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TARZAN TV SERIES ~ 1991-1994
Starring Wolf Larson as Tarzan and Lydie Denier as Jane
Reviews by Charles Mento
44. LAW OF THE JUNGLE
45. SHAFT OF DEATH
46. THE POLLUTED RIVER
44. LAW OF THE JUNGLE
“In a way, Tarzan, you violated your own basic law of the jungle. That all animals should live free.”
“No animal is smarter than Cheetah.”
Jack’s journal is Thursday the 19th. Which is odd as this is the 19th episode filmed for this second season. 1992 has only March for this date. 1993 has only August. 1997 has only June. 1998 has Feb, March, and November.
Jack’s journal reveals one of the most interesting plots, “Today one of Roger’s experiments may have proved that Tarzan had broken the law of the jungle by domesticating Cheetah. In the process, Rog endangered his friendship with Jane and both their lives.”
Roger has started by trying to prove that animals in the bush aren’t color blind. Tarzan is building Jane a new photographic blind (what?) which is actually some kind of hut (with Tantor helping him). This way he has no distractions: Tarzan and Jane are distractions to him where as Jack is not.
Tarzan, headband on, hair thick swings and does the Tarzan yell to save Jane from a leopard. Jane was taking a picture of what looks like a baby cub lion. He stands still in front of Jane and orders her to back away slowly and then stand still. Uh, Tarzan watch her right hand by Jane’s butt please!
Cheetah drinks milk. Roger tells Tarzan and Jane that he violated his own law of the jungle that all animals should live free. Cheetah sleeps in a hammock. While Jane thinks Roger owes Tarzan an apology, Tarzan believes Roger is right: Cheetah can only be free when he chooses after knowing what it is like to run free and then returns to live with Tarzan and Jane, who questioned Cheetah where he wants to live. He shook his head that he wants to live with them. Tarzan will go to the treehouse and then return Cheetah to the jungle. Roger says he is sorry.
“Roger should never be sorry when he speaks the truth. It is something Tarzan should have done a long time ago.”
Jane thinks Roger and she are better equipped to survive in the jungle than Cheetah is (not from evidence in the series up to now). Jane tells Roger if anything happens to Cheetah she will never forgive him. Jack tells her that if Tarzan believed Cheetah is less able to survive than they are, he would never do this.
Tarzan will tells Cheetah the wonders of the jungle, all the new friends he would make, he would not have to do any more chores, and he can learn to live as an animal. Jack narrates this poignant scene as he talks to Roger and Tarzan talks to Cheetah. It’s a nice way to present this difficult and sad scene. And…it’s wonderful.
Cheetah gives Tarzan a baseball and glove back. They hug.
Jane takes off to make sure nothing happens to Cheetah and when Jack protests that Tarzan will not like it, Jane asks, “Does Tarzan own the jungle?” Roger follows her. Jack tells a worried Tantor, “Sorry, old buddy, but I think you better stay behind.”
In an odd moment, Jack starts to say, “Let’s say you and me make a little scientific experi…” and stops suddenly as Tantor’s truck comes up this mouth. What?
In a segue to a waterfall, we hear a strange bird cry out, “Naaaaaa.” Or something.
There’s a beautiful and extreme long shot of Tarzan sitting on a log (without a head band btw) as Cheetah comes across to him not far from the waterfall.
WHAT is going on with Tarzan’s left leg at the knee? Has it been dislocated or one time bruised? Or is this the stunt double. The leg looks odd as if the muscle is in the wrong place? Or there’s a huge bump near the knee.
In an impressive scene Tarzan sends Cheetah swinging across with huge waterfall behind him, then follows.
Tarzan climbs down vine behind Jane and wonders if she plans to live in the jungle with Cheetah. His headband, for once, has a long trail behind it and is once again on after NOT being one for the scenes from when Tarzan is on the log with Cheetah and at the log and waterfall. It looks like a thicker headband?
Roger has a Free Style white T shirt with short sleeves on.
Jack does the color blindness test with Tantor.
