Sunday, August 7, 2011

Literary Toons: Return to the Planet of the Apes (1975)

With "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" dominating the box office this week, I thought I'd take a look back at the lone animated entry in the "Apes" franchise.

Return to the Planet of the Apes had a tough act to follow when it debuted on NBC in 1975. After all, Star Trek had just ended a 2 year animated voyage, and the network needed a new tentpole around which to build their Saturday morning block. DePatie-Freleng had entered into an agreement with 20th Century Fox to produce Return, a year after Fox had made the gallant attempt to put Planet in primetime, over on CBS. Strangely, producers Joe Ruby & Ken Spears, who'd moved to DFE from Hanna-Barbera three years earlier, and had worked on the live-action Planet series, are not attached to this cartoon, which would've been the coda to their DFE run. They would return to H-B the next year for 2 years before launching their own studio.

Here's a sample of Return:

The character designs were a far, far cry from the usual DFE fare, thanks to the genius move of signing Jonny Quest creator Doug Wildey as a member of the show's creative staff. Unfortunately, viewers turned off Return, just as they did the live-action series the year before, and it was cancelled after 1 season. You'd think someone would've had the stones to bring this show out of the vaults with the new movie out, but nooooooo!

Rating: A.


magicdog said...

I guess DePatie-Freleng doesn't want to play ball with syndication folk for this show.

I'm surprised neither this series nor the live action series (which I remember watching back in the day) got any attention during the release of the reboots. I don't think any of the other movies from the original franchise have recieved much attention either.

What intrigued me about this cartoon (besides the Doug Wildey artwork) was that unlike the other Planet of the Apes movies or the LA series, it had mostly current technology in it! It wasn't all that primitive despite being under the ape's rule. They drove jeeps and had Howitzer cannons and TV!

There was even continuity elements there (like the female astronaut who for a time stayed with a bunch of mutant humans who worshipped her) and another astronaut named Brent who was also trapped but arrived years before they did.

hobbyfan said...

Fox owns the rights to the Apes cartoon, and thus dropped the ball on giving it to either FX or SyFy to run before the new movie opened. Likewise, they could've had the 1974 live-action series air on SyFy as well, since SyFy ran a Green Hornet marathon before that movie was released in January. What were these jabronies thinking?

magicdog said...

The jabronies were probably thinking, "If we completely ignore all 'Planet of the Apes' related video prior to the reboot film, everyone will forget a franchise ever existed and will flock to our films. While the money comes in we'll be smokin' bananas!!"

hobbyfan said...

Oh, they had to be smoking something. Fox could've reaped a bigger bounty by putting the earlier series on in the short term.