REVIEWS AND SCREEN CAPTURES BY CHARLES MENTO
14. The End of the River
15. The Ultimate Duel
16. The Fire People
17. Track of the Dinosaur
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ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
14. The End of the River ~ 1966.12.16
(Jill Donahue ~ Suzanne, Michael Whitney and Robert Wilke and G. Murdock)
A airplane crash in the jungle results in Tarzan racing
to save a girl's life and a perilous struggle with a convicted criminal.
Overall, we’ve seen pretty much all of this before (though Dimian is more of a maniac and sadist than we’ve seen before) but I will comment that there are more animals in this episode than in all the other 13 before it combined. And the episode looks exotic and the jungle looks alien to city dwellers. The tribe at the start might be Pygmies as one of the men handcuffed to the other states but I will comment that they are the scariest tribe seen in the series so far and maybe of the entire series. They utter NOT one word, have a pet tiger or something and live in these utterly exotic caves. I doubt there is trick photography here but these caves at the start of the episode look fantastic and very alien.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 14. END OF THE RIVER
Review By Charles Mento
We’ve seen quicksand before but I don’t think we’ve ever seen Tarzan himself fall in quicksand. A few things here: one, when Tarzan finds the two men that are handcuffed together with Frank in the quicksand, there is a quick shot of him arriving. Then another shot of him looking at them and Ely in this shot is completely covered in the residue of quicksand as if that shot was taken AFTER Tarzan fell in but it’s before. WT? Even more curious, Tarzan who uses his yell a lot in this episode (one to call the baby she elephant Numbie (?)), is that Tarzan is climbing out using the elephants trunk (ouch!) and front legs as the elephant faces him…and then a quick glance at Cheetah (who btw doesn’t appear until about 26 minutes in!), and we return to find Tarzan using the elephants BACK legs to pull himself out and the elephant’s rear quarters are facing Tarzan. What?
In the opening, Ely looks, for maybe the only time, pained as he walks across rocky terrain barefoot.
George Murdock who appeared in DAY OF THE GOLDEN LION as Karl appears here as Dimian, a man who walked away from a small plane crash (well, the plane was small, the crash was large) leaving two men chained together. The only real part of interest is the plot of who the men are. One is a criminal and one a policeman assigned to take him to authorities. They both claim to the be policeman. Just what they are doing on board a plane that is also taking a certain Dr. Somers’ nurse to another village to get her the cure for being scratched by a deadly plant is beyond me! We’ve seen the race against time against a deadly disease at least once before and frankly it was better there. Which brings me to another note: Jai’s missing from this episode. I have to say I do keep an open mind but the truth is when Jai is involved, it raises the stakes for Tarzan and he has someone he’s invested in and the episodes with Jai feel far better than the episodes without him, just because kids and animals in danger make the hero who cares about them look…more caring. Here, without Jai, Tarzan seems to only care about getting the girl, Suzanne Breck, to her destination.
The men are Sean Gillian and the credits say the other man is Lars Tyler but he introduces himself as Frank Tyler. Jai is credited but is not actually featured the episode. We also hear that great “travel tense” music again at least twice.
Over what Tarzan calls a swamp that doesn’t look like a swamp, he shimmies across a vine with the girl on his back and in a few shots toward the end of the journey, a sad looking human sized doll clings to the back of Ely!
Cheetah, at one point, plays with the girls’ hair and face.
Tarzan appears to call the elephant by two names, one of them being Jewel (?) in the village near a dock (reminiscent of other villages we’ve seen before). The saving of the two handcuffed men from off the vine over the ravine/swamp is endless and quite boring to be honest. When Tarzan has to proceed from the village he tells Cheetah and the elephant to stay there.
