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Volume 7454

TARZAN TV SERIES ~ 1991-1994

Starring Wolf Larson as Tarzan and Lydie Denier as Jane
Reviews by Charles Mento


CONTENTS
1. Tarzan and the Poisoned Waters
2. Tarzan and the Silent Child
3. Tarzan Tames the Bronx

1. Tarzan and the Poisoned Waters

View: https://youtu.be/y4QAhXMSFBw
Aired: October 6, 1991
Tarzan discovers his animal friends are sick or dying and
with Jane's help they learn the river suddenly contains mercury.
Tarzan heads upstream, putting his life in peril after encountering rogue miners.
Co-Stars: Henri Safran  Patricia Maximilian

“You’re only a man. A very powerful man but only a man.”
“Tarzan will tell you this…the jungle always defeats its enemies.”

The first thing to notice how like Ron’s Tarzan this is AND is not. It has that 1990s feel to it and I was surprised to learn that the release date in France was 1991. Credits almost always acknowledge writers or directors of a “French” scenario, whatever that is. Are there two different versions of each episode or are some writers Frenching up Jane’s dialog. If so, I can’t understand some of what she’s saying to be honest and once more, the DVDs do NOT contain subtitles! ARGH! The opening credits have the name TARZAN running across the screen, like the Ely version, only this time the letters are see through. We also see various actions shots and I mean a lot of them. Also this time we get Jane, Roger and Malik credited with shots of them, too, unlike Ely’s TARZAN which only had him credited in the opening theme and credits.

I’m sorry Malick Bowens who plays Simon Govier is passed on but he’s not very good in this episode. Not sure he was in every season. It could be that his dialog was dubbed as it sounds odd and maybe he’s speaking only in French and the English version was dubbed in later?

Sean Roberge, also, sadly, no longer with us, due to a car accident, I believe, is good as Roger but from what I recall he hardly had much to do but we shall see.

As Jane, Lydie Denier strikes a fine pose and has her moments but there doesn’t seem to be any romance between them much, if at all. Then why include her at all? She seems to be an environmental scientist here, which is fine.

The show has the same look and feel as the show MOWGLI: THE NEW ADVENTURE OF THE JUNGLE BOOK, which would come out a few years later (1994?) and that’s not a bad thing. It also seems to start out a number of 1990s fantasy series that get increasingly outrageous as time goes on (THE LEGENDARY ADVENTURES OF HERCULES, XENA, YOUNG HERCULES, PIRATE ISLANDS, SINBAD, CONAN, BEASTMASTER, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD) and which continue almost to this day (another SINBAD from the UK and ATLANTIS). This feels more grounded than all of those, however, it’s also more sedate. Some of these shows might have been developed by Max and Micheline Keller, who developed this.

Sedate is not what Ely’s show was. It moved fast, no matter what was going on, it never really seemed to slow down much and if it did, you knew it would not be long before a new sight and fight would happen. This…feels different. Beautiful Mexico seems to highlight the show and looks stunning, even for the 1990s gleaming glare photography.

I’m not sure but it’s hard to tell if that is Wolf on the elephant in long shot (the stunt double if it is a stunt double, doesn’t look like Wolf much) or falling down the water fall after being shot in the head. Some things never change as Ely’s TARZAN was shot at least five times and grazed in the head at least once and survived. What is jarring is that I even have to take a second look to see if Wolf is being doubled for and it sure looks like a double in long shot as the elephant crosses the river (isn’t it poisoned or do you have to only drink it to get sick?) AND climbing a vine up the waterfall and falling down it. It might be Wolf, to be fair, but if not, that’s a major change from being used to Ely doing ALL his own stunts.

Jorge Rivero as Manuel looks VERY familiar from those Latin or Mexican novellas that were always on TV and still are. He’s the character that shot Tarzan with a pistol. Though on screen it looks like it, Tarzan, it turns out was not shot? His leg is bleeding (from the fall?).

Oh and there’s mercury in the water. Simon sees dead animals! Tarzan wrests a snake away from an old cougar (?) or lion (?) and then he pets the snake!?

This Tarzan seems less educated and language oriented than Ely’s Tarzan, maybe a step above the Johnny Tarzan in talk and intellect? He has on, if we can believe it, a loin cloth even skimpier than Ely’s and at times, well, he looks almost 95 percent naked, especially when climbing up here and falling down the waterfall. He also wears high boots all the time. On the whole, he looks in better shape than Ely and his body looks more muscular in every way and he’s a marvel to behold in every scene to be honest and fair. He does have that VERY long blond hair and I think blue eyes, too. This TARZAN almost always speaks of himself in the first person, “Tarzan will go get samples,” and that kind of thing.

Unlike the very early Ely episodes, there is no explanation for Tarzan’s background yet.

