Planet of the Apes (TV series)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes DVD Cover.jpg
DVD cover art
Developed byAnthony Wilson
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes14
Executive producer(s)Herbert Hirschman
Producer(s)Stan Hough
Running time50 minutes
Production company(s)20th Century Fox Television
Distributor20th Television
Original networkCBS
Original releaseSeptember 13 (1974-09-13) –
December 20, 1974 (1974-12-20)

Planet of the Apes is an American science fiction television series that aired on CBS in 1974. The series stars Roddy McDowall, Ron Harper, James Naughton, Mark Lenard and Booth Colman. It is based on the 1968 Planet of the Apes film and its sequels, which were inspired by the novel Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle.


The series begins with the June 14, 3085[1] crash of an Earth spaceship that encountered a time warp while approaching Alpha Centauri on August 19, 1980.[2] The spaceship is manned by three astronauts, one of whom has died in the crash. The other two astronauts, Colonel Alan Virdon and Major Peter J. Burke, 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 councilor Zaius (an analog of the character from the original movie), notes that another such incident occurred ten years earlier. He orders the head gorilla, Security Chief Urko, 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 Urko to follow his orders and bring back any surviving humans, so he sends along his newly hired chimpanzee assistant, Galen.

Both Virdon and Burke 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 stops the shooter and helps the humans escape. During the escape, a guard is killed, and Galen is found standing over him with a gun in his hand.

Galen discusses the book that he found with Zaius, who then accuses him of heresy. Galen is sentenced to death for his crime. Then Virdon and Burke 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.


Back row: James Naughton and Roddy McDowall; front: Ron Harper (1974)
L-R: Wayne Foster, Zina Bethune and Ron Harper
Ron Harper and Roddy McDowall
  • Roddy McDowall as Galen, a young chimpanzee that is sent by Zaius with Urko to ensure the safety of two humans that have survived a crash landing on Earth. McDowall previously played Cornelius and Caesar throughout the various film versions.
  • Ron Harper as Colonel Alan Virdon, the captain of the crash-landed ship that left Earth in 1980.
  • James Naughton as Major Peter J. Burke, an astronaut major from ANSA that also survived the crash.
  • Mark Lenard as Security Chief Urko (11 episodes), a violent gorilla and the series' main antagonist.
  • Booth Colman as Councillor Zaius (6 episodes), the highest-ranking member of the High Council of Central City in the year 3085.
  • John Hoyt as Barlow (2 episodes), a chimpanzee prefect of Kaymak who had introduced gladiatorial fights between the humans in The Gladiators, and whose horse later competes against Urko's in The Horse Race.
  • Jacqueline Scott (2 episodes), as chimpanzee farmer's daughter Zantes in The Good Seeds as Kira, and Galen's chimpanzee ex-fianceé and surgeon in The Surgeon.


