Isaac Mcfadden | West Palm Beach, FL United States | 12/10/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I'm a huge Monkees fan, and especially, a huge fan of the second season. To begin, I'm with fans everywhere in being thrilled that the entire series is now available on DVD. It's long overdue and I'm happy to have it. BUT -- and it's a big BUT ---BUT, this DVD set has many, many shortcomings that are unacceptable in this day and age.1) AUDIO & VIDEO: the quality of these film prints is, in many cases, abysmal. Dirt, scratches and other damage abound. I find it TERRIBLY difficult to believe that Rhino couldn't find a better copy for transfer. Rather, I suspect they didn't want to spend the money 'cleaning' up the picture. I work in TV & Film and ALL of these scratches and dirt marks COULD have been removed digitally. But, they were not. Likewise, the audio is often muddy and at very inconsistent volume. Some passages are soft while others are way too loud. A little quality control would have corrected this problem.2) AUDIO COMMENTARY: With the sole exception of Mike's commentary on "Fairy Tale Monkees", all the commentaries on the episodes are 99% worthless. We're lucky if, in a given 28-minute episode, there are 5-10 minutes of actual commentary. Most of the time, Davy or Peter just seem to be silently watching the episode alongside us. And most of their comments are of the "Hmm. I remember that shirt!" variety. Just totally inconsequential and very few and far between. If your major contribution on an audio commentary is, "Hmmm, I remember that shirt!", why bother even doing it? It boggles my mind that Rhino even included these commentaries. That's how inconsequential they are. One would expect slightly more insightful commentary given that the commentators are, in fact, the Monkees themselves.3) EXTRAS: The inclusion of "33 1/3rd" is almost worth the price of admission alone. It's great to have and in the best quality I've seen thus far. The other "extras" are two :30 clips of the Monkees as a trio in '69 on a variety show. You will watch them once, and that's probably it. Also, there is an interesting but overlong interview with the series Editor who sheds many interesting insights into putting the show together. Bottom line: even though Rhino came through with "33 1/3rd", we're supposedly buying the set for the episodes of the series: and that is where Rhino has totally dropped the ball. Rhino must either a) feel that Monkees fans are not sophisticated enough to enjoy properly restored audio and video a la the Beatles Anthology, or, b) simply not wanted to spend the money doing a proper job. This box set, we must hope, will NOT be the definitive collection of the Monkees TV series on DVD for very long."
Better than season 1!
Twiddles42 | MN, USA | 08/04/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While season 1 of "The Monkees" had a handful of episodes, it is season 2 that has a fresher, more genuine off-the-wall feel to it.
And, by the end of season 1, critics were complaining that the mnusic wasn't "theirs". As a result of this and Mike Nesmith's subsequent prodding, the music used in this season was done BY the Monkees and not behind-the-scenes artists. Many songs that even bested some of the "legit" music of the time, include "Salesman", "For Pete's Sake", "Randy Scouse Git", "The Door into Summer", "Zor and Zam", "Daily Nightly", "Pleasant Valley Sunday", "You Just May Be The One", "You Told Me", and there are many others...
The best episodes include:
* Monkees Marooned (Peter sells his guitar for a treasure map and, after being berated by the others is joined by the others to see what it's about. The one liners in this one are great...)
* The Picture Frame (The group is conned into pulling a bank robbery by a "producer" who is actually a crook!)
* Monkee Mayor (Mike Nesmith runs for mayor in an attempt to drive out the corrupt incumbant. One of my top 5.)
* Hillbilly Honeymoon (A spoof of The Beverly Hillbillies and ironically more realistic... One of my top 5.)
* Fairy Tale (A surreal and outrageous spoof on old fairy tales; Mike also dresses up in drag and there's a lot of fun to be had here. The lack of laugh track is also intriguing. Another top 5.)
* The Devil and Peter Tork. (A great plot, which contains one of their best-ever songs, almost banned by NBC because of a hidden drug reference (though the song is clearly AGAINST drugs...). It's my absolute favorite. (the 5th one being, of course, "Monkee vs Machine" but that's season 1...))
* Mijacogeo (aka "The Frodis Caper") - unusual social commentary about television, even if the story is written and directed in such a bizarre (and likely deliberate) manner by Mickey Dolenz himself.
As for the DVDs themselves:
A+++ for the menuing system. I was impressed by the use of audio noise between the master and sub-menus, and the layout. Very impressed indeed.
A nice addition with some interesting bits and pieces, along with guest cast filmography.
Colors look deep and saturated and flesh tones remarkably accurate from a filmed ~38 year old show. As the show was filmed and not taped, that has led to
The prints seem reasonably sharp too.
There are some dust and other film-related issues, but that is unavoidable and I only know of one TV show whose restoration team actually removes by hand all signs of scratches and dust...
