Tales of the Gold Monkey

Tales of the Gold Monkey is a 1982 television show broadcast by ABC. Most critics saw it as the network's attempt to capitalize on the fame of the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark the previous year, in the same vein as Bring 'Em Back Alive on CBS. In actuality, the premise of the show bears a much stronger resemblance to the 1939 film Only Angels Have Wings. Creator Donald P. Bellisario tried to get the series commissioned since the late 1970s, but executives felt that audiences wouldn't be interested in an adventure series set in the 1930s. It was the success of Raiders of the Lost Ark that changed their minds. The series featured the romance of early aviation, exotic locales and cliff-hanging action.

Premise and major characters

Set in the South Pacific in 1938, the series is about an ex-Flying Tigers pilot named Jake Cutter (Stephen Collins). Now the operator of an air cargo delivery service based on the fictional South Seas island Bora Gora, he flies a red and white Grumman Goose called Cutter's Goose. Jake's best friend is his mechanic Corky (Jeff MacKay), a good-hearted alcoholic whose memory is hazy as a result of the quantity of booze he consumes. However, a one-eyed Jack Russell terrier named Jack, who barks once for "no" and twice for "yes" (or the opposite if it suits him) would dispute just who Jake's best friend really is. Jack wears an eye patch, but used to have a false eye made of opal that Jake lost in a poker game -- and refuses to let Jake forget it.

Jake's love interest/U.S. Government spy contact is Sarah Stickney White (Caitlin O'Heaney). She sings in the Monkey Bar as a cover for her espionage activities. The Reverend Willie Tenboom (John Calvin), a phony man of the cloth who likes to "bless" the natives, is in actuality a Nazi spy named Willy, with interests in both sides.

"Bon Chance" Louie (played by Ron Moody in the pilot, Roddy McDowall in the series) is the owner of the Monkey Bar and the French magistrate for Bora Gora. Jake's nemesis is the Japanese princess Koji (Marta DuBois), a Dragon Lady type of character who has eyes for Jake. Koji's devoted bodyguard is Todo (John Fujioka), a fierce practitioner of Bushido and loyal to the princess. (Although Calvin, DuBois and Fujioka were billed on the opening credits of each episode, they actually only appeared on a semi-regular basis in a handful of episodes.)

The title is derived from the bar where the characters gather, which features a golden monkey statue.

History and context

Originally, the series was to be called "Tales of the Brass Monkey". There was a cocktail mix at the time called "Brass Monkey." They requested that the show change the title to prevent a confusing association. However, in several episodes it is revealed that the statue at the bar was indeed brass and not really gold. Unknown to the characters, the island where the statue was found does contain a massive structure apparently made of solid gold that does resemble a monkey, but they never learn the truth.

As with most of creator Donald P. Bellisario's projects, there are links to his other shows. The most notable is of the character Gandy Dancer (played by William Lucking) an ace pilot treasure hunter who appears in the episodes 'Legends Are Forever' and - in flashback form - in 'Honor Thy Brother'. Although Gandy dies in 'Legends Are Forever', Bellisario liked the character enough to adapt him to the present day. The third season episode 'Two Birds of a Feather' of Bellisario's hit Magnum, P.I. sees Lucking playing the very similar character of Sam Houston Hunter, also an ace pilot. The episode, which noticeably has little appearance of Magnum or any other regular characters, acted as a backdoor pilot for a proposed spin-off series starring Lucking. However, the series was never picked up, although Bellisario stripped down the 'adventures of an ace pilot' concept and worked it into Airwolf (1984-1986). Jeff MacKay had recurring roles on Magnum, PI, and later JAG (1998-2005). McDowall, MacKay, Calvin and the Goose all had guest appearances on the Bellisario series Quantum Leap (1989-1993).

Although generally well-received in both America and overseas (such as the United Kingdom, where it was broadcast on Monday evenings), the show was not renewed for another season, mostly due to the ratings not justifying the high cost of production.

This show is considered to be a strong inspiration for the Disney animated series Talespin. There are also a number of parallels and character similarities with the 1994 point-and-click adventure game Flight of the Amazon Queen, which may or may not have been influenced by the series.

There is a fictional recursion in "The Sultan of Swat" in which - while waiting for the Boeing 314 Pan Am Clipper - Jake is reading a book with a dustcover titled "Murder on the Footbridge"; which is apparently a key plot reference from the 1941 Alfred Hitchcock Movie "Suspicion".

