Tales of the Gold Monkey

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Tales of the Gold Monkey
Jake and Sarah in Tales of the Gold Monkey
Genre Adventure
Created by Donald P. Bellisario
Starring Stephen Collins
Jeff MacKay
Caitlin O'Heaney
Roddy McDowall
Composer(s) Frank Denson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 21 (list of episodes)
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Belisarius Productions
Universal Television
Original network ABC
Picture format Film
Audio format Monaural
Original release September 22, 1982 – June 1, 1983

Tales of the Gold Monkey is an American adventure drama series[1][2][3] broadcast in prime time on Wednesday nights by ABC from September 22, 1982 until June 1, 1983.[4][5][6] The series featured the romance of early aviation, exotic locales, and cliff-hanging action. It was aired following the success of the film Raiders of the Lost Ark the previous year.[3]

Premise and major characters

Set in 1938 in the South Pacific, the series is about an ex-Flying Tigers pilot (an anachronism, since the Flying Tigers operated from 1941–1942) 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 with a memory hazy from heavy drinking. However, a one-eyed Jack Russell terrier named Jack, which 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 with a star sapphire center 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 female natives in private "prayer", 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 semiregular basis in a handful of episodes.)

The title is derived from a gigantic mythical golden statue that is the focal point of the pilot episode, seen only by the viewer at the end of the show. The characters end their search for the statue after finding a substitute brass monkey that is kept at the Monkey Bar for the rest of the series.

History and context

The series was inspired by the 1939 drama film Only Angels Have Wings.

Originally, the series was to be called Tales of the Brass Monkey, but the Heublin company had run a series of magazine ads with exactly that name about a bar in the Far East, with hints of Casablanca intrigue and references to the Kenpeitai; so, to avoid legal difficulties, the name was changed to Gold Monkey.[7] At the end of the pilot episode, it is revealed that the statue at the bar was actually brass and not gold. However, unknown to the characters (and revealed to viewers only just before the end credits), the island where the statue was found does contain a massive structure apparently made of solid gold that does resemble a monkey. However, a thousand years of neglect had left it covered in vegetation and debris, and it is only exposed by the same volcanic eruption that forces the characters off the island.

As with most of creator Donald P. Bellisario's projects, links exist 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. has 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, P.I., and later JAG (1995–2005), and Marta DuBois played the role of Magnum's estranged wife Michelle, long presumed dead, in a story arc that spanned most of that show's run. MacKay and Calvin both went on to play several guest roles in Airwolf; and McDowall, MacKay, Calvin (and stock footage of the Goose) all went on to have guest appearances on the Bellisario series Quantum Leap (1989–1993). Stock footage of the Goose was also used in The A-Team episode "The Island" (season three, episode eight) and in Quantum Leap Episode "Ghost Ship" (season four, episode sixteen). Additionally, Jake's surname, Cutter, was previously an early working title and character name for that of Magnum, and Bellisario later reused the name "Gushie", who in Gold Monkey was a waiter at the Monkey Bar who used a wheelchair, for a member of the Quantum Leap project team.

Although generally well received in both United States and overseas (such as the United Kingdom, where it was broadcast on BBC One 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 was an inspiration for the Disney animated series TaleSpin, according to that series' creator/supervising producer, Jymn Magon.[8]

A fictional recursion occurs 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.

US TV Ratings

Season Episodes Start Date End Date Nielsen Rank Nielsen Rating Tied With
1982-83 21 September 22, 1982 June 1, 1983 69[9] N/A N/A


