Inexplicably, the biggest band in pop music in 1986 was a band that hadn’t been relevant or even remembered much since 1966: the Monkees. As part of a low-key, 20th anniversary commemoration of the band’s first records and 1966 TV series The Monkees (which virtually invented rapid-cut editing and won the Emmy for Best Comedy), MTV started re-airing the series. It got some of the best ratings it had ever seen. The show was quickly syndicated to local stations and aired on MTV’s sister station Nickelodeon, too, which paired it with reruns of another forgettable ’60s primate-based TV show, Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp.
The Monkees themselves even got back together for a new album (Pool It), a top 20 single (“That Was Then, This is Now“), and a massively lucrative summer tour (minus Mike Nesmith). There’s only one part of the Monkees revival that was not successful, and it was the one part not just a re-presentation of the past: the 1987 syndicated show The New Monkees.
Like the original Monkees, it was a mashup of current rock music and a sitcom. But while the original (an inadvertently great knockoff of A Hard Day’s Night) combined manic hippie energy, lite psychedelica, and crazy humor, the remake could not also reflect and comment on its times. The late ‘80s were conservative, materialistic, and the mainstream music scene was not pushing any boundaries. The end result is that The New Monkees felt as manufactured and phony as the original Monkees actually was.
Jared, Larry, Dino, and Marty were not the new Mickey, Mike, Peter, and Davy. The show (and all subsequent band activities) were cancelled after 13 episodes.
Here’s the opening theme song, which is not, I repeat not, an Outfield video.