Hello all, a passion project for me has been finding as many sources as possible for alternate versions of The Monkees episodes.
A very nice Blu-ray set was released a few years back which presented HD transfers of the original broadcast versions. Some bonus clips were included showing alternate songs inserted into repeats of the shows, but for various reasons (budget, licensing, time), only some of the known alternates were used. The opportunity to officially represent the show’s full alternate history was unfortunately lost.
For those not aware:
Of 32 episodes produced in the first season of The Monkees, 14 of them re-aired in the summer of 1967 with newer songs replacing the originals.
The second life of The Monkees was on Saturday mornings from 1969 to 1973, first on CBS, then ABC. Because home video recording hadn’t taken hold yet, this era is very difficult to document. Sources have indicated about 24 of the 58 episodes replaced songs for these airings, and it is likely some of the 1967 alterations carried over as well.
When the show went into syndication is 1975, 13 of the 1967 repeat versions were included, but only one of the 1969-1973 versions was included. This syndication package aired in many US markets up to around 1984/85, so there is potential of home recordings to be found in vintage tape collections.
The big Monkees revival in 1986 brought new film-to-tape transfers to MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1 and syndication. Four of the episodes carried over from summer 1967, two from 1969-1973, but the rest were in their original broadcast configuration. These are the most common home recordings available because of the huge spike in popularity and frequent reruns.
By the time the show came to VHS and DVD in the 90s, original broadcast prints were used for transfers and the alternate soundtrack versions faded further into obscurity.
So what is still out there to be found?
Tantalizingly, there is audio evidence of one second season episode of The Monkees with an altered song that aired in the U.K. but not in the US. A film print or home recording of this episode (Hillbilly Honeymoon) would be the holy grail of this project.
A small number of the 1969-73 episodes are in the hands of collectors in the form of 35mm prints. There is always a possibility more of them could be found in private collections. These are the most desirable because the rumored song replacements were quite unusual.
Some of the 1969-73 repeats were also known to be sent to foreign countries. A 1990s Japanese laserdisc box set of 40 episodes included three 1967 revisions and one 1969-73 revision. The Japanese language tracks here were edited to match the songs on the English tracks. It is sometimes evident that the Japanese dub tracks featured alternate songs before this editing, so there is a possibility more alternate song versions aired in Japan where they could have been recorded by home tapers.
I think there could be currently “lost” 1969-73 audio tracks floating around on international airings up through the 1980s which may be preserved on VHS or Beta. Because of this, I would love to hear from anyone with home recordings of Monkees episodes from around the world.