REVIEWS AND SCREEN CAPTURES BY CHARLES MENTO
7. The Prodigal Puma
8. The Deadly Silence - Part I
9. The Deadly Silence - Part II
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
7. The Prodigal Puma ~ 1966.10.21
(Rafer Johnson ~ Spandrell, Gigi Perreau ~ Sheri Kapinski)
An embittered big-game hunter tries to steal a rare puma that Tarzan has captured.
We are, seemingly, back in Brazil with Jason Flood, Rao, a fully clothed Jai, even Tall Boy has a scene, and the settlement/outpost. Ely’s hair once again looks dyed black.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 7-THE PRODIGAL PUMA
Review By Charles Mento
We also have the narration, though it is shorter again and the early first season theme music. There’s also another “pet” for Jai, this time a puma, who needs more of its kind around, and another puma, on the loose who is sought after by a man named Spandrell.
Spandrell is played by the handsome, well built, Rafer Johnson, who has a long list of credits, including Mike Henry’s TARZAN movies TARZAN AND THE JUNGLE BOY and TARZAN AND THE GREAT RIVER, in which he performs admirably. Here, he has an extended well choreographed fight with Tarzan at the climax of this exciting episode.
During the fight, Tarzan also has to take out yet another crocodile. Crocs also threatened he and Rao, when they were tied up. Rao also get grazed in the head by a bullet. In one curious scene, Jai tries to get him to go after Spandrell (after Spandrell threatened Jai by holding him up in the air bodily!) and Rao falls down, wounded and Jai smiles, “Rao, are you playing?” What?
Other than that, Jai’s presence adds to the episode and he even faces down Spandrell far better than Jason Flood, who had a rifle, does. While Rao and Jai are sometimes liabilities, they’re useful to Tarzan and the plot while Jason just seems like excess baggage.
Jai remember Spandrell from two (and change) years ago when Tarzan put him away for a crime. Jai is now ten and must have been eight or less years old!
Jan Merlin, also always a villain and a great one (MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, THE TIME TUNNEL, THE FUGITIVE and many, many more) appears as Hacker, Spandrell’s sidekick (or is Spandrell his sidekick as for once, interestingly, it’s difficult to tell which one is in charge, perhaps neither is). He’s taken care of Tarzan before the fight with Spandrell. Also interestingly, and perhaps charmingly, Tarzan doesn’t kill either villain, though if any two deserved it…
What’s odd is that…this TARZAN seems at odds with TARZANs of old. In the past, in movies anyway, Tarzan seemed to think badly of any man (or woman) wanting to capture ANY animals for a zoo, circus, or any captivity and he was always dead set against it to the point of murdering anyone who wanted to. Here, it is the reverse. He’s helping Rao capture the golden puma to bring it to the other golden puma.
Charmingly, Jai seems to do what Spandrell wants and gives him a canister that is supposed to have gasoline in it but…Spandrell finds out later that is nothing but water!
Another notable thing about this enjoyable episode is that the girl is Gigi Perreau who plays Sheri Kapinski, a believable woman in the jungle who is an aide to a doctor (named Lancer) who dies (the idiot tried to take the food of one of the pumas and is killed by it; the natives superstitious over the golden puma do not want to help him).
Sheri wants to go home and Tarzan calls her out on her pity. She was teaching natives to read and seemed confident until the doctor was killed. Her rapport with Ely is apparent, despite the character conflict between the two. It is apparent by the end that the two actors and characters really like each other. Sort of a shrinking violet, she does two things that are brave: she empties the riverboat of fuel, even while tied hands and feet, AND she throws the pistol of Spandrell into the water after also misguiding his aim by knocking into him.
At first, when Cheetah hugs her, she’s appalled or seems to be but by the end, she’s welcoming Cheetah’s comfort.
Speaking of comfort, Ely seems perfectly comfortable around the puma just as Tarzan would be. Amazing.
BTW, Sheri is played by child star Gigi who has a long list of credits, too.
Rao and Flood have some good scenes with Jai, here, too.
