Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Extra: Apes On TV

Before we move on to the next film in the series, I wanted to touch upon the original Apes phenomenon wasn't quite over.  In 1974 and 1975, the series took to the small screen.  A live action television show and a cartoon were created, both ultimately having the plug pulled on them before they even were able to finish a proper full first season.  The films may have been done, but the Apes were implanted on pop culture, and Fox wanted to keep riding that train to Ape-town.

1974 brought about the Planet Of The Apes live action television series.  It brought back franchise mainstay Roddy McDowall, but as a new character Galen.  It deals once again with astronauts landing many years into the future on an ape-rule Earth.  However, the series hook plays more like fugitives on the run with Galen and two humans being the series' hook.  I always took this as its own Ape universe, but there are some that argue it could take place during the original canon.  I many damn spacecrafts from the 60s/70s are going up and crash landing thousands of years into the future.  Seems a little silly to me.  But, its revealed to take place around the San Francisco area while the first two Apes films took place around New York.  I take them both as separate entities, but think what you wish.
After 13 episodes, the show was cancelled due to poor ratings.  There were a total of 14 episodes, but the penultimate episode was yanked due to political controversy and didn't air until the Sci Fi Channel ran the series in the 90s.  The show simply could not compete with Sanford And Son and Chico And The Man.  Could it have been a hit if they had titled it Galen And The Humans?  We'll never know.
Next, they decided to take the Apes to the kids.  A Saturday morning cartoon show was produced called Return To The Planet Of The Apes.  This featured characters from the movies, as well as a character bridged with the live actions series.  There's no Roddy McDowall, but Austin Stoker returned to the franchise to voice a role.  This show also failed to make it a full season, airing yet again 13 episodes.  The animation type was that of the Filmation style made popular in the 70s.  If you've ever seen any of these, they're a chore to get through in our day and age.  Its really simple, cheap, recycled crappy animation that's a chore to watch.  You get a couple of these episodes in your system and you've pretty much got the gist of everything and need to see no more.  It's hard to get through a series of these, the only one I can personally really tolerate is Star Trek (but that's mainly because the writing was better than most all of these).  If you're familiar with the Ambiguously Gay Duo, know that its a parody of this era.
One more shot was given at trying to salvage some of this attempt and branching the Planet Of The Apes to television in 1980.  Episodes of the live action series were paired together and repackaged as made for TV movies.  There were some funny titles among this bunch as well including ones like Treachery And Greed On The Planet Of The Apes and Life, Liberty And Pursuit On The Planet Of The Apes.  McDowall came back to do commercial break wrap arounds as an older version of Galen who would even give hints to where the season and show would have properly ended as well.
Apes next spot on TV was not what you might've expected.  In the final 3 seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000, during its Sci Fi Channel run, they introduced the character of Professor Bobo (played by the series' own Tom Servo, Kevin Murphy).  Bobo was a direct lift off the Ape design from the Planet Of The Apes canon.  The show also paid homage to Beneath by bringing in the mutants which helped Mike and the robots to destroy Professor Bobo's home planet.  Bobo was mainly a henchman to the lead villain at the time, Pearl Forrester.
Aside from a Roddy McDowall host marathon on Sci Fi Channel in the 90s and maybe some revival screenings of the original movies, this was it for Planet Of The Apes until 2001's remake.  It was such a pop culture phenomenon though, that it didn't need any new films or TV tie ins to stay alive at the time.  It was no Star Wars circa 1983-1997, but it was still quite ingrained on the public consciousness.  

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