Unfortunately what potential this story does have is gone by the episode’s end. First, the locations are some of the best used in the series and the stock footage mingles well with the rest but…
…the reveal of who is who is done matter of factly by the “killer” himself. When Tarzan mistakenly thinks Dimian, who also caused the plane crash, is talking to Sean as his accomplice, he thinks he was wrong earlier in that he thought originally that Frank was the killer. Frank just tells him Tarzan was right the first time. So…Frank seems to come off as having more honor than the crazy manic Dimian and Tarzan even goes back in the end to find him because he will not let any man die in the jungle. Perhaps if a number of things were followed up on or revealed to us, this might have been a good episode. Unfortunately, none of them are and it’s not.
We know nothing of the background. Is Frank really a killer? Who did he kill? Was it self defense or robbery or rape or worse? How is Dimian involved? Why was he on the plane and why did he crash it with himself on board? Why is it that Miss Breck doesn’t know who was who? On a small plane, you’d think she would have been told or at least asked? Why were they all traveling together?
Couple that with the most inept villains in the entire series (they tire easily, fall into quicksand and ride their canoe into a river area of hippos they think are rocks AND Dimian dies by croc---and thank goodness we didn’t get treated to Tarzan vs a croc again), and you have a fairly ponderous but good looking episode.
Even the moral dilemma of Tarzan going back for a killer (even if he is a nice guy!?) is lost.
I’m sorry to say that this is weakest of the first 14 episodes and while it had potential, the large amount of flaws outweigh the good.
15. The Ultimate Duel ~ 1966.12.23
(Henry Silva ~ Dr. Ivor Merrick)
A deadly survival test pits Tarzan against an electronic computer.
The jungle lord is being tracked by a tribe of native killers,
directed by a scientist who uses a computer to predict Tarzan's every move.
Tarzan’s friend, Dr. Tom B’dula regrets the decision he made to get Tarzan to come to the Merrick compound. Here, Merrick, played by Henri Silva, had programmed a computer to figure out the people in his life and is testing animals against it. He decides to test it against Tarzan. He uses his right hand man Rafelson. Tarzan goes through several traps (a fire trap in a lake and a rope bridge, explosives, a pit of spikes), MOST DANGEROUS GAME style (only not as good or as clever as that old time movie) and in the process has to kill Rafelson.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 15. THE ULTIMATE DUEL
Review By Charles Mento
Tom kills a second man who is under Rafelson with a spear, dressing in his tribal garb. He’s not from the same tribe that Merrick has bribed to help him…kill Tarzan. Does he tell the truth, when at one point, he offers Tarzan the chance to surrender and admit the computer won? In any event, he also uses a drone plane to attack Tarzan in what seems ahead of its time. Tarzan’s knife has been coated with something the plane can track. Tom also betrays Tarzan and tries to kill him but ends up charging, with a spear and stupidly, into a pit of spike poles. Okay, I have to admit the betrayal was TOTALLY SHOCKING and I did NOT see that coming.
Merrick’s long suffering but understanding wife realizes she has to help Tarzan. Tarzan talks Merrick into not shooting him (huh?) and Merrick seems to have a nervous breakdown. Tarzan just walks away from the tribe. Merrick will be brought to the territorial authorities. Even though Manuel is credited, Jai is not in this episode.
Some of the soundtrack sounds like any number of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEAS but it also has a bit that sounds A LOT like the forthcoming PLANET OF THE APES movie or at least the TV show theme song to the TV version of PLANET OF THE APES. The soundtrack, as all episodes of TARZAN, is quite good throughout. A bit of it reminds me of the black and white TARZAN movies (when Tarzan finds a zebra to ride on and this time, the ride is impressive).
Ely sports a huge and fresh scar on his back. Oh, and his loin cloth seems to barely fit him in this episode.
A strange, entertaining episode, I was almost set not to like it as I like the Jai episodes far better. This one reflects TV of the times and maybe even before it. It reminds me of a number of other things before AND after it. Most TV shows that are action adventure usually do a MOST DANGEROUS GAME type story where a hunter is hunting down the main characters. This happened in LOST IN SPACE, GET SMART, CHARLIE’S ANGELS, GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, HART TO HART, probably the WILD WILD WEST, and THE INCREDIBLE HULK, to name just a few. It also seems to be a bit like the ARENA storyline that STAR TREK used where something is pitted against our hero, one on one.
