ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
22. Basil of the Bulge ~ 1967.02.10
(Maurice Evans ~ Sir Basil Bertram ~ Warren Stevens ~ Roger Bradley)
A renowned war-time general, on a treaty mission in the jungle,
is captured by a dissenting tribe with the connivance of a corrupt official.
At least one Tarzan book claims an episode was set in London. Not sure about future episodes but a few early scenes here are set in London but not really filmed there. Stock of London and a set. In any case, this is another TARZAN lite episode with Tarzan seen at the start—and in a wild fight to boot---with the leader of the Plateau people---saving him from a bow and arrow attack by one of Mwanza de Ludanzi played by Bernie Hamilton, who we will see again in this series. The Plateau People’s leader is Hassim and he and they are dressed very like Middle Eastern people. I’m not sure where Mwanza comes from but he might be from a third tribe. I’m afraid the dialog seems to indicate he IS from the Plateau People but an outcast who has his own warriors but it’s very unclear, at least to me.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 22. BASIL OF THE BULGE
Review By Charles Mento
We will see Virgil Richardson again, he who plays the leader of the Valley People. The leader is named Gwane, dressed seemingly the same from his previous episode. We’ve also seen Virgil Richardson before on the show (in DEADLY SILENCE, DAY OF THE GOLDEN LION, and FACES OF DEATH ---which most sources still insist calling THE THREE FACES OF DEATH).
Warren Stevens, always excellent, seems to be reported as taking less money for his performances than most other actors of the time and thus, he had a lot of work from all kinds of shows from VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA in 1964 or 65 (and again in quite a few other episodes as different characters) to LAND OF THE GIANTS as well as THE TWILIGHT ZONE, THE TIME TUNNEL, THE OUTER LIMITS, DANIEL BOONE, ONE STEP BEYOND, SCIENCE FICTION THEATER and many, many more. Here he plays Roger Bradley, one of the few characters to get a first and last name in the credits (even Maurice Evan’s character Sir Brigadier General Basil Bertram doesn’t!). Roger seems American and he’s in the office of an old man who is British and who seems like he’s a good guy, Commissioner of the West or Commissioner West, who fills in Basil about what is going on.
What is going on? A nice plot this time out: a dam will be built that will harness the water power and stop the flooding for the Plateau People and the Valley People, IF both will sign a contract/treaty. Roger and Mwanza do not want this and their reasons (Roger wants money; Mwanza wants no change) are made clear in the story, I believe but I don’t recall that their reasons are. Mwanza has his men dress up as the Plateau People and wants them to attack the Valley People and later, the plan changes from them forcing Basil to lead them to Roger dressing up as Basil.
Okay, so we’re in another Jai heavy episode and it really works this time even better than last time. There’s a bit of everything here. Of course rounding out this EXCELLENT cast is Maurice Evans (yes, Sam’s father on BEWITCHED from time to time) who spouts Shakespeare, Alexander Pope, and other poets. And who seems able to handle the physicality of TARZAN’s savage world, the drama of having had his son and wife die in the London Blitz by the Nazis, the emotionality of being closed off to liking others and having others like him---that is until he meets Jai…and Cheetah, and the comedy of the early scenes. This comedy includes the rag tag unit of African soldiers…all six of them being trained by Basil and Sergeant Nasamgali. The routine looks almost like the old ABBOTT AND COSTELLY army drill routine from BUCK PRIVATES, BUCK PRIVATES COME HOME and the ARMY STORY episode of the ABBOTT AND COSTELLO TV SHOW. It’s pretty funny there and mildly funny here. Evans also delivers some comedic lines to Jai about Jai and Cheetah as well as reactions. He also shoots a snake to save a corporal, who…faints.
No doubt about it: Evans is marvelous. I guess Tarzan is protecting Hassim the entire time because Jai seems at a loss to go get him or doesn’t know where he is and feels the only adult he has to rely on is Basil.
