Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute Site
Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Webpages and Webzines in Archive
TARZAN TV SERIES ~ 1991-1994
Starring Wolf Larson as Tarzan and Lydie Denier as Jane
Reviews by Charles Mento
62. THE GIFT OF LIFE
63. THE DEATH SPIDERS
64. THE RUSSIAN INVASION
62. THE GIFT OF LIFE
Dan’s journal: Friday the 16th: 1993 has April; 1994 has Sept and Dec; 1997 has May; 1998 has Jan and October. We learn Cheetah will be…jealous?
Roger brings baluha root to Tarzan at Jane’s compound to give to Tortu (turtle or tortoise) to eat to heal. Jane must give the medicine to the turtle every hour. Cheetah went to a lot of trouble to get the turtle to them. Oddly, Roger, in the same scene refers to the turtle as a “he” AND then a “she.” Jane mentions that the turtle got “beaten.”
Roger mentions Dan is over two hours late with the mail drop. Tarzan will go look for Dan.
Dan’s jeep is stuck and as he digs, a monkey seems to try to warn him that a lion is coming toward him. Tantor arrives and scare the lion and Tarzan, swinging and running arrives but not before his Tarzan yell scares the lion off for good.
Tantor will help get the jeep out of the mud.
“You know Tarzan this isn’t the first time you’ve pulled my bacon from the fire.”
“Oh, he saved my bacon too, you know…” Roger is cut short by Jane’s question of where the mail is.
Dan asks Cheetah to get the mail but he doesn’t go until Tarzan nods his head.
Jane reminds them of the leopard that Tantor protected Jane from. “Tantor has been a good friend to all of us,” Tarzan states.
When Dan praises Tantor some more and says, “We owe him so much,” he fails to say “her” as others have in other episodes about Tantor. Tarzan agrees that if a party will make Dan, Roger and Jane happy they can through a party for Tantor, but no reward is needed he says, too.
Roger calls Tantor the smartest and bravest animal in the jungle, while also calling Cheetah furball. At night, Roger tells Cheetah to take a hike as he and Jane prepare gifts for Tantor and Roger tells Cheetah it is a surprise.
At the treehouse, a rock on a wooden post has a fire in it to keep Tarzan warm and well lit as he makes his gift. Sewing?
Morning: Roger and Dan make final preparations for the party while Tarzan and Jane feed Tortu. Jane wants to send documentation to the National Health Department for the uses of the berries Tarzan used on Tortu.
Outside the compound, Cheetah paces while Tantor watches. When Dan and Roger react to the smell of the root medicine, Roger mentions that it can only be harvested once a year. The writing on Roger’s shirt says that the shirt is 100 percent naturally grown. Or the products of EBGB (?) are?
When everyone ignores Cheetah for Tantor, Cheetah starts to open one of the gifts but Roger stops him and says, “You, my hairy friend, you’re turning into a …ahh…an ego mani-ape.”
Roger tells Jane, “You know Cheetah, he likes to pout.”
Roger’s elbow hits Jane in the chest and the less said about Jane’s top (no bra?), the better?
Dan gives Tantor a fly swatter that the elephant can hold. Jane gives her something…not sure but it looks like a white scarf and she SEEMS to say it is something that holds memories and now everyone will know that it is Tantor’s? What?
Roger got Tantor music and hooked it up to a device that she can step on. Roger mentions the words, “Well-ah,” and added, “As Jane would say.”
Tarzan gives Tantor a sack (?) so Tantor can be as neat as Roger (?) which Dan mocks…that Roger is not neat. Roger and Dan are on the verge of a verbal disagreement or fight but Jane intervenes.
At over ten minutes, I can’t help feel that this episode is lame. Nothing is really happening. It’s brightly lit which is fine but here you have a setting and four characters that are high profile for action adventure and …they’re having a party for an elephant that makes a chimp jealous. I mean…really? Come on.
Tarzan notices Cheetah missing and goes to find him; Roger tells him to tell the chimp he is sorry and Dan offers some of his mango pie for Cheetah. Then the others go inside, Cheetah takes Tantor’s gifts and throws fruit around and leaves. In the sack is the medicine for Tortu.
