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Episode No. 38:

“I Was A 99-lb. Weakling”
(a.k.a. “Physical Culture”)

To win a beautiful girl, Micky starts a health program under
the guidance of a physical cultist—otherwise known as a fraud.

Vital Stats, Credits and Releases On Home Video:

Production No. 4757
Filmed At: Screen Gems Studios, Hollywood, CA, on location in Malibu Beach, CA, and at Fred Niles Film Studios, Chicago, IL.
Filming Dates: May 5, 8-11, 1967 (this episode); August 2, 1967 (“Love Is Only Sleeping” musical number).
Original Air Date: October 16, 1967.
Ratings: 17.1 rating/29.1 share (9,580,000 viewers)
© Raybert Productions; 10-16-67; LP37679
Sponsor This Week:
Yardley™ Nail Slicker Nail Polish and Walt Disney Films
Rerun Dates: April 29, 1968 (NBC); June 19, 1971, May 20, 1972 (CBS); February 10, 1973 (ABC).

Teleplay by Gerald Gardner & Dee Caruso and Neil Burstyn; Story by Jon C. Andersen.
Directed by Alex Singer.
Produced by Robert Rafelson & Bert Schneider.
Associate Producer: Gerald S. Shepard.
Production Executive: Ward Sylvester.
Background Music Composed and Conducted by Stu Phillips.
“Sunny Girlfriend” Written by
Michael Nesmith; Produced by Chip Douglas.
“Love Is Only Sleeping” Written by Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil; Produced by Chip Douglas.
Guest cast:

Bulk...........................................................................David Draper
Brenda.........................................................................Venita Wolf
Intellectual...........................................................Gary Waynesmith
Benny.........................................................................Benny Levine
Monty Landis as Shah-Ku

Home Video Releases:

  • The Monkees: The Collector's Edition - VHS Tape #4 (Columbia House VHS #19943, May 22, 1995)
  • The Monkees Deluxe Limited Edition Boxed Set - VHS Tape #17 (Rhino R3 2960, October 17, 1995)
  • The Monkees - Season 2 DVD Boxed Set - Disc 1 (Rhino RetroVision DVD R2 970128, November 18, 2003)
  • The Monkees - Season 2 DVD Boxed Set - Disc 1 (Eagle Rock Entertainment DVD EM351369, September 27, 2011)
  • The Monkees - The Complete Series - Blu-Ray Disc 5 (Rhino BD2-552705, July 8, 2016)

Synopsis:

Micky is on the beach with his girlfriend Brenda, a pretty blonde but empty-headed girl, when a big blonde bully of a muscleman named Bulk arrives, kicking sand on Micky, and tries to impress Brenda with his muscles. When Micky tries to intervene, Bulk overpowers him by shoving him away in the sand where he encounters Shah-Ku, a physical cultist who hands Micky a card that advertises his body building course. Micky rejects his offer and tries to fight the Bulk only to be overpowered once again while the muscle guy walks off with Brenda. Shah-Ku tries to initiate him once again to join his club but Micky tries to tear up the card…and finds he can’t!

Micky goes with Shah-Ku back to his gym where he tries to convince Micky he’s a weakling and to prove his point puts Micky to three tests where he does his level best to see that Micky fails at them. Micky climbs a rope that’s greased, uses pulleys which yank him into the wall, and lifts a dumbbell that’s too heavy. After failing, he convinces Micky to join his health plan for $150 for member-ship. Micky is bewildered as to how he, an unemployed drummer, can conjure up such cash; Shah-Ku suggests he hock his drums. Back at the pad, David and Peter try to convince Micky not to hock his drums since they have little money and food already and try to convince him to use their own physical program. Peter tries to show him how to use strength pulleys which he can’t use himself. David tries to show him a muscle exercise for his back but finds that he can’t straighten himself out. After a jog on the beach (where Peter rams into and bounces off a volleyball net), the guys surprise Micky for sticking to his training by inviting Brenda over, but Micky is too exhausted to be able to impress her.

