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Parody Of The Planet Of The Apes

Written By:

Paul Bullock
simpsons_apes



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Rise of the Planet of the Apes marks the
seventh big screen outing for the Apes franchise and what Fox will hope will be
the start of many more. It’s now ten years on from the failed Tim Burton reboot
and 38 from the end of the original franchise. The extended absence has done
nothing to diminish the series’ place in pop culture though, with TV shows,
adverts and films referencing the Planet of the Apes saga in all kinds of ways.
Here, we run down the ten best send-ups to work out what’s the finest Parody of
the Planet of the Apes.

1. Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to
Get Of
f (The Simpsons)

A three-way parody, this majestic send-up
from seventh season episode A Fish Called Selma is a highpoint for The Simpsons
and pop culture parodies as a whole. Looking to relaunch his failing career and
clinch the sidekick role in McBain IV: Fatal Discharge, Troy McClure embarks
upon a relationship with Marge’s sister Selma. “The marriage thing is very
in these days,” his agent, the magnificent named MacArthur Parker, reminds
him. Alas, the couple eventually split, and McClure ends the episode rejecting
the sidekick part in favour of the lead in self-penned magnum opus The
Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel. In between comes this
masterpiece of parody. Part Apes satire, part riff on Falco’s Amadeus, part
musical theatre spoof, it features some of the show’s most quotable lines
(“I hate every ape I see/From chimpan-A to chimpann-Z”) and a
toe-tapping finale that may even better the original’s ending. The Simpsons
writers have a long history with sci-fi parodies and in particular Apes
references (listen out for Jerry Goldsmith’s The Hunt music during riot
scenes), and it’s the fidelity to the source that really make Stop the Planet
of the Apes
stand out. From the clothes to the backgrounds to the awkward
movements of the apes’ mouths, this is just like watching the real thing.

2. Spaceballs

One of the original and still one of the
best, Mel Brooks’ Star Wars spoof also found time to reference Apes in its
farcical conclusion. When President Scroob, Colonel Sandurz and Dark Helmet’s
dastardly plan is foiled, their ship Mega Maid (a gigantic Statue of
Liberty-esque woman, just with a vacuum instead of a torch) is blown to
smithereens, plunging the trio, along with Mega Maid’s head, into a nearby
planet. Which just happens to be inhabited by talking apes. “Dear
me,” says one to the other as the three villains descend, “what are
those things coming out of her nose?” “Spaceballs?!” comes the
reply. “Oh shit, there goes the planet.” Like The Simpsons, it’s
Brooks’ fidelity to the source that makes the Spaceballs parody work, with the
set-up, the make-up, even the eerie crashing of the waves upon the shore all
perfectly replicating the original. Of all the film’s riffs and references,
this is comfortably the best.

3. Charlton Heston, Saturday Night Live,
1993

Charlton’s Heston’s relationship with the
Apes series was surprisingly affectionate considering many stars of his stature
tend to look down upon sci-fi. He spoke fondly of the films in the 1998
documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes, and would go on to make a brief
cameo in the Tim Burton remake three years later. He was also happy to appear
in several skits parodying the series, most notably during his hosting spot on
Saturday Night Live in 1993. Having fallen asleep just before the show starts,
Heston wakes up in the Studio of the Apes, a dark inversion of the SNL studio
populated entirely by talking simians. “Oh, my God! It’s happening
again!” says Heston as he runs for his life. He’s eventually captured in a
neat play on the original film’s hunt sequence and brought before an enquiring
ape audience, who refuse to believe he’s anything but a talking mutant. The skit
ends with Heston reprising his famous madhouse dialogue from the film and
continuing with the show. After all, even an ape audience is better than no
audience at all.

4. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

“In this world gone mad, we won’t
spank the monkey; the monkey will spank us”, so says Jason Mewes during
Jay and Silent Bob’s minute long take on the Apes saga. It’s a tour de force
for Mewes, who embraces the nonsense concept with his trademark manic glee.
Highlights include a surprisingly realistic Ape City, cameo appearances from Clerks
duo Brian O’Halloran and Jeff Anderson and the sight of Jay taking Heston’s
place on the original film’s beach-head. Planet of the Apes with Jay instead of
Heston? Now that’s something we’d like to see!