Tarzan considers that Tantor has the loudest voice in the jungle and will have her call Cheetah. “Don’t worry, Tortu, Tarzan will never let you die.”
Cheetah does show up and will lead Tarzan and Jane to the sack, which he left dangling in a tree, high up. Jane leaves Dan with the turtle, who needs human contact. Roger suggests reading him the Tortoise and the Hare. Roger goes with Jane and Tarzan. Dan tells Tortu, the Turtle and the Hare.
The sack falls and a lion takes it. The lion encounters a croc and leaves the bag behind as it leaves the area. The croc takes the bag. Tarzan dives for it and Jane crosses her fingers but it looks like she is giving Tarzan the middle finger…with both hands. Tarzan fights the croc for it and opens its jaws. The sack falls to the bottom of the lake/river.
Roger takes his shirt off, thinking Tarzan needs his help! Okay, from behind Roger’s stunt double looks like…a woman. Really. From the front, no. Obviously. The hair is also different. Of course, this series was never meant to be studied, freeze framed, and more so it’s perfectly acceptable. Roger holds his nose when he jumps in! Tarzan’s boots looked dark brown but diving in, looked light tan?
Tarzan gets the sack and then pulls Roger out with it.
We see the parrot again.
Tarzan, Cheetah around his neck and back, Jane, and Roger all arrive back to Dan and Tortu. Tarzan gives the turtle the medicine and declares he will live to be an old man of the jungle. Jane jokes that she thinks she detects tears in Dan’s eyes. He denies that. Tantor plays his music device. They laugh.
NOTE: Roger, shirtless for the rest, has his necklace and pendant on display again.
Later, as Jane, Dan and Roger seem to regift Tantor and Jane is rubbing her trunk, Tarzan has a man to chimp heart to heart. Tortu has forgiven Cheetah. Roger films the regifting and as Tarzan and Cheetah rejoin them. Roger has on a different shirt. Cheetah gives Tantor his red cap, something he loves.
As ever, the cinematography is beautiful, the lighting bright and wonderful, the forest jungle colorful, the animals engaging, and the main cast spot on. Dan shines this time as he nurses the turtle, the actor doing well. He could be my favorite of the three pilots, though I like Jack a lot. Maybe more. Anyway, the main cast is great as always and are the only humans. NO guest stars. I guess that saves money.
On the negative, this is a Cheetah runs away again episode and makes Cheetah again, a liability. It’s also slowly developed and the action comes from a lion and a croc again. It’s sort of dull and routine. At times, especially with his hair wet and Cheetah around his neck and back, Wolf slightly resembles Ron Ely and possibly some other Tarzans like Miles’ Tarzan. I still think he’s better than all the others, despite the blond hair. The lame scripts that are almost devoid of action and adventure other than dives, lions and crocs sort of undermines him.
I often wonder what the actors thought of these scripts. And again, the idea that this is really a kid show strikes home. Though the music during the lion tracking and the croc fight is terrific, the music during the Cheetah running away with the gifts music is goofy and juvenile. Which sums up a lot of this episode and sadly, sometimes, probably this entire series. I like this series but feel it could have been something even grander than it is.
63. THE DEATH SPIDERS
“No man can understand all the dangers that exist in the jungle.”
Dan’s journal: It is Wednesday the 23rd: 1993 has this in June only; 1994 has Feb, March and November; 1997 has July and April; 1998 has Sept and Dec.
We see a lion chasing what look like deer. Thankfully, we do NOT see any killings. The camera stock footage seems to cut away just before one though. Jane wants to wait another day to let go the parrot whose wing had to heal. Paul Shaka (who hasn’t been seen since episode 47 in season two, TARZAN’S DANGEROUS JOURNEY---and actually there’s been much less of returning characters and villains this season, so far) is driven up by Dan, with Tarzan standing in the back of the jeep. Paul wraps Jane in a hug and he kisses her (it looks like on the cheek but the shot cuts away to Roger). Roger asks if he has time to shoot some hoops. Five of his people were bitten by spiders (small by comparison to other spiders seen in the series) and despite all his knowledge he could do nothing to save them or even ease their suffering.