Also of note: where past movies have given the untying of bonds over to Cheetah, here, Cheetah (a “he”) is treated as just an animal who can’t untie Tarzan and Rao but can bring a pointed rock to Tarzan so he can free himself.
All in all, this episode has some wonderful locations, good character interplay, a lot of tension and some fantastic action. I have to admit Ely is pretty amazing as Tarzan and this episode shows why: he’s running, diving into water, calming a puma, fighting man and beast in water, and basically calming the girl into realizing her best and withdrawing her self pity. Most of the people we’re met from ep 1 to 7 seem to have thought Tarzan was just a myth or have already heard about him and are surprised to actually meet him. Here, Spandrell has reason to want revenge on Tarzan, even though his pal says, “Why not let bye-gones be bye-gones?”
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
8. The Deadly Silence - Part I ~ 1966.10.28
(Bob Doqui ~ Metusa, Jock Mahoney ~ mad colonel, ...)
Tarzan tries to stop a bloodthirsty Colonel
from taking over an African village with his soldiers of fortune.
However, Tarzan has been rendered temporarily deaf by an exploding hand grenade,
effectively limiting one of his keen senses,
so he must rely on his near-telepathic ability to communicate with a lion.
Click for full size promo splash bar
As for trivia, a few things are stated here that surprised me. Tarzan has a treehouse in this series, though we have NOT seen it in the series yet. Tarzan tells Jai to go “home” to the treehouse and mentions it specifically. Jai, later, must be kidnapped from it by the Colonel’s men or even the Colonel himself.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 8-The Deadly Silence - Part 1
Review By Charles Mento
The other thing is when the Colonel first meets Tarzan, like many white men in this series, he’s heard of Tarzan. Here, the Colonel says, “Well, you’ve returned from the rain forest.” This seems to be a reference to Brazil. Nothing further is stated about this. Was Tarzan in Brazil for a reason? Did this trip to Brazil start in the Mike Henry movies? If so, where is this? It’s obviously filmed in Mexico now but is this supposed to be Africa? That seems to be the case as the natives DO NOT seems Mexican. In Brazil, the natives there DID seem to be from Brazil. I wonder what the producer’s thought were on all of this or if it mattered to him. No matter, this is a great series and a great episode.
Well, this seems like a more self contained episode until the last act or so, with a beginning, a middle, and a climax…until…Tarzan here lets the villain, one of the best villains of the entire series and certainly the most challenging, live! I can’t think of any other Tarzan of the movies (and possibly the TV shows, other than maybe Wolf Larson’s Tarz) who would have let such a vile individual as the Colonel (played by former Tarzan actor Jock Mahoney, doing a second guest appearance) LIVE!
Certainly, most other Tarzan’s and probably the literary Tarzan would have let that poor lion stuck in the pit by the Colonel, kill the Colonel. Here, Tarzan saves him but the Colonel, helped by another good character played by good actor Woody Strode, escapes the jeep and the two men in it that are taking the Colonel to the authorities and jail. One of the men in the jeep is killed. The other? Not sure but he’s flipped out of the jeep. If Tarzan didn’t let the Colonel live, that man would not have died. It’s a problem greatly moral heroes have: let the villains live or not. Certainly the Doctor in DOCTOR WHO, Batman on TV (BUT NOT the movies), and scores of others have.
In any case, this is movie quality again. I’d say that Jock stole the show as the best villain of the entire series (there are more great ones to come, including the Colonel’s sister!?) but Ron Ely, always great, steps up his game even more! He’s more than a match for the Colonel and Jock. He’s also tough without being totally aggressive but is assertive and aggressive when he has to be. And it’s realistic. I love how when Metusa (the wonderful Robert DoQui who has a long list of credits) tries to fake that everything is all right as Tarzan and the Colonel first meet, eye to eye, that Ron just easily and gently waves…yes, waves, Metusa out of their personal zone. It’s wonderful and subtle. Other stuff is not so subtle when it doesn’t need to be and that’s awesome, too. Ron and Jock are great in EVERY scene here.