There’s an impressive long shot of Tarzan, Cheetah, Jane and Roger trekking through the jungle. Even far away, one can still see Tarzan’s abs!
Cheetah kisses Jane on the lips, hugs Tarzan and holds hands with Roger before Tarzan commands him to go.
Tantor does not seem impressed with Jack’s test. Jack says, “Like Roger says, success only comes with failure.” What?
For once the jungle looks very thick and wild as Tarzan and Jane secretly follow Cheetah. Roger goes back for his canteen which he forgot near a tree. He promptly falls off a hillside and dangles over a muddy looking lake or something, calls for Tarzan, who has to leave Jane alone.
Oddly, when the stunt man appears above Roger, one of them sounds like they are saying, “Don’t talk to me.” What?
Tarzan has to put his hand on Roger’s backside to push him up.
It looks like the two actors are really on the side of a cliff overlooking a vast muddy swamp area behind them and/or lake area.
Roger tells Tarzan his mind was wandering, thinking about Cheetah living alone in the jungle. Tarzan jokes, “Roger should worry about Roger alone in the jungle.”
It’s hard to tell but neither the stunt double or Wolf seem to have the headband on when rescuing Roger but when Wolf as Tarzan returns to Jane with Roger, Tarzan has the thick headband on.
The trio watch as Cheetah encounters some chimps but he knows they would tear him apart, territoriality being what it is so he leaves the chimps. After earlier passing under a snake and seeing an impressive long billed bird, Cheetah now encounters a leopard. As they give chase, Roger apologizes to Jane, “It’s all my fault,” but Jane yells back something like, “No, it’s his fault,” meaning, probably Tarzan for stopping her from helping Cheetah (but what could SHE do against a leopard as earlier we saw her needing rescue from one---maybe the same one?).
Cheetah’s strategy is to run away, hide behind a fern, from which he blows a raspberry with his tongue at the leopard. What? He also releases the fern into the leopard’s face. Roger, once more, reckons Tarzan knew Cheetah would be all right. He wonders how, though. Tarzan tells him that intelligence of Cheetah made him realize this.
Tarzan was, however, a little concerned about Cheetah. Roger points out to Jane that just because an animal is smarter doesn’t mean nothing can happen to him.
Cheetah sees a horrendous giant spider (stock).
Tarzan comes from one way while Jane and Roger come from another way. What?
Slyly, Tarzan makes Roger figure out Cheetah’s next move and seems impressed more with Roger when Roger figures out Cheetah’s next move is to get water at a watering hole. Jane didn’t realize this faster than Roger. Jane spots a croc that Cheetah does not and refuses to be stopped in saving Cheetah. “Tarzan is not the only one who can swing from a vine, you know!”
The stock shot of the croc under the water is impressive and very, very clear. We also see what could be a prop croc in the same shot as Cheetah and it looks okay. Cheetah throws rocks at it and scares it away while Tarzan swings across Jane and turns and grabs her up in another swing back.
Hilariously, Jane asks Tarzan, “What took you so long?”
Tarzan tells her Cheetah did not need her help but that Jane was very brave. Cheetah find a blue cap that Roger threw away (what? When?). Jane deduces that Cheetah is homesick and does NOT want to live in the jungle. Jane will miss her friend but Tarzan tells Roger Cheetah will do what makes Cheetah happy.
What is going on with Cheetah’s butt in the near last scene? Gross.
When Tarzan eats a banana in one of the last scenes, we can see how vascular Wolf’s arms are. What does Roger say when Cheetah returns? “I knew he’d choose the camp-pound over the jungle?” BUT Tarzan translates, “Cheetah did not choose the compound, Cheetah chose his family.”
Tarzan was prepared to lose Cheetah as a pet but not as a friend. He was worried…but only about Jane and Roger. Roger apologizes to Tarzan that he accused him of making Cheetah a pet. Jack has proven Tantor is not a compound pet as she sat on the block post and destroyed (?) it.
Everyone thinks this is funny. Ha ha.
