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

Saturday, May 25

Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
Kerry Washington joins “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons,’” the live sitcom special coming from late-night host Jimmy Kimmel and television icon Norman Lear. Washington is set to play Helen Willis in the special, airing live WEDNESDAY, MAY 22 (8:00-9:31 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. This historic event will take viewers down memory lane, recreating an original episode from each of the Emmy® Award-winning series “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons.” This legendary night of television will be hosted by Lear and Kimmel, directed by 10-time Emmy winner James Burrows and produced by Sony Pictures Television.

Previously announced stars include Woody Harrelson (Archie Bunker), Marisa Tomei (Edith Bunker), Jamie Foxx (George Jefferson), Wanda Sykes (Louise Jefferson), Ellie Kemper (Gloria Stivic), Will Ferrell (Tom Willis), Justina Machado (Florence Johnston), Ike Barinholtz (Meathead), Sean Hayes (Mr. Lorenzo), Amber Stevens West (Jenny Willis Jefferson), Jovan Adepo (Lionel Jefferson), Anthony Anderson (Uncle Henry), Stephen Tobolowsky (Mr. Bentley) and Jackée Harry (Diane Stockwell).

All About "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
After the star-studded live sitcom special “Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons,’” “Nightline” will take a special look at the cultural and historical significance of the two iconic series. Participants in the live sitcom special along with modern-day comedians, television stars and journalists reminisce about each show’s groundbreaking impact and legacy.“Nightline” Presents “All About ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’” airs WEDNESDAY, MAY 22 (9:31–10:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network.

The prime-time special features interviews with “All in the Family” and “The Jeffersons” creator Norman Lear; host and executive producer Jimmy Kimmel and stars Anthony Anderson, Ike Barinholtz, Jackée Harry, Ellie Kemper and Kerry Washington; comedians and actors Raven-Symoné, David Alan Grier, Lil’ Rel and John Amos; original “The Jeffersons” cast member Marla Gibbs; and journalists Deborah Roberts, Chris Connelly, Marc Lamont Hill and Joe Levy.

Game Shakers - "Bug Tussle" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
After Dub goes to Vegas and leaves Trip behind, the Game Shakers take Trip to Dub's awesome apartment to show him a good time.

Game Shakers - "Why Tonya" (Nickelodeon, 8:30PM ET/PT)
The Game Shakers are approached by a fan who demands that they make changes to one of their games.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 20)

Friday, May 24

  • Dana Carvey (One of the Boys) - Watch Dana on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC. He talks about The Secret Life of Pets 2 on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • The Cast of The Big Bang Theory - Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch are guests on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Bill Hader (Barry) - Bill appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Kathryn Newton (Gary Unmarried) - Kathryn is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Adam Scott - Adam appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • John Travolta (Welcome Back, Kotter) - John and his daughter Ella Bleu are guests on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Jodie Sweetin (Fuller House/Hollywood Darlings/Full House) - Jodie guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Logan Browning (Dear White People/Meet the Browns) - Logan stops by The Real, so check your local listings. She will also be on the BUILD Series at 5:30pm
  • Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) - Bryan talks about Broadway's Network on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
  • Jackée Harry (Tyler Perry's The Paynes/The First Family/Sister, Sister/227) - Jackée talks about Pride and Prejudice: Atlanta on ABC's Strahan & Sara at 1pm and on People Now at 12pm.
  • Justin Long (F Is for Family/Ed) - Justin talks about Life is Short with Justin Long on Couch Surfing at 8am.
  • Beanie Feldstein (What We Do in the Shadows) and Kaitlyn Dever (Last Man Standing) - Beanie and Kaitlyn talk about Booksmart on NBC's Today in the 10am hour.
  • Tiffani Thiessen (Alexa & Katie/Good Morning, Miami/Saved by the Bell) - Tiffani is in the kitchen on Pickler & Ben, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (March/April/May)

Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Second Season Alice - The Complete Ninth Season The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fifth Season Evening Shade - The Complete Collection Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons

