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Continued from our Contents Page at ERBzine 7420
REVIEWS AND SCREEN CAPTURES BY CHARLES MENTO
10. The Figurehead
11. Village of Fire
12. The Day of the Golden Lion
13. Pearls of Tanga
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
10. The Figurehead ~ 1966.11.11
(Ricky Cordell ~ Prince Shariff, Ken Drake ~ Karim)
Tarzan and Jai try to get young Prince Sharif out of the jungle to safety.
The boy is being pursued by the same conspirators who assassinated his father.
There seems to be a settlement in this episode and some more violence but Tarzan is practically synonymous with violence. In any case, the format that starts with a clip of what is to come and then a break and then the title is not my favorite. It’s confusing. I think I know why they did this. To compete with THE TIME TUNNEL which almost always started with action and usually a fight of some kind, they put a fight clip first. It makes sense in that light but not in the light of storytelling. A prince’s (Sharif) guardian (Karim) fatally wounds two African (?) attackers who then later die but he himself is also fatally wounded. Tarzan tells him he will get the Prince…and the man, too (was he just trying to raise the man’s hopes to fight off death or trying to be nice? Did he realize the man would die?), to safety via the route to the airport.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 10. The Figurehead
Review By Charles Mento
Not sure where we are but Jai has on full normal clothes (sandal though, I think) and there’s talk of a settlement again. Jai’s clothing thing could be a plot device. If he wore a loin cloth like Tarzan, he’d be too easy to identify as Tarzan’s kid and not a prince. The prince also loses, thanks to Tarzan’s suggestion, his cloak which was hampering his trek through nature.
While we’re no it, one of the villains knows that Jai is “the kid that lives with Tarzan.” So, Jai now lives with Tarzan.
I looked up a few of the words on the villains’ map and found that Matabele came up with links to Zimbabwe. This means this show is now in Africa. Even though filmed in Mexico.
Okay, so Jai understands the jungle drums and quickly gets captured climbing a hill near some rocks which fall and alert the natives chasing him. They capture him and bring him to Ronald Long’s Robert Toussaint villain, who is working with Anthony Caruso’s (he of a huge list of credits including two ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW episodes and one THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN and TARZAN AND THE SLAVE GIRL, TARZAN AND THE LEOPARD WOMAN, and as Cortez in THE TIME TUNNEL’s IDOL OF DEATH).
Long also has a long (!) list of credits, too, including LOST IN SPACE where he kidnaps Will Robinson. His rapport with Jai is underplayed but sort of heralds lots of Jai/guest star rapport that will happen in the future of this series.
What’s strange is that Jai is captured, brought to the tent, and questioned by Robert, a British villain. Robert then leaves Jai to ponder starving and Jai says, “The throne is in great trouble.” Tarzan then returns with the missing and forgotten medicine after two hours (?) or so and finds Shariff. He and the boy are also quickly captured (we also hear the nice travel tense/untense music first used in THE DEADLY SILENCE part 2). Tarzan is put behind a boulder blocked cave and Cheetah goes in with him, voluntarily. Humorously, Caruso’s character, Grundy, jokes, “Now he has some help. Perhaps together, they’ll both be able to move it.”
Okay, back to the strange part…after Jai is caught and questioned, already having been brought to Robert’s tent, and after Tarzan is imprisoned…Grundy is seen hauling BOTH boys to Rob’s tent. Rob says, “Welcome to my tent…” and acts as if he’s never seen Jai before. It’s as if the other scene never happened. Did Jai escape the tent and was recaptured? OR…was the first tent scene filler after the episode ran too short. In any case, it’s quite jarring. He’s captured, then out of tent in Grundy’s hand, literally, and brought into the camp at the same time as Sharif.
Dialog suggests the first scene NEVER HAPPENED. WTF?
Unlike Cheetah in the old Tarzan movies, he doesn’t seem to understand or/and obey Tarzan’s orders. This time Tarzan tells Cheetah to go get an elephant for help. What’s strange is that the elephant’s name as pronounced by Ely sounds alternately like Mara, Marla, Maru, Moro, and Marlo. What?
I also do not like that Ely as Tarzan kicks the elephant’s leg to get her to sit.
Jai proves his usefulness by leaving a trail for Tarzan to follow, using the turban shreds. He also uses the shred to sling shot a rock into Robert’s ride and making Robert fall and possibly breaking his hip. This slows down the progress of the villains so that Tarzan can catch up.
The elephant that pulls the boulder away from the trap and the one Tarzan is seen riding later on look very different. The later one looks bigger and younger and healthier.
