertaining Three Stooges bit. Then, he’s training Peter (who finally appears halfway through this episode. No sign of Davy, though) and Mike to continue his ruse, acting as “heist experts” for a jewel heist during which the police are going to collar the remainder of the henchmen.
Of course, during the actual jewel heist, the real Babyface shows up. There’s a moment in which the police don’t know who to arrest, but all’s well that ends well as justice is served and the Monkees teach us the valuable lesson that crime does not pay!
I found myself laughing out loud more during “Alias Micky Dolenz” than I have during other season-one episodes. Micky is genuinely funny and grabs his moments in his double role with total aplomb.
It’s my expert opinion (writing enough of these recaps makes one a Monkees expert, right???) that the Monkees wouldn’t have worked as a project without the boys being as good comedically as they were musically. The farcical elements of this episode put my theory to the test, and it holds up. Micky is so, so genuinely funny here. As far as I’m concerned, he’s one of the strongest sitcom actors from the era, up there with Don Adams, Barbara Eden, and Adam West.
The last question that needs to be answered for this episode is, “Where was Davy the whole time?” A post-show interview with Davy reveals that he was out for this episode to attend his sister’s wedding back in England, which he apparently missed by two days due to a mischedule! Someone fire his travel agent, please. Davy storms out at the end of the segment, perhaps revealing more about the pressures the Monkees project than the cheery music and editing during this piece lets on.
Regardless, it’s poignant and a little bit ironic that Jones was MIA in this week’s episode as we observed the fifth anniversary of his passing on March 1. (Jones actually died on February 29.) We miss you, Manchester Cowboy, and will love you forever.