No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 "Tales of the Gold Monkey: Part 1" Ray Austin Donald P. Bellisario September 22, 1982 (1982-09-22)
Part one of the series pilot: Ex-Flying Tiger Jake Cutter and his mechanic Corky find themselves caught up in the affairs of Nazis when they search for the fabled gold monkey.
2 "Tales of the Gold Monkey: Part 2" Ray Austin Donald P. Bellisario September 22, 1982 (1982-09-22)
Part two of the pilot. Numerous people attempt to find the cargo dumped by Jake, including Sarah (investigating the gold monkey), a German officer, a reverend, and a princess named Koji.
3 "Shanghaied" Alan J. Levi Donald P. Bellisario September 29, 1982 (1982-09-29)
Jake has malaria and must rescue a kidnapped Corky from a slave trader.
4 "Black Pearl" Victor Lobl Dennis Capps & George Geiger & Bob Foster & Paul Savage & Donald P. Bellisario October 13, 1982 (1982-10-13)
Jake goes undercover when the Nazis begin building an atomic bomb.
5 "Legends Are Forever" Virgil Vogel Teleplay by: Milt Rosen & Reuben Leder & Donald P. Bellisario
Story by: Milt Rosen
October 20, 1982 (1982-10-20)
An ex-Flying Tiger recruits Jake for an adventure.
6 "Escape from Death Island" James Frawley Peter Elliot & Stephen Katz October 27, 1982 (1982-10-27)
Jake and Corky are tasked to fly to an island nearby Bora Gora by an Englishman wanting to see his son in prison. An prison escape results in the imprisonment of the crew, who have to deal with harsh conditions and a sadistic warden.
7 "Trunk from the Past" Christian I. Nyby II John Pashdag & Brady Westwater November 3, 1982 (1982-11-03)
8 "Once a Tiger..." Winrich Kolbe L. Ford Neal & John Huff November 17, 1982 (1982-11-17)
9 "Honor Thy Brother" Mike Vejar Teleplay by: Jeff Ray & Danny Lee Cole & Bill Driskill & George Geiger
Story by: Jeff Ray & Danny Lee Cole
November 24, 1982 (1982-11-24)
10 "The Lady and the Tiger" Virgil Vogel Donald P. Bellisario December 8, 1982 (1982-12-08)
The Goose's engines fail and the plane lands on an island inside the Japanese South Pacific Mandate. Jake is rescued by an Amish woman and her son, who agree to harbor him until he can find a way to call his friends for help.
11 "The Late Sarah White" Harvey S. Laidman Maryanne Kasica & Michael Scheff & Donald P. Bellisario & George Geiger December 22, 1982 (1982-12-22)
12 "The Sultan of Swat" Virgil Vogel David Brown January 5, 1983 (1983-01-05)
Can Jake prove a legendary baseball star innocent of a rape and murder, or will it be three strikes for his hero?
13 "Ape Boy" Winrich Kolbe Teleplay by: Andrew Schneider & Bill Driskill
Story by: Eric Lerner & Bill Driskill
January 12, 1983 (1983-01-12)
While searching for native fishermen, our heroes come across a young man raised by apes.
14 "God Save the Queen" Virgil Vogel George Geiger January 19, 1983 (1983-01-19)
Jake and Corky must deal with a British nobleman who's planted a bomb on the plane, and will only reveal the location once he has the royal jewels.
15 "High Stakes Lady" James Frawley Teleplay by: Bill Driskill
Story by: Lance Madrid III & Bill Driskill
January 26, 1983 (1983-01-26)
16 "Force of Habit" Harvey S. Laidman Teleplay by: Tom Greene
Story by: Tom Greene & William Schmidt
February 2, 1983 (1983-02-02)
Jake helps an old flame turned nun retrieve a clipper filled with vaccinations when it's stolen.
17 "Cooked Goose" Donald A. Baer Jay Huguely March 4, 1983 (1983-03-04)
18 "Last Chance Louie" James Fargo Teleplay by: Tom Greene & George Geiger
Story by: Bob Shayne
March 11, 1983 (1983-03-11)
Jake must save Louie from the guillotine when Louie is accused of murdering a former colleague and refuses to say why he did the deed.
19 "Naka Jima Kill" Jack Whitman Teleplay by: Andrew Schneider & Tom Greene
Story by: Thom Thomas & Andrew Schneider
March 18, 1983 (1983-03-18)
An assassin skilled in disguise targets the Japanese Defense Minister when the latter comes to Bora Gora. Adding to our heroes' problems is a former roommate of Sarah coming to interview the Defense Minister.
20 "Boragora or Bust" Ivan Dixon George Geiger & Tom Greene March 25, 1983 (1983-03-25)
21 "A Distant Shout of Thunder" James Fargo Tom Greene & George Geiger April 8, 1983 (1983-04-08)
Sarah is accused of stealing a sacred statue.
22 "Mourning Becomes Matuka" David Jones Teleplay by: Jay Huguely & Tom Greene & George Geiger
Story by: Jay Huguely
June 1, 1983 (1983-06-01)
After an attempt on her life, Koji blackmails Jake into acting as her bodyguard during her birthday.

DVD releases

Fabulous Films has obtained the DVD rights for the complete series for the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. Release dates are listed below. Shout! Factory released Tales of the Gold Monkey: The Complete Series on Region 1 DVD on June 8, 2010.[10]

Region 2/4 (UK) November 16, 2009
Region 2/4 (Australia) November 27, 2009
Region 1 (US) June 8, 2010

All three DVD sets include the same bonus features: original double-length pilot episode; the complete 20-episode series; new 36-minute 'making of' documentary with Stephen Collins (Jake Cutter), Caitlin O'Heaney (Sarah Stickney White), writer/producer Tom Greene, director Harvey Laidman; audio commentaries on 5 episodes; series synopsis; stills gallery; Caitlin's Original Costume gallery; artifacts gallery; 24-page collector's booklet with episode synopses. The Region 1 and 2 versions have a dedication to "the memory of the late, great Jeff Mackay" printed on the back cover.


  1. ^ The New York Times Archived October 24, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Tales Of The Gold Monkey: The Complete Series". The A.V. Club. June 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b "Tales of the Gold Monkey: The Complete Series". dvdtalk.com. 
  4. ^ New York Magazine, 20. Sept. 1982, p. 48.
  5. ^ Douglas Kellner: Foreword: Television criticism and contemporary US politics, in: Betty Kaklamanidou and Margaret J. Tally (eds.): Politics and Politicians in Contemporary US Television Washington as Fiction, London/New York: Routledge 2017.
  6. ^ A. Bowdoin van Riper: Baa Baa Black Sheep and the Last Stand of the WWII Drama, in: Anna Froula and Stacy Takacs (eds.): American militarism on the small screen, New York: Routledge, 2016, pp. 77–92.
  7. ^ "John Kenneth Muir's Retro TV Files: Tales of the Gold Monkey". johnkennethmuir.com. 2004. 
  8. ^ "Ok, so... © TaleSpin". animationsource.org. 
  9. ^ Lina. "The TV Ratings Guide: 1982-83 Ratings History -- Soap Bubbles Rise, Several Veterans Part and NBC Renews Poorly Rated Masterpieces". Retrieved 1 April 2018. 
  10. ^ Latchem, John (February 26, 2010). "Shout! Factory Maxing Out". Home Media Magazine. Retrieved February 27, 2010. 

External links

  • Tales of the Gold Monkey on IMDb
  • Tales of the Gold Monkey at TV.com
  • Goldmonkey.com, the unofficial web site
  • John Kenneth Muir's profile of the show
  • DVD review of series
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