A collection of comedy skits and music videos, such as a game-show spoof called "Name That Drug", a visit to the office of the Clandestine Typing Service, and a man providing a skewed ... See full summary »
A collection of comedy skits and music videos, such as a game-show spoof called "Name That Drug", a visit to the office of the Clandestine Typing Service, and a man providing a skewed translation of a Mexican serenade for his girlfriend. Written by
Kevin G. Madzia <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I must admit that the first forty minutes or so of my first screening of ELEPHANT PARTS was one of confusion bordering on indifference. Some of it is really, really good, some of it more eyebrow raising. As in, why is this on my TV? Half offbeat video shorts, half music videos, all of it featuring the unique talents of former Monkey Michael Nesmith. Initially conceived of as a "video album", the music is taken from two of Nesmith's records from the era (later 1970s/early 1980s) and the videos are a mixture of commercial, game show and TV drama parodies touching on the topical issues of the day: Nuclear war, drugs, the energy crisis, rock music culture, you name it. Some of it works, some of it doesn't, but one thing is for sure -- None of it fails to be "entertaining", "engrossing", "thought provoking" and "enjoyable".
There's no real linking story though a lot of what happens in one given sketch often suggests or leads to the given "subject" of another. Every third sketch is a Nesmith music video, so fans of his work will be pleased even if somewhat confused as to what car commercials have to do with it. And fans of offbeat comedy might be equally confused by a couple of moments that actually aren't that funny, not just because Nesmith seems to be a student of applied bad taste (like the "Elvis Drugs" commercial, the joke about dragging someone behind a truck, or the segment on "Battered Wives", which are downright awkward) but he seems genuinely interested in creating moments of tension with certain scenes. And all of it works as sort of little time bombs for your brain that go off after the show is over.
A couple of words need to be said about the role that drugs play in the special. It isn't the 1970s anymore and some of the drug humor not only falls flat, but suggests that maybe some of the gags were conceived of if not outright performed while under the influence of mind-altering substances. I say, so be it, if so, it reinforces how the special was a product of a specific period of time in popular culture & entertainment. There is just as much drug use going on today in our entertainment industry, it's just that political correctness has made it uncomfortable to joke about it in the way that Nesmith finds appropriate. Not to make a big deal about it, mind you, but it's a part of what's going on here, inescapably so due to my own history. Ahem.
The special also has Nesmith's beguiling video for "Rio", the first of his solo songs that I ever really connected with, so much so that I bought the album it's from within a day of seeing ELEPHANT PARTS for the first time (everything else is from a different collection made at the time of the special). He was always my favorite one of the Monkees, and fans of their wonderful movie HEAD will find a lot of similarities between that film's free-form surrealism & Nesmith's unofficial solo job update here. It's not physical slapstick or guffawing hilarity ala the Monkees, rather a somewhat more sophisticated and laid back send-up of the popular culture that Nesmith had such an important hand in shaping: A lot of what we take for granted these days as MTV oriented "music television" was started here, or at least came to mimic much of the form that Nesmith's experiment takes.
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?