Planet of the Apes-Complete TV Series (1974)

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Released 17-Jun-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Trailer-The Planet Of The Apes Collection; Planet Of The Apes
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1974
Running Time 667:43
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (4)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Various
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Roddy McDowall
Ron Harper
James Naughton
Booth Colman
Mark Lenard
Case ?
RPI $79.95 Music Earle Hagen
Richard LaSalle
Lalo Schifrin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
French Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The original Planet Of The Apes movie is a science fiction classic, and deservedly so. It works on so many different levels: a criticism of man’s ignorant superiority; a study in class struggle and racism (or even speciesism); a pro-environment film; and an anti-war / anti-nuclear weapons film. The sequels, however, lacked the core of the first film and b******ised its message. Then, after the first film screened on TV to massive audiences, the Fox Studio thought it would be a good idea to produce a TV series based on the original film.

    The show follows the travels of the Ape scientist turned Human sympathiser Galen (Roddy McDowall) and two human astronauts – Alan Virdon (Ron Harper) and Pete Burke (James Naughton) – crashed on Earth from the past, and on the run from the ape authorities as heretics and a possible security threat to the ape society. Pursued by the political leader Counselor Zaius (Booth Colman) and the military leader General Urco (Mark Lenard), our trio of fugitives take on a new exciting story every week.

    The series breaks down like this:

Disc 1

    1. "Escape From Tomorrow" (47:44) -- Virdon and Burke crash to Earth and are arrested and tried as heretics. The curious Galen inadvertently saves their lives and when he is tried for treason the astronauts save him. The trio form a friendship and vow to cooperate to try and return to the time from which they came.

    2. "The Gladiators" (47:44) -- The trio find themselves in a town where the prefect allows the human population to fight gladiator-style in order to vent their human aggression, and thus keep them appeased. When Burke and Virdon are captured, Burke is forced to fight in the ring. However, he spares his opponent's life and throws the society into turmoil.

    3. "The Trap" (47:46) -- In search of a computer, our heroes enter a city plagued by earthquakes, pursued by General Urko and a band of gorillas. When Burke and Urko are trapped in the subway during an earthquake, they must cooperate to survive, while above Virdon and Galen must call a truce with the other gorillas to ensure the rescue of their comrades.

    4. "The Good Seeds" (47:47) -- When Galen breaks his ankle, our trio finds themselves at a farm on the outskirts of civilisation. Bringing with them 21st Century ideas about farming, they quickly increase the productivity of the farm, raising the rancour of the eldest son who perceives them as a threat to the traditional ways and a bad omen.

Disc 2

    5. "The Legacy" (47:47) -- The trio enter a city where the human population scrounges for food and scavenges off each other. During their investigation, they find a message that purports to lead to a vessel containing the sum of human knowledge. But with Urko and Zaius close behind, when Virdon is captured, Galen and Burke must decide which is more important – their friend or the information?

    6. "Tomorrow’s Tide" (47:47) -- When our trio come across an old man strapped to a float out at sea, they investigate further and find a fishing camp run by apes using humans as slaves. When they are captured, Virdon and Burke must prove themselves to be the best fishermen in order to escape being executed.

    7. "The Surgeon" (47:43) -- When Virdon is shot, the trio must return to Central City where Galen has a former lover who is now a surgeon. Impersonating a surgeon himself, Galen finds himself in more and more trouble as he tries to save Virdon’s life.

    8. "The Deception" (47:42) -- The slavery analogy intensifies, as apes start lynching humans in petty reprisals based solely on racist (or, more correctly, speciesist) premises. But the murder of an ape by humans that sparks this random violence is not all that it appears on the face of it.

Disc 3

    9. "The Horse Race" (47:10) -- When a blacksmith’s son helps the trio by riding a horse against the law to get an anti-venom for Galen, he is sentenced to death. In order to have him released, Virdon must ride a horse in a race against a horse and rider used by Urko to extort money from the local prefects in a rigged race.

    10. "The Interrogation" (47:44) -- When Burke is captured, he is tortured for information in late-20th Century ‘brainwashing’ style by the apes. Galen and Virdon infiltrate Central City to try and save him, relying on the help of Galen’s hostile father.

    11. "The Tyrant" (47:43) -- Our trio of weary travellers find themselves embroiled in a fight against the local military gorilla leader who taxes the local humans until they have nothing left to eat. Matters become more complicated when it is discovered that Galen knows the local prefect, and wishes to enlist his help to settle the matter peaceably.

    12. "The Cure" (47:41) -- When a plague starts killing the villagers at a human community where our trio have been hiding out, including the family where Virdon has become emotionally involved with the young daughter, they violate the quarantine to try and help.

Disc 4

    13. "The Liberator" (47:41) -- When our trio find a runaway slave, they discover a village where the humans are taken as slaves to the mines, and worship the Gods in pagan rituals.

