Lynda Carter often says in interviews that a level of Nazi fatigue started to set in midway through Wonder Woman’s first season. The description of the episode that aired December 18, 1976 at least sounds like everyone is going to get a little bit of a break from Nazi-palooza. The episode promises an exciting battle of brains and brawn – the title even has an exclamation point in it, so obviously it’s going to be awesome. (I’m pretty sure that’s what we all thought when we saw the listing in the newspaper. At age 5, you believe everything you read). “Wonder Woman Vs. Gargantua!” (1.7). Gargantua isn’t just a normal gorilla, he’s a hyper-intelligent Great Ape who scientists think might be the missing link between man and ape! And he turns out to be a Nazi.

The title card reads A Nazi-Held Section of Africa, May 1942, which seems unnecessarily vague since the image behind it is a map that clearly reads “The Republic of Congo.” The camera zooms in on the word “Congo” to drive the point home.

We hear exotic woodwinds and jungle-esque drums and animal noises, because Africa, I guess.

Wonder Woman makes her way through the jungle, pursued by a gorilla whose costume includes a mask that was clearly repurposed from the Planet of the Apes, which gives it a form of double-uncanniness.

The gorilla attacks Wonder Woman, lifting her above his head in a really awkward way. She blows the whistle that has been dangling on a cord around her neck, and the signal immediately subdues the ape.

Removing a Mission Impossible-style mask, she reveals that she’s not really Wonder Woman at all! It’s Erica (Gretchen Corbett), Nazi animal behavioral expert and daughter of one of the world’s greatest animal behaviorists. This isn’t a random gorilla attack on Wonder Woman, it’s Gargantua training!

Title In: September, 1942 – 5 Months Later At the Turner Circus, Outside Washington D.C.

Crowds thrill to the acts under the big top.

Out on the midway, which looks just like a soundstage hallway, Gargantua is on display in a cage. A guard talks up Gargantua, telling the crowd that scientists think Gargantua is one of the missing links between man and ape. At first I thought the writers were winking at the sideshow tradition wherein Talkers make exaggerated and/or false scientific claims about exhibits to draw in spectators. But no.

Spoiler alert: we stick with this whole “missing link” mumbo jumbo all the way through the episode.

Don’t call them “Barkers,” you rube, they’re called Talkers.

The circus is infested with Nazis! Erica and Carl the circus guard scheme. Erica is obsessed with capturing Wonder Woman.

That Same Day at the Washington Interrogation Headquarters, Steve Trevor interrogates Conrad Steigler (John Hillerman), Nazi Defector. Diana Prince and General Blankenship observe the interrogation and talk about how they need to take Steigler to a safe location so the Nazis don’t try to abduct him.

The building exterior they show in the establishing shot is actually the U.S. Department of Justice, so I’ll allow it.

Later That Night at a deserted oil refinery in Washington, D.C. Nazi Hans (Robert Loggia) and the rest of Team Nazi Circus plot to rescue Steigler from the Safe House.

There aren’t any oil refineries in Washington, D.C.

At the Safe House Erica directs Gargantua to scale the four-story building and rescue Steigler. Gargantua attacks the MPs and then gets down to the business of abducting Steigler.

After the abduction, Steve and Diana arrive at the Safe House. They question the MPs. The MPs say they were attacked by a gorilla.

Half an Hour Later at the Oil Refinery
Team Nazi bickers about whether they should go back to Germany right away, or use Steigler as bait in a trap for Wonder Woman.

Erica gives Team Nazi a demonstration of Gargantua’s high level of training. She blows a whistle, which compels Gargantua to reach out of his cage, grab a black and white cardboard cutout of Wonder Woman, and smash it to pieces.

The next day at the War Department Etta Candy (Beatrice Colen) and Diana read about Gargantua in the morning paper. Etta tells Diana that Gargantua reminds her of the mid-shipman she’s been dating. Diana wisely chooses to ignore this information.

Diana tells Etta and Steve that she feels bad for Gargantua and hopes no one hurts him. He’s the smartest ape of all-time, you know!

At the Safe House, Dr. Osmond (Herb Voland), the world’s greatest animal behaviorist, examines the evidence.

