Saturday, October 09, 2010

Digital Digest: Tales of the Gold Monkey - The Complete Series DVD Review

Welcome back to another edition of Digital Digest! The fall season is really starting to settle in now as we've already seen the cancellation of two new series (which, hopefully for the fans of those series, the unaired episodes might end up online for viewing). Also, as promised last week, we have many reviews posted on our main review page, and we are finally cleaning out our backlog of reviews. Since last week, we have posted seven new reviews, and we encourage you to check those out. We don't have anything particularly special or out of the ordinary for you this week (sorry, we do try though!), but we do have more news for you and a review of Shout! Factory/Fabulous Films' release of Tales of the Gold Monkey - The Complete Series. Let's get going!


DIGITAL NEWS

Taking care of distant future business (again), there are yet even more amazon.com pre-order listings for a DVD sets of current series without release dates! This time, we have pre-order listings for Family Guy - Volume Nine and How I Met Your Mother - The Complete Season Six. Clearly, these pre-orders are getting earlier and earlier every year!

It was reported a long time ago that a DVD release of I'm Dickens, He's Fenster is being prepared, but few details have been available. Now, we know a little bit more, thanks to this article from TVShowsOnDVD.com. The entire series is set to be released as two volumes, each containing 16 episodes, complete with audio commentaries, interviews, and more! Of course, in the true spirit of Digital Digest (and because we're pretty sure that an overwhelming majority of our readers have never seen a single episode of the series), we encourage you to check out this full-length episode of the series on the official website for the to-be-released DVDs.

In case you haven't gotten through All in the Family - The Complete Seventh Season, you'd better hurry up and get on it, because All in the Family - The Complete Eighth Season will be here before you know it! It will be showing up on DVD on January 11 in a three disc set, at a $24.93 MSRP. This leaves only one season remaining to be released! Hopefully it will come along soon. Hopefully Shout! Factory could possibly look in to licensing and completing The Jeffersons and a few other related series at some point in the future as well.

A horse is a horse, of course, and Mister Ed - The Complete Fourth Season is on the way! This time, however, it will be released as a Shout! Select title, directly from Shout! Factory. It is slated for release on November 16. The price is not yet known.

We know a little bit more about the upcoming release of the classic 80s series Webster on DVD, but not exactly much. Webster - Season One is scheduled for release on January 25 at a $29.93 MSRP. So, no, there won't be a complete series release for this set (at least not initially), but fans will still be happy to see it on DVD, as it was believed to be a series that would never make it to DVD.

On a related note, we have been talking the past two weeks about a "secret" Shout! Factory complete series set that is coming up, and this week, that series was finally revealed. Unfortunately, it wasn't another sitcom, but it turned out to be the animated series ReBoot. Still, there are a lot of people out there who are guaranteed to be excited by the news of this long-anticipated release.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (October 12) is Mill Creek's release date for the month of October, and they have quite a bit coming out... even though much if it has already been released elsewhere. The two complete series sets that they have coming, though, are new, including The Commish - The Complete Series and Renegade - The Complete Series. The other releases have already been released, including The Greatest American Hero - The Complete Second Season and two single disc "TV Flashbacks" releases of Blossom and Punky Brewster (both containing previously released episodes from Shout! Factory releases). The only other releases of note are Marcus Welby, M.D. - Season Two from Shout! Factory and Saturday Night Live Presents A Very Gilly Christmas from Universal.

We hope to have reviews of some of these titles in the upcoming weeks.

BLOG FEATURE REVIEW

In a backwater corner of the South Pacific a young American adventurer and his ragtag group of friends become involved in death-defying hi-jinx, transporting people-on-the-run in a well-worn Grumman Goose seaplane. Set in 1938, Tales of the Gold Monkey captures the ambiance and character of a mysterious romantic era. The 1982 series from ABC may have only lasted one season, but it remains a favorite of fans to this day. And now, it is available on DVD from Shout! Factory and Fabulous Films.