At the same time, the trapping of the computer, the microphones, and yet another mad man, makes this seem like THE PEARLS OF TONGA (and not just because of the mad man but because of Tarzan killing many minions and the scientific equipment) and an Irwin Allen show.
Silva appeared in VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA in an episode where he tried to pit Crane against Nelson and also used cameras and computers. He also appeared in a brilliant OUTER LIMITS.
Parts of this feel like an OUTER LIMITS episode as the wife, Jeannie, tries to reason with her science obsessed husband to stop in the name of humanity but he continues in the name of science helping others.
BUT the one thing this reminds me of most is the far superior episode of the best series ever made, THE FUGITIVE. I believe it was called the 2130 about how a computer was used to find Richard Kimble. One of the reasons it was better was that the computer matching to the actions of the people programming it, Kimble and the police made more sense. And was shown quite often.
Not that this episode is boring or bad. It’s actually pretty good and one could not predict most of it so it’s unpredictable. As well as ultra-violent. It’s probably the most violent episode I’ve seen so far and I don’t know if I ever saw this entire episode. Tarzan shakes Rafelson off a small boat (the idiot) and into the fire and his flaming body is seen on screen. Tom tosses a spear into another man (Rafelson’s underling who I can’t seem to understand a word he says, mostly) who is ready to shoot Tarzan and the man dies.
Tom then rushes Tarzan and falls into the pit, dying. All but the last one are seen on screen. In this fashion, it reminds me of the later Gordon Scott movies where death to the enemies was vicious and violent but this might be more violent than those and the Lex Barker movies. In that, it’s also surprisingly shocking. That Merrick’s men should die so early in the episode is a bit of a jolt and keeps one on guard.
Oh, and Tarzan is once more shot out of the trees but isn’t even scratched. He does get shot in the arm later though.
The end is curious as Jeannie tells Tarzan that her husband is NOT a criminal. Oh no? He orchestrated the entire thing and HE is responsible for the deaths, indirectly and it seems also made short work of animals before this? Some are in cages, which Tarzan doesn’t seem to free at the end? Maybe? The amazingly dopey thing is that Tarzan agrees with HER and says, “I know that.” What?
Computers were around for a long time even when this was made but NONE of them were home computers and were a sort of thing OUT THERE beyond all of us. As such, this episode feels a bit dated and odd, even for this show. Some of the scenes in the computer room feel very stagey. Also: while I like this and PEARLS, at least in PEARLS we learn a bit about the man’s background and here Merrick just mentions that his father and grandfather took from the world but he wants to give back to it. We don’t really know what country he’s from or what he is referring to and we learn nothing more about this odd statement and declaration from him. One of the only explanations is that he is totally insane from the start. Tarzan’s friend Tom is also odd: he claims to be Tarzan’s friend but even before he betrays Tarzan for the 10 thousand dollars, he admits he’s at the compound because Merrick has a lot of money.
This episode, as far as I can remember, is the FIRST (and maybe only?) episode where Ely’s TARZAN totally loses it and his animal savagery comes through as he tears apart the post and sign or mike that is on it after Tom dies betraying him. He even looked like an ape destroying that. No Cheetah in this episode either btw. Ely is great as ever in this odd, bizarre episode.
I like that the Tarzan cry is used and how it is used here to offset the remaining tribe minions. Even though the tribe is a POS, Tarzan saves a little girl in the path of the drone.
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
16. The Fire People ~ 1966.12.30
(Mel Lettman ~ David Chaddo, Elsa Gardenas ~ Dr. Halverson)
Tarzan and Jai risk their lives to help a native chief save his people.
The superstitious tribesmen, frightened by a witch doctor,
won't abandon their home on a volcanic mountain that's about to erupt.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 16. THE FIRE PEOPLE
Review By Charles Mento
“You have a lot of faith in Tarzan, don’t you?”
“Tarzan, why he’s just the nicest and best person in the whole world.”
