Retroplex Cinema: The Planet Of The Apes Saga Part 3 - The Television & Cartoon Shows

Welcome to the final part of our 3 part look at the original Planet Of The Apes saga.  As Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes swings through theaters, we have looked at the original film and it's sequels, now a look at the television and cartoon shows that aired, along with some other fun stuff you may have not seen before!

Part 1  -Planet Of The Apes
Part 2 - The Sequels
Part 3 The Television Show & Cartoon

Planet Of The Apes: The TV Series (1974):  The series based on the successful film franchise was short lived, yet memorable in the hearts of fans.  The series ran from September 13, 1974 to December 20, 1974 and featured Roddy McDowall, who starred in the original Planet Of The Apes films! . Although fourteen episodes were produced, only 13 were originally networked; the 14th episode (shown in some markets, but pre-empted in others) was included in the DVD box set which is now available. Fox had promised to include promotional materials and trailers for the episodes with the DVD set, but no such footage was included.
      Synopsis: The series begins on March 21, 3085 with the crash of an Earth spaceship, that encountered a time warp while approaching Alpha Centauri on August 19, 1980. The spaceship is manned by three NASA astronauts, one of whom has died in the crash. The other two astronauts are unconscious but are rescued by a human who carries them to an old bomb shelter. After the human opens a book containing historical text and pictures of Earth circa 2500, the two astronauts are convinced that they are indeed on a future Earth.
     The crash is also witnessed by a young chimpanzee who tells his father, a village official who alerts the authorities. Ape counselor Zaius (an analog of the Dr. Zaius character from the original movie), notes that another such incident occurred ten years earlier. He orders the head gorilla, General Urko (Mark Lenard), to find the humans and bring them back alive. Zaius wants to find out as much as he can about the humans before they are eventually killed. Zaius doesn't trust General Urko to follow his orders and bring back any surviving humans, so he sends along his newly-hired chimpanzee assistant, Galen (Roddy McDowall, who played Cornelius and Caesar in most of the film versions).
     The two astronauts, Colonel Alan Virdon (Ron Harper) and Major Peter J. Burke (James Naughton), go back to their ship to check the ship's chronometer. They are more than 1000 years in the future from when they left Earth. Virdon insists on retrieving the ship's flight log in the hopes that they will be able to analyze it and be able to return to their own time period, but while they are at the ship, they are captured, and the old man is subsequently killed by a group of apes.
     Galen finds the human book that the old man had been carrying. He reads parts of the book and begins to doubt the history that he has been told: apes have always been dominant, and humans have always been inferior and subservient. When Galen finds out that Urko has arranged for the two astronauts to escape and be killed in the attempt, he prevents the shooter and helps the humans escape.
     Galen discusses the book that he found with Zaius, who then accuses him of heresy. Galen is sentenced to death for his crime. The two astronauts find out about his sentence and rescue Galen. They are all then declared enemies of the state and become fugitives. The three fugitives wander around the territory that used to be the western United States having various encounters with apes, humans, and old human civilization ruins.
In 1981, several episodes of the series were edited into five made-for-television movies.

Back to the Planet of the Apes
Forgotten City of the Planet of the Apes
Treachery and Greed on the Planet of the Apes
Life, Liberty and Pursuit on the Planet of the Apes
Farewell to the Planet of the Apes 

The television series also spawned it's own merchandise.  Novelizations of several episodes as well as audio stories and filmstrip stories that were comprised of 32 short comic strip films that to this day are very rare!  As you read past the cartoon series, take a look at some pictures of some of the merchandise spawned from the Planet Of The Apes film and television series.

The television series was by no means a success, but it showed that the Planet Of The Apes series had lasting appeal and the saga wouldn't end there.  Before long, an animated series was on television!

A newspaper clipping advertising the debut of the Planet Of The Apes television series!

Return To The Planet Of The Apes (1975) depicted a technologically advanced society, complete with automobiles, film, and television; as such it more closely resembled both Boulle's original novel and early concepts for the first Apes movie which were changed due to budgetary limitations in the late 1960s.
     Produced following the last of the big-screen features and a short-lived live action TV series, this series was among the last Planet of the Apes projects for several years, aside from a number of comic books from Marvel Comics and Adventure Comics, and a series of audio adventures from Power Records.The next project based upon Boulle's concepts would be Tim Burton's reimagining a quarter century later.
     Along with the second film Beneath the Planet of the Apes, this is one of only two original Planet of the Apes productions in which Roddy McDowall was not involved.  The series features very 1970's style animation, where things only move if they have to!

     Airing on NBC, the series premiered on September 6, 1975 and was broadcast until September 4, 1976, although only thirteen episodes were produced. The series aired Saturday mornings at 11:00am Eastern/10:00am Central.  The series was later shown in reruns on the Sci Fi Channel in 1992 as part of Sci Fi Cartoon Quest.
     Synopsis:   As with the film and the live-action series, Return to the Planet of the Apes involved a handful of astronauts from Earth who were hurtled into the future and found themselves stuck in a world populated by advanced apes and primitive humans. Over the course of the thirteen episodes the astronauts attempted to keep one step ahead of the apes while at the same time trying to make some sense of what had happened. Additionally, they did their best to safeguard the human population from the apes.
     Each episode was self-contained to an extent. The story threads did weave in and out, with characters and plots from earlier episodes popping up in later ones. In order for the series to make any sense, the episodes need to be viewed in order.
     The animated series does chronologically fit with the rest of the Apes universe. It borrows characters and elements from the movies, the TV series, and the original novels. General Urko is borrowed from the TV series. Along with Zaius, Zira, and Cornelius, Brent (renamed here as Ron Brent) and Nova are from the movie series. Krador and the Underdwellers in the animated series are loosely based on the mutants in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.
     As with the live action television series, the animated series was concluded before the resolution of the storyline, and we do not learn if the astronauts are able to return to their own time period. But the animated series does otherwise offer a conclusion. Doctor Zaius, in recognising the threat of a military overthrow from General Urko, assures that he is relieved of command. Further, Cornelius and Zira, in recognising that Simian Society was established long after human society had deteriorated, believed that the time was right for humans to be offered equal rights to that of apes, and intend to present their proposition to the Senate.
     The series only saw 13 episodes produced but for years, a 14th unfilmed episode, "A Date With Judy," was thought to have existed since one of the novelizations lists it in the book's contents. However, that was actually an early title for the episode "The Unearthly Prophecy."  Several of the episodes were aired out of order. For example, the episode "Terror on Ice Mountain" should be viewed before the episode "Battle of the Titans", but the former was mistakenly aired after the latter. Likewise, the episode "Lagoon of Peril" should be viewed after the episode "Tunnel of Fear". The last episode to air, "River of Flames", should be viewed after "The Unearthly Prophecy", if the series is to be viewed in the proper order.  Despite it's flaws, the series has it's place in Planet Of The Apes lore just as the live action television show does and for many, it remains a nice piece of nostalga.

This poster was released to promote screenings of all five films in theaters showing for the whole day!

 The two posters to the right are quad posters used to promote the first two films in the franchise.

Beneath The Planet Of The Apes features just a cameo of Charlton Heston at the end of the film, because he didn't want to make a sequel but the studio insisted on him at least appearing briefly!

The treehouse playset was one of many items produced by Mego to tie in with the Planet Of The Apes films and television series.

This ad was used in Marvel Comics to promote the upcoming comic book series based on Planet Of The Apes!

The Mego Toy commercials!

This is the opening of the excellent documentary, Behind The Planet Of The Apes which you can find on the DVD and Blu-Ray sets!  Both can be ordered below!