Tarzan’s retaliatory threats to the Colonel are great as is most of the dialog. There’s one strange bit that seemed as if some lines were missing. The Colonel’s talking about his escape from capture during, I believe, World War 2 (?) or so, in I think Italy. He’s talking about killing a guard or guards and walking through the desert. Suddenly, he asks Tarzan, “Have you ever heard of a Sumo wrestler?” He then talks about how he killed a Sumo wrestler. What?
Everything else is spot on. STAR TREK’s Nichelle Nichols appears and is suitably brave and beautiful. It is interesting to note that when she asks Tarzan, “Tarzan, can the Colonel be stopped?” that he answers with a strong, “I don’t know.” This shows that Tarzan is not conceited and all powerful and that his enemy is one of extreme power that even Tarzan doubts he can stop the Colonel. It’s a small moment but amazing nevertheless if you think about it.
Additionally, when the Colonel tells Tarzan he wants to rule the jungle and looks at Tarzan and says, “…as you have,” Tarzan’s answer is almost stunning as only Ely can deliver it, “The jungle is ruled by no one.” It sounds like he added, “…not even me…” but it’s hard to hear that part.
Ely gives his TARZAN a power but also a modesty that is refreshing in a hero like Tarzan.
One thing that this episode strikes home on is something that ALL the episodes made me wonder about and at least one other reviewer struck upon. I think he (Mark Hodgson) wrote it best with:
“The main reason I think the series hasn't stayed in circulation is the portrayal of black Africans. While it's set 'in the now' with the latest vehicles, firearms and fashions, Africans are still portrayed as they were in the original stories, as tribal communities living in small villages of primitive huts, wearing animal skins and war paint. This may have been acceptable in the movies of the 1930s, but was entirely misleading by 1966, as if it had been researched from a travel brochure.
The approach is duly counterweighted by a few 'modern' black characters like the local game warden (Rockne Tarkington of Daktari and Danger Island), who regularly appeared in the early episodes, as well as guest appearances from other American actors like the formidable Woody Strode (Spartacus) and Bernie Hamilton (Starsky & Hutch).”
I always wondered about that. Was Africa, IF this was supposed to be Africa, really like this in 1966-68? I don’t think so. Additionally, I will admit that almost EVERY Tarzan, no matter how realistic it tries to be, seems to operate in a different reality, even a different universe that’s just not our own. Some kind of fantasy land, again, no matter how wonderfully depicted.
The same writer, Mark Hodgon, also applies this to Ron:
“Ron Ely's incarnation is impressive in many ways. Imposingly well-built, wearing one of the briefest loincloths of any Tarzan, it's hard not to be distracted by his physique every time he's onscreen, which is most of the episode. He can also act, swim, and fight with both men and animals. He's reputed to have done his own stunts and racked up the injuries to prove it. Just running around everywhere barefoot without flinching is quite a feat (sorry).
Aiming at a family audience that kept adults engaged, the episodes often had a tough edge. Fistfights, gunfights, knife fights, constant peril and occasionally deaths! A young boy (Manuel Padilla Jr, later seen all grown up in American Graffiti) is the only other regular cast member (as well as Cheetah the cheeky chimp), but otherwise the stories don't pander to a young audience.”
He also writes: “Shot in Brazil, and later Mexico, the lush jungle locations, village-sized sets, waterfalls, mountains and rivers made this look a million dollars. With interesting, twisty adventure-laden stories and solid casts, the series was repeated for many years on British TV, eventually headlining the Saturday morning line-up into the 1970s. Like Batman, this was so popular and repeatable that it's now imprinted in many young memories…”
All of that is worth reprinting here. It’s well written (better than I could do!) and exact. The writer seems to be from the UK where the opposite happened regarding the airing of the TV show and the movies.
In the US, the movies were constantly shown on TV, usually on Saturday and Sunday mornings or afternoons or even a bit later while the TV show, while definitely airing for a short time in reruns (on what used to be channel 9 and a bit later on a cable beamed in channel from another state), was NOT on as much as the endless cycle of BOMBA and especially TARZAN movies. Even the more violent ones were shown in the US. In the UK the opposite happened. Ely’s series was on more in the UK than the movies.
