74. NIGHT HORRORS
“Many things in the jungle cannot be explained, Roger.
One of them is the strange powers upon this island.”
“Just what we need: haunted chimps.”
“Now, eat. Then, sleep. Peace will come to you in your dreams.
In the morning, you will greet the sunshine with smiles. Tarzan’s laws.”
“Do not worry. Tarzan will not let any harm come to Roger.”
Dan’s journal: Monday the 3rd : 1993: May; 1994: Jan and October; 1997: Feb, Nov, and March; 1998: August.
Dan explains he’s always liked ghost stories but today he decided only when they happen to someone else.
Tarzan and Dan use sticks to move a raft with themselves, Cheetah, Jane and Roger on it. They are headed for Haunted Island which has been here for millions of years, according to Jane. The zoological society is offering Roger a thousand bucks for a story on Malachi Kingfishers and Roger claims for the money but to save the birds from extinction, too. Pesticides are endangering the kingfishers. Roger hopes they will turn the island into a sanctuary. Dan brings up that the natives will not go near the island, that it is haunted, and one Father Kelly disappeared after going there.
Roger does not believe in ghosts. Jane thinks most psychic phenomena can be explained through scientific logic. Cheetah thinks he sees a log turn into a croc and gets the raft rocking so that all of them fall into the water. The foursome wade through greenery in the water to the shore. Cheetah is with them on the land but doesn’t look wet. Cheetah tells Tarzan what he saw and Jane thinks Cheetah ate too many bananas on the way up. Tarzan thinks the powers of the island have captured Cheetah’s soul. Dan translates that as possessed.
As their clothes dry out, Jane, Dan, and Roger stay behind trees, Jane seemingly naked. Tarzan gives them their clothes and tells them that Father Kelly was a wise and gentle man who gave love to everyone. He met him just before he disappeared.
As they dress, Roger tells them he thought of being a missionary once but Dan jokes that he didn’t want the self sacrifice and deprive all the beautiful girls from meeting him. A coconut falls from a tree and almost hits Roger as Tarzan explains natives believe the island stole Kelly’s soul. Cheetah comes out and seems odd and stands straight. Tarzan smiles. What the hell is going on? Is this the last time Roger is seen shirtless? It, hopefully, is the one and only time we see Dan shirtless. Someone is heard zipping up a zipper. It might be Jane?
It seems Cheetah made the coconut fall. He’s have to be awfully fast to do it.
Father Kelly disappeared seven years ago this spring. He was repairing the roof of a mission at the time. Dan, and this is starting to get annoying with this Poppa Nagumi stuff, chimes in that is why the police think he was murdered: why repair the roof if you’re going away for good? Tarzan states the island will not find peace until the mystery is solved. Roger goes to look at one of the birds (a parrot? Or one of the birds he was studying?) and when he turns to return to the others, he is faced with what looks like a white leopard with black spots. Backing away, he falls over a log and calls for…Tarzan!
Great, some action! Well…no. When Tarzan gets there, the leopard is gone and there are no claw marks on the tree. Tarzan believes Roger. Wolf has a cut on his upper left near his clavicle and scapula. Tarzan says there would be other signs: smell, salvia, bits of fur. The jungle made Roger see what it wanted him to see. What he saw lived in his head. They had for the caves.
Tarzan, Jane, Roger, and Cheetah cross a tree that has fallen over a greenish lake (?). Dan sees a ghostly croc on the tree and falls into the water. Tarzan rushes over and helps him out. I have to say the “action” here is frankly, boring.
Dan explains it as the log turning into a huge croc but that is not the way it looked.
Inside the cave, Tarzan says strangers come but do not stay long. Dan has to take his shirt off again! Roger gets wood for a fire to warm Dan.
Tarzan leaves to get more wood.
Jane references SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON but Dan hopes it doesn’t turn into NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.
Dan thinks the river hasn’t done anything to help his rheumatism. At Roger’s suggestion, Dan tries to get Cheetah to rub his feet but Cheetah runs off. The trio find this hilarious.
A cold wind whips through the cave at them.
As Jane stokes the fire with a branch, she sees it turn into a red black and yellow snake!
As the trio try to rationalize what is happening and not give in to fear, Tarzan returns. He found a beehive and used the wax to make candles.
Roger won’t go out for “grub” for “all the cars in Detroit. Tarzan leaves, “The jungle is Tarzan’s friend. Tarzan will bring back fruit.”
Roger says, “You know, it’s not like I’m afraid of the dark or anything.” Dan adds, “Me, either.” Jane comments, “When you two are through lying to each other, perhaps you can put some more wood on the fire?”