There’s a few other strange things in this episode. Why does Tarzan first communicate with Jai using Macaw bird calls and Jai does it back…and then he uses drumming? Do Macaw really eat bird lice as Grundy says? And ewl, either way. They DO eat clay licks. Even odder, the two men don’t really seem to hear or respond to the drumming!? Why does Tarzan need to use drumming anyway? And, even worse, why does Jai suddenly seem to have two stick in his hands as if he is going to or already has (he tosses them down) drummed back? Or was he going to use those as weapons? Hardly likely.
Either way, this episode has some strange editing and strangely edited sequences.
Also driven by plot, Jai has scars (only in this episode) from a croc, his pet jaguar and a water buffalo. He shows these to Robert after Robert offers him medication (he’s a nice villain!) after they’ve been walking hours in the jungle. It’s unclear if Robert means after he takes Jai off or if in total from when Grundy (who, appallingly, wears his shirt open and tied in the front in knot!) brought him Jai and Shariff.
Shariff, the little runt, doesn’t free Jai when he had a chance.
Jai also has the ability to silently lift a guard’s knife from its sheath as the guard stands watch. The guard does not realize it is gone.
Tarzan’s attack on the camp with one elephant and just setting up his name to make the natives run with fear is either very impressive or lazy film making. Not sure.
Jai does try to punch Grundy.
In the end Tarzan’s fight with Grundy, as ever, is impressive and it really looks like Ely was choked for real as the marks on his neck look…harsh. Grundy rolls down a hill and we’re not told if he survived. Ronald Long’s character shows his skill at shooting at rock, menacing the kid’s medication unless he gets the Prince himself. He’s delaying the kid’s coronation into King after the father was assassinated. Not sure we’re ever told what the villain’s prize will be but I guess they’re being paid by the uncle of the kid. The uncle will be king if the kid doesn’t show up in six days or something.
We hear Jai’s theme again (I’ve forgotten to mention it in the other episodes).
All in all, this is an enjoyable if routine episode. Many shows in the 60s had royal princes having to face up to being “a man.” This is just one of many. And it has all those odd things mentioned about it.
And finally, there’s the title which seems to indicate the kid is just a figurehead anyway!? In other countries, it’s known as TARZAN AND THE PRINCE.
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
11. Village of Fire ~ 1966.11.18
(Nobu McCarthy ~ Dr. Haru)
Tarzan races to recover a serum stolen by a native chief.
The drug is the only hope for the fever-wracked Jai,
who has been bitten by a jaguar and is near death.
I have a number of issues with this episode. I don’t think it’s terrible but it’s just not as good as the other ten before it. First, Cheetah starts all the trouble by opening a cage to let a jaguar out. Okay, I get it that Cheetah might have thought they should be free but the animal has been injected with a possible cure for a disease (and I’m not sure this disease is a real disease).
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 11. Village of Fire
Review By Charles Mento
So Cheetah starts ALL the trouble. Jai tries to get the cage closed and the animal gets away anyway and Jai is scratched and gets the fever. He seems to survive the night without the serum anyway but gets the shot anyway.
Totoni, leaders of a nearby tribe, is sick and tries the doctor in the settlement (a new one?) named Dr. Haru (from either Japan or China?). He and his “witch doctor” Bwanichi are both portrayed as incredibly stupid, dumb, backward, superstitious and just…well, stupid.
Where to start? First Totoni leaves Haru’s care even though he is still sick, relying instead on his witch doctor who does nothing to help him. Totoni, instead of returning to Haru, sends his men to get her medicine. WHY? Why not just have them take you back to her. He has no idea how to take the medicine ---it must be delivered via a syringe. Instead, he his men steal it and then asks the witch doctor how it must be delivered. He’s a moron. He drinks it as per the witch doctor’s advice…and this Bwanichi then blames Haru! He’s a moron, too. AND so are all the men who leave in a rage with fire to burn the village. Their chief is not yet dead but lingers. WHY not just take him back THEN?
Add to that, there is an exciting sequence where Jai is unconscious in the settlement building, which seems to change shape in long shot, medium shot, interior, exterior, etc. BUT it’s silly, too. WHY would gasoline be kept where a sick boy is being quarantined. And since when is being quarantined being LOCKED in? And NO ONE in the village thought to let Jai out? Is Haru the only one who knew he was there? Tarzan seems to interact with the villagers by eye locking only so none of them are known as real characters.
