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 of the same title by Pierre Boulle.
The series begins with the crash of an Earth spaceship that encountered a time warp while approaching Alpha Centauri on August 19, 1980. The date on the ship's chronometer is given as March 21, 3085 but we are told that it could have simply stopped at that point while the ship was still travelling. It could therefore be many thousands of years into the future. The spaceship is manned by three astronauts from the 20th Century, 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 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, 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.
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 analyse 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.
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.
- Producer ... Stan Hough
- Executive Producer ... Herbert Hirschman
- Executive Story Consultant ... Howard Dimsdale
- Story Consultants ... Joe Ruby, Ken Spears
- Developed for TV by Anthony Wilson
- Production Supervisor ... Mark Evans
- Unit Production Manager ... Richard Glassman
- Director of Photography ... Gerald Perry Finnerman, A.S.C.
- Art Director ... Arch Bacon
- Make Up ... Dan Striepeke
- Set Decorator ... Stuart A. Reiss
- Casting ... Marvin Paige
- Theme Music ... Lalo Schifrin, Earle Hagen, Richard LaSalle
- Music Supervision ... Lionel Newman
- Post Production Supervisor ... Joseph Silver, A.C.E.
- Assistant Directors ... Bill Derwin, Gil Mandelik
- Stunt Coordinator ... Paul Stader
- Unit Publicist ... Will Fowler
- "Escape from Tomorrow"
- "The Gladiators"
- "The Trap"
- "The Good Seeds"
- "The Legacy"
- "Tomorrow's Tide"
- "The Surgeon"
- "The Deception"
- "The Horse Race"
- "The Interrogation"
- "The Tyrant"
- "The Cure"
- "The Liberator"
- "Up Above the World So High"
Spin-Off Media Stories
- Power Records Planet of the Apes "Little LP's", 1974
- El Planeta de Los Simios Argentinian Comics, 1977
- Fan-Produced Audio Drama
- Fan-Produced Comics
See Also: Planet of the Apes TV Series Timeline
- Interviewed during filming of "The Trap", star Ron Harper described the opening scenes of the series: "the chronometer records, I think, fifteen hundred years into the future before it stopped working. So, there's a little time to play with, fifteen [hundred] to two thousand years." Harper's understanding (about two weeks after filming "Escape from Tomorrow") was therefore that the series could be set much later than the 3085 date shown.
- Much later, Harper reflected on the ultimate fate of the human heroes: "Personally I think that eventually they managed to get back to their own time." "Sure I would make myself available for a project [revisiting Alan Virdon]... unless it was to be directed by Tim Burton!"
- Official sources list “The Liberator” as "Unaired" in the United States during the series’ initial run, though it did run in Europe. However, other sources list it as airing on December 6th, 1974. It is claimed that Neilsen Ratings data testify that it was shown in some areas (based presumably on the planned air date; Neilsen reports do not include episode titles). It was eventually syndicated on Sci-Fi Channel and other networks in the 1990s.
- In 1981, ten episodes were re-edited into five telefilms. For some California broadcasts, newly produced framing sequences featuring Roddy McDowall as an older Galen were recorded. These framing sequences were not included on the TV series’ DVD release, but can be viewed online at Kassidy Rae’s Planet of the Apes: The Television Series website.
- Rod Serling wrote two pilot scripts (“Episode One” and “Episode Two”) that greatly differed from the aired versions.
- The scripts to “Hostage” and “A Fallen God” are available online at Hunter Goatley’s Planet of the Apes Archive; synopsis of the other four unfilmed episodes were included in the 'series bible', discovered by Mark Rogers and detailed in Simian Scrolls issue #12, and summarised in Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology by Rich Handley.
- An animated version of this series was briefly discussed in the 1980s but never produced; a concept drawing by artist Jack Kirby, reproduced in The Jack Kirby Collector and later in Simian Scrolls #6, shows that it would have featured Virdon and Burke, along with a female “blonde companion of astronauts” and Toomak, a “human slave boy.”
