Planet of the Apes
The Trap title card
Episode The Trap
Season 1
Production Number B-505
Air Date Friday, September 27th, 1974
Network CBS
Director Arnold Laven
Writer Edward J. Lakso
Continuity TV Series
Previous Episode: "The Gladiators"

Next Episode: "The Good Seeds"

"The Trap" is the third episode of Planet of the Apes.



Guest Starring:

Production Crew

  • Assistant Director ... Bill Derwin
  • Second Assistant Director ... Cheryl Downey
  • Music ... Richard Lasalle
  • Film Editor ... Axel Hubert, A.C.E.
  • Costumer ... Paula Kaatz (possibly)
  • Wardrobe Assistant ... Pete Dawson (possibly)


Burke, Virdon and Galen are being pursued through the mountains by Urko and his men. They manage to evade Urko and take refuge at a human village with a reputation of aiding fugitives. The trio realise that Urko will quickly find them though, and their rest is short lived.

At the village, the daughter of one of the humans is wearing a necklace made of electrical wire, and in her sack are non-functioning computer components. Virdon is told of a city close by (San Francisco) where the items were found, but they are warned not to go there because of frequent earthquakes.

Ignoring the advice, the trio set off for the city moments before Urko arrives in the village. Urko makes the same discovery Virdon did, and guesses that the fugitives went to the city. Urko is right. He discovers them in the city and attempts to capture them. But when Urko corners Burke, the ground caves in and he and Burke become trapped in an abandoned and partially caved-in subway tunnel.

Burke tries to convince Urko of the seriousness of their situation and the need for co-operation, but Urko doesn't believe him. When he shows Urko the remnants of human technology, Urko still doesn't believe the human. Only when Burke tells Urko that the remains were actually built by the apes does Urko agree to help.


On the surface, Virdon and Galen convince Urko's men to assist in rescuing the pair. After some negotiations, Virdon gets the ape commander to give his word that he will let the trio go once Urko is safe. In the tunnel, Burke and Urko are working well together, but air is running out. While Burke tries to dig them out, Urko discovers a poster for the San Francisco Zoo, depicting a human child giving a banana to an ape in a cage. Urko takes the poster and puts it in his glove.

Meanwhile, Virdon has helped the apes create a pulley that clears the block and gives them access to Urko and Burke. But when Burke offers to let Urko out first, Urko shows Burke the poster and attacks. Burke manages to rend Urko unconscious and they are pulled out of the hole. Once out, Urko regains his senses long enough to order his men to kill the fugitives. But when he passes out again, the ape that gave his word to Virdon orders the other apes to take Urko to a doctor. Once gone, the commander keeps his word and allows Burke, Virdon and Galen to leave, but then finds Urko's poster and bitterly tears it up.


  • The village of Numai is near ancient ruins of San Francisco.


  • The third episode to be broadcast (27 September in the USA, 27 October in the UK), this was the fifth episode filmed, chronologically, according to the Production Code.[1]

Behind the ScenesEdit

The Apes on T.V. - Marvel Comics 'Planet of the Apes' UK (photographs by Ian Vaughan):
Issue #8 (14 December, 1974)[2],
Issue #9 (21 December, 1974)[3],
Issue #11 (4 January, 1975)[4],
Issue #13 (18 January, 1975)[5],
Issue #55 (8 November, 1975)[6]

Sunday Observer 'Planet of the Apes' Special (1 June, 1975)

Urko Unleashed - Marvel Comics 'Planet of the Apes' UK Issue #22 (22 March, 1975)[7]

Marvel Comics 'Planet of the Apes' UK Issue #29, 'Exclusive Interview with Marvin Paige'[8]

"The first day I was on the lot, the Apes crew was finishing work on their fourth episode - though not necessarily the fourth to be shown once the show reaches the air - a suspenseful piece entitled, The Trap. Stages 9 & 10 - where Apes was being shot - are about average size but to a relative novice like myself, used to the cramped rehearsal halls and only slightly larger theatres of Off-Off-Broadway back in New York, it was like stepping into a vast, seemingly empty box.