When Tarzan tells him that no man can understand all the dangers that exist in the jungle, does he mean himself, too?
Dumb Cheetah opens the flask with one of the spiders and it bites Paul. Jane has never seen this species before but Tarzan saw it once on the Orango basin. It sounds like Orango but it might be Morongo?
Dan has seen planes spraying the area with pesticides which is what probably drove the spiders to Paul’s village. Paul only has six hours. Tarzan knows of a plant that the people that live in peace with the spider(s) eat that keeps them from getting sick. Dan will fly Tarzan in but Tarzan does not want him to. Jane suggests the jeep as far as the basin because Dan cannot fly the plane in because of the thick tree life. Dan tells them that before he dies, he will get delirious and extremely dangerous. Jane asks Dan to take the spider to Bendali to see if they have a department that knows of an antidote.
Jane is depending on Roger to look after the sick animals.
Paul, Cheetah, Tarzan and Jane go toward the basin in the jeep, Jane driving, Tarzan standing on the back holding onto the roll bar. Jane warns Paul not to drink too much: the liquid would speed up the flow of the poison in him.
“I’m really lucky to have friends like you and Tarzan,” Paul tells Jane who reminds him that he saved her once. He tries to get up after falling down. Tarzan left to get him a walking stick. For some reason, Jane and the others are calling him by his last name, Shaka, instead of using the name Paul. Is this ANOTHER instance of evidence that this season is an alternate universe/parallel universe to the second season (and the first?).
Shaka becomes delirious, pushes Jane and runs away. Jane runs after him. He hallucinates a leopard (that we saw earlier). Tarzan catches up to them. Jane wants Tarzan go on ahead; Tarzan refuses because it is too dangerous to leave him with Jane alone but she wants to take the risk. Shaka tells him that he is fine and not to take that risk. Tarzan says there is another way and does the Tarzan yell. This brings Numar to them. Numar will protect Jane while Tarzan is gone.
When Tarzan warns Jane not to take any chances, she touches his face and tells him she will be fine.
NOTE: despite the urgency and need for Tarzan to leave fast and get the antidote/plant, it seems to me that he takes a VERY long time in leaving Jane, Shaka and Numar.
In what feels like the first time EVER, we see Dan in Bendali with ONE passer by (a woman with a basket on her head), telephone wires or electrical wires, and buildings. Dan calls Roger on the walkie talkie or his portable phone. He tells Roger to tell Jane the Health Department is running tests on the spider right now. With luck, Dan goes on, he can back in a couple of hours with NEWS of an antidote. Okay, what? Shaka only has six hours so how many have gone by already? AND maybe Dan can TAKE an antidote back to the compound to give to Shaka?
What’s worse than that, they make Jane incredibly stupid again: Roger tells Dan that Jane was in such a hurry that she forgot her walkie talkie so he can’t call her. This means she’s put Shaka’s life at risk as if Tarzan fails to find the plant, Shaka will probably die even though Dan might have an antidote. Okay, a bit WTF?
Roger calls it the Orungo Basin a crater. Earlier it was called a valley and a basin.
When Jane doesn’t want Shaka to drink more water, he gets delirious and violent again, making Numar come to them but Jane warns Numar to stay back. Why?
The stunt swinging by Wolf’s stunt man and by Wolf himself are even better than usual in this episode. The swinging here is all new from what I can tell and looks magnificent, swift, and graceful.
Somehow, Shaka has Jane up a tree, tied, away from Numar. In his delirium, Shaka rants about her, not recognizing Jane as Jane, having done something to him in London ten years ago, someone who lied to him. He scares Cheetah off. (Lydie told us in an interview that Cheetah was very protective of her in real life and wouldn’t let anyone get near her.) When Jane tells Cheetah to get Tarzan, Shaka knows him and calls him the ape man and does a mock Tarzan yell (it’s not too bad either).
