Return to the Planet of the Apes
Return to the Planet of the Apes is an animated series, by DePatie–Freleng Enterprises in association with 20th Century Fox Television (both 20th Century Fox Television and most of DePatie–Freleng Enterprises library are now under same ownership of The Walt Disney Company), based upon Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle. Boulle's novel had previously inspired five films and a TV series, beginning with the 1968 film Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston. Unlike the film, its sequels, and the 1974 live action TV series, which involved a primitive ape civilization, Return to the Planet of the Apes 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.
|Return to the Planet of the Apes|
DVD cover of Return to the Planet of the Apes
|Based on||Characters created by Pierre Boulle|
|Theme music composer||Dean Elliott|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Running time||24 minutes without commercials|
|Original release||September 6 –|
November 29, 1975
Produced following the last of the big-screen features and a short-lived live-action television series, this series was among the last Planet of the Apes projects for several years following a number of comic books from Marvel Comics (August 1974 – February 1977) and a series of audio adventures from Power Records in 1974. Aside from a number of comic book series published by Malibu Comics in the early 1990s, the next project based upon Boulle's concepts would be Tim Burton's reimagining in 2001.
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.
In 1975, after the failure of the live-action series, NBC and 20th Century Fox agreed to adapt Planet of the Apes for an animated series. The network contracted DePatie–Freleng Enterprises to produce a half-hour Saturday-morning cartoon titled Return to the Planet of the Apes. Doug Wildey, co-creator of Jonny Quest, took on most creative control as associate producer, storyboard director, and supervising director. Wildey had only watched the original film and Beneath, and thus based his interpretation on them. As such, the show relied less on the themes and plot developments from Escape, Conquest, and Battle and instead returned to the Vietnam War and Cold War themes prominent in the first two films.
The plot concerns three American astronauts, Bill Hudson (Tom Williams), Jeff Allen (Austin Stoker, who played MacDonald in Battle), and Judy Franklin (Claudette Nevins), who inadvertently journey to Earth's far future. They find the world populated by three groups: mute humans who inhabit desert caves, subterranean human "Underdwellers" fashioned after the mutants of Beneath, and civilized apes who subjugate the humans. Through the show, the astronauts become increasingly involved in the planet's affairs and in defending the humans against an ape invasion. The cast featured characters based on those from the previous films and TV series, including Nova (Nevins again), General Urko (Henry Cordin), Zira (Philippa Harris), Cornelius (Edwin Mills), and Dr. Zaius (Richard Blackburn). NBC broadcast thirteen episodes between September 6 and November 21, 1975. The show did not achieve particularly strong ratings. The network considered producing a second, three-episode season to complete the story, but this never materialized.
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 11:00 AM Eastern/10:00 AM Central.
The series was later shown in reruns on the Sci Fi Channel in 1992 as part of Sci Fi Cartoon Quest. In India the series was broadcast on Star TV in 1994 - 1997.
Music for the series was provided by Dean Elliott, recorded in England and conducted by Eric Rogers.
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 novel. 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.
Characters in the animated series frequently mention prominent apes noticeably named after human historical figures by appropriately inserting the word "ape" into their name. A notable example is "William Apespeare", an ape analog of William Shakespeare. Another scene shows a couple of ape soldiers chatting about a new movie called The Apefather, an apparent analog of The Godfather (unlike the live-action series and movies, the ape society is presented as being technologically advanced – as in the novel – rather than agrarian).
Cast and characters
- Bill Hudson (Richard Blackburn and Tom Williams) – One of the two male astronauts; blond, blue-eyed, depicted as wearing a blue tee-shirt and white pants.
- Cornelius (Henry Corden and Edwin Mills) – A male chimpanzee scientist/archeologist.
- Zira (Philippa Harris) – A female chimpanzee scientist who is very outspoken against the gorilla regime.
- General Urko (Henry Corden) – A sinister gorilla general who plans to drive the humans and Underdwellers off the planet.
- Judy Franklin (Claudette Nevins) – The lone female astronaut and an expert airplane pilot; she is kidnapped and held by the Underdwellers for a time before being rescued.
- Jeff Allen (Austin Stoker) – The other male astronaut; an African-American, depicted as wearing a red turtleneck shirt.
- Dr. Zaius (Richard Blackburn) – The orangutan leader of the ape scientific community, depicted as a grandfatherly politician who questions the tactics of General Urko.
- Nova (Claudette Nevins) – A human female who joins Bill and Jeff on their adventures.
- Ronald Brent – A U.S. astronaut who launched in the 21st century but arrived in the time of ape rule a number of years prior to the Hudson/Allen/Franklin expedition.
- Krador – The leader of the Underdwellers.
- The Underdwellers – A group of underground persons based on the mutants in the film Beneath the Planet of the Apes.
