“It’s about time, it’s about space,
It’s about time I slapped your face!”
No, that wasn’t really how the theme went, but it was what kids all over the country were singing after the September 11, 1966 premier of It’s About Time. The actual theme went as follows:
The theme song pretty much tells the story. Produced by Sherwood Schwartz (the man responsible for Gilligan’s Island), It’s About Time tells the story of two astronauts accidentally transported back in time when their spacecraft exceeds the speed of light.
The astronauts, played by Jack Mullaney (Hector) and Frank Aletter (Mac), abruptly find themselves in the company of cavemen. The principal cavemen were Gronk, played by the legendary Joe E. Ross (best known to classic TV viewers as Officer Tooty, Fred Gwynn’s partner in Car 54, Where Are You?, where he made the exclamation “Ooh! Ooh!” a classic), and the equally legendary Imogene Coca (Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar) played his wife, Shadd. The cast was rounded out by people like Mary Grace as daughter Mlor; Pat Cardi as Breer, their son; Cliff Norton as Boss; Kathleen Freeman as Mrs. Boss and Mike Mazurzsky as Boss's dim-witted henchman, Clon.
The show was played for broad laughs, as was the earlier Gilligan’s Island. Not exactly high-brow (in one scene, Mullaney’s character was hiding in the bushes at night, when Clon, Boss’ henchman, heard him. “Halt, who goes there?” came the challenge. “No one,” was the response. “Ah, no one goes there,” Clon says and walks away), critics gave It’s About Time the same response they had given Gilligan: they hated it. But kids all over the country loved it.
Mid-way through the season, they changed the format. Rather than having the astronauts trapped in prehistoric times, they brought the caveman family forward to 1960s New York. They even changed the theme song:
Once again, the song tells the story. The prehistoric humans must learn to adapt to the modern world, and the comedy is in their attempt to do so. An interesting note is that, towards the end of the season, the astronauts decided not to turn the cavemen over to the government for study, but took them to California instead, where they lived as an extended family in a large apartment.
The second half of the season is generally viewed as the better part of the series.
It’s About Time ran 26 episodes in the 1966-67 television season. It was not renewed.
Where they are now:
Regrettably, most of the principal actors are now gone. The great Joe E. Ross passed away on August 13, 1982, just two months after Jack Mullaney died (June 27). Ms. Coca passed on June 2, 2001, Kathleen Freeman (whose brief performance in the 1987 Dan Ackroyd vehicle “Dragnet” was priceless) in August of that year. In fact, of the entire cast, only Mary Grace and Pat Cardi, who played the children, and Frank Aletter (Mac) are apparently still with us, although none of them appear to still be performing.
- Written by John Pickard