It’s About Time

It’s about time, it’s about space, about two men in the strangest place.

It’s About Time is an American fantasy/science-fiction comedy TV series that aired on CBS for one season of 26 episodes in 1966–1967.  The series was created by Sherwood Schwartz, and used sets, props and incidental music from Schwartz’s other television series in production at the time, Gilligan’s Island.
Two astronauts, Mac (Frank Aletter) and Hector (Jack Mullaney), travel faster than the speed of light, resulting in being sent back in time to prehistoric days.  There, they have to adjust to living with a cave family led by Shad (Imogene Coca) and Gronk (Joe E. Ross).  (In the pilot Coca’s name was credited as Shag; when CBS censors realized that in England the term ‘shag’ was common slang meaning “to have sex,” they changed her name to ‘Shad’).  Their children were 18-year-old Mlor (Mary Grace) and 14-year-old Breer (Pat Cardi).  The chief of the tribe, Boss (Cliff Norton) and his right-hand man Clon (Mike Mazurki) were always suspicious of the astronauts.

 

Ratings were impressive for the first few weeks on the air, but they soon plunged.  Show creator Sherwood Schwartz came to the conclusion that three factors were the cause of the decline in audience interest:
  • Repetition of the astronauts being in danger from dinosaurs, clubs, spears, volcanoes, and cavemen.
  • An unattractive look to the show (e.g., caves, dirt streets, etc.).
  • The cave dwellers speaking a primitive form of English that was difficult to listen to.
For these reasons, after eighteen episodes set in prehistoric times, the series was retooled beginning with the January 22, 1967 episode.  Essentially reversing the premise which had been followed the first half of the season, the astronauts repair their space capsule and return to 1967, with Shad, Gronk, and their children in tow.  The prehistoric family must begin adjusting to life in the 1960s, reacting to the unfamiliar surroundings, and setting up home in 20th-century New York City.  For example, one episode had Gronk and Shad learning to write their names and signing them for many salesmen who brought “presents,” which later had to be paid for.  Eight episodes were produced with this new premise before the series was cancelled at the end of the season.

 

The punk rock band X incorporated some of the lyrics of the show’s theme song into their song “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts” for the album More Fun in the New World, as a commentary on the direction of 1980s music: “Glitter-disco-synthesizer night school/All this noble savage drum, drum, drum/Astronauts going back in time to hang out with the cave people/It’s about time/It’s about space/It’s about some people in the strangest place.”

 

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