Retro Review: Tales of the Gold Monkey Part 2

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Tales of the Gold Monkey follows the adventures of a former Flying Tiger named Jake Cutter who is working and flying in a French controlled area of the South Pacific in 1938.  He is joined by his best friend and mechanic, Corky, and his one eyed dog Jack.  He lives on the island of Boragora in the Monkey Bar, an establishment owned by Bon Chance Louie, the local French Magistrate.  Additional characters include Sarah Stickney White, an ‘all American girl’ who sings at the bar but actually works as a spy for the U.S. Government, Reverend Willie Tenboom, on the islands to spread the word of God to the locals (mostly to the local ladies), but is actually a German spy and a (white looking) Japanese princess named Koji who is surrounded by Samurai and who actually runs a criminal empire throughout the islands and who is helping the German spy, Tenboom, with his missions.

I talk about the pilot episode in an earlier blog post.  Today I want to talk about a couple of the subsequent episodes.

Episode 2: Shaghaied

While Jake is laid up with a flair up of malaria, Corky is kidnapped by a one handed ship captain calling himself ‘Ahab’.  Turns out he is not one handed and his name is not Ahab – he is, in fact, the captain of a slave ship who needs Corky to fix the engines so he can get his ‘valuable cargo’ out of the islands and collect his money.  Corky doesn’t want to help a slaver and refuses until the captain threatens to kill the slaves one by one until Corky agrees.  Rather than see innocent people killed, Corky agrees to help but only if they give the prisoners food and water.

Meanwhile, Jake comes out of a fever dream, learns of Corky’s disappearance and takes off in the Goose with Sarah and Jack to try and find Corky and rescue him.

Thoughts – this is the first episode of the regular series so I have to mention that Bon Chance Louie, the French Magistrate of the island, is now played by Roddy McDowall (Planet of the Apes, Fright Night) who is much better than the guy from the pilot, Ron Moody – no offense to mr Moody, of course.

The episode has a darker tone because it is about these bad guys who’re taking natives to sell as slaves.  Princess Koji makes another appearance – as she does throughout the series, sort of bridging two worlds, one of criminals and one of royalty.  One of the things that I like about this show is that even the dog, Jack, is a well developed character.  How they managed that I wish I could say, but he contributes like any other actor, which is cool.

Episode 3: Black Pearl

On a passenger run from Tagataya to Boragora, Jake spots a small boat adrift in the ocean.  He lands and pulls the only survivor aboard the Goose to rush him back to the island for medical treatment.  The man dies, never able to reveal that his people are being used as slaves at a secret German research facility.  He escaped with a canister filed with a strange, glowing substance.

Sarah, working as a spy for the Americans, is aware that one of Jake’s passengers is an American Scientist looking to defect to the Germans, so she subdues him and sends Jake in his place so they can uncover what the Germans are doing on the island, what the strange substance is and what they plan to do with it…

Thoughts – Not my favorite episode.  It was okay, but the whole German storyline was a bit silly while trying to not be silly, if that makes sense.

Episode 4: Legends are Forever

Gandy Dancer, former Flying Tiger, shows up at the Monkey Bar looking for Jake Cutter.  They used to fly together, but the last time Jake had seen Gandy, their plane had been in trouble and Gandy ordered him to jump, promising to follow.  He never did and Jake thought he’d been dead all this time.  Now he’s back and has a new job offer for Jake.

Gandy introduces Jake to Oomupwah, chief of an African Watusis tribe who has been living in the south pacific for hundreds of years.  They are in dire need of medical supplies to help with a malaria outbreak that has cripple the tribe.  Living in the mountains, the only access is a single rope bridge and they want Jake to fly them to a small nearby lake and help carry the medical supplies to the village.

Jake agrees, little realizing that Gandy actually has other plans, believing the tribe to be the legendary tribe associated with King Solomon’s Mine…

Thoughts – Well, this was better than episode 3, but a bit far fetched.  I mean – a whole African tribe picking up and moving to the south pacific?  I liked the character of Gandy Dancer, which they bring back in a later episode.  The scenes with the plane, Cutter’s Goose, flying around, get used over and over a lot and sometime the cuts are bad – I mean, really bad.  You’ll see Jake flying the plane, everything looks okay, they cut to an exterior shot, like a flyby – looks great.  When they do episodes like this one, where they’re supposed to land the plane on a ‘tiny lake in the mountains’ – ugh! They use odd shots, stock shots, they cut back and forth – it looks terrible.  I know, I know – television budget.  Ah well.

Still loving this show, still watching it.

More to come later!

~P