Austin Stoker, the voice of Jeff, had previously played Mr. MacDonald in Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He was the only cast member of the animated series to have played a part in the live action movies or series.
|#||Title||Directed by||Written by||Air date|
|1||"Flames of Doom"||TBA||Larry Spiegel||September 6, 1975|
Astronaut Bill Hudson transmits to Earth from the NASA spacecraft Venturer. On board are crew members Jeff Allen and Judy Franklin. The ship's date is August 6, 1976. Bill explains that they are living proof of Dr. Stanton's "time thrust" theory. Due to the advanced speed of the Venturer, their Earth clock indicates that they have traveled over a century into the future. The craft begins to reel wildly as the Earth clock starts clicking up. The crew blacks out while the ship enters a planet's atmosphere and crashes into a desolate desert region. Meanwhile, General Urko, leader of the gorilla army, is debating before the Supreme Council of Ape City. He demands permission to begin an all-out assault on the humanoids. Cornelius, an animal psychologist, pleads for the council to allow the humanoids to live as subjects of scientific research. The Council decrees that the humans should not be exterminated since they have no language, but they will continue to be hunted, enslaved, domesticated and studied. According to the Book of Simian Prophecy, however, the humanoids must be destroyed if it is ever discovered that they can speak.Bill, Jeff and Judy have escaped their disabled, sinking ship and rafted to shore. Bill's watch reveals the date still to be August 6, but in the year 3979 A.D. With no better plan, they begin trekking across the wasteland. They encounter sudden electrical storms, high-velocity winds, tremors, unexplained flames and ruins. Judy pleads with Bill and Jeff to go on without her, but they refuse. Another mysterious wall of flames consumes their survival packs. After many days, they find green, living plants; water must be nearby. Suddenly, a quake swallows Judy. Frantic, the men move to higher ground in the hopes of spotting her and find a puzzling and frightening sight: ape faces carved into the mountainside. They find a group of primitive humans. They try to speak to them, but the primitives run away. Finally, Bill and Jeff collapse from exhaustion. The tribe takes the two men to their cave dwellings and nurse them back to strength. One of the tribe's women, Nova, is wearing US astronaut I.D. dog tags around her neck belonging to a Ronald Brent, an astronaut born in the year 2079. Bill and Jeff manage to teach Nova their names. Suddenly, gas bombs are thrown into the caves by gorilla attackers. Nova manages to hide Jeff, but Bill is captured along with most of the tribe and taken to Ape City in cages.
|2||"Escape from Ape City"||TBA||Larry Spiegel||September 13, 1975|
After nearly dying in an attack on the humanoids' caves by General Urko's gorilla army, Jeff is able to hide with Nova and escape capture. Bill is caught and herded into cages with the other captured humans for transport to Ape City. Realizing that Bill can speak, one of the humans motions for him to keep silent as Urko's Jeep comes to a halt near the cages. Bill's shock gives way to terror as he hears Urko comment to his aides that the group of humans will be used for the army's war games. Back in the city, Dr. Zaius promises Cornelius and Zira that they will be allowed to select six specimens for their study from the group of humans Urko is bringing back from the hunt, despite the general's protesting. Outside, the army returns to the cheers of all of Ape City. Meanwhile, Jeff persuades Nova to show him where Bill was taken. After seeing the catch of humans, Zira and Cornelius make their choice of specimens for laboratory study. Bill, whom Zira dubs "Blue Eyes", is among the humans selected. He overhears Zaius tell Urko that if ever humans obtain the power of speech, they must die as a race, so he remains silent for the time being. Zaius plans to send some of the humans to pet stores, some will become laborers, others will go to zoos. Urko, feeling that all humans are worthless, protests and reminds Zaius that someday, when the gorillas are in charge, things will be very different.
At the lab, Bill scores highly on all tests, much to Zira's delight. Zaius is skeptical, so Zira gives Bill a simple puzzle to assemble. Disturbed, Zaius leaves for a meeting with the Council. Knowing the secret of the planet's evolution, he fears the intelligence Blue Eyes is showing. Bill, growing impatient with keeping silent, verbally explodes in protest after Cornelius suggests doing a probe of Bill's brain to learn more about him. Zira and Cornelius are shocked. While Bill tries to explain who he is and where he came from, one of Urko's gorilla soldiers listens at the door. He quickly reports what he has heard to the Supreme Council, the only apes who know that at one time man ruled the planet, but destroyed his civilization with war. It is written in ape law that if man ever regains intelligence he could regain power and eventually destroy the world again.Believing the soldier's story and fearing a human uprising, Zaius changes his mind and orders all humans, especially Blue Eyes, destroyed. Realizing what is happening, Zira and Cornelius help Bill slip away into the night from the roof of the lab. When Zaius returns to further observe Blue Eyes, he finds Zira and Cornelius in a cage, pretending to have been beaten and overpowered by Bill when he "escaped." The word quickly goes out for the army to search the area for Bill, but he has reached the city limits and meets Nova and Jeff. Together, they break into an army stockade, steal a truck and haul all the humans away. Before leaving, they burn Urko's wagon cages. Soon they reach the mountains and block the pass by blowing up the truck. The humans need protection from both the elements and the gorillas, who will surely come after them. The two men decide to risk a trip to the Forbidden Zone to retrieve their laser from the ship. With it, they will build a permanent fortress for the human tribe. Back in the city, Urko is enraged at the humans' escape and vows to have his revenge.
