Monday, March 26, 2012
TV From the 80's: Tales of the Gold Monkey
In the series, Jake is an air cargo delivery service man based on the fictional island of Bora Gora. His sidekicks include his usually-drunk mechanic, Corky, and a one-eyed Jack Russell terrier named, appropriately enough, Jack. Caitlin O'Heaney plays Jake's love interest, a U.S. spy named Sarah Stickney White, whose cover is as a lounge singer at the Monkey Bar.
Roddy McDowall, John Calvin, and Marta Dubois all have recurring roles in the series, which lasted a total of 21 episodes but was not renewed for a second season due to low ratings.
Although many thought of the series as just cashing in on the popularity of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which had come out the year prior in theaters (and this is what I thought at the time), in reality the show had been in development since the late 70s, but studio executives at the time didn't think audiences would be interested in watching a "period piece." The success of Raiders is what finally convinced the executives that perhaps they had been wrong.
[Isn't it funny how entertainment and studio executives consistently underestimate the intelligence of the audiences they are creating content for? Maybe part of the reason that audiences are viewed as being so dumb is because nobody ever gives them the benefit of the doubt that they might want to watch something more intelligent.]
I remember being super excited when this show debuted, and I made sure that I was home every Wednesday to watch the show (since, of course, we didn't have any way of recording it aside from a VCR which was super expensive back in those days). I remember the showed debuted the day after my 12th birthday and shortly around the same time that I was introduced to D&D, Conan, Monty Python.
The series was definitely very "pulpy" and utilized some of the same familiar tropes as Raiders and pretty much any other fictional pulp story that takes place in the 1930s - evil Nazis just coming into power, a dashing male hero who is somewhat rough around the edges, a beautiful dame, and a femme fatale. There was also the treasure-hunting aspect in the form of the statue from the show's title, the infamous golden monkey.
The entire series is available on DVD as a boxed set, and can also be rented via Netflix (although it's not available for streaming as of the date of this post). Based on my memory of the show, it would make good idea fodder for any games that take place during that time period. I feel like the Savage Worlds system would work perfectly with this show, although the d20 Modern Forbidden Kingdoms system would work also.
What are your memories of this show?