The first man I met was a gentleman named Emmet, who is in charge of looking after the coffee/tea/fresh water wagon, and of taking care of incoming phone/written messages for actors and crew during shooting hours, and of checking guests in and out, making sure that the people who wander in are cleared for wandering with the front office. He’s not a guard - and yet, in a way, he is, being the stage’s first line of defence against outsiders - but there is no way he could, or should, be considered any kind of flunky. He is a really nice guy. Anyway, once past Emmet and the coffee wagon, I just stood still a moment and looked around the stage. At the far end, in the opposite corner from the door I'd entered through, the crew was working on today's scenes - sequences involving Virdon, Burke, Galen, a human family, Urko, a gorilla assistant and the aftershock of a fairly serious earthquake (though not necessarily in that order) - the rest of the stage was dark. To imagine what it was like, picture in your own minds a box that is a hundred/hundred-and-fifty feet square by thirty to forty feet high, with catwalks and lighting pipes criss-crossing the space above you like some huge, wooden spider’s web. There’s a curious feeling of impermanence to the interior of the stage, everything looking like it had just been jury-rigged into position an hour or so ago, slammed together so that it would hold for a day or so and give the carpenters no trouble at all when they arrive to rip it all apart to set up somewhere else. And that feeling isn’t all illusion; because the floor of the stage is littered with the shells of sets: a large barn interior, the Ape council chamber, various parts of various interiors of various human dwellings - which all seem to be barely a step or two above hovel in design and appearance - more Ape City interiors, more human village interiors, the whole kit-and-kaboodle tagged and shoved neatly out of the way until it’s needed, either later on in this episode or in some other. Which is not to imply that the soundstage is any kind of big, hollow, empty, sacrosanct temple sort of place; in reality, it isn’t even all that neat. There are just too many people running around trying to do too much in too short a time, all of them wondering how the hell they got on this damn' treadmill in the first place. There are actors, actors’ family/friends, child actors’ parents, child actors’ tutor, technicians, more technicians, and lots and lots of extraneous on-lookers. Such as myself. So I stood - as far out of the way as possible - and I watched. And I learned.

For the actors, the biggest part of a working day in film is waiting. Waiting for the camera set-up to be completed so they can shoot the scene; waiting for the film to be reloaded; waiting for the director to finish a hurried confab with his Director of Photography - in this case, the Director of Photography being Gerald Perry Finnerman, of 'Star Trek' and 'Kojak' fame, an excellent craftsman who well-deserves his reputation (and a man probably only a few steps removed from Godhood for the work he did behind the camera on 'Star Trek'; that is, if one is a true 'Star Trek' freak; if not, you don’t know what you missed and you might as well go back to 'Planet of the Apes'.) The waiting isn’t so bad if one is a principal character and/or one is in the scene being - or about to be - shot; one can always study one’s script or talk with the other actors about how one is going to play the scene. One can do an impromptu rehearsal - which indicates, to me, one of the crippling faults of the television series as shot in the United States - all too often, the only time actors have to rehearse and work with each other and the director on their scenes is during the camera set-ups. Which leaves the quality of the work done by the actor up to the actor and to the Director of Photography. If the Cinematographer is a real klutz and it takes all day to get the lights and camera set, then the actor has just that much more time to work on his scene; but if he's a pro - and Gerry Finnerman is a pro - the actor can often be up the proverbial creek minus the proverbial paddle, because the only way anyone can rehearse then is by having the crew sit around and wait. And that can be expensive. Which means, simply, that the actors have to be very good.

