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TARZAN TV SERIES ~ 1991-1994
Starring Wolf Larson as Tarzan and Lydie Denier as Jane
Reviews by Charles Mento
19. THE ENEMY WITHIN
20. THE ELEVENTH HOUR
21. THE DEADLY GIFT
22. THE SAVAGE STORM
19. THE ENEMY WITHIN
Episode aired Mar 15, 1992
Suffering from recurring nightmares of the plane crash
that killed his parents and left him in the jungle,
Tarzan returns to the crash site to make peace with his past.
“Secret? Tarzan? Impossible. He’s straight forward.”
“Not about this.”
“Tarzan will not go.”
“Jane is a free woman. Tarzan will not stop her.”
“Jane is a stubborn woman.”
“I had a good teacher.”
Jane also, when Roger’s efforts on the shower fail, so far, speaks more French in this episode than all the others combined.
Okay so right off we get a blond boy wandering the jungle after a plane blows up and we hear a man and a woman talking in the event. The woman seems to say something about giving her love to her daughter Camilla? Am I hearing things? This is Tarzan’s origin story.
Simon’s journal: Sunday the 1st and this comes only after a brief scene of Tarzan’s dream/nightmare of the plane exploding and his parents dying in it (we don’t see them but hear them). In 1992, Sunday the first is in March and November. In 1993, it would be only August. In 1991, it would be Sept or Dec.
This is production 123 so it’s probably not taking place in 1991.
Jane brings bread to Tarzan for breakfast but he tells her he is not hungry. Jane tells Simon he knows Tarzan longer than any of them and he tells her that the only one that knew him longer was Kala, the great ape.
Every night, Tarzan tells Simon, since the last full moon, the dreams have come. Tarzan is more intense, jabbing a knife into the table and breaking a reed as he and Simon discuss the dream and what it might mean: that he needs to go back to the crashed plane where his parents died. He has not been there since Kala found him and took him away, since they died. Simon thinks the great apes migrated and never returned. Convenient way for the show NOT to have to show or deal with the Great Apes and Kala.
What’s interesting about this episode is the next scene where Jane tells Tarzan that if he will not go with her, she will go herself …to the plane. It is the only thing close to a conflict between the two since the show started and it’s wonderfully played by both actors.
Is that Wolf putting Cheetah in the tree? It sure does NOT look like him much. A bit too muscled? Different body? Jane and Tarzan cross the waterfall but she slips and he jumps in after her. When he does, the stunt man’s loin cloth flips totally up and we see that he’s wearing the flimsiest of thongs. Tarzan has to give Jane mouth to mouth, in long shot.
Jane declares she is his friend and will go with him to confront his past and his childhood. He thinks she should go back but she will not. He knows they cannot take all the things she brought with them. He blames himself for her falling but she claims he has other things on his mind. He DID reach out to help her but she told him she was fine. THEN, she fell. He gives her a drink made from the berries of the taber plant.
Okay, I get they want to show dangers but a giant spider and two scorpions fighting would have sufficed. Did they have to show us a mouse getting wrapped up and killed by a snake, too and without warning. I was eating lunch. Geeze. And ewl.
Jane tells him that when she was a child she played hopscotch with her girlfriends. Tarzan made a bunch of wooden steps to cross a quicksand path.
Jane, always a liability in this show, falls in and has to be pulled out by Tarzan. Sigh. Likewise, when Tarzan cuts a vine to save Jane since he cannot reach her by hand, it seems as if this is the stunt double, a close for Wolf but all the same noticeable on DVD.
What is unexpected here is that he has to dive fully into and under the quicksand to get her out. It looks more like swamp water and mud but whatever.
They wash off under a waterfall and later, swing in the trees together, she noticing him but he focused. When she refuses to go back and has to climb, Tarzan seems to look at her with admiration for maybe the first time in the series.
Tarzan is not afraid but angry that he could not save his parents. He was tangled in vines and Jane wonders if that was just a part of the dream of if that really happened.
When Jane sees the plane she knows that even the adult Tarzan could not have saved his parents.
Did the plane crash and bring a wooden dock step area with it?
Tarzan finds a locket in the plane. Inside is a picture of his parents. Jane ask who they were and what he remembers. He says nothing. So…we have some more info about THIS Tarzan: he does NOT know he is Lord Greystoke. He does NOT know his parents’ names. I’m surprised Simon or any of the other men and women who’ve already come to the jungle and met him have wondered or investigated.
When Jane tells him that his parents save others through him when he saves others and saves animals and protects them, Tarzan says, “Jane is a wise woman.” Jane tells him that what she’s saying she learned from him. It’s a touching moment in a series that has few of those so far and has NOT really head on confronted Tarzan’s past.
Tarzan declares his new family: Cheetah and Tantor, Roger and Simon, and Jane.
Jane puts the locket around his neck and later returns to Simon and Roger, tired and a mess or as close to a mess as this beauty can be. Tarzan hangs the locket up in the treehouse near his hammock.
This is the most introspective episode yet and as such is an oddity thus far and quite good. It doesn’t rely on any clichés…well no villains but there is quicksand, a waterfall fall, and lots of climbing but it’s certainly beautiful and the most that the stunt doubles Sony Surowiec and Suanne Hefner. They have their work cut out for them and they do marvelous.
This could be the best episode yet because it is ABOUT Tarzan and not some visitor or villain to the jungle. It being the 1990s, it’s also not definitive in anything it gives us and there are still a lot of questions unanswered about his parents and about his relationship to Jane but it’s a nice episode and well done, visually stunning and the locations are beautiful. The main thing is the rapport between Jane and Tarzan but also between Tarzan and Simon and between Jane and Simon. There are many episodes at this point but this might be one of the only ones where Tarzan and Jane talk to each other about some meaningful things rather than dealing with the visitor problems at hand of the episode. AND they do have a good rapport.
It ALL works this time out, though it really needs a follow up and I’m not sure it ever gets one?
Oh and one BUT: the title makes no sense. Tarzan is his own enemy this time? He’s not. Not really. BUT I do see where it might have gone. BUT didn’t. That’s really two BUTs but…well more if you count…never mind.
20. THE ELEVENTH HOUR
Aired 12 April 1992
Tarzan must step in to prevent a tragedy when Cheetah runs away from home,
leaving Tantor the elephant heartbroken, a
nd leading Roger to risk his life to reunite the two jungle friends.
The title is really TARZAN’S ELEVENTH HOUR, though what that means makes little sense. Also the apostrophe is missing on the title in the end credits.
Simon’s journal: Wed the 8th: in 1991 this is May; in 1992 this is January, April, or July. IN 1993, which I won’t really even consider this being set in, it would be Sept or December.
At production 108, this was an early production in the season.
We get a brief reprise of the theme in the opening scene. Tantor scares a lion away from Cheetah to save him.
Roger vs Cheetah as he tries filming Cheetah and Tantor. Roger has a nasty looking wound on his left arm.
I hate to be overly critical (!) but at times I have to struggle to understand Jane and Simon and when they talk to each other in the jeep scene at the start, I really can’t catch every word. What are they saying?
Simon will drop Jane off at the bird nesting area so she can film it if she is lucky to catch hatching? Jane calls Tantor and Cheetah the Batman and Robin of the jungle. Jane gets frightened by a snake and falls off a hill and hurts her ankle. Then, she falls backward when she hears a roar.
Tarzan is sharpening his arrows. Birds flying alert him to danger. The swinging scenes actually look like Wolf. They may not be him but they sure do look like him this time. As a lion scene goes, the one where Jane is “menaced” by this lion, is pretty lame and tame. We don’t even see the lion in the same frame as Jane. Then, Tarzan smiles and points out there is no danger, it is Tuma. So…was that Tuma earlier when Tantor saved Cheetah?
Tarzan carries Jane and she gives him THAT look. This is one of the first produced scenes that might spell out a romance or possible romance that lingers throughout the series and almost never, in the first season anyway, gets any sort of real closure or satisfaction.
Still, these two share a heated relationship in almost every scene they are in somehow, even when not trying Here, when trying, it lights up the screen to be honest.
Then she talks, “Tarzan should teach Jane how to climb a tree.” What? Is that innuendo?
Roger refers to Tantor as a she.
Tarzan says, “No, Roger and the jungle are not good friends.”
