Thursday, 10 November 2011

Monkey Challenge: The Tormented Emperor

This is probably the episode of Monkey with the largest proportion of padding to date. I'm not going to go back and count the exact number of minutes, but I'd say over half the run-time is spent on a sub-plot that, ultimately, is a tangent to the main story and does not come back to tie-up with it.

This sub-plot is, however, the most entertaining part of the episode, because it pairs Pigsy with Yu Lung (instead of Sandy like the great majority of the other times Pigsy is partnered with one of the other pilgrims) and their dynamic is still a novelty in the series.

The main story concerns an Emperor who is being haunted every night by an evil-spirit-of-the-week as a punishment for his conquering of a nearby country. Tripitaka volunteers the services of the pilgrims to catch this spirit, and Pigsy is particularly keen because the royal guard is made up of women.

The first night the spirit gets away and the sub-plot kicks off when a clue is found - a shoe left behind at the scene of the crime. For some reason (probably because the main plot was far too thin to fill an episode on its own) Pigsy thinks the shoe indicates the haunting has a more mundane explanation (has he been watching too much Scooby Doo?) and he goes off, Cinderella-fashion, to find the person the shoe fits and then they will clearly be the ghost really.

Pigsy and Yu Lung go round the palace women trying to examine their feet, and of course getting into various scrapes and situations as a result. Yu Lung's naivety contrasts sharply with lustful Pigsy and, as mentioned, keeps this from being something we have seen many times before.

Eventually Tripitaka works out the spirit is possessing the Empress and exorcises her. While it's only been a couple of weeks since the last exorcism (The House of the Evil Spirit), this one is much less graphic and I can't think of any scenes in this episode that would fit the not-suitable-for-the-original-TV-run theory.

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