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HOME ENTERTAINMENT : 21-Volume 'Monkees': 58 Episodes, for $400

October 13, 1995|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rhino Home Video's "The Monkees Deluxe Limited Edition Box Set" is the King Kong of video sets. The 21-volume collection features all 58 episodes of the Emmy Award-winning, 1966-68 NBC series "The Monkees," the group's rarely seen 1969 NBC special "33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee" and several of their Kellogg's commercials.

Encased in a mock television set, the limited edition also contains the original pilot, a 48-page color booklet filled with photos, trivia and interviews and an official Monkees wristwatch (only in the first 2,000 sets). The price is a hefty $400!

"The Monkees," produced by Bob Rafelson ("Five Easy Pieces") and Bert Schneider ("Hearts and Minds"), was American TV's answer to the Beatles. The wacky comedy series starred Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork as four struggling musicians.

Despite being tagged the "Pre-Fab Four" by critics and serious musicians, the Monkees amassed a dozen Top 40 hits. Though they didn't play any instruments on their first two albums, Ry Cooder and Neil Young were among the renowned musicians who did.

Monkee archivist Andrew Sandoval has been overseeing the Monkees catalogue for Rhino for the past six years and produced the CD and cassette reissues of nine Monkees albums for Rhino. The video set took 18 months to complete.

"I noticed, being a viewer of the show, at times I would see different cuts of the show and musical segments," he says. "Essentially, there are up to three different versions for each episode."

Sandoval wanted to bring the show back to its original state. "We found the original 35mm interpositives, which is what they used to make a print off of, in the vaults. We were missing three of the episodes in that format and had to dig around to put together something usable."

A real curio is the original pilot "Here Comes the Monkees," which was later re-edited and aired as the 10th episode.

"What we have included is an audience-testing print," Sandoval says. "It's not perfect, but basically it has a different opening and end title credits and sequences."

The songs also are performed by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. "When the show was sold, they added in the Monkees actually singing the songs."

Restoring "33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee" was Sandoval's biggest challenge. "It is in really poor shape. It has been circulating among the bootleg videotape collectors' scene for years and years. We had access to the original [videotape] master; however, there were two one-inch masters of it. We had to use both of them to piece together something useful because there were glitches in the original video masters. We did our best with it. It looks better than anything that I have ever seen on it."

Sandoval believes there has been a re-evaluation of "The Monkees" because critics have discovered the series has a timeless appeal. "They were a unique combination of individuals. They had an amazing chemistry. They were four individuals who were fantastic together and the music was great. There was no denying that."

The box set will be available in stores and also can be ordered through Rhino Mail Order by calling (800) 432-0020.

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Prynne and Proper: Demi Moore is the latest actress to play Nathaniel Hawthorne's heroine Hester Prynne in a film version of his classic novel "The Scarlet Letter." Several previous filmizations are currently available on video.

The sultry '60s sex symbol Senta Berger takes on Hester in Wim Wenders' 1972 German adaptation (Pacific Arts Video); Colleen Moore is miscast in the wan 1934 production (Video Yesteryear); and Meg Foster is a glowing Hester in the 1979 PBS miniseries (PBS Video). The classic 1926 version starring Lillian Gish is not yet available on home video.

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New This Week: Tamlyn Tomita and Youki Kudoh star in "Picture Bride" (Miramax Home Entertainment), an award-winning drama about an orphaned city-bred Japanese woman who becomes a "picture bride" to a Japanese man working on a sugar cane plantation in Hawaii.

Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman and Peter Gallagher star in the box-office hit romantic comedy "While You Were Sleeping" (Hollywood Pictures Home Video).

"Farinelli" (Columbia TriStar) is a Golden Globe Award-winning Belgium drama about the famous 18th-Century "castrato" male singer.

Marisa Tomei, Anjelica Huston, Alfred Molina and Chazz Palminteri star in the romantic comedy "The Perez Family" (Hallmark Home Entertainment).

The award-winning "The Last Winter" (FoxVideo) is a charming, sweet coming-of-age drama from Canada. Joshua Murray plays a farm boy who can't understand why his parents have decided to move the family to the big city. With the help of his beloved grandfather (Gerard Parkes), though, he learns change is a necessary part of growing up.

Alicia Silverstone is the babe of a baby-sitter who is absolutely clueless she's the object of the dreams and fantasies of several people in "The Babysitter" (Republic Home Video).

Mario Van Peebles directed "Panther" (Polygram Video), a dramatization of the rise and fall of the Black Panthers. Kadeem Hardison stars.

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