Tantor will not touch water or food without Cheetah here…after Roger sort of told Cheetah to get lost and not come back.
Roger’s hair is VERY long when he’s helping Jane bandage her ankle. It was long at the start but not this long. Speaking of long hair, Tarzan near the waterfalls as he looks for Cheetah about mid way through the episode has as long hair as I’ve ever seen it…in possibly ANY incarnation.
Cheetah has Roger’s tape recorder (remember those?) and falls without it into a pit, frightened by what looks like a lioness.
When Simon is about to ask if Cheetah could be dead, Tarzan stops him, “If Cheetah were dead, the animals would tell Tarzan.”
Tarzan figures Cheetah, wanting to hide, went to the old Poacher Pits area. Tarzan does that chimp chatter thing again that so does NOT work. Roger finds Cheetah first but falls into the pit himself, scared by a very large and thick snake.
The clip in the credits of Tarzan running between two trees with water falls behind him comes from this episode.
The snake follows Roger into the pit. Roger tells Cheetah to get behind him.
Tarzan finds Roger’s tape recorder and then hears Roger call for help. He rescues them out of the pit but the snake grabs him and pulls him down and starts wrapping him up…around the neck. That viewmaster lens effect that looks like an old fashioned camera hit the snake scene as Tarzan pulls it off. When he wins (it is not dead), he makes the Tarzan cry. He also beats his chest and roars which I’m not sure works for this Tarzan but whatever. He then climbs out the pit himself with Roger only helping at the very top.
When Tarzan returns to Tantor with Cheetah, Tantor recovers…without yet having food and water? Tarzan bounces Cheetah up and down in a way that one wants to tell him, “Yeah, no. Don’t do that.”
In the end, Tantor and Cheetah are being filmed by Roger and Cheetah rolls somersaults. Roger is irritated again but laughs it off that Cheetah can do whatever he wants to. Everyone laughs in that forced ending kind of way.
So, again, not a bad episode but one can tell it is early going here. And rough. I mean all of Tarzan’s “friends” are really a liability here. ALL of them.
Jane: Jane goes off alone in the jungle; falls off a hill after being afraid of a snake; and then falls on her back when hearing a lion; and fails to recognize it as the non-danger it is as it was Tuma (and the audience really isn’t privy to this info either so we can’t totally blame Jane). Oh, and she hurts her ankle and has no idea how to help an elephant that won’t eat or drink.
Roger: gets totally angry at a chimp for doing what chimps do; loses his temper and tells Cheetah to get lost and stay lost; then finds a pit where Cheetah is and falls into it after seeing a snake.
Simon: even he’s near useless and his lame calling out for Cheetah is one of the worst bits of the show up to now; also has no idea how to really help Tantor other than getting her on her feet.
Tantor: goes on a hunger strike until Cheetah is found and won’t drink either. This is what the entire plot hinges around: a suicidal elephant! Not great. AND this creates MORE problems for all the others.
Cheetah: If Cheetah can understand…and it seems like he can…then he really is just trying to irritate Roger and annoy. And he really is annoying so it’s not totally fair to blame Roger for his temper tantrum. THEN, Cheetah decides to go off and sulk…takes Roger’s tape recorder, which is bound to make him even angrier, and THEN manages to fall into a pit that Jane thinks Cheetah is too smart to avoid…in fact Cheetah went to the area to hide…an area he knew pits were in.
I guess TARZAN and the entire premise has built in flaws and faults and having friends be a liability to have to rescue them is one of them but this is almost ridiculous. Would Tarzan really hang out with these five? Sigh.
Is it any wonder that even the most cliché “Visitor” and “villain” plots work better than this? At least in those, most of the time, the friends and allies of Tarzan don’t look useless to pathetic. Roger’s hair seems to change depending on whatever day they were shooting what, thus in the episode it is long, shorter, curlier, straighter as the order of filming probably didn’t match the order of scenes in the script!
21. THE DEADLY GIFT
GUEST: Richard Eden ~ Episode aired Apr 19, 1992
Blake returns to the jungle intent on romancing Jane and Tarzan tries not be jealous.