Basil comes off as really stupid at the start because he ignores Jai’s warning and pokes holes in Jai’s story (A dead man telling Jai a tale?) and it HIS FAULT that his six men and the two bearers die at the spears of Mwanza’s men. Yes, they die in a savage attack at night in the rain. Oddly, the rain scenes are both realistic at times---where everyone looks and gets wet…and NOT at other times, where it looks like the rain is front projected over the film or the shots?
The show never forgets the savage roots of the TARZAN universe: it’s more savage than the three season WOLF LARSON TARZAN (which I hope to review, too) but a bit less than the Joe Lara TARZAN: THE EPIC ADVENTURES one seasoner. I can’t say anything about the CW series as it was set in the city and was highly boring from what I recall and I’m not sure I sat through all its short lived short season. In any case, the comedy corporal, the bemused and almost inept Sergeant and his men are all slain.
Earlier, a man who overheard Mwanza and Roger planning their evil, to kill the men, runs away from them. He’s followed by two of Mwanza’s men. One of whom shoots him in the back. He tears it out and runs on, only to die just after giving Jai the warning about the coming attack.
In a terrifying scene, the two men catch Jai with the body. One loads his arrow into a bow after whispering something to the other and takes aim at a shocked Jai. Terrifying. One of the most tense scenes in the entire series. Fortunately Cheetah drops a coconut or something on the man’s head and this allows Jai a second to escape. Later, Cheetah distracts a guard over Basil in a cave in order for Jai to drop a huge—and I mean HUGE rock on the man’s head----did Jai just kill someone? I’m not sure and couldn’t tell from the long shots but I think this guard that Jai beaned in the head with a rock is the same one that threatened to shoot an arrow into him earlier.
Owing to realistic filming, Jai’s fall over a large drop toward certain stony death looks VERY dangerous a stunt and Manuel does great at it. The same is true of Basil’s tumble roll down the mountain side and again, Manuel’s acting as Jai thinks Basil is dead is wonderful. In fact, I never tire of praising this kid and his performance in every episode. Though capping this episode, I notice that Jai seems to leave the same spot—in long shot and close up-- twice but that’s just quibbling. It’s hardly noticeable.
Earlier, though Cheetah’s been proving a huge help (last ep he freed Tarzan by bringing him his knife so Tarzan could cut himself free---compare with an early episode where Cheetah could not understand about cutting Tarzan free from a tree he was tied to…THE PRODIGAL PUMA), here, Cheetah’s climb back up the rock wall, causes a rock to fall and break Basil’s arm…which Jai has to set in a painful scene. Earlier than even that, Basil was whipped by Mwanza who used a whip that looked very like it was made out of a snake.
The thing that ALMOST lets this down is the way that Basil has the Valley People attack the fake tribesmen (about 36 to 40?), Roger, and Mwanza. All well and good that he has women quickly set fires around three sides of the would be killers (wouldn’t four sides have made more sense and wipe them out using the fires?). On the open side, women and men AND CHILDREN attack the attackers…who have huge machetes, presumably bow and arrows, and what look like swords. And the women, men and children throw nets over them. I mean it really looks like to all the world that the killers just gave up. Surely they could have cut the Valley People to ribbons. Basil knocks out an escaping Roger. Hard on the head and we do not see him again. Is he dead?
One thing that puzzles me is that in the end as the treaty is signed we see…Mwanza ALIVE and standing FREE as if he should be there. What? Why?
For once we have a set place: Basil has to fly into Nairobi from London. We also see places named on a map as we have in several past episodes (only some of which I found in real life maps).
I’m not sure but this might one of the earliest PTSD shows about what war does to those who fight them, though I would not go so far as to say it’s a statement against Vietnam or even against war.
There’s also shots of a black haired Ely who also sports a shorter hair cut…in stock footage at the start when the good looking archer tries to kill Hassim.
In a curious scene Cheetah is either jealous of or afraid of or both toward a baby elephant. We’ve seen Cheetah riding an elephant in the past so…what?