The only problem is DVD compression artifacting, which tends to make the picture seem a bit muddy; particularly with background/darker areas; they suffer the most from this artifacting. It's not entirely bad, but bad enough for me to make a mention of. :-)
Sounds great but please stick to the standard Dolby 2.0 mono. I tried out the 5.1 and maybe they thought the viewer ought to be on LSD while listening to the show. The 5.1 produces a very bizarre sort of echo effect that makes everything difficult to understand. And as I don't have this problem with any of my other 5.1 movies/shows, it must then be a problem with the encoding. But the Dolby 2.0 is crisp and clean; like how it was originally, minus that wretched hiss. :-)
In short, the MSRP is too high. Buying it used or clearance would be a better choice; $80 for BOTH seasons is a much fairer price given the video quality and that bizarre 5.1 transfer (B+ for effort but they needn't have bothered to take this step. I'd rather have better compression for the video.)
It's quite acceptable quality in the end, especially when compared to offerings from certain other vendors, who clearly don't put much time into their releases at all."
Great bundled package of Monkee romps and extras!
Marnie_ATL | Atlanta, GA USA | 09/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While I prefer more Monkees episodes from Season I, than from Season II, I figured I would cover this set because of the "33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee" (33.3 RPM) the 1 hour NBC special which aired in 1969 shortly after the Monkees show was cancelled. That is the highlight of this set, if you have not seen it before. 33.3 RPM is basically an extension of Head; meaning deconstructing in a scathing manner the crass commercialization of the successful Monkee machine. 33.3 RPM is overall a very distant piece exhibiting often times excessive hippiedom, but the DVD commentary by both Brian Auger and Micky Dolenz do make it more watchable. 33.3 RPM was a very strange special for its time. One of the greatest highlights of the special is seeing Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard along with Brian Auger playing simultaneously on stacked pianos. It was the last time the Monkees appeared as a foursome on television for nearly 2 decades.
All 4 Monkees contribute DVD commentary to this set, whereas in Season I, when Dolenz was not available to add his crazy comments. I found Nesmith's commentary the most interesting. Nesmith mentions details such as using very large film cameras nearly the size of "VW bugs" which were used in filming during the tail end of the Hollywood's Golden Years. Tork generally seemed bitter in his commentary and took long pauses at times.
There are a few easter eggs to be found. You can easily find these by googling the information. One Easter Egg is Butch Patrick talking about appearing on Monkees Christmas episode and befriending Peter.
Now my complaints about the DVDs themselves. Most of the episodes appear in very good shape despite the film approaching 40 years of age, but you have a few disappointments with image quality such as "Monkees in Paris" and "Fairy Tale."
The design of the DVD is you can play all the romps (footage set to music) on each disk, but you are not able to play all the episodes themselves at once. The DVD trivia notes by Aaron Handy and his website The Monkees Film & TV Vault. I highly recommend a Monkees fan or a fan of amazing detailed trivia to go to his website to read more. Another idea I wish Rhino had used is having the option of the selecting songs available to play on DVD that were changed out at later dates. As Monkees fans may or may not know, when the Monkees episodes were repeated in prime time, and later in syndication 1969-70, many songs were changed out. It would have been nice to chose from a menu which song was used, so one could watch them they way they were in later syndication use. The Monkees released 4 more albums after the show went off the air in September 1968. Some of this material, such as "Midnight Train" appeared on the repeat shows in 1970.
I wished also Rhino had added the entire appearance the 3 Monkees on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour: the very best part was left off The guys singing a medley of 3 of their songs and a perfoming an odd musical parody of American historical events.
I have read that a few people have had problems playing these DVDs on their players. I recommend cleaning the DVDs very thoroughly and or using a different player just to make sure there is no defect.
Pricing: I would seek out a used set and not pay more than $45 or $50 total for each set: Season II or Season I. The retail price of a new set for around $80 is too high in my opinion."
Great shows, but sound quality not so great...
Bryan Barrow | Santa Cruz, CA USA | 07/13/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've had this set for a while, but finally got around to watching them just recently, as I was working my way through the first season. I actually enjoy the second season episodes to the first, but I was disappointed at the sound quality of the music. Rhino owns the original master to the Monkees recordings, and could easily have improved on the sound over the original 16mm prints, but unfortunately didn't. The music clips on most episodes sound muffled and distorted. This is especially true for the "Rainbow" performances, the end-of-show music videos that feature the Monkees lip syncing to their songs. I didn't notice this on the audio of the first season shows. How hard would it have been to overdub the stereo recordings to these clips? On the plus side, the picture quality was generally excellent, and the inclusion of the rare 33 & 1/3 special (with very good audio) makes this worth recommending. However, I was still disappointed at this set from Rhino, a label with a usually excellent track record"