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Episode guide: K17- Time of the Apes

Movie: (1974 TV series; 1987 compilation movie) A trio of young people take refuge in cryogenic capsules during an earthquake, and awaken in a world populated by intelligent apes.

First shown: 4/2/89
Opening: The Mads try to reach Joel, but Crow and Servo give them the runaround
Host segment 1: The bots look for Joel and find his empty uniform in a pod bay. They guess he’s floating in space
Host segment 2: Crow and Servo ponder mutiny as Joel pounds on the door to get back in
Host segment 3: Cambot uses a tape of Joel to fool Crow, but Servo isn’t fooled
End: Joel floats outside the Satellite of Love, as Crow and Servo discuss their new Joel-less life together
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (101 votes, average: 4.22 out of 5)


• This is the only MST3K episode that does not feature a human character aboard the Satellite of Love. Joel had to go out of town, so the episode was shot without him; therefore, Servo and Crow watch the movie alone. (Note that Crow sits in Joel’s seat.)
• For me, this one gets dragged down by the film, which is just a big giant carbuncle of a movie. Though it’s much funnier, of course, I’m not a big fan of the season 3 version either.
• References.
• This is one of the first episodes that has a continuing plot line running through the host segments.
• As with the previous Sandy Frank movies, we get to see a bit more of the movie that was cut in the season 3 version.
• Springtime has definitely come to the Twin Cities. It’s a lovely 57 degrees as the show begins later dropping to 56 and to 54 by the end of the show.
• Callbacks: Servo recalls the episodes when Crow was frozen and served as the SOL’s Christmas tree. Crow is not amused. Also: “That flame is leftover from City On Fire.”
• Both Crow and Servo sneeze in the theater.
• This movie reminds of us of a goof they would make about a decade later. In the introduction to “Deep Ape,” Bobo lists his noble lineage, including Godo. Except, as we know from watching this episode, Godo wasn’t an ape. They could have said “Pepe,” (which is who I think they were thinking of) but I guess that sounds less ape-ey.
• The imdb says the main ape’s name is Gaba, but it is variously pronounced by the actors Gaybor or Gaybar. Either way…not good.
• The guy we see behind the doors in segment 3 is longtime Twin Cities weatherman Barry ZeVan, who is still with us and apparently still “zany.”
• That ending segment is the first time we’ve gotten a look outside the ship, other than in the opening.
• CreditWatch: Vince Rodriguez is back as director. Todd Ziegler is back on Audio.
• Fave riff: “More gorilla warfare.” Honorable mention: “A guy with a flea collar concession could clean up around here.”

40 Replies to “Episode guide: K17- Time of the Apes”

  1. Dan in WI says:

    Since the KTMA season is to MST3K what pre-season exhibition games are to pro sports I guess this episode gives us an unofficial record. With a Sandy Frank importation copyright date of 1987 this gives us the unofficial record for newest movie to ever be riffed.

    Now the bar is admit ably set very low on this one, but I’d have to say this is the best Sandy Frank import I’ve ever seen. Sure the plot device is pretty thin. Though you have to admire a cyro-freeze device that works perfectly fine even after an earthquake disconnects it from a power source. But once you get past the bad oversized Ewok costumes with the barely moving lips of a bad ventriloquist there is a mildy entertaining fugitive on the run film here.

    As far is MST3K goes this is easily the best of the two riffer episodes. So does this mean Josh and Trace had a decent chemistry between them? Or is Joel the only weak improve riffer?

    During the times Tom and Crow shouting out names I sure wanted it to conclude with a good old fashion “Chief, McLeod.”

    Favorite Riffs:
    Right after a “Bridge Over River Kwai” riff Tom whistles the “Marine Hymn.”
    Crow: That’s the wrong tune
    Tom now whistles “Colonel Bogey”

    Tom: It was all a dream. You were there. And you were too.


  2. Clouseau says:

    What has alway bugged me about this film (and I’ll probably repost this come season three) is that the apes aren’t ape-like in any way, they’re just hairy humans. In Planet of the Apes there’s a sense that they’re different.

    I dunno why but that above all other things annoys me in this one.


  3. Graboidz says:

    I’m with you Sampo, I didn’t care for this film at all, the only reason to sit through this one is the novelty of the two bots running the show. The Season 3 “repeat” showing is watchable, but this one just drags. I really wish they had re-done “City on Fire” or “Last Chase” again as opposed to this one.

    The one add-on note I would make is that I found the “Mystery Science Theater Hour” intro with Mike as the best thing associated with this film.