Blake also give a ferret as a gift but the animal is a transmitter of a deadly disease
and it gets loose. Tarzan must capture it before it threatens the native wildlife.
“I mean no sane person is going to give a chimp dynamite.”
Of course, this is really TARZAN AND THE DEADLY GIFT. The DVD says DEADLY GIFT on the back cover and THE DEADLY GIFT on the menu.
Simon’s journal: March the 4th. As this is production 119, it’s safe to say it’s probably 1992 and not 1991. Wait. Did I hear right? Did Simon just switch from stating day and year to stating MONTH and year? This would be a Wednesday in 1992.
In long shot, it is NOT Wolf unloading the plane. Roger lures Simon to his birthday surprise cake with Jane and Cheetah. There’s this dumb thing about rights that no one is allowed to sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY or something stupid like that so Jane and Roger sing, “For he’s a happy good fellow.” Tarzan clearly does not sing. Simon has transported dynamite here. XA-DOC is on the plane insignia? Roger lured Simon in by telling he can’t use the can opener or get it to work to which Simon tells Tarzan even Cheetah knows how to work that. Again, proving that in order to make things happen, this show has to make Tarzan’s friends a liability, Cheetah lights a stick of dynamite which Tarzan has to throw outside.
Almost like the end of an episode, Simon makes an unfunny joke about that being what he calls a surprise and everyone laughs. Sigh.
Roger takes pictures of Tantor, calls her a girl, and gets shot with smoke from her trunk? He is going to write about LIVING WITH THE ELEPHANTS. Tarzan says, “Roger does not live with the elephants.”
Simon has a sheet over Blake Evans (who returns from an early episode) who has Monte, a ferret he was given by an old man he was photographing in Mexico. Simon was trying to surprise them but Tarzan saw Blake’s name on his suitcase in the jeep. He gives the ferret to Jane. Tarzan tells them, “Wild animals should stay where they were born.” Blake never saw it that way and apologizes. “Nature put it there for a reason, not like humans who can live anywhere.”
Blake puts an arm around Jane as they walk near waterfalls, telling her he thinks of her romantically. Before she can answer him if she feels the same way, a black panther stalks them but Tarzan swings into action, lands, and fires a flaming arrow to scare the panther away.
Tarzan’s reactions seem to be channeling Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan as he is VERY angry. Despite Jane this time knowing what to do : not show fear, for once, Tarzan is angry that she should have known better and not walked in this dangerous area. He seems almost jealous and angry about Blake. “Some people do not belong in jungle.”
Monte has an immunity to a virus he brought and that made a monkey sick. Jane will give him a shot (the monkey or the ferret?) and what kind of shot can get rid of a virus?
Cheetah, who’s really getting annoying in this series, lets the ferret out. Worse: when the cage fell, the ferret cut itself when the cage fell and this will spread the virus. Blake wants to go with Tarzan because he is responsible for this. They find a hiding Cheetah and Tarzan does this embarrassing monkey talk and hand motion thing to communicate with Cheetah. He tells Blake that “Sometimes Cheetah is like small boy. Needs help to remember good from bad.”
The wound has healed so they can no longer track the ferret by blood loss.
Tarzan scares away a baboon but asks Cheetah to ask it where to find the ferret. When Blake admits he ran out of nerve, Tarzan says, “Baboon scare Tarzan, too.” He points to his own head, “Sometimes act without reason.” Does he mean the baboon or his own mind?
Blake seems to give Tarzan a nickname, “T.Z.”
Blake tries to photograph a huge snake but when it hisses at him, he falls down a hill and hurts his knee badly. It looks bad, too, bleeding and with the pants ripped. A terrifying leopard then menaces him. He manages to hold it off with his light device from his camera. Tarzan gets some leaf to stop the bleeding and helps Blake move on, Blake using a stick to walk.
It’s odd that Tarzan does not use the ferret’s name as he does with the other animals. Cheetah’s found the ferret: he was moving through the rock face of the hill when a rock slide trapped him. Blake does not want to wait alone so follows Tarzan.
Simon balks at the message Cheetah gives him. First, what message is on that stone? Who wrote it? Tarzan? Blake? It asks Simon to give Cheetah three sticks of dynamite to free the ferret who has gone in deep and will not get hurt. That’s some plan!?
