"If humans could build and fly a spaceship like this, they'd begin to think they're as good as we are!"
"Escape from Tomorrow"
Series Planet of the Apes
Season 1, Episode 1
Pota 1x01 003
Air date September 13th, 1974
Writers Art Wallace
Director Don Weis
Producers Herbert Hirschman; Stan Hough
Starring Roddy McDowall; Ron Harper; James Naughton; Mark Lenard; Booth Colman
Episode guide
"The Gladiators"

"Escape from Tomorrow" is the first episode of the American sci-fi/adventure series Planet of the Apes. It was directed by Don Weis and written by Art Wallace based on character concepts originally developed by French novelist Pierre Boulle. It first aired on CBS on Friday, September 13th, 1974.

In this episode, two astronauts from the year 1980 journey through a cosmic anomoly that shunts them into the year 3085. When they arrive back on Earth, they discover that human society has fallen and what is left is now ruled by intelligent, talking apes. Astronauts Alan Virdon and Pete Burke are rescued by an elderly human named Farrow and befriend a young chimpanzee named Galen. However, Councillor Zaius of Central City and his militant commander General Urko want for nothing but the deaths of these two humans.

Synopsis Edit

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The spaceship crash lands on the Planet of the Apes

A man named Farrow is sleeping beneath a tree in a forest when suddenly he is awakened by the sound of a barking dog. Trailing behind the dog is a young chimpanzee boy named Arno. Frightened, Farrow quickly scales the tree as Arno encourages the dog to chase him. Suddenly a strong gust of wind passes through the forest accompanied by a loud, raucous sound. Arno and the dog run off, but Farrow descends the tree to investigate further. He finds the smoldering ruins of a downed spacecraft. The hatch of the ship opens automatically, and the curious human climbs inside. He finds the bodies of three astronauts slumped inside the cockpit. One of the astronauts is dead, so Farrow pulls the other two free of the ship.

Moments later, Arno tells his father Veska, the prefect of the nearby village of Chalo, what he had witnessed. Veska and a group of gorilla soldiers ride to the spot and inspect the smoking ship. They find the body of the dead pilot Jonesy. Veska is visibly shaken by the notion of humans mastering such advanced technology. He orders the guards to bury Jonesy's body and to search for the other missing astronauts. He quickly writes down a report and hands it to another solider. He instructs him to ride to Central City and deliver the message to Chief Councillor Zaius.

Pota 1x01 005

The Injured Crew

Meanwhile, Farrow brings the two surviving humans to his secret shelter and nurses them back to health. He goes out to procure food just as the two awaken. The astronauts are Alan Virdon and Peter Burke. Both are in a state of confusion and are unsure of their surroundings. Burke ponders what world they could have possibly landed on. Alan recalls that their ship passed through some radioactive turbulence as they neared Alpha Centauri. He had told Jonesy to activate the automatic homing device, but he blacked out before he could ascertain whether the order was carried out. They suddenly hear a noise and take defensive positions. The door of the shelter opens, and Farrow enters with a handful of fruit.

Pota 1x01 006

Alan and Pete escape from a gorilla patrol

Immediately, they begin to question him, asking him what planet they are on. Farrow is uneducated and doesn't understand the question. Through the course of conversation, the astronauts learn that apes are the dominant species on this world, and that humans are less than second-class citizens. Farrow goes out to gather supplies.

In the village of Chalo, Veska calls all of the human inhabitants together in the square and warns them about the two astronauts. He warns them that these two humans are insane and that if they are spotted, they should report to him immediately.

Back at the shelter, Pete and Allan grow impatient waiting for Farrow to return. They decide to explore this strange new world for themselves. As they walk down a footpath, the sounds of gunshots explode above them. They look to see two gorillas on horseback carrying rifles. Farrow was telling the truth. The two humans begin running and the mounted gorillas give chase.

Pota 1x01 007


Meanwhile in Central City, councilor Zaius interviews his newest assistant, the chimpanzee Galen. Moments later, Zaius' manservant enters the room and delivers him the letter from Veska. Reading the letter, Zaius' eyes widen. He passes the letter to Galen then begins to pace back and forth in his chambers. Galen reads the letter, but dismisses it as fantasy.

Elsewhere, Alan and Pete make their way back to the shelter. Farrow has returned, and they press him for more information about ape society. They ask him who runs the government, but Farrow doesn't understand them. He tells them about the high council, and Pete asks if there are any humans that sit on the high council. Farrow chuckles and replies that humans are nothing and they've "always been nothing". Farrow shows the two men an old book that he found in the shelter. The book contains a photograph of the city of New York circa 2503. Alan now realizes that they are back on Earth in the far distant future.

In Central City, Zaius summons his gorilla commander General Urko. He warns Urko of the two renegade humans indicated in Veska's letter. He wants Urko to capture them, but he is to bring them back alive. Urko is militant and aggressive. He views humans as an infection that should be wiped out. Zaius recalls a similar situation that took place ten years prior. Another space vessel landed on Earth, carrying astronauts from another time period. General Urko had them shot and killed before Zaius had a chance to question them. Urko storms out of Zaius' office to head up a search party. Zaius doesn't trust Urko to take them alive, so he instructs Galen to follow after him to make sure that Urko doesn't do anything rash. Galen tells him that he has no control over Urko, but Zaius says that as his representative, he now carries his authority.