  4. finniasjones says:

    This episode starts out well, with Servo and Crow supplying plenty of riffs so we don’t miss Joel all that much. Maybe too many lame “monkey” jokes (the distinctions between ape/monkey/gorilla are still a bit vague to me), but the Bots do a fine job. Then the riffs-per-minute diminish during the second half, where the plot also fizzles, largely a result of Sandy Frank Productions once again (as in Mighty Jack) bluntly grafting the final episode of a mini-series to the pilot and cutting out all the vital connective tissue. There is a 6 disc DVD box-set of “Army of the Apes” available as a Japanese import (currently OOP) so obviously there’s more material. The original soundtrack by Toshiaki Tsushima is available online.

    • Opening segment refers to a series of “bosses”: Bruce Springsteen, Boss Hogg, Boss Tweed, Bossy the Cow. Fun to see Trace & Josh comedically duel with their robot-puppet selves. A boss battle, if you will…

    • Servo refers to Crow’s frozen Xmas tree period by singing, “Oh Tannen-Crow.”

    • (@ 27:00) The Bots trade insults during a host segment
    Servo: Hang on to your load pan, pal.
    Crow: Load pan? That’s funny coming from a spasmodic crofisator.
    Servo: Well at least I don’t throculate in a penoric arch, buddy.
    Crow: Well maybe you should.

    • During the closing, re. life on the SOL w/o Joel, Crow says, “Yeah, no more getting slapped in the load pans…”

    • From the mighty MJ website, on one of my favorite riffs from this episode:
    When Johnny cries that he doesn’t want to be killed by a monkey – The response in 306 is, “I’d rather die at my own hand”, in K17 Crow says, “No, I’d rather be killed by a tiger”.

    3 KTMA stars, because it starts so promisingly, and concludes with scenes trimmed from the later Season 3 version. And on the whole, I liked the ape masks (and the groovy music).


  5. Laura says:

    Yet another Sandy Frank “classic.” I’ve only seen the Season 3 version, but I swear those “apes” look like cheap versions of Wookies. I kept expecting to hear Chewbacca roaring at one point.


  6. Fart Bargo says:

    I really LIKE TOTA, either season. This is one silly rip off flick that takes itself much too seriously. Some of the so called apes actually look like a few of my uncles at the beach. Johnnie’s bravado in the face of total destruction is inspirational. I have used his personal catch phrase, I dont care!, many, many times. What a goofy script! Was this also stitched together episodes? Bi polar president who tools around in a Bonneville, Gay Bear’s sub plot, GoDoh, Pep-pay, little pants, cartoon escapes, screw drivers (Dr Who rip off), earth quakes, time travel, boots what more can one ask for?

    Host segments were fun because Joel was gone. Anytime the theater is tweaked from the norm I find fun.


  7. Brandon says:

    I bet it was fun for them running the show without the big cheese anywhere nearby. :silly:


  8. afrgarga says:

    Same as Mighty Jack and Fugitive Alien (Star Wolf) I’d love to see (without paying for the LDs or Region 2 DVDs) the original Saru no Gundan tv series. It seems like there might be an interesting show buried in this.


  9. MiqelDotCom says:

    The Revenge of Sandy Frank! Joel is out for whatever reasons & the dialogue between Josh & Trace seems to flow better than the ones where it’s Josh & Joel. Both Trace & Josh are rather quick witted improvisers but Joel seems to do way better with prewritten or at least loosely sketched material.
    Tom & Crow mention how much “Joel should be here to see this one” quite a few times (5 or more) in the theater.

    Best riffs:
    Tom: What are they eating?
    Crow: Ape-nuts!
    Tom: Sounds Painful
    Crow: well … not if you chew ’em right.

    During scene when godo saves peppe in the burning jungle
    Crow: “We had some butane left over from the City On Fire shoot”

    Different edit: A good bit of new footage in the final section of the film where the characters are talking with the UCON computer before getting sent back.

    3.5 Stars on the KTMA scale!


  10. Dan in WI says:

    You know this movie reminds me of the Clonus/The Island thing. The plot device, manfunctioning cyro chambers, which say they were frozen a week or so instead of the six months the main characters remember reminds of the travel device from Contact. Didn’t it have a similar discrepancy? I only saw that movie once many years ago.


  11. MitchellRowsdowerBeardsley says:

    I would just like to add that the Season 3 Time of the Apes is one of my favorite episodes ever. I don’t understand how you can be a MST3K fan and not love that one. Perfect one to show a newbie too.

    and for everyone who doesn’t agree with me:

    “I don’t care!”


