One of the frustrations of watching an open-ended series is that a network may cancel it before the storyline is resolved. Case in point: CBS’s Planet of the Apes series. The network had shown the movies to huge ratings success, which prompted them to commission a TV series in 1974. This meant stop-lighting a proposed series by producer Gene Roddenberry, Genesis II. CBS didn’t want two science-fiction series on the air. “Apes! Apes! The public wants apes!” Roddenberry was told. And so, a Planet of the Apes TV series prevailed.
Roddy McDowall, who played the chimpanzees Cornelius and Caesar in the films, would play the chimp Galen in the series. Galen would assist two surviving astronauts, Virdon and Burke, who crash-landed in his world, where civilized apes dominated a dumbed-down human race. The astronauts, being highly intelligent and resourceful, threatened the status quo of the ape society, and thus became fugitives, pursued by gorilla General Urko and his troops. Galen took pity upon the human astronauts, helped them and for that, he too, became a wanted criminal. The astronauts had one hope: that somewhere in the world, they could find existing technology that would enable them to get back into space and return home.
The series lasted only for 13 episodes. There weren’t enough viewers to satisfy the network and so, CBS pulled the plug. Virdon and Burke were stranded; their fate unknown, to the consternation of viewers who followed their adventures on Friday nights.
Then came another venue for the show. There weren’t enough episodes for a daily showing in syndication, in which 65 was the magic number required. So, 20th Century-Fox repackaged ten of the thirteen episodes, combining them into five two-hour movies, containing two episodes each. New bridging material was added at the beginning and end of each movie. Once again viewers saw Galen, this time as an older chimp with grey-streaked hair, in an office that included a desktop computer! At the end of the fifth movie, Farewell to the Planet of the Apes, Galen reveals what finally happened to the two astronauts.
Thanks to a fan on YouTube, now you will know, yourself: