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Planet of the Apes was a short-lived Americanmarker science fiction television series that aired on Friday evenings at 8:00PM Eastern/7:00PM Central on CBS in 1974. The series starred Roddy McDowall, Ron Harper, and James Naughton, Mark Lenard and Booth Colman. It was based on the 1968 Planet of the Apes film and its sequels in which McDowall also starred.

The series ran from September 13, 1974 to December 20, 1974. Although fourteen episodes were produced, only 13 were originally aired; the 14th previously unseen "lost" episode was included in the DVD box set which is now available. Fox had promised to include promotional materials and trailers for the episodes with the DVD set, but no such footage was included.

The show was cancelled after half a season because of low ratings, due to direct competition by NBC's Top 10 hits Sanford and Son and Chico and the Man.


The series, set in ship earthtime MAR 21 3085, begins with the crash of an earth NASA spaceship, this time from shiptime AUG 19 1980. The spaceship is manned by three NASA astronauts, one of whom has died in the crash. The other two astronauts are unconscious but are rescued by a human who carries them to an old bomb shelter. After the human opens a book containing historical text and pictures of Earth circa 2500, the two astronauts are convinced that they are indeed on a future Earth.

The crash is also witnessed by a young chimpanzee who tells his father, a village official who alerts the authorities. Ape counselor Zaius (an analog of the Dr. Zaius character from the original movie), notes that another such incident occurred ten years earlier. He orders the head gorilla, General Urko (Mark Lenard), to find the humans and bring them back alive. Zaius wants to find out as much as he can about the humans before they are eventually killed. Zaius doesn't trust General Urko to follow his orders and bring back any surviving humans, so he sends along his newly-hired chimpanzee assistant, Galen (Roddy McDowall, who played Cornelius and Caesar in most of the film versions).

The two astronauts, Colonel Alan Virdon (Ron Harper) and Major Peter J. Burke (James Naughton), go back to their ship to check the ship's chronometer. They are more than 1000 years in the future from when they left Earth. Virdon insists on retrieving the ship's flight log in the hopes that they will be able to analyze it and be able to return to their own time period, but while they are at the ship, they are captured, and the old man is subsequently killed by a group of apes.

Galen finds the human book that the old man had been carrying. He reads parts of the book and begins to doubt the history that he has been told: apes have always been dominant, and humans have always been inferior and subservient. When Galen finds out that Urko has arranged for the two astronauts to escape and be killed in the attempt, he prevents the shooter and helps the humans escape.

Galen discusses the book that he found with Zaius, who then accuses him of heresy. Galen is sentenced to death for his crime. The two astronauts find out about his sentence and rescue Galen. They are all then declared enemies of the state and become fugitives. The three fugitives wander around the territory that used to be the western United Statesmarker having various encounters with apes, humans, and old human civilization ruins.


Episode First airdate
Escape From Tomorrow September 13 1974
The Gladiators September 20 1974
The Trap September 27 1974
The Good Seeds October 4 1974
The Legacy October 11 1974
Tomorrow's Tide October 18 1974
The Surgeon October 25 1974
The Deception November 1 1974
The Horse Race November 8 1974
The Interrogation November 15 1974
The Tyrant November 22 1974
The Cure November 29 1974
The Liberator Never aired during original run*
Up Above the World So High December 6 1974*

  • Though most sources, including the official Fox DVD release, cite "The Liberator" as an unaired episode, it is listed as having aired on December 6, 1974 in Planet of the Apes Revisited by Joe Russo, Larry Landsman and Edward Gross. "Up Above the World So High" is also given a different release date in this book: December 20, 1974.

Unfilmed Episodes

  • "Episode One" (written by Rod Serling as pilot episode; radically different from what aired)

  • "Episode Two" (written by Rod Serling as follow-up to his version of the pilot)

  • "Hostage" (written by Stephen Kandel)

  • "A Fallen God" (written by Anthony Lawrence)

  • "The Trek" (written by Jim Burnes)

  • "Freedom Road" (written by Arthur Rowe)

  • "The Mine" (written by Paul Savage)

  • "The Trial" (written by Edward J. Lasko)

The scripts for "Episode One", "Episode Two", "Hostage" and "A Fallen God" are available online at Hunter's Planet of the Apes Archive. Details regarding "The Trek," "Freedom Road," "The Mine" and "The Trial" were provided in issue 12 of Simian Scrolls (a Planet of the Apes-based magazine), reprinted from the TV series writer's bible.

Episodes timeline

Escape from Tomorrow
This episode tells the story of the astronauts' crash, the rescue and subsequent capture of two of them, and their escape with Galen.

The Gladiators
Burke estimates they are north of San Franciscomarker.

A human kills Urko’s Lieutenant, Jason.

