Planet of the Apes -- The TV Series
Title: Planet of
the Apes: The Complete TV Series
Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: November 20, 2001
Running Time: approximately 644 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: Two astronauts crash-land in the future - a future
Version: Four-disc Collector's Edition
Frightened by the appearance of gorillas on horseback, marooned
astronaut Burke asks the deathless question, "What kind of planet is
Tech Specs: Full-frame
format (1.33:1), English mono, French mono, English & Spanish subtitles.
Back before cable
made it safe, or at least possible, to be a 24/7 Fanboy, we had to make
do with the drips and drabs of science fiction that network television
would offer us. Every fall some new show would tease us and then disappear
because nobody but the geeks were watching. Such was the fate of Planet
of the Apes.
For thirteen glorious
weeks (back when shows had thirteen weeks to fail) kids across
America gathered around the set, happy to see apes on TV. We had not the
critical faculties to recognize cheese. We only knew we dug it.
by Rod Serling (screenwriter on the original film), by the time the
series made it to air it had become a product of Joe Ruby and Ken Spears.
If those names ring a bell, that would be because they later became
crown princes of Saturday morning TV, second only to their bosses, Hanna-Barbera.
As such, their dramatic product would not be as deep as a Serling-run
show might have been. But if truth must be told, they still had a better
handle on it than Tim
The premise will
be familiar enough. On a rustic planet, a mysterious spaceship crashes
(off-screen, of course, this is 1974 television). Inside lie three human
astronauts, one dead, two unconscious, but all in stylish and impractical
jumpsuits. Rescued by a local villager who has read storybooks in which
humans possessed technology, the two survivors Virdon (Ron Harper) and
Burke (James Naughton, now Ally McBeal's dad) piece together that they
have traveled to the future.
This comes as no
surprise to orangutan Counselor Zaius (demoted from the film series'
PhD status). Astronauts from the past have landed on this Planet of
the Apes before, only to be killed before their destructive technology
But this time is
different, because now Zaius has an inquisitive chimpanzee assistant,
Galen (Roddy McDowall), who refuses to let the past stay buried.
killing a gorilla guard, Galen must flee with Virdon and Burke as they
try to find remnants of human technology. The two humans hope that they
can find a computer to recreate and reverse engineer the accident that
brought them to the future. And Galen wants to go back with them.
So it has a bit
of The Fugitive. A lot of shows do. What it also has is a bit
of social conscience that never gets too heavy-handed, and a lot of
stupid fun. Granted, the ape make-up looks primitive by today's standards,
but the actors really know how to sell it, especially McDowall. Having
played two chimps previously, he practically owns the concept in a way
that Helena Bonham-Carter cannot touch.
With fourteen episodes
in all, the show may not be the deathless classic that box hype would
have you believe ("It changed the face of television forever" - by putting
ape faces on it, I guess). But really, for the ape nut disappointed
by Tim Burton's "re-imagining," this makes a nifty package.
And it's even niftier
if you listen to it in French. They know a thing or two about fromage.
It lists for $49.98,
but you can buy it here