    14. "Up Above The World So High" (47:44) -- Our trio happens upon a human inventor who has designed a glider. However, his scientific knowledge poses a threat to the apes who wish to assert their dominance over humans and deny equality in any form – meaning death for their new friend if he carries on his experiments. However, instead of being killed, he is enlisted to use his scientific knowledge by a prominent female ape who wants to learn the secret of flying. Things become more complicated when Galen starts falling in love with this ape, and she begins revealing her radical ideas about class struggles between chimpanzees and gorillas.

    Having milked the original concept for everything it was worth throughout the various film sequels, the move to make a new TV series was perhaps a little misguided. Few shows, particularly in the science fiction genre, have survived a trip from the big screen back to the small screen. The most successful, being Star Trek, is still running in its latest incarnation Star Trek: Enterprise after ten motion picture excursions, but is generally considered an anomaly. However, Joss Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer series evolved from an original movie concept and has gone on to be an incredibly successful TV phenomenon complete with the Angel series spin-off. The TV series of Planet Of The Apes, however, was not so long-lived, and was cancelled at the end of its first season. Still, it was an ambitious attempt in its day, even if it does not measure up to its genesis in the original movie. In conversion to the small screen, too many of the other themes that were so integral to the original movie have been lost by the wayside in preference to the slavery analogy which it plays so well, but perhaps too strongly and too often. Worthy of a viewing, and definitely deserving of a place in any Planet Of The Apes collector’s set, this show has nevertheless been relegated to the world of TV history, a place littered with the corpses of many a good if misguided concept.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented in 1.33:1, Full Frame, non-16x9 enhanced, this is the original aspect ratio for the series.

    The quality of the picture is overall pretty good, particularly given its age. While initially pretty bad (the first episode “Escape From Tomorrow” suffers from persistent graininess, shimmer in the lighting, bad shadow detail, and repeated blurriness), it does improve somewhat as the series progresses. However, it does not come close to the remastering of the original movie, which will perhaps give you an idea of what I mean; better than Dawson’s Creek: Season One, but worse than Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Four.

    There is a persistent light graininess and some low level noise in the background. However, objects and details are generally fairly sharp, and there were few focus problems I noticed.

    Shadow detail was reasonable, but night shots tended to be far grainier than shots set during the day.

    Colours were a little washed out and dull, but are largely indicative of the limited colour technology available in the film industry during the 1970s, particularly TV.

    I noticed no major MPEG encoding problems, and aside from the odd bit of moire and slight aliasing, none of which was distracting, this series is fairly clear of transfer defects.

    However, not unexpectedly, there are film artefacts galore here: everything from random blotches across the screen to really excessive dirt, generally white spots or white hairs on the print. These were most common during the edits between scenes, indicative of either a very dirty editing room or a very low level of technology when splicing the shows together. I started making note of these and just gave up. It is not too intense as to be overwhelming, and is certainly not persistent, but it is definitely noticeable.

    There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired and also in French. They are white with a black border and are easy to read, conveying most of the dialogue.

    The dual-layer pause is in between the episodes, with two episodes per layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Well, this is a pretty stock standard audio selection: English 2.0 Dolby Mono, French 2.0 Dolby Mono, and Italian 2.0 Dolby Mono. The non-English tracks appear fine from my cursory listen but I don’t understand what is being said so I cannot be of much more assistance. As English is the original audio track I will give it further analysis.

    Dialogue is clear and can be understood throughout. I noticed no real audio sync problems, but it is hard to tell with those ape masks on sometimes. However, the dialogue is kind of flat, much like the other effects, with an echoey or tinny quality indicative of TV sound effects from the period. There was also an annoying popping static noise on the soundtrack through most of “The Gladiators”.

    There is no surround field.

    The range is fairly rudimentary.

    There is no subwoofer use.

    Considering the show was originally filmed in mono, I guess it is hard to expect that the studio would go to all the effort of remastering it, so this will have to suffice.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced. They are static shots from episodes and silent.

Trailer - “Planet Of The Apes Original Movie Series” (1:05)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo.

Trailer - “Planet Of The Apes (Remake)” (1:31)

    Presented in 1.66:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 release would appear to be identical except for the fact that R4 has an Italian audio track which R1 lacks, and conversely R1 has Spanish subtitles and not French. All in all, much of a muchness.

Summary

    Planet Of The Apes – The Complete TV Series was an interesting TV show, albeit now very dated. Considering how rarely science fiction is used as a medium for TV, and the persistent insistence by many studio executives that Star Trek is and will always be the only viable science fiction TV series, this show was a worthy effort and definitely worth a viewing on a rainy and hungover Sunday afternoon.

    The video is fairly mediocre, but the series is quite old so this is no surprise.

    The sound is also pretty average, being only the original 2.0 Dolby Mono mix, but to expect a 5.1 Dolby Digital remaster is probably asking a bit much. Better the original than a pseudo-surround remastering.

    The extras are good, but not anything out of the ordinary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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