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The Monkees television show was groundbreaking on many levels when it debuted on NBC in Sept. 1966. The series made superstars of Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, Micky Dolenz, and Davy Jones. Although it only ran for two seasons, its impact on a generation of viewers remains. However, The Monkees most outstanding achievement is that it may be the only scripted series in history that aired on all three major television networks.

The Monkees cast includes Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz, and Peter Tork.
Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz, and Peter Tork | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

‘The Monkees’ was groundbreaking television during its initial TV run

NBC marketed The Monkees series toward teenage viewers. However, that didn’t mean the network didn’t sneak in several moments geared more toward an adult viewers.

The television series was the first to use the word “hell” on television, even though network censors bleeped it out in the final edit. Dolenz discussed the incident in his book I’m a Believer: My Life of Monkees, Music, and Madness.

“Having to do with the Devil, of course, there was the occasional mention of the word ‘hell,’ Dolenz said of the season 2 episode.

“The network refused even to let us mention the word! The producers went to bat on this one, and we managed to make a joke about it on the show. That should give you some idea of the national sociopolitical atmosphere prevailing at the time.” Dolenz admitted in the book.

The Monkees was also the first to feature four young “hippie” men as its stars. The series was one of the first family sitcoms to lack a father figure.

‘The Monkees’ aired on all three major TV networks before 1980

According to The Monkees Live Almanac, the TV series may be the only scripted show to air on three major networks: NBC, ABC, and CBS.

The Monkees and NBC mutually agreed to end production of The Monkees in 1968 after only two seasons where it was installed in a Monday night slot on the peacock network at 7:30 p.m.

Subsequently, the series moved to Saturday morning and afternoon television.

The series began rerunning in the fall of 1969 on a new network, CBS, which aired episodes of The Monkees through September 1972.  Shortly after, the series moved to ABC, where it aired through the summer of 1973.

The series made some significant changes once it moved into syndication


‘The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith Once Deadpanned: ‘Micky [Dolenz] Is a Great Frontman, and I’m OK’

After The Monkees ABC run, the series moved to syndication in 1975.

At that time, a new generation of The Monkees viewers saw things differently than prior viewers. All season 1 episodes of The Monkees started with the season 2 opener. Therefore, fans who first discovered that band during the time didn’t know the series’s first season had a different opener.

A second sneaky switch included music featured on The Monkees.

Over the summer of 1967, NBC reran multiple episodes of The Monkees with revised soundtracks. This move promoted the band’s album Headquarters and subsequent singles.

Between 1969 and 1973, both CBS and ABC revised the soundtracks to promote the band’s newer music.