I think it’s worth doing an episode like this but I’m also not sure quite what to make of it as they are really doing BORN FREE without the real life ramifications of BORN FREE and the true to life story of undomesticating an animal. We ALL know that in the end, unless they are going to write Cheetah out of the series altogether which for this series would be the bravest thing of all but NOT a possibility for a 1990s series, that Cheetah is going to return to Tarzan, Jane, Roger and Jack at the compound and things will be reset for the next writer and the next episode.
So what to make of this episode? The cinematography is, as always for season one and especially season two, excellent. The stunts all really work and the idea is a sound premise and different for this show. On the other hand, it is done with only the main cast (really refreshing as the evil or annoying visitors were starting to get cliché, boring, and well…annoying) so a bit cheap and yet it does NOT look cheap. If this were a one off, it might be more interesting. The story seems to want to go one way but HAS to go the other and so it is a bit uneven.
After all, this is a kid show, right?
So…yes it was worth doing but somehow it seems to lose something by the ending and yet do we really want to lose Cheetah? NOPE.
45. SHAFT OF DEATH
"Tarzan, I'm always careful."
Jack's journal is Wed the 23rd. This is Sept and Dec in 1992. 1993 has this in June and Sept. 1997 has this in April and July. 1998 has this in Sept and Dec.
Jane wants to see the Wilderbeasts in their migration and to photograph them. Jack tells us she learns about friendship. Tarzan calls them something else and explains they move north to their summer land. It sounds like he calls them Benigular.
Jane says she is always careful but she falls into an old diamond mine shaft that Tarzan follows her down…and explains that this was here many years before him. Is he making this assumption on the spot or did he know of the mine already? If so, why did't he warn Jane about this mine? He tries to lift her out of it but causes the wood and rock to collapse on them and he falls with rock and wood on him. Tarzan is bleeding from the mouth and tells Jane to leave now. There is another post that threatens to fall and collapse the entire mine.
When Roger calls Jack to inform him Jane is very late by hours, what IS that on the green chalk board behind Jack?
Roger calls himself the panic merchant when Jack says, "She's with Tarzan what could happen?"
Jane tells Tarzan things to keep him awake. She is afraid of living a life that means nothing. She's afraid of being alone, of spiders sometimes and of everything. "But most of all, I'm afraid of what my life would be without you." She tells him she trusts him and would never hurt her and never hurt anyone. She feels she's hurt a lot of people in her life, "We all do in civilization. But you don't Tarzan, you are fair and kind to everyone." When she looks at that she feels proud, happy and safe.
Tarzan warns Jane that the river will soon come through the mine and flood them. While Jack flies over some running animals (the wilderbeast), Jane tries to use a post to climb up the shaft and falls, failing. Jack has water all over his shirt, sprinkled there. He seems to be calm about all this. THEN suddenly he announces it is calvary time and then suddenly he, Roger, Cheetah, Numa, and Tantor are all running in action!
Jane holds Tarzan's hand and sings a song in French. Tarzan does not look amused when Jane explains how to start a fire with two stones.
Cheetah seems to be carrying binoculars for his own use? Jane follows Tarzan's advice to find a stick and rub it on wood to start a fire. It works.
Jane tells Tarzan that her cousin Jack (Jock? Jacque?) told her that if you close your eyes in the dark Monsieur Lambu (?) will come and chew off your toes one by one. When he has them all, he spits you out and eats your doll. What? Tarzan says like the jungle. It is filled with life. Jane says she wore socks to bed until she was 16. Are these two talking to each other? Is this mix of two different scenes? What is happening with this conversation?
Jane falls asleep while trying to keep Tarzan awake. What? She has a flashback or a dream of a fire at her base and Tarzan rescuing her. Just as they get out, in an impressive blast, the entire compound building is blown up. Was this from a past episode? Does that explain the changes in the set or the location? I can't remember. Or is this all new? Jane recalls Tarzan always saving her life and now it is her turn but she does not know how to do it.
Night passes. The trio of animals have to spend the night in one spot.
Cheetah gives Tantor a banana. Do elephants really eat bananas without peeling them?
