Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Overlooked TV: Tales of the Gold Monkey

This is a rerun from September 16, 2014.  I usually don't rerun such recent posts, but I was reminded of it by this post on Boing Boing yesterday.  It will get thousands of hits, whereas this one won't.  But I wanted you to know that I got there first.

Tales of the Gold Monkey was on for only one season, but it was a good one.  Maybe.  The thing is, you give me a show set in the South Seas in the late '30s, a seedy bar, some slow-turning ceiling fans, spies, plenty of action, a one-eyed Jack Russell terrier wearing an eye patch, a hero who flies a Grumman Goose, a Dragon Lady clone, and several other choice ingredients -- well, I'm pretty much guaranteed to like it.

The episode I remember best is the pilot, which is sort of the origin story sinced it explains where the title of the show came from.  Jake Cutter (Stephen Collins) and others are looking for the mythical gold monkey.  Jake's helped out by his pal Corky, an alcoholic mechanic, and Jack, the aforementioned one-eyed dog.  Jack once had a false eye, a valuable opal that Jake lost in a poker game.  (Jack is still resentful.)  Roddy McDowell seems to be having a great time playing "Bon Chance" Louie, the owner of the Gold Monkey bar, and there really is a monkey sitting in the place.  It's found at the end of the pilot episode, but as with the Maltese Falcon, it's not what it was thought to be.

The series wasn't shot on location, and some of the sets are a little cheesy, but it was a lot of fun.  Most people must not have gotten the same kick from it that I did, since it lasted only one season. 

8 comments:

Cap'n Bob said...

A favorite at Tankon, especially the femme fatale and the Grumman Goose (note spelling).

Bill Crider said...

Thanks, Cap'n. I wonder why nobody caught that the last time. I'll fix it.

Ben Boulden said...

I have fond memories of this series. I've thought, more than once, about finding the DVD collection and watching it again.

Tom Johnson said...

I've got the series on VHS tapes. Yeah, a great series. Of course, anything this good was not supposed to last more than one seas. That's a fact of life. Crap will go on forever. Sigh.

Graham Powell said...

I think it just suffered by comparison with the Indiana Jones films, which clearly inspired it. But it was a lot of fun and canceled too soon.

Do you have any thoughts on the "Bring 'Em Back Alive" series that was on about the same time? Based on a real person, I understand.

Bill Crider said...

I saw BRING 'EM BACK ALIVE only a couple of times. Frank Buck was the guy who wrote the book with that title. It was supposedly about his true adventures. I have a copy of it around here somewhere. Buck starred in the movie based on the book, and I saw it on TV years ago.

Jerry House said...

As a kid I was impressed by Buck's book and by the several films I saw on Saturday morning teleision, including the 1937 15-part serial JUNGLE MENACE. I remember one movie in which he fought a man in a gorilla suit -- even in my naive childhood I tell it was a cheesy special effect. Buck made some interesting self-serving documentaries and also appeared as himself in Abbott and Costello's AFRICA SCREAMS.

Bruce Boxleitner starred in the sort-lived 1982 series as a highly romanticized Buck. (They probably couldn't find someone shorter and squatter.) Buck's compound on the series, however, was a fairly faithful replica.

Mike Doran said...

I suppose it's bad form to bring this up ...

Given the latter-day notoriety of Stephen Collins, I'd guess that any newfound interest in Gold Monkey these days might be for the wrong reasons.
About the only thing I've been seeing him in lately has been his guest shot on L&O/SVU, in which he played a character far closer to his own personality.

I could be wrong about this; truth to tell, I hope I am - I liked this show too.
I believe one reason Gold Monkey ran into trouble was that one of its villains was a Nazi agent posing as a missionary. The newly-emerging "Christian Right" missed the "posing" part and called the show anti-religious.