- The series partly contradicts the APJ movie continuity, in that Escape from the Planet of the Apes and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes state that all cats and dogs died off, yet the first episode features a dog. However, it is never firmly established that the TV series and the APJ movie series are part of the same continuity.
- Planet of the Apes aired on CBS on Friday nights from 20:00 - 21:00, between 13th September and 20th December 1974.
- In the UK, début episode "Escape from Tomorrow" was broadcast on all ITV regions except Scottish Television and HTV (Wales & West England) from 19:55 - 20:55 on Sunday 13th October 1974. Thereafter, the series was aired on Granada TV on Sunday evenings from 19:25 - 20:25 until 19th January 1975.
- In the first episode, "Escape from Tomorrow", astronauts Virdon, Burke and Jones wear the same uniforms with 'ANSA' patches seen in Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes. The spaceship used in this episode was previously used in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.
Behind the Scenes
A Planet of the Apes television series was discussed by producer Arthur P. Jacobs as early as 1971, according to the 1998 documentary Behind the Planet of the Apes - an article in Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine from July 1971 promoting Escape from the Planet of the Apes asked "Does it come as a surprise to you that a fourth Planet of the Apes picture is planned? Either that or perhaps an entire series on TV!" - but the continued success of the films delayed plans. Rumours of "one more feature film, after which the property would be sold as a weekly series to television" were mentioned to reporters on the set of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes in February 1972. By the time Battle for the Planet of the Apes was filmed in early 1973, Jacobs and the studio agreed that the film franchise had run its course, but that the Planet of the Apes concept might find a home on the small screen as a weekly series. Battle... co-writer Joyce Corrington later recalled; "Before we even began the fifth movie they said they had sold the rights to television for a series and that this was the last of the features".
An undated Concept for a TV series was prepared. This Concept outlined two human astronaut characters - Alan Virdon and Stan Kovak - who crash-land on the Planet of Apes while on a routine reconnaissance flight. Their personalities were already set out as they would be seen in the filmed series. Their adversaries were Ursus the gorilla, who wants the astronauts killed, and Zaius who wants to question them and learn from them. Galen the chimpanzee is their only ape friend as they try to evade capture. A magnetic disc holding their flight information is already a central part of the plot, and the planet is described in some detail with three zones: the ape city where humans are servants and slaves; a rural zone where ape and human farmers live uneasily side-by-side; and a Forbidden Zone around the ancient cities inhabited by rebellious humans. Quite why they wanted to re-introduce Ursus and Zaius, who's deaths had already been shown in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, is unclear, given that at this point the project was still controlled by Arthur P. Jacobs, who was careful to maintain a certain amount of continuity through the movie series (though not without many slip-ups). From episode 5 onwards of the the 1974 series, Anthony Wilson (formerly Story Editor on Lost in Space) was credited with having "developed the series for television". It's unclear exactly what Wilson's role was, although it's possible he wrote this original TV Concept.
At some point, Rod Serling wrote a script for a two-part pilot episode of a TV series. His script was a peculiar mixture of the TV Concept, the very early scripts written by him for the original movie, and the plot of the second movie. It is significantly different to the filmed opening episode, although it does set up the series scenario in line with the Concept, and some of the ideas were carried over into the script for that episode, "Escape from Tomorrow", written by Art Wallace. The plot concerned Virdon and Kovak landing on a mysterious planet after a period of suspended animation (Kovak: "To age four weeks...while travelling almost six years...and to know that nothing we've left behind will be the same when we return...if we return"). The reason - to rescue or find a crew of missing astronauts (Virdon: "Somewhere - out there - are Taylor, Thomas, LaFever and Bengsten - or their remains. We're going to find them...or finish an epitaph for them.") Here, the story begins to mimic that of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, but the names recall earlier ideas of Serling's: George Taylor is, of course from the first movie; John Thomas was the original name of Taylor's character in Serling's early draft script; Paul LaFever was also in that script - the character later changed to John Landon (the other astronauts on that mission were Dodge and the deceased Blake/Stewart). The continuity of this story is somewhat confusing, it's almost a sequel to Serling's first movie script, which had been altered heavily for the movie, rather than tying-in with any of the actual filmed movies.