Bwanichi also acts stupidly when he destroys the serum when faced with Tarzan. Earlier, Tarzan’s mission was to get a plant that only grew at the bottom of deep water. Sigh. He has to dive for it and sadly, and also in boring fashion, he has to fight YET ANOTHER crocodile. This is the third one in only 11 episodes. Enough already. I hope they don’t do this again. Oh, and he also seems to put his foot into a giant clam or oyster that closes on it but he’s able to cut the thing (?) and free himself. I guess we’re supposed to imagine it snuck up on Tarzan from the bottom and behind? On the positive side, some of the underwater photography is beautiful and some vivid shots of Ely underwater really astound.
Yet, the stock footage, part of the show from the beginning, here looks badly integrated into the rest of the shots. At one point, Tarzan has to ride a giraffe to get to the body of water…and it’s clearly stock footage from another TARZAN movie, probably a Gordon Scott one. It looks too dark and this stunt double looks too Gordon Scott-ish to be Ron Ely’s TARZAN. What’s more, he jumps on the giraffe and this seems to be close to animal abuse and is uncomfortable viewing it today. One never thought about those things when one watched this as a child or teenager.
On top of all of that, Haru had the serum cure in front of her the whole time…when the jaguar recovered. She didn’t need the serum used from the plant Tarzan had.
Everyone recovers and that’s fine but Bwanichi, who goes to Haru after all of that and pleads for her to help Totoni, gets off scott free by Tarzan. So, too, does the bad choices and the poor leadership of Totoni. His men burned down at least five buildings here and the water tower…and while it looks as if no one died, they all get let off with a smile and vague idea that there is room for the old ways and the new ways in the jungle. Tarzan then lets Haru travel alone to the camp of Totoni to save him.
Is it me or is something totally wrong with this entire episode?
On a trivia note, Jai is back in his loin cloth…just. He seems to be growing out of it.
I’d be curious to know if the scenes at the start with he and Ely with Cheetah and Nabi, the baby elephant, were filmed later than the rest of this episode. Jai sure looks like he has VERY long hair in the start and not in the rest. He also looks older in the start than in the rest. I’d also like to know if a jungle set was being used. It all looks fabulous at the start, almost too good for a jungle but a dense jungle just the same.
We’re not specifically told that any of the animals Haru experimented on died but it seemed as if she thought the cat that Tarzan had to bring back in a spectacular sequence on the water tower, might die?
Again, Haru, capturing animals to experiment on even for a good cause, might be someone that the old Tarzan of the 40s, 50s, and early 60s movies might fight whole heartedly against.
Not to nit pick even more but outside when Tarzan has a feverish Jai and Haru is explaining things, the editing seems….off. Haru seems very close to them in medium shot and then when the camera faces her directly, she seems to be sitting or standing in front of them and further away.
All in all, I wasn’t terribly impressed by this episode. I seem to have had a vague memory of either Jai or Tarzan unconscious near something that was about to explode and I still wonder if a future episode might contain a similar scene. Here, it doesn’t really help the episode and all the “action” feels contrived and almost useless to the plot and makes almost all the characters other than Tarzan and perhaps Jai, stupid. I mean really stupid.
On the plus side, Ron’s Tarzan cradling Jai in his sick bed and prompting him to tell a story, telling him to hang on like the snapping turtle and playing an animal naming game with him to keep Jai alive are worth the entire episode. It’s really touching and great stuff.
Oh and I don’t know if they were trying to convey that Jai was sick but he drinks water like a savage, letting it spill over him!
Almost forgot, Jai causes an avalanche by yelling for Nabi but Tarzan, who seems blameless, never warns him about the loose and old cave…which looks JUST like the cave Tarzan was trapped in …last episode, down to the space the boulders leave for Cheetah to get out! This time, though, Tarzan is able to remove the boulder all by himself. I guess I even have issues with the title: it’s not really a village of fire; but a village on fire…for a short time in the episode.
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
12. The Day of the Golden Lion ~ 1966.12.02
(Suzy Parker ~ Laura Keller, George Murdock and Curt Lowens)
A native athletic championship is to take place,
with Tarzan taking part, but there is an attempt to steal the prize.