Back at the shelter, Alan and Pete change into civilian clothing provided by Farrow and make plans for their next course of action. Alan wants to check the instrument panel from their ship, so that he can learn exactly what happened that caused the ship to crash. Farrow grabs his book, and tells them that he will lead them back to the ship. As they approach, Farrow lures the gorilla guarding the ship to follow him in an alternate direction, allowing Pete and Alan the chance to inspect the ship. Once inside, Alan learns that the ship chronometer reads 3085. Suddenly, they hear Farrow screaming and run outside. Farrow falls down in front of the ship, clutching at a gunshot wound. As Alan and Pete race to his side, General Urko, Galen and several more gorilla soldiers surround them. Urko has them tied up and taken back to camp. Galen inspects Farrow and confirms that he is dead. While Urko's back is turned, Galen scoops up Farrow's book and takes it with him.

That night at the camp, Galen reads from Farrow's book. He is astonished at the things he reads. He walks over to a tree where Alan and Pete are tied up and begins asking them questions. He asks them if they are really from another time, and if the things he has read in the book are true. Alan tells him that they are, but Galen doesn't believe them.

The following day, Urko brings Alan and Pete before the High Council of Central City. Having stolen a miniature grenade from Zaius' office, he uses it to demonstrate that humans are capable of nothing but creating weapons of mass destruction. Zaius is angry that Urko had stolen the item from his cabinet, and Alan and Pete tell the council that they have no intention of harming anyone. Although Urko calls for their execution, Zaius insists that they be kept alive - for now. Both men are taken to a holding cell.

Pota 1x01 008

Galen visits Pete and Alan in their cell

Later in Zaius' office, Galen asks him if there was ever a time when humans controlled the world and apes were kept behind bars. He further wonders if the world would be better off if apes and humans could live as equals. Zaius accuses Galen of committing heresy merely by asking such questions, and warns him to cease this inquiry. Undeterred, Galen visits Pete and Alan in their cell. Alan wants to get back to the ship and get the flight disk. He theorizes that the humans who made the mini-grenade, might still be alive, and might possess the technology to read the information on the ship's magnetic disk. If so, he continues, there might be a way to reverse the process that brought them here, thus providing the means to return home. Pete thinks the entire idea is preposterous, citing the improbability of finding a computer, much less being able to repair the ship. Frustrated, Alan asks Galen to help them escape. The chimpanzee scoffs at them, and says that just because he finds them interesting to talk to, it does not mean that he is willing to commit treason for them. Galen leaves the cell.

Meanwhile, General Urko secretly conspires with his soldiers to kill the humans. He instructs a guard to leave their cell door unlocked after feeding time is over, in the hopes that they may try to escape. Then he can shoot them without risking Zaius' ire. Alan and Pete soon discover that their door is unlocked, but immediately realize that it is a trap. However, they are willing to take their chances if it means freedom. As they exit the prison, a gorilla hiding in the bushes levels a pistol at them. Nearby, Galen witnesses the trap and shouts "Look out!" He dives on top of the gorilla and in the ensuing struggle, the gun goes off killing the guard. Pete and Alan run into the woods.

General Urko arrests Galen and brings him to Zaius. He accuses him of murdering the guard and aiding and abetting the humans in their escape. Galen tells Zaius that Urko planned on murdering Pete and Alan, but Urko denies it. Urko further condemns Galen as a heretic and shows Zaius the book that was found on his person.

Later, Pete and Alan break into Zaius' office and take him prisoner. They ask him about the human who built the mini-grenades. Zaius tells them that the human didn't live long enough to tell him his name. He further confesses his awareness that humans once ruled the world, but their warlike nature caused their own downfall. Pete and Alan take Zaius to the prison complex and force him to let them in. They use the grenade to blow the door off Galen's cell, setting him free.

The following morning, the three fugitives go to the ship. Alan pries loose the magnetic disk containing the ship's flight recorder. Galen alerts them to the sound of approaching horses. They all run into the woods as General Urko and his men approach. After searching the ship, Urko has the vessel destroyed.

Now, with only a sliver of hope of ever returning home, the two wayward astronauts and their new chimpanzee ally attempt to eke out a new life for themselves on this strange planet of the apes.

Cast Edit

Principal Cast Edit

Actor Role
Roddy McDowall Galen
Ron Harper Alan Virdon
James Naughton Pete Burke

Guest Stars Edit

Actor Role
Royal Dano Farrow
Woodrow Parfrey Veska

Co-Stars Edit

Actor Role
Mark Lenard General Urko
Booth Colman Councillor Zaius
Biff Elliot Ullman
Bobby Porter Arno
Jerome Thor Proto
William Beckley Grundig
Alvin Hammer Man
Ron Stein Turvo

Notes & Trivia Edit

  • Production code number: B-503.
  • This episodes recycles stock footage from varying resources, causing several continuity gaffs along the way. There is a scene showing a long-distance shot of gorilla cavalry soldiers riding along a trail. One of the gorillas is riding a white horse. The only character in the series who rides a white horse is General Urko, however, Urko does not make his first appearance until later in the episode. When the riders arrive at the site of the crashed space ship, the white horse is missing. All of the present horses are black or brown.

Allusions Edit

  • Pete Burke compares General Urko to Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini. These were the leaders of the Axis Powers during World War II. Adolf Hitler was the Reich-chancellor of Germany. Joseph Stalin was the leader of Soviet Russia and Benito Mussolini was the leader of the National Fascist Party in Italy.

Bloopers Edit

  • In the opening scene, the wind machine nearly blows Bobby Porter's ape wig off and he has to hold it to keep it in place.

Quotes Edit

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


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




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


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

See also Edit

External Links Edit

Series links Edit

Episode links Edit

References Edit

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