The New Monkees are remembered as the most pointless re-launch of a band in history AND as one of the worst television shows in history. I’ve never listened to their one and only album so I can’t say if they make it a Hat Trick with one of the worst albums in history, too.
The premise sounds like a comedy sketch from the glory days of SCTV but unfortunately this thoroughly bizarre attempt to recapture the flukish charm of the original Monkees was 100% real.
Here’s the debut episode of The New Monkees‘ 13 episode run in 1987. Everything you’ve heard is true: We get Rocky Horror Picture Show lips voiced by a black lady, a weird sci-fi mansion home for the title foursome, a built-in diner and their annoying butler, Manford.
The laugh track does NOT go off during the few things that seemed funny, like a couple of apparently ad-libbed jokes by the New Monkees during their screen test footage, but instead goes off during lame, obvious jokes that not even small children would laugh at.
At times the director seems to be trying for a Max Headroom vibe but falls so far short that it’s painful to watch. In fact, there’s no need to single out those moments, this entire production is painful to watch from start to finish.
The New Monkees themselves are the least of the show’s problems, though. The aforementioned screen tests show that the producers of this program might have been better off just giving the four guys hand-held cameras and letting them goof around. They seem like they could have at least made for amiable Vee-Jays killing time bantering in between the videos of their derivative-to-the-point-of-parody songs.
When the hapless quartet are forced to stick to the inane scripted material you can practically feel them wincing with you. (And yes, I think Hapless Quartet should be the name of a real band.)
To help you tell the New Monkees apart: Dino Kovas is like a non-villainous Biff Tannen done as a surfer dude, Marty Ross is the Keanu Reeves/ Boyd Gaines hybrid creature, Jared Chandler is clearly the Eraserhead universe’s version of Bowser from Sha Na Na and Larry Saltis kept putting me in mind of Lori Laughlin. So there you go.
In the spirit of Ed Wood and The Disaster Artist, I would LOVE to see a feature film about the entire twisted saga of the New Monkees.