Television You Forgot About: Tales of the Gold Monkey


ABC's Tales of the Gold Monkey aired from 1982-1983

Don’t let the title fool you, television you forgot about is a term I use loosely for those of us that are actually old enough to remember programming that wasn’t somehow connected to the Law and Order franchise.  I do understand that many readers of The ThrowDown are a younger variety and would have trouble remembering a show that was on more than likely well before they were born.

I enjoy a good flashback now and again, as I’m sure some of the middle-aged crowd does and for those that are indeed a bit younger, you may get some viewing inspiration that doesn’t have anything to do with the Kardashians.  You see, my readers, there was a time not long ago when the T.V. landscape was not dominated by the famous just for being famous and police shows that don’t concern themselves with real world fact.  Picture it, the year was 1982….

The smash hit Raiders of the Lost Ark still had a public reeling for excitement and adventure which the entertainment industry scrambled to oblige.  Programming on the small screen back then took a huge que from Hollywood’s big budget films, and if it was box office gold, you could bet the fall lineup would have something comparable.  Enter ABC’s Tales of the Gold Monkey.

You see, somewhere  back before actor Stephen Collins was the father 7th Heaven, and after actor Roddy McDowell starred in Planet of the Apes, ABC decided it was time for an action/adventure period piece, and delivered it spanning all the way from 1982 to 1983.  The cost of production back then was high for a television show, and ultimately it was cancelled because the ratings didn’t justify the costs.  Ah, but those 21 golden episodes.

The series revolved around a former Flying Tiger named Jake Cutter(Collins) and his sidekick dog, Jack, the one-eyed Jack Russell Terrier.  Pair this unlikely combo with fair-weather love interest Sarah White and drunk mechanic Corky while using the South Pacific fictional island of Bora Gora in 1938 as a backdrop.  Of course, every week would involve Cutter flying his plane to and from the island, while getting in crazy adventures like trying to locate a legendary eight-story solid gold monkey statue, hence the title.

A bit cheesy and awkward at times, the show wasn’t exactly on the level of some other well-known 1930’s swashbucklers, but it was entertaining for the time.  For what Tales of the Gold Monkey had to work with, it was far better than many other shows in that genre, which also had larger budgets.  But, television is a fickle bitch, and ABC gave the series the axe after one season.

The show was the product of legendary creator Donald Bellisario, who was also the man behind hits such as Magnum P.I, Airwolf and Quantum Leap.  Bellisario actually pitched Tales of the Gold Monkey in the late 1970’s, but was rejected due to the apprehension of airing a period piece.  When Raiders of the Lost Ark hit the big screen, the idea suddenly became much more appealing to the network.

I always had a place in my heart for this show, and was crushed as a kid to find out that sometimes television shows just don’t stay on indefinitely.  It’s probably best that it was cancelled, however.  My dreams of being a bush pilot in the South Seas dropped off somewhere shortly after, and I was spared a life of no money and malaria.  Ah well.  Here’s a look at the show’s intro, which makes me wince just a bit.  Always seems better when you were a youngster.  The entire series of Tales of the Gold Monkey,  is available on DVD.

*Update*  The video supplied here has been deactivated.  Rather than let people see the trailer of a nearly 30 year old TV show that lasted a season, some asshat in a suit decided that it violated their ownership rights.  So, rather than promote the video sales, I’ve chosen to leave it blank, as a badge of shame.  They can now go pay for their advertising since we’re so concerned with “intellectual property”. 



Filed under Television

2 responses to “Television You Forgot About: Tales of the Gold Monkey

  1. I thought two barks meant yes and one bark meant no. Bwahahahahahaha!!! I remember this show! Though, to it’s credit, it did have a longer run than The Phoenix that ran for a little over a month in 1982. Honestly, I’m just being bitter because I was really hoping for a recap of Automan, the bad Tron knockoff starring Desi Arnez Jr. Thanks for the throwback.

    • Funny you remember Jack would bark his answers. The part I remembered was that Jake lost Jack’s jewel encrusted eye in a poker game. And of course, I remember Automan. Good times.

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