They free Monte and Tarzan seems flustered as Wolf sees Blake kiss Monte and Wolf seems to break character slightly, puffing out exhaustion and possibly bemusement.
The monkey is doing fine and Monte will be fine, too. Tarzan asks when Blake is leaving…to Blake. Blake will sell or give Monte to a game warden in Mexico. Blake knows nothing is keeping him here as Jane doesn’t seem interested in him, though initially…to me it seemed as if she might have?
Blake winks…at Tarzan when explaining to Roger to talk to Tantor about Roger wanting to photograph her. Tarzan smiles back at him. Wait…what? They are teasing Roger by making him think that Blake spoke to Tantor when it is Tarzan’s hand signals that make Tantor cooperate.
Roger (Sean) has that nasty gash on his left arm and here it looks even fresher than last time. BUT that was filmed before this one, apparently?
Blake makes a joke about telling Tantor she’d be on the cover of Elephant Weekly and Jane, Tarzan, and Roger laugh. Ha ha.
I hate to keep writing this but there’s nothing really wrong with this episode but…and it’s a big but…
…the show feels lame and far too safe in a way that Ron Ely’s TARZAN never did, nor did most of the TARZAN movies. They always had a terrific element of danger and even death. This has some danger but it’s all very tame. We do not see the dangerous animals in the same frame as the humans, for one. For another thing, Tarzan, here, while scaring away the baboon and the panther, doesn’t really have much to do by way of action. Third, the Tarzan-Jane-Blake triangle goes nowhere and if I recall correctly, last time, Blake seemed more interested in Tarzan. There’s little action other than Blake rolling down a hill. Okay, there’s some blood. And for a virus episode (not that in these times I want more virus complications!), no one or nothing seems in too much danger of dying from the disease.
In other words, this story goes nowhere. Sure, it might be the makers of this show just intended it to be a kiddie Sat Morning show but …even shows like SHAZAM! and LAND OF THE LOST and THE RED HAND GANG felt more edgy and dangerous than this and this is supposed to be the jungle. I guess it’s Africa but in reality it is Mexico and looks it. Not that it is not beautiful, it is but it doesn’t really give an African vibe to me most of the time.
On the plus, the episode picks up when Tarzan and Blake go with Cheetah to find Monte. An old Epi Log guide says the reason Cheetah let Monte out was because Cheetah was jealous and/or wanted to play but there’s no evidence of either here.
AND the locations here do look stunningly beautiful. BUT the show is far too safe for a Tarzan series.
22. THE SAVAGE STORM
GUEST: Adrian Paul ~ Episode Aired: 26 April 1992
Tarzan and his friends listen to Simon tell stories as they wait out a severe storm
when Jane's ex-boyfriend Jack shows up seeking refuge.
Jack promises again he has changed
but Tarzan learns he is involved in animal trafficking.
“I’m tough. I’m Tarzan.”
“A man who makes friends with an animal has a friend for life.”
Simon’s journal: Friday the 1st. 1991 has Feb, March and November that have the 1st fall on a Friday. 1992 has May.
Jane is counting bats, millipedes, tree frogs and forest rats all living in the confines of a tree. Roger keeps sneezing. One of those leads to him falling backward, Jane grabbing him and falling in, too. Tarzan is watching and saves them after they fall down the water fall in a brilliant looking stunt. Is he stalking them? He knocks a tree over so that they can grab onto it.
Simon calls during a storm and tells them it is being named Eloise. Roger thinks his tent sprung a leak and that Tarzan told him to dig around it. Jane tells him he meant for him to dig out. WHAT? Tarzan orders them to go to Simon’s. Roger takes the jeep and insists on driving and crashes it. He worries what his father will say about losing the jeep but Jane worries about what his father would say about losing him. They walk to Simon’s. Tarzan gets there before them. For once the storm really looks like a storm. Tarzan takes down Simon’s tent.
Simon tells a ghost story: “we” ---and a couple of Burmese hunters---were trapped in a tiny jungle post just outside of Rangoon. He tells the story of the ghost of Andimen Island, a story which goes nowhere. It’s supposed to knock on your door and suck you out into the storm.
Before he can finish the story Jack Travers or Traverse comes in. “You again?” Jane asks.
