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Return to the Planet of the Apes
Return to the Planet of the Apes.jpg
Format animated series
Created by Pierre Boulle (characters)
Starring the voices of
Austin Stoker,
Phillippa Harris,
Henry Corden,
Richard Blackburn,
Edwin Mills,
Claudette Nevins,
Tom Williams
Country of origin  United States
Language(s) English
No. of episodes 13
Running time 30 minutes
Original channel NBC
Original run September 6, 1975 – September 11, 1976

Return to the Planet of the Apes is a short-lived animated series, by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises in association with 20th Century Fox Television, based upon Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle. Boulle's novel had previously been adapted in a series of movies, beginning with the 1968 Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston. Unlike the film, its sequels, and the 1974 live-action television series, which involved a primitive ape civilization, Return to the Planet of the Apes depicted a technologically advanced society, complete with automobiles, film, and television; as such it more closely resembled both Boulle's original novel and early concepts for the first Apes movie which were changed due to budgetary limitations in the late 1960s.

Produced following the last of the big-screen features and a short-lived live action TV series, this series was among the last Planet of the Apes projects for several years, aside from a number of comic books from Marvel Comics and Adventure Comics, and a series of audio adventures from Power Records.[citation needed] The next project based upon Boulle's concepts would be Tim Burton's reimagining a quarter century later.

Along with the second film Beneath the Planet of the Apes, this is one of only two original Planet of the Apes productions in which Roddy McDowall was not involved.

Broadcast history

Airing on NBC, the series premiered on September 6, 1975 and was broadcast until September 4, 1976, although only thirteen episodes were produced. The series aired Saturday mornings at 11:00am Eastern/10:00am Central.

The series was later shown in reruns on the Sci Fi Channel in 1992 as part of Sci Fi Cartoon Quest.

Music for the series was provided by Dean Elliott and Eric Rogers.

Characters (Voices)

  • Bill Hudson .......Tom Williams/Richard Blackburn
  • Judy Franklin .....Claudette Nevins
  • Jeff Carter ........Austin Stoker
  • Cornelius .........Henry Corden/Edwin Mills
  • Dr. Zira ..........Tress MacNeille
  • General Urko ......Henry Corden
  • Dr. Zaius
  • Nova
  • Ronald Brent
  • Krador
  • The Underdwellers

Production credits

  • Written by: Larry Spiegel, J.C. Strong, Jack Kaplan, John Barrett, Bruce Shelly (credit varies by episodes)
  • Developed for Television by David H. DePatie-Friz Freleng
  • Based on the Characters Created by Pierre Boulle
  • Animation Director: Cullen Houghtaling
  • Storyboard Directors: Morris Gollub, Doug Wildey, Jan Green
  • Graphic Design: Moe Gollub, Hak Ficq, Leo Swenson, Norley Paat, Tony Sgroi, Earl Martin, George Wheeler, John Dorman, Zgyamond Jablecki, John Messina
  • Animation: Reuben Timmins, Jim Brummett, Ed Aardal, Joe Roman Jr., Lee Halpern, Jack Foster, Bob Kirk, Janice Stocks
  • Backgrounds Supervised by Richard H. Thomas
  • Backgrounds: Mary O'Loughlin, Don Watson
  • Ink & Paint Supervision: Gertrude Timmins
  • Xerography: Greg Marshall
  • Film Editing Supervised by Bob Gillis
  • Film Editors: Allan Potter, Rick Steward
  • Music Editor: Joe Siracusa
  • Voices: Austin Stoker, Phillippa Harris, Henry Corden, Richard Blackburn, Edwin Mills, Claudette Nevins, Tom Williams
  • Anthropological Dialogue Researched by MacDonald Stearns, Ph.D., UCLA Department of Germanic Languages
  • Music by Dean Elliott
  • Conducted by Eric Rogers
  • In Charge of Production: Lee Gunther
  • Camera: Ray Lee, Larry Hogan, John Burton Jr.
  • Production Mixer: Steve Orr
  • Music Mixer: Eric Tomlinson
  • Sound by Producers' Sound Service, Inc.
  • Supervising Director & Associate Producer: Doug Wildey
  • Produced by David H. DePatie-Friz Freleng
  • In Association With Twentieth Century-Fox Television


As with the film and the live-action series, Return to the Planet of the Apes involved a handful of astronauts from Earth who were hurtled into the future and found themselves stuck in a world populated by advanced apes and primitive humans. Over the course of the thirteen episodes the astronauts attempted to keep one step ahead of the apes while at the same time trying to make some sense of what had happened. Additionally, they did their best to safeguard the human population from the apes.