Title Directed by: Written by: Original air date
1"Escape from Tomorrow"Don WeisArt WallaceSeptember 13, 1974 (1974-09-13)
This episode tells the story of the astronauts' crash, the rescue and subsequent capture of two of them, and their escape with Galen.
2"The Gladiators"Don McDougallArt WallaceSeptember 20, 1974 (1974-09-20)
A human kills Urko’s Lieutenant, Jason. Urko holds Prefect Barlow responsible for Jason’s death and transfers him to the remote outpost of Venton.
3"The Trap"Arnold LavenEdward J. LaksoSeptember 27, 1974 (1974-09-27)
Burke and Urko are forced to work together when they are buried alive underground in an old Bay Area Rapid Transit subway station in San Francisco during an earthquake.
4"The Good Seeds"Don WeisRobert W. LenskiOctober 4, 1974 (1974-10-04)
Burke, Virdon and Galen go to Polar’s farm. The farm is "four days' hard ride" from Center City. The travelers spend two weeks here so that Galen's leg can mend. While they are there, Virdon, who grew up on a farm, helps Polar improve crop yields, introduces the family to such things as butter, and helps deliver a bull calf Polar's eldest son needs to start his own farm.
5"The Legacy"Bernard McEveetyRobert HamnerOctober 11, 1974 (1974-10-11)
While exploring the ruins of Oakland, California, Virdon and Burke find a filmed message from scientists from an earlier time which may help them discover what happened to their civilization.
6"Tomorrow's Tide"Don McDougallRobert W. LenskiOctober 18, 1974 (1974-10-18)
When Virdon and Burke are captured in a fishing village that employs human slave labor, they must prove their worth as fishermen or be sacrificed to the gods of the sea - the sharks.
7"The Surgeon"Arnold LavenBarry OringerOctober 25, 1974 (1974-10-25)
Virdon is shot by a gorilla patrol. Galen and Burke take him to a medical center outside Center City, where he must undergo an operation involving a blood transfusion, a procedure ape doctors believe to be impossible.
8"The Deception"Don McDougallAnthony Lawrence,
Ken Spears,
Joe Ruby
November 1, 1974 (1974-11-01)
While Galen and Virdon hunt down a band of murderous ape dragoons, the blind ape daughter of the dragoons' latest victim falls in love with Burke - unaware that he is human.
9"The Horse Race"Jack StarrettDavid P. Lewis,
Booker Bradshaw
November 8, 1974 (1974-11-08)
In exchange for a condemned human's freedom, Virdon agrees to race a Prefect Barlow's horse against Urko's - who has never lost a race.
10"The Interrogation"Alf KjellinRichard CollinsNovember 15, 1974 (1974-11-15)
Burke is captured and taken to Central City, where he is interrogated by a female ape using an old book on brainwashing techniques. Urko goes on an inspection tour of the outer provinces.
11"The Tyrant"Ralph SenenskyWalter BlackNovember 22, 1974 (1974-11-22)
The three fugitives risk an encounter with Urko when they attempt to foil the plans of a tyrannical ape who is using bribery to gain total control over a district of human farmers.
12"The Cure"Bernard McEveetyEdward J. LaksoNovember 29, 1974 (1974-11-29)
Virdon, Burke and Galen enter the village of Trion. Virdon meets Amy and tells her the friends' secret, to Galen's displeasure. One week later the group leaves the village. Malaria breaks out there shortly afterward.
13"The Liberator"Arnold LavenHoward DimsdaleN/A (See note)

Burke, Galen and Virdon are captured by a village of semi-autonomous humans who are forced quarterly to furnish five human slaves to their ape overlords to work in the mines. The leader of the town sacrifices unwilling humans to their god in a temple during a cult type ceremony. This temple turns out to be an ancient ruin where a poisonous invisible gas is located (likely phosgene or diphosgene circa WWI Germany). Later, the leader (wearing a highly costumed gas mask) is discovered to be building an arsenal of gas bombs and a distillery to produce poisonous gas ceramic containers. He claims the moral right to use these weapons to rid the world of the ape threat.

This controversial episode involved the creation of poisonous gas as a weapon of mass destruction. During the height of the Watergate Scandal, the Vietnam War protests, the Agent Orange controversy, the Yom Kippur War, the 1973 Chilean coup d'état, and the enactment of the War Powers Resolution by US Congress, CBS likely decided not to air this episode during a holiday season overshadowed by such domestic and international conflicts.

Note: Several sources including the Fox DVD release and the book Timeline of the Planet of the Apes by Rich Handley list "The Liberator" as an unaired episode. The Timeline book also states that it didn't air in the United States until the early 1990s on the Sci-Fi Channel. However, it is listed as having aired on December 6, 1974 in the books Planet of the Apes Revisited by Joe Russo, Larry Landsman and Edward Gross, and Planet of the Apes as American Myth by Eric Greene.
14"Up Above the World So High"John Meredyth LucasS. Bar-David,
Arthur Browne Jr.
December 6, 1974 (1974-12-06)

Virdon, Burke and Galen are near the sea. They encounter a human who is experimenting with flight in a hang-glider he has built himself.

Note: The FOX DVD release and the Timeline book list "Up Above the World So High" as having aired on December 6, 1974. TV Guide listings from December 6, 1974 have it scheduled to air on that date. However, the books Planet of the Apes Revisited and Planet of the Apes as American Myth state the episode aired on December 20, 1974.


Discussions for a Planet of the Apes television series were made by producer Arthur P. Jacobs as early as 1971. Because of the success of the films, the idea of a television series was put on hold until after the completion of Battle for the Planet of the Apes in the first half of 1973.[3] However, shortly after the premiere of Battle, Jacobs died, and his production company APJAC Productions sold all Planet of the Apes rights and privileges to 20th Century Fox.[4] Subsequently, television rights for the first three Planet of the Apes films were sold to CBS and aired successfully in September 1973. Based largely on high viewership of "movie-of-the-week" TV broadcasts of the first few films, CBS began to focus away from other contenders for a new science-fiction series, including Gene Roddenberry's Genesis II (1973) and look solely at the prospects for an Apes TV series.[5] Fox and CBS went on to continue Jacob's plans of a series the following year.[6]

CBS ordered 14 episodes of Planet of the Apes to be produced. The series was filmed for the most part on location at what is now Malibu Creek State Park, with a budget of about $250,000 for each episode.[7] Originally slated to air during CBS's Tuesday night family hour,[8] the first regular episode of the series aired on Friday, September 13, 1974 from 8:00-9:00 PM. The remainder of the series aired in this same time slot until December 27, 1974, when its 14th and final broadcast was shown as a result of a premature cancellation of the series due to low ratings.[9]


The series' main theme was composed by Lalo Schifrin; Schifrin also scored three episodes of the series - "Escape From Tomorrow," "The Gladiators" and "The Good Seeds" (the latter, though not the premiere episode, was the first to be scored). Earle Hagen composed the scores for "The Legacy" and "Tomorrow's Tide," while Richard LaSalle wrote an original score for "The Trap." In addition, three episodes received partial scores - Hagen composed one for "The Surgeon," LaSalle handled "The Deception," and music supervisor Lionel Newman composed his only music for the series with "The Interrogation" (those last three, like the other episodes, were otherwise tracked with the previously written music).

Intrada album[edit]

In 2005, Intrada released an album featuring Lalo Schifrin's opening and closing music along with all three of Schifrin's scores and Earle Hagen's "The Legacy." The album also includes the logo music for Twentieth Century-Fox Television by Alfred Newman.

La-La Land album[edit]

In 2015, La-La Land Records issued a remastered and expanded limited edition album, featuring all six original scores plus the Newman material.[10]

Disc 1: Music by Lalo Schifrin

Disc 2: Theme by Lalo Schifrin, Music by Richard LaSalle, Earle Hagen and Lionel Newman

Unfilmed episodes[edit]

  • "Episode One" (written by Rod Serling as pilot episode; radically different from what aired)
  • "Episode Two" (written by Rod Serling as follow-up to his version of the pilot)
  • "Hostage" (written by Stephen Kandel)
  • "A Fallen God" (written by Anthony Lawrence)
  • "The Trek" (written by Jim Byrnes)
  • "Freedom Road" (written by Arthur Rowe)
  • "The Mine" (written by Paul Savage)
  • "The Trial" (written by Edward J. Lakso)

The scripts for "Episode One", "Episode Two", "Hostage" and "A Fallen God" are available online at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive.[11] Details regarding "The Trek," "Freedom Road," "The Mine," and "The Trial" were provided in issue 12 of Simian Scrolls (a Planet of the Apes-based magazine), reprinted from the TV series writer's bible.[12]

Broadcast history[edit]

The series ran in the U.S. from September 13 to December 20, 1974. The show was canceled after half a season because of low ratings due to direct competition by NBC's Sanford and Son and Chico and the Man. Only thirteen of its fourteen episodes were broadcast; all 14 episodes were later included in the DVD box set. It was later shown in reruns on the Sci Fi Channel.

The series was screened in Britain by 13 of the 14 ITV companies from 13 October 1974 each Sunday, until 18 January 1975. STV never screened it in 1974/75, opting to broadcast Sale of the Century instead. The show was repeated in many regions from September 1975 until 1978, but was still not seen on STV. The series then received its first UK-wide transmissions on Channel 4 in 1994, and later on the Sci Fi Channel. The TV movie compilations have also been screened on Sky Movies, True Movies, True Entertainment (who also aired the show in original form) and Horror Channel.

In 2019 MeTV began airing the series as part of its late Saturday Night "Red Eye Sci-Fi" block.


In 1980, several episodes of the series were edited into five made-for-television movies.

