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Return to the Planet of the Apes

August 23, 2014

apePlanet of the Apes was a huge franchise that sort of completely disappeared for a number of decades but, anyone born in the late 50s or early 60s can tell you how big it was at the time. The first film in 1968 was a huge hit. The first draft of the screenplay was written by Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling but would ultimately be rewritten by Michael Wilson. The movie spawned four sequels that came out in rapid succession. After the two year gap to the second film, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the rest would be released only one year apart from one another. Two TV series, one live action and one animated would appear one year apart from the end of the movie run and each other. Movie theaters had special Planet of the Apes marathon events where they showed all five films in one day as a lead into the first of these two sequel series (the live action one). For the time period there was a large amount of merchandising which by today’s standard would not be considered not much. Marvel did two comic book series. More dear to my heart was the Mego action figure series which are probably still up in the attic at my folks house. There were also record/book sets, models and some other stuff. So, why did this franchise all but disappear from the public eye? It could have something to do with the 1977 release of this little film called Star Wars along with the re-invention of SF cinema that followed. That’s honestly just a guess on my part as I have always wondered about this. Maybe, as my wife suggests, the kids who were the main audience for the series just grew out of it or, perhaps the public was just tired of the Planet of the Apes.

With the release of the excellent Dawn of the planet of the Apes my friend Eric Hillis’ requested, much like my article on Godzilla on TV and the accompanying Movie Waffler article on the history of the Godzilla franchise, a couple of articles on the Planet of the Apes franchise two TV series. I started with the latter Return to the Planet of the Apes animated series because it was readily available. I actually watched both series back in the day although I only watched about every other episode of the animated series. At first I didn’t think I would be able to cover the earlier live action series until my friend Richard Chamberlain generously volunteered me the loan of his DVD set for this series. Richard is a scholar and gentleman who runs a blog called Monster Movie Kid where he is going through all of the Planet of the Apes movies. He even discusses the two TV series himself. You should definitely check it out. Also, check out my review of Return to the Planet of the Apes and, after a few more weeks my review of the earlier live action TV series.

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