Later, Dr. Osmond calls Steve and Diana and they meet him at Beta Research Laboratory.

Steve, who is a moron, has trouble connecting the dots. He thinks the MPs are lying, but Diana suggests they’re just traumatized. The evidence mounts. There’s a missing gorilla. Who is a super-smart gorilla. Who is an extreme large gorilla, an almost 7 foot tall gorilla. The MPs report that they saw a very tall gorilla. The MPs claim they were attacked by a gorilla. Someone abducted the Nazi defector by scaling a 4 story building, like a gorilla. They find gorilla hair at the scene of the abduction of the Nazi defector. Oh, and there’s also a huge gorilla footprint in the mud outside the Safe House and gorilla gorilla gorilla goddamn it Steve Trevor why are you so obtuse?

Mickey Morton, who plays Gargantua, has a resume that is both fantastic and terrible. It includes playing Malla in The Star Wars Holiday Special!

Dr. Osmond finds crude oil on the gorilla fur specimen. Steve Trevor goes out to investigate the abandoned oil refinery on Old Georgetown Road.

Diana calls Etta, who is concerned for Steve’s safety because that refinery hasn’t been used “in a long time,” which is ridiculous since the dialogue in the previous scene established that the refinery was closed so recently that even the War Department didn’t know it was no longer operational.

Diana spins into Wonder Woman and goes to the refinery. She gets there before Steve does.

It’s a trap!

Gargantua attacks!

Wonder Woman reasons with Gargantua. Wonder Woman wants all animals to live in peace and freedom.

Outside, Steve and a few jeeploads of MPs arrive.

Wonder Woman convinces Gargantua to reconsider his life choices.

The MPs see Wonder Woman and Gargantua grappling. One of the MP shoots at Gargantua, but Wonder Woman deflects the bullet. When Gargantua steps aside, the MP shoots him. Dr. Osmond saves him and promises to reprogram him. Wonder Woman is glad, because on Paradise Island the Amazons live peacefully with all animals, including animals that most people consider ferocious.

Wonder Woman sure seems to break the first rule of Paradise Island (Never talk about Paradise Island) a lot.

Gargantua and Wonder Woman are now friends.

Back at the Waterfront: Team Nazi argues over whether they should rescue Gargantua.

Back at Beta Lab: Steve and Diana visit Dr. Osmond and Gargantua. Diana meets Gargantua and within moments they’re holding hands, becoming fast friends. Gargantua knows that Diana is Wonder Woman, because unlike everyone else, Gargantua is not stupid.

After Diana and Steve leave the lab, Erica and Carl show up. They abduct Gargantua and take him back to the the waterfront so that Erica can re-re-program him while they wait for their UBoat, which has been delayed by the Coast Guard. Or maybe it’s been delayed because you probably can’t get a UBoat up the Potomac River to the Washington, D.C. waterfront.

While they wait, Erica tries to reprogram Gargantua using a publicity still from the episode where Wonder Woman won the beauty pageant.

Steve goes to investigate something somewhere, leaving Diana at the War Department. Or so he thinks.

Diana spins into Wonder Woman and goes to The Warehouse on Pier 19, where she uses her golden lasso to scale the side of a building and pay Team Nazi a visit.

The waterfront in Wonder Woman’s D.C. is very different from the actual Washington D.C. waterfront. In this episode, it’s a deep ocean port with dozens of piers and warehouses. It’s not any of those things.

Gargantua sees Wonder Woman and attacks! Wonder Woman judo flips Gargantua and then apologizes to him. She tells him he should be free. They bond.

Then, Steve and the MPs show up. You expect them to shoot at Gargantua again, so Wonder Woman can use her bracelets to deflect the bullets, but apparently the special effects budget was all used up by this point.

Wonder Woman talks about “kindness and tenderness and love” while both Gargantua and Steve Trevor look at her with puppy dog eyes. It’s seriously strange.

Two nights later, Wonder Woman visits Gargantua, who is back in his cage at the Circus, which is presumably less Nazi-infested now. Wonder Woman sneaks Gargantua out and flies him to Stock Footage Africa, where they hold hands and make weird googly eyes at each other while sexy saxophone music plays.

Then, Wonder Woman flies back to America in the Invisible Jet while stock footage animals stampede and Gargantua waves forlornly.

