"The Monkees On The Wheel" is the first episode to show a significant change in the off-the-wall humor of The Monkees TV series.
Dean Davis was asked to write this episode, but a scheduling conflict prevented him from doing so. He was nevertheless written into a casino scene: Micky walks up tp Dean at a craps table and says, "Hey, have you seen Peter?" Dean then replies, "No, but if he's missing I know a good detective that can find him." Dean was also an extra and a stuntman in The Monkees 1968 movie HEAD.
You may recognize Joy Harmon as the bank teller in Episode 34, "The Picture Frame" (a.k.a. "The Bank Robbery"). Harmon made a guest appearance on You Bet Your Life and as a result became a regular on the TV series Tell It To Groucho (CBS, 1962). Her most memorable performances were in films, appearing in Village Of The Giants (1965) and Cool Hand Luke (1967, which also featured Monkee guest alum Lou Antonio ["Hillbilly Honeymoon" (a.k.a. "Double Barrell Shotgun Wedding")]).
The late Pepper Davis played the role of Manny on the series Vega$ (ABC, 1978-81).
Sharyn Hillyer is known to devotees of Star Trek (NBC, 1966-69) as Girl #2 from the January 12, 1968 episode "A Piece Of The Action," which also guest starred Monkee guest actor Vic Tayback ("Your friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers,' "The Son Of A Gypsy," and "Art For Monkee's Sake").
"The Monkees On The Wheel" entry in Screen Gems Storylines featured an alternate tag sequence in which Micky swears off gambling forever. Davy then discovers that Peter has caught the gambling bug, having converted their hard-earned salary into quarters and blowing it on the slot machines with Zelda.
Throughout this episode, David Astor can be heard mimicking 2 big-screen toughies: Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney. Astor also provides the opening narration heard at the beginning of this episode's teaser sequence.
This is the final instance of Micky doing Cagney. In the scene where Micky, as the Insidious Stangler, confronts The Boss in comparing Cagney impresarios, they both can be heard singing the opening lines of George M. Cohan's "The Yankee Doodle Boy" from Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). And right after Peter gets The Boss and Biggy drunk while explaining his system for beating Roulette, Micky is heard to imitate another star, Lawrence Welk ("Beautiful, Pe-tah! Beautiful, beautiful! Lovely , lovely!"), whose Lawrence Welk Show was the toast of television for 27 years (1955-82) and about 1,500 shows.
In the scene where Zelda bothers Micky while The Monkees attempt to win back the stolen money at Roulette, Micky impersonates Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula -- foreshadowing of events The Monkees will experience in Episode 50, "The Monstrous Monkee Mash" (the outakes from which are seen in this episode's epilogue). Clips from the movie The Black Cat (1941), which starred Lugosi, can be seen in the movie HEAD.
For the first time, Mike Nesmith makes a plea to devout Monkees viewers to "save the Texas Prairie Chicken!" Further pleas will be made in the closing minutes of Episode 48, "Fairytale," and No. 51, "The Monkee's Paw." This was made to bring awareness to the fact that the number of Texas Prairie Chickens has declined since the mid-1800's, chiefly because their prairie homes have been plowed over for farmland.
In the interrogation scene, when told by The Policeman to "Think of a better story than that!" the Monkees reel off events which describe that timeless fairytale story Jack And The Beanstalk.
This episode borrows a popular element from the TV series Batman (ABC, 1966-68): "crooked angle" camera shot, which is employed for the interrogation scene. Other Monkees segments to utilize "crooked angle" shots are Episode 23, "Captain Crocodile" (during the Frogman and Reuban sequence) and No. 49, "The Monkees Watch Their Feet" (in the scene where Davy and Peter put the robot Micky under the hot light).
The toy tiger Peter is seen cuddling with in this segment is the same one which
"attacked" Micky in Episode 24, "Monkees A La Mode" during the musical romp for "Laugh."
"The Monkees On The Wheel" marks the first episode in which Mike Nesmith flaunts his jacketless long sleeved-shirt/necktie look.
CBS preempted Gunsmoke this week for a National Geographic special on sharks which recieved a 24.2 rating/37.6 share (13,550,000 viewers), while The Monkees came in second.