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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Fantasy > TV > Tales Of The Gold Monkey – The Complete Series (1982 – 1983/Shout! Factory DVD Set)

Tales Of The Gold Monkey – The Complete Series (1982 – 1983/Shout! Factory DVD Set)

 

Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C     Episodes: C

 

 

When Raiders Of the Lost Ark (1981) was a huge hit out of nowhere, bringing back the 1930s style of Saturday Morning Serial action, many imitators naturally surfaced in theaters and on TV.  Amazingly, none of them gained any traction, but some are still remembered and even have small cult followings.  One of the first was on TV when ABC debuted Tales Of The Gold Monkey in 1982 with a two-hour telefilm pilot.  Then up and coming Stephen Collins already left his genre mark with his work in Star Trek – The Motion Picture (1979) and was hired to play Jake Cutter, the wise-cracking hero for the show.

 

This included an ability to fight, fly airplanes and hang around with a dog wearing an eye patch.  Also set in the 1930s, the show was produced by Universal in their attempt to make up for missing Raiders and this is all the way down to fighting Nazis.  John Hillerman (Magnum, P.I.) evens shows up as one.

 

Joined by his partner Corky (Jeff MacKay from Baa Baa Black Sheep), they flew through what would be only be 21 adventures (22 episodes if you split the pilot as they had) and the show did not make it, but some money is in it, it has no phony digital effects and it is not as cynical or dumb as Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.  However, it is predictable, somewhat formulaic and made for a wider family audience, despite being a bit politically incorrect.

 

Despite an interesting cast (Ron Moody was replaced for the series by Roddy McDowall as bar owner Bon Chance Louie, Catlin O’Heaney was “the girl” as Sarah Stickney White), the show was too silly and did not last because it was not serous enough about its adventures.  This was a mistake all Raiders imitators made not unlike Bond imitators in the 1960s.  Spielberg & Lucas understood this, which is why Lucas in particular made Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom so very dark.  They knew the competition could not go there.

 

This limited shows like Tales Of The Gold Monkey which may have worked better in the 1970s or on cable, but here it is and the only other ambitious TV attempt to be Raiders was Bring ‘Em Back Alive.  At least the cast looks like they are having fun here.

 

 

The 1.33 X 1 image through on the pilot and all the episodes is weak because older analog masters of the show are the only materials supplied.  Originally shot in 35mm, this should look much better and is likely from copies finished on old analog NTSC videotape.  Color is poor, there is edge enhancement, detail is poor, depth is poor and it never gets better.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also down a few generations, compressed and distorted throughout.

 

Though you can barely see it from the too-tiny print on the back of the case, extras include a high quality booklet with episode guide inside the DVD case, audio commentary tracks on five episodes, stills, artifacts gallery, series synopsis & biographies, Character Sarah Stickney White’s original costume gallery and a new 36-minutes making-of featurette.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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