Back at the War Department the next morning, Diana tells them she’s late for work because she had to “drop off a friend.”

Holy cats, Steve Trevor didn’t get hit on the head or gassed or otherwise rendered unconscious one single time this entire episode!

    This episode contains:

  • An Ape
  • Bullets and Bracelets
  • Circus
  • Consciousness Raising
  • Disguises
  • Golden Lasso
  • Invisible Jet
  • Mad Science
  • Nazi Spies
  • Spinning
  • Stock Footage Africa

As a child, I ran a bit hot and cold on the whole Curious George issue. I loved him when I was 5 and devoured all the books in short order (I was a precocious reader). In the first grade, much to the chagrin of our school librarian, I found the situation of a monkey in an urban environment problematic. Which was odd considering I lived in a weird place that – in addition to the wide-range of eccentrics, roadside attractions, and sanctuaries, was the winter home of the circus – and didn’t give much thought to the variety of exotic animals all over town.

In the present, discussions erupt now and again in the MeanLouise Lair about whether George is a monkey or an ape. Sometimes other people are involved in these debates, other times I’m just talking to myself.

I think we can retire the subject once and for all because bioanthropology blogging heart-throb Kristina Killgrove has written a truly fab post on her blog, Powered by Osteons, that explores the question, “Is Curious George a Monkey or an Ape?” in fascinating detail.

I bet the Fabulous Miss P. and Heather will both find the post interesting, if not for the science than for the cultural context of those books.

precious. precocious. one of those. my proofreader failed me today ;-)

When I was a kid, I found a monkey.

Siamang at the Naples Zoo, photo courtesy of Pete Corradino.


A Siamang, photo courtesy of JunglePete Corradino.

Technically, it wasn’t a monkey, it was an ape called a Siamang, but I wouldn’t learn that detail for many years. 30 years, to be precise(ish).

Back on that day in the late 1970s, dad and I stopped at Wendy’s.

I guess we were there for lunch. We definitely weren’t there for primates.

We chose a table and I sat down. Dad was about to go to the counter to order when I noticed there was a bag behind my chair, presumably left by the recently departed occupants of the next table.

(This isn’t the weird part of the story).

In my memory it was one of those canvas totes like they sell at LL Bean, but I honestly can’t recall much about the bag.

Other than the fact that the bag was moving.

The bag was moving because there was a monkey inside.

Long hairy arms reached up out of the bag and grabbed the back of my chair. A small furry head followed and the two of us had what seemed to me to be pretty meaningful moment.

The events that followed probably unfolded quickly, but in my memory they happened in slow-mo:

My dad matter-of-factly instructed me not to talk to strangers or feed the monkey, since it might have a special diet.

My dad was very practical.

My dad went to call a deputy to come and pick up the monkey, since dad figured mom would kill us both if we took it home. Plus, it’d be wrong to take a lost-and-found monkey home.

While dad was at the counter asking for the manager and I was chatting with my new simian friend, a Wendy’s employee began to wipe down the table, saw the monkey, and freaked the fuck out.

The memory may be slightly murky, but I’m pretty confident in the sequence of events because I thought the employee was screaming because she saw me.

Which was more than a little upsetting. I was wearing my favorite dress! I loved that dress! Why was the woman screaming at me? Didn’t I look adorable in my favorite dress?

A girl came running in from the parking lot, panicked because she’d left her sister in a bag.

I swear that’s what she said.

“I forgot my sister. She was in the bag.”

She grabbed the diaper-clad creature and the bag, and then she ran back out.

I immediately stopped caring about the Wendy’s employee who was still staring in my direction and screaming, for I had just had an epiphany.

Wow! My parents can trade my baby brother in for a monkey! I knew this had to be possible!

My parents didn’t trade in my brother, but I guess in the long run that worked out okay.

(Still not the weird part).

Now that I think about it, this incident probably precipitated both my lifelong love of primates and my lifelong wariness around fast food.

Fast-forward a few years.

I was at a new school and one of my classmates lived on a monkey sanctuary. I was at his birthday party or something. We’ll call him JunglePete, because that’s his name.

(Calling a kid JunglePete would be weird, but at the time he was still just plain “Pete,” so in the final analysis this isn’t the weird part, either).