Early the next day, Micky feels ready to take on Bulk, but David and Peter decide to handle it without violence and conjure up underhanded tactics to get rid of the Bulk instead. On the beach, David confronts Bulk and dares him to step on over a series of lines he makes on the beach while Peter paints red spots on his back. Afterwards, David beats a hasty retreat and Peter returns, garbed as a doctor, to try to convince Bulk he’s wasting away. After examining him with a stethoscope and a mallet he tells him he’ll lose his strength before charging him $10. Later, Davy and Peter toss a ball at him and ask him to throw it back but the Bulk can’t lift it since it’s made of lead. Then David disguised as a little kid asks the muscle man to hold his kite for him but when does so he is pulled into the sky by a dirigible heading for Bayonne, New Jersey. Back at the pad, Micky is still skeptical of getting Brenda back since she’s into muscles. The guys provide him with shoulder pads concealed by a heavy jacket so he’ll look muscular. Micky then confronts Brenda on the beach despite having trouble walking but the Bulk shows up figuring out the truth and overpowers Micky once again where he once again lands near Shah-Ku who finally manages to convince to join Weakling Anonymous.

Following Shah-Ku’s example, Micky fasts for two days to purify his tissues so much so that he keels over from hunger, worrying his mates. Peter puts through a call to Shah-Ku to voice his concerns over Micky's condition: Shah-Ku suggests he use green rice to fix him up. Then Shah-Ku tells Bulk of his devious plans of getting Micky to hock his drums as soon as he picks him up that night. At dinner, Micky has thrown out all the meat and instead makes them a meal of fried fermented goat milk curd burned in a dash of lemonseed oil to a crisp, golden green (yum!), and some scraped mountain moss au gratin (plain lettuce) with a special peanut shell base. Shah-Ku enters The Monkees' pad, views its surroundings and its inhabitants with extreme distaste, and takes hunger-weak Micky to the gym for a meeting with WA. Not long after, Peter returns to the pad and claims to David he has seen Shah-Ku at a hot dog stand, making then suspicious that Shah-Ku is a fake! At the Weakling Anonymous meeting, Shah-Ku gives a speech to a group of weaklings as he tries to persuade Micky to sign a contract but Micky is still hesitant. Meanwhile, David and Peter arrive at the meeting and don WA sweat suits in order to disguise themselves as members and blend with the surroundings. When Shah-Ku asks for people to give a speech expressing how WA has affected their lives, both David and Peter take turns protesting the ill effects on Micky by giving false stories in order to discredit the club, and Shah-Ku orders his heavies to work them over. Soon chaos erupts as David rams into Shah-Ku, who doubles up in pain, exposing him as a fake to The Weaklings and when Bulk enters the room, Micky realizes he was a mere shill for Shah-Ku. In the chase set to “Sunny Girlfriend” that follows, the superhero-clad Monkeemen and the “Weaklings” get the best of Shah-Ku and his cronies.

Later at the beach, Micky is united with Brenda again, when a scrawny intellectual with his nose buried in a book, kicks sand in his face. As Micky prepares to attack him, Brenda, attracted to a man with a mind, walks off with the bookworm, leaving Micky pouting. Michael joins the trio in as they conclude the show with a musical number: “Love Is Only Sleeping.”

Production Notes:

The original Screen Gems Storyline for “I Was A 99-lb. Weakling” (a.k.a. “Physical Culture”) neglects to list its guest cast roster and writers.

“I Was A 99-lb. Weakling” and Episode No. 52, "The Devil And Peter Tork", were the last 2 Monkees scripts written by Gerald Gardner and Dee Caruso, submitted to the series during the April-June 1967 Season-2 filming sessions; the two did not return when filming of the show resumed in the fall of 1967. Gardner and Caruso went on to script The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (CBS, 1967-69) and The Bill Cosby Show (NBC, 1969-71), the 1973 Disney movie The World's Greatest Athlete, the October 6, 1976 NBC-TV movie How To Break Up A Happy Marriage (which co-starred Monkee guest alumnus Carl Ballantine), Olivia Newton-John's November 17, 1976 ABC-TV special, and the June 19, 1977 NBC-TV movie The Magnificent Magical Magnet Of Santa Mesa (which starred Monkee auditionee Michael Burns). Caruso, on his own, teamed up with Richard "Dick" Miller to compose the screenplay for the 1970 Warner Bros. war comedy Which Way To The Front?, starring Jerry Lewis; his most recent writing work was in the 1985 Warner Bros. movie Doin' Time, while Gardner worked on the 1986-88 ABC-TV Dirty Harry parody series starring David Rasche, Sledge Hammer!.