Using the binoculars, Cheetah spots the smoke out of the hole. Tarzan hears Tantor. He also gets a vine, lowers it down to Jane at her orders and gives the other end to Tantor who lifts the wood off Tarzan after Jane ties it around the wood. We see Wolf dirtier than ever before. We do not see Jane climb out first (?). Tarzan climb/jumps up and the pole and rocks fall and the water comes in.
Jane and Tarzan on the surface hug and it's more than just a friend hug.
Jack and Roger finally catch up to them. Roger hugs Jane. Tarzan is all right, he says, because of his brave friends.
Jane and Tarzan have a conversation about some of the things she said to keep him awake. Tarzan asks her if she meant any of those words. She tells him he is an important part of her life, not just as a friend.
That was her way of telling him. Tarzan knew this without words. Jack gets impatient and yells, asking them if they are coming or do they want to walk home.
Tarzan and Jane smile at this.
This is production 220.
46. THE POLLUTED RIVER (season 2)
“Next time, Tarzan will try to rescue Jack faster.”
“You beat me last time jungle man but not this time. This is my big chance. Now, we’ll settle up our score.”
This is the 21st second season episode produced. It aired first. The second season years are 1992 to 1993. So this year is up for grabs. Most likely it is meant to be late 1993 but if aired first, it seems like it could be the end of or in September of 1992.
The production number is 221.
The other thing to notice and the only positive change is that the episode title is now shown after the main credits sequence. Roger references Moby Dick.
Jack’s journal is Friday the 3rd. This could be Jan, April, or July. 1993 has September and December.
Jack calls Roger “old buddy.” Roger lies about a fish he caught. Jack has been on the river for two hours with no nibble.
The first things to notice in the episode is that the theme music is different and just not that good. I seem to recall something like it or IT playing in ep 4 of season one, the one with the model Kendra. Whoever made the choice to go with this theme should have been fired. It’s flat. The first season theme moved. The credits are mostly the same with only Errol Slue’s clips new and two new clips for Sean Roberge.
For some reason Jack is in a canoe while Roger and Cheetah are fishing, with Cheetah getting a fish and Roger not. A rock slide caused by Manuel (the villain from THE POISONED WATERS, which is almost an identical episode). We find out the villain right away as we see him in his muscly shirt. He drags Roger away while Cheetah runs off to alert Tarzan and Jane. Jane goes to Tarzan who is washing Tantor, who shoots water on Jane (this is the third time she’s done so).
Tarzan looks leaner and if anything even more muscled.
Manuel talks to himself and reveals all his plans—and even that he has a uranium mine. Of course, Roger and Jack are both unconscious at the time so can’t really hear him. Even so, this makes him even more insane. There’s no hiding the villain for later.
Jack is knocked out; Manuel tells Roger he doesn’t want the Bengali authorities blaming him for Roger’s death (otherwise he would shoot him right now!) but then sets Jack toward waterfalls in the canoe.
A fake looking croc attacks him so Tarzan rescues Jack anyway. Jack doesn’t get off to a great start as he jokingly berates Tarzan for not rescuing him sooner but Tarzan pulls him into the water. Tarzan, in a mishap, I would say, gets Jack’s boot in the side of his face, chin, and/or chest. Wolf looks as if he could have gotten hurt.
Jane notices that Roger never misses a meal.
After Tarzan fights the croc, we do not see it survive or swim away. Did he kill it? BTW with Roger missing, would Tarzan playfully knock Jack out of his canoe into the water? And moments later Jack does not look wet. Tarzan does the chimp talk call, and does another call, a bird call, with a bird. A bird lands on his hand, too. He does the Tarzan call, too. Tarzan calls the bird Sueda? The bird and the chimps communicate with him. Cheetah, of course, does as well.
Roger insisted on cooking the catfish yesterday with the head on. Jane would not eat it that way. Jane’s interior of her lab area and cabin building look completely different. It’s also telling we do not see the outside of it. Manuel says he did his time in the “can” meaning jail.