The earliest known TV script was for the unfilmed episode "A Fallen God", written by Anthony Lawrence, dated March 2, 1973. The production codes on the scripts seem to suggest this was written soon after Serling's script. "A Fallen God" followed the Concept outline and again featured Virdon, Kovak and Galen. Casting director Marvin Paige was involved in a stalled attempt to create a series around this time in 1973: "I was out at Fox... they'd made a deal with me to cast pilots and a couple of 'Movies of the Week'. As a matter of fact, we started on a presentation for 'Planet of the Apes' at this point. And then the network, I think, had to decide whether they were going to put 'Planet of the Apes' on that season or 'Perry Mason' ['The New Adventures of Perry Mason' - September 1973 to January 1974]. They decided to go ahead with Perry Mason, which unfortunately didn't make it. Or fortunately, depending on how you look at it." Arthur P. Jacobs passed away from a sudden heart attack at age 51 in June 1973, shortly after the premier of Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Following his death, APJAC Productions sold all rights and privileges of the Planet of the Apes adventures to 20th Century Fox.
The spur for finally starting production of a TV show was in September 1973, when the CBS network bought the television broadcast rights to the first three Planet of the Apes films for $1 million and showed them in a row on prime time screens. The broadcast registered a 33.6 Nielsen rating and a 57 per cent share of the audience to capture the number one spot in the ratings race for that week, and the highest ratings in history for a sci-fi series up to that time. In response, CBS soon aired the movies again in its 'Friday Night Movie' slot, while 20th Century Fox began showing all five Apes films in back-to-back six-hour "Go Ape!" marathons in movie theatres in the first half of 1974. The next step, naturally, was renewed interest in a TV series. TV Guide wrote in the spring of 1974 that "[CBS] is contemplating a weekly series based on the 'Apes' flicks". The first TV series script written in almost a year (according to production codes) was the unfilmed episode "Hostage", the final draft of which was dated April 5, 1974. At least five further episode scripts were written leading up to the start of production, each by different writers and all of which featured Alan Virdon, Stan Kovak (or 'Ed Rowak') and Galen evading Ursus (or 'Urkus') and Zaius. Marvin Paige explained the process of casting the stars of the new show: "There are more gorillas on the series really, than chimps, the gorillas being the military, the police, the heavies. One pre-requisite - we must have brown-eyed, not blue-eyed, apes and chimps. The chimps run between 5'7" and 5'8", that area or a little smaller. The orangutans, which are the council members, are about 5'10" and the gorillas about 5'11" or 6'1". We'll even stretch to 6'2" if we have to, because the actors portraying those things have to, in those characters, develop almost a slouch. There's a specific walk, and I run a piece of film for the actors we hire. Now, as far as the chimp, we had begun looking at actors for that role, never feeling that Roddy [McDowall] would be interested at that point or that a feasible situation could be worked out. Then Roddy, kind of through his representatives, approached us and indicated that he would certainly be interested in discussing the situation, and we finally did get it all worked out." Roddy's co-star of three Apes movies, Kim Hunter, was later asked to reunite with her former partner in the series: "They asked me if I would do a guest shot on the TV series." "Nobody told me what the role was or might be. They just asked me if I would join them and I said 'no, thank you'... I loved making the Apes films but thank God I was killed in the third so I wouldn't have to go through that make-up process again!" In May, Mark Lenard auditioned for the show: "I went down and I read for the part of the gorilla - there were an awful lot of people there, and all kinds. And I read for it, and I never expected to get it. The next day there were readings for Zaius, as I found out later on, and the day after that they called couples down to the studio. And there were three couples: one Zaius and one Urko - Ursus, as he was called at the time; they changed the name to Urko - and each of them read again, together. I read with Booth Colman; but I found out that the studio had already chosen - decided on us - and were just discussing it with CBS. And it was as simple as that." Next to be cast were the astronauts. Reportedly, James Franciscus was offered the role of Virdon, but turned it down. Marc Singer screen-tested as Virdon, and Barry Jenner as Kovak. Executive producer Herbert Hirschman remembered problems with the casting: "Finding the actors to play them gave us a lot of trouble. I know with Ron Harper's role, in particular, we did an awful lot of testing before we settled on him. We even tested Bruce Jenner for the role, I believe. James Naughton got approval early on." Marvin Paige confirmed, "We tested something like 53 actors for the astronauts, for the two main roles. Then for Ron Harper, we flew him in to test (from New York City). This was on a Thursday; he flew back on Friday; was getting married on Saturday [June 1st] and going to Ireland for his honeymoon. The network felt there were certain things in the test that they hadn't captured and wanted to retest him with other people and try him with Jim Naughton to see how that combination was. So I had to get hold of him - I think I was up half the night tracking down Harper's agent in New York, tracing him in Ireland, getting everything coordinated and eventually having to bring him back from Ireland right in the middle of his honeymoon!" Harper remembers reading with "about 10 or 12 actors for the part that Jim did". Naughton was unenthusiastic about the role: "I wasn't dying to do that show but I was living in LA and had a $400 rent payment that was about two weeks overdue, which was a lot of money at the time. I had two children, I was in my twenties and I had said no to this project three times. Finally, another week went by and I said, 'I guess I better say yes.'" The two actors reported to production meetings in late June '74 in preparation for the July 1 beginning of production, and Harper recalls, "The big thing during our first production meeting was trying to decide what the first names of the astronauts should be. I thought that was kind of funny."
CBS started production on July 1, produced by Stan Hough and executive produced by Herbert Hirschman. The team also included experienced TV writer Howard Dimsdale as executive story consultant, a roster of veteran directors, plus cartoon writers (and creators of Scooby-Doo) Ken Spears and Joe Ruby as story consultants. Spears and Ruby were tasked by Fred Silverman of CBS with re-orienting the scripts to "75% action, 25% drama". Planet of the Apes was given a "guarantee" of 13 shows, which meant 13 shows would be filmed before production paused. By that time the Fall season would be under way and both producers and network heads would watch the ratings before deciding on a pickup for the rest of the season. Roddy McDowall, interviewed some way into production, said the season would consist of 24 episodes: "We just started the 11th episode this week, and have 13 more to do to complete the season." Writer Art Wallace's final re-write for episode one (dated July 3, 1974) introduced the names 'Burke' and 'Urko' along with a new opening story. Wallace had initially been reluctant to be involved. “I thought it was a terrible idea to turn 'Apes' into a weekly series. But Herbert Hirschman convinced me that we could make provocative statements on our world and, when I wrote my episodes, I truly believed in the show.” While Rod Serling's contribution wasn't acknowledged (unlike his work on the movie script), his concept of a previous astronaut crew survived into Wallace's script (Zaius: "More than ten years ago, another such ship landed. Humans. They said they were from Earth...but from another time period...long ago."). This wasn't explored any further in the series, although it might have been had the series continued for longer. The highly-significant 'magnetic disc' was maintained from the original Concept, as Herbert Hirschman pointed out: "The astronauts were obviously very important to us, and we wanted to keep hope alive for them. That's why we did the business of Virdon going back for the disc from the ship in the hopes that someday they would get home, otherwise they'd have to accept living in the world that they were. I think we were aware pretty early in the game that we had to give them some hope, with one guy figuring that they would never get home and the other guy hoping that they would be able to." Unfortunately, as Ron Harper discovered, this idea was soon forgotten: "Early on, Alan Virdon did carry around a computer disc and he thought that if he could get it to a computer, that might give him an idea how to travel back through time. By the third or fourth episode, one day I said, 'I can't find the computer disc [prop]', and they said, 'Never mind, we're not gonna use it any more!'" A new plot device introduced by Wallace was the hint that there may a community of advanced humans on the planet (Virdon: "Maybe...just maybe...the humans that built that grenade are still on Earth, and they have the knowledge to..." Burke: "to do what? Build a spaceship? And a computer?" Virdon: "Where did you get this [grenade]?" Zaius: "A human. He didn't live long enough to tell me his name. That human was caught trying to sneak into the city. And yes, I had him killed."). Again, this may have had some significance had the series developed.
Filming was at Fox studios and location scenes were kept to a minimum, and even at that the crew stuck close to the home studio. Most outdoor scenes were lensed at the Fox ranch, although at least one episode was filmed on MGM’s old ‘New York Street’ backlot which, like most of Leo the Lion’s old stomping grounds, was in a state of near ruins. Ron Harper confirms, "To save money, they tried everything they could do! ...Do you remember the episodes set in the wrecked city with the huge piles of rubble? We shot that on the back lot of MGM, when they were tearing it down! ...MGM had that beautiful back lot - the back lot where we shot 'Garrison's Gorillas', by the way. But in 1974, MGM sold it off, and now they were destroying those city street sets. So, of course, 20th Century-Fox jumped in and said, "Hey! You mind if we use those rubble-strewn streets?", and we did. Those streets became our 'destroyed cities'. So, yes, it did look authentic - because it was real!" There wasn't that much in the way of special effects (aside from some matte paintings used in the episodes set in the ruins of human cities) as a bulk of the budget went towards makeup. A reporter from Marvel visited the set of the TV show in the weeks before it went on-air and noted (perhaps prompted by official publicity based on the original 'Concept') that "Humans are now inferior inhabitants of the inner zone (the centre of the ape world) and their jobs are those of minor clerks, servants, labourers and slaves. An occasional human is elevated to the rank of an overseer, but they are subject to the ape civilization and exist at its whim. Unlike the original 'Apes' motion pictures, some of the humans in the series have powers of speech and the intellectual capacity of apes. The change was made to allow more plot flexibility and to provide the possibility of roles for guest stars. The most amazing off-camera feature is the daily creation of 'appliances' to the heads and faces of the apes. Dan Striepeke, one of the creators of the 'Apes' appliances, has a crew of a dozen makeup artists working under him. Their art practice is energy-draining in that it takes three full hours to apply the features. At midday, actors wearing makeup appliances cannot eat solid foods, but must partake of liquids by means of straws. During days when the heat rises to 110 degrees on location some actors can lose as much as ten pounds in a single day!" Writer Art Wallace concurred: “Some of the actors in gorilla costumes dropped unconscious from the terrible heat. I remember in one scene, gorillas on horseback were threatening humans with rifles, and one of the horses stepped into a wasp nest. The wasps came buzzing out of the hole, and it was the first time I’ve ever seen frightened gorillas bolt from their horses. They were hollering, trying to get away from stinging wasps!” On another occasion, Wallace saw one ape stuntman frantically pawing at his mask. “I asked another ape extra what was wrong with him. He replied matter-of-factly, ‘A fly probably flew into his mask, and he’s trying to get it’. It was strangely funny, but at the same time very sad and peculiar. I had the greatest respect for those stuntmen and extras. They went through hell.” Bill Derwin, Assistant Director on the series, shared Wallace's sentiments: “If you played an ape and had green or blue eyes, you had to wear uncomfortable brown contact lenses. On location, the heat was over 100 degrees. We had a couple of people who literally ripped off their ape heads and went home; they couldn’t handle it. Tom McDonough would replace them. He could handle anything in that make-up - horse riding, stunts, supporting roles. Amazingly, most of the guest stars and stuntmen did function under such adverse conditions.” Stuntman George Robotham was one of those who couldn't function: “Apes drove me crazy. I finally tore off my gorilla mask and handed it to Paul Stader. I said, ‘Paul, the last two hours of my life have been an absolute, unmitigated living hell. I’m out of here. Good luck.’ I nearly suffocated playing a sea monster on 'The Outer Limits', and I almost drowned on 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea', but they were cakewalks compared to dressing up as an ape. It was hot, scratchy, miserable and claustrophobic. It’s the one show in my career that I’ve tried to forget.”