On top of the mountain where the plant grows, Tarzan searches for the plant while…an animal or more likely a bird chirps away, annoyingly. It sure looks like there is more than one chimp playing Cheetah as Cheetah looks for Tarzan. And perhaps on other occasions too and not just in this episode?
Shaka spits when he yells at Jane to stop lying. He thinks she is someone called Michelle. Jane tells him she never knew him before he came to the jungle. Shaka sees Jane as Michelle in his head in foggy London (?) and in his head she tells him they meant so much to each other but it’s over. She’s in love with another man.
Standing IN the waterfall on rocks, Tarzan does the yell again. Another amazing stunt, this one by the stunt man. He then dives off into the water and swims.
Jane tries another approach. This time she pretends to be Michelle and tells Shaka she will never lie to him again. She tells him she was forced to say those things because this man who forced her to say those things was jealous of her love for him.
Cheetah finds and warns Tarzan, who does the Tarzan yell (third time this ep) and he swings to the tree Jane and Shaka are on. Shaka pulls his knife on Tarzan. Both men fall from the tree. Shaka finds his knife and the fight resumes, Tarzan on top of Shaka. Shaka then gets the upper hand and has Tarzan under him, trying to stab the knife into Tarzan’s throat. Cheetah unties Jane.
After Tarzan knocks Shaka off him, Jane swings down to them.
Tarzan grinds the leaves. When Cheetah brings him a coconut, you can see Wolf gently hand direct Cheetah to stay back a bit when he pours the liquid over the leaves. Jane talks to Shaka later on and he apologizes if he gave her any trouble. She asks about Michelle and tells him she had to leave him to do something and not because he wasn’t a loving, caring man. How does she know why Michelle left him?
Dan arrives via jeep and tells them the doctors in Bendali’s health dept have not found a cure but are working on the plant coconut combination. A Dr. Sahshua (?) said they are close to developing a synthetic anti venom. Roger says, “Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.” Isn’t that atomic bombs? Dan calls him old buddy. Sahshua dug up some old clinical records dealing with poisonous spiders. Several rare anti venom antidotes were mentioned against poison and as soon as the boys in the lab will test them out, he will send (aka radio) Jane the results.
Shaka will take the rest of Tarzan’s antidote in case his people need it. Tarzan walks with Shaka. Shaka calls Roger good buddy and tells him the last time he saw him, his jump shot was a bit rusty and he should try working on that. Roger does a backwards jump shot and makes it in. He calls for Cheetah to help him clean out the last of the hospital cages.
This is a good episode but once again Cheetah’s a liability and Jane does something stupid or doesn’t do something smart like take a walkie talkie with her. She also sets Tarzan up for a huge fight with Shaka.
64. THE RUSSIAN INVASION
“I thought the Cold War was over.”
“I tell you. We’re being invaded by the Russians.”
“Russia is friendly with America now.”
“There are no secrets from Tarzan in Tarzan’s jungle.”
“Looks like you’re gonna have to fight the whole jungle now.”
Dan’s journal : Thursday the 23rd: 1993 has Sept and Dec; 1994 has June; 1997 has Jan and October; 1998 has July and April.
“The jungle contains many mysteries. None more puzzling than the one Roger uncovered today.” For some time now the narration has stopped giving away the entire plot and is not more cryptic and spoiler free.
In some fresh and interesting footage, Tarzan is in a canoe, using an oar to move along a river. He stops rowing and does the Tarzan yell. Roger is in a tree trying to photograph a lion drinking but Cheetah ruins his chances. He wants to enter a photograph to Nature World’s photo contest. Roger climbs down a rope and not far away discovers a built foliage shelter that he believes was built in the last day or two. He didn’t see this when he climbed the tree? On top of that, the trees look natural and not like a built shelter.
