When Monkees fans are asked the question of what their least favorite episode is, most often they chose "Monkees In Paris". Some cite the show's poor film quality, or the lack of dialogue as reasons why they dislike it. My view of "The Monkees in Paris", however, is exactly the opposite. It's one of my favorite episodes.
Perhaps people don't enjoy the episode because it's not like any of their other episodes. Along with "Monkees on Tour", "Monkees in Paris" is not scripted, nor is it shot in episode format. Those two episodes are the only ones that don't satire some form of pop culture, and they're the only ones where the Monkees get to be themselves rather than the characters they play on TV. They wear their own clothes, act how they act normally (well, most of the time), say things that weren't scripted for them. In essence, if you want to get a feel for what the Monkees were like circa 1967, these two episodes are a clear representation.
Monkees in Paris was filmed in June of 1967 by Bob Rafelson. It was the first big hurrah for the boys in the Summer of 1967 and kicked off the few months of traveling, touring, partying madness. They originally wanted to film an episode in London, but they were so famous there that filming an episode would be impossible. Much of Europe was also in the grips of Monkeemania, with the exception of France (which seems to ignore much of American pop culture). So they went to Paris.
This episode was filmed right in the middle of the so-called Summer of Love, near the end of June 1967. The plan was to film a quick episode in France, than visit England for their five sold out concerts at Wembley stadium. So Rafelson, Schneider, the four Monkees, Jack Nicholson, David Price, David Pearl, Rick Klein, Charlie Rockett, and Samantha Juste set off for France. Previously that month, Peter and Micky had attended the Monterey Pop Festival and the boys were becoming increasingly into the whole flower power regime. Though most of "Monkees in Paris" is the boys romping and running around, there is a very definite love/flower power theme in the boys' actions (Micky and Peter specifically) and how Rafelson directs the episode.
The episode opens up with the guys in the kitchen at their pad (this was filmed in November '67). The film quality is obviously grainy and faded, worse than any episode. Then a typical scene from a typical Monkees episode plays out, complete with a foreign, naughty spy looking for microfilm. The Monkees freak out and yell at Frawley, telling him that they're sick of doing the same episodes over and over and over. The bad film quality is representative of the blandness of the scripts, the faded concept coming apart at the scenes. They leave and tell Frawley that they're going to Paris.
For this episode, Rafelson hired four French models to play the Monkees' love interests. The whole interaction between the girls and the Monkees is the basis for the whole episode. Basically this episode consists of the guys chasing the models and vice versa. Rafelson may have given vague directions to the boys, but most of this episode seems to be improvised. And besides the Monkees, the only hired actors are the models, so the reactions of the townspeople are genuine. I don't really feel like describing the rest of the episode, but lets just say if you really watch it, you'll notice some really funny stuff.
In Defense of the Monkees in Paris...
Basically, 21 reasons to enjoy this episode
- I like how this episode isn't scripted and how it portrays how the Monkees act in real life.
- It features a bunch of songs from PACJ, how can you go wrong with that?
- James Frawley is a stud. Especially when he says, "Let's get a nice, tight closeup on the monkey."
- The four models have really cute clothes
- All of the guys look really hot (especially Micky and Davy) and they get to wear their own clothes (Micky's flowered shirt can also be seen in the Monterey Pop film).
- Mike wears a studly leather, fringed jacket
- The Monkees run around, climb on things, ride motorcycles and basically act like retarded Americans and the reaction of the French people standing around watching this is priceless. You can tell they're all thinking, "Who the fuck are these stupid Americans and what the hell are they doing here?"
- Remember folks, the crowds that gather are not paid actors, they're real people and they all seem really confused and annoyed with The Monkees. he he.
- Peter's chick's clothes are the coolest. I want her pink dress.
- I like how Peter, Micky, and Davy aren't afraid to do anything. They're rambunctious and spontaneous...they scale walls, run on top of trucks, fall out of baskets, and hang from the fucking Eiffel Tower.
- Hugh Montenegro's background music is groovy.
- The guys seem to be really close and having fun (and they're not even acting in this episode!) The whole Summer of Love vibe seems to be in the air.
- I like the whole "Don't Call On Me" segment, Rafelson's directing is pretty and though seeing Micky and Peter with their chicks makes me jealous, I think it's cute.
- Speaking of which, either Micky and Peter take their roles really seriously or they're really horny ,because let me tell you, they really get into the whole 'lets see how many chicks I can kiss in a 25 minute episode' thing. I mean I know they're SUPPOSED to act like they love the models, but Micky and Peter really GET INTO IT. Micky kisses like five girls in the episode, and he's always trying to get some action with his model. Hell, he even makes out with Sammy in this episode.
- Surprisingly Davy doesn't seem too keen on his model. I thought he liked everything female.
- Davy's Artful Dodger outfit kicks some ass.
- I like when the chicks rip Micky's clothes off. Hah.
- And when he and Davy take their shirts off on the back of the truck.
- The all time great classic moment from this episode is when they cause a HUGE traffic jam near the Arc de Triomphe. They're in a little, psychedelic car (the guys and their chicks) and it breaks down and causes the hugest traffic jam I've ever seen, and then all of the French people get pissed and start honking their horns and yelling at them. HAHAHAHAH!!!
- Sammy is in this episode. That's cool, I guess. It makes me sick though.
- I like in the last sequence when Nez tries to hug his chick and David Pearl and David Price start beating him up, and then later Pearl tries to get some action from the girl and she REFUSES.
---> The Paris Pictorial
(Warning: these pictures are not for those who are easily jealous!)