Rosanne Welch, PhD, Author of Why The Monkees Matter, presents “How The Monkees Changed Television” at a Cal State Fullerton Lunch Lecture on May 8, 2018.
In this talk, she shows how The Monkees, and specifically their presence on television, set the stage for large changes to come in the late 1960s.
In this episode, which I’m sorry the still is dark, that’s Micky and he’s confronting the werewolf and the first thing he says to the werewolf is, “You know they won’t et you into Disneyland with hair that long.” Because at the time Disneyland had a dress policy and men with long hair were not allowed in the park as guests. So they were literally putting down a major American corporation in the middle of their program and they got away with it and he did that 2 or 3 times across — I would find it in two or three other episodes there’d be a joke about “Long hair’s going to keep you out of Disneyland.” So it made me wonder if at any time any of them had attempted to go to Disneyland with their children and not been allowed in. I have not found proof of that, but I wonder why they were particularly made at Disneyland. I don’t know. Of course, often they would do things like this — Micky said, “Peter! I’ve got an idea!” and then the light bulb and Peter would say, “Wait! Let’s hear Micky’s idea.” So often they were speaking to the audience which was a particular thing that was talked about — Seinfeld gets credit for and whatnot, but these guys did it very early on.
A hit television show about a fictitious rock band, The Monkees (1966-1968) earned two Emmys–Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Directorial Acheivement in Comedy.
Capitalizing on the show’s success, the actual band formed by the actors, at their peak, sold more albums than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined, and set the stage for other musical TV characters from The Partridge Family to Hannah Montana. In the late 1980s, the Monkees began a series of reunion tours that continued into their 50th anniversary.
This book tells the story of The Monkees and how the show changed television, introducing a new generation to the fourth-wall-breaking slapstick created by Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers.
Its creators contributed to the innovative film and television of 1970s with projects like Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Laugh-In and Welcome Back, Kotter. Immense profits from the show, its music and its merchandising funded the producers’ move into films such as Head, Easy Riderand Five Easy Pieces.
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