A Super Saturday Sci Fi Explosion!

Return to the Planet of the Apes (1975)

Return to the Planet of the Apes is an animated series, by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises in association with 20th Century Fox Television, based upon Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle. Boulle's novel had previously inspired five films and a TV series, beginning with the 1968 film Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston. 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.

Airing on NBC, the series premiered on September 6, 1975 and was broadcast until September 4, 1976, although only thirteen episodes were produced. The series aired Saturday mornings at 11:00 AM Eastern/10:00 AM Central.

As with the film and the live-action series, Return to the Planet of the Apes involved a handful of astronauts from Earth who were hurtled into the future and found themselves stuck in a world populated by advanced apes and primitive humans. Over the course of the thirteen episodes the astronauts attempted to keep one step ahead of the apes while at the same time trying to make some sense of what had happened. Additionally, they did their best to safeguard the human population from the apes.


Each episode was self-contained to an extent. The story threads did weave in and out, with characters and plots from earlier episodes popping up in later ones. In order for the series to make any sense, the episodes need to be viewed in order.

The animated series does chronologically fit with the rest of the Apes universe. It borrows characters and elements from the movies, the TV series, and the original novels. General Urko is borrowed from the TV series. Along with Zaius, Zira, and Cornelius, Brent (renamed here as Ron Brent) and Nova are from the movie series. Krador and the Underdwellers in the animated series are loosely based on the mutants in Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes

As with the live action television series, the animated series was concluded before the resolution of the storyline, and we do not learn if the astronauts are able to return to their own time period. But the animated series does otherwise offer a conclusion. Doctor Zaius, in recognising the threat of a military overthrow from General Urko, assures that he is relieved of command. Further, Cornelius and Zira, in recognising that Simian Society was established long after human society had deteriorated, believed that the time was right for humans to be offered equal rights to that of apes, and intend to present their proposition to the Senate.



Valley of the Dinosaurs (1974)

Deep in the heart of the Amazon, the Butler family was exploring an uncharted river canyon. Suddenly, caught up in a violent whirlpool, they were propelled through an underground cavern and flung into a hostile world of giant prehistoric creatures...a world that time forgot. Now, befriended by a family of cave dwellers, each day is an adventure in survival for the Butlers in...the Valley of the Dinosaurs!

Science teacher John Butler along with his wife Kim, their two children, Greg and Katie, and their dog, Digger, are on a rafting trip on the Amazon River. As they are going down the river, their boat hits a rock and capsizes. The family then gets caught in a whirlpool. When they surface upon going through an underground cavern, they find themselves in a prehistoric valley where they meet caveman Gorok, his wife Gara, their two children Lok and Tana, and their pet, a baby Stegosaurus named Glump. The two families soon become friends and Gorok and his family help the Butlers in their many attempts to find a way to return home while trying to survive in the valley.



The New Adventures of Flash Gordon (1979)

Blasting off on a desperate mission to save Earth from the evil plottings of the tyrannical space lord Ming the Merciless. Dr. Hans Zarkov and Dale Arden have joined me, Flash Gordon, on a fantastic journey into worlds where peril and adventure await us.

The series was produced as a made-for-television feature film. When NBC saw the finished work, it was decided to turn the work into an animated TV series. The change in format resulted in the story being significantly expanded with a subplot of Ming secretly giving military technology to Hitler being dropped, as well as being set in the present day rather than during World War II. When the series was canceled after its 2nd season, the original footage was reassembled with the original soundtrack, including the final role of Ted Cassidy, and aired on primetime in 1982 as a TV movie, Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All.

The animated series first season follows, more or less, the traditional Flash Gordon mythos, opening with the launch of the rocketship carrying Flash, Dale Arden, and Dr. Zarkov from somewhere in the Eastern Hemisphere (or at least the opening scene shows the ship clearing Earth's atmosphere above Europe and the Middle East). The series actually opens with the crash of the Terran ship into an ocean on Mongo after being attacked during the final approach to the planet.

In the opening scenes, after being captured by Ming's Gill Men, Gordon, Arden, and Zarkov meet King Thun the Lion-man and Prince Barin of the forest-kingdom of Arboria. This coincidence (meeting reigning royalty of two different realms by apparent chance) sets much of the tone of the series, in which it must be concluded either that logic is irrelevant, or that Destiny is at work in the arrival of Flash Gordon on Mongo. It is later revealed that an earlier king of all Mongo, more powerful than Ming, was named Gor-dan, and that he strongly resembled Flash. When he asks Zarkov why this is, Zarkov simply replies that there are some things even science can't explain.