Episode list

No. Title Director Writer Original Airdate
1 Tales of the Gold Monkey (2 parts) Ray Austin Donald P. Bellisario September 22, 1982
2 Shanghaied Alan J. Levi Donald P. Bellisario September 29, 1982
3 Black Pearl Victor Lobl Dennis Capps, George Geiger, Bob Foster, Paul Savage, Donald P. Bellisario October 13, 1982
4 Legends Are Forever Virgil Vogel Milt Rosen, Reuben Leder, Donald P. Bellisario October 20, 1982
5 Escape From Death Island James Frawley Peter Elliot, Stephen Katz October 27, 1982
6 Trunk From the Past Christian I. Nyby II John Pashdag, Brady Westwater November 3, 1982
7 Once a Tiger... Winrich Kolbe L. Ford Neal, John Huff November 17, 1982
8 Honor Thy Brother Mike Vejar Jeff Ray, Danny Lee Cole, Bill Driskill, George Geiger November 24, 1982
9 The Lady and the Tiger Virgil Vogel Donald P. Bellisario December 8, 1982
10 The Late Sarah White Harvey S. Laidman Mary Ann Kasica, Michael Scheff, Donald P. Bellisario, George Geiger December 22, 1982
11 The Sultan of Swat Virgil Vogel David Brown January 5, 1983
12 Ape Boy Winrich Kolbe Andrew Schneider, Bill Driskill January 12, 1983
13 God Save the Queen Virgil Vogel George Geiger January 19, 1983
14 High Stakes Lady James Frawley Bill Driskill January 26, 1983
15 Force of Habit Harvey S. Laidman Tom Greene February 2, 1983
16 Cooked Goose Donald A. Baer Jay Huguely March 4, 1983
17 Last Chance Louie James Fargo Tom Greene, George Geiger March 11, 1983
18 Naka Jima Kill Jack Whitman Andrew Schneider, Tom Greene March 18, 1983
19 Boragora or Bust Ivan Dixon George Geiger, Tom Greene March 25, 1983
20 A Distant Shout of Thunder James Fargo Tom Greene, George Geiger April 8, 1983
21 Mourning Becomes Matuka David Jones Jay Huguely, Tom Greene, George Geiger June 1, 1983


Based on "facts" disclosed in the series, a chronology of events can be compiled.938: The Tse-Sing monks cast the gold monkey idol using a golden alloy that is heat resistant.
(Willie informs Princess Koji that the monks did this 1000 years ago.)1881: Todo is born.
(This is based on the age of the actor in 1983.)1884: Bon Chance Louis is born.
(This is based on the age of Roddy McDowall in 1982.)1903: Jake Cutter is born.
(The series bible has two different birth years, 1901 and 1903. 1903 would match the age of Stephen Collins in 1982.)1907: Corky is born.
(The Pilot script indicates that Corky is 31.)1910: Sarah Stickney-White is born.
(The Late Sarah White)1920: Jake Cutter enters Cornell University.1924: Jake Cutter graduates from Cornell University. He begins to play AA Baseball.1926: Jake Cutter joins the Army Air Corps.1927: The champagne house of Pom Peron has an excellent year. (Louis is upset at the loss of a case of Pom Peron in the pilot.)1931: Jake completes his military commitment and begins to barnstorm around the country.1933: Jake Cutter accepts a position as a Pan Am Clipper co-pilot.1935: Corky pulls Jake out of a burning Ford Tri-Motor in Guatemala. (The year is conjecture, based on the presumption that it occurred while Jake and Corky were in South America together. Jake speaks of this incident in the pilot.)1936: Jake and Corky fly gold out of Peru. Jake buys Jack an opal and sapphire false eye.1937: Jake resigns from Pan Am and joins the Flying Tigers.

During his time with the Flying Tigers, Jake loses Jack's eye to a Chinese bandit. Jake flies all the way to Tibet to get it back. (Corky describes this incident as happening in "37" in the pilot.)1938: Jake Cutter flies charter flights out of Bora Gora.April 1938: Jake and Corky fly nuns to a leper colony. (Corky and Jake speak about this in the pilot.)


External links

Search another word or see cliff-hangingon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature