After their spacecraft travels through a time warp, two astronauts (Ron Harper, James Naughton) from 1981 crash-land back on Earth in the year 3085 - a time when intelligent apes rule and humans have been reduced to servan... more »ts or pets. Captured by the apes and sentenced to death, they are saved by a curious chimpanzee name Galen (Roddy McDowall). But now all three are on the run, trying to keep one step ahead of the gorilla army led by General Urko (Mark Lenard), who is determined to kill the renegades.« less
"After the success of five Planet of The Apes motion pictures, it was decided to try Television next, casting Roddy McDowall in the lead role as the sympathetic chimpanzee, Galen (the ape role to which McDowall professed as his favorite in later interviews). Ron Harper & James Naughton were cast as astronaut's Alan Virdon and Peter J. Burke who's spaceship gets caught in a time warp, transporting them 2000 years into the future...a world ruled by apes.
Unlike the film series, humans in this time period were able to speak. The TV series had a very unique way of discussing very important topics such as racism, loyalty, honor, as well as the value of ape/human friendship, and many more. Unfortunately the series was cancelled after only 13 broadcasts (having something to do with the fact that CBS put the show up against "Sanford and Son" & "Cheecho and The Man", two of the most popular shows on television at that time..very unwise indeed).
It was only many years later that the show found new life when many episodes were cut and spliced together to form a sort of "Movie Length" that began airing along with TV broadcasts of the theatrical films. Many people began to realize just how good a show Planet of The Apes truly was.
Now, for the very first time (with the exception of Australia), the complete series is available for home viewing..on DVD no less, with the added bonus of an additional episode that never aired originally ("The Liberator"). I have viewed all 14 episodes in this DVD box set and all I can say is "BRAVO! Fox has done it again!" Now don't expect the picture and sound quality to be tremendous, although the picture is very decent and the sound, though presented in Mono, isn't bad either. But considering it's only a TV series, I really wasn't expecting any heavy duty remastering to take place here.
There are four episodes per disc, except for #4 which has two episodes, plus 2 bonus trailers (not indicated on the back of the box) for Planet of The Apes The Evolution Box Set & Planet of The Apes The Tim Burton Film Version. See for yourself why many consider this show a cult classic.
There were only a few things I never understood about it. In the first episode ("Escape From Tomorrow") Virdon (Ron Harper) goes back to the wrecked ship to obtain a small disc that supposedly contains vital information that can only be accessed by a computer, which they begin to search for. But after episode two, this whole idea was forgotten & abandoned, which never really made sense to me because in episode five ("The Legacy") a computer is found underground in a city of ruins.
The other thing that bothered me were all the times we see Virdon & Burke surprise attack an ape and then never bother to take his rifle from him. You'll notice it many times in the show (though sometimes they do take one now and then). But this is small potatoes...the series is wonderful.
The only sad thing is we'll never see how it would've truly ended: Would Virdon & Burke ever get back home? Would Galen come too? Or would they revolutionize the ape ruled world so that apes and humans would live as equals? There were so many ways the series could've gone. But don't let these original 14 episodes pass you by. The set may be short on extra features, but considering the price you pay for 14 episodes (think about how much Paramount charges for all their different Star Trek TV Series), you more than get your money's worth.
Planet Of The Apes The TV Series - A Cult Classic!
Also, check out Return to the Planet of the Apes - The Complete Animated Series :-)"
The Simian Earth
Armchair Pundit | Durham City, England. | 01/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This above average 1974 TV spin off from the enormously popular Planet of the Apes Films only ran for 14 episodes. But as a; "Simian Saga" fan I'm very glad it's finally got released. Three Astronauts travel through a time warp in their ship, and end up going from 1981 to crashland on 3085 Earth. One Astronaut doesn't survive the landing, these episodes concern the adventures of the two survivors as they try to understand what's happened to themselves and the world around them, and hopefully get back to their own time. They also team up with a chimpanzee called Galen, and all three go on the run. Suspicious of everyone they meet, both Apes and Humans. You'll have to buy it to find out more as I don't do spoilers. Some of the actors are the same as in the Films, but one crucial difference from the films are the Humans on this Earth can talk. It was good to see Roddy McDowall reprise his role from the films. Mark Lenard (Spocks Dad Sarek from Star Trek) plays the military commander Urko. This show is worth a look of anybodys time. ~~~~ List of episodes:~ Escape from Tomorrow. The Gladiators. The Trap. The Good Seeds. The Legacy. Tomorrows Tide. The Surgeon. The Deception. The Horse Race. The Interrogation. The Tyrant. The Cure. The Liberator. (This episode never aired during original run.) Up above the World so High. ~~~~ The show was eventually cancelled because it didn't score enough ratings in the US. But it was very popular with viewers (like me) and TV critics in the UK. A shame. "
The same, yet different planet (of the apes)
FrKurt Messick | Bloomington, IN USA | 02/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After the success of the 'Planet of the Apes' film franchise, and after several films had brought the storyline almost full circle, it seems with hindsight only natural for the producers and studio to decide to extend the success of this series onto television. The experiment was short-lived, as the 'Planet of the Apes' television series only lasted for half a season (American standard). The shows were very popular in Britain and other nations, but without an American audience (and American advertising dollars coming into the studio), the series was destined to be one of those interesting, irritatingly half-complete storylines.