I was talking to one of his sisters. This, I shit you not, is a pretty accurate approximation of the conversation she and I had:

Her: “My sister left a monkey in a Wendy’s one time!”
Me: “We found a monkey in a Wendy’s one time!”
Her: “No way!”
Me: “For real. A monkey!”
Her: “That’s crazy! I wonder if it happens a lot?”

For smart kids, we weren’t always very smart.

Fast-forward a whole lot more years, to last Saturday, June 15, 2013.

Husband and I were at the Central Florida Zoo with JunglePete, his wife and son, and his father and his father’s wife.

jpsiamang

Our first stop was the Siamangs.

When we made plans to meet at the zoo, I didn’t understand there was a personal nature to our mission. I thought we were just too cheap to go to Sea World during the peak season and had chosen a more off-the-beaten track Father’s Day outing destination.

It turns out that in the 70s, the sanctuary had a rescued Siamang named Bridget. Eventually, Bridget went to live at the Central Florida Zoo, which had better facilities for apes and a mate for Bridget. Bridget had some babies over the years, but she rejected one of them. JunglePete’s parents took in the baby, who they named Topaz.

We were at the Central Park Zoo to visit with relatives of their old friends, Bridget and Topaz.

(We haven’t gotten to the moment of weirdness in the story yet, but we’re getting closer).

After we visited with the Siamangs, we wandered around the zoo for a few more hours.


JunglePete & I at the Central Florida Zoo, photo courtesy of Eric “Husband” Gordon.

(Whatever is happening in this photo may or may not be a little weird, but is otherwise unrelated to this post).

At some point, JunglePete and I ended up back at the Siamangs and I casually mentioned to Pete that my dad and I found a monkey one time in a Wendy’s in Venice, Florida.

JunglePete replied that his family once almost left someone behind in a Wendy’s in Venice, Florida. But they didn’t leave a monkey – they left Topaz! Fortunately, they remembered as soon as they got back to their van and JunglePete’s older sister dashed back into the restaurant to reclaim her.

Being older and a little bit wiser, we understood that we were remembering the same event.

Okay, to be honest, we didn’t realize it immediately.

We didn’t realize it until Husband started laughing at us for being idiots.

Then we realized it was the same incident. What. Ever.

The fact that our childhoods had intersected years before we met was, even to us, pretty weird.

Then I made JunglePete talk to the Siamang. (While I made a video so he couldn’t deny it later).


[embedded video: me forcing JunglePete to speak Siamang]

Then 6 full-grown adults crammed themselves into a 1951 1/5 size replica train operated by a dude in a conductor’s hat who probably didn’t even think it was weird to be wedging himself into a tiny car and driving grownass people around all day in a miniature steam train.

I bet you think I’m making that part up.

IMG_2269

I’m not.

This post is full of hazy memories from the late 1970s and early 80s. JunglePete’s mom and my dad are both deceased, so you’re at the mercy of mine and JunglePete’s memories on some of the details (and may god have mercy on your souls) but we do have witnesses who can corroborate the important points.

While writing this post I realized that I still have a habit of automatically checking behind my chair whenever I sit down in a restaurant, hoping to find another monkey.

I haven’t ever found another one. It’s probably a rare occurrence, but if you ever find one, please let me know!

On Saturday, standing there watching the relatives of the gibbon I met at Wendy’s several decades ago (and a hundred miles away), with the people who left the ape – that was weird. I think the word surreal is overused and often abused, but I’d go so far as to label the moment surreal.

Back in the 70s none of this was newsworthy. Or if it was, it didn’t occur to anyone involved to contact the press. Very few things in Florida are particularly odd to native floridians (except the weird & crazy crap that snowbirds and transplants do, but that’s a subject for another day). While writing this post I did, however, do a bit of googling and turned up a picture of Pete’s mom and Topaz from an unrelated news article about the sanctuary:

janietopaz
JunglePete’s mom, Janie Corradino, with Topaz, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, December 15, 1978.

As for that day way back when? After lunch, dad and I went about our usual errands. We probably went to Lido Beach so I could play on the swings or up to Jungle Gardens to visit with dad’s friends. They’d shoot the breeze while I watched them milk the cobras to make anti-venom.

