(Struggles to find words)... one of... best episodes... ever.
This is an incredible instalment of 'Gold Monkey', and one of those that, when you watch it, can easily make you both sad and cross that the show was never renewed for another season, as it was capable of so much.
The episode is written by series creator Donald P. Bellisario, one of the best TV show creators and writers that US television has ever seen (he was also behind 'Magnum, p.i.', the original 'Airwolf', 'Quantum Leap', and many other greats).
If like me, you grew up in the 1980s watching such great American TV shows such as this, you'll probably know that there were three leading writers of the genre: Glen A. Larson, Stephen J. Cannell, and Bellisario. Each had their qualities, and although Cannell (who sadly passed away a couple of months ago) is generally my favourite writer, it is Bellisario's scripts that, when he is on top form, really shine and stand out. And 'The Lady and the Tiger' is one of those cases.
It is also worth noting that this episode seems to be a reworking of a script wrote for (the original version of) 'Battlestar: Galactica', 'The Lost Warrior'. In place of the Japanese solider seen here was a Cylon (the enemy race of that series) in that episode, the tiger was an alien beast, etc., but pretty much identical story.
I haven't seen that series for many years, but it is on my "to do" list on DVD, and I look forward to watching that episode to compare it.
I love 'The Lady in the Tiger', it has the classic Bellisario hallmarks of being both an exciting adventure, and very thoughtful and philosophical at times. So many great moments, it's hard to know what to pick out; but moments such as the young boy, Paul, revealing that he is determined to hunt the tiger after it killed his father, and Corky struggling to beat his eternal drunken haze to remember where Jake would have been flying, stick in my mind.
We also get one of our few real glimpses into Jake's past, as he tells Martha, the Amish widow who takes him in, that his parents never married. (He says he has only ever told two other people, presumably Corky, and Sarah or Louie). And although I'm sometimes against the lead male falling in love with the guest girl of the week, here it plays out as a charming yet tragic love story that we know can never work.
The episode also features Princess Koji and Todo, marking the first time they have appeared in the series since the first regular hour-long episode ('Shanghaied'), making this one of the few episodes of the show's run where all of the main cast (including them and Willie) all appear.
Although 'Tales of the Gold Monkey' has its fan following, it is a shame that not many people remember it (and it has never been repeated here in the U.K., not even on any obscure satellite channel); episodes such as this really show how good it could be at times.
In case you haven't guessed by now, I really like this episode. I give it a firm 10 out of 10.