1 9 7 5 – 1 9 7 6 (USA)
Return To The Planet Of The Apes is the least-celebrated chapter in the Planet Of The Apes franchise.
Yet ironically it’s also the only adaptation that depicted simian society as it was originally envisioned by Pierre Boulle in his novel, Monkey Planet which started the whole ongoing saga.
Budget restrictions prevented the Planet Of The Apes films from portraying the apes as technologically advanced.
But in cartoons it costs the same to draw high-tech cities as it does to draw primitive settlements, so for the first time, the apes were given all the modern comforts ascribed to them by their creator, including cars, cinemas, and television sets.
Although set in the distant future, Ape City in this animated series is an odd amalgam of different historical eras.
The architecture resembles ancient Rome, the cars have body designs from the 1940s and 1950s, and the military uses state-of-the-art weaponry.
Likewise, the cast of characters are a mishmash of those from Boulle’s novel, a few from the films and live-action television series, and a new brand of human explorers – Bill, Judy and Jeff – who find themselves in the same predicament as Charlton Heston (in Planet Of The Apes) and James Franciscus (in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes).
Dr Zaius, Cornelius and Zira are recognisable from the feature films, and once again it is Zaius who knows the true history of the planet and conceals its heritage for the good of his species. The two chimpanzee scientists are, as always, sympathetic to the human cause and tireless advocates for peace between the races.
They are opposed by General Urko, who first appeared in the CBS TV series, and believes “the only good human is a dead human”. Nova makes an appearance, as does an astronaut named Brent, and a race of subterranean humans with telepathic powers.
The most prominent new characters are astronauts Bill Hudson, Jeff Carter and Judy Franklin, who crash on the planet (aboard the spacecraft Venturer) in the grand tradition of their NASA predecessors.
None of the characters from previous Apes projects were voiced by the actors who originally portrayed them, and the cast was comprised mostly of newcomers to voice animation, with the exception of Henry Corden (Urko) whose distinguished résumé included such cartoon icons as Fred Flintstone, and work in the Saturday classics The Banana Splits Adventure Hour and Josie and the Pussycats.
Astronaut Jeff Carter’s voice was provided by Austin Stoker, who also played MacDonald in the film Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (1973).
The animation is fairly basic at times and often consists of not much more than stills of the characters.
When someone is speaking we get the bare minimum of expression with often only the mouth moving. When they scroll through landscapes you can often see the same backdrop repeated on a loop. The same basic pieces of animation are used over and over again too.
Flames Of Doom | Escape from Ape City | Lagoon Of Peril | Tunnel Of Fear | The Unearthly Prophecy | Terror On Ice Mountain | River Of Flames | Screaming Wings | Trail To The Unknown | Attack From The Clouds | Mission Of Mercy | Invasion Of The Underdwellers | Battle Of The Titans