The plot here: Tarzan discovers his animal friends are sick or dying and with Jane's help they learn the river suddenly contains mercury. Tarzan heads upstream, putting his life in peril after encountering rogue miners.

Cheetah bringing back Tarzan’s bow and arrows (sigh, this Tarzan uses a bow and arrows, did he in in the books?), Jane and Simon are alerted and follow in the jeep, pick up Cheetah and meet Tarzan to go confront the miners. Hiding, they see a gold distillery which uses mercury which pollutes the river. Jane figures each hour these men will kill 100 more animals.

We see what looks like Simon in a canoe (where’d they get that?) and the boss shoots a rifle at it and it is a decoy dummy, not Simon. For the moment, it is a bit shocking. The falls might be named Yabu. Is this Africa? Is this the Mexican jungle? Where are we supposed to be?

The boss, Manuel, seems as if his lines are dubbed, too as he speaks almost too precisely.

Jane figured, earlier, the nearest antidote would be in Verano (?).

For a few moments, Tarzan picks up Manuel by the throat clear off the dock and then overhead throws him into the flour bags (?) of some kind? He then pushes him into the water. It might have been better if he just threw him overhead into the water but this is a family show. Manuel had to be shown still trying to fight. Does the man swallow the water? He looks like he’s wading in the river. The two men Tarzan kicked in the water, DON’T seem to come up from it!?

Roger is called Roger Jr. He was scratched by the old cat Kala when he gave her the antidote.

Oddly, Tarzan starts the episode with his loin cloth real low under his navel but as the episode goes on, it’s higher up. Was this enforced by someone?

For a moment, I thought we were going to get a BORN FREE moment as Kala must “learn the jungle is good again.”

The credits do indeed list a Tarzan stunt double: Sonny Surowiec.

Okay so while this is more a family show than Ely’s show (is it?), it’s quite jarring to go from Ely’s show to this in one go. First, here, Tarzan fights three men, two of them by kicking them in the water. Ely’s Tarzan is often seen fighting ten or more men at once. Second, the anti pollution message is a good one but one that Ely’s Tarzan almost never addressed. Third, Wolf’s Tarzan is not the educated Tarzan…or is he? It’s hard to tell from this episode and while this is an enjoyable episode, there’s little forward movement that Ely’s show had and the stunts, while visually superior in some ways, are noticeably…perhaps, stunt men? In any case, this is not the frantic, tense actioner that it could have been or that Ely’s show was…yet. Maybe that will change?

This episode is numbered 113.

This was not the first episode filmed.

Looking at the numbering shows the episodes were aired in a totally out of production order…order!

1      1      "Tarzan and the Poisoned Waters"  Henri Safran  Patricia Maximilian    October 6, 1991   113
2      2      "Tarzan and the Silent Child"    Henri Safran  Maria Justina   October 13, 1991 111
3      3      "Tarzan Tames the Bronx" Brian Trenchard-Smith        Steve Hayes  October 20, 1991 121
4      4      "Tarzan and the Picture of Death"   Gérard Hameline        Steve Hayes  October 27, 1991 103
5      5      "Tarzan and the Unwelcome Guest"       Gérard Hameline       Steve Hayes  November 3, 1991      115
6      6      "Tarzan and the Caves of Darkness"        Brian Trenchard-Smith  Anna Sandor & William Gough November 10, 1991       101
7      7      "Tarzan and the Woman of Steel"   Brian Trenchard-Smith      Misha MacDonald       November 17, 1991   122
8      8      "Tarzan and the River of Doom"      Henri Safran  Steve Hayes     December 1, 1991       116
9      9      "Tarzan and the Killer Lion"       TBA TBA December 8, 1991       106
10   10   "Tarzan's Christmas"  TBA TBA December 15, 1991        114
11   11   "Tarzan and the Orphan"   TBA TBA January 19, 1992        118
12   12   "Tarzan and the Mystic Caves" Henri Safran  Steve Hayes        January 26, 1992 110
13   13   "Tarzan and the Pirate Treasure"     Henri Safran  Misha MacDonald   February 2, 1992 104
14   14   "Tarzan in the Sacred Cave"      Brian Trenchard-Smith        Steve Hayes  February 9, 1992 105
15   15   "Tarzan and the Killer's Revenge"    Henri Safran  Misha MacDonald   February 16, 1992       124
16   16   "Tarzan's Journey to Danger"   TBA TBA February 23, 1992       102
17   17   "Tarzan and the Extra-Terrestrials" TBA TBA March 1, 1992       117
18   18   "Tarzan the Hunted"   Brian Trenchard-Smith       Steve Hayes     March 8, 1992      107
19   19   "Tarzan and the Enemy Within"       Brian Trenchard-Smith      Anna Sandor & William Gough March 15, 1992   123
20   20   "Tarzan's Eleventh Hour"   TBA TBA April 12, 1992        108
21   21   "Tarzan and the Deadly Gift"    TBA TBA April 19, 1992        119
22   22   "Tarzan and the Savage Storm"        TBA TBA April 26, 1992       109
23   23   "Tarzan and the Golden Egg"    TBA TBA May 3, 1992        112
24   24   "Tarzan and the Test of Friendship" Brian Trenchard-Smith      Misha MacDonald       May 10, 1992       120
25   25   "Tarzan in the Eye of the Hurricane"       TBA TBA May 17, 1992        125


