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1980s / The New Monkees - 1987 Sitcom Flop
The original sitcom The Monkees aired on NBC for two seasons (1966 to 1968). Along with winning an Emmy for best sitcom of 1966, the original Monkees were responsible for several top 40 hit songs, including I'm a Believer, Last Train to Clarksville, and Pleasant Valley Sunday. A very successful nostalgic twentieth anniversary reunion tour by the group in 1986 wrongly convinced some folks in the syndicated TV world that the time was ripe for a second Monkees series to be produced for a new generation. It was a spectacular failure. Like the first Monkees series, extensive tryouts were held to find four actors to play the roles. Unlike the first series, only actors with proven musical abilities were considered. In the end the four main cast members of The New Monkees were Marty Ross, Dino Kovas, Larry Saltis, and Jared Chandler. On the show, the band lived in a large mansion with a butler named Manford (played by Gordon Oas-Heim). The mansion had numerous unexplored rooms and was the main source of the lads' adventures. Instead of a normal kitchen and dining room, the house featured a full diner with a waitress named Rita (played by former exercise instructor Bess Motta of 20 Minute Workout fame). Also present in the mansion was a talking computer called Helen (voiced by Lynnie Godfrey) who used to work for the Defense Department but found that she preferred rock music over missiles. The plots routinely forced the audience to suspend reality. One episode had Larry falling asleep on a copy machine--resulting in numerous Larry clones creating chaos throughout the mansion. Neither sitcom nor music fans ever took to the show nor to the lone album the group produced. Disappointing ratings caused the show to be cancelled after just 13 episodes even though 22 episodes were scheduled to be produced for the first season. Mickey Dolenz, the drummer in the original group, said he wasn't at all surprised The New Monkees bombed. Invoking a Star Trek analogy, Dolenz likened it to "giving another actor pointy ears and expecting viewers to accept him as Mr. Spock." Moreover, the four original Monkees sued Columbia Television Pictures for using the group's name. The case was settled out of court. Bit of trivia: Russell Johnson (most famous for playing the role of the Professor on Gilligan's Island) was the only person to appear on both Monkees series. The New Monkees has never been made available on DVD.