DVD Review: Tales of the Gold Monkey - The Complete Series
by skees53

Tales of the Gold Monkey - The Complete Series (Shout! Factory, $49.97) is certainly one of the more unusual and bizarre series to have ever aired on American television, but it remains a cult-favorite to fans worldwide to this day. Airing during the 1982 season on ABC, the series was a massive success, somewhat capitalizing on the fame of the recently released film Raiders of the Lost Ark. Set in 1938, Stephen Collins stars as Jake Cutter, operator of an air cargo delivery service in the South Seas. He delivers just about everything imaginable in his cargo, including contraband, weapons, and even people, including American tourist and Nazi spies. It often leads to major criminal plots, but Jake and his friends know it, love it, and do whatever they can to stop it. The series was created by Donald Bellisario (who has also created series such as NCIS, Magnum, P.I., Quantum Leap, JAG, Airwolf, among other series) and was canceled after just 21 episodes, mostly because the cost of production for the series was incredibly expensive.

In the double-length pilot, "Tales of the Gold Monkey," Jake and his one-eyed dog Jack (who just had his false eye lost in one of Jake's poker's game, and Jack isn't about to forgive Jake, either) rescue Sarah Stickney White, an American singer, from her manager, and fights to keep his plane in the sky during a violent storm. Meanwhile, on land, a German Army intelligence officer is on the search for a legendary giant golden monkey, believed to be made of a heat-resistant alloy that would be invaluable in manufacturing weapons. Jake's mechanic, Corky, is kidnapped in "Shanghaied," and he would love to rescue him, except he suddenly has malaria.

In "Honor Thy Brother," Jake is followed by the brother of a Japanese pilot he shot down, while Jack finally finds his eye that was lost in the poker game earlier in the series. But in the meantime, Corky is trying to escape a marriage that he bought himself in to. Is Sarah dead? That is what is being reported in "The Late Sarah White," and in the middle of it all, Jake has to stop a civil war from breaking out. Jake and Sarah find a boy who has been living among the apes and raised by them in "Ape Boy." Louie may be facing the guillotine in "Last Chance Louie." Jake becomes a bodyguard to Princess Kogi (against his will) after an attempt on her life during a birthday celebration in "Mourning Becomes Matuka."

The episodes all appear to be unedited, with runtimes as follows:

Disc 1:
Pilot (1:29:01)
Shanghaied (47:23)
Black Pearl (47:18)

Disc 2:
Legends Are Forever (47:25)
Escape from Death Island (47:28)
Trunk from the Past (47:21)
Once a Tiger... (47:20)

Disc 3:
Honor Thy Brother (46:29)
The Lady and the Tiger (47:22)
The Late Sarah White (47:24)
The Sultan of Swat (47:19)

Disc 4:
Ape Boy (46:38)
God Save the Queen (47:25)
High Stakes Lady (46:54)
Force of Habit (47:26)

Disc 5:
Cooked Goose (47:17)
Last Chance Louie (47:15)
Naka Jima Kill (46:46)
Boragora or Bust (46:45)

Disc 6:
A Distant Shout of Thunder (47:12)
Mourning Becomes Matura (47:12)

The set is packaged in a nice six-disc collection in a double-thick Viva-style case. There is also an outer sleeve that has the same artwork as the case, with a picture of the main cast members above the series logo and a picture of the seaplane below the series logo. The back has a few snapshots from the series, a brief series description, and a listing of the special features. Inside, there is a listing of all of the episodes in the left-hand panel of the case, but there is also a VERY nice 24-page episode booklet included that gives a brief synopsis of each episode, along with a much lengthier (usually a few paragraphs) description for EVERY episode. It also has a snapshot from each episode, along with complete credits for the episodes. This is probably the nicest episode booklet that I have ever seen for ANY series. The discs themselves all have a picture of Jake and Jack (same one from the cover), and each disc contains four episodes, except for Disc 1, which contains three episodes (including the double-length pilot), and Disc 6, which contains only two episodes and most of the special features.

