Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Agency to Prevent Evil Didn't

Last night I tried to knock the last remaining rough edges off my day by opening up up Hulu on the iPad and browsing myself to sleep. Experience would have warned me against this strategy but listening to your rational self just makes you more awake. So I made my way to the Classic TV category and stumbled across one of the weirdest things TV ever spawned: Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.

This show hits a kind of sweet spot of my life - I was young enough to be its target audience but old enough to know that maybe the whole enterprise was kind of lame. Even then I recognized it for what it was: monkeys wearing wigs, trained to flap their lips so voice-over people could give them dialog in post. Another thing I am proud to have recognized is that the whole enterprise was not funny, just peculiar.

I made the mistake of loading up the first episode... it's like Purina's Puppy Chow. It's meant to be consumed by the young version of yourself, and it might upset your tummy if you're fully grown. I think the problem is, there's such a thing in comedy as "one joke too many." In this case the real joke is chimps playing parts that are meant for humans. The extra joke is the show is a spy spoof. So it's like Get Smart, only it's a parody of Get Smart because all the parts are played my chimps!


They even have Bernie Kopell as the voice of Baron von Butcher, the evil mastermind nemesis, doing his Sigfried voice.

I think the problem I have with all this is the show is so undisciplined. To be fair it probably would have to be; it starred chimps. But there is a reason that it only ran for a season on Saturday mornings. Something I suspected from watching the episode last night was just confirmed for me via Wikipedia:

To make the dialogue fit the chimps’ lip action, Burns and Marmer (the show's creators) went to ridiculous lengths. Voiceovers were ad-libbed on the set, giving birth to beautifully absurd moments of the chimps breaking into songs at the end of sentences or spontaneously reciting Mother Goose rhymes just so it would look right.

You know what? I refuse to suffer alone.

Hope you enjoyed that. I feel better.

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