Each episode was self-contained to an extent. The story threads did weave in and out, with characters and plots from earlier episodes popping up in later ones. In order for the series to make any sense, the episodes need to be viewed in order.

The animated series does chronologically fit with the rest of the Apes universe. It borrows characters and elements from the movies, the TV series, and the original novels. General Urko is borrowed from the TV series. Along with Zaius, Zira, and Cornelius, Brent (renamed here as Ron Brent) and Nova are from the movie series. Krador and the Underdwellers in the animated series are loosely based on the mutants in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

As with the live action television series, the animated series was concluded before the resolution of the storyline, and we do not learn if the astronauts are able to return to their own time period. But the animated series does otherwise offer a conclusion. Doctor Zaius, in recognising the threat of a military overthrow from General Urko, assures that he is relieved of command. Further, Cornelius and Zira, in recognising that Simian Society was established long after human society had deteriorated, believed that the time was right for humans to be offered equal rights to that of apes, and intend to present their proposition to the Senate.

Characters in the animated series frequently mentioned prominent Apes noticeably named after human historical figures by appropriately inserting the word "ape" into their name. A notable example included "William Apespeare", an Ape analog of William Shakespeare. Another scene showed a couple of Ape soldiers chatting about a new movie called The Apefather, an apparent analog of The Godfather.


  1. Flames of Doom (9/6/1975)
  2. Escape from Ape City (9/13/1975)
  3. Lagoon of Peril (9/20/1975)
  4. Tunnel of Fear (9/27/1975)
  5. The Unearthly Prophecy (10/4/1975)
  6. Screaming Wings (10/11/1975)
  7. Trail to the Unknown (10/18/1975)
  8. Attack from the Clouds (10/25/1975)
  9. Mission of Mercy (11/1/1975)
  10. Invasion of the Underdwellers (11/8/1975)
  11. Battle of the Titans (11/15/1975)
  12. Terror on Ice Mountain (11/22/1975)
  13. River of Flames (11/29/1975)

For years, a 14th unfilmed episode, "A Date With Judy," was thought to have existed since one of the novelizations lists it in the book's contents. However, that was actually an early title for the episode "The Unearthly Prophecy."

It should be noted that several of the episodes were aired out of order. For example, the episode "Terror on Ice Mountain" should be viewed before the episode "Battle of the Titans", but the former was mistakenly aired after the latter. Likewise, the episode "Lagoon of Peril" should be viewed after the episode "Tunnel of Fear". The last episode to air, "River of Flames", should be viewed after "The Unearthly Prophecy", if the series is to be viewed in the proper order.

To see the proper viewing order, view the List of Return to the Planet of the Apes episodes.


The series has been criticized for poor production values. Constant reuse of backgrounds and lack of movement made the action on screen dull and slow[1]. The voicework has also been criticized for sometimes being unemotional and equally monotonous.

Additionally, there are those who reject the animated series for not fitting seamlessly into the overall Planet of the Apes universe. Characters from the films and the live-action television series were brought together in Return to the Planet of the Apes, and the advanced nature of the ape civilization is not considered canonical by some Planet of the Apes fans.


Despite its limited animation, the series was noted for highly detailed backgrounds, illustrations, character designs and camera effects, due in part to veteran cartoonist Doug Wildey. While animation was poor due to budget and time constraints, still artwork, which featured prominently in the program, was incredibly detailed with extensive shading - looking more like a decent comic book than a television cartoon.

For the most part, the scripts were intelligent with detailed stories and solid internal continuity. Unlike many animated adaptations, Return to the Planet of the Apes managed to effectively capture the tone of the live action features, complete with the sense of alienation, wonderment and loss[2].


DVD release

DVD Cover of Return to the Planet of the Apes.

The Planet of the Apes series was released as a part of the Ultimate DVD Collection in early 2006 by FOX Home Entertainment. The Complete Animated Series' release on DVD was delayed until October 3, 2006.[3] This was the first time the series was released stand-alone on DVD. Only three of the episodes were restored in the discs included in the Ultimate DVD Collection but all 13 were restored in the individual release. The individual release also included them in their intended order as opposed to airdate order as presented in the box set. The individual release also includes the option of watching the episodes with a preview of the next episode which wasn't present in the box set release.

The episode list on the back of the DVD case for the individual release has many errors. The episodes are listed in airdate order as opposed to the chronological order on the actual DVDs, one episode is listed as airing the day before it actually aired and two are shown as having the same airdate resulting in the airdates of the two subsequent episodes being one week off.


The episode guide was taken from, and other bits and pieces were taken from the IMDb; see below for links.

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Return to the Planet of the Apes - Animated Series Returns to the Schedule

External links



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