After the success of five Planet of The Apes motion pictures, it was decided to try Television next, casting Roddy McDowall in the lead role as the sympathetic chimpanzee, Galen (the ape role to which McDowall professed as his favorite in later interviews). Ron Harper & James Naughton were cast as astronaut's Alan Virdon and Peter J. Burke who's spaceship gets caught in a time warp, transporting them 2000 years into the future...a world ruled by apes.
Unlike the film series, humans in this time period were able to speak. The TV series had a very unique way of discussing very important topics such as racism, loyalty, honor, as well as the value of ape/human friendship, and many more. Unfortunately the series was cancelled after only 13 broadcasts (having something to do with the fact that CBS put the show up against "Sanford and Son" & "Cheecho and The Man", two of the most popular shows on television at that time..very unwise indeed).
It was only many years later that the show found new life when many episodes were cut and spliced together to form a sort of "Movie Length" that began airing along with TV broadcasts of the theatrical films. Many people began to realize just how good a show Planet of The Apes truly was.
Now, for the very first time (with the exception of Australia), the complete series is available for home viewing..on DVD no less, with the added bonus of an additional episode that never aired originally ("The Liberator"). I have viewed all 14 episodes in this DVD box set and all I can say is "BRAVO! Fox has done it again!" Now don't expect the picture and sound quality to be tremendous, although the picture is very decent and the sound, though presented in Mono, isn't bad either. But considering it's only a TV series, I really wasn't expecting any heavy duty remastering to take place here.
There are four episodes per disc, except for #4 which has two episodes, plus 2 bonus trailers (not indicated on the back of the box) for Planet of The Apes The Evolution Box Set & Planet of The Apes The Tim Burton Film Version. See for yourself why many consider this show a cult classic.
There were only a few things I never understood about it. In the first episode ("Escape From Tomorrow") Virdon (Ron Harper) goes back to the wrecked ship to obtain a small disc that supposedly contains vital information that can only be accessed by a computer, which they begin to search for. But after episode two, this whole idea was forgotten & abandoned, which never really made sense to me because in episode five ("The Legacy") a computer is found underground in a city of ruins.
The other thing that bothered me were all the times we see Virdon & Burke surprise attack an ape and then never bother to take his rifle from him. You'll notice it many times in the show (though sometimes they do take one now and then). But this is small potatoes...the series is wonderful.
The only sad thing is we'll never see how it would've truly ended: Would Virdon & Burke ever get back home? Would Galen come too? Or would they revolutionize the ape ruled world so that apes and humans would live as equals? There were so many ways the series could've gone. But don't let these original 14 episodes pass you by. The set may be short on extra features, but considering the price you pay for 14 episodes (think about how much Paramount charges for all their different Star Trek TV Series), you more than get your money's worth.
Planet Of The Apes The TV Series - A Cult Classic!
Also, check out Return to the Planet of the Apes - The Complete Animated Series :-)