Hey, hey, they're still just cheap Beatle knockoffs.
Daydream Believers is featured on Movies That Rock, which airs on VH1 every Wednesday @ 9 EDT.
I used to watch The Monkees as a kid. As a matter of fact, I rather enjoyed the show. There - I said it, and Im a better man for it. I found their antics to be obnoxious and silly, but as with most children, obnoxious and silly makes good television. Another factor The Monkees had in its favor was the music. My Aunt, who I saw on a regular basis, listened to The Monkees frequently, and thus I was accustomed to their sedate, sing-a-long pop sound.
Then, after stretching their entitled fifteen minutes of fame into a full half-hour, The Monkees once again fell into obscurity.
Like the music and the show, Daydream Believers follows suit in the fine tradition of mediocrity. Its pretty standard fare, folks. Some top-level executives are pitched an idea for the infamous "Next Best Thing," this time around being a television show featuring four wild teens who make up a faux rock band. The premise of the program being: When the fellows arent rockin to a chart-climbing single, theyre out having wacky adventures a la The Marx Brothers. The studio will find four fresh faces that todays youth (well, make that 1960s youth) can identify with; boys that can ride the wave of the then-current Beatles craze. The songs will be penned by some of the biggest names in the industry; and said tunes will be performed by the best studio musicians available. With such a foolproof formula, where could things possibly go but up?
Sure enough, The Monkees are a success; not only in the ratings, but on the record charts as well. And as rock and roll history dictates, with success comes excess - discontent, animosity amongst the group, and the inevitable bottoming out. Its an industry standard. At the peak of The Monkees prosperity, with two hit albums under their belt, the boys decide that they now want to call the shots, take creative control, and ultimately, perform their own music. Not wanting to anger the Cash Cow, the executives back the bands decision, and turn a deaf ear to the pleading of the producers who, until now, were the very brains behind the project.
And what happens when the inmates run the asylum? Well, in the case of The Monkees, failure. They cut an album of their own tunes entitled "Headquarters," and though it doesnt bomb, it never surpasses the legendary "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band," which was released at the same time. The band then decide to make a movie in the vein of Help!, but with aspirations of conveying an important message, and a dream of establishing a new, more mature audience. It bombs. Now realizing their folly, The Monkees re-collaborate with some of the masterminds behind their past success, but find their efforts prove too late as Monkee Mania ends more with a dull whimper as opposed to the desired bang.
The one thing I did like about Daydream Believers was the trivia. For instance, I didnt know both Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith were musicians. Now, Nesmith was an easy pill to swallow, but Tork was a complete surprise. Wow! And I thought he was the dumb one! And did you know Nesmiths Mom invented liquid paper? No wonder he didnt join the gang on the first leg of their reunion tour the guy is loaded! The film also talks about how the first pilot episode of the show was the lowest rated ever by a TV test audience (later surpassed in 1987 by The New Monkees). What turned things around, however, was when the producers interjected the band members taped interview auditions at the beginning of the program a ploy targeted at giving the audience a feel for each Monkees unique personality. Ironically, this is exactly the depth lacked in the film. How could they overlook something so blatantly spelled out to them? So in summary, the small details are interesting; but if youre really in the mood for Monkees trivia, then by all means, check out their tale via Behind the Music. It summarizes their story, tells you all the gossip, but lacks the padding of the film.
When Joe Bannerman isn't frooging to "Last Train to Clarksville," he's either sweeping popcorn or writing about bad movies at Opposable Thumb Films.
Copyright © 2000 by Joe Bannerman
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