I watched the crew run through the earthquake scene before they all broke for lunch. They’d been shooting it all morning, evidently, and things hadn’t been going well and they were starting to run behind schedule. The problem, simply, was that whenever you see earthquakes or starships getting blown around subspace - things like that - bodies shaking or falling or getting thrown about on screen, nine times out of ten it's the bodies themselves - or the camera(s) - that are doing all the shaking. The set stays nice and level on good old dependable terra firma (yet, true to form, a couple of days after they shot this scene, the Los Angeles basin was shaken by a pretty respectable aftershock of the Sylmar 'quake of two years ago; which means, I suppose, that in the final analysis: if it's shot in LA and the scene shakes, it could be anything, including reality).

So, there are Ron Harper (Virdon), Jim Naughton (Burke), Roddy McDowall (Galen) and this episode's guest artists, shaking and jiggling around a crude wooden table, trying to knock a bottle onto the floor without even hinting that they are the true culprits - it was the earthquake done it. Except that nothing happened. The bottle either stayed where it was or fell at the wrong time. And they had to do it again. And again. And again. Eventually, the bottle got it right and everyone broke for lunch, humans heading for the commissary, Apes for the fruit/soft drink stand, Roddy McDowall for his private Winnebago trailer/bus-cum-dressing room-cum-office. Private because, after all, he is the star of the show, but also because wearing as complex and painful an appliance as he wears five days a week, often twelve hours a day, can be agony in and of itself. Add to that, the constant hubbub and ooooh's-and-ahhhh’s from the 'peanut gallery' of guests on the set, and their constant attempts to get a few words - or a lot of words - or an autograph out of him, and the choice soon becomes very basic: either one gets some privacy or one goes - if you'll pardon the pun - bananas.

Later on that day, when his scenes were done, McDowall stripped off his appliance and one was treated to a rare view of the human face of Roddy McDowall; and the damnedest thing about watching him take the appliance off was that, when he was done, he somehow didn't look.. right. Having gotten so used to seeing him in his simian incarnation, it was a little mind-blowing to realize. after all, that it was only an application, and that there was indeed a man underneath.

I went wandering that first afternoon, out of Stage 10 and into Stage 9, to see what the crews were busy working on for tomorrow’s schedule. It wasn’t much, just a full-size mock up of a San Francisco subway station, complete with full-size subway train and lots and lots of rubble, courtesy of a gentleman referred to cryptically as ‘The Cowboy Man.’ The Cowboy Man has been around a long time and he tells some pretty hairy stories - but I’ve digressed too much as it is and this really isn’t the place to talk about how Cecil B. DeMille smashed a real-live telephone pole through the side of a train car what looked to be mere inches from where James Stewart was standing in DeMille’s epic, 'The Greatest Show On Earth'; it was a real fun story, though, heh, heh. But today the Cowboy Man was working, dressing the subway set so that it would look appropriately ancient for tomorrow’s scenes - after all, it is two thousand-odd years old and there have been a few earthquakes in the interim, ’quakes that shattered the tunnel roof and sealed the station, ’quakes that soon serve to trap a desperate, hunted Pete Burke (the Jim Naughton character) and his chief hunter, Urko. And therein you have the reason for the episode’s title, 'The Trap': Urko and Burke stuck in this very old, very decrepit BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station, facing certain death unless they can work together to get out. Nice plot, huh? Anyway, the Cowboy Man had sprayed some cobwebs all over the corners and nooks and crannies of the set, and was now busy sorting through a tractor-scoop full of concrete chunks and bricks - very high-class rubble this; only the best for Planet of the Apes - searching for just the right-sized pieces of just the right consistency. Suffice to say, when I saw the set the next day - during a scene in which Urko was busy throttling Burke in front of an information console, Burke yelling desperately that both of them were trapped and that if they didn’t work together they’d both die, Urko grunting a lot but eventually accepting the reality of the mess the script-writer had just dumped him in... ahhhh, the things a SAG card will get one into - anyway, while they were shooting this dramatic scene, I looked around the BART set and I had to admit, the Cowboy Man had done one fine job. The place was a real mess. What with all the guests standing around watching the near-murder taking place on camera, the place looked and felt a lot like a Times Square subway station at rush hour. I guess there are just some things you can’t escape from.

