Friday, April 03, 2009

"They're Apes! They can speak!"

I was just reading the second issue of Jonny Quest Classics released by Comico about 20 years ago, and in the back was an interview with Doug Wildey where mention was made to the Return to the Planet of the Apes animated series that he worked on. As a big fan of JQ and Doug Wildey, and a so-so fan of the PotA film series, I figured I would explore a little further and see how RttPotA compared to the incomparable Jonny Quest series from the '60s.

Well, there are some shows that are made with no money, and then there are shows made with no money. Return is one of the latter. The limited animation here is one of the more striking elements of the show. Not an entirely uncommon thing for the time, but the repetitive uses of scenes and camera movement to simulate action and drama really stand out and bring attention to the lack of any real budget for the series. Design-wise, the show does all right. It does have some interesting deviations from the film series - such as the classical architecture the apes are using as opposed to the more natural structures from the movies - and Wildey's influence is definitely felt throughout. The human characters have a definite Hanna-Barbara look to them and many of the backgrounds look like they could have been painted for a post-apocalyptic Quest episode. Still, it is slow moving (at least in the first episode) and doesn't grab the attention too firmly. I'll keep slogging through for another episode or two, but I'm not holding out hope for any real improvement.

It is kind of disappointing to see the show does not hold up too well, but then Wildey also worked on the animated Mr. T series in the '80s, so I don't always expect greatness from the guy.

Anyway, here's a YouTube version of the pilot episode (Part 1 of 3):



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