  • Back to the Planet of the Apes ("Escape from Tomorrow" & "The Trap")[13]
  • Forgotten City of the Planet of the Apes ("Gladiators" & "Legacy")
  • Treachery and Greed on the Planet of the Apes ("Horse Race" & "The Tyrant")
  • Life, Liberty and Pursuit on the Planet of the Apes ("The Surgeon" & "The Interrogation")
  • Farewell to the Planet of the Apes ("Tomorrow's Tide" & "Up Above The World So High")

When the Planet of the Apes telefilms entered syndication, ABC's owned and operated stations, who picked them up for their afternoon movie programs (under titles such as The 4:30 Movie), called upon Roddy McDowall to re-create his role of Galen in a series of new openings and closings specifically for these stations, billed as "The New Planet of the Apes." The introductions originally created by 20th Century Fox to open each film were replaced by a now-aged Galen (McDowall) looking back on the events of the telefilms. The openings and closings revealed Virdon and Burke's final fates: "They found their computer in another city and disappeared into space as suddenly as they’d arrived." According to "TV Zone Special #17" (1995 issue) McDowall filmed these "two years after the demise of the first run episodes of the Planet of the Apes television series", which would be December, 1976. The ABC openings and closings of these telefilms were neither aired on other stations nor included on any home media release.[14]


Most of the books and comics based on Planet of the Apes are based on the films, not the TV series. However, there are some titles that do involve the TV show characters:

Novelizations—Four novelizations of episodes, written by George Alec Effinger, were published by Award Books. Their titles are:

  • Planet of the Apes #1: Man the Fugitive
  • Planet of the Apes #2: Escape From Tomorrow
  • Planet of the Apes #3: Journey Into Terror
  • Planet of the Apes #4: Lord of the Apes

British Annuals—Brown-Watson Books published three hardcover annuals featuring original stories about Virdon, Burke and Galen. These stories are a combination of comic strips and short fiction.

Audio Adventures—Power Records produced four audio-only adventures based on the TV show. Their titles were:

  • Mountain of the Delphi
  • Battle of Two Worlds
  • Dawn of the Tree People
  • Volcano

Argentine Comics—Seven Spanish-language comics were published in Argentina, written by Jorge Claudio Morhain and Richard Barreiro and illustrated by Sergio Mulko and T. Toledo. Released only in Argentina, they have never been officially published in English. However, PDFs of the comics, translated to English by fans, are available at Kassidy Rae's site (see link below).

Filmstrip Story—Chad Valley, a U.K. toy company, produced 32 short film-based comic strips containing an original TV-series-era story, packaged as the Chad Valley Picture Show Planet of the Apes Sliderama Projector (very similar to the many Give-a-Show projector sets of the 1970s). These strips are extremely rare and difficult to come by.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Earthtime" [sic] shown on-screen in the opening credit sequence.
  2. ^ "Shiptime" [sic] shown on-screen in the opening credit sequence.
  3. ^ Behind the Planet of the Apes (DVD). Image Entertainment. 1998.
  4. ^ "Natalie Trundy: Monkey Business on the Planet of the Apes" (PDF). Planet of the Apes. Marvel Comics (26): 18. April 19, 1975. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 6, 2009. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  5. ^ Alexander, David, "Star Trek Creator", ROC Books, an imprint of Dutton Signet, a division of Penguin Books USA, New York, June 1994, ISBN 978-0-451-45418-8, pp. 398-403.
  6. ^ Hofstede, David (January 1, 2000). Planet of the Apes: An Unofficial Companion. Toronto: ECW Press. p. 57. ISBN 1550224468.
  7. ^ Buck, Jerry (October 13, 1974). "Ape Land Is Tucked Away Near Malibu". Associated Press. The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  8. ^ Scott, Vernon (June 14, 1974). "Television In Review". The Bryan Times. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  9. ^ "Fall 1974: CBS". Television Obscurities. January 26, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2013.
  10. ^ Planet of the Apes TV Series - Lalo Schifrin - Limited Edition. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 February 2015. Retrieved 25 February 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Apes Scripts Archive". Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive. Hunter Goatley. Retrieved 11 Dec 2016.
  12. ^ "Simian Scrolls". Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archives. Hunter Goatley. Summer 2006. Retrieved 11 Dec 2016.
  13. ^ Handley, Rich. "Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology". Hasslein Books, 2008, p. 254.
  14. ^ "Galen's Last Appearance – Transcripts". POTATV. Retrieved May 29, 2013.

External links[edit]