Saturday, October 29, 2016

It's About Time (1966-67)

It's About Time
Stars: Imogene Coca, Joe E. Ross
26 episodes

Let's see. There's a catchy theme song, castaways, a tropical setting (of sorts) and it's produced by Sherwood Schwartz. That's got to be Gilligan's Island (1964-67). Right? Not so fast, coconut breath.

A few years after coming up with the aforementioned show, Schwartz proceeded to loose It's About Time upon the world. It's a show that shared a few similarities with its much more successful predecessor. In addition to the above mentioned items, there's a sort of Skipper/Gilligan relationship between the two main characters, one of whom is a decidedly Gilliganesque sort of doofus.

The two protagonists are a pair of astronauts who exceed the speed of light (oops!) and find themselves cast back in time. Don't rush to your Einstein or Hawking volumes to try to make sense of this curious phenomenon of TV physics, one that I believe has also been noticed in various incarnations of Star Trek, and probably elsewhere.

Our heroes find themselves in the time of what were once referred to as cavemen - perhaps they still are. This not long after The Flintstones (1960-66) ended its run. Three decades later the caveman stereotype was still going strong (sort of) when a short-lived sitcom starring the cavemen from the GEICO commercials took to the airwaves and proceeded to go belly up in nearly record time (watch those pages for an entry on that priceless sitcom gem).

The cavemen (caveperson? cavepeople?) family includes the two highest profile thespians of the bunch - Imogene Coca (Your Show of Shows) and Joe E. Ross (The Phil Silvers Show, Car 54, Where Are You?). Although thespian seems like a misnomer for a show that, based on the episode I watched, made Gilligan's Island seem positively highbrow. Among the better known guest stars that turned up during the one-season run, Karen Valentine (Love, American Style) and Jack Albertson (Chico and the Man).

In that episode, the thirteenth of the series (The Broken Idol), our heroes do indeed break an idol and their fate depends on whether the spirit contained in a volcano will speak or not, thus sealing their fate. They set out with a gourd of nitroglycerin to disable the volcano - I don't recall if they whipped up some nitroglycerin or happened to have some lying around. But in any event there's a mix-up with the gourd of nitroglycerin and a gourd of soup and hijinks ensue. I'd like to relate how this all turned out but it was so grating and unfunny that I wasn't able to get to the end of it.

After a bunch of episodes it became apparent that the show was not going over so well and so the curious solution to the problem was to change the premise and have the cavepeople stranded in modern times. Which sounds like a better premise but I didn't screen any of the episodes and the changes weren't sufficient to save the show.

On the plus side, there's the theme song, which is a very catchy little ditty. Thanks to Schwartz, also had a hand in creating the theme songs for some of his other shows, including Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch (1969-74), and who might have had a shot at a career as a pop songwriter, had it not been for his success in the TV industry.

For those who couldn’t get enough of the show - and I suspect their numbers were few - there was also an It's About Time coloring book and a comic book, which lasted for exactly one issue.

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