Another wind whips through and spreads some of the fire so they put those out. Then they start to feel something cold touching them. Dan likens the touching to fingers all over his flesh. Jane thought she heard voices. Roger did, too. They heard something like “find me, help me.” Tarzan returns.
Tarzan heard something, too. “The jungle often talks to Tarzan,” he says or possibly without the “the.” He adds, “But this was different.”
Next, bats fly or a bat flies around. Everyone ducks but Tarzan. One is stuck in Jane’s hair. Tarzan tells her the bat is as frightened as Jane is. He is still speaking of himself in the third person and uses her name instead of a pronoun. She feels like such a fool, afraid of a fruit bat. Dan references Murphy’s law, “If it can (happen), it will.” Tarzan wants them to eat. He tells them peace will come to them in their dreams and in the morning they will greet the sunshine with smiles.
In the morning, Tarzan brings Roger to the place where the kingfish play. The strange voices told Tarzan to go the ruins of the old mission. Jane will find something that will bring peace to the island. Jane thinks the island looks better in the light. When Tarzan tells Dan not to worry, Dan says, “Easy for Tarzan to say.” Tarzan tells a scared Dan to trust him. Dan does not want to go with Jane and Tarzan to the ruins.
Jane thinks it is sad that soon the jungle will claim the ruins of the mission. Tarzan tells her Father Kelly did not help people to be remembered. He did it out of love. Dan calls Roger buddy, previously he called him in this episode, old buddy.
The next time we see Tarzan walking with Jane, Wolf’s chest, arms, and abs are lightly covered with dark dirt? Jane has dirt on her, too. Moving toward the ruins, Jane falls and Tarzan picks her up but she finds something. It is the skeleton of Father Kelly! Tarzan finds his cross. Tarzan finds a pointy object in the skeleton: an arrow head or a spear head or a knife.
The five stand before a buried Father Kelly where Jane says a prayer for the Lord to take Father Kelly into his arms. If you look closely something weird is going on with Wolf’s right leg. The way it is slanted looks very odd. Or maybe it is just bent?
Tarzan says, “Father Kelly was a man whose heart knew no evil. He lived in harmony with the jungle. It is good that his soul now rests here forever.” Tarzan put the cross on the wooden one they made. Wolf has a dark spot on his left hand.
Back at the compound, Cheetah paces with Roger (Sean has bites on his right leg). Roger has a parrot shirt. Tarzan, when Dan drives the jeep is sitting next to Dan (usually he is standing and holding onto the roll frame but I guess since there are only two of them?). The native fishermen say that the strange powers on the island have gone away. Tarzan looks questioningly as Dan when Dan says he wanted to make Roger sweat it out some more but did not have the heart.
The natives believed that Father Kelly’s soul was trying to find a final resting place and they think Jane is now a big medicine lady. Jane says, “Tarzan is the one they should be thanking.” Wolf and Lydie gaze at each other as they haven’t for some time.
Roger won the prize money. He didn’t read the rules properly. The 1000 dollars is to be donated to a college of Roger’s choice. Tarzan tells him if Roger didn’t enter the contest, Father Kelly’s spirit would never have found peace and thus the island would not have either. Jane kisses Roger on the lips.
Okay, this might be the worst episode?
As ever, it could have been better but I suppose it could have been worse. The real problem is that nothing feels dangerous. There are animated TV shows that feel more dangerous such as JOHNNY QUEST and even SCOOBY DO. We know no one is going to die. I’m even shocked that Father Kelly’s skeleton was found and that he was murdered and it was never solved really. I mean I’m more interested in who killed him. And what was a mission doing on this island? Was it then inhabited? Is it no longer? It’s another episode, too, that has just the main cast. At first, the idea that Cheetah was possessed is intriguing but this scary idea is quickly dropped but somewhere there is a very scary episode where Cheetah IS possessed and causing trouble and even attacking our friends and heroes.
The idea that there are supernatural forces at work in this Tarzan universe (or trio of universes as we’ve established that each season is a different alternate universe to make sense) is not new. Thus, even that is boring. And the imagination/hallucination thing is cliché and boring by 1994. This episode really doesn’t work on any level. Dan is more afraid than Roger; Roger comes off cowardly, and even Jane calls herself a fool. Roger and Jane are back in old form: he moves backwards and falls over a log; he falls and screams when a fruit bat is in her hair and falls again later on (I don’t blame her for screaming about the bat). Oh, and Dan falls, too.
Tarzan does very little. He seems to keep calm in the face of the supernatural, though and spouts more wisdom and calmness than even during non-supernatural events.
