Ridiculous Legends of Monkey

Just inhaled the first season of The New Legends of Monkey on Netflix, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

It’s loosely based on Journey to the West, insofar as it has the recognizable characters of Tripitaka, Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy, and characters heading vaguely west in search of some kind of important written thing — and that’s about where it ends. The setting makes no attempt to be Ancient China; it’s best described as “vaguely post-demon-apocalyptic wherever.” The show was filmed in Australia, and about half the characters have distinct Australian accents. The main actress (because Tripitaka is female here) is of Tongan ancestry; Monkey’s actor is of Thai ancestry. The cast overall is mixed enough that I’m pretty sure the show’s creators had no pre-set notions of what ethnicities they wanted in which roles, and just cast whomever appealed to them.

If so, it was a good decision. The central characters are mostly great (the exception being the villains, who are a little weak) — I particularly adore Sandy, likewise female, who strikes the note of being a little off-kilter without obxiously “look at how crazy I am!” The setting is 500 years after the gods disappeared; demons rule the earth now, and humanity’s only hope is to find and free Monkey, and then get him to show them where he hid the seven sacred scrolls. But the way Monkey is remembered may not be exactly what he’s like in reality . . .

The show is ten episodes, each less than half an hour. You can watch the whole thing in a long evening — I know because that’s what we did. It’s fun and good-hearted, and I hope they do more!

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