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Thursday, 1 June 2017

Memories of the Eighties: Tales of the Gold Monkey


Way back in the 1980’s, if you can cast your mind back, when Back to the Future was a future event and Indiana Jones was on top of his game, there was a tv series about an ace pilot and his adventures in the South Pacific. It was called:


 

TALES OF THE GOLD MONKEY

 

The star of the series was one Stephen Collins, previously seen by people like me as the captain of the starship Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Here he played Jake Cutter, and Indiana Jones-lite character who found himself wrapped in espionage and intrigue just prior to the outbreak of World War 2. Here he is the pilot of his plane, a Grunman Goose, known to him and his associates as Cutter’s Goose.

The series was born in 1982 and was inspired first of all by the film, Only Angels Have Wings and then was probably commissioned by the success of Raiders of the Lost Ark the previous year. It was aired on BBC One in the UK on a Monday evening and was a great success. In the US it was seen as a prime time tv show, and was broadcast by ABC. It was produced by Donald P. Bellisario, the television producer who made his name under the auspices of  Glen A. Larson. His previous and on-going production included Magnum P.I., which was a huge hit for him, and he would go on to produce Airwolf and Quantum Leap.

However, Tales of the Gold Monkey would be short-lived. After just one season it was cancelled, mostly due to the fact that it cost so much money to produce and was not reaching the number of ratings that a tv show of that expense could justify.

But the tale did live on in other Bellisario projects. Many of the actors and their characters would feature in both Airwolf and Quantum Leap, as well as his other project Jag; and there is footage of the Grunman Goose in Quantum Leap.

The series may have been short-lived, but it remains a fond memory with my data banks. The star of the show, Stephen Collins, would never quite reach the heights of fronting his own action adventure show, but still had a varied and busy career in acting and writing. His future films including Jumpin’ Jack Flash and The First Wives Club. However, it was also on this series that Collins met his wife, Faye Grant, herself an actor who would go on to the television series V, which proved very popular during the mid-Eighties.


My most indelible memory though is of that plane, the Grunman Goose, flying low over the small village Boragora in the Marivella Islands. Funny that the series was mostly shot within the backlot of Universal Studios.

Zac Thraves is a storyteller and writer living in Kent; if you wish to book him to come along to your party, young or old,  or to give a speech at your local school then please contact him at zacharystories@outlook.com

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