Adrian Paul deserved a better role, maybe a stronger presence or a more formidable foe. Here, he’s just a slime who wants to grab a leopard cub from a cave and sell it to someone. Tarzan overhears him calling his buyer. Tarzan mends Simon’s roof while Roger goes to the jeep to get it going again…and Jack goes with him to fix it. Roger calls this the eye of the storm. I’m glad Paul got HIGHLANDER after this and also the short lived DARK SHADOWS remake. Here, he’s sort of wasted in what could have been a huge confrontation between he and Tarzan.
Jack ties up Roger and steals the jeep to go get the cub. A lion shows up near Roger, who tries to think and act as if he is Tarzan but fails. Tarzan frees Roger and shoots an arrow into a beehive to make the lion leave.
Maybe it’s just me but Adrian Paul pronounces Tarzan like “Ta Zan.” No R?
The cub is adorable. Grigor (a mountain lion? A bobcat?) scares Jack into the cave to watch over the cub of… a leopard? Where is the leopard? Why would it do that? While Tarzan thanks it and turns his back to talk to Grigor and ask him or her to stay with the cub, Jack escapes.
We never see the cub and adult cat in the same scene.
There is mud all over Jack’s back very early on (at least when he is with Roger at the jeep) and his pants as if he’s already fallen into it? Is this from the night before? If so, he had his rain jacket on? It seems as if it happened later and then his earlier scenes were filmed with the dirt on him, regardless of the timing of the fight/flip off the jeep? In other words, Jack’s shirt and pants get dirty before Tarzan flips him into the mud. On the other hand, he might have gotten dirty working on the jeep because he did fix it.
When the storm returns and Simon asks Tarzan if he’d risk his life for that scum (HOW long does Simon know Tarzan and he has to ask this?), Tarzan says, “He is a human being. Tarzan cannot leave him to die.”
A parrot seems to tell Tarzan where Jack is…or leads him there. The poor thing is in the rain. A larger one is seen (at least I think it’s a different one) in the rain, too. We see, as Tarzan comes up behind Grigor and saves Jack from it, the animal and human, Tarzan only in the same shot, together. Normally on this show, we almost never see the cats or other animals in the same shots as the actors, for the most part.
Despite being saved, Jack steals the cub and jeep and flees. Tarzan follows and stops him, jumping onto the jeep and dumping him out of it.
What happened to the jeep’s cover?
Once more, Jack gives up quite easily.
Tarzan names the cub Oh-Zon?
Jack is going free? “I think you’re dating outside your zip code, Jane,” he stupidly tells her.
Jack offers his hand to Tarzan who says, “Hand is for friends.”
Jack tells him, “Till next time.” He also referred to the last time he was here when he spoke to Roger earlier of his plans after he tied Roger up.
He admits it was one hell of a ride and tells Tarzan and Jane, “Take care of yourselves.” What?
The plane says XJ CJS.
Jane puts a hand on Tarzan’s bicep and he looks at her.
Wolf looks leaner in the last scene. He helps Roger put the tent back up. Jane slips. Roger warned her not to go inside. Why?
For some reason, Jane says, “A man who makes friends with an animal has a friend forever.”
Not sure how many times I can write this but this episode wasn’t terrible but could have been better. I don’t remember saying that about Ely’s show much. Ely’s show had almost every episode be fantastic in some way, though there were a few that WERE terrible and illogical. I can’t say that any episode so far were terrible or illogical but sometimes the follow through from each plot and/or premise just didn’t satisfy, something that almost never happened in Ely’s TARZAN. THIS episode in particular feels lacking. Sure, the storm looks great, and everyone looks great and there’s potential but…other than having Tarzan rescue everyone again and again, there’s not much else here. Even Jack’s rivalry with Tarzan falls flat and doesn’t amount to much at all, not to mention that there’s almost no real romance going on between Tarzan and Jane anyway, just a few looks here and there and nothing to say that they’re even “dating” or are a couple in ANY way.
A show that is non committal is not a great one. This is not a great show in the way Ely’s show WAS. This is just an okay meh show. Which is a shame because it could have been a great one!
This is production 109 so in the first quarter or so of the season?
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