|3||"The Unearthly Prophecy"||TBA||Jack Kaplan and John Barrett||September 20, 1975|
Urko and his army are searching the desert for the entrance to the Underdwellers' caverns. Suddenly, Urko spots Bill. He radios Dr. Zaius with the news. Bill plans to decoy the army so that Jeff can slip away. Huge rock pinnacles abruptly jut up from the ground, a hole opens up and a flash of energy shoots out. As the doorway closes, the two men crawl in and ride a conveyor down a dark shaft. Urko feels that the Underdwellers are responsible and proceeds to find their caverns. Inside, Bill and Jeff find a giant dish serving as part of an elaborate power system. They know the apes would not have had the technology to build it. They are shocked to find what remains of the New York Public Library among the rubble; this upside-down world is Earth. They pass by Wall Street and Times Square. Zaius tells Zira and Cornelius that Urko has located Blue Eyes. A soldier enters with the news that Blue Eyes has escaped and is suspected to be with the Underdwellers. Zira and Cornelius secretly wonder if they were right in helping Bill escape.
Elsewhere, Bill and Jeff enter a huge cavern above a giant power complex operated by hooded and cloaked figures. An alarm rings and the figures begin chanting "Oosa" (USA) over and over. Bill and Jeff discover that the whole complex seems to be wired to a central, throne-like chair. They follow the crowd into another room and spot Judy, also in a hooded robe, standing at the front of the room. Next to her is a tree, a symbol of life on the surface. They call to her, but she only stares into space. Suddenly, a hooded figure shoots a ray out of his eyes and stuns Bill and Jeff. They are awakened in a cell by Krador, who introduces himself as the leader of the Underdwellers, descendants of the humans who sought safely underground during the holocaust long ago. Krador believes that prophecy has foretold of Judy, or Oosa, helping the Underdwellers return to the surface. Later, Jeff gives Judy a ring which revives her memory. She kills the power on the force field holding the men in their cell and meets them in the corridor. They start traveling on a hand rail car, barely escaping the beams of several Underdwellers. They encounter many illusions sent to stop them, but manage to reach the surface opening. Judy can still feel Krador's control over her mind and just before they emerge onto the surface, Judy disappears and returns to Krador. Bill and Jeff crawl up to the surface and vow to return someday for Judy. Meanwhile, Urko and his soldiers continue to comb the area for Bill and the Underdwellers' caverns.The novelization of this episode is titled, A Date With Judy, which may have been an earlier title. Some have erroneously assumed that to be an unfilmed episode.
|4||"Tunnel of Fear"||TBA||Larry Spiegel||September 27, 1975|
Bill and Jeff know that the humanoids must be moved to a safer place for protection from Urko and his army. Their one hope is to ask Zira and Cornelius for help in finding a more secure location for themselves and the humans. They secretly hitch a ride into the city on an ape farmer's truck. Meanwhile, Urko reviews his plans for a blistering attack on the humans and orders his aides to search for Blue Eyes. In six days, they will strike. The general hopes to calm Zaius' anger over losing Blue Eyes by capturing all the humans. As night falls, the two men sneak into the city and cross the river in an abandoned boat. A gorilla patrol boat almost spots them, but they are able to reach the shore unseen. While soldiers sweep the area in search of them, the men proceed down a drain pipe into the heart of the city. Barely escaping a large spider, they emerge from the pipe close to the lab. Inside, Zira is worried that Zaius suspects them of aiding Bill and the humans, but Cornelius argues that Zaius has no proof of their actions. Suddenly, Bill and Jeff come through the window. Bill thanks them for helping him escape earlier and asks Cornelius to help them find a safer place for the humans. Cornelius feels it is disloyal to his country to help, but after Bill points out that humans are no different than any other endangered species, Cornelius suggests a valley which lies to the south of his latest digging site. He has never seen it, but knows of its existence from an old map in the Simian National Library. He promises to make a copy of the map and take them to the general area. Suddenly, a knock is heard on the door. As the men hide, Dr. Zaius comes into the room. He asks Cornelius for a detailed report on Blue Eyes' behavior which may help in locating him and the humans. When Zaius leaves, Cornelius reluctantly agrees to proceed with their plans. The men spend the night in the lab.The next day, the group travels to one of Cornelius' digging sites ninety miles from the valley and fifteen miles from the humanoids' caves. The valley can be reached by either traveling the heavily patrolled mountain roads or the unexplored underground river. Having been almost spotted by a gorilla patrol, the group decides the river is their only hope. Bill and Jeff take the map, bid Zira and Cornelius farewell and head for the underground river. They float past the wreckage of a once great human civilization. Suddenly, a waterfall current begins pulling them nearer the edge. The walls are too smooth to hold and they plummet over. Later, they are revived by humans; they have reached the humanoid caves. Figuring that their ship's laser could come in handy when they reach New Valley (as they have named it), they decide to return to the ship to try and retrieve it. Back at the lab, Zaius is pressing Zira for the report he wants, so she tells him that Cornelius is finishing the document in the solitude of his excavation site. Urko, however, is suspicious of Cornelius' actions and alerts his troops that Blue Eyes may be nearby.
