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Volume 7678

 Tarzan: The Epic Adventures ~ XV

Review by Charles Mento

Series Star:
Joe Lara as Tarzan
List of Credits is Featured in ERBzine 7670

A fast paced stunning opening. Two native warriors, one young, one heavy set and older find a Holy Bible. Tarzan runs toward tents as a fire roars its way and makes animals of all kinds run away (we hear a nice rendition of the TARZAN theme music). He drags a man who is still holding his backpack out of the tent. Tarzan notices the man is drunk and asks if he set the fire. A long haired young man and two other men (white) or more as well as hired guides and men (African) use guns and nets to trap an unseen, growling animal. Tarzan arrives and seems to free it or it gets free and faces him. It looks like a leopard person and it seems to recognize Tarzan. It runs away.

Is this Kali from ep3?

The two warriors bring the Bible to a shirtless Themba. In it is writing that says J. Clayton. Tarzan talks to a British man who is hunting and who seems to have started the fire. Behind them, a body is covered up (the fire? The leopard being?). The drunk man needs Tarzan’s help, he claims. He tells Tarzan that the thing they saw is something he believes is called Shita and that it has possession of his daughter. The drunk is Robert McCallion, father of Kali. Tarzan stares at him and leaves him. Robert calls him a heathen.

Tarzan tells Themba that the fire burned right around the empty village of Themba but that Themba is lucky. Themba gives him the Bible. Tarzan’s father wrote in the back about his surviving in the jungle and his thoughts about his son. Tarzan tells Themba to keep the Bible. Themba thinks this is a chance to learn about his past. Tarzan never knew John Clayton. Robert and his men come to the village. Tarzan has told them all to leave (the first time he’s done so in this series to the outsiders that sometimes come).

Themba introduces himself to Robert when Themba hears that Robert is Kali’s father. Themba says his last name along with his first: the last name seems to be N’dabba?

Tarzan is not sure Robert is Kali’s father. Tarzan has a night time sitting by the fire flashback to episode 3 and Kali, which included her kissing him.

Robert says it has been 15 years since he brought his family here to start a mission in the jungle. They were only here a few months when the demon took Kali. So 1899 (if this is 1914), 1902 (if this is 1917), 1900 if this is 1915, and 1901 if this is 1916.

Robert and his wife searched for almost two years but his wife became ill with malaria and passed away. Robert lost all hope, his faith in God and thought his daughter lost forever. He returned to England and climbed into a bottle. Then, he got news that Kali was still alive and that Tarzan tried to rescue her and that the demon had taken her again.

Tarzan seems cold to Robert but will help him, for Kali and a promise he made to her.

Robert already dismissed the hunters but Tarzan knows they are still out there.

The bearded British man tells the other two that PT Barnum will pay a million dollars for an attraction like that thing. The young long haired blond doesn’t want to tangle with it again. When the third man asks, “What about Tarzan and the drunk?”  “Once we get what we want, we kill them.”

Tarzan takes Themba and Robert to the “wise one” Vusi, the Seer from THE WHITE PEBBLE. He calls Tarzan Pink Flesh again.

Vusi tells Tarzan to face Shita with a pure heart and the woman will find the strength to free herself.

“You’re confused. Very good, Pink Flesh, I like you this way.”

“Why must you always talk to me in riddles?’
“It’s my curse.”
“Mine, too!”

Vusi laughs and then Tarzan sort of does, too, and shakes his head.

Vusi tells him once he has freed Kali to bring her to him. He must purify her in the waters of the Majete or the demon will devour her soul forever.

In return for his help, he wants Tarzan to hunt a kudu or some fish.

They settle on the kudu (the bastards!).

Tarzan tells him to be happy with his porridge for now and Vusi jokes, thanking him for his wise advice. Vusi tells Tarzan to read the book, it will solve some riddles for him.

An ox with a bird on it. Tarzan knows the hunters are on their trail.

Tarzan tosses the bottle of whiskey Robert is still drinking from away. Themba tells Robert to drink water from a spring beyond the trees. There, Robert takes out another bottle in his knap sack. He goes under a tree to sit down and the demon watches him. Robert alerts Tarzan and Themba to it. Tarzan chases the demon thing/Kali.

When Robert falls, drunk, the three hunters capture Themba.

The demon faces Tarzan who demands Kali come out. Kali does come out (wearing a white smock or robes? Or sheets?). One of the hunters (the bearded one?) shoots Tarzan but hits his arm as Themba bumps into him. The hunters net the demon but Tarzan tried to stop that, too. Kali and Tarzan flee with Robert calling Kali and Kali recognizing him as her father.

The leopard demon is shot at but gets away, unharmed.

As Kali wraps Tarzan’s wrist and arm (the bullet went all the way through), she wonders why he didn’t let the hunters kill the demon, she insisting it is evil. He tells her, “Killing isn’t always the answer, Kali.”  When she claims, “But it’s evil,” he asks her, “How do we know that?”

