Back to the Planet of the Apes (1981)

Article 2315 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-28-2007
Posting Date: 12-14-2007
Directed by Arnold Laven and Don Weis
Featuring Roddy McDowall, Ron Harper, James Naughton
Two astronauts end up stranded in Earth’s future, where apes are the ruling species. They go on the run with a fugitive chimpanzee named Galen.

Hey, didja know that the “Planet of the Apes” movies were so popular they spawned a TV series in the mid-seventies?

And didja know that the series lasted only half a season before being axed?

And didja know that a TV-series that got axed after only half a season had little or no chance to thrive in syndication at the time, even if they did garner a certain cult following?

And didja know that the powers that be got around this problem by editing episodes of the series together into bogus TV-movies that they could sell as part of packages?

And didja know they culled about six TV-movies out of this series, usually with unwieldy titles like LIFE, LIBERTY AND PURSUIT ON THE PLANET OF THE APES and KUMQUATS AND YAMS ON THE PLANET OF THE APES? Okay, I made up that last one, but the first one was a real title, and I’m sure whoever though it up must have thought they were real clever until they sobered up.

And didja know several of these bogus TV-Movies are on my hunt list, and I’ll be covering them in the next week or so?

Well, I’m sure you knew some of that already. This one joins together the first and third episodes of the series, “Escape from Tomorrow” and “The Trap”. The former is just what you’d expect from the first episode of the series; it goes through the motions of regurgitating the themes of the movies while setting up the situation that would drive the series; there isn’t much in the way of surprises here. The second has one of the humans trapped in an underground subway station with the gorilla who is chasing them, and they must learn cooperation and trust in order to survive and escape (which all falls apart at the end of the episode so they can return to the status quo and keep the series going). Based on this collection, I have to come to the conclusion that the reason the series didn’t last long was that it simply wasn’t very good; I found it fairly predictable and repetitive. And it looks like I’ll be seeing a goodly portion of this series during the next few days…



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