Urko holds Barlow responsible for Jason’s death and transfers him to the remote outpost of Venton.

The Trap
Burke, Virdon and Galen are near the village of Numai. This is near the ruins of San Francisco.

The Good Seeds
Burke, Virdon and Galen go to Polar’s farm. The farm is “four day’s hard ride from Center City. The travelers spend two weeks here so that Galen's leg can mend. While they are there, Virdon, who grew up on a farm, helps Polar improve crop yields, introduces the family to such things as butter, and helps deliver a bull calf Polar's eldest son needs to start his own farm.

The Legacy
Burke, Virdon and Galen enter the ruins of Oaklandmarker.

Tomorrow’s Tide
Burke, Virdon and Galen approach the Pacificmarker Ocean. Burke speculates that it could be Malibumarker, Pismo Beachmarker or Paradise Cove.

The Surgeon
Virdon is shot by a gorilla patrol. Galen and Burke take him to a medical center outside Center City, where he must undergo an operation involving a blood transfusion, a procedure ape doctors believe to be impossible.

The Horse Race
Burke, Virdon and Galen enter the village of Venton.
After winning the wager with Urko, Barlow, along with Martin and Gregor, return to Kaymak.

Wanda discovers an ancient book on brainwashing techniques in a time capsule from the late 20th century.
(Wanda states the book was recently discovered in “The Interrogation.”)

Yalu, Galen’s father is recently elected to the high council.
(Galen learns of this happening recently in “The Interrogation.”)

The Interrogation
Burke is captured and taken to Central City. Urko goes on an inspection tour of the outer provinces.

The Tyrant
Virdon, Burke and Galen enter the village of Hathor.

The Cure
Virdon, Burke and Galen enter the village of Trion. Virdon meets Amy and tells her the friends' secret, to Galen's displeasure. One week later the group leaves the village. Malaria breaks out there shortly afterward.

The Liberator
It is summer. Virdon, Burke and Galen approach the village of Borak.

Up Above the World So High.
Virdon, Burke and Galen are near the sea. They encounter a human who is experimenting with flight in a hang-glider he has built himself.


In 1981, several episodes of the series were edited into five made-for-television movies.
  • Back to the Planet of the Apes
  • Forgotten City of the Planet of the Apes
  • Treachery and Greed on the Planet of the Apes
  • Life, Liberty and Pursuit on the Planet of the Apes
  • Farewell to the Planet of the Apes

Galen's last appearance

When the Planet of the Apes telefilms entered syndication, ABC's owned and operated stations, who picked them up for their afternoon movie programs (under titles such as The 4:30 Movie), called upon Roddy McDowall to re-create his role of Galen in a series of new openings and closings specifically for these stations, billed as "The New Planet of the Apes." The introductions originally created by 20th Century Fox to open each film was replaced by a now-aged Galen (McDowall) looking back on the events of the telefilms. The openings and closings revealed Virdon and Burke's final fates: "they found their computer in another city and disappeared into space as suddenly as they’d arrived." The ABC openings and closings of these telefilms were never seen on other stations, nor were they included on the DVD set of the series. [150001]


Most of the books and comics based on Planet of the Apes are based on the movies, not the TV series. However, there are some titles that do involve the TV show characters:

Novelizations -- Four novelizations of episodes, written by George Alec Effinger, were published by Award Books. Their titles are:
  • Planet of the Apes #1: Man the Fugitive
  • Planet of the Apes #2: Escape From Tomorrow
  • Planet of the Apes #3: Journey Into Terror
  • Planet of the Apes #4: Lord of the Apes

British Annuals -- Brown-Watson Books published three hardcover annuals featuring original stories about Virdon, Burke and Galen. These stories are a combination of comic strips and short fiction.

Audio Adventures -- Power Records produced four audio-only adventures based on the TV show. Their titles were:
  • Mountain of the Delphi
  • Battle of Two Worlds
  • Dawn of the Tree People
  • Volcano

Argentine Comics -- Seven Spanish-language comics were published in Argentina, written by Jorge Claudio Morhain and Richard Barreiro, and illustrated by Sergio Mulko and T. Toledo. Released only in Argentina, they have never been officially published in English. However PDFs of the comics, translated to English by fans, are available at Kassidy Rae's site. (See link below.)

Filmstrip Story -- Chad Valley, a U.K. toy company, produced 32 short film-based comic strips containing an original TV-series-era story, packaged as the Chad Valley Picture Show Planet of the Apes Sliderama Projector (very similar to the many Give-a-Show projector sets of the 1970s). These strips are extremely rare and difficult to come by.


Starring: Frequent guest stars: Other credits:


The series was filmed for the most part on location at what is now Malibu Creek State Parkmarker.

External links

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