Tales of the Gold Monkey: e11- The Sultan of Swat

Jake and Zita

It was a Boy’s Club edition this week on Tales of the Gold Monkey, with Sarah on another island for the week, and the only female role that of the young Zita Henriques, a sweet, fresh-faced, bare-legged native girl going around draping garlands round the neck of blokes like Jake Cutter, and the visiting Gamble Rogers (guest star John DiSanti) as a fairly blatant signal that she wants a damned good blessing from them.

Unfortunately, all young Zita (Nia Peeples) is there to do is to be raped and murdered to set off the story. It’s done with rather less lingering than we’d get in these modern times, but it’s the age old story: the woman has nothing to do but be the victim.

Those with even a passing knowledge of Baseball history will know that the Sultan of Swat was the legendary batter Babe Ruth. “Home-run” Gamble is an obvious take-off: 43, retired, big, boisterous, boozing, womanising and on a goodwill tour of Japan and its possessions. Gamble is Jake’s hero and he’s everything the legend says he is.

So when Zita is discovered in his bedroom, naked, raped and strangled with the light cord, he’s the obvious suspect. To everyone, that is, but Jake, who can’t believe his hero has that kind of feet of clay, no matter how strong the evidence (all of which is merely collateral).

There is one witness to the crime but he got kicked in the head, is concussed, and is barking funny, or should I say, howling? There are no straight answers out of Jack this week, not until nearly the end, when it doesn’t matter, though one has to sympathise with the American Secret Service agent who’s trying to keep Gamble out of scrapes, when he suggests that the testimony might not stand up in Court.

Jake’s determined to prove his hero is innocent, a task made more urgent by the fact that Zita’s father has made his mind up as to his daughter’s killer, and is determined on making him pay without benefit of trial.

Given its era and its underlying theme, this is not going to be an episode where Jake’s faith is shown to be misplaced. The real rapist/murderer is Gamble’s manager, another and less famous ex-player named Harvey Bean. Heends up shooting, and catching a bullet from Jake, which spares the island a trial, and also spares the writer a motive, since Bean dies without saying why he’s tried to frame Gamble – who he’s handed over to Henriques.

So Jake and Corky take to a motorbike and sidecar and interrupt the lynching, with the impassioned Henriques repenting immediately his nearly having executed an innocent man.

Cue closer where, in an impromptu exhibition, Jake is pitching to Gamble. He strikes out once! He strikes out twice! Corky as catcher signals a play. Jake overrules him. And “Home-run” Gamble swats the third pitch into the ocean!

All in all, a bit predictable, a bit perfunctory, a bit too boys only. There were the usual nice touches along the way, the sign of a show comfortable in its own skin, but this was a worryingly slight story to reach halfway.

I’m hoping for better next week, with Caitlin O’Heaney back in the action.

Advertisements Share this:
Like this:Like Loading... Related