Tales of the Gold Monkey: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory)
Donald P. Bellisario shopped his thirties-era adventure series to the networks for years, but when Raiders of the Lost Ark hit theaters the networks snapped it up and got on the air within a year. Set in the pre-World War II South Pacific of 1938, a hotbed of Nazi spies, Japanese warlords, pirates, mercenaries, native tribes, monkey kingdoms and an exotic dragon lady (Marta DuBois), it’s tongue-in-cheek pulp adventure, all nostalgia fashion and old-Hollywood flavor on a TV series budget.
Stephen Collins stars as Jake Cutter, a scruffy pilot running a freight business around the islands with a beer-guzzling mechanic (Jeff MacKay), a one-eyed dog and a rattletrap Grumman Goose seaplane, and Caitlin O’Heaney is the American agent posing as a sassy chanteuse. While looks like a Raiders knock-off, it’s more of an amalgam of “Terry and the Pirates,” Only Angels Have Wings, Flying Tigers and any number of exotic south seas, B-movie jungle adventures and adventure serials. Collins has real charm as Jake (not too different from Bellisario’s more famous creation, Magnum P.I.), O’Heaney is all snappy spunk as Sarah and their chemistry is full of sparks and romantic bubbles. The show had good ratings and reviews and won an Emmy for its colorful B-movie art direction, but it only lasted a single season, due as much to network politics and creative conflicts as the high production costs, according to Collins.