  12. I'm not a medium, I'm a petite says:

    @10: Dan in WI

    In Contact ( a terrible movie IMHO ) the discrepancy is between ‘outside time’ where Jodie Foster is only gone for a few seconds, and both her memeory of a much longer visit AND here camcorder which had recorded a similary long period of static and white noise ( supporting Foster ).

    the implication being that she was put into some kind of time loop that brought her back to roughly the same temporal point that she started.

    or something like that. again, a terrible movie.


  13. JLH says:

    I always figured Bobo recalling his lineage to Godo was intentional. That Godo, the last human among the apes, would most likely breed with a monkey eventually. He certainly was unusually friendly with Pepe…


  14. Sharktopus says:

    @#13: Did Godo have a last name? Godo NELSON, perhaps? IT’S A MAD HOUSE!


  15. Toots Sweet says:

    Didn’t the squeaky, high-pitched, maddeningly annoying voice of the little girl (“Katherine!”, whined over and over and over again) annoy the crap out of anyone else? It was almost worse than Kathy Ireland’s squeak in Alien from L.A. Katherine should have stuck a sock in it.


  16. mst3ktemple says:

    I love the season 3 Time of the Apes. The movie is so amazingly goofy and the riffing is pretty darn good. The KTMA version is OK. Some interesting dynamics between Crow and Servo without Joel around.

    My favorite thing from the KTMA show is the flashback of Joel introducing Invaders From the Deep. That’s the first movie intro from the first episode on TV. I love how he says he got a facsimile from the guys at the station telling him what the next movie is. No mads yet obviously, so that leads me to believe this was taped before they created the theme song. Maybe we’ll get to see the whole segment some day, but that’s what we have for now.


  17. H says:

    Ok, just looked up carbunkle. Gross.

    Anyway, movie’s pretty good for me, just real strange. The host segments are pretty good, although I think the way they handle it next episode is pretty awesome. That’s for next episode though.


  18. Only saw the later version, but I might check this out simply out of curiosity of it not having Joel.


  19. Alex says:

    This and the season 3 versions I thought were both pretty good. Also nice to see a flashback to the intro of Invaders from the Deep. Hopefully Jim will post it up on the Mst3k website someday so we can see the full segment.


  20. Watch-out-for-Snakes says:

    Servo: “Feels like a void without Joel here. . .”

    I agree, little buddy. It does feel odd without Joel around, but honestly, Josh Servo and Trace Crow have a good rapport with one another, and keep this episode (mostly) going.

    What was Joel doing that he could not be there? Did he have a stand-up gig outside of town?? Sampo, answers, get on that.

    The Season 3 version of this never really lit me on fire as a viewer, but that was probably due to the atrocious VHS dub I used to have. It was by far the worst transfer ever, but that has since been rectified. Yay, DAP!!

    The host segments are fairly solid, especially the psyche-out video by Cambot in Segment 3. What episode is that tape from? IS it K01-K03???

    The end segment is weird, from outside the Satellite of Love, with that little figure floating around the ship. It’s very charming in its low-budget-ness, but that design of the SOL is freaking weird, man.

    What an off-the-wall movie. The science is all wonky, the children are super annoying (in that Japanese movie tradition), and the ape makeup is b-a-d, bad. And what a crappy take on Planet of the Apes. Horrible.

    What’s up with all these Sandy Frank TV show movies anyway?? Between Fugitive Alien, Mighty Jack, and now Time of the Apes, I can’t decide if Japanese television is the worst thing ever, or quite possibly the best thing ever.


    Crow, during the zoo scenes at the beginning: “Oh, look it’s Shelley Winters and Ernest Borgnine.”

    When they’re looking at the lab monkeys in the cages, Crow comments, “I think they’re lemurs.” I instantly started singing the Joey the Lemur song in my head. I propose this, during K17, is where the seed of that song started for Trace and crew.

    Crow, after they’re stuck in the cave: “And so they decided to eat the children.”



  21. Operation Weasel-Snitch says:

    I really liked the Time of the Apes episode. The movie was terrible, but it wasn’t as agonizingly bad as, say, Hobgoblins. The riffs in the Season 3 version seemed a little sharper, too.
    Particularly, Tom’s observation that Pepe(?) looks like “…a woodchuck that got hit in the face with a splat ball – period.”
    Or Joel’s comment following a handshake: “Uh, you might wanna wash that; that’s my throwin’ hand.”
    And Crow commenting on the fabulous appearance of the ape guards: “Come on girls, we’ll give them a makeover they’ll never believe!”