Even as CBS was preparing it's weekly TV series, Marvel Comics was publishing apes comic books, Topps was selling apes chewing gum, and dozens of other companies were flooding the market with everything from apes cookware to puzzles to beachballs. Twentieth Century Fox was cheerfully controlling this monstrous merchandise campaign via Selwyn Rausch, a New York merchandiser who reported, "by the end of this year we estimate $100-million gross sales in all kinds of 'Ape'-related merchandise. Why anyone would want a Planet of the Apes wastebasket I don't know, but they're selling like crazy.".
Official publicity announced that Roddy McDowall would star as the renegade chimpanzee, Galen - one of the few Apes in this strange, alien world of the future willing to befriend the two astronauts from out of Earth's past - Ron Harper as astronaut Alan Virdon, and James Naughton as his companion in nightmare, astronaut Peter Burke. Herbert Hirschman maintained “We're not planning this as a comedy. Oh, we'll make a few feeble attempts at humor but for the most part these will be serious 60-minute dramas. We'll be showing the Ape city of the future and it will have the look of the Middle Ages. There'll be no automobiles, no telephones, but unfortunately guns. Not all of the apes will be bad guys. We've got some shows where they will be quite sympathetic to humans. One of these families will be much like The Waltons. The apes make the humans sleep in the barn.” Stan Hough added "The thrust of what we're doing is taking a look at this upside-down world. In its own curious way it's a mirror of today." Chronologically, the series was set between Battle for the Planet of the Apes and the depressing apocalypse of the first two films - allowing the series to adopt a jaunty, adventurish tone and to feature speaking humans. The series didn't dive into the Apes universe in any sort of detail; our heroes simply moved from village to village. Where the movies adopted a pessimistic view of humanity, the TV series was largely about how Virdon and Burke were smarter than (and morally superior to) the stupid, backwards apes, using their 20th-century technological know-how and spreading hope among the simple humans populating the countryside. The show premiered on Friday, September 13, 1974 on CBS, and everyone was confident it would be a hit. Booth Colman agreed: “It looked to be a winner. It was auspiciously pre-sold without a pilot, and everyone was agreeable and enthusiastic when we began the series. What really interested me was the possibility that Apes could have a long run. That’s very important to a freelance actor.”
Although it attracted a following with young viewers, the show struggled to compete for an older audience against ratings winners Sanford and Son and Chico and the Man on NBC. The first episode debuted in a disappointing 43rd place, and subsequent episodes dropped even further. The show's other competition, on ABC, was the cop show Kodiak, which lasted less than a month, while it's companion, The Six Million Dollar Man, was saved only because moved it out of that time slot in November. Herbert Hirschman later reflected, "My interest was making the show for adults and hopefully the kids would enjoy it too. But the focus changed. Freddy [Silverman, CBS programming chief] was concerned we weren't doing so well. He thought the scripts were too sophisticated. You know how these things go. When he saw the first script, he thought it was absolutely fantastic. When the ratings didn't come in, he started complaining that we were too sophisticated and that the villains should all be black-hats and the heroes should all be white-hats. I think the scripts did become more simple-minded, for lack of another term." Silverman was even quoted later in the show's run as saying sarcastically, "Of people 50 and over, apparently only four are watching - two old ladies in Iowa and a couple who own a zoo." It became clear to Ron Harper fairly soon that the show was not going to be the runaway success that they had anticipated: "I had seen the writing on the wall. About three or four episodes before the end, I'd realized, "This is a boring series." CBS wanted more action in 'Planet of the Apes'. After a while, in every episode, one of us, Roddy, James or me, would get captured by the apes and the other two would rescue him. We took turns. 