The World Association of Montyphiles

Why should I care about Monterey Jack?
June 10, 2001, 6:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

What is so great about Monterey Jack anyway? This old, fat, cheese-obsessed Australian mouse may not be much to look at, but he does have many redeeming qualities.

Monterey Jack has the most energy on the series. Out of all the Rangers, he’s the one who has the most genuine fun on their cases. Chip takes things too seriously to truly have fun, Dale’s more in his element when it comes to TV shows or rock videos, Zipper’s thoughts you can never really assess, and Gadget’s best times are when she’s driving or building something, but when it comes to defeating the bad guys, you can’t get a hero with more gusto and spirit than Monterey Jack.

Some may think he’s just a Globe-Hopping Adventurer/Everyone’s Favorite Uncle stereotype, but similar stereotypes could be assigned to all the characters(the Workaholic Annoyed By Slacker Buddy Chip, the aforementioned Slacker Buddy Who Watches Too Much TV Dale, the Cute Feminine Mechanic(there’s more of these than you realize) Gadget, the Underdog Always Trying To Prove His Worth Zipper, and the Cute Girl Who Falls For the Outcast Foxglove) without any of them truly being accurate assessments. I know most fans feel this way about Chip/Dale/Gadget, so why not Monty?

Others may argue that Monterey has no romantic potential in a story, like Chip, Dale, Gadget, and/or Foxglove do. I believe these people haven’t been reading between the lines well enough. Besides his line to Zipper about “Ol’ Monterey Jack’s had his share of romantic entanglements” in “Risky Beesness,” Monterey Jack has possibly the most interesting romantic storyline potential of all the characters. His relationship with Desiree has to be one of the most complex relationships ever shown in microcosm on a kids’ cartoon show. In a Dale+Foxglove story there’s no suspense or intrigue. She has a crush on him, and he her. Unless you introduce many outside elements, there’s not much to go on. A Chip+Gadget story has more potential to be interesting, but it’s been overworked so many times that it’s generally considered cliche. But Monty+Desiree, boy does THAT open up Pandora’s Box. There’s many open questions. Does he feel sorry enough for her to ever trust her again? Is she so evil that it would be a worthless venture to even try? Did she even love him to begin with, or was it a scheme? What would have happened had the cheese truck not passed by on their wedding day? There’s an alternate universe I’d like to see. It’s why “Love Is A Many Splintered Thing” is in my top five favorite episodes, because their relations are intricately complex.

Monty’s character is so innately rich in comic potential that the show writers never really needed to resort to bad puns most of the time to make him funny, as they did with Dale several times. For example, during “Dirty Rotten Diapers” when Gadget is trying to get the Rangers to find a kinder, gentler way to deal with the litterer in the park(and later when entering the home of the first Baby Thaddeus victim), all of Monty’s reactions are incredibly hilarious without any specific line being funny out of context. Same during “Kiwi’s Big Adventure” when he’s roping the crocodile, or any episode where Gadget tests a new invention. I could list more, but you get the point. This is one reason I enjoy Matt Plotecher’s “My Dinner with Monty” so much; he’s completely in-character and not a stereotype, yet he’s still incredibly funny. It’s the best characterization of all three of those characters I’ve seen.

Monty’s also the only character with real experience. Chip’s more of an idealist, like Marius from Les Miserables before Cosette came along; Gadget’s been inventing most of her life and obviously has not much real-world experiences; and Dale’s, well, Dale. But Monty’s seen it all, done it all, and bought the T-shirt. Does this make him unsusceptible to self-discovery, or any sort of character change at all? I don’t think so. His changes come from watching the events surrounding those closest to him unfold. With the huge proliferation of C+G stories, I’d like to see a story, or even a short character sketch, of C+G from Monty’s point of view. We’ve seen glimpses(most notably in some of Meghan Brunner’s works before “Rainbow’s Gold”), but nobody’s ever explored the world of what he’s really thinking. After all, she’s like a niece to him, and he’s a co-worker that he doesn’t always agree with. There’s some potential there.

Speaking of Monty’s experience, his past has been the most fleshed-out of any of the Rangers on the actual series. While that may discourage the imagination of some because they can’t make the whole backstory up as they can with Chip, Dale, and to a slightly lesser extent Gadget, it should stimulate the imagination of others. We know that Monty left his parents sometime to go globe-hopping. We know that his best friend for part of that time was Gadget’s father Geegaw(at least until the “Zanzibar Incident” with the cheesebread), and also that he met Zipper on his travels. We also know that his traveling compartment during these times was a large chest filled with tacky lawn ornaments. Where’d he get all this stuff? What really happened in Zanzibar? Where did Zipper come from? What about some of his other stories, such as the “marmoset from Marsellaise” or the time he got “shanghaied in Shanghai on a junk full of junk?” Monterey’s past has a large foundation, and it’s surprising that few have built upon it.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that Monty is old, fat, Australian, and a world explorer and most Rangerphiles are young, from the Northern Hemisphere, and haven’t traveled much beyond the three states and/or countries right around them, he is harder to identify with than Chip, Dale, or Gadget. So many authors don’t even try to write Monty well, and as a result they miss out on a great potential, not just comically, but as an experienced explorer or father figure to the rest of the team.