  22. Fart Bargo says:

    TS @15, agree with the voice deal. Although Kathy I is also very bad, I think the worst voice that annoys is “Roxanne” from ‘Zilla vs Megalon. Nails on a chalk board!


  23. TheDON3k says:

    Decent KTMA of a generally well liked experiment.

    What I did like seeing was the additional scenes. The the cable run of MST3k, of this movie, the earthquake covers the character’s pods, and then in the next scene they’re waking up in the lab/hospital place. But in the KTMA, we see construction equipment coming across the buried pods and digging them up and bringing them to a lab.

    They also stretch out the reveal of the Ape people than we see in the later MST3k cover of this movie, by showing the pod recovery, etc, but never showing the Apes. Also, there is a longer period of time before the first speaking Ape. I don’t think there’s any dialog until they escape into the Forest Hill area, so it’s more a shock to both the viewer and the characters when the Ape’s are first shown, then later first speak. We see lots of Apes, and hand gestures, but no dialog for what seems like 10 minutes.

    Still an awful, awful movie.

    Good KTMA/MST3k Experiment, though.



    The ability to follow this movie in season 3 was hampered by the editing Best Brains did to an already truncated narrative. The KTMA episode makes it easier to understand what’s going on (not that it makes it a better film or anything). Still, as the only non-human-hosted episode, this is a good one to watch to see how loose (and fun) things were in the early days.

    Good jokes, interesting SOL storyline, so-bad-its-good watchable movie…

    Solid outing all round. 4 out of 5.


  25. Smog Monster says:

    I say this KTMA episode would have been better with Joel there is right. They did do well by themselves, though. The host segments could have done better though. They could have thought of more to do and say about Joel being outside of the ship. Early National Season 1 grade pretty much. Nice try.


  26. Creepygirl says:

    I enjoyed this episode very much. I guess this is the only experiment without a human host? I still think Tom and Crow did really well. Like other Sandy Frank KTMA’s the extra footage kind of helps what little story there is here.

    4 stars on the KTMA scale.


  27. Ed Glaser says:

    For anyone interested, there’s some more info about — and clips from — “Saru No Gundan” in this Deja View video.


  28. Bruce Boxliker says:

    I guess in season 3 they just couldn’t come up with any good jokes for the whole UCON explanation thing at the end? Seems like something that should have been left in, what with it semi-explaining the Apepocalypse.
    One thing (out of many, I assure you) that struck me as odd in this, is that at the end, when they were running through the darkened hallways, only to discover that they’re not in Ape-land anymore, that nobody noticed that guy that looks & sounds JUST like Godo (with beard) standing there? I understand that he was probably only there to reinforce the possibility that it was all a dream, but then 30 seconds later they turn around and say it really did happen.

    Too bad Sandy Frank didn’t leave in the theme song. It’s sung by Shimon Masato, who also sang ‘Godzilla & Jet Jaguar Punch Punch Punch!’ in Godzilla vs Megalon (not to mention lots of Kamen Rider & Yuusha Reideen).

    For those interested, the region 2 DVD set of ‘Saru no Gundan’ is still available.


  29. goalieboy82 says:

    would love to see someone here in the states buy the rights to the ‘Saru no Gundan’ (not sandy frank of course) and dub it into english and have rifftrax riff it (every episode). would be the same for the other sandy frank tv show movies.


  30. pondoscp says:

    A fun, if painful, episode. Shades of Season 8 what with the “storylines” and all


  31. asdf says:

    Thanks to the internet there’s some meh-quality raws of Saru no Gundan floating around, missing part of an ep here and there, but still most of it.

    The kid really is a jerk.


  32. Pulatso says:

    Ed, gotta say, love the Deja View. If you and Brad ever decide to do a new Ninja the Mission Force type project, go with monkey suits.


  33. trickymutha says:

    Wow I was in the Twin Cities that week in 1989. And I never watched KTMA. My loss.


  34. Mitchell "Rowsdower" Beardsley says:

    Time of the Apes (Season 3) is one of the best MST3K episodes! Can’t believe a guy who runs a MST3K fan site isn’t ‘a big fan’.

    That’s just . . . odd.


  35. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    I was in the Twin Cities in 1989 and did catch KTMA. My dad had it set to KTMA on a black and white TV to watch old Star Trek episodes after he got home from work. I think they were on weeknights at 6. I vaguely remember watching MST when it was on KTMA, but my first definitive memory is seeing Time of the Apes for the Turkey Day ’91 marathon. Its goofiness got me interested. Later that same day I saw Fugitive Alien. Once I heard their geek-fest discussion of Doctor Who (and the one who looked like Moe) I became a lifer.