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
23. Mask of Rona ~ 1967.02.17
(Leslie Parrish ~ Beryl Swann ~ Martin Gabel ~ Peter Maas)
Tarzan is hired by wealthy, pampered Peter Maas to located Rona Swann who has disappeared into the jungle.
When Tarzan locates the reclusive artist she declines to return and Maas is actually a gun smuggler.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN-23-MASK OF RONA
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 23. MASK OF RONA
Review By Charles Mento
“I claim no part of any land. To me the jungle’s all the same and a man may go wherever he pleases. In peace.”
Jai’s cameo this episode is an important one as his Science Nature Kit is stolen…along with his magnifying glass. At first, he’s with two other native boys, for once and they are doing things with…insects? I hope it’s just looking at them and not …using the glass to burn them but when one holds what looks like a butterfly by the wings, it’s sort of…disturbing. In a terrifying attack, a few native men of the Adube tribe (from the Zame mountains or Singing Mountains? And a long way from home to come to steal Jai’s magnifying glass and Science Nature Kit) steal this kit and attack Jai, holding him up. They also shoot Tarzan’s leg with a paralytic dart that he recognizes by taste. This is so he will not follow them and find…someone? After telling Jai he will be all right from the dart attack, he kisses Jai’s head. It could be the first time he does so.
Tarzan says that six months of tribal warfare started by a gun runner and that just was cleared up and going into Adube country with district officers and men can start that all up again. An armed company of men might just upset the whole revolt again. Five years ago Rona vanished, some say she died, some say she did not; Tarzan claims she was seen with the Ungalas (?) but the Adube chief claims they do not take women from the Ungalas, only cattle.
In the opening after the title, we learn that Beryl Swann (the wonderful and beautiful Leslie Parrish) is searching for her famous sister, the famous artist Rona Swann, who vanished into the jungle. Later, Tarzan deducts that she is doing blind and there is nothing that can be done and both women know it or knew it (?). It’s an interesting plot but it is a bit muddled: the tribe seem to be protecting her whereabouts from …well, Tarzan and the sister but also from 30 million dollar owner Peter Maas (yes, Pete Moss) and his first hand man Chambers (Lex Barker again in what seems a secondary role but which we hope will give us the Tarzan vs Tarz…Lex Barker climatic fight that THE DEADLY SILENCE part two did not…we will get a short one at the start here and one at the end in spectacular style), along with their own men, who seem to be Africans, too. Maas wants her art and not her. The sister Beryl is insulted by him all throughout the first half. It seems she’s not as heartless as he believes.
Maas and Chambers play this sort of amusing/nasty villainous role that is most often put into the James Bond villains their top henchmen. After about 35 minutes and their dynamite makes them believe they’ve killed Tarzan and the sisters, their double act starts to bore and weights heavy on the viewer. Fortunately, the special fight between Tarzan and Chambers takes place ENTIRELY underwater of a huge lake and it’s a very different type of fight for the show. We’ve seen above water fights galore and partial underwater fights but this is wonderful and gives us what DEADLY SILENCE did not. It even looks as if Chambers is drowned by Tarzan, who also seemed to choke a guard to death and then karate chop him after chopping another man down, too.
Oddly, Ely seems to sport some nasty looking fresh wounds on his shoulder and stomach in SOME scenes in the upper (or is that lower?) cave with Rona. These are more likely the touching of his body by Rona who has paint on her hands. These seem to come and go in strength and at times, seem not to even be there at all.
Ely does some great acting here and the plot is not a usual TARZAN one and really does well to hold interest. The relationship between the sisters is realistic and when one elects to stay behind at the end (Rona if you don’t need spoilers or if you do?), it’s surprising.
I’m not going to suggest that any show in the 1960s had an arc (though LAND OF THE GIANTS semi communistic gov’t might…nah), but here Tarzan and the very overly sweaty district officer (Howard Morton, have we seen him before in this show?) discuss gun runners that will spring up for some reason over this issue with Rona (and it seems Maas is bribing the Adube with them…so is this tribe going to take the guns or is that some other tribe or what?). Tarzan talks, as in other recent episodes, of a rebellion and revolt that will spring up if the wrong tribes get the guns. So…what? Again, the entire thing is a bit muddled…who wants the guns? Who is protecting who?
