Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by the week’s new releases or premieres. This week: We’re looking at favorite episodes from web and streaming series.
Seeing as he’s a connoisseur of art that’s so bad it’s fascinating, it’s no surprise that Tim Heidecker mentioned My Record Fantasy—a reality web series starring Micky Dolenz of The Monkees—in a 2011 interview with Tiny Mix Tapes. He described the show as such:
People pay $5,000 to spend a weekend recording a song with Micky Dolenz. It’s watching a car wreck for an hour. There’s like 13 episodes. And we watch that like we’re watching South Park. We just can’t believe.
He’s absolutely right. Pretty much everything in the show works for all the wrong reasons, from the karaoke-quality covers of Carole King (the album in question is a tribute to the legendary songwriter) to a corral of socially awkward auditionees straight out of Heidecker’s own Cinco universe. But the show’s crown jewel of unintentional cringe comedy shines in the sixth episode, “Jam At Pearl On The River,” in which Dolenz and his disciples have an impromptu jam session with Mickey Thomas of Starship. The evening culminates with the two Mick(e)ys screaming themselves hoarse on The Beatles’ “Oh! Darling,” the brim of Dolenz’s black outback hat flopping around like a giant chow tongue as he belts with frightening abandon.
And yet, for all its washed-up weirdness, My Record Fantasy is somewhat admirable when watched in 2015. If one can get past the show’s lame aesthetic and cash-grabbing nature of the audition process (Heidecker was right—an expired Facebook event shows that it cost between $1,299 and $2,999 just to try out), everyone looks like they’re having the time of their lives rocking out to the Beatles cover. They practically swoon when Dolenz regales them with a tale of stopping by Abbey Road Studios for the song’s original recording session: “John Lennon looked up at me and said ‘Hey, Monkee Man.’ Yep, that’s what he called me—Monkee Man.”
The fact that Dolenz starred in his own web series at all maybe—just maybe—suggests that he was at least trying to think ahead of the curve in 2010. He ends each episode by reminding viewers to comment on the video and subscribe to the YouTube channel. It’s hard to tell if he actually knows what those things mean, but there’s something to be said for a man of his era and waning topicality fighting to keep up with the times.
My Record Fantasy never got a proper finale, which hints that whether for financial, moral, or tasteful reasons, Dolenz eventually realized what a colossal failure the show was. After all, he’s shown self-awareness plenty of times before with his band’s sitcom and their cinematic LSD trip, Head—not to mention his cameo in Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, and John C. Reilly’s Bagboy special earlier this year. And yet, as My Record Fantasy proves, sometimes it can be good—or at least fascinating—for an artist to drop their guard. Sometimes it makes for something that’s not just accidentally bad, but accidentally endearing.
Availability: My Record Fantasy can be streamed on YouTube.