In any case there are some significant surprises in this episode. In the end, hand grenades are lobbed into a river where Tarzan is underwater. He eventually hauls himself out of the water, bleeding from the ears, only to discover that he's wounded, defenseless and deaf. Ely’s acting, along with significant sound effects and LACK of any sound in some moments, make this an effective cliffhanger as he is stunned to the ground in pain while booted feet approach.
More than even that: Jai is kidnapped off screen and brought into the conflict and Manuel, as ALWAYS, does a great job of acting here. He cries when he has to and tosses Tarzan his knife when he has to. When Jai does not leave, as Tarzan orders, the evil Colonel even notices, “An interesting show of loyalty,” though he adds, “…or perhaps he doesn’t want to miss the spectacle.” I don’t think it’s the latter but the former. Manuel now wears his loin cloth and sandals again and I believe he might for the rest of the series but I’ll have to check that.
We learn that Metusa’s father and brother are being held captive by the Colonel. Tarzan out maneveurs the handsome and evil minded aide of the Colonel’s---the well built Akaba---and we think Tarzan is going to rescue both men. As an aside, I will say, that Akaba, other than being just a henchman of little substance, has a background. Tarzan knew his parents, both good people but Akaba wants more than they have, he believes, with the Colonel he already has what he wants: power. Tarzan tells him he just has a madness. What’s shocking is that Metusa’s father and later his brother are both found DEAD. Certainly that was not expected. If that’s not surprising enough, Akaba gets away from Tarzan.
Cheetah is mostly sidelined in this episode, though he is there.
Less stunningly, but just as interesting is that fact that this episode is the last that has the original theme song on it. The next episode, THE DEADLY SILENCE part two, will have the new theme song, the theme that graced the closing credits for a few episodes now (not all but a few). Originally, the main theme at the start was also the theme at the end. Then the end theme changed while the main theme stayed. With THE DEADLY SILENCE part two, the main theme changed and the end theme stays with the second version, which are both the same.
In the finale battle between Metusa’s men and Akaba’s, the two square off against each other. Although we do not see the actual strike against body, Metusa seems to spear Akaba in the stomach and he seems to fall back and die. At the same time, it looks as if Akaba did the same to Metusa! I wonder if this was the original intention. Later, we see Metusa with his legs bound up so the implication is that, despite Metusa’s look of anguished pain as he fell back after spearing Akaba, that he was only stabbed in the leg. Which is fine as Metusa is a good character.
All in all, with good character development, practically every line of dialog needed, some great action set pieces, and a premise that can’t be beat (in fact, two or three great premises), this episode is a total stunner and winner.
Of course, me being me, I wonder what happened to the poor lion in the pit! Did anyone let her or him out? Oh and Ely with the lion is impressive. I almost wrote with the loin…!
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
9. The Deadly Silence - Part II ~ 1966.11.04
(...Woody Strode ~ Sgt. Marshak, Gregorio Acosta ~ henchman)
Though still deafened by grenades,
Tarzan relies on his animal friends to help him elude the colonel's heavily-armed soldiers.
Click for full size promo splash bar
The narration is gone, maybe for good. It was gone last episode, too.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 9-The Deadly Silence - Part II
Review By Charles Mento
“Take Cheetah. Cheetah will be your ears.”
“No, Cheetah talks too much.”
More excellence however: makers of this show, the reprise is over 8 minutes long! It’s 9 min and 8 seconds long with the 50 seconds of opening credits/theme song! That’s an awful lot to go back to!
I also noticed that during the reprise some things are different and edited differently. For one, Tarzan in the “cliffhanger” looked up and saw a huge predator bird flying away with prey in its claws and this is when he realized he was deaf. This is not in the reprise. The shot of this predator is used later in part II as Tarzan uses a baby antelope as his ears (how dare he!?). There’s some evidence that the antelope wanted to help Tarzan.