The menus are very nicely done, with the theme song playing and video from the episodes playing inside a circle on the main menu. Menu options are Play All, Episodes, Scenes, Extras (Disc 6 only), and Set Up (Discs 4, 5, and 6). Each option has a menu transition with very nice animation. Episodes takes you to a list of each episode, while Scenes takes you to to a menu where you can look at each episode one-by-one, with six scenes to select for each episode. You can also read an episode description by selecting the Synopsis option on the Scenes menu, although it is the same description as found in the booklet. Set Up allows you to turn on the commentaries for the episodes that have them. Chapters are placed appropriately throughout each episode. There is one minor flaw on the menus, although it doesn't affect the set negatively in anyway, just a little "oops" moment from Fabulous Films--the FBI warning for the United States is missing, and instead, we have a warning about UK copyright law. That is probably because this set was produced for the UK initially, and only minor modifications (specifically Region 1 encoding) were made for the release in the United States.

The video and audio quality of the set is about on-par with what would be expected, though perhaps a little better than expected. It is a pretty clear picture with audio that is loud and clear. Unfortunately, the episodes are not closed-captioned, nor are there English subtitles.

The set has quite a few special features, but only a few are really worth pointing out. First, there are commentaries from writer Tom Greene on the episodes "Force of Habit," "Last Chance Louie," "Naka Jima Kill," "Boragora or Bust," and "A Distant Shout of Thunder." As previously mentioned, these can be accessed through the Set Up option on the main menu.

"The Making of Tales of the Gold Monkey" (36:13) is probably the nicest feature on the set. It features interviews with several people involved in the series, including Stephen Collins, Caitlin O'Heaney, writer Tom Greene, and director Harvey Laidman. It is too bad that Donald Bellisario couldn't be included, but he is obviously busy with his own series that are currently airing on TV to look back at one of his earliest series.

The other special features are actually all text on the screen, but are very insightful about the series. They include Series Synopsis, Series Concept, Character Biographies, Personal Biographies, and Fact File. Additionally, there is a Stills Gallery of photos from the series.

Prior to reviewing this set, I had heard of this series, but knew nothing about it. I think it definitely qualifies as one of the most unusual series that I have ever seen, but it is also fun to watch, and it is great to see that it not only made it to DVD, but also made it to DVD in such a great package with great special features. Any fan of the series will be completely satisfied with this set, I believe, and fans of historical series relating to the era are sure to enjoy this series as well. But if you need money to buy the set, just make sure that you don't try to gamble away your dog's false eye in a poker game--he'll never forgive you.

-- Reviewed by skees53
(4/5 stars)

To purchase this DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:
Amazon.com

Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
Tales of the Gold Monkey TV.com Page


LOOKING AHEAD

That wraps everything up for this week! Next week, we'll be back with more great stuff for you. This month, just in time for Halloween, we'll have a review for the Warner Archive release of the 1973 Hanna-Barbera version of animated series The Addams Family, among many other series. We will also take a look at Netflix online streaming video (yes, it is old news, but it is really starting to catch on and gotten better than ever lately) and some public domain releases that you probably missed, but may want to check out. Until next time, keep it digital!
Sitcoms Airing Tonight (Thursday, April 24)

The Big Bang Theory - "The Anything Can Happen Recurrence" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Sheldon tries to be spontaneous, it leads to unexpected friction between Penny, Amy and Bernadette. Meanwhile, Raj seeks Howard’s help in preparing for a date with Emily.

The Millers - "Tomlandia" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Nathan pitches a children’s show to his boss, Ed Dolan, based on Tom’s imaginary comic book, Tom has an adverse reaction to the tweaks made to his cherished world. Jeffrey Tambor returns as Ed Dolan, Nathan’s boss.

Two and a Half Men - "Lotta Delis in Little Armenia" (CBS, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Alan stumbles upon an opportunity to make money. Meanwhile, Walden has to address his co-dependency issues.

Bad Teacher - "Pilot" (CBS, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Former trophy wife Meredith Davis seeks a return to a life of leisure and luxury by posing as a teacher at an upscale elementary school to meet the students’ rich, single fathers and land one to marry. However, her plan hits a major snag and she faces exposure when her unconventional – and mostly unsuitable – teaching methods raise the suspicions of a fellow faculty member. Read our review.