2.Tarzan and the Silent Child

View: https://youtu.be/aL8KTx8BS5U
Episode Aired: October 13, 1991 ~ Production Code 111
Tarzan and Simon rescue an injured father and daughter after a fiery plane crash.
They discover the cargo included cocaine thanks to Cheetah
but the pilot dad declares his innocence and blames a nefarious man named Hauser.
Co-Stars: Henri Safran and Maria Justina

A plane crashes and as Tarzan lifts a tree off a man, we hear a rock-ish version of the theme song. The few episodes I’ve watched so far, I must say, do NOT have the frantic and fast pace of the credits, which show clips of action and a lot of it. In fact, next to the Ely show, this one is positively sedate…too sedate so far.

I will say that here, in the opening scene, Jane and Tarzan have a nice rapport.

Instead of snarling as he did in another episode to ward off the cougar (?) or mountain lion (?), Tarzan crouches  down and says, “Friend,” with hands open. This works and he saves the silent girl with her doll. This reminds me of a similar Ely episode. The girl is Erin.

Tarzan tells Jane jungle people use towa to make medicine for pain. Bana is good for insect bites that itch. Owana: you eat it even if it is a specimen to Jane.

Jane tells Erin that Roger is Roger Taft Jr. The father tells them that Amy, the mother of Erin, died last month and he was taking Erin home to the states to live with her grandmother. He lost the cargo and would not get paid but Jane tells him the crash was not that bad and he didn’t lose the cargo. Jane puts Erin in a bed for sleep in FULL day.

When Cheetah brings Jane some of what is in the cargo box marked ELECTRONIC PARTS and FRAGILE, Jane quickly realizes it is cocaine! The father is innocent. He tells them that man who owns the cargo told him it was electronic parts. The man is named Hauser. Jane calls the father Mr. Foley. In his fever state, Foley thinks Jane is his wife. Tarzan will make medicine.

Simon’s jeep’s wind shield has large cracks on it again.

As the jeep drives away…uhm, Tarzan, as he stands on the side of the moving jeep, shows a lot of glute, shall we say?

Jane sings a song in French to the little girl.

The sky as the jeep pulled away looked rather ominously dark gray.

Carl Hauser arrives to terrorize Jane but at first tries to play it undercover. Why was I expecting the actor Wings Hauser? Shockingly, for this series, Hauser, after he gets what he wants, is going to shoot Jane anyway and probably the little girl but Jane fools him. Instead of live singing so he knows Jane is not running away, Jane uses a small cassette recorder (remember those?) to project her singing while she and Erin slip away from the drug smuggler.

Cheetah alerts Tarzan to Jane’s predicament and he rushes to help her. With the Johnny yell, Tarzan swings down to save Jane at the last moment after a tense and well filmed chase. Then, in a well choreographed fight, Tarzan nearly drowns the dirty fighter (he splashed water in Tarzan’s eyes) until the man says, “Enough.”  This has to be one of the slimiest villains in any Tarzan feature or TV episode. What awful person!

Oh, and Wolf or whoever the stunt man is…shows an awful lot of skin on the swing down, almost shocking for TV, even in the 1990s, where they seemed to permit some things that wouldn’t fly now!

Roger wants to patent Tarzan’s Jungle Tonic. It cured the father. The girl now talks to the father. Roger might want to call it Tarzan’s Exotic Elixir. Or Tarzan’s Incredible Extract. Uhm. Erin gives Cheetah her doll.

With a faster pace and a few really good action sequences and the “growing on me” theme played inside the episode, this was a good episode, better than the Christmas Episode and maybe all the ones I’ve reviewed before this one. Wolf makes a striking Tarzan; Lydie a beautiful Jane and Cheetah is really cute. Sorry but the actor playing Simon is still a bit stiff. Roger’s being used for comic relief only right now but that might change.


3. Tarzan Tames the Bronx

View: https://youtu.be/RVJcbuA_MuY
Aired: October 20, 1991~ Production 121.
Tarzan takes Carlos, an angry young teen from New York City,
whose mother had given up on him and whose father died from a fall on a construction job,
under his wing with a trip into the jungle.
Co-Stars: Brian Trenchard-Smith  and Steve Hayes

“Tarzan will help.”
“Tarzan who?”
“Hey, are you some kind of a health freak or what?”