The series, here, feels tired and boring. This plot could have been filled with horror and for once, I can’t really say the location work or the cinematography can save the episode. It’s good but not that good.
75. JEWEL OF JUSTICE
“When a man comes to the jungle with greed in his heart, there is usually trouble.”
“Oh, you can count on it there, Tarzan. You can count on it.”
“I’m going to get you, Tarzan. Where are you, buddy?”
Dan’s journal: Thursday the 14th: 1993: Jan and October; 1994: April and July; 1997: August; 1998: May. Dan tells us that an old enemy of Tarzan will return and threaten everyone’s existence.
Jane with Roger by her side takes a water sample. All this rain and the water level is still dropping. They see and view with binoculars an iguana, now on the endangered list. Jane explains if we, meaning humans in general, destroy their habitat, we destroy the species. They hear a blast and Roger thinks it is Dan doing some more work on his landing strip.
We immediately see Brendan Kelly as Lex Monroe, an outstanding guest star as an outstanding villain. I believe that most Tarzan episodes and stories need great villains to make it tough for Tarzan. Of course, other stories can be told but villains make it more exciting. He is causing blasts to the river.
Cheetah spies on Lex who is on a phone with someone who he wants to contact a George to meet him in Dubai the day after tomorrow. He just found the biggest diamond that George is ever going to have the pleasure of cutting. He’s blasting for diamonds. He spent three months in a Bendali prison. So depending upon trial, it’s been a bit over three months since episode 58-THE DEADLY CARGO? Lex calls Cheetah little buddy.
Lex catches Cheetah sneaking up to the table and after a moment recognizes him. But Cheetah manages to steal the diamond and run, Lex throwing a knife at him but missing. Lex pursues Cheetah with a gun. He mentions Cheetah dropped a coconut on his head a couple of months back. Cheetah manages to avoid Lex and swings.
The treehouse looks like a treehouse again and we see a long shot from outside but it still looks fairly low to where it was in seasons one and two.
Cheetah climbs the bridge and brings the diamond to Tarzan while Lex watches from bushes, hiding. Why doesn’t he just shoot them both?
Tarzan brings the diamond to Jane and he, she, Roger and Dan look at it. In the jungle it is called L’mpaca, life without sun. The compound from outside, from the river angle, looks different.
Roger used to have a lapidary kit when he was young. It’s the type of substance diamonds are found in. Dan thinks it can easily be cut down to 50 karats. Dan refers to himself as Uncle Dan and thinks the rock is of gem quality and will bring them a solid million easy. Jane wonders how the commissioner approved the mining rights to let whoever it is that is dynamiting the river. She will radio the commissioner.
Tarzan goes out on a canoe. Why would he do that, knowing someone is using dynamite? There are some brilliant shots of hippos in the river under some greenery, surfacing. Birds are on the hippos. Jane records and says the female iguana gives birth only once a year. Okay, this is the last episode, supposedly but one of Jane’s credit clips comes from this scene in this episode so…was this really the production order? Or were the title clips taken after everything was made? Or messed around with after the when the DVDs were made? Who knows?
Less than ten percent of the offspring survive. As she records, Roger comes up behind her and accidentally scares her. We think it might be Lex so the tension is high for this episode, which is just what this show needs. No, really.
When Roger returns to ask her about the commissioner, she tells him the commissioner didn’t issue any mining permits.
Lex has put grenades on wire across the river to explode when something crosses them.
At the compound, Dan has a long gun (a rifle?) as if he’s standing guard. He talks about diamonds after Jane expresses that she doesn’t understand the fascination with them. What? Who isn’t? She thinks his explanation is romantic and he teases her about her not being romantic. Their rapport is great.
Dan says he hasn’t seen anything like this diamond since Angola, the Congo River. She mentions that is another river destroyed by greed. Well, we get that she wants to NOT destroy rivers and doesn’t understand the fascination with diamonds but then…she sort of thinks diamonds are what ALL girls want?
Dan quote, “There’s enough for the needy but not the greedy.”
Using binoculars, Lex is looking for Tarzan on the river. “Where are you, pretty boy? Come to Lex.”
Lex also says, “Make my day.” Which is a phrase used by Clint Eastwood in his Dirty Harry movie(s).
