Taking advantage of the regular TV season stopping, I checked out the collected 1974 PLANET OF THE APES TV series from the Durham Library. This shares little with the movies other than the basic concept, as the humans are intelligent, just subordinate. Ron Harper and James Naughton play the astronauts who with Roddy McDowell as the friendly chimp Galen wander around staying one step ahead of Mark Lenard’s General Urko, who wants the talking humans dead as a possible threat. Like a number of 1970s TV series (The Immortal, The Incredible Hulk), this follow the template of the original Fugitive TV show, having the protagonists meet and help people in their wanderings. This was also an era when series didn’t want to change the status quo (see my review of The Invaders) so there’s never any attempt to help the humans fight for freedom (as my friend Ross says, this ain’t Stargate) and a couple of plot elements in the pilot—the possibility technologically advanced humans exist, the chance the astronauts can use some tech from their ship to get home—get forgotten. A deserved flop.
1975’s animated RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES was considerably more imaginative, though it’s also a long way from good, a Saturday morning show with limited animation and poor voice talent. However it does have yet another covey of shipwrecked astronauts really trying to help the “humanoids” despite Urko’s genocidal hate, and also employs the mutants (here the “Underdwellers”) from Beneath the Planet of the Apes. This version poses some continuity challenges for series PotA fans, as it shows the Apes with full modern tech, such as cars and movies; otherwise, another minor branch of the mythos.
Moving on to the good stuff, AVENGERS: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes from a few years ago got a look from me because the Avengers’ time-traveling foe, Kang the Conqueror, plays a large role (probably not large enough to qualify for the book though), traveling back to conquer the Earth and thereby avert a disaster that will wipe out his timeline. This was a thoroughly entertaining show, managing to squeeze in large numbers of villains and heroes, though not without some odd bits, such as presenting Hydra as the adversary in WW II rather than the Nazis (not making Hydra Nazi agents as they were in Cap’s first movie, it shows them as the sole Axis power). Still, well worth looking at if you’re a fan of the characters.
The second and final season of TERMINATOR: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has John, Sarah and Cameron continuing their efforts to destroy the eventual hardware and software components of Skynet, while the enigmatic Terminator-cum-CEO Weaver (Shirley Manson of Garbage) begins programming an AI of her own (while we’ll never know for sure, the implication is she’s building some kind of anti-Skynet with a conscience). Continues the excellent work of Season One—a much better TV adaptation than the Apes ever got.