#50. Time of the Apes

50. Time of the Apes (1974) - Season 3, episode 306

"Doesn't anybody have peripheral vision in this movie?"

Plot:  A Japanese lady and two kids go into a cryosleep. And when they wake up, they live in a world run by talking apes.  
Famous for:  The fact that (gasp) the actors (gasp) like to (gasp) gasp before (gasp) saying their lines. It becomes (gasp) quite the running joke (gasp), because every character (gasp) seems to always (gasp) be surprised by everything.

My favorite riff:  I'm a simple man. So pretty much any joke about the monkeys crapping in their hands and then flinging it at people.  

"Uh, I'd wash that hand if I were you. That's my throwin' hand."

"That's John Wesley Ape. He once flung crap at a man just for snorin' too loud."

Comments:  Time of the Apes will always hold a special place in my heart, because it was the first MST3k episode I ever had on a VHS tape. I recorded it off Comedy Central back in the summer of 1992, and I brought it back to college with me to show all my friends. I wanted to introduce them to this wonderfully new weird and funny show I had discovered over the summer called "Mystery Science Theater 3000." So this was the episode I used to introduce countless new people to MST3k back in the nineties. And if you want me to be perfectly honest, it was also the episode I used as my ultimate comedy litmus test. I used Time of the Apes to determine if the people in my life were actually funny or not.

If a person watched this episode, and they loved it like I did, then I knew they had that "certain" type of humor, and they would probably fit in well in my life. If they watched it and they thought it was dumb, and they hated it, then I quickly stopped hanging out with them. I mean, hell, I didn't need that kind of negativity in my life. I realize this was an arbitrary and weird way to pick your friends, but hey I was an eighteen year old dorky MST3k fan at the time. This sort of test was all that I knew.

"I don't care!"

Of course, naturally, after I spent months obsessing over Time of the Apes, and testing all my friends with it, I finally got a hold of my SECOND MST3k episode on tape ("Gamera vs Gaos"). And that episode, I'm sorry to be blunt about it, sucked. And at that point I was like man, I hope that Time of the Apes wasn't a fluke. Maybe this show isn't really all that incredible...?

But I stuck with it. I kept watching the show. I did my best (the best a college student without cable could do back in the nineties, anyway) to keep circulating the tapes. And I eventually found other episodes that I liked just as much of Time of the Apes, if not even more. And over time, Time of the Apes wound up not even being in my top ten (or even top twenty) episodes anymore. In fact, at this point, I would barely even put it in my top fifty (which is clearly why it is ranked right here.)

But you know what? Time of the Apes was my first, and you will never have a love like your first.

And come on, it has jokes about monkeys throwing shit at people. Who doesn't love that?

'They're going to give him a twenty-one turd salute."

Other personal favorite things about this episode:  
Pay attention to the way Japanese directors in the 70s liked to ZOOM IN on a character's face. Often, several times during the exact same scene. Also, watch for the random crazy jump cuts the director likes to throw in for no apparent reason. At one point in the episode, after several violent unnecessary zoom-in Sam Raimi shots in a row, Joel quips, "Wow, suddenly the film editor goes for an Oscar!"

Careful, I think the camera's about to attack us. Gasp.

Trivia:  Time of the Apes wasn't actually a movie, it was actually a twenty-six-episode Japanese TV series titled Saru no Gundan ("Army of Apes"). And when the American distributor got his hands on it, he just chopped up all twenty-six episodes, and edited them down into a single two hour movie ("Time of the Apes"). So if you're wondering why the movie makes no sense, and why it has a buttload of plot holes, that's why. Just remember you're watching the highlights of a weekly TV series.  

"Shock the monkey!"

Back to Mario's Top 50 MST3k Episodes