50 years ago today, a TV series about four guys who lived together, played in a band, and got the funniest looks from everyone they meet made its debut on NBC.
Yes, that’s right: it was The Monkees. And if you thought it was anything else, then you’ve come to the wrong website.
Competing against Gilligan’s Island on CBS and The Iron Horse, an ABC western which starred Dale Robertson as a gambler who becomes a railroad baron, The Monkees aired at 7:30 on Monday nights, just before I Dream of Jeannie. In its first episode, entitled “Royal Flush,” the boys rescued Princess Bettina, the Duchess of Harmonica, from her despicable uncle, Archduke Otto, who was trying to kill her in order to ascend to the throne himself. It probably goes without saying that Davy made Princess Bettina swoon, but in case you haven’t seen the episode in awhile, we’ll remind you of the songs that were featured within: “This Just Doesn’t Seem To Be My Day” and “Take a Giant Step.”
Interestingly, while “Royal Flush” may have been the first Monkees episode to air, it was actually the third episode filmed, but that’s the TV business for you.
“Royal Flush” was directed by James Frawley, a true TV legend, having directed hundreds of hours of television over the course of his long, illustrious career. Frawley didn’t find his way onto the pilot until after the Monkees themselves had been cast, but he immediately bonded with the guys. “I understood the four boys, they got me,” he told Bruce Fessier of The Desert Sun. “Something clicked, and I felt like I was home.”
Clearly, The Monkees clicked with viewers, too: it’s 50 years later, and people still love it.