It turns out, and again it is a surprise as we see and hear Maas FIRE Chambers, that it IS Maas and Chambers that want the guns in return for the tribe’s chief’s help in finding Rona’s art under the guise of finding Rona…but the chief doesn’t want Rona found and seems to be protective of her and her art, it being a gift to his people. Or maybe they’re talking about giving the guns to the tribe’s enemies? I was not sure.
Tarzan’s trek to Rona and his finding of her is well done as is Beryl’s admission of being a good girl. There’s sufficient evidence that Tarzan is VERY fond of BOTH sisters in a romantic way in this episode and that’s also new and refreshing. At least Rona returns his feelings but Beryl seems very close to him as well, resting ON him when stopping in the jungle.
We also find out Tarzan considers no one, not even himself, to claim any land and that the jungle is free to all men who come in peace.
Cheetah only appears at the start, too, in close up as Jai looks at him through the magnifying glass, which in the end Tarzan lets Rona keep.
On the one hand I declared the plot original and different but to be honest, there’s a lot here we have seen before: caves (and I think the cave entrance might be the same one used in the storyline with the prince who Jai changed places with?), escape via under water grotto, a conclusion on a river boat (admittedly, here, it’s very funny and imposing when Tarzan climbs up out of the water onto the boat behind Peter when he’s eating---and he eats a lot for a little man and Peter asks him for a photograph of the cave artwork to be sent to whatever prison he will be held in---I half expected Tarzan to throw him in the water anyway or punch him or something), natives menacing Jai in a pretty substantial way, rough girl who turns out to have a heart of gold, someone losing one of their senses, Lex Barker, Tarzan being wounded but fighting on, a trek through a mountain’s inner working, and …maybe more? Certainly we see stock footage of Ely with the dyed black hair again.
While I love this series, I have to say that it’s hard to see how it got renewed for a second season with things just not really being THAT different. Still, I’m glad it was.
Just as Tarzan is hit with that dart, we hear music that sort of signals a small portion of the second theme song. In fact, the music is once again pretty good, but it might be stock music (?). Either way, it does the job.
Just after they are shown the fake Rona gravestone burial ground in the pit, there’s a sort of pan and scan grainy close up on the DVD and this is not the only time this happens in the episodes, though fortunately it doesn’t happen a lot. I’m not sure if this was part of the original filming or if this is a restoration thing?
With some excellent underwater footage of the trio escaping and Tarzan fighting and finishing off Chambers, and an intriguing plot about the artist and her sister, this one has more good about it than the mundane (at least as we’ve seen before in TARZAN’s world).
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
24. To Steal the Rising Sun ~ 1967.02.24
(Ron Glenn, Sr. ~ Lukumba ~ Victoria Shaw ~ Lita MacKenzie)
An exiled chief returns to the jungle with three thieves and a plan
to steal his former tribe's valuable ruby - using Tarzan as his unwitting accomplice.
“Oh, Tarzan, when are you going to learn that you can’t change the whole world. If you’ve seen some of the horrors that I’ve seen and what does anybody do about them?”
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 24. TO STEAL THE RISING SUN
Review By Charles Mento
“You see Jai, there are a few very special people in this world…who won’t ever let you forget or get tired. Who won’t ever let you stop trying.”
Another strong and stellar cast. Lita Mckenzie is a photographer who has seen too much, lived too much and cynical. We start off with a triple murder it seems as a jeep full of men is shot to death by one or all three of a trio of evil, greedy men. John Van Dreelen is Francois Duprez and he leads Strother Martin as Captain Boggs and Henry Beckman as Michael O’Brian. One of the men killed is apparently the commissioner that Tarzan knows and who sent Tarzan to escort the photographer and her film out of the jungle. What does not know is that the tribe will blame him for the stealing of the Rising Sun stone (and though no one can touch it or they have to die, the lady does touch it in order to save it).
