A tribute to my favorite television series, Tales of the Gold Monkey (1982-1983)
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Episode 2: Shanghaied
Episode 2 starts with Jake flying a P-40 as he is pursued by 2 Japanese planes. A flashback to his Flying Tiger days? Not likely since Corky is sitting behind him calmly swilling beer during the dogfight (P-40s are single-seat fighters, anyway). Jake and Jack parachute to safety while Corky crashes with the plane. It’s in fact a malaria-induced nightmare. When the fever breaks, Jake finds something has indeed happened to Corky. The mechanic been shanghaied by a mysterious one-armed sea captain to fix his ship, which turns out to be carrying a cargo of Mud People captured as slaves. Although Jack is the only witness, Jake and the gang reason that Princess Koji is involved and brave a trip to Matuka. During the flight Jake passes out from malaria, leaving Sarah to pilot the Goose during a thunderstorm. Oh yes, and they’re chased by a couple of Zeros. Princess Koji does have some information: the sea captain is none other than her half brother. The gang finds the island of the Mud People, enlists their help, and attacks the ship, freeing Corky and the Mud People (that would be a good name for a band). In the process Jake kill’s Koji’s brother, which doesn’t bother her much.
In this second episode we learn a bit more about Jake, finding out that he was pilot with the Flying Tigers in China under General Claire Chennault. This is a bit of an inaccuracy since the Flying Tigers (more properly called the American Volunteer Group, “AVG”) were not actually formed until 1941. However, Chennault himself was in China in the late ‘30s, and apparently there were some mercenaries, including Americans, flying for the Chinese as part of the “International Squadron.” So I’m willing to believe Jake was part of that original group and overlook the inaccuracy. Perhaps producer Bellisario wanted to work a Flying Tigers connection in because of his earlier seriesBaa Baa Black Sheep (AKA Black Sheep Squadron), a fictionalized account of the exploits of Marine pilot Major Gregory Boyington who had, in fact, flown with the Flying Tigers.
In this episode we see the continuation of a theme begun in the pilot: poor Cutter's Goose takes a terrible beating. In the pilot the Goose suffered sugar in the gas and now her instrument panel is smashed. Later she gets shot up by Zeros. And it seems she always has to fly in terrible weather. But she's up for the challenge. We also learn that Jake has a strong attachment to a woman named Elizabeth. He calls out to her in his malarial fever, much to Sarah's chagrin. And Elizabeth is not Jake's mother. We also find out that Corky was a mechanic for the Pan Pacific Clipper.
For me there are several highlights in this episode. First was seeing Jake shirtless and drenched with sweat. A second, more wholesome bright spot was Sarah singing Rodgers and Hart’s “The Lady is a Tramp” to Corky’s piano playing at the Monkey Bar. She’s not particularly good, but what do you want for the middle of the South Pacific? Also, Louie mysteriously mentioning he was on Devil’s Island and Todo stoking the fire for the hot tub where Rev. Willie was hiding while Koji talked to Jake and Sarah was a hoot!