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Return to the Planet of the Apes

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Return to the Planet of the Apes

Return to the Planet of the Apes

The Return to the Planet of the Apes animated series featured familiar characters and costumes, but was set in a more advanced simian world than was previously seen in the franchise.  This has caused many fans to note over the years that the 1975 animated Apes production was therefore more faithful in many ways to Pierre Boulle's original concept than any previous interpretation of the material.

Return to the Planet of the Apes on DVD

If that is indeed the case, it may only be because the relatively high tech ape society originally planned for the first Planet of the Apes motion picture was deemed by the film's producers to be much too expensive to pull off, given the production's limited budget.

In fact, it is well known that the film studio (20th Century Fox) that funded and released the Apes film series was experiencing financial difficulties in the late 1960s and early 70s, causing them to even further cut the budgets for each successive Planet of the Apes production.

Bearing all this in mind, the Return to the Planet of the Apes cartoon series was not necessarily more faithful to Boulle's vision than any of its predecessors, but may have simply benefited from the fact that animated TV series are relatively cheap to produce.

A Promising Beginning for the Animated Apes

Below is the colorful and chillingly atmospheric animated series opener.  As a kid, I was absolutely delighted when I first saw that it featured Apes movie and TV series accurate depictions of the principal characters.  Back then, I was totally blown away by how well it was done and I still find it, all these decades later, to be a quite thrilling and impressive animated short.

Judged purely on the basis of the series opener itself, the DePatie-Freleng Enterprises company really hit the mark in capturing the overall tone and flavor of the Apes mythos - with that menacing gorilla hunter motif, punctuated by well rendered images of fleeing astronauts, sympathetic chimpanzee friends and aristocratic orangutans - all framed by that angry orange sky and anemic evening sunset we first saw in the Apes TV series opener in the fall of 1974.  If only the rest of the show had been that good.

In truth, the cartoon series itself was quite a let down for me when I later saw that, in the animated world, the gorilla enforcers had WWII style bomber planes and could also be seen driving modern military vehicles.  Though that sort of backdrop was much more in keeping with the ape environment depicted in Boulle's original novel, it simply was not the fascinating world I had been transfixed by in the live action films and TV series.  Thus, my high expectations and hopes for the show were completely dashed one early Saturday morning way back in 1975.

Terribly let down as a youngster, I didn't watch much of the original run of Return to the Planet of the Apes.  Yet over the years since then, I've grown to appreciate that particular Saturday morning serial a great deal more than I ever originally thought possible.  After all, in retrospect, many of the animated ape adventures are still great stories and actually serve as a surprisingly thought provoking and meaningful addition to the rich and varied collective legacy of the Planet of the Apes phenomenon.

Planet of the Apes and Return to the Planet of the Apes © Copyright 20th Century Fox


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