Martin and Dreelen have worked in Irwin Allen shows before (Dreelen in a pair of excellent VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA episodes and Martin in maybe just one production—the memorable LOST IN SPACE episode BLAST OFF INTO SPACE). In addition Jackson Gillis wrote seven LOST IN SPACE episodes and one LAND OF THE GIANTS episode –OUR MAN O’REILLY (which is the only episode to feature a sort of religion for the GIANTS: a cross with diamonds in it is seen BRIEFLY). He even wrote for Irwin’s series CODE RED (two eps) and the TV movie TIME TRAVELERS, also for Irwin.
Gillis has a huge career, having written for THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, THE ADVENTURES OF SPIN AND MARTY, RACKET SQUAD, LASSIE, THE FUGITIVE, I SPY, THE MAN and GIRL FROM UNCLE, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (which I am sure many of the guest stars from TARZAN and especially Dreelan and maybe Strother and Beckman have appeared in), IRONSIDE, WONDER WOMAN, and as far up the years as LOIS AND CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN.
Early on, Tarzan, to save Lita from a mother or father lion, roughly pulls her by her collar and tosses her behind him. This seems like the literary Tarzan, rough and tumble, even to women but not being an expert on the literary Tarzan maybe not? It’s a nice scene, though. There’s also footage of the mother playing with a cub. In fact, recent episodes have cubs and lions, panthers and leopards everywhere, many with collars and leashes, owned by men.
Posing as secretary to the government’s peace mission are Duprez, Boggs, and O’Brian, who in a twist on the old “steal the valuable tribal stone” plan with what appears to be a tribal man who somehow has set himself up as guardian of the stone and he seems to have a link to or be from Paris, France. I’m not sure of this set up and the episode ONCE AGAIN in this show, was not very clear. The tribal man is called King Lakumba. He…wears…glasses…in the jungle/desert.
If that’s not confusing in and of itself, we have a tribal chief played by a much young and much skinnier James Earl Jones! The deep voice resonates and gives him away as such. The chief clings to the old ways but knows that Lakumba, as does TARZAN himself, is bleeding the tribe dry (of what? Food? Money?). It seems the photographer lady, Lita, will be used to transport the stone out in her camera bag without her knowing. At one point in what would have been a twist, perhaps Lita DOES know and is a part of the crime? Not sure but I don’t think she is. She just pulls a gun on Tarzan to get out of the jungle instead of returning the stone once she and Tarzan find out it is in her bag…actually, in a surprise twist, the chief---named Bella (Bella? Really?) find it first.
This unlikely set up focuses on a lively adventure that follows but…it sure does take time to get going, unlike most TARZAN adventures. There’s a whole dance ceremony TWICE and the first one is about ten minutes or so and Tarzan and Cheetah watch from a tree!
Speaking of Cheetah, he (yes, he’s a he even if played by a female, which he might be?), is quite mischievous in this episode but each bit of mischief seems to have a reason this time out: he steals a jar from the second ceremony and this leads to the finding out that the stone is gone.
The tribe seems more upset about the stone being gone than about the guard who is, on screen, knifed in the back by the murderous Boggs. Once lead to a secret passage in a pit/cave (yes, both clichés in one) by Lakumba, Boggs stabs him in the back, too! On screen!
Don’t worry: Boggs will be slain horribly while trying to get into the river (the Place of Clear Water) to retrieve the bag which is supposed to have the stone in it (but does not because bad girl-now-turned-good, in another cliché, Lita has switched it out to save it for the tribe that she once called dirty savages and she even told Tarzan that a gravely wounded---it turns out not that gravely as he saves Tarzan from being shot by Duprez----Bella was nothing but a non-mattering savage and her film was more important). Ironically, it is her film that gets ruined in the bag---she used it to switch with the stone somehow without the criminals seeing her do it!