'Whose turn is it to get captured?, is it Roddy, me or Jim?' And I thought, "This is getting to be monotonous." This was a science fiction thing and we could have gone anywhere in the world we wanted with our imaginations. I think, had the series gone on, as they intended it to, they may have brought in some more imaginative writers. Everybody expected it to be a big hit, everybody expected it to go five years, and then..." “The feeling on our set went from great hope and excitement to bewilderment, shock and disappointment. I was sure we would be around for at least a couple of years.” James Naughton agreed: "We kinda became 'The Fugitive', you know? Each week we were caught and then we escaped, that's basically what each show was about. I think that television frequently winds up in a kind of a formulaic role - "Who's the bad guy of the week and how are you gonna escape from that". We were constantly whacking some guy over the head with a stick or drop kicking a guy in a monkey suit." Art Wallace felt “The early time slot forced Apes to become more of a children’s program, and the terror and mystery of the apes was ruined because they turned the gorillas into buffoons. Every week, the astronauts knocked them out with ridiculous judo chops and backflips.”
According to actor Bill Blake, there was a late rescue attempt by Star Trek's legendary creator: "The show was starting to falter in the ratings. So Gene Roddenberry and the producers were beginning to look at all of this, and Gene was starting to help them in efforts to restructure the show... Gene had already contacted Westheimer Optical Company, who did special effects for 'Star Trek', and was going to contract them to do mattes, opticals, special effects, etc. - anything to help give the show a bigger, more epic look, on the small budget they had. Through clever writing, time-travel, etc., they were planning to move the show forward to the time period of Zira and Cornelius; bringing everything back full-circle, as it were. Gene also knew that Paula Crist and I were dead-on look-alikes and sound-alikes for the characters originated by Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter. So in effect, Gene was grooming Paula and myself to be the new Zira and Cornelius. Of course, by then, the show was in too much trouble, CBS TV was withdrawing support, it was already very expensive to produce, and a final decision was made cancel it, instead of trying to do the re-vamp." By December, Planet of the Apes was cancelled after fourteen episodes had been filmed, although as Ron Harper recalls, "Our producers, I think, never believed that the show - so hyped and shot without a pilot - was really going to be cancelled. So they wanted to leave their options open. They even did the last two episodes after the network told them to stop." "Two episodes before the end, we were waiting for word from CBS to pick us up. It didn't happen. I asked Stan Hough, 'What are we going to do?' He said, 'I'm going to make several more episodes. Maybe they'll change their minds'. We shot two more episodes. On a Monday morning, Stan called Jim and me in and said, 'This is going to be the last episode'. So Jim and I took our stunt friends out to a four-hour lunch!" Story consultants Ruby and Spears had a slightly different recollection, saying that CBS chief William S. Paley had given the order to pull the plug, and that the final scene of the final episode was filmed in the full knowledge that it was also to be the final scene of the series. Booth Colman felt “It was a real shame. My makeup guru, Frank Westmore, told me that we were going to be cancelled. Had the stories been better written and the characters developed, we could have had a three-year run. But the stories didn’t have the imagination or quality necessary to sustain viewers. One could only cope with the dialogue, develop a personality for the character, hit your mark and hope it looked believable.” Planet of the Apes finished the 1974-75 season ranked 67th out of 84 shows; the most expensive (and lowest-rated) CBS series of the year except for Khan - a crime drama that finished 80th and, ironically, had replaced Apes, lasting just four episodes.