|5||"Lagoon of Peril"||TBA||J.C. Strong||October 4, 1975|
The Simian Senate is holding a top secret session to debate the rumors of intelligent humans begun after one of Urko's soldiers returns delirious from the Forbidden Zone. He claims to have seen a flying craft fall out of the sky, crash in the dead lagoon and three humans (Bill, Jeff and Judy) emerge and raft to the shores. Gen. Urko demands that all the humans be destroyed, but after hearing all sides, the Lawgiver (Zaius) closes the debate by announcing that the Supreme Council will decide the fate of the humanoids. Later, at a press conference, Zaius and Urko announce their plans to lead an expedition into the Forbidden Zone to verify the soldier's story of a spaceship in the lagoon. Zira and Cornelius decide to warn Bill and Jeff of the expedition. Using a mirror, Cornelius signals the men for a meeting. He explains that if the ship is found, Urko will have all the evidence he needs to begin his annihilation of the humans. The apes believe that Bill and Jeff have infected the humanoids with the ability to think and, as ape law states, they cannot be allowed to gain intelligence. Bill and Jeff decide to beat Urko to the ship, salvage the laser and blow up the spaceship. Bill asks Nova to lead them to the lagoon. At first frightened, she finally agrees. The next day, Zira and Cornelius watch as the expedition leaves town, worrying for Bill, Jeff and Nova's safety.As the expedition travels farther into the Forbidden Zone, flames and lightning and other strange images block their way. Urko decides to make camp for the night and proceed in the morning. Suddenly, a flaming skull appears in the sky. The frightened soldiers want to turn back for the City, but Dr. Zaius, skeptical of what they have been seeing, exposes the images as mere illusions. By morning, Bill, Jeff and Nova have reached the lagoon ahead of the army. Luckily, the Venturer is still partly above water. They raft to the capsule and Bill swims down to get an oxygen mask out of the ship. The army is advancing rapidly, but they are stopped once again by the mysterious flames. Urko is enraged and orders his driver to proceed. Diving once again, Bill retrieves the laser and they return to shore to test it. Confident the laser is functioning well, Bill swims back to the ship and sets the self-destruct mechanism to detonate in five minutes. But on his way out, a giant sea serpent blocks his way. He swims into a cave to hide. Jeff arrives and drives the monster off with a laser blast just in time for them to reach the shore before the ship explodes. The army arrives and sees the serpent bobbing around on the surface. Zaius deduces that what the delirious soldier saw was the serpent, not a spacecraft. They return to Ape City where Zaius announces in a press conference that the rumors of intelligent humans are false. Soon, the newspaper headlines read: "Planet of the Apes Safe!"
|6||"Terror on Ice Mountain"||TBA||Bruce Shelly||October 10, 1975|
During an archaeological dig, Cornelius uncovers an ancient human book called A Day at the Zoo. He explains to Zira that this book would be deadly to the humans if it ever fell into Urko's hands. It might also finally prove their theory that man preceded the ape. Zira places it in the equipment locker just as Urko barges in. Knowing that Cornelius is digging, Urko wants the lab searched for anything that might prove humans are dangerous. But Cornelius refuses to allow a search unless Urko is granted permission from the Supreme Council. Worried, Cornelius considers putting the book back into the ground, but Urko might just dig it up again and it is too valuable to destroy. Suddenly, he notices that the paper he used to wrap up the book at the digging site is actually an old blueprint for a hot-air balloon. Ape-built balloons have always crashed, but Cornelius feels that this design is different and may work. After beginning work on the construction, he is distressed to find that the part of the plan detailing the steering mechanism is missing, probably destroyed by time. They agree that Bill and Jeff may be able to help. When Bill sees the book, he wants to release it to the public so that the truth of the planet will be known, but Cornelius, fearing the public outcry, wants to hide it on the mountain of Ghar.After completing the balloon, Bill and Cornelius cast off. They reach Mount Ghar, but are forced far off course by a storm. The balloon hits something and crashes. At that moment, gorilla ski-troopers spot the balloon falling out of the sky. While searching for fire wood, Bill and Cornelius come upon a giant ape statue and figure the region must be inhabited. They set out to find help, still watched by the soldiers. The terrible cold is too much for Cornelius and Bill is forced to carry him. They both collapse and are taken to a shelter by apes. When they awake, they are welcomed to the temple of Kigor, god of the mountain apes. Bill asks the High Lama to help them locate and repair their balloon. On the Lama's suggestion, they travel up the mountain in an ancient ski lift car to make an offering to Kigor, the giant statue that the balloon struck before crashing. Just then, the ski-troopers reach the ski lift and try to cut the cables. Suddenly Kigor breaks out of his ice covering and knocks the gorillas away. Before leaving, Cornelius asks the Lama to keep and protect the book. It is placed in a cave below Kigor, whom the Lama assures will allow no one to touch it but Bill and Cornelius, as he casts them off in their repaired balloon.
|7||"River of Flames"||TBA||Jack Kaplan and John Barrett||October 18, 1975|
|Bill and Jeff are discussing the best means of eluding Urko's troops when Judy appears and insists they come to the below world and bring the laser they rescued from the ship. If they delay, Krador and the Underdwellers will perish. The men suspect a trap, but if Judy is in danger, they have to risk the trip. In the below world, Judy and Krador are watching a lava flow on the viewing screen. If it reaches the reactor room, the below world (and perhaps the entire planet) will be destroyed. Meanwhile, Gen. Urko is debating with Zira and Cornelius over how best to use the Senate's money: for defense or scientific research. Dr. Zaius tells Urko that he can have the money if he captures Blue Eyes. Bill and Jeff have decided to hide the laser before journeying to the below world in case they walk into a trap. They are able to enter the Underdweller entrance without being spotted by Urko's troops and meet Judy and Krador, who projects images on the wall of the volcano becoming active again and flooding their caverns with lava. It is getting dangerously close to the reactor room. The laser could cut a new path for the lava to flow away from the below world. Bill and Jeff agree to do the job only if Judy be allowed to leave with them. Krador refuses, believing that she is the fulfillment of prophecy foretelling the Underdweller return to the surface. Finally, he agrees to release Judy if she will return when needed. Meanwhile, gorillas have found the laser and take it to Urko, who deduces that no one - ape, human or Underdweller – could be responsible for such a weapon except Blue Eyes. Realizing that Bill must be in the area, the army upscales its search. Arriving at the spot where they left the laser, Bill and Jeff see tire tracks and know the apes must have found the laser. Sneaking into the army's camp, the men are able to cause a diversion and reclaim the laser. They proceed to the below world, where they lower themselves into the main cavern and begin blasting through the mountainside to allow the lava an alternative route. But the laser is out of power because one of the energy cells was lost at the apes' camp. Seeing the smoke coming from the mountain, the apes use artillery on what they think is Bill's campfire. Instead, they complete the hole Jeff had begun, letting the lava escape and ruining all their vehicles. The reactor is safe and Krador, in gratitude, lets Judy leave with Bill and Jeff. Back in Ape City, Dr. Zaius gives most of the Senate's money to Zira and Cornelius, leaving just enough for Urko to replace his ruined equipment.|
|8||"Screaming Wings"||TBA||Jack Kaplan and John Barrett||October 25, 1975|
Bill, Jeff and Judy are heading for the humanoid settlement across the plain between the mountain ranges when they spot what look like humans far below. Bill calls to them, but Jeff quickly stops him – the figures are dummy targets. Suddenly, to their amazement, a World War II-era Curtiss P-40 fighter plane appears in the sky. Piloted by a gorilla, the aircraft flies toward the dummies and drops a net on them. Apparently, the ape army is testing the plane in preparation for war games. Bill concludes that with the plane, there will be no stopping Urko from capturing every human and that they must try to steal it. Later at the ape plane hangar, Urko congratulates Dr. Likis, the ape scientist who restored the flying machine, and wants the aircraft ready for an air demonstration for Dr. Zaius the following day. He then visits Zaius and demands that Zaius give him complete authority. He backs up his demands with threats of using the plane to secure his power. Zaius, fearing human technology from the past, wants Urko to destroy the plane.
Zira and Cornelius receive an invitation at their lab for a demonstration of a new "secret weapon." They see three flashes (their prearranged emergency signal) and realize it is Bill signaling them. They all meet in the clearing where Bill tells the apes of Urko's aircraft and their plans to steal it. Cornelius gives them directions to Urko's fortress. Reaching it, the three cause a diversion with some barrels that lets them slip past the guards and find the plane's hangar. They discover that, using the old P-40 fighter as a guide, the apes are building an entire fleet. To make matters worse, humanoids are being herded as target practice in the next day's demonstration. Back at the lab, Cornelius is concerned that Urko, with his hunger for power, might resort to using his air force against apes to gain control of the government. Inside the hangar, Judy thinks that she could fly the P-40 away during the airshow as the plane might be very useful to the humans. The next day, all of Ape City has turned out to see the demonstration. Jeff and Bill secretly pose as messengers bringing a good luck gift to Largo, the ape who is to fly in the airshow, and tie him up. As wagons of humans are trucked onto the field, Judy disguises herself in Largo's flight suit and is escorted there as well. Largo, who has managed to free himself, tries to warn Urko by radio, but Jeff and Bill have cut his radio wires. When Largo enters the field, Urko realizes that someone else is flying. At that moment, Jeff and Bill send a locomotive crashing into the aircraft factory, destroying it. Dr. Likis tells Urko that without the original plane, no further aerial research can be done.Bill and Jeff manage to round all the humans into the truck and speed off with soldiers pursuing while Judy drops the net meant for the humans on the apes and they crash. Zaius ends the disastrous demonstration by recommending an investigation into Urko's command abilities be conducted at once. Zaius later decide that Blue Eyes must have been responsible for the day's events and warns Cornelius and Zira (despite their claims that they had nothing to do with it) of the danger in aiding fugitives. Judy lands the plane in the desert and they wonder if it could ever help them get back home.
