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.
Had The Monkees done Sugar Sugar we wouldn’t have the Archie and, of course, the Archie comics — another side tangent — has become Riverdale. The big show right and a big show because you all know him from your own childhood TV watching right? So the grown-up version. So it’s like Circus Boy becoming a Monkee. It just happens over and over again right? All right, you’ve also all known a Monkee song all your life even if you didn’t think you did because in Shrek they use I’m A Believer. So now we’re years behind. We’re thirty years from the show being on the air and a whole run of children know this song right and this is Micky Dolenz closing song in all his concerts. This is his song, right? Breaking Bad in the season before it went off the air did a whole meth — a whole montage of putting meth together to the Monkees song Going Down because Vince Gilligan was a Monkees fan when he was a kid. So his chance to use Monkees music and his own TV show was something exciting for him. Likewise, Mad Men did an episode that used the song for the Monkees. So highly rated Emmy-winning TV shows are airing their music to a whole new generation. I thought that was cool.
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.
Want to use “Why The Monkees Matter” in your classroom?