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!