|9||"Trail to the Unknown"||TBA||Larry Spiegel||November 1, 1975|
Bill, Jeff and Judy begin building rafts to help the human tribe reach New Valley on the river and escape Urko's patrols. In Ape City, Dr. Zaius visits Cornelius and Zira in their lab to thank them for stealing Urko's plane. By doing so, he feels that they have saved simian society from Urko's dictatorship. They again assure him that they had nothing to do with the stolen plane, but Zaius insists that their secret is safe with him. He leaves them with the news that Urko has been given permission to attack the human caves to find Blue Eyes.
Finally, the rafts are finished and Bill and the others begin the long journey towards New Valley, following the map given to them by Cornelius. The trip takes them through thick jungle growth and swarms of bats. Some of the humans get sick and want to turn back, but Bill decides that they have no choice but to press on. By nightfall, the jungle has given way to a desolate, desert area. Meanwhile, Urko is still enraged over the theft of his plane and orders it found. Since the plane was a military secret, he suspects someone on the inside to be responsible. Urko offers a reward for the thieves' capture and orders the attack on the humans to begin at dawn. Following their map, Bill, Jeff and Judy lead the humans from the rafts across the desert. Despite the terrible heat and wind, they press on. When the army arrives at the river, Urko realizes that the chopped trees mean the humans escaped by raft. Furious that his men are not prepared for water travel, Urko returns to the city for the Council's approval for a water maneuver.
The next day, Bill and the others come upon an incredible sight: the wreck of a futuristic United States spaceship. A stranger appears and introduces himself as Ron Brent. He tells them that he has been marooned here since Nova was a little girl. He left Earth on August 6, 2109 from a launch pad in the Mojave Desert. Cape Kennedy had been turned into a museum sixty years before he was born. After crashing, Nova's tribe helped nurse his broken leg. He decided to join in the tribe's travels, but was separated from them. He returned and made his crashed ship his headquarters for the past twenty years. Brent tells Bill that he knows the way to New Valley and will guide them there. Before leaving, he brings his ship's self-destruct mechanism.Meanwhile, the Council has doubts about Urko's ability to find the humans. The gorilla is granted permission to locate the humans, but a Council mandate is required before starting an attack. Finally, Bill and the others reach New Valley. They begin building a fortress using the ship's laser. Just as the fortress is finished, the army arrives. Urko plans to deceive the council and attack the humans in "self defense." Their gas grenades will not penetrate the human's fortress. Urko cannot believe the humans were smart enough to build defenses and is forced to return to the city for the heavier artillery. Figuring Urko will return, Bill decides to destroy the land bridge into the Valley with Brent's destruct mechanism. First, however, they must get the plane.