There’s a lot to notice about this episode. First and foremost, as the mostly undressed Eastern athlete we get in the first of other appearances (other than previous semi regular police Rao, who looked to be set as a series regular), the sadly late Rockne Tarkington as Ahmid. I have to say that he’s out of his regular safari like territorial police clothes and he’s…far better built than even Ron Ely. Geeze. He’s VERY muscular.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 12. The Day of the Golden Lion
Review By Charles Mento
Oddly in one early scene as Ahmid and the “jungle” athlete Naftel (Chuck Wood who will star in eight episodes all together!) run out of the tent to take their first place in the game/challenge, Ahmid has on just a lion cloth (no sandals either) and nothing on top but as he takes his place after the run out of the tent, he’s wearing a full ensemble! What?
Later, he’s back to wearing less than Tarzan!
Other than that we get a nice moral message here and Ron’s Tarzan is less a savage here than a “play it fair” kind of hero but ironically this might be the first episode where he kills someone. As the villainous Karl, who is ironic in and of himself because he told the more evil Wilhelm Schmidt that he was not about to kill anyone, is about to shoot and kill Ahmid or whoever won the race (Tarzan is sneaking about to save Ahmid), Tarzan beans him with a huge boulder. We see him fall and we DO NOT see him later as Ahmid drags (literally) Wilhelm to the territorial police.
Notu, the chief is played by Virgil Richardson, himself having been in THE THREE FACES OF DEATH and both parts of THE DEADLY SILENCE. Virgil may also be the famous Tuskegee airman and the founder of radio for African Americans.
When her two men henchmen are ready to resort to murder and tie her up, the female villain turns out to help Tarzan by alerting Jai, who proves his merit yet again by quickly running through a throng of adults AND finding the zebra that threw him (it also looks vague but Jai might have had to hit the zebra earlier to get him started in a race he was having with Bata, a Mid East boy) to go warn TARZAN. Bata is played by Vincent Arias, who like Manuel Padilla Jr, died young (even younger than Padilla at age 35!).
Another thing to watch out for here is…the music. I’ve stated in the past how the music for each episode is great but here, it’s even better. It’s as if the music for each episode just steps it up and up and betters itself each time. There are one or two pieces we’ve heard before but even they are well done and fit in perfectly. Jai’s ride to Tarzan while he races Ahmid is a spectacular musical piece.
Also look for more charm between Tarzan and Jai. Jai falls asleep under so many pillows, Tarzan can’t see him when he’s right in front of him and Jai in Tarzan’s loving arms, tells the ape man he needs some sleep for his race tomorrow. Tarzan just pats him and smiles, carrying him toward sleep.
Jai also finds the Golden Lion statue missing…after launching a spear into the tent by mistake in another challenge with Batu. He alerts Tarzan to this and Ely in another wonderful scene, has to enter the lion den, calm the lion, and soft step to get the valued statue out. He’s caught putting it back but rather than the cliché of the Easterners thinking he stole it, which they quickly, realize he did not, they believe him when he tells them someone else did.
The only flaw this episode has is Tarzan not dealing with Wilhelm and Karl sooner but he didn’t want to incite violence during the games and the challenges in what could escalate to war and almost does at one point when a spear is thrown that causes Notu to break his ankle or leg. This results in Tarzan having to take his place.
There’s also an impressive dive off a cliff by both Tarzan and Ahmid (stunt doubles?) into the deep water to retrieve pearls of wisdom from…a giant clam/oyster which we’ve seen in an earlier episode. This time, however, no one gets their foot caught in it but a poisonous red liquid comes out and stuns Ahmid. Tarzan, saves him, in lieu of winning. We even get to see Ahmid throw a disc further than Tarzan.
When it turns out that no one wins the contest, Laura Keller (who in the credits reads like Hilda Keller!) asks Tarzan if he planned it to end the way it did…with no winner…of the challenge and the Golden Lion statue…he doesn’t answer her. Did he?
A colorful, surprising episode, not without its flaws, plotwise (stupid villains trying to steal a very heavy statue without the means to and trying to kill Tarzan to the very end, even shooting through a tent in front of both tribes!). Tarzan dives through the tent after distracting Wilhelm with a spear. If this were a Scott or Mahoney Tarzan movie or even a Lex Barker Tarzan, that spear would have killed the bad guy. Probably. Here, it just distracts him long enough for Tarzan to dive at him and get him far away from his rifle and turn him over to Rao…uh, Ahmid.
BTW, I’ve not yet made note of Ely’s hair. After the first few episodes, the black dye job stops, until there is stock footage of him running or tree swinging…his hair is now a mix of light brown, dark brown, and…blond! Highlights?
Though it is less understated than in earlier episodes, Ahmid seems to be learning sportsmen ship and fair play through Tarzan and what’s more important in life.
I really enjoyed this colorful episode again.