The remainder of the first season consists of the adventures of Gordon and company across the face of Mongo, in traditional pulp style passing from one near-death situation to another with a cheery disregard for probability or logic, and a definite sense of fun. The protagonists meet Emperor Ming almost immediately, and Ming is revealed as being the classic archetype of the Evil Overlord. Flash later gains the aid of King Vultan, ruler of the Hawkmen and the bandit chieftain Gundar, the Desert Hawk as friends and allies, and also gains the attention of many of Mongo's female monarchs, such as the adventurous Queen Undina of Coralia, the kindly, smoky-voiced Queen Fria of Frigia, Azura, the powerful but delusional Witch-Queen of Syk, former lover of King Gor-dan who believes Flash is his reincarnation, and the strong-willed Queen Desira of Tropica. But the most notable of these admirers was, of course, Princess Aura. Violence is somewhat limited but not completely absent. Flash carries a ray pistol after the fifth episode, but uses it only occasionally, to set a stump aflame and attract attention, to bring down an avalanche on an attacking monster, to blast through a wall, and occasionally to stun but not kill adversaries. Prince Barin and his men are armed with "ice arrows" that freeze whatever they hit. Most other forces, including King Vultan's Hawk Men, the Frigian "snow troopers," and the royal guard and desert tribesmen of Tropica are armed with conventional ray weapons that disintegrate whatever they hit, as are Ming's forces, mainly composed of robots, although led by human officers. Ship to ship combat does result in the shooting down of several fighters on both sides, and there is a limited amount of hand-to-hand fighting in certain scenes.



Godzilla (1978)

Godzilla is a 30-minute animated series co-produced between Hanna-Barbera Productions and Toho Ltd. in 1978 and aired on NBC in the United States and TV Tokyo in Japan. The series is an animated adaptation of the Japanese Godzilla movies produced by Toho. The series continued to air until 1981, for a time airing in its own half-hour timeslot until its cancellation.

The series follows the adventures of a team of scientists on the Calico, a hydrofoil research vessel, headed by Captain Carl Majors. The rest of the crew include scientist Dr. Quinn Darien, her nephew Pete, and her research assistant Brock. Also along for the ride is Godzuki, the "cowardly cousin" of Godzilla and Pete's best friend, who has a lighthearted role in the show. Godzuki can attempt to fly using the small wings under his arms. Whenever Godzuki tries to breathe fire, he usually just coughs up smoke rings.

The group often call upon Godzilla by using a special communicator when in peril, such as attacks by other giant monsters. Godzuki is also able to howl to summon Godzilla. Godzilla's size in the animated series shifts radically, sometimes within a single episode or even one scene. For instance, Godzilla's claw can wrap around a large ship, and only minutes later the team of scientists fit rather neatly on Godzilla's palm. In addition, Godzilla's trademark atomic breath is altered so he breathes simple fire. He can also shoot laser beams from his eyes much like Superman's heat vision.

Hanna-Barbera was unable to use Godzilla's trademark roar, so they cast Ted Cassidy to voice the character, similar to his role in the live-action series The Incredible Hulk.

In regards to the origin of the series, Joseph Barbera came up with the idea of licensing Godzilla. He explained in a 1990's interview "My job back then was to dig up new characters, new ideas, new shows, and I had wanted to do Godzilla for awhile. I liked the monster thing, and the way it looked, and I thought we could do a lot with it. So I contacted Henry Saperstein, who was a very good friend and we got talking about it. Then there was an executive at the network who wanted to get into the act, and urged us to lighten the story line up. So, I came up with the character Godzooky, who was like his son. The show had a sort of father-son relationship, which we had done before on shows like Augie Doggie and Jonny Quest.

Barbera also explained why the show had little violence and deviated from the source material. "The problem with the show was simply this: When they start telling you in Standards and practices, "Don't shoot any flame at anybody, don't step on any buildings or cars," then pretty soon, they've taken away all the stuff he represents. That became the problem, to maintain a feeling of Godzilla and at the same time cut down everything that he did. We managed to get a fair show out of it. It was OK. Godzooky kind of got the kids going.



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