|10||"Attack from the Clouds"||TBA||Larry Spiegel||November 8, 1975|
|During the night, Ape City is awakened by the sounds of huge flying objects overhead. It is a flying monster, but the apes cannot see it. The Ape Police ready themselves for an attack as Urko arrives. He believes that it is his stolen plane being used in a secret plot to have him overthrown. Zaius later tells the Senate that the flying object has been scared off and that Urko has been given one last chance to find Blue Eyes. In New Valley, Bill and Judy prepare to leave and return with the aircraft. As they watch over their herd of strange animals, the flying monster swoops down and carries one of the calves away, then disappears after entering a cave. Meanwhile, Urko is readying another attack on the humanoids. His aides assure him that the plane is being searched for. During the night, Bill and Judy spot an ape patrol searching for the P-40. The next day, they reach the aircraft exactly where they left it. Judy has trouble starting the engine just as the gorillas approach, but is able to lift off at the last minute. Back at the human settlement, the monster has attacked again, causing a stampede. Nova is nearly trampled. The herd is chased into a cave, safe from the monster for the moment. Jeff plans to cut an opening in the hillside so that food can be taken to the herd. Bill and Judy have to risk flying over Ape City in order to conserve fuel. Urko spots the plane and is furious, but Zaius tells Zira and Cornelius that he is glad that the aircraft is out of Urko's hands. Bill and Judy reach New Valley just in time to engage the monster in an air battle. After several perilous moments, the P-40 strikes the monster with its landing gear and the beast plummets into the lake below. Bill and Judy land safely, but the monster survives the fall.|
|11||"Mission of Mercy"||TBA||Larry Spiegel||November 15, 1975|
|As a result of the dog fight with the flying monster, most of the plane's fuel is gone, leaving only a two- to three-hour supply. They must replenish the fuel somehow, since it is their only way to keep watch over the mountain pass at the far end of New Valley. Using an abandoned gorilla truck and a map Brent found inside, Bill and Jeff leave to find more fuel, planning to travel only at night and hide inside an old farm house. Meanwhile, Urko orders his troops to find some way of getting into New Valley to capture the humans. After Bill and Jeff have left in the truck, Nova becomes very ill. Thanks to Brent's 21st century medical training, he diagnoses the symptoms as Acute Infectious Streptococholus, a very contagious lung disease which is fatal after seventy-two hours. Ron does remember that there is a serum that will cure the victim and immunize others. Judy suggests that Zira and Cornelius could help and takes the P-40 to meet up with Jeff and Bill at the farmhouse. Bill and Jeff are surprised to spot the aircraft overhead just as they reach the farm house. Judy lands the plane, which is now completely out of fuel, and explains Nova's situation to the men. They now have a deadline of a day and a night to get more fuel, obtain the serum and return in time for Judy to fly back to Nova and the tribe. Judy reaches the lab and Zira and Cornelius agree to make the serum. Meanwhile, the men have reached the abandoned air base on foot and begin loading fuel into the truck. Cornelius finishes the serum just as Dr. Zaius, seeing their light, enters to check on them. He leaves quickly after Cornelius lies to him that the serum is highly explosive, but there is not enough time left to deliver the serum back to Nova before she becomes contagious. So the apes disguise Judy as a patient and drive her quickly back to the plane. Bill and Jeff have finished loading the fuel and are forced to risk using the highway in order to reach the farm house before sunrise. The truck overheats, so they head back to the river for water. Meanwhile, Zira and Cornelius are stopped by a gorilla road block. They tell the soldiers that their "patient" died of a very contagious disease and are allowed to pass. Bill and Jeff get the water they need for the truck as it begins to storm, but are spotted by a gorilla patrol. They run for the truck as the gorillas cross the river by raft and they refill the radiator and get away. Judy and the chimps arrive at the farmhouse before the men and when the men finally arrive with the fuel, Judy takes off with it. She reaches New Valley in time to save Nova and prevent the disease from spreading.|
|12||"Invasion of the Underdwellers"||TBA||J.C. Strong||November 22, 1975|
Reports begin coming in to the police that burglars are striking all over Ape City. Valuable items are being stolen from the Museum, the Ape Archives, the Library and from ape homes. A first edition William Apespeare book was taken from Zira and Cornelius' home. Into the night, hooded figures sneak to the cemetery to the Tomb of the Unknown Ape where all the stolen items are hidden. In reality, Urko and his gorillas are disguised as Underdwellers in hopes of framing them and convincing Dr. Zaius to declare war on the below world. Zira and Cornelius travel to New Valley to meet with Jeff, Bill, and Judy. Suddenly, Krador appears and tells them the Underdwellers are innocent of the thefts. He asks them to come to their underground city and bring the laser.Meanwhile, Zaius and the war council hear testimonies of witnesses against the Underdwellers. Unknown to the council, the witnesses are lying as instructed by Urko. Urko assures the council that he can win the war by blowing up the tunnel entrance to the below world. Krador, Bill and Jeff reach the end of the tunnel and Jeff cuts through the wall with the laser. The tunnel connects with the tomb where all the stolen items are hidden. Bill plans to have Cornelius tell Zaius the real truth the next day, but Krador warns that by then Urko will have detonated the tunnel entrance, flooding the below world and causing Ape City to collapse. Krador projects Bill's image into Zira and Cornelius' bedroom where he tells them to take Zaius to the tomb immediately or it will be too late. Krador hypnotizes the guard to awake when Zaius speaks to him and tell the whole truth of Urko's twisted plan. After seeing the stolen goods, Zaius tries to radio Urko to halt the attack, but the general was warned that Zaius knows his plan and he disconnects the radio. Zaius and Cornelius race to the dock to stop Urko personally from sending a barge of explosives into the tunnel entrance. While the Underdwellers hold a final service in the great cathedral with Judy, Krador mind transports Bill and Jeff to the tunnel's entrance. Jeff cuts through the wall and they jump onto the barge. They manage to send the barge back toward the dock where it detonates. Furious, Zaius orders Urko and his men to clean up the damage, personally return the stolen items, and Urko must apologize to the city on TV. To teach Urko a lesson, the Senate suspends him from duty for three months without pay.