BTW, Bogg is killed by a croc (who almost seems like a semi regular by now). It’s a brave move, though, to have Tarzan used as a dupe…an innocent, brave and noble fighter dupe but a dupe all the same. The fights in this episode excel as well, though the first one looks like high school teens having a go at one another.
Jai only appears in the epilog. Lita’s conversation with him…is strange. She more than implies that it was Tarzan who shot her and then tells Jai she didn’t mean to imply that at all. It was his fault, though, she says. He taught her something meaningful.
Cheetah throughout is featured more in this than any other episode before it. Lita says to Cheetah at one point, “Good girl.” Tarzan puts Lita’s boots on Cheetah in a ruse to get the tribe to chase them instead of finding Lita. Cheetah also stole Lita’s camera to the top of a high tent and maybe did this so that she and Tarzan would meet. She tells Tarzan, “When will you learn that you can’t solve the world’s problems?” I…what? She just met him so how would she know what he’s really about? Unless she’s read about him in the papers? She believes there are injustices all over the world and no one does anything about that.
Even so, Tarzan does seem to have a great building rapport with her but he’s been cheated before by women and so when she pulls a gun on him, he seems less shocked and more accepting she’s evil…which she is not. She does come off that way at times, however and it’s an interesting performance and the dialog makes it seem she can go either way.
A word about rapport and Ron Ely: he seems to connect WITH EVERYONE on some level, even the bad guys and the man really seems to be liked and to like everyone. He’s that good. And on a TV show all of that is important. Though there is, again, brief stock of the black haired Ely swinging or running, it’s brief and does not belay the energetic swiftness and agility as well as grace Ely brings in every scene, every action, and every movement. Yes, he’s that good and might now be my favorite Tarzan ever. When he tells Lita he will be back for her, he touches her face and we believe it. the two of them watching the sunrise is magnificent.
Lita, at one point is hidden in a log covered by moss of some kind. Her face in close up is sticking out so it’s no wonder she’s found by Bella. He found her because she reacted to a snake on her. Just as I was thinking that this jungle is too neat and clean and that in reality there would be insects all over the place and endangering her. Ewl. Bella finds her more because she sits up and doesn’t scream…to her and the writer’s credit. Lita also seems to have a rapport with Cheetah that is nice, too. She does, however, fall when running.
Another BTW: Lakumba talks about the Ancients who built the pit/cave and ladder where a guardian statue is. Who were they? The tribe’s ancestors?
There’s also a strange pan up in close up shot of Dreelan’s crotch to fully introduce him. What was that about? Martin’s character is made to have some humor despite him being the nastiest of the bunch. And shockingly, Lita is shot by Duprez…but it’s in the shoulder as we find out.
In one of the fights (this one with Bella), impressively, Tarzan breaks a spear in two off camera. And returns the top piece to Bella as he’s still fighting. Ironically, he wanted to have some of the young men return with him to the outside tribes (and earlier he told Bella that his people need the outside world and the medical services…I am no expert but this seems to be the antithesis of what Tarzan stands for in the books and DOES stand against in some of the movies). He tells Lita the tribe is not dirty by choice. What does that mean?
Cheetah really seems to care for Tarzan here, jumping on him, hugging him, kissing his body, and clinging to him and even wrapping around his head. Tarzan tells Cheetah to run, too after he tells Lita to take off. Lita calls for and clasps Cheetah’s hand, too, showing she cares about the chimp. In one shot, Tarzan is running and…a shield appears between two trees? What?
Tarzan thoroughly defeats the natives chasing him…but are they dead? I doubt it as the tribe once they learn the truth, seem to forgive him. Bella is wounded in the head fighting Tarzan, who tried to verbally ward off the fight. O’Brian dies in a fight with Tarzan, too (one kick and he’s dead). Only Duprez survives among the three bad guys! Tarzan also threw a spear at three natives chasing him and Lita. He ignores Lita’s gun totally and tells her that Bella is the leader of a tribe that needs his intelligence, his courage and his faith.