A few things to get out of the way first. Ely has a nasty cut on his stomach this time. Manuel has an equally fresh and larger wound on the back of his leg. The antagonist old man who wants the tribe to stay at the foot of the “god” volcano is Exhaam and he has a nasty looking cut on his elbow. I’m sure Ely and Padilla Jr’s wounds are real. Exhaam’s might be as well.
The chief of the tribe, Hamaar, as he takes Jai deeper into the mountain to return to his village in a way that he does not know…hits his head on one of the rocks in an unplanned move.
So are they trying to find Nobie’s real mother or just an adoptive mother? Is it Nobie’s herd or a new herd?
A very late in the episode shot of the active volcano looks as if…there’s a plane behind it?
I might also say that Manuel Padilla Jr is always quite good but here he’s excellent, totally believable and acting up a storm as his faith in Tarzan and his love for the man comes through. Is it just me or does Manuel look as if he’s grown quite a bit since the early episodes? In one scene, while in the volcano, in the episode he’s just about completely covered in dirt. Tarzan also sticks him an opening in the interior of the volcano to see what’s happening…and almost get Jai’s head burned off! One of Jai’s lines sounds dubbed in later, mixed with dialog that does not sound that way.
The DVD of this episode has the brief theme and visual of Ely swinging by with the title TARZAN before a few of the ad breaks and returns. ALSO: of note is that the end theme is a rearrangement and seems longer than the other end themes or perhaps it is shorter but it is definitely a rearrangement.
Once more we get the feel of an Irwin Allen production, both his sci fi shows AND his later disaster TV movies ---and movies---some of which deal with fire, fires, and volcanoes. VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA is most prominent in this as it featured volcanoes in many episodes including the interior of volcanoes. FIRES OF DEATH and WEREWOLF are just two such episodes. LOST IN SPACE’s third season, a few years after this TARZAN episode, featured an alien tribe about to undergo a change while at the foot of an active volcano and the tribe put Don and Smith inside or under the volcano. John travels inside it to “cap” it, a ludicrous idea. TIME TUNNEL also featured the world’s biggest volcano with Krakatoa in CRACK OF DOOM, which aired about two months before this episode. Other shows such as GILLIGAN’S ISLAND also featured active volcanoes. Many of these episodes use the same stock footage that is sometimes used in this episode and it looks fantastic every time it’s shown, lava dripping down a volcano as it blows red fire from its top.
A few things about this. I suspect, strongly, that no one in any of these shows, in real life, could get anywhere that close to an active volcano, let alone one that is actually exploding and releasing lava, ash, and smoke. It’s a sure thing that no one can survive being anywhere INSIDE a volcano that is active or blasting away. That said, all of these are exciting adventures, if implausible and impossible.
Not that this episode is bad. When I first saw this as a teen or a kid (I forget which), I was quite frightened for Cheetah, Nobie, Jai and Tarzan with all the fire, lava, and being inside and outside an active dangerous volcano and there is tension in the episode. The sets, the effects (again, all of them looking like practical wizardry and technical effects on the spot and themselves looking quite dangerous), and the music (we hear some of the same PLANET OF THE APES type music from the last episode and we also hear that walking/tension/peaceful/travel music first used in DEADLY SILENCE and last used in END OF THE RIVER) all come together to make this an entertaining and dangerous episode.
When Tarzan is buried in a rock fall inside the volcano, it really felt like that was IT, mostly thanks to the reactions of Manuel.
Amar’s wife Lita----it is unexpected that she would die. Being a pregnant woman one would expect her to have survived the episode but she dies early on in the episode in a rock fall!
Another unexpected thing is that…David, the man Tarzan later reveals to know and be a friend of, is leading men into blasting areas to cause animals to stampede. Like Tarzan, we are thrown into thinking these are the bad guys, some ivory or animal poachers or something but they have good intentions: their intentions are to save the animals from the exploding volcano. One of the stock footage bits used to depict men trying to get the animals to stampede looks…like it shows men from India in Indian garb doing just that and I wonder if that is a clip from TARZAN GOES TO INDIA. Other clips fit in better.