|13||"Battle of the Titans"||TBA||Bruce Shelly||November 29, 1975|
|Urko has been relieved of his duties for three months because of his recent negligence involving his leadership and the failed attempts at capturing Blue Eyes and the rest of the humans. Col. Rotok will replace him temporarily and Urko insists his men obey Rotok to the letter. In their lab, Zira admits to Cornelius that she actually feels sorry for Urko, but he reminds her what Urko would do to the humans if he returns to power. With Urko out of the picture, they decide to risk a trip to the mountain apes to retrieve the ancient book that proves that man once ruled the planet. Perhaps by showing the Senate the evidence, laws will be passed granting man some kind of protection. While they set off to find Jeff and Bill, Urko realizes that another attack on the humans cannot wait an additional three months. By then, their defenses will be even stronger. He convinces Rotok (who remains loyal to Urko) that if he will lead a surprise attack on the still-unprotected west flank of New Valley, they will all be heroes. After Cornelius tells Bill about the book, they decide that the mountain peaks would be too treacherous for the P-40 and to walk would take weeks. Instead, they decide to repair and fly the hot air balloon used to fly to Kigor's mountain once before. Unknown to them, the army is approaching New Valley and a scout patrol is sent ahead to verify the humans' position. Bill and Cornelius decide to make the balloon trip together as a gesture to the High Lama that apes and humans are together in this decision. They are spotted on takeoff by the scouts, whose clumsy driving awakens the flying monster from the lake where it landed following Judy's dogfight with it. The monster attacks the balloon, so Bill steers for the clouds to hide. The scouts report the balloon sighting to Col. Rotok. Everyone wants to delay the attack until the nature of the balloon is known, but Rotok orders the attack to proceed. When Jeff, Judy and Zira realize that the army is closing in, Jeff creates a diversion to allow Judy to get to the plane. The army runs, frightened from the old aircraft. The balloon is being battered by a storm. Finally, they spot Kigor's temple and land nearby. The High Lama takes them to the foot of Kigor's giant frozen image to dig up the book they came for, A Day at the Zoo. While returning to the temple in an ancient ski lift car, the flying monster appears and attacks again. Suddenly, the ice over Kigor's huge frame crumbles and the giant mountain ape fights off the monster. Bill and Cornelius then mend Kigor's wounds before flying home, hoping the book will finally bring unity to Earth.|
The series has been criticized for poor production values. Reviewers felt that the constant reuse of backgrounds and lack of movement made the action on screen dull and slow. The voicework has also been criticized for sometimes being unemotional and equally monotonous.
Despite these criticisms, the series was noted for highly detailed backgrounds, illustrations, character designs and camera effects, due in part to veteran cartoonist Doug Wildey. While animation was poor due to budget and time constraints, still artwork, which featured prominently in the program, was extremely detailed, with extensive shading, looking more like a comic book than a television cartoon.
For the most part, the scripts were intelligent, with detailed stories and solid internal continuity. Unlike many animated adaptations, Return to the Planet of the Apes managed to effectively capture the tone of the live action features, complete with the sense of alienation, wonderment, and loss.
The Planet of the Apes series was released as a part of the Ultimate DVD Collection in early 2006 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The Complete Animated Series release on DVD was delayed until October 3, 2006. This was the first time the series was released stand-alone on DVD. Only three of the episodes were restored in the discs included in the Ultimate DVD Collection but all 13 were restored in the individual release. The individual release also included them in their intended order as opposed to their airdate order as presented in the box set. The individual release also includes the option of watching the episodes with a preview of the next episode which was not present in the box set release.
The episode list on the back of the DVD case for the individual release has many errors. The episodes are listed in airdate order as opposed to the chronological order on the actual DVDs, one episode is listed as airing the day before it actually aired and two are shown as having the same airdate resulting in the airdates of the two subsequent episodes being one week off.
Notes and references
- "GCD :: Series :: Planet of the Apes".
- Planet of the Apes Book and Record Set, Beneath the Planet of the Apes Book and Record Set, Escape from the Planet of the Apes Book and Record Set, and Battle for the Planet of the Apes Book and Record Set at the Grand Comics Database
- Planet of the Apes comic books published by Malibu Comics at the Grand Comics Database
- Greene 1998, pp. 159, 221.
- Greene 1998, p. 159.
- Greene 1998, pp. 159–164, 221–222.
- Greene 1998, pp. 221–222.
- Russo, Landsman, and Gross 2001, p. 239.
- "Return to the Planet of the Apes".
- "Return to the Planet of the Apes – Animated Series Returns to the Schedule" Archived 2007-03-13 at the Wayback Machine. TV Shows on DVD.
- Return to the Planet of the Apes on IMDb
- Return to the Planet of the Apes at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Return to the Planet of the Apes at TV.com
- Return to the Planet of the Apes on Hulu.com
- The Forbidden Zone: All about the 1975–76 Animated series on NBC, including extensive episode summaries from Epi-Log magazine.
- DePatie-Freleng Enterprises Filmography: TV Shows: Including Return to the Planet of the Apes.