Roger finds a recording device and a technical book in Russian. He thought the Cold War was over. Though we do not know the name yet, Vladimir Rostov pulls a gun on him and makes him put his hands up. Cheetah also complies. In a wonderful scene, Cheetah climbs a tree and jumps onto the back of the man (stunt double only obvious in still pause) and knocks him down. This gives Roger the opportunity to run away and back to Jane and Dan at the compound and jeep. Dan jokes that maybe they should call Roger RAMBO.
BTW, here, again, despite an episode where he couldn’t, Roger seems to understand Cheetah speak or at least the chimp’s intentions. It sure feels as if Roger in this episode (and MANY others) can understand Cheetah as much as Tarzan.
Jane believes that “Russia is friendly with America now,” and Dan thinks they barely have enough money to keep their own country afloat. Dan calls Roger ole buddy again. Roger’s shirt is a nice elephant artwork piece on it. Jane tells Roger that Tarzan always knows when there is a stranger in the jungle. Roger reminds her that Tar’zan has been with Shaka in another region (?) all week. Jane and Dan not believing Roger and being amused by it is stupid, considering some of the past villains that have “invaded” the jungle in the past. Jane relents that someone could be in the jungle. Dan, however, feels he has better things to do with his time, laundry, paint his hanger, and repair Jane’s something (it sounds like rigging but the usually eloquent Dan mumbles this so it’s hard to hear).
SO…all four of them head out, WEAPONLESS, to find this man WHO HAS A GUN!!!???
The shelter is gone.
Dan jokes about aliens and spaceships is about to leave. Jane laughs.
Tarzan swings to them ---the animals told Tarzan where they were. Roger smiles as he sees Tarzan, perhaps knowing Tarzan will believe him. Tarzan finds clues: a piece of cloth ripped off clothing, a footprint, and a rock that does not belong in this jungle. Jane will run tests. Dan stubbornly and against everything we know about Dan, refuses to apologize to Roger.
Tarzan calls the jungle his. Jane thinks the rock is a moon rock. Dan has the theory that the man is a cosmonaut, a Russian astronaut. Tarzan remembers the book that Roger showed him on the space shuttle program.
Cheetah eats a banana as the others talk.
Jane tells them the Russians have not been to the moon. They never landed on the moon but had unmanned crafts fly missions to it.
Roger wonders if the spacecraft landed while Tarzan was away with the Aptu or Shaka (?).
Dan leaves the compound to check on his plane and Jane asks him to call Bendali to find out about “this Sputnik.”
Roger once told Tarzan that a good magician never reveals his secrets. This comes up when Rogers asks how Tarzan knows what the cosmonaut looks like. NOTE: This is most unlike Tarzan: he ALWAYS tells his “secrets” and how he does something. He usually teachers others, especially Roger HOW he does something. This is out of character.
As soon as Tarzan leaves, Rostov takes Jane and Roger hostage. NOTE: just before this, as Roger expresses that he wants to check that they do not have any visitors is that a very large dog in a large cage behind Roger? A dog in the jungle?
So it was the radio Dan was going to repair. It is not working now.
“There’s no Soviet Union anymore. It’s been disbanded,” Jane tells him. He knows nothing of this.
Roger tells him that now that the Berlin Wall is down, Communism has gone down the tubes. The man’s digital calendar stopped working after two years. Roger and Jane figure he has been gone three years or more. She tells him she is not American but is French. She tells him America is friendly with Russia now.
Roger mentions this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perestroika
Roger also mentions this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasnost
Thanks to pushy questioning about Rostov’s superiors and who they are, Rostov thinks they are lying.
Though Jane tells him there are no airports, Roger tells him there is an air strip run by their friend Dan Miller. They refuse to take him there because he will treat Dan like he is treating them. Roger orders Cheetah to get Tarzan and though Rostov aims at Cheetah, he does not fire. Roger submits too easily to being tied up by Jane at Rostov’s orders. They have to take him to the airstrip as he repeats no harm will come to them IF they do.
Cheetah walks, runs, climbs, and swings toward Tarzan. We see both the stunt double(s)? and Wolf on the elephant. It’s only noticeable in still pause…sort of.
