RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES – THE COMPLETE SERIES (NBC 1975-76)
In 1975, after the failure of the CBS live-action series, NBC and 20th Century Fox agreed to adapt Planet of the Apes for an animated series. The network contracted DePatie–Freleng Enterprises to produce a half-hour Saturday-morning cartoon titled Return to the Planet of the Apes. Doug Wildey, co-creator of Jonny Quest, took on most creative control as associate producer, storyboard director, and supervising director.
The plot concerns three American astronauts, Bill Hudson (Tom Williams), Jeff Allen (Austin Stoker, who played MacDonald in Battle), and Judy Franklin (Claudette Nevins), who inadvertently journey to Earth's far future. They find the world populated by three groups: mute humans who inhabit desert caves, subterranean human "Underdwellers" fashioned after the mutants of Beneath, and civilized apes who subjugate the humans. Through the show, the astronauts become increasingly involved in the planet's affairs and in defending the humans against an ape invasion. The cast featured characters based on those from the previous films and TV series, including Nova (Nevins again), General Urko (Henry Cordin), Zira (Philippa Harris), Cornelius (Edwin Mills), and Dr. Zaius (Richard Blackburn). NBC broadcast thirteen episodes between September 6 and November 21, 1975, and then continued to re-air them until September 1976.
Unlike the film, its sequels, and the 1974 live action TV 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.