Jan 8, 2020

Astronauts and Cave Men: It's About Time

In November 1966 I turned six, a "big boy," with a later bedtime and the freedom to watch "good tv", shows about cute boys: The Monkees, Lost in Space, Tarzan, Get Smart, Hogan's Heroes, Run Buddy Run, Time Tunnel, Flipper .  On Sunday night we had church, but with a new baby in the house we often stayed home, and I could watch It's About Time (1966-67), a "trapped far from home" sitcom from Sherwood Schwartz, creator of the hugely successful Gilligan's Island.

It was about two astronauts who got zapped into prehistory, where cave men spoke in "ug-ug" broken English and fought dinosaurs.  They move in with a cave family played by comedy legends Imogene Coca and Joe E. Ross.

Mac (Frank Aletter, right) was a sitcom pro, already the star of Bringing Up Buddy and The Cara Williams Show.  He would go on to play Professor Hayden on Danger Island, with Jan-Michael Vincent.

Hector (Jack Mullaney, left) was best known for his role in the beefcake-heavy musical South Pacific (1958), with Ken Clark as the voluminous Stewpot.  Mullaney never married and was reputedly gay.

Mac and Hector wore their astronaut costumes most of the time, but sometimes they wore animal skins that revealed tight, firm chests and shoulders.  The cave people also wore animal skins, and in spite of their fright wigs, many muscular bodies were visible in the background.

Here's another picture from South Pacific.  

There was significant bonding: the two astronauts bickered like a married couple, hugged, fell into each other's arms, and lived together, even when they returned to the twentieth century.

They gazed with tongue-lolling horniness at the cave family's daughter, but such minor concessions to heterosexism could be ignored.

And there was a "dreamy boy" for us to gaze at: Pat Cardi, who had just finished work on the dark comedy Let's Kill Uncle, played the cave family's fourteen year old son, Breen.  He wore a fright wing, but his animal skin was almost as revealing as the tight pants on Flipper.  

Unfortunately, It's About Time aired on Sunday nights, opposite the last halves of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Walt Disney, so most of the intended kid audience was already occupied.

After 18 episodes, low ratings prompted a complete reversal of the premise: the astronauts return to 1960s America, bringing a cave family with them. It didn't help.  So in spite of the ecstatic tv ads and a full run of tie-in toys, games, coloring books, lunch boxes, and the like, It's About Time sank seven episodes later, and was lost to history.  Except for 60 year olds who can still recite the theme song:

It's about time,
It's about space,
About strange people in the strangest place.
It's about time,
It's about flight,
Traveling faster than the speed of light


  1. I remember watching that show. It was just like Gilligan's Island, same set, same music.

  2. They do get points for understanding physics, I guess.

  3. I am in my mid 50's and have a vague recollection of this show through the theme song. But we sang it:

    It's about time
    It's about space
    It's about time to SLAP YOUR FACE! (slap)


No offensive, insulting, racist, or homophobic comments are permitted.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...