- Kassidy Rae's Planet of the Apes: The Television Series Website
- Planet of the Apes (1974) article at Wikipedia
- Planet of the Apes (1974) at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB)
- Planet of the Apes (1974) at TV.com
- Hunter's Planet of the Apes Scripts Archive
- 20 years after Planet of the Apes came home, by Jeff Krueger - 'Ape Chronicles' #18 (1994) at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive
- Chad Valley Picture Show Planet of the Apes (1975)
- Interview with Ron Harper - 'Planet of the Apes Magazine' #4 (January 1975)
- Down To Earth with Rin Hooper - 'Simian Scrolls' #8
- 'Broadcast History' at storiesfromchalo.info
- Galen's Last Appearance
- The Missing Adventures Revealed, by Mark Rogers - 'Simian Scrolls' #12 (Summer 2006)
- Timeline of the Planet of the Apes: The Definitive Chronology, by Rich Handley (2008)
- Make A Date With The Apes! - 'Look-In' (1974)
- Escape from the Planet of the Apes - 'Famous Monsters of Filmland' #85 (July 1971)
- On Location: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, by Al Satian and Heather Johnson - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #34 (14 June 1975)
- End of an Epic - Planet of the Apes Blu-Ray Box-Set (2008)
- Exclusive Interview with Marvin Paige, by Susan Munshower - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #29 (10 May 1975)
- Natalie Trundy: Monkey Business on the Planet of the Apes - 'Planet of the Apes' UK Issue #26 (19 April 1975)
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes - 'Famous Monsters of Filmland' #108 (July 1974)
- Program of the Apes, by Jeff K. - 'Ape Chronicles' #18 (December 1994)
- Chimp Life, by Tom Weaver & Michael Brunas - 'Starlog' (November 1990)
- Kim Hunter Interview, by Dean Preston - 'Simian Scrolls' #4
- Urko Unleashed, by Chris Claremont - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #22 (22 March 1975)
- Secrets of the Planet of the Apes, by Mark Phillips - 'Starlog' #371 (December 2008)
- Planet of the Apes on Television, by Joe Russo, Larry Landsman & Edward Gross - 'SFX Magazine' (2001)
- POTA TV's Ron Harper (Alan Virdon), by Jeff K. (July 27, 1997)
- The Cool Naughton, by Barry Dougherty - 'The Friars Club' (2002)
- Ron Harper Interview, by Marc Shapiro - 'TV Zone Special' #17 (June 1995)
- Story Editors on the Planet of the Apes, by John Roche - 'Simian Scrolls' #16 (2010)
- Problems In Ape City / Turning Roddy Into Chimp Leaves Him Tired, Hungry, by Emery Wister
- It Ain't Cheetah (A Tribute to Roddy McDowall), by Mike Jahn - 'CUE' (November 18-24 1974)
- I Talked with a Zombie: Interviews With 23 Veterans of Horror and Sci-Fi by Tom Weaver (2008)
- "Escape from Tomorrow" revised final script, by Art Wallace (July 3, 1974)
- Finding the Future on the Fox Ranch!, by Sam Maronie - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #43 (16 August 1975)
- SFX on the Planet of the Apes, by Tom Sciacca - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #96 (18 August 1976)
- The Apes On T.V. - 'Planet of the Apes' UK #13
- No Escape from the Planet of the Apes - 'Smash' Vol. 1 No. 3 (1974)
- Planet of the Apes Special - 'Sunday Observer' (Australia, 1 June 1975)
- Ape Land Is Tucked Away Near Malibu, by Jerry Buck - 'The Charlotte Observer' (Sunday October 13, 1974)
- The Definitive Science Fiction Television Encyclopedia (5th edition)
- Behind the Planet of the Apes
- Interview with Bill Blake, POTA actor and make-up artist (Los Angeles, 1999), by Saulo Adami & Jeff Krueger - Ape Chronicles Issue #48 (March 2010)
|Planet of the Apes TV Series|
|"Escape from Tomorrow"||"The Gladiators"||"The Trap"||"The Good Seeds"||"The Legacy"||"Tomorrow's Tide"||"The Surgeon"|
|"The Deception"||"The Horse Race"||"The Interrogation"||"The Tyrant"||"The Cure"||"The Liberator"||"Up Above the World So High"|