    Time of the Apes has a special place in my heart. I first saw 306 as a 13 year old, and jokes about crap flinging were about as good as it could get. Many years later I proposed to my wife outside of the gorilla exhibit at the Toronto Zoo. We watched 306 later that day. She dozed off–she can only really handle the shorts without zoning out– and I relished my monkey business.

    I don’t care.


  36. JCC says:

    @34 – Check out the Season 3 entry for Time of the Apes, Sampo – SPOILER ALERT – warms up to the episode.


  37. jaybird3rd says:

    Ahhhh … sweet, beautiful “Time of the Apes”. I love “Time of the Apes” as KTMA-era MST3K material for the same reason that I love the Gamera movies: it’s goofy enough to provide plenty of opportunities for jokes, but it’s fun enough and has enough momentum to be watchable on its own even without the support of wall-to-wall riffing. Both versions of this movie, #306 and K17, are in my regular rotation.

    “Time of the Apes” is a cut above the other Sandy Frank imports because, unlike “Fugitive Alien” or “Mighty Jack”, it actually leaves me very interested in seeing the original Japanese TV series, “Saru No Gundan“. Even though what we see in “Time of the Apes” has obviously been ground up by the Sandy Frank sausage machine, there are enough intriguing elements left to make me think that “Saru No Gundan” was actually an interesting (albeit goofy) series in its own right. The original story was written by the highly regarded Sakyo Komatsu, author of “Submersion of Japan”; I’ve never read the book, but I do recall seeing “Tidal Wave”, the American dub of the film version, years ago. Spalanzani posted the original episode titles and some astute analysis of the story in the discussion thread for #306; as he says, the story “brings up lots of dark and creepy themes, but then just ignores all their implications and maintains a strangely upbeat, lighthearted tone overall”. I somehow suspect that the themes were from Komatsu, and the incongruously upbeat tone was the other writers who reshaped Komatsu’s story into a series. In any case, I wish that the entire series was available either dubbed or subtitled, because I’d love to see more of it. At least we get to see a bit more of “Time of the Apes” in the K17 version: it isn’t enough to make Sandy Frank’s treatment coherent, of course, but seeing the scenes that were cut from #306 does help.

    K17 is unique in the MST3K canon: while K05 had Joel riffing alone in the theater, K17 has the robots riffing alone. Fortunately, Josh and Trace were in a talkative mood and had great chemistry between them by this point in the show, so there are very few dead spots in the theater segments. Watching K17 makes me wonder how much better the MST3K Flash animated series (“The ‘Bots Are Back”) could have been, if only the folks at Best Brains had re-watched this episode first. It’s hard to pick out any standout lines, but it’s just pleasant fun to see Josh and Trace casually kicking it back and forth in the theater. I did like it when Servo says “We almost got a cool shot there!”; I was thinking the same thing at that particular moment!

    They did some good work in the host segments, too. The zero-budget KTMA effects really have a lot of charm: I just love the Hulk Hogan action figure on a string hovering outside the weird Satellite of Love model, complete with a looping animated starfield in the background. Maybe I’m imagining things, but it almost seems as if they were trying to set up a cliffhanger ending for the series: there was a three-week gap between K17 and K18 for some reason, so I’m wondering if there was some uncertainty about whether KTMA was going to continue the series at that point.


  38. PirateJoe says:

    The Barry ZeVan reference must finally explain that comment Servo makes in Robot Holocaust when the editor’s name Barry Zetlin, shows up. He says it in some kinda funny goofy voice, like he’s a goofy character. I guess that’s a reference to Barry ZeVan?


  39. jaybird3rd says:

    @#38: That’s what I figured, too. In interviews, Josh has mentioned Barry ZeVan as one of the real-life influences of his Tom Servo persona.


  40. Mnenoch says:

    Interesting show with just Servo and Crow riffing the movie. I agree that Trace and Josh have chemistry here and it’s a pretty good episode. The further along you get in the KTMA episodes the better it gets. The first few episodes are pretty rough but by now we have a decent pace with riffing and the skits are getting better as well. Obviously them deciding to switch from a watch with your friends type show to an actual riffing show helped in that regard.

    As far as the movie goes. It actually is an interesting TV series, I’m sure its a lot better if it wasn’t hacked together and compressed. Interestingly enough this is the first time I’ve made it through TOTA either KTMA or Season 3. It’s not as bad as I remember watching (I’ve seen like 30 minutes of the Season 3 episode before).


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