...I‘ve seen good people doing good work - people like Assistant Director Bill Derwin and Costumer Paula Katz and Wardrobe Assistant Pete Dawson, and all the other people I‘ve mentioned throughout this article - and I‘ve seen one of the best crews I‘ve ever seen work like a fine-tuned Swiss watch putting this show together, and I‘ve seen actors practicing their craft and doing a damn' good job of it."

- Chris Claremont, Marvel Comics' Planet of the Apes Magazine Assistant Editor, Planet of the Apes Magazine #3 (December 1974), on the set of The Trap.[9]

Interviewed during the filming of 'The Trap', star Ron Harper talked about the BART set, depicting a future San Francisco: "We use that on this show. We go into the city, I don't know if you saw that scene, but there's like an earth tremor. There's the remnants of a city that has been, of course, destroyed by the bomb and is now going through earthquake tremors. We're going back there to look - this girl brings in some electrical wiring and, some computer relay unit type of things - and we're going in there to look for, if we can, some sophisticated equipment... to read our magnetic flight recorder and see what went wrong." "If you'll notice that shot after lunch where we all fell apart. It's really not too bad... Usually they're not terribly involved scenes, but some have been very good. Last week I did this one scene - I guess about half the show ["The Legacy"] takes place in this old castle between a woman, a boy and me - and its involved in some acting stuff more than just ape talk. We used [the computer set next door] last week. We finally found an area down in the subway station that had a panel that we exposed and there was a projector-type thing and a voice on it saying that, since the end of the world is imminent they have buried all Man's knowledge in several vaults throughout the country. A time capsule type of thing." Comparing Planet of the Apes to Garrison's Gorillas - the 1967-68 TV show which starred Harper as 'Garrison' - Harper said, "I find it very similar. Terribly similar, especially the last two weeks, because we're shooting at MGM's back lot #2, which is what we used a great deal when we were doing Garrison's Gorillas... A New York street we used and a lot of the alleys. The railroad station was shot there for about two weeks at night for the pilot, so all that area is familiar ground to me. But I find that the character of Virdon is very similar to Garrison. He's that type of a hero and it's a very physical show. We've been shooting outside a great deal."

"I just went up to loop a line - it was very strange; I've got to talk to the producer about it – and I didn't know what was the matter. It wasn't the line, you could hear it all right. And the girl said, 'the editor wanted you to change the reading of it'. That's the first time I've ever heard of this, that the editor wants me to change the interpretation of a line. I said 'to what? I remembered the scene, there we were, this line came right out, so I don't understand what you want me to do'. So, we called the editor, had the editor come down. I think he was trying to tell me that he would have liked to have heard a different reading on the line but I couldn't see any reason to justify it. I recorded the line for him and he said, 'can't we just hit the last word – "die" – harder'. I can do that, but that's very strange. I've never heard of an editor who cuts the film together, coming down to say, 'I'd like you to change your interpretation'. I mean, hey, wait a minute; I got a director and a writer and two producers and sixteen people at CBS who have the authority to do that."

"I didn't see Mark Lenard's face 'til last week... you really start to identify with the role as the ape. Roddy [McDowall] looks very strange to me now when he's not wearing his application. It's strange... And he can wrinkle up his forehead and his nose. He's very good, I must say... he's very good."

