Monday, June 4, 2012

Planet of the Apes (television series)

Maybe this is coming from rosy-lensed glasses of my youth and long being an Ape-Head. But, I re-watched the first episode of the 1970s Planet of the Apes television series last night, and thought it was very strong. Some very suspenseful moments, a good setup. Very good classic scifi with hints of a much larger backstory.

Alas, the ratings failed early. Attracting only younger viewers, suit execs ordered the show dumbed down for kids. Ape menace and scifi threads were dropped in favor of action where buffoonish gorillas were constantly being whacked over the head with logs. As one actor noted, it became The Fugitive with apes. Who gets captured and who escapes this week?

The tactic didn't work, anyway, and the show continued to dwindle.

Too bad they didn't even get the old standard 24 episode season, and only managed 14 episodes. It would have been great if they could have explored more lost technology and possible mysteries of the gaps between their time and the future of the Apes.


  1. I did enjoy some of the early shows of this series. It would be good to see the best ones run back to back

  2. I have fond memories of the series as well. Did you watch the animated series too?

  3. I have vague memories of seeing both the TV series and the animated series, and read the original novel in the late 70s, but I really got into PotA when I was able to watch all the movies on the afternoon movie (remember those?) one week in the summer of 1980.

    I'd love to see some of these TV episodes.

  4. I loved the first movie but when I caught these on Sci-Fi reruns I don't recall them particularly grabbing me.

  5. Yes, I did watch the cartoon. Watching the DVD release (finally!) a few years ago, I realized I had forgotten most of the details. The cartoon was a huge mish-mash of everything that had come before - included trucks and tanks and other tech like the original novel.

    Part of remembering the t.v. series more than the cartoon, I think, was that some of the shows had been spliced into afternoon movies, so I got some refresher viewings during high school and college.

    Ah, the days when you could only hope to catch something in a repeat. So much at our fingertips now!

  6. Ha! Exactly Paul-my kids expect me to be able to turn on right then and there anything they want to watch, once in awhile they have to endure the horror of waiting a few days for the DVR to catch up-gone are the days of running home from school so you don't miss your shows!

  7. If done correctly, I actually think a live-action TV show of Apes could do well today. It would take the right director and group of writers, but I believe it could be done.

    I, too, enjoyed the early shows, but yeah, it started to get a little silly fairly quickly.

  8. I thought the show had potential and I still watch it every once in a while. I think the chemistry between the three leads got stronger as the series went along, but yes I agree the plots got weaker. A shame they didn't they didn't explore more links between what caused the change in the society.