Planet of the Apes

Season 1 Episode 1

Escape From Tomorrow

Aired Unknown Sep 13, 1974 on CBS
out of 10
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Episode Summary

Escape From Tomorrow
Astronauts Alan Virdon and Peter Burke crash land on a strange planet. After being rescued by a friendly human, Virdon and Burke discover this planet is ruled by intelligent apes. To their horror, they discover that they are back on Earth in the year 3085. Meanwhile ape leader Dr. Zaius learns of the presence of the spacemen and wants them captured and questioned, much to the chagrin of General Urko, who wishes them dead. To protect his interests, Zaius sends his young assistant Galen with Urko to retrieve the humans. The apes capture the humans and they are taken before the council. Zaius orders them confined for questioning, but Urko conspires to free the humans, and then kill them as escaping prisoners. However, Galen learns of this and foils Urko's plan, allowing the humans to escape. Galen is arrested and accused of murdering one of the guards. The humans must rescue Galen before retrieving a magnetic disc, which could hold the key to returning to their time, from their ship before the apes destroy it.moreless

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  • This is just a great little world we've landed on.

    A crash landing of a space ship is THE classic kick-off for a Planet of the Apes adventure.

    Presumably for budget reasons, we don't see the actual fall (Only some wind blown leaves...), but the crash site is well made and leads us to discover an 'Icarus'-type vessel. A craft already used by other visitors on this strange world.

    The 'landing' was witnessed by two : symbolically they are a teen-age Ape and an old Human male. The first runs to get help in Ape village, the second saves the lives of the two still living astronauts, and hides them in his bunker-like dwelling.

    At this point we come to realise that the Humans are more advanced (in this case, not as retarded), as those we know from the initial 'Planet of the Apes' movie with Charlton Heston. They wear clothes, some are farmers, and most important, they can speak. On the other hand, the Apes are closer to the remains of human society. They enjoy the comfort of recycled 20th century furniture and know how to use a gun. On the 'POTA'-timescale this places the series directly as a follow-up to the last film 'Conquest of the Planet of the Apes', but 1000 years in the future. The clock in the space ship read 3085...

    All this is of no concern to Urko, gorilla-warrior, and this series nemesis to the human fugitives. All he wants is to cover up signs of Human intellect, even eradicate the species.

    When Chimpansee-archeologist, Galen, gets convinced by historical proof, he changes sides and is accused of being 'infected'. To save his own life (and satisfy his curiosity), he teams up with the astonauts, Virdon and Burke, to form the basic trio of fugitives/discoverers for this 'POTA'-series.

    Though very minimalistic in story telling and production means, this first episode is a fine continuation of a well established franchise and a good introduction for unwarned viewers.moreless
  • exciting first episode, that established the key points of the series well, but as a cost fails to show the intresting storytelling of later episodes. Essential to newcomers, but for real fans one of the series lesser episodes.moreless

    Well this is the first ever episode and to be honest it shows. The first time I saw this I wasn't impressed, on its own it feels like a poor imitation of the first movie. However going back to see it a second and third time, in the context of the series, I begin to see the seeds of brilliance that would grow as the series develops. It is one of the most exciting epiosdes in the series but it lacks the great twists of the movies, and the great storytelling of other POTA episodes. It is essential in terms of establishing mood, charicter, plot etc but for real fans this is a weaker episode of a great series.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The ship's chronometer as seen here says the date of the crash was March 31st, 3085. However, the opening credits throughout the series say, "June 14th, 3085."

    • Alan is struggling with one panel to get the flight recorder and says it'll take him "5-10 minutes" like it's some big complicated procedure. Then he flips open the panel a minute later and just...takes the disk out. That was tough.

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Veska: If humans could build and fly a [spaceship] like this, they'd begin to think they're as good as we are!

    • Galen: Was there a time when humans controlled the world and apes were kept behind bars?
      Zaius: I said you had a great deal to learn, but that didn't include heresy.

    • Alan: What makes us enemies? We haven't done anything.
      Urko: Your ambitions are enemies! Your thoughts are enemies!
      Pete: What's your name, pal? Hitler? Stalin? Mussolini?

    • Zaius: And do you have friends everywhere?
      Galen: I try, sir.

    • Pete: Those were apes! Weren't they?!?
      Alan: Gorillas!
      Pete: What kind of planet is this?!?

    • Zaius: You're fools, you know that. You could have been out of the city by now.
      Pete: He saved our lives – you expect us to leave him here to die?
      Zaius: You're strange humans.

    • Zaius: You realize that possession of such a book alone is punishable by death?
      Galen: Why, Zaius? Why should truth be against the law?

  • NOTES (6)

    • Bits of footage from the first two Planet of the Apes movies are used to show mid shots of Central City, which would otherwise have been far to expensive to create just for the series.

    • The wooden mock-up spaceship from the first three movies sees its final use here as the astronauts' spaceship.

    • Roddy McDowell plays Galen - this is his fifth appearance in the Ape series, playing a third different character. McDowell's performance as Galen is basically a minor variation on his movie character Cornelius.

    • This episode was edited together with "The Trap" into Back to the Planet of the Apes, one of five such TV movies sold into syndication.

    • Booth Colman plays the role of Zaius, previously portrayed by Maurice Evans in the first two movies. It's unlikely the character here is the same as in the movies, but it's possible the name and position are hereditary in which case the Zaius in the series is an ancestor of the Zaius in the movies.

    • Ron Harper and James Naughton appear bare-chested during a scene in which they change from astronaut gear into "human" clothes. However, the two episodes which most exploit their "beefcake" appeal are "The Good Seeds" and "Tomorrow's Tide."