Surviving Jack - "Something to Talk About" (Fox, 9:30PM ET/PT)
During an evening of inopportune timing, Frankie introduces his new girlfriend, Heather (guest star Lili Reinhart), to Joanne, who has just gotten her tubes tied and is still on pain medication. Instead of taking care of Joanne post-surgery, Jack has his hands full policing Frankie and Rachel. Meanwhile, George and Mikey try to retrieve a porn video they disguised in a "Casablanca" VHS case that has been placed into the wrong hands at the Dunlevy house.

Parks and Recreation - "Moving Up" (NBC, 8:00-9:00PM ET/PT)
Leslie (Amy Poehler), Ben (Adam Scott), and Andy (Chris Pratt) head to San Francisco for a National Parks Conference. Tom (Aziz Ansari) opens his restaurant, Ron (Nick Offerman) has another run-in with his ex-wife Tammy 2 (Special Guest Megan Mullally), Andy lives a rock and roll fantasy, and Leslie makes a huge decision about her future.

Saint George - "Hot Blooded" (FX, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Alma sets George up on a date with a Latina doctor, and George discovers the woman is crazy.

Anger Management - "Charlie Spends the Night with Lacey" (FX, 9:30PM ET/PT)
Charlie spends the night with Lacey to keep her from killing her ex-boyfriend.

Sirens - "There's No "I" in Ice Cream" (USA Network, 10:00PM ET/PT)
The crew remembers a day that followed the full spectrum of excitement; Johnny tries to find out who ate the last doughnut.

Instant Mom
- "Distant Mom" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
The kids return from a vacation to Mozambique with their mom, Kim, only to learn the trip was actually a job interview at the embassy. They soon find out they are moving to Africa and away from Stephanie and Charlie. Guest Star: Holly Robinson Peete.

See Dad Run - "See Dad Run Into Marcus' Nephew" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Emily takes Amy's car to a party with Marcus' nephew after she was forbidden from driving at night, and must race back to beat David home. Joe wants more responsibility so asks to babysit Janie. Guest Star: Larramie "Doc" Shaw.

The Rickey Smiley Show - "Roll Pounce" (TV One, 10:00PM ET/PT)
The annual skate off has a surprise entry.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 21) (All times Eastern unless noted)

Thursday, April 24

  • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother/Doogie Howser, M.D.) - Catch Neil on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) - Sarah appears on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Julie Bowen (Modern Family) - Jim is a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • James Van Der Beek (Friends with Lives/Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23) - James stops by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He will also be on Big Morning Buzz Live on VH1 at 10am.
  • Zoe Lister-Jones (Friends with Better Lives/Whitney) - Zoe visits The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Tom Lennon (Sean Saves the World/Reno 911!) - Tom is a guest on @midnight at midnight on Comedy Central.
  • Mary McCormack (Welcome to the Family) - Mary guest co-hosts Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
  • Mario Lopez (Saved by the Bell) - Mario appears on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Brandy Norwood (The Game/Moesha) - Tune in to see Brandy on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • The Cast of Bad Teacher - Sara Gilbert, Ari Graynor, David Alan Grier and Ryan Hansen are guests on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Candace Cameron-Bure (Full House) - Candace guest co-hosts The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT.
  • Molly Ephraim (Last Man Standing) - Molly shares behind-the-scenes stories from her show on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • Max Greenfield (New Girl/Modern Men) - Max shares his passion for teaching kids the love of reading and the value of giving back on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
  • William Shatner ($#*! My Dad Says) - William chats and performs on The Queen Latifah Show at 12am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Timothy Simons (Veep) - Timothy will be on HuffPost Live.
  • Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory/Blossom) - Mayim is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.
  • Christine Lakin Step by Step) - Christine will be on Big Morning Buzz Live on VH1 at 10am all this week.
  • B.J. Novak (The Office) - B.J. is a guest on NBC's Today between 7-9am.
  • Jamie Foxx (The Jamie Foxx Show and Sally Field (Gidget/The Flying Nun) - Jamie, Sally and the rest of the cast The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will be on ABC's Good Morning America between 7-9am.