This is what I mean when I say an episode like NIGHT HORRORS where Tarzan seems more amused and / or non pulsed by what is going on, not fearful at all and so…as he is our hero and he doesn’t feel challenged, neither do we. HERE, however, as Wolf plays it and when the script is challenging to Tarzan and probably to Wolf, too, Tarzan is wide eyed and fearful as his canoe hits the grenade barrier. 12 minutes in and so far we’ve had someone shooting at Cheetah, explosions, Jane tense, and Tarzan almost killed as the canoe explodes and he has to dive for it. It is the difference between a good or great episode and a mediocre or poor and boring one.
When Tarzan resurfaces, Lex seems to shoot and hit him, though we see no blood (thankfully). Lex then blows Tarzan’s drifting body a kiss! A great villain. He also called him monkey man.
Cheetah and Tantor react.
The shots of Tarzan drifting under the surface with light from above are stunning. Tarzan’s loin cloth seems to have lifted far up to his chest? Of course, he’s not dead and resurfaces. Lex must have missed. A few shots of him rising up again seem like repeated footage from earlier, before Lex shot him. When Tarzan swims to shore, he has blood on the side of his head as if the bullet grazed him. He holds onto Tantor by the trunk who pulls him out. Lex ransacks the treehouse (but not as badly as he might have) and throws down a glass framed photo of Jane that Tarzan had.
Tarzan recovers and there is more blood.
Lex approaches Roger from behind but Roger attacks him with a baseball bat after briefly describing how Lex conned him in DEADLY CARGO. Lex knocks him out with a punch. Lex then comes up behind Jane, who thinks it is Roger again but then they confront each other.
Jane gives him the diamond but attacks him with a pan but he overpowers her. Dan arrives, finally, with his elephant tranquilizer gun that will kill Lex but Lex pulls his pistol to Jane’s head. He is going to take a trip with her as hostage to the border, “They like you down there, don’t they, sweetheart?” He kisses her head.
Jane guesses that Lex escaped from prison and the border will never let him through. When Lex thinks he will take “the boy” instead, thinking he’s awake by now, Jane says, “No, no.”
In what might be a first for the series, Dan says, “Tarzan will kill you, Lex.”
Lex tells Dan to get out of here (which makes no sense, he would probably have killed him or tied him up or something?). He also shoots the radio when Bendali calls Jane. He takes Jane and Dan outside and orders Roger to get some rope. Lex says, “He’s a cute kid. I like him.”
Tarzan is running (and shot in slow motion or presented in slow motion and yes, like THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN to represent super fast?) to the rescue.
Tarzan cuts Dan and Roger free. Roger says, “You gotta find her. If he gets to the border, he’ll kill her.” Tarzan looks worried.
Lex says some things that don’t make much sense. When he was last here he noticed the kind of area that sported diamonds. He would have stayed and milked the tribe but he is not the kind of overstay his welcome. Jane tells him it was because Tarzan stopped him. He claims he killed Tarzan this time. She cries after trying to beat on Lex.
The Tarzan yell.
The stunt man stock footage of a swing shows the stuntman Tarzan has on a headband.
In a spectacular stunt, Tarzan jumps from a tree onto the front of the jeep from the POV of the back of jeep looking out to the wind shield. It is probably the best stunt amid many hundreds of stunts in this show and what saves the show, among a few other things: the cast, the location shooting and the photography.
THEN, he tries to drive Tarzan off the jeep by passing through low hanging leaves and then stops short to have Tarzan fly off his hood. Jane is attacking Lex from inside the jeep. Tarzan rolls into a mist of dirt and gets up, hits Lex with the door of the jeep and punches him off. Lex comes right back at him and punches him. Wolf’s face gives off the rage and powerful savagery of Tarzan after that. He knocks Lex down. To check on Jane, Tarzan turns his back on Lex and his hit with an elbow.
Lex then has a gun on both of them but looks for the diamond that fell out and he goes to look at the river’s edge. Tarzan, stupidly, yells out, “NO!” He was trying to warn Lex before it happened, knowing it, somehow. And being super moral even though Lex would kill him and Jane if he survived.
A croc comes up and takes Lex in and kills him as Jane watches in horror. Tarzan watches, stunned, too. This is well staged even though we can’t see the teeth on Lex pulling him in. It’s also well acted.
Dan and Roger dig to help the river. Jane tells Tarzan when she thought she had lost him, she could not breath. “Tarzan will never leave Jane,” he explains to her.
She’s annoying when she says, “I want you to know no matter how busy I am with my work, you’re always in my thoughts and in my heart.” She should just agree to be his mate. He should dump her.
Sadly, he’s in love with her and tamed.
The rain will come and the waters will rise.
Jane wants to show Tarzan something and asks if Roger and Dan will come. They send them off alone. It is more because they want to look for more diamonds. Or the diamond that Lex lost.