One frustrating problem is the lack of info on the net about who really plays which character. For example under IMDB which is usually great, for Chuck Wood’s character we read on IMDB he’s playing Chuck Wood. What? And sometimes the characters’ names aren’t said or aren’t said clear enough.
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
13. Pearls of Tanga ~ 1966.12.09
(Carlos Riva ~ Admiral Gioco)
Tarzan does battle with a criminal known as 'The Admiral'
who has his own submarine and has been poisoning the waters
so that his own crew are the only ones able to recover fabulously valuable pearl oysters.
Tarzan and Jai are on their way to visit the N’G’akami (spelling?) and en route stop by their friends’ beach side settlement though I didn’t see any buildings or homes, just maybe some huts?
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 13. Pearls of Tanga
Review By Charles Mento
A word about the format. Last episode the action started right away so we didn’t get a preview of action. This episode we are back to focusing on a clip that will come later in the episode and that focuses on action again. Then, the titles. Last time, it was more a standard new stuff, action, a sort of commercial break and then the titles.
Makey is already in the water but turns up dead thanks to chemicals put in the water to ward the fishermen off an area of pearls that the evil, war mongering nut Admiral Gioco will use to fiancé a new pirate crew or army. He seems to be Italian and maybe he’s talking about WW2 where he sank French cargo ships and even had his own men go down in ships to their deaths, supposedly saluting him. The chief of Tarzan’s friend is named Tanoma and he seems to know Jai as well as Tarzan yet his daughter Lita, who has paired herself with Gioco (but not for long) does not know Jai. She calls him little boy. Tanoma also says it has been a long time since Tarzan visited him and his people so…when was it? Does he know Jai? His son Keenu almost dies in the chemically poisoned water but Tarzan saves him and almost dies himself. He’s saved by some reeds applied to him.
In a funny scene, Cheetah blocks the cameras of the villain to keep him from seeing Jai on the beach. Jai is captured anyway by the even more evil killer…Gioco’s number one henchman (who off screen kills one of their own men for leaving his mask behind, which is how Tarzan tracks them to their underwater base that also houses a small submarine). This evil henchman is named Balta and he has a really fake looking scar on his face.
Other than the scar, I find nothing wrong with the episode. Well, in one moment just before a commercial, Tarzan is shot at and falls over into the whirlpool, which gives him trouble. Did he fake the fall? Did they miss him and he faked it or was he grazed? We never are told.
The episode feels almost like Disney with the magnificent underwater photography, which approaches and better that used in FLIPPER and is far superior to that used in VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. The episode looks spectacular and thanks to yet another fantastic soundtrack, it sounds just as spectacular. What separates this from Disney, thankfully, is that here, Tarzan, in a visually stunning series of sequences defeats (read that as KILLS), first, four of Gioco’s scuba divers and then two more, all underwater. In his almost disappointingly brief and easy defeat of Balta, Tarzan gets a choke hold on the man and seems to kill him off screen. This is more like the literary Tarzan or so I’m told, not having read beyond one or two of the books. In addition, it is a lot like the 40s to early 60s Tarzan of the Movies. In fact, it looks like, here, Tarzan kills ALL the bad guys!
Though a manta shows up and we see some porpoises, none are menacing, thank goodness and they resisted the urge to add a shark in or, heaven forbid, another crocodile. No, this episode has its own contrivances and most of them feel and seem like a JAMES BOND movie but it’s not a bad thing to aspire to. Right down to the female accomplice, a former fisher girl from the tribe, herself, helping Tarzan. She, named Lita, helps Jai escape.
Of note: Jai does not seem to wear sandals through most of this as it is filmed on a beach and near and in the water, though I am not sure he doesn’t have them on in the last scene.
This episode has a feel all it’s down and is refreshing for it. Again, it looks movie quality.
Also of note is Gioco’s admiration of Tarzan, even noting how he moves as one who’s never known defeat. In the last episode, Jai was too young to appreciate the female dancing but loved the male dancing warriors. Okay.
It must be noted that Ely moves like he’s been raised by apes and moves with confidence and not like anyone else in the series. Again, his brief scenes and reunion with Jai are charming in bringing out the father in him.
Again, the underwater sequences are probably the best ever filmed for television. And this episode is yet another enjoyable one.
As with last episode, there is a moral message here: the children (and this time the tribe seems to have a lot of them and BTW many members of this tribe are exceptional looking) are happy playing games with the pearls, and the chief declares that his people are rich without being materialistically rich. Even Jai throws the pearls he has away.
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