Cult TV

Cult TV Essentials: Tales of the Golden Monkey

Tales of the Golden Monkey was a 1982 adventure series that lasted for one season of twenty-one episodes. It is set in 1938 in the South Pacific, and concerns an ex-Flying Tigers pilot named Jake Cutter (Stephen Collins). The show was heavily criticised for being inaccurate as The Flying Tigers operated from 1941-1942.

Cutter now operates 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, 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 with a star sapphire centre that Jake lost in a poker game—and refuses to let Jake forget it.

gold-monkey-001

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 semi-regular 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.

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