03/05 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Second Season (WBShop.com)
03/12 - Alice - The Complete Ninth Season (WBShop.com)
03/26 - The Wayans Bros. - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
04/02 - Archer: Danger Island - The Complete Season Nine
04/09 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fifth Season
04/12 - Evening Shade - The Complete Collection
04/16 - The Big C - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
05/07 - Baskets - The Complete Season Three
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume One
05/13 - My Three Sons - The Third Season - Volume Two
05/14 - The Donna Reed Show - Seasons 1-5
05/14 - Petticoat Junction - Seasons 1-3
05/28 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Seventh and Eighth Seasons
05/28 - South Park - The Complete Twenty-Second Season (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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05/24 - Fri-Yay: Live in Front of a Studio Audience Recap; Mario Lopez Produced Sitcom Coming to Netflix
05/23 - Orange Is the New Black Returns for Final Season in July; Lifetime Gets More Book to Screen Movies This Summer
05/22 - Los Espookys Premieres June 14 on HBO; NBC's 5th Annual Red Nose Day Special Brings Out the Stars
05/21 - Nightline Primetime Special Profiles All in the Family & The Jeffersons; Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader Premieres June 10 on Nick
05/20 - Comedy Central Heads to the South Side This July; Catch the Big Bang Finale Again Tonight
05/19 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 20, 2019)
05/18 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Broadcast Network Fall Lineup at a Glance; Rick & Morty Returns in November
05/17 - Fri-Yay: Big Bang Ends With No Hype?; ABC to Air Farrah Fawcett Documentary
05/16 - The CW Upfront 2019-20: Fall 2019 Schedule; Notes from TBS and TNT Upfront
05/15 - CBS Upfront 2019-20: Fall 2019 Schedule; Remembering Doris Day and Tim Conway
05/14 - ABC Upfront 2019-20: Fall 2019 Schedule; Disney Channel Sets Premiere Dates for Raven's Home and Bunk'd
05/13 - Fox Upfront 2019-20: Fall 2019 Schedule; Antenna TV's Father Knows Best Father's Day Marathon
05/12 - NBC Upfront 2019-20: Fall 2019 Schedule; Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 13, 2019)
05/11 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Looking at Sitcom Cancellations Ahead of Upfronts; Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Returning for Interactive Special
05/10 - Fri-Yay: Upfronts 2019: Questions for Sitcoms; getTV Celebrates All in the Family Ahead of ABC Live Special
05/09 - More Pre-Upfront Pick Ups from NBC, ABC and The CW; Fox Schedules BH90210
05/08 - NBC Picks Up 2 Series Before Upfront; FX Gets 2nd Season of What We Do in the Shadows
05/07 - AXS TV's The Very VERY Best of the 70s; Who Do You Think You Are? Returns to NBC with More Celebs
05/06 - Kevin Hart Bounce Series Debuts Tonight; Set Sail with Kimmy Schmidt
05/05 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of May 6, 2019)
05/04 - Pluto TV Adds Special Versions of Popular Viacom Channels; Perfect Strangers to Finish on DVD
05/03 - Fri-Yay: Ramy Gets 2nd Season on Hulu; ABC Orders black-ish and Spinoff mixed-ish for 2019-20
05/02 - Hulu 2019 Upfront; Suits and Spinoff to Air Back-to-Back
05/01 - Fox Gets Unique Fred Savage Series; BH90210 Gets Shannen Doherty for Revival
04/30 - CBS Announces Big Bang Special on Finale Night; Showtime Gets 2nd Season of Black Monday with Don Cheadle
04/29 - Disney Channel's Just Roll With It Premieres in June; Alyssa Milano Launches Podcast
04/28 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of April 29, 2019)
04/27 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Santa Clarita Diet and Wrecked Both Cancelled; Remembering Dallas Actor Ken Kercheval
04/26 - Fri-Yay: Status of Sitcoms on Disney+; Gabriel Iglesias Sitcom Launches June 21 on Netflix
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