Tarzan finds a button that belongs to a man that smokes cigars but it also has Roger’s scent on it. After finding Roger and bringing him back, Jane must cure him while the rest of the episode focuses on Tarzan’s finding Manuel and tracking him after Manuel hits him down and lures him to a trap or two.
Tarzan’s hair is longer but less thick.
Jane deduces, after they find a sick Roger, that there is a chemical in the river that is causing him to be sick: he ate a catfish the other day that she did not. He had stomach pains before the rock fall, too. After watching Manuel work with his uranium finds, polluting the river while smelting it or washing it, Tarzan confronts him. The shot of his face in the mirror (broken?) is interesting as that is in front of Manuel while Tarzan is behind him. Also of note, Wolf’s back as he confronts him looks like it has marks on it, big black marks as if he’s fallen on dirt coal?
Manuel fakes that he has a permit. Tarzan seems to know what a real permit looks like. He is foolish to let Manuel get behind him as Manuel knocks him out.
Manuel has a donkey. What happens to him at the end of this after Manuel dies?
Manuel wants to make Tarzan’s death look like an accident but what? He then uses dynamite twice!
After reviving, Tarzan has black marks / wounds on his stomach, too. Manuel makes it easy for Tarzan to find him.
It’s odd because in some shots Tarzan’s face and shoulders, neck even, are covered in dark dirt as if he’s been rolling around in a fight…and some scenes before and after do not have this dirt on him. WTF? He also has these marks on his legs and arms. Are some of these where Erol, as Jack, kicked him by mistake?
Manuel lures Tarzan into a rope wire that will trip dynamite but Tarzan steps over it. While Tarzan tracks him over and on a flimsy primitive wooden bridge over a canyon, from a tree, Manuel fires a gun that sets off the blast. The bridge falls in a spectacular stunt (for TV). Tarzan lands, Ely-like, and is spread out like Jesus (no, I’m not kidding; same thing happened at least once for Ely, possibly more).
When he finds that Tarzan is still breathing, Manuel will bury him where he was going to bury Roger where no one will find him. I thought he didn’t want deaths on his hands?
Tarzan now has more black marks and dirt all over him.
Tarzan knocks him down with a kick after reviving and being carried by him. Manuel had already thrown a stick of dynamite to cause a blast to bring rocks down on Tarzan. Tarzan tries to help him up as the blast hits but Manuel tries to fight again. Tarzan escapes and the rocks fall on Manuel and HE DIES.
The last scene as Jane tests the water on an ancient dock with the river and/or lagoon behind her and Tarzan is wholly beautiful. The water is now safe to drink. Roger and Cheetah go fishing. How long has it been since Manuel was killed?
Jack thinks it is funny that he makes Roger think Cheetah caught another fish, which Jack himself planted on the hook. He reveals this to Roger and everyone laughs. Cheetah raspberries Roger. Ha ha.
Like every episode of season one, this episode is serviceable. Just like those, too, it feels as if it could have been better. Manuel has no men this time to help him, talks to himself, and seems totally insane and driven to stay wherever he wants and to get even with the ape man. He makes little sense. It’s a shame as Jorge who plays Manuel makes a formidable foe in look and presence but there’s almost no fight here, just a few hits here and there and a kick before he’s killed. There is no real physicality to any of the confrontation. Tarzan even has his back to him and lets him get behind him.
Jorge is a bit man to lift Wolf over his shoulder when Manuel moves Tarzan.
Another thing is that this episode looks different from all those before it. It’s obviously filmed in a totally different place. The area where Roger fishes, Jack is on the river, and Tarzan is washing Tantor, not to mention when the other three are tracking down a hurt Roger and when Tarzan confronts Manuel ALL look like totally different, unseen locations from season one …or anywhere on TV before and maybe even after this. It looks visually stunning again. As does Lydie, Jorge, and Wolf. Even Sean looks a bit beefed up with more muscle.
Jack is serviceable, too. He performs his role. There is no plane or jeep here and Jack does what the script requires of him but I have to admit, I sort of do miss Simon here.
Again, not a bad episode but like all the others, there’s the feeling this could have been more adventurous, exciting and action packed. As such, it’s just okay. Again.
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