5. Siskel and Ebert and Jay and Alice (The
Critic
)

Simpsons writers Al Jean and Mike Reiss’s The
Critic
only ran for 23 episodes between 1994 and 1995, but even in that short
period they managed to fit in a host of movie references and jokes. Planet of
the Apes
‘ moment in the spotlight came at the start of second season episode Siskel
and Ebert and Jay and Alice
, in which Jay is forced to partner with both the
famous movie critics after their successful partnership comes to an end. Before
all this, Jay fronts his own show in which he discusses 1970s sci-fi classic Planet
of the Dogs. The clip references the famous stinking paws line and stars an
unusually friendly Doctor Zaius. “Quit rubbing my leg you bloody
bowsers,” indeed.

6. Return to Beneath the Planet of the Pigs
(The Muppet Show)

No list of parodies would be complete
without The Muppets, and this entry dates back to the very start of the phenomenon
in the mid-70s. Jim Henson produced two pilots for the series before it was
officially picked up: the first, The Muppets Valentines Show, aired in 1974,
the second, the curiously named The Muppets: Sex and Violence, hit screens a
year later. It is this episode that features the Apes parody. In a similar
set-up to The Critic, we’re introduced to a movie programme, Film In Focus, where
the presenter informs us of the latest “pseudo-epic from Colossal
Pictures”, Return to Beneath the Planet of the Pigs. It’s not one of the
Muppets’ finest movie parodies, but it scores points for capturing the Planet
of the Apes
atmosphere perfectly and creating an uncannily realistic Muppet
version of Charlton Heston. Kudos too for the punchline, where our, of course
totally unbiased, piggy reviewer praises the film for its realism.

7. Planet of the Aches (The Simpsons)

Another one from The Simpsons, though this
time it’s Itchy and Scratchy who are sending the series up. This is a unique
entry into this top ten, being the only one to reference one of the series’
sequels, in this case Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Itchy traps Scratchy
behind a wall and when the embattled cat emerges some 3000 years later he’s
greeted by Itchy’s ancestors who have grown massive, throbbing brains and
telekinetic powers like the subterranean humans in Beneath. They bathe and feed
Scratchy, but the kind treatment doesn’t last long. He’s eventually sliced and
diced (telekinetically of course) and left for dead. Bart, watching on, is
unimpressed. He’s wrapped up in a movie parody of his own, acting as Jimmy
Stewart to Ned Flanders’ Raymond Burr in the episode’s main parody: Rear Window.

8. Go, God, Go XII (South Park)

Tenth season South Park episode Go, God, Go
is a bit of a treasure trove for sci-fi fans. Brazil, Logan’s Run and Aliens
are among the films referenced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone in a story that
sees Cartman freeze himself in a bid to make the three-week wait for a new
games console go quicker. Sadly all does not run smoothly and, when he awakens,
Cartman finds himself in a nightmarish future where otters ride ostriches and
Nintendos don’t exist. Parker and Stone have always been masters of sly
references and the image of the otters riding the ostriches, along with the
horn-blast sound that goes with it, is as neat and surreal a reference to the
original film’s hunt sequences as I’ve ever seen.

9. The Apes of Wrath (Garth Marenghi’s
Darkplace
)

Apes took centre stage in the fourth
episode of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, a show that made a virtue of sending up
sci-fi and horror tropes of the 70s and 80s. Though there are no direct
references to the series – save the use of the central concept and some subtle
hints at Goldsmith’s score in the music – this is the most consistently funny
clip on this list. Great scenes come thick and fast (the bike chase through a
forest is particularly good) as do the notable lines, which come loaded with
‘highly political subtext’. “Maybe we shouldn’t do anything,” says
Richard Ayoade’s medical chief character. “No-one takes days off any more,
everyone’s grooming each other and the doctors are literally working for peanuts.”
Reports that David Cameron is seeking his own ape workforce are so far
unfounded.

10. Serta Mattress commercial

This 1998 advert for an American mattress
company isn’t a parody, but for sheer weirdness it had to get a mention.
Dreams, the commercial reminds us, are the realm of the impossible, where
anything can happen. One can have afternoon tea with your childhood
sweetheart…and Cornelius from Planet of the Apes. Someone’s been eating too
much cheese…

Paul Bullock

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