Trivia Footnote: David Jones had a guest appearance in a January 15, 1988 episode of Sledge Hammer!, “Sledge, Rattle, 'n' Roll”, in which he played sleazy record producer Jerry Vicuna.

Michael Nesmith shined on this episode due to artistic differences; he would shine on two others this season: Episode No. 41, “The Card Carrying Red Shoes,” and No. 49, “The Monkees Watch Their Feet” [even though he did appear here briefly in its teaser and tag sequences]). Nes withdrew from appearing in “The Monkees Watch Their Feet” (a.k.a. "Micky And The Outer Space Creatures") because he was away having his tonsillectomy; he was missing from “The Card Carrying Red Shoes” reportedly due to his continuing recovery from said procedure.

Newly-arrived story editor Neil Burstyn did double duty as staff writer for three second-season Monkees shows: this and Episode No. 47 "The Monkees Christmas Show", and No. 50, "The Monstrous Monkee Mash". He was also once married to Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn. Sadly, Burstyn took his own life at age 41 on November 1, 1978.

Jon C. Andersen had his hands full during the second season: triple duty as assistant director and as both staff writer (for this and Episode No. 58, "Mijacogeo" [a.k.a. "The Frodis Caper"]) and director (Episode Nos. 42, "The Wild Monkees", and 47, "The Monkees Christmas Show"). In recent years, he wrote, produced and directed episodes for Touched By An Angel (CBS, 1994-2003).

The “Sunny Girlfriend” musical sequence includes footage from Episode No. 9, “The Chaperone”, No. 17, “The Case Of The Missing Monkee” (the sight gag first seen in “The Case Of The Missing Monkee” of pulleys yanking Micky into the wall is also reused here), No. 22, “The Monkees At The Circus”, and No. 40, "Monkees Marooned". Also, during the romp, David scarfs down a can of spinach, bulks up and prepares to whomp Bulk, which is in reference to a certain well-known E.C. Segar-created spinach-scarfing seafarer.

The submain title theme for “I Was A 99-lb. Weakling” was reconstituted as the submain title theme for Episode No. 57, "The Monkees Blow Their Minds".

For some strange reason, the currently syndicated version of this episode uses the end credits from "Monkee Mayor"!

The Monkees season-2 opening montage uses a snippet of Peter discarded from “I Was A 99-lb. Weakling,” in which he is seen about to rest his chin on his fist (after a snippet of Micky being corrected in being credited [having mistakenly received Peter's credit!]).

The Monkees held a concert at The Field House State University in Witchita, KS on Saturday, May 6, 1967, the day after “I Was A 99-lb. Weakling” (a.k.a. “Physical Culture”) started production.

Stu Phillips recorded background music for this and the previous episode, "Art For Monkee's Sake", on Thursday, September 21, 1967 at RCA Studio A, Hollywood between 9 am and noon. 

Blooper:

When Micky serves his mates a heaping helping of fried fermented goat milk curd burned in a dash of lemonseed oil to a crisp, golden green (yum!), Peter is quoted to say to David, "You think we can save the steak?" Strange that he should, seeing that he's a vegetarian!! Another meat-related inconsistence with Peter occurs during the scene where he and David put on their jumpsuits preparing to join "Weaklings Anonymous," and David gripes to Peter about "eating hot dogs!," which he paid for with his quarter!

Trivia Notes:

“Love Is Only Sleeping” co-composer Cynthia Weil celebrated her 27th birthday 2 days after the Monkees episode which bore her and her husband Barry Mann's tune aired on NBC. 

“I Was A 99-lb. Weakling” (a.k.a. “Physical Culture”) marked the third and final appearance of the superheroic Monkeemen. A scene in Episode No. 58, "Mijacogeo" (a.k.a. "The Frodis Caper"), finds Micky, Michael and David piling into a phone booth about to change into Monkeemen, only to be haplessly discouraged by Federal Law W443, Paragraph 7.

This is also the final occasion on The Monkees TV show which sees the dummy Mr. Schneider speaking dialogue. Schneider's last line (courtesy of David Jones): "Does hunger justify murder?"

During Act III of “I Was A 99-lb. Weakling,” Micky wears a sweatshirt bearing the caricature of composer Baron Ludwig Von Beethoven (1770-1827).