In the reprise is a close up shot of blood that came off Tarzan’s head and went onto the jungle dirt/leafy floor. In the cliffhanger, this is quickly darted away from, if shown at all. Some stuff seems missing and some dialog might be different, too. Some shots of the birds looks different, too.
Another odd change is that in the cliffhanger, he looks down just before passing out a second time and sees blurry forest. In the reprise (part II), he looks down and sees colorful butterflies. What was that?
There’s also lots of birds in both versions. Part of me wonders which version of this they used in the theatrical release that was made from these two episodes.
There might be other changes I missed, too. The reprise goes into a commercial and then comes back with more reprise!
What a jerk the Colonel is. After touching Tarzan’s blood on the ground, he wipes it off on Chico’s shirt by the shoulder. What a jerk.
Most is made of Tarzan’s slight new fear of not having his hearing. He jumps when a monkey of some kind leaps on his shoulder AND faces down a lion, thinking it smells blood AND it’s not afraid of him without his hearing. He’s wrong and it moves on. Ely is excellent, as always, this time in conveying Tarzan’s fear!
The show’s always had great music but at about 24 min and 45 seconds in, one of my favorite pieces of soundtrack music comes: it’s not here in full, I don’t think, but it gives the feeling of traveling through jungle or unknown terrain as well as peaceful movement AND at moments, tension. It comes just after Jai says, “I’ll be Tarzan’s ears.” It’s used a few more times in the series.
For some reason, Jai carries a red handkerchief with yellow-ish spots. True to form, Jai sends Cheetah away to safety but ignores Tarzan’s order to do the same and he gets grazed by a rock or wood that shattered when a bullet hits a tree or rock…or he’s grazed himself. Tarzan uses the rag to wipe Jai’s eyes when Jai first finds him and before being grazed. He also spots it in Marshak’s hand and realizes Jai is in danger, being left by the idiot Colonel and, against his will, Marshak. The Colonel gave some dumb excuses for Marshak to leave Jai. What a jerk!
Oh and as Marshak takes Jai from Tarzan, Jai has a wardrobe malfunction and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Chico’s sinking in quicksand reminds me of the 1940s, 50s and 60s TARZAN movies and showing his rifle sink in after him is nasty! I like that Tarzan left Chico there but his two dopey comrades couldn’t save him.
Okay, so…Tarzan has a knife in Marshak’s back and all the while can’t hear him and Marshak tries leading him into a trap where the Colonel will shoot him. Marshak sort of doesn’t want Jai to die so he throws Jai into Tarzan and runs. Is this his way of escaping? For some reason, the entire climax feels …just wrong on a few levels.
Jai tells Tarzan that Marshak saved him from the Colonel but that’s not entirely true. Marshak left Tarzan a few times and had to be recaptured. He left Jai in a cave for Tarzan to find and he betrays Tarzan’s whereabouts at least twice.
The biggest feeling of failure is that…Tarzan never faces off against the Colonel at all. It is Marshak who had a huge fight with the Colonel and the Colonel dies when he falls after a huge scuffle with Marshak and hits his head on a rock. Really? One huge villain and Tarzan doesn’t get to fight with him again in the finale? And then Tarzan just lets Marshak go? Was Marshak that much of a “good guy”? I say no. The whole ending feels like a let down, despite a really good choreographed fight between Marshak and the Colonel (who’s real name is never revealed as far as I can recall). Then, letting Marshak go and HAVING JAI LIE about it to the authorities just feels wrong. I don’t think Marshak did all that much to win Tarzan’s favor of letting him go. In fact, the only reason his fight happened with the Colonel was because the Colonel was mad at him that he didn’t follow orders. If the Colonel had been okay with it, Marshak would have easily and willingly kept up his fight against Tarzan.
The whole ending is wrong IMO. Marshak says he has no “beef” with Tarzan but he did. He was actively trying to kill Tarzan. I wonder if he’s in any of the future episodes and if the Colonel’s sister has him killed. I almost hope so!
In any case, this episode is good but not as good as the first part!
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