Halfway into another question, one of the crew's Assistant Directors, Cheryl Downey, came over to get Ron for a pick-up scene the Director wanted filmed, a scene that he'd been waiting for all afternoon. Ron went off to do the pick-up. And that was that.[10]

Mark Lenard commented "I think shows like 'The Trap' came closest to investigating the kind of thing I'd like to see in the show." "It had a good director, Arnold Lavan: I like him. He goes to get what’s in the story and he sometimes gets himself in trouble with the people because he takes a little longer, but he goes for the values. And I appreciate it, and I think in the end, that’s what makes the show. That episode, I think, had a combination of things; it had a certain amount of action, which they seem to like; it had a little bit of humour and suspense; and it had the tension of a dramatic show - plus it had a kind of revelation between the two. And I think, as far as Urko is concerned, it isn’t just that he wants to kill the astronauts - he wants to kill them because they’re a threat, they’re a danger to his whole culture, the whole Ape culture... people have called and said that when they saw... Urko looking at that poster of that gorilla in a cage, when they saw the look on his face, they were on his side from then on. They understood. And that was interesting to me because I hadn't quite expected that." "In any series, things evolve. They start with a general premise, and then, depending on what comes up, ideas change. And one of the things that they've done that I don't like is the humans kind of beating up the gorillas, which is absurd. So, in that particular episode 'The Trap', I had something to do about it and I made sure that the relationship between the two as far as strength goes was maintained, that Urko was much stronger, that gorillas are much stronger than the human and the only way the human could overcome Urko was through guile, through trickery. And that's how he did it eventually, in the end."[11]

Short StoryEdit

The short story Who is this man? What sort of devil is he?, written by Robert Greenberger for the anthology Planet of the Apes: Tales from the Forbidden Zone, is a direct sequel to 'The Trap' and incorporates Rod Serling's nebulous TV series concept into the officially-licensed continuity of the TV series. In it, a recuperating Urko is haunted by the image of a human boy feeding a banana to a caged ape, and broods about Zako's deal with the humans. Urko tells his wife Elta and son Urso about his encounter with an earlier astronaut crew, and his having killed Bengsten, LaFever, Thomas and - accidentally - Zira. The fourth astronaut is here named 'Charles' and he escaped but is presumed dead.[12]

External LinksEdit


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"
Planet of the Apes (TV Series)
Main Characters
Alan Virdon | Peter Burke | Galen | Urko | Zaius
Supporting Characters
Aboro | Anto | Arn | Augustus | Bandor | Barlow | Carsia | Daku | Dalton | Farrow | Fauna | Gahto | Hurton | Jillia | Jones | Kava | Kira | Kraik | Leander | Leuric | Lucian | Miller | Olam | Perdix | Polar | Remus | Scientist | Sestus | Tolar | Veska | Chris Virdon | Sally Virdon | Wanda | Yalu | Zako | Zandar | Zantes | Zilo | Zon | Zoran
Alpha Centauri | Farrow's Shelter | Central City | Borak | Chalo | Delphi | Hathor | Kaymak | Numai | Trion | Venta | Oakland | San Francisco | Council
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
Unmade Episodes
Episode One | Episode Two | A Fallen God | Hostage | The Trek| Freedom Road | The Mine | The Trial
Annual / Comic Strips
Brown & Watson 'Planet of the Apes' Annual, 1975 | Brown & Watson 'Planet of the Apes' Annual, 1976 | Brown & Watson 'Planet of the Apes' Annual, 1977 | Pit Of Doom | The Arsenal | Ship Of Fools | Raiding Party | A Promise Kept | Blow For Blow | Breakout | Depth | Flight From Terror | From Out Of The Past | From Out Of The Sky | Galen's Guerrillas | Journey Into Terror (Brown & Watson) | New Life... On The Old Planet | Power Play | Rockets | Swamped | The Beach Of Time | The Captive | The Circus | The Gods Of The Stars | The Marksman | The Master Of The Forests | The Prophet | The Scavangers | The Wandering Jew | The Zombies | Ultrasonic | When The Earth Shakes | When The Ghosts Walk
Planet of the Apes Encyclopedia: The Legacy | Planet of the Apes Encyclopedia: The Surgeon | Planet of the Apes Encyclopedia: Tomorrow's Tide
Audio Episodes
Volcano | Battle of Two Worlds | Dawn of The Tree People | Mountain of The Delphi | Values