Monday, June 21, 2010

Stuff of the Week: "Dr. Zaius"


"Planet of the Apes" was huge when I was a kid, and I was the perfect age (7 years old for the first one) to ride the craze. The special effects were a touch cheesy even then, the social commentary went over my head, but me and my neighbors the DeMayos were there for almost every one (usually in a drive in as I recall) until the series ran out of steam. Roddy McDowell as Cornelius was my favorite, but Dr. Zaius was the ape that seemed to best represent the franchise, maybe because his look stood out from the other brunette apes. (Or maybe because I knew the actor from Bewitched) He was who I pictured when you said "Planet of the Apes." (Well, him and Nova) Years later, after I had kids, a tree fell in the back yard. I cut off the outer limbs, and we put an artificial pond in front of it. The bark fell off so that it was an inviting, smooth surface to sit on. And it somehow looked man-made without it's bark, like it was from a movie set. A movie like "Planet of the Apes." It reminded me of a place where the apes would come to hash out the problem of Bright Eyes, and I talked about the movie so incessantly to my kids (they hadn't seen it) that I rented it so they could see for themselves. It was so slow moving that I let them stop watching it even before Charlton Heston got captured, which seemed to be about an hour into it. The bad Tim Burton remake didn't help my cause any. Eventually a neighbor reported the fallen tree to the town, and they sent a letter making me remove it. A dispiriting end to a good memory. Perhaps it's better off being remembered for the musical version they did on "The Simpsons." But when they came out with this Dr. Zaius doll a several years back, I still couldn't resist his charms. On a side note, he seems to be playing air guitar here. Rock me, Dr. Zaius!

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