All in all, a good episode but again, a mash up of things we’ve seen before but there are only so many plots you can do in a Tarzan jungle adventure and this comes together nicely after a slow first 13 minutes or so and it really does work and entertain.Wow. Everything about this episode should work. It doesn’t.
ERBzine Summary ~ Guest Stars ~ Date Aired
25. Jungle Dragnet ~ 1967.03.03
(Victoria Meyerink ~ Mandy Mason)
A local revolutionary joins forces with a foreign soldier to try
to prevent the discovery of a rich oil field by silencing a little girl.
Ron Ely’s TARZAN
Episode 25. JUNGLE DRAGNET
Review By Charles Mento
William Marshall, later of BLACULA fame and Simon Oakland (long list of credits including PSYCHO, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, THE OUTER LIMITS (the great alien in the wonderful SECOND CHANCE, and most importantly and charmingly Tony Vincenzo in the wonderful series KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER) play revolutionary Kasembi and ruthless killer and leader of men (?) Thompson. Though Thompson seems to talk against democracy, he seems American (?) and yet wants oil on Kasembi’s people’s land (or is it his people?).
The two have a talk that we’re not privy to what is happening between them and the background is sketchy. Later, Tarzan, in one of a great many irritating speeches he makes (usually they’re great but not so much in this episode), tells us that Kasembi turned on his tribe and brought down death on them (are they all dead?) because his wife and son died from drinking from a polluted water (?). I can understand keeping the mystery but the show usually walks a tightrope between keeping up the mystery and giving us enough detailed info to help us understand the plot and maybe get involved in what the motivations of even the villains are. We figure early on that the conflicted Kasembi will change sides and he does…only to turn his back on Thompson and get shot in it for his efforts.
After their talk, viciously, we see a village destroyed and this time EVERYONE in it is killed. Thankfully, the women and children are killed off screen. We do see some women lying about later. Also killed is a Dr. Mason, a white man in the village and his friend, the chief, M’Boru (Virgil Richardson AGAIN! Glad he had work, though). Dr. Mason’s little girl, Mandy, is the sole survivor, having been hidden in the huge buffalo skin that M’Boru tried to leave under, with her. He is killed, she is not. Mandy might be sympathetic if she had ANY personality, which she does not.
Action needs a context and explanation to be really exciting and worth paying attention to, otherwise it is just a gimmick and sometimes makes an audience go, “HUH?” or “What’s happening?” in a bad way. The excellent book series ALEX RIDER by Anthony Horowitz is one such series where the action all makes sense, even if it is outrageously over the top at times. Within the context of the set up and the explanations, it ALL works. More on this later…
If things are not bad enough, Tarzan (building a raft with Jai and letting Jai finish it) is called in by drums to help and he utterly fails to save anyone in the village. He does find Mandy and get away with her but it’s really Cheetah who saves the day at least TWICE by getting Mandy away from a hiding spot Tarzan left her in and by getting her food. Cheetah, BTW, is, fictionally, at least, a male as Tarzan calls Cheetah “a good boy” at leat four times. He also calls Mandy a good girl. In a curious scene, it seems Cheetah didn’t want to come to get Tarzan off the cross he’s put on (yes, that’s right, he’s put on a cross!) and doesn’t come to free Tarzan. Somehow, Tarzan has enough strength to break the cross arms off and uses them to bat around natives. But first, he has enough to break the cross off its stem! What is he, Superman?
Yes, those natives. In what should have also worked but doesn’t…the villains have turned many tribes against Tarzan and all of them seem to be hunting him. Yet, he drops out of the trees, sneaks up behind them, and uses other gorilla tactics (sorry!) to pick them off (most likely killing members of them here and there) yet what does that do against whole tribes working together (including pygmies)? The tribes also set up a circle around Tarzan and the girl which he seems to evade several times and he even hides on a cave ledge no one bothers to turn around and look at. Tarzan also leaves Mandy (and Cheetah) on a raft in a lake with crocs and hippos.
