Oh man. Today’s Forgotten Classic is a truly great and wondrous show. “Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp” aired on ABC on Saturday mornings from 1970-72, and this show simply couldn’t exist today. Created by Stan Burns and Michael Marmer, the writing duo that made “Get Smart” a success, “Lancelot” was essentially “Get Smart” with chimps in clothes and fake facial hair. From a 2003 Believer article:
The show is really about dressing chimps in costumes and making them perform amazing stunts—as if you needed anything else. The chimps are seen driving go-karts, threading needles, riding camels. They golf, play tennis, eat with chopsticks, get into pie-throwing fights…
To make the dialogue fit the chimps’ lip action, Burns and Marmer went to ridiculous lengths. Voiceovers were ad-libbed on the set, giving birth to beautifully absurd moments of the chimps breaking into songs at the end of sentences or spontaneously reciting Mother Goose rhymes just so it would look right.
Embedded below is video of the opening credits; even better, there are entire episodes on YouTube. The second scene in the first episode consisted of a chimpanzee in a wig and a chimp wearing a wispy fake goatee, and they both were speak in offensive Asian accents. The only way it could be more wrong is if it starred a handicapped Asian person. They could call it “Lancelot Limp: Secret Chink.”
(thanks to Chris for the tip)