You know, the usual father-daughter stuff.

—–

editor’s note: I just changed some of the dates because JunglePete informed me I was off by a year or two here and there.

Also:

Full disclosure: obviously, it wasn’t a monkey. It was a lesser ape, but monkeys make better headlines. Plus, from 1978 to 2013 I thought it was a monkey so I use the word monkey a lot in this post even though I am well aware of the difference. Get over it.

Dr. Birdcage passed this along – “The List: 5 Reasons Why We Should Worry About an Ape Revolution.” It’s from Smithsonian Magazine’s Around the Mall blog.

With the impending release this Friday of the documentary summer blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I thought we should all be prepared in case we ever face chemically enhanced apes that attempt to take over our world. In the past on our site we’ve investigated zombies and kept a running record on robot technology, but the threat of ape rebellion had yet to be cataloged. The National Zoo’s Amanda Bania, a keeper who works with the great apes, told me that gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and the other ape species can best us in many ways, even without being injected with mysterious serums by James Franco. This week’s list deals with 5 ways that apes outdo humans:

[read the whole post]

I mostly posted this to fuel JunglePete’s clearly rational and justified fears about the impending ape-based apocalypse.


[embedded: Rise of the Planet of the Apes trailer]

I’m still aggravated by the mess Tim Burton made with his PotA remake, but I have high hopes for Rise of the Plant of the Apes because the trailer looks cool.

I think a lot of movies come out in 3D that don’t need to be in 3D. But this one? This one is not in 3D? This movie that has an ape jumping off of a skyscraper and into a helicopter in mid-air is not in 3D?

Why? Why is this movie not in 3D?

I repeat: Ape. Helicopter.

It seems like practically everyone we know is doing a Cleanse of some kind. Master Cleanse, juice cleanse, high-protein cleanse.

Cleanse, cleanse, cleanse.

The peer pressure has simply gotten to be too much.

I hereby announce that I’m doing a Spring Cleanse.

I started last night. I call it The Margarita Cleanse.

It was working well until I felt the need to demonstrate to husband the baboon behavior that resembles the yogic sun salutation series. Then it was still working well, but one whole side of the Taqueria got pretty quiet while I held my arms up in the air and screeched.

OK, I didn’t really screech, but I probably should have. Just holding my arms up in the air probably looked ridiculous.

This morning, I’d like to request that you not do any screeching.

This, my friends, is the true promise of television fully realized:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Moment of Zen – Anderson Cooper’s Bunny Suit
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor The Daily Show on Facebook

I can’t stop watching this clip and it makes me laugh every time.

Don’t get me wrong – if a bonobo asked me to wear a bunny suit, I’d do it. Bonobos are fascinating. It’s the deadpan, Monty Python-esque nature of the clip that leaves me in hysterics.

As I’ve been mentioning for years and years, if I woke up tomorrow in complete remission I’d hop on a plane and go be a foster mom to some baboons for a while. To which people say, huh? I’m pleased to see yesterday’s Washington Post Magazine article, “Learning to Speak Baboon – The most maligned of primates has a name that is synonymous with stupid and a snouted face that only a mother could love. Well, maybe a surrogate mother.” Maybe more people will want to help the baboons.

The Denver Gorilla Run is coming up on October 25th. You register, they give you a gorilla suit, you run the race, you keep the suit.

The Denver Gorilla Run is a charity fun run with a difference. Everyone who takes part wears a full gorilla costume – from fluffy head to furry toe – and helps raise funds for the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund, the international charity working to save the world’s last remaining mountain gorillas and keeping Dian Fossey’s dream alive for the past 23 years.
……
Every participant in The Denver Gorilla Run will represent a group of real live gorillas in the wild. You will be assigned to either the Amahoro Group, Mubare Group, Sabinyo Group or the Rushegura Group – so with limited entries available you must register soon to secure your place.

You should check out the pictures from previous years. Being a gorilla is apparently not enough of a costume, it appears many participants dress up their gorilla suits.

Learn more about the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund at saveagorilla.org.

I know an ape post doesn’t really belong in the “monkeys” catageory, but I’m too lazy to rename the category “monkeys and apes.”