Tarzan alights from the elephant to …go get his hidden bow and arrow. We hear what sounds like a jaguar or cougar? Or is that just Tantor’s sound?
AND Wolf’s hair not only seems different from a few scenes to other scenes (less buffed out and more straight down or almost wet) but…most oddly… he’s got a headband on in the elephant scenes…but not in all of them!?
It is too far away to see if the stunt man has the head band on and at first, in medium shots it is difficult to see on Wolf, too but later on, it is clear: the head band is back! It does not appear to be there when Tarzan asks Tantor to go down and when he dismounts from Tantor but it IS there when he moves to pick up his bow and arrows. Shots seconds from each other.
There is also a green parrot.
The jungles of Ely and Larson look like jungles but for some reason memory seems to recall Weissmuller’s jungles and his immediate predecessors having jungles that had huge over head tree and leaf coverings, almost casting dark shadows over the entire jungle. These, being less studio and more…South America don’t seem to have that most of the time?
A jungle here is thick at some points but there are not a lot of high overhead coverings.
Tarzan hears and sees overhead fowl of some kind.
On foot once again, Tarzan seems to have longer hair, the same hair style of buffedness as before and less of the straight hair, and it appears the head band is gone?
In a nice shot, Tarzan does the yell again and swings across a waterfall area. The stunt man looks a bit unmoving so…is that a dummy? I’ve never seen a stunt man who didn’t move his legs, especially on this show. It’s jarring but probably not a dummy.
When Tantor blocks the jeep Jane, Roger and Rostov are in, they ask him not to shot her. Roger calls Tantor “big guy.” Rostov does not shoot but makes them back up. Jane is driving. Why does he do this? Numar, answering the Tarzan call, is also on the scene. Jane tells him the animals will not hurt him. Tarzan fires an arrow to disarm Rostov. He swings down, though we don’t see that, and comes running to the jeep. Tarzan grabs him but she makes them both see reasonable action: to go to the hanger. Oddly, Tarzan only seems to care that Rostov endangered Jane, not Roger!?
Bandali contacted the American consulate who contacted the Kremlin in Moscow. Rostov is a colonel. Dan will fly him to Bandali and it will be up to the authorities there to get him back to Russia. Rostov apologizes to Jane and Roger. When Roger will forgive him on one condition, Tarzan says, “Friendship has no conditions, Roger.”
NOTE: it might not have been known the Soviets did go to the Moon but never had a man walk on it at this time the show was made.
An American astronaut gave Rostov the moon rock at a conference in Moscow. It is what he used to trade for the old gun he had. Cosmonauts do not take guns into space. He took the moon rocks into space for good luck. When Tarzan reveals he found the rock and gave it to Jane, he tells Jane to consider it a gift, “From Russia with love.”
A storm comes up so the others will go back to the compound except for Tarzan, who must go fix his roof, it is leaking. Roger asks if he needs any help. Tantor will help. Cheetah goes with Tarzan and Tantor.
A good episode but again, despite a few episodes with out and out villains who meet deadly ends, here, there’s a sense that this is just a big misunderstanding, that no one will get hurt or killed (in a way that’s a good thing?) and that the action is sort of dampened by a “feel good” kid friendly, family friendly atmosphere. I’m not sure that really works for a Tarzan series, animated or live action.
Still, this is not a boring episode but the series feels as if it is painting by numbers and nothing of any real consequence will ever happen, action wise, romance wise, or any other wise. It’s a shame as this works but only on a Sat Morning Kid Fare level. It could have worked by being more out and out dangerous Tarzan but then…would anyone have watched it? Would children be allowed to watch a Tarzan that was savage, deadly and dangerous, violent and overly romantic, sexy?
I don’t really know.
What IS for sure is that this is ironic and eye popping in how times have changed from the Cold War to the end of the Cold War to the state of Russia and the way it has affected the world in the last year or more, back to being the threat.
BACK TO THE TARZAN TV SERIES INTRO
Visit our thousands of other sites at:
BILL and SUE-ON HILLMAN ECLECTIC STUDIO
ERB Text, ERB Images and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2022 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.