LIFE, LIBERTY AND PURSUIT ON THE PLANET OF THE APES (1981)
Article 3111 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-3-2009
Posting Date: 2-19-2010
Directed by Arnold Laven and Alf Kjellin
Featuring Roddy McDowall, Ron Harper, James Naughton
What it is: TV episodes edited into feature
In the first half, Virdon is shot and will die unless he is smuggled into a hospital for treatment. In the second, Burke is captured and subjected to brainwashing techniques, so Galen and Virdon must rescue him.
I still think the title in this particular entry of the series of TV-Movies culled from the “Planet of the Apes” TV series is awful, but it appears to be culled from a couple of the better episodes of the series. Now, to be honest, I actually haven’t seen the TV-Movie version, as I’ve not been able to find it, but since I know the two episodes that were used, and I’ve seen some of the other TV-Movies, I’ve been able to recreate the experience, as, other than some changes to the credit sequences, virtually no real editing was done. There is a certain art to picking which episodes to put together, and this one does a decent job of picking two episodes that were different enough from each other to seem distinct, while still having some common touches; in both, one of the humans is out of the action, scientific experiments are undertaken, and both revolve around ancient books (one on human anatomy, the other on brainwashing). Both episodes are pretty good, though the second one, which feature Beverly Garland, gets the edge.
Still, the episodes do display some of the problems that plagued the series; the dialogue is often clunky, the themes a little too obvious, and the two humans were never developed as distinct characters (you could reverse the roles of the characters in any episode without changing anything more than the references to the character names, and I don’t think anyone would notice). The non-development of the human character turns the series by default into the adventures of Galen, who displays oodles of character. I also grew to appreciate the skill of Mark Lenard’s performance as Urko the gorilla; he has great presence and imbues his character with a subtle but distinct sense of humor, and I found myself looking forward to his scenes.