Tarzan calls the iguana the tempolo or something? That is what she wanted to show him.
Tarzan says, “In Tarzan’s jungle there is always justice. The smallest creature is more important than the biggest diamond.”
Okay, so it ends.
Was this worth watching in its entirety? I would say so but I wouldn’t want to do it in order again and all of them over again and certainly not while reviewing them and capping them. Never.
On the other hand, returning to an episode here or there is a good thing. The cast is really good and loveable including all of them: Wolf, Lydie, Sean, and the actors playing Simon, Jack and Dan. The animals are wonderful, the guest stars mostly great and the characters interesting. There are some great episodes, some so so, some WTF episodes and scenes and some boring episodes. Nothing here feels really bad or totally awful.
…this episode in particular shows what the series could have been. It’s ironic they ended on this one because unlike almost all the others (with a few rare exceptions and don’t make me go back and look for which ones!), has grit, emotionality in the face of great danger, a wonderful fun to watch deadly feeling villain (who might be gay?), and tension.
Wolf, to me, is the best Tarzan I’ve ever seen. It’s a shame he was weighed down by some of the scripts which felt kiddie, incongruous, boring, and slow. At best, the show rose above all that but even then couldn’t really cross the line. The episodes that come close to that line and slightly cross it, like this one, are the best ones. Others might tend to delve into a mystery, sometimes unsolved even at the end of the episode (and I’m not sure that’s good writing either). Others deal with wimpy characters who can’t take the jungle and others just have so much potential but never reach it. Adrian Paul is one good action hero actor who never got to show his potential on this series as a guest star or nemesis to Tarzan.
I like Lydie, I really do, even love her as Jane but I’m not sure I would pick her as Jane as she’s not sure she would pick Wolf as Tarzan. She’s been seen in interviews saying he prefers Joe Lara. I haven’t seen Lara in years but honestly I don’t. Wolf has the physique, if not the hair, the tone of Tarzan and handles the action well and the savage looks but he’s rarely given the stories to do much of that. When he is, he shines there but no great surprise as he’s good in EVERY episode. The entire thing feels like a Saturday Morning Kid show but even those had danger and threat and tension more than most of this.
On the other side of things, in the 1990s, there were a lot of syndicated shows that DID NOT reach 75 episodes, those animated Sat Morning Shows included. Live action fared even worse, mostly cheap sitcom type things that died out over the years to the point where none of them are made, at least not syndicated, now the realm of good and bad Disney Channel shows and/or Nickelodeon shows.
THIS, Wolf’s Tarzan show, may have had its tremendous faults but it outlasted a lot of other shows, syndicated or not. It may be largely forgotten today but it has more of an episode count than ANY Tarzan TV show that I know of. Sure, Ely’s was a full hour and this was a half hour and in a count of minutes, is more minutes than Wolf’s show which has about 23 minutes with 75 episodes but still three seasons sounds better than just two seasons. Neither show is widely seen today though both appear from time to time on cable channels or syndication channels.
I’m also not sure of the approach of this show AND the Lara show. I prefer the approach of the Ely show.
Anyone doing a Tarzan show has tough choices to make. Make Tarzan eat meat? Include Jane? Timeline? Is Jane dead? Was there ever a Jane? Did Tarzan ever leave the jungle? Did he leave, get educated and return or never leave when the show starts? Do you make him return during your seasons? Is he a killer or not? Is he “our, civilized” moral or jungle moral? Is he aware of the outside world a lot, not at all or somewhat?
Set it in a real jungle and call it Africa?
Use sets or locations and which locations?
Include a Jai or Boy like character or not?
Environmental issues or not?
Clearly, this show took quite a few choices and I’m not always convinced they or the Joe Lara show made the right ones. Ron’s show did but that presented a few flaws of its own.
All in all, I’m glad I watched both the Ely show and the Wolf show but don’t ask me to do it again! I hope I can say the same for the Lara show and heaven help me if I decide to do the lame CW soap opera short lived show. As for the Filmation series, we shall see. I did one of those already and it wasn’t really too bad but the show wasn’t as good as I remembered.
I only wish Lara as he looked here had a chance to do the type of adult oriented show Ron Ely had. I think he would have shined even greater in gritty action sequences and darker plots and away from Jane or not having a Jane. I also do not see the need for an adult man as a sidekick. Ely’s Tarzan dumped them early on and used them when the scripts called for it, using different officials or native chiefs or sons of chiefs or native friends.
In any case, a show worth checking out but the mind can make so much more of an imagined Tarzan show starring Wolf devoid of some of the things that made this show weighed down.