Tarzan’s ride on a hippo is quite wonderful. The animal was blocking the path to freedom.
Oddly, the female of the piece, Dr. Gloria Halverson, doesn’t contribute much. She keeps trying to reach base 4 and I’m not sure we’re ever told if she does and if they are safe. The implication is that they might have died? The actress playing Gloria, if IMDB can be believed, was in many of the Latino Spanish language movies of Santo and other wrestling superheroes against bizarre monsters, mad scientists, and supernatural female foes including vampires and voodoo priestesses.
While we’re on that: Gloria, Exhaam, and David are not credited (at least not on the DVD, I’d like to check my off air copies if I can find them). This is odd. The credits start with Manuel’s credit. And Lita is credited and Hamaar and that’s it!
Okay, now to the oddest point of this episode : the tribe. I can almost buy they are a lost tribe of some kind but David and Gloria as well as Tarzan seem to know of them. Yet, they look like they are from a stone age. They are dressed like they come from a Biblical movie. They have been at the base of the mountain for a thousand years. It’s odd to see Jai holding their food or their egg source: chickens upside down while he helps the tribe escape the mountain as it starts to blow up. BUT even stranger is that the tribe is a mix of what feels like the lost tribe of Israel, probably by way of Demille’s THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, such odd antiquated tribes in Italy’s Peplum action fantasy gladiator Hercules movies, and other Z grade movies. This doesn’t destroy the episode but it is odd. Are these people prehistoric? Just backward? I’m sure if MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER ever got a hold of this episode they would do a number on the tribe and the wide eyed Exaam (ex-ham?). The stone tablet, the strange tribal cut out statues, and the huts as well as their clothing and their name (Kaddish?) seem to indicate all of the above, too.
And how long does it take to get down from the volcano? It feels as if it is night as they leave, or is that just the sky darkened from the ash? It’s day by the time they face the hippo, cute creatures but when angry….
All in all, this is not the worst or best episode but I DO remember it fondly, perhaps fonder than most but I could say that about the whole series when measured against most other TV shows from the 60s through present times.
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
17. Track of the Dinosaur ~ 1967.01.06
(Lloyd Bochner ~ Bergstrom)
Tarzan is marked for murder when he clashes
with a corrupt government official and his female co-conspirator.
The pair are using the natives' beliefs in a monster
to drive them away from a rich mineral deposit.
We’re out of 1966 and this is the first episode aired in 1967. TARZAN vs a dinosaur! Amazing, right? Well….it’s more in line with SCOOBY DO, someone’s faking a monster. It’s sort of shocking that they have Jai and Tarzan’s lion friend Guapa (?) killed by the …thing at all, let alone this early in. Jai loses his voice. Lloyd Bochner plays Berstrom so he HAS to be the bad guy, doesn’t he? Also: a curious scene has Pippa Scott as Diana Grayson talking to a traumatized Jai as if he’s awake but other than his eyes blinking it appears he’s asleep and what? There’s no reaction shot on Jai and no response, even hand gestures. THEN, she and Tarzan start talking about a Kurt and confusing the heck of out me, start delivering plot points. It DOES strongly appear that Tarzan and she had a romance, even IF she was married at the time but nothing is overtly stated. Then, there’st the scene where Kurt pulls a gun on Tarzan.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 17. TRACK OF THE DINOSAUR
Review By Charles Mento
The following fight (after the gun pull) is curiously edited. Someone thought it was a good idea to show the animals in the area react to the two men fighting so we get the fight start, a cut away to stock footage of birds flying away, more of the fight in the water and more animals running or flying away. I sort of see what they were trying to do with this kind of editing and it’s different but here, it really doesn’t work, other than to maybe extend the fight a bit but even that doesn’t seem to be the point. Maybe someone thought it was a new and innovative way to edit a fight on TV and on this show as there have been so many of them before. The fight’s not bad but it’s over fast and the interjection of animal stock footage…seems to slow it down rather than make it more exciting. MAYBE if the animals fleeing weren’t just obvious stock footage (with what looks like the usual dated visual quality) or any stock footage at all but actual animals, this manner of filming or editing a fight would have worked and been something different and innovative.