Simon’s journal is May 5th. This is odd because in the air order, Simon’s journals just give the day of the week. May 5th in 1991 is a Sunday.

Wait. Carlos is Simon’s god son and does NOT know who Tarzan is or what he looks like? Simon never told him?

His god son Carlos came for a visit. Simon is writing after the facts. What he didn’t know was TarZan would make a man out him. There is a great shot of a jeep passing harmlessly over a huge lizard. Seems a bit risky but….there’s also a curious shot of light colored red ants killing or having killed something and moving it!?

Carlos smokes. Ewl.

I guess I can just about believe Leonardo Garcia, who is exceptionally handsome and well built, is a troubled teen, though he seems more on the man side of the teenage years. He crashes the jeep which turns on its side. Tarzan turns it right side up. The jeep still has huge cracks on the wind shields.

Tarzan feels Carlos should have respect for the man who brought him into this world, to life, and Carlos tells them that he hates surprises like the ones his father used to spring on him. Simon tells Jane and Tarzan that his mother sent him here for two weeks in the hopes that this place will change him and to get him away from the gang that he in. His been angry at the world since his father died.

Roger shows Carlos their outdoor hospital where animals who were sick or hurt were brought.

Simon and Tarzan are moving…a plane? What is that structure behind them? It looks like a metallic hangar. Tarzan thinks it is never too late and will try to help Carlos, who Tarzan thinks is good and knows about survival but needs to know about truth.

Some of Carlos’ dialog seems…dubbed by either himself speaking in his second language, which must be English, or by another person speaking English.

Carlos is from the Bronx in NY.

Why do people bite gold?

“If Carlos wants to fill his lungs with smoke, that is Carlos’ choice, not Tar-Zan’s.”

Carlos stays the night at Tarzan’s treehouse and then smokes in the morning as Tarzan comes out of the water. Cheetah knocks Carlos into the water. Later, Carlos in just shorts, which may or may not be his underwear, tells Tarzan he hates fish and “ain’t gonna try it.”

Wolf has no boots on and is barefoot in the eating fish scene.

Tarzan has to (sigh) fight a croc to save Carlos when Tarzan makes Carlos fish with a spear for himself. As croc fights go, it’s okay but we’ve seen this a hundred times. I guess it is expected in a Tarzan show/movie. Carlos wonders why Tarzan didn’t kill it but let it get away. Carlos, as Tarzan practices his arrow shooting, finds out that Tarzan does not know about Robin Hood and movies. Tarzan also does not seem to know about skyscrapers. Carlos explains his father fell off a building as a steel worker on one. This is why Carlos is afraid of heights as Tarzan noticed when they were to cross a bridge.

His father took him to the 50th floor when Carlos was nine. Carlos forgot his jacket and believes his father went back for it and fell going for it. It happened on a Sunday during a visit so the company was not responsible and his mother got nothing.

When Carlos leaves to cool off after Tarzan confronts him about the stolen nugget of gold, Carlos inadvertently starts a fire by tossing his cigarette away, which he seems to want to stop smoking.

I wish I could say the stock footage of a baby cub playing with a baby croc is cute. It’s really not. It’s …not graphic or anything like that but it bothers on some level. Still, it does illustrate Tarzan’s point that being young is the time to learn.

Simon drives and we get a voice over that he hasn’t heard from Tarzan in a few days.

Tarzan needs Carlos to keep the flames back while he frees Simon from a tree that’s pinned him in the jeep. This means Carlos has to cross the bridge in a beautifully filmed sequence of the perfect light and angled shots.

Shown rather early in the run, this episode, a good one, was really production 121, only about four episodes from the end of the first season, production wise. The jeep going from being blown up to not is explained, awkwardly when Simon explains he knows where to get another one just like it. This is due to the production order.

Tarzan explains the fire should burn itself out by the river.

Roger, as Carlos leaves, tells him the next time he comes to visit, they can share his tent.

Tarzan gives Carlos a gold nugget.

Tarzan has learned that Carlos snores louder than Cheetah.

The actor playing Simon does a better job here.
 

Considering TV shows run from Sept to June, at least they used to, the year might be, also considering that this episode is among the last four to be filmed and produced, 1992. That would put the day at Tuesday, May 5th in 1992. Also, this is almost unique in that there is no standard villain or villain at all, unless you count Carlos as a villain, which I do not and this episode works well anyway. Considering the guest cast or this and other episodes and the behind the scenes staff, this episode and others often feel like a tele-novella, which is not a bad thing as those have terrific filmed sequences, outdoor locations and action as well as terrific plot turns.
 




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