(ended 1980)


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Monkey Fan Reviews (5)

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  • Warning - once you hear the theme tune to this show, you'll never totally get it out of your head!

    This series achieved a cult following and for very good reasons. It was wacky, off-the-wall and just plain weird.

    The story focused on a small band of pilgrims travelling from China to India to fetch the holy scriptures. Leading the party was Tripitaka, a Buddhist priest and played by a girl, Masako Natsume. Following him was Monkey, Sandy and Pigsy. Apart from the priest, all are effectively spirits, cast out of heaven for causing mischief of various forms, and sworn to help the priest in his quest.

    Now, the effects where cheesy, the acting typically overacting, and the script of each episode typically had the band of pilgrims defeating some horde of demons in order to continue on their way. The demons where typically just actors with theatrically painted faces and occasionally horns and goofy teeth.

    The English language version was fairly-well dubbed, and you get used to the voices not matching the lips straight off. Of interest to fans of the original LOTR animated movie is the fact that the voice of Pigsy was done by Peter Woodthorpe, who voiced Gollum in the animated film. The voices are virtually identical, except of course, Pigsy never goes on about "his Precious".

    Monkey is the main star of the show, and has a number of magical powers at his disposal. His fighting staff can shrink or expand at his command (he often hides it in his ear!) and he can summon clouds to ride around on (which is just plain silliness, and brilliant anyhow!). I seem to recall he could also create duplicates of himself by plucking hairs from body.

    Pigsy, as mentioned above, sounds just like Gollum, and is hedonism personified. He constantly craves women, food and alcohol to excess, though he rarely ends up satisfied.

    Sandy is a fish spirit and is the only "heroic" character I can think of who goes around sporting a necklace of skulls.

    Tripitaka is the priest who tries to keep them all under control. In reality, he only appears to have any direct control over Monkey, and he usually keeps the others in line.

    In the second series, the actor playing Pigsy changed, though the voice remained the same. Also a new character appears in the form of Tripitaka's horse, which is apparently a dragon spirit (though he's a pretty cowardly dragon) called Yu-Lung.

    The fight sequences are silly, and the weapons are very obviously rubber for the most part. But there is something about "Monkey" that transcends this and entertains you regardless of its technical failings. In the end, all the silliness just becomes part of the fun of the show and you watch it mainly for the interplay between the characters, not the plot or anything else.