The special effects in the series were fairly well done, considering items such as the make-up technology (which won awards in the cinematic productions) and sets such as the central ape city were hold-overs from the films. Another carry-forward was Roddy McDowall, who played the leading ape character in most of the films - in the television series, he reprises a similar role, but one with a different history and motivation. The characters of Dr. Zaius, chief scientist and 'defender of the faith', and General Urko, a militant gorilla ('the only good human is a dead human') are also characters held over from the films.
The plot is same as the beginning of the film series - American astronauts somehow land on the earth of the distant future, a thousand years or so, in a post-apocalyptic world where human civilisation has been virtually destroyed, and a dominant race of apes has supplanted them as the authority in the world. Unlike the early films, the humans in this alternate world can talk, read, and live in parallel communities with the apes, although always to varying degrees under ape control and subjugation. There are tantalizing bits of archaeological information that lead the senior apes (Dr. Zaius and a few of his confidants) to the understanding that humans once ruled the world to a much greater degree than the apes, with better technology; however, one understanding central to the ape belief structure is that humankind must be kept subordinate, as the humans are the only species to kill its own kind, and practically destroyed the world in which they (and the predecessors of the apes) lived. Astronauts thus represent a grave threat to the new ape world order - they represent a technological superiority that might infect the humans with ideas of equality.
Thus, Planet of the Apes becomes a morality tale in many ways - rigid beliefs going against common sense, ideas of racial inequality built on prejudice (there is even a minor plot device of prejudice of certain kinds of apes against others - gorillas, orangutans, and chimpanzees often mistrust each other, uniting at times it seems only in their common disdain for humans).
The first episode of the series introduces two new astronaut characters (the most famous of whom, from the first film, was played by Charleton Heston). These two astronauts (a third died in transit, again an idea taken from the films) are Virdon and Burke, played by Ron Harper and James Naughton. After crashing, they are found by sympathetic humans who help hide them; when captured, they escape with the help of an ape named Galen (McDowall), whose common sense forces him to recognise the truth in what the astronauts are saying. Galen, Virdon and Burke then begin a life on the run, both working to stay alive and out of the clutches of Urko (Mark Lenard, perhaps best known for playing roles on Star Trek, including Spock's father, Sarek), and working to find a computer or other technological aid that might get them back home.
There are fourteen episodes in all; these include episodes in which the astronauts introduce techniques of better farming to poor rural folk, new ideas of disease control when a village is struck by malaria, and even build a hang glider to escape from a chimpanzee who wants to use an archaeological find (fragmentary bombs) with the glider for an aerial bombardment against central city. The episodes are fairly formulaic - a problem is presented that hinges upon poor understanding of human potential or previously-known scientific/technological knowledge; either a human or an ape distrusts the trio; the three eventually win over the skeptics with their abilities and basic decency, and then they must run again to avoid discovery.
It is unclear where the series was going to go, had it continued. It was cancelled in mid-season, and the final aired episode literally leaves the astronauts and Galen adrift in the sea, having escaped the authorities once again after having proven their technological superiority. Even with the formula nature of the series, the shows were worthwhile in many respects. I recall seeing this on television first when I was ten years old - to a young person, the plots illustrate their points in the way that fables work (most of the episodes are stories with a moral). When I watched the episodes again via DVD (all fourteen produced are available, including one which was never aired during the original broadcast run), they stood the test of time fairly well. Unlike the original Star Trek series, which, thanks to sets and costumes can often seem very dated, this series has a bit more timelessness to it (although the acting and production values are very much product of the 1970s).
For those who like science fiction in general, and the Planet of the Apes franchise in particular, this is a good series. It might even have some appeal for those who like a bit of fantasy or post-apocalyptic adventure of a very G-rated variety. The DVD has a few extra features - some episode commentaries, and a few theatrical trailers (for the original series of films, and for the more recent remake starring 'Marky' Mark Wahlberg). As a blast from the past (as I remember certain portions of the series, including the final drifting away, quite vividly), watching these was a great treat. "
IT'S ABOUT TIME!
chucky | veazie, me usa | 09/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First let me say I believe this is the first time ever 20th century fox has released the t.v. series on home video, and better yet--it's on DVD! This television series I feel is very underrated. I watched this show when I was a kid and I felt all the episodes were very worthy short stories. The series is about two astronauts that wind up on the PLANET OF THE APES! The series timeline is supposed to be a few thousand years before the first movie! The astronauts are played by RON HARPER & JAMES NAUGHTON! Of course, RODDY MCDOWALL plays Galen and MARK LEONARD(Sarek of "STAR TREK")plays Urko, leader of the gorrila apes. Every episode is done very well and should be in your collection if you're a fan of THE PLANET OF THE APES at all. One of the episodes even has a young MARC SINGER(V, THE BEASTMASTER)! All in all, a very fine series, despite what the critics thought at the time! Buy it today!"
An excellent value
Demoley | Danbury, CT USA | 11/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased this mainly out of a sense of nostalgia, but stand quite surprised. The quality Fox put into it is praise worthy. I was expecting some quick, cheap knock off to cash in on the DVD release of Tim Burton's version of Planet of the Apes, but the audio and visual quality are awesome. The whole set is handsomely packaged (though I have a sneaking suspicion the case may be susceptible to wear quite quickly if you're not careful). If I had any other criticism it would be they didn't take the time to put it into 5:1 surround, but the rest of it is so great and the price so reasonable I'm quite willing to let that go.
If you are an "Apes" fan, this is a must purchase. Prior to this there were only occasional bouts of it from the SciFi channel and reminiscing from certain web sites.
"Planet of the Apes - The Complete TV Series" is an excellent value. When I compare this to many other DVD box sets I have I am astonished at receiving so much for so (comparitively) so little."