As it is, it’s odd.
Kurt also calls this the “Dark Continent” which is an outdated reference to Africa.
Though it should not be surprising after THE ULTIMATE DUEL, the idea of a female betraying Tarzan totally is shocking and here, Diana is presented as so warm and cuddly to Jai and Cheetah (who plays with glasses, reads a newspaper, plays nurse to Jai, and steals a banana all in one scene), that it’s almost unthinkable that she’s the evil master mind behind the fake dinosaur (and it does look fake…it wouldn’t fool anyone, not even uneducated people!). Jai overhears Diana and Bergstrom plotting. Anyone who, the first time around, claims that they saw Diana being the villain of the whole piece, is lying.
Bergstrom’s aide Charlie is played by one of the actors who played the guy who died in quicksand in THE DEADLY SILENCE part 2 (another bad guy).
Oh and in the rock fall that the dino started…it appears that a huge rock (fake, of course) actually falls and hits Diana in the back.
Some of the stock footage of Ely swinging through the trees is from earlier as his hair is shorter and much darker.
Oh and this must be at least the third time (or more!) Tarzan’s been shot down from a vine!
It’s also quite intriguing to have two sets of villains working at opposing purposes, only to have Bergstrom talk Kurt into helping him and Diana….if he is doing that. He seems to be a crude savage type. Diana has not just been misguided but she fully embarrasses the evil…HER evil.
Even so when Jai tells Tarzan about Diana, both of them still help her escape the dinosaur when all of them are in the caves. For the swim scene, Jai loses his sandals but has them on again when they are running in the dirt. For the third time, I’ve spotted Ely with footwear, too.
The contrast between the greed over the rich minerals that the villains want to steal from the tribe and Tarzan and Jai’s world is wonderful.
Diana’s story takes another unexpected turn as she reveals to Tarzan and Jai that she only has a few months to live and that is why she’s doing what she is doing.
Sven Bergstrom gets a spear in the back and OUT his chest in a grisly scene. Kurt also dies horribly as he falls back into the fire filled dino bulldozer. Nicely wrapped up.
Tarzan’s sum up to Jai about Diana is nice, “A sapling reed bends with the wind but snaps back straight but when there’s rog inside, it bend and cracks and stays twisted forever. Then something lovely and good is no longer a part of our lives.”
While Tarzan is acting like Caine from KUNG FU, watch what’s going on in the background. Some ladies drag off some turkeys or chickens. It’s disturbing.
I really like this episode but usually when it was on and I knew the outcome I hardly ever rewatched it. You have to understand as a kid/teen, there was a parade of monsters on TV from the repeated old 1950s movies that I never saw when they were in the theaters, new Godzilla, Gamera and King Kong movies, and so much more. There were also dinosaurs on TV weekly in LAND OF THE LOST and in repeats of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA and occasionally in LOST IN SPACE and other TV shows and other shows like STAR TREK had other kinds of monsters. To me, this was just a huge cheat and there was no dinosaur at all.
Manuel turns in another good performance. He was, IMO, an asset to the show and for kids a POV.
The ep is also a bit sad as both Jai and Tarzan learn they were wrong about a “good lady.”
The end theme is once more the rearrangement.
Cheetah only has a few short scenes and the last one has Tarzan send him off, “Cheetah, you go find somewhere to play,” in a curious send off.
Also odd is Bergstrom’s tender care to Kurt’s wounds. What was that about? Kurt violently shoots and kills Charlie, too, and in front of Jai.
It’s also almost a cliché that Jai thinks Tarzan is dead or is told he is dead, but he later finds out Tarzan is alive. And it works every time.
BTW does Jai have a slightly psychic connection to Tarzan? Or did the bullet shot sound wake him up? If not, no one else heard it or was shown reacting to it but maybe they did and we just did not see that? In any case, it appears that Tarzan is shot from the trees and when he lands, Jai wakes up or seems to know what happened?
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