Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Back to the Planet of the Apes: ep 6 "Tomorrow's Tide"

 "Tomorrow's Tide"
Airdate: October 18, 1974
Written by Robert W. Lenski
Directed by Don MacDougall
Synopsis: Virdon and Burke rescue a man lashed to a raft from the ocean. When the man, Gahto, refuses to give them information but continues to insist he is dead, the astronauts investigate a nearby fishing village, where they are captured by soldiers. Hurton, the chimpanzee administrator, presses Virdon and Burke into service after they pass a test by swimming under flames. Galen tries to rescue while also trying to keep Gahto from drowning himself. Things get worse when Hurton's superior, Bandor, comes on an inspection tour, and only quick thinking and some novel fishing techniques can keep our heroes from being fishermen permanently.

Trey: We're out of the desert and down by the seaside. I'd like to think these human fisherfolk are the descendants of laid-back California surfers.

Jason: I'm grateful for the change of scenery! Those fisherfolk are certainly laid back and obedient, listlessly poking around with their wickedly barbed spears. Was there ever a time when those spears were employed against their ape overlords? These dudes are too laid back!

Trey: This is Lenski's second episode (his first was "The Good Seeds") and this has some of the same elements: the astronauts bringing some lost knowledge to the inhabitants of the future, an ape that warms to our protagonists a bit when they prove useful, and word-building regarding the culture and belief of this age. 

Jason: The "astronauts bringing knowledge" theme suggests that perhaps Lenski had thumbed through Chariots of the Gods as part of his no-doubt extensive research for this gig.

The holes in ape knowledge are slightly comical. Net technology was employed to great effect on Charlton Heston in the first film, but the imaginative leap to also use them for fish is beyond ape reckoning.  

Trey: Well, according to the timeline, the events of that film are several hundred years in the future, so maybe Burke and Virdon inadvertently led to Taylor's capture?

Jason: The irony!

Trey: Another big part of this episode: astronaut beefcake. They must have been trying to up their female viewership.

Jason: The beefcake is strong! The fact that it was unaccompanied by cheesecake is a little puzzling. The POTA films were not shy in this regard. The humans of the TV series, astronauts aside, have been a decidedly unsexy rabble! 

Trey: Yeah, and that's seems off-brand for 70s TV.

Jason: It serves to underscore the dystopian nature of this future!

Trey: Two interesting guest stars this episode: Roscoe Lee Browne who was the voice of Box in Logan's Run as Hurton, and perennial unctuous baddie, Jay Robinson as Bandor.

Jason: Roscoe Lee Browne and Jay Robinson both turn in fine performances. Too bad this is their only appearances in the series. And too bad the script criminally underuses their talents.

Trey: We should talk about the shark. The stock footage shark. 

Jason: Don't forget that handy dorsal fin prop! While no sharks were literally jumped in this episode, events and circumstances depicted do seem to veer wildly into the absurd.

Trey: I've been resisting the urge to make a "shark jump" joke, I'm glad you were less demure. Anyway, I'm not quite clear whether the apes believe in the "shark god" or simply the humans.

Jason: The apes use the inherent religiosity of human beings to enforce ape supremacy and cynically employ the tenets of this faith against each other! But do they believe? I can only speculate, but there seems to be at least a level of social courtesy regarding gods and spiritual practices, like sophisticated ancient Romans or Greeks. Galen doesn't seem inclined to challenge whatever beliefs are practiced in the regions the fugitives visit.

Trey: Overall, this one is interesting because of the way it expands the ape universe into new territory, but I think it's probably not as accomplished as "The Good Seeds" in the writing department (and that was already an episode with some silliness), and perhaps is let down more by the constraints of television.

Jason: "It's a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!" I thought as this episode unfolded. Packed with speculative scenarios, glistening Astronaut torsos, and underwater thrills, it could have been a standout episode (and maybe it will rank high in the final assessment, depending on how dire subsequent episodes turn out to be). As it stands, it will definitely rank as one of the most peculiar. 

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