“I Was A 99-lb. Weakling” also uses the stock shot of the crumbling skyscraper first seen in Episode No. 13, “One Man Shy” (a.k.a. "Peter And The Debutante").

According to his business card, Shah-Ku's Health And Strength is located at 1438 N. Gower Street, Hollywood, Calif. Gower is the location of the studio where The Monkees TV series was shot.

The name of the book the intellectual (Gary Waynesmith) is reading: Remembrance Of Things Past, Vol. 3, by Marcel Proust (1871-1922).

The phrase "Sock it to me!" can be heard for the first time on The Monkees in “I Was A 99-lb. Weakling.” Other episodes to use it are No. 40, "Monkees Marooned", No. 41, "The Card-Carrying Red Shoes", No. 46, "The Monkees On The Wheel", No. 47, "The Monkees Christmas Show", No. 49, "The Monkees Watch Their Feet", and No. 51, "The Monkee's Paw". "Sock it to me!", of course, would gain even more popularity on the 1968-73 NBC comedy, Rowan And Martin's Laugh-In (which piggybacked The Monkees Monday nights on NBC in early 1968); a seasoned comedienne who would become a featured regular on Laugh-In, Ruth Buzzi, will be seen in a future Monkees segment: No. 43, "A Coffin Too Frequent", to be exact, as Mildred Weatherspoon. "Sock it to Me!" is also the first line in “Goin' Down”.

In the scenes where David and Peter try to dupe Bulk into thinking he is wasting away, they are seen in the same beach outfits they wore in Episode No. 31, “The Monkees At The Movies”. Also, as Bulk is drifted away by the dirigible, David said he knew a gal named Mary Ann from Bayonne, New Jersey. It might be a reference to a certain character portrayed by Dawn Wells on Gilligan’s Island (CBS, 1964-67), which, during the 1966-67 season (its third and last), aired on CBS opposite The Monkees on NBC.

The shot of a loin-clothed David riding a bicycle into the ocean (filmed during "Monkees Marooned") is used during the “Sunny Girlfriend” romp. Also, the shot of a loin-clothed Peter watering the ground, with a bush suddenly appearing is also used during this romp. Both clips can be seen in the second-season opening titles of The Monkees.

“Sunny Girlfriend”, a Michael Nesmith-composed tune from Side B of The Monkees' Headquarters, makes its only appearance on The Monkees TV series in “I Was A 99-lb. Weakling”.

Guest Cast Notes:

New Jersey-born Dave Draper (seen here as Bulk), a 1965 Mr. America, 1966 Mr. Universe, and 1970 Mr. World, made several film and TV appearances in the 1960's, including Harry Hollard in the big-budget picture Don't Make Waves (Filmways/MGM, 1967) and the entertainingly gruesome black comedy Lord Love a Duck (MGM, 1966); the film also featured Monkees guest alumni Joseph Mell (“I've Got A Little Song Here”) and Donald Foster (“The Success Story”, “The Prince And The Paupers”, "The Picture Frame" [a.k.a. "The Bank Robbery"]). Draper left acting to become the manager of the World Gym in Santa Cruz, California, where he remains to this day. Draper also happens to share a birthday with Melody Patterson (April 16), who, coincidentally, will turn up in the very next episode, No. 39, "Hillbilly Honeymoon" (a.k.a. "Double Barrel Shotgun Wedding"), as Ella Mae Chubber, and Bill Benedict, who previously appeared 2 episodes ago, in "Monkee Mayor"

The late Venita Wolf (Brenda) had her share of TV guest shots, including several appearances on The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS, 1962-71) and a role as Yeoman Teresa Ross in the January 12, 1967 episode of Star Trek (NBC, 1966-69), "The Squire Of Gothos." Interestingly, in the same week she appeared in “I Was A 99-lb. Weakling” (a.k.a. “Physical Culture”), she also appeared as Decelia in the Oct. 19, 1967 episode of The Flying Nun (ABC, 1967-70), "Polly Wants A Cracked Head." Wolf acted in one film, Catalina Caper (Crown International, 1967), and, well, just vanished from view. Wolf passed away on November 22, 2014 at age 71.

Gary Waynesmith (Intellectual) was among the 437 auditioners for The Monkees TV series in 1965; he "did not fit," according to Screen Gems.

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