With Kasembi killed early on (what was the point of him in this?), it is left to Thompson to be the main villain. Oakland is great as an evil man that Tarzan in another nauseating speech liken to Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and Hitler BUT…when all the tribes turn on him for some reason…is he a match for Tarzan?
Sure, we expect him to fight dirty and he does, pulling a knife when Tarzan discards his for their one on one man to man fight AND he goes for his gun as well but honestly…did we think for a second he’s a fitting foe for Tarzan in a physical confrontation? And just why don’t ANY of the natives during this scene and all the scenes before it just use a gun to shoot Tarzan? They sure had plenty of opportunities to do so. Tarzan literally kicks Thompson’s butt all over the place. It’s almost hard to watch.
Jai only appears at the start and at the end and frankly, they are the best parts other than Cheetah’s heroics. Ely manages to be great in the cross breaking scene and all the action but this time his speeches just grate on the nerves and all of them go on for far too long.
The key to the mystery is a note hidden in Mandy’s flute…Mason and M’Boru were out on a walk when they just happened to find oil, good oil! Thompson and Kasembi wanted it. The odd talk when Mason runs to M’Botu at the start doesn’t really reflect this.
I’m guessing Thompson, who seems to be blackmailing Kasembi, who is a fugitive, managed to fool tribes into wanting it, too, or threatened them or something? There’s talk about false papers or contracts or something. Thompson also seems to be a “make believe zoologist.”
Honestly, as I eluded to at the start of this review, this all should have worked but almost nothing about it does. Of course even a bad episode of TARZAN looks and sounds lavish and this does and can sort of hold your attention but it is, thus far, the worst episode of the first 25. It just doesn’t feel right from the overly savage death of an entire tribe/village to the lame ending where Tarzan tells Mandy he would love nothing more than to have Mandy live with him….as she wants to live with him, Jai, and Cheetah…but he can’t …because she needs education, schools, and …dresses …all the things little girls need. Sigh.
She will go to live with her aunt and uncle in the states. Jai teaches her to play the flute. Sneaky Cheetah lifts the flute right out of her hand in the last scene…which takes place with a nurse in a sort of flowery area…like a hospital resting home?
BTW what happened to Jai’s schooling, a brief sub plot over 10 episodes or more ago? BTW Jai looks as if he’s grown a bit again. At the start, he looks as if he’s had a haircut.
I’m not sure of the literary Tarzan but the savagery on display here might echo the books. Tarzan lets the natives rush Thompson in the end but if we knew how he duped them and why they were on his side and WHAT the heck Tarzan did to get them ALL to change their mind and their sides to him maybe it would feel more satisfying. We’re not and it does not.
I suppose we should be happy that the books are somewhat referenced, though, again, I do not know how much. The recent ALEX RIDER series on Amazon is a shambles of a series from what is my favorite book series. So many awful changes that I can’t go into here but go into on my blog RUIN the entire premise of a spy who is a reluctant spy and who is about 13 to 14 years old. They changed the entire premise and ruined the series and even skipped a few of the books, doing straight (but not really) adaptations instead of other adventures. NONE of that first season of ALEX RIDER is ANY good other than maybe the first three episodes. I suppose we should be grateful that at least the first 24 episodes of this series ARE great.
This one, not so much.
Charmingly, when Tarzan tells Cheetah “good boy” for bringing Mandy some food, Cheetah hugs him from below and Tarzan responds in kind. He then sends Cheetah to get some vines for him to eat (along with some vines for Cheetah himself to eat).
Interestingly, Tarzan had a bit of trouble finding the right camouflaged raft (where he hid Cheetah and Mandy) right away, which makes it a bit more realistic. Tarzan also sets the oil field / mine (did someone build this structure as it sure looks like? Who?) on fire. I’m not sure how I feel about him setting the oil structure on fire. It’s akin to Middle East dictators?
Tarzan walks across some small bridge out of the village, leaving the three men who helped Thompson in his hunt dragnet for him on the ground. I’m guessing they are supposed to be dead but one was clearly moving when he was first dropped there.
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