Tarzan has to tell her that her mother is dead.

Even so, Kali feels things for the first time in a long time and missed being alive, feeling free now.

The bearded leader of the hunters is named Lawson.

The demon seems to have killed the third man in the scuffle. Tarzan stopped them from killing the demon and even seemed to free it?

Tarzan is losing a lot of blood, Kali claims.

Chased by the demon, Kali hurts her ankle (typical) but she and Tarzan run into the water near a river or lake where the demon will not follow them. Tarzan senses a storm is coming and Kali feels she cannot go on. He knows a place where they will be safer.

When Tarzan picks Kali up, a branch of some kind comes with her.

Kali says, “I’m a lousy swimmer but I’m good at climbing trees.”

“Me, too, come on,” he tells her and…

…they climb up a tree house!

She asks, “This is quite a place. How did you know it was here?”

“This is where I was born.”

“I was raised by the apes.”

Tarzan tells her, “You don’t miss something you never had.”

They were missionaries, shipwrecked, stranded here. He feels you have to accept the past and move on. She tells him the past makes them who they are. She didn’t mean to upset him, saying that she was lucky that her father is still alive. He also tells her that he’s learned that you can’t change the past.

The hunters have coverings over them and another over Themba with Robert, who are tied at the hands. Themba tries to read the markings in the Bible while Robert talks, getting drunk on more drink from a third container, this one a smaller flask. The rain beats on the coverings.

Themba thinks they will wait for Tarzan to come rescue them but I think it is a reasonable question for Robert to ask what if he does not?

Tarzan finds his father’s vest, smells it and puts it on.

As the two move to leave the tree house, the demon attacks, scratches Tarzan’s stomach and enters. He uses the mirror to distract it and then hits the mirror into the head of the demon. Tarzan and Kali flee.

The hunters hear the demon and want to go after it. Robert is passed out so they decide to leave him and Themba. The long haired young one hits the butt of his rifle into Themba’s stomach after untying his feet. The hunters leave the two of them.

Robert really wasn’t passed out and really not drunk. He was faking it. Themba frees himself and Robert. Robert says, “You gotta have faith, Themba.”

The demon, at the area of the treehouse, jumps from the trees and kills the two hunters.

Themba and Robert, after finding the bodies of the two remaining hunters, chase after the demon who heads at the river where Vusi is purifying Kali. It is not fast enough for Tarzan, to Vusi’s impatience. The demon knocks Themba down but Robert faces it for his daughter, holding the Bible up and telling it to come into him.

The creature’s arm turns white (?) and it vanishes in a light? The purification is done.

Tarzan is hugged by Kali and he clasps hands with Vusi.

Kali promises she and her father will come back to visit. Robert almost forgot but gives Tarzan the Bible back. The back of it looks ripped. Does this imply that the creature tore at Robert and hit the book and then vanished? That’s not what we saw?

Tarzan opens it but the scene shifts to the interior of the tree house.

He reads his father’s words. “My boy, the end is near for me and I fear for your survival. But if by some miracle you are reading this, know that I am always with you. In your darkest hour, take comfort as I do now, in Psalm One hundred and twenty one: this is my everlasting gift to you.”

“My help cometh from the Lord. He is my keeper. The sun shall not smite me by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall protect me from evil. He shall preserve my soul.”

A few unexpected things, mixed with a few TARZAN-ish expected things make this one of the best, if not THE best episode so far. First, the balance of supernatural with natural, for once, works. Tarzan and Vusi have a great rapport here, much better than their first, antagonistic and weird encounter and it works here far better. Kali makes a more straight forward heroine, too, despite the cliché of hurting her ankle. We also get Tarzan ish hunters and yes, it’s a cliché but in this show, for one to appear, really works. The monster looks great and is not always filmed in the clarity of full day or without being obscured. That works, too. There’s far less of those weird plot holes and wonky execution that plague almost all the other episodes. This time Tarzan is shot in the left arm and it stays that way (TARZAN IN MANHATTAN didn’t have it that way!).

Robert really is Kali’s father and that works, too.

I did not even mind that Tarzan was angsty about his past and his father, though unpredictably, there’s not much talk, if ANY about his mother, this time out. That didn’t take over the whole episode though Tarzan was cranky and short tempered throughout. When Kali says she knows what it is like to be separated from those she loves, Tarzan snaps, “Oh, do you!!!?”

Lara is, as ever, totally great in this and steps it up a notch. He doesn’t go overboard with the emotional stuff but has enough just bubbling under the surface to give us the correct feeling that he’s upset but not letting it stop him.

And then there is the treehouse. That was a surprise. Until now, they didn’t show it or mention it. I didn’t realize the treehouse was Tarzan’s parents but I should have, I guess. I’m thinking it was that way in the novels, too.

On top of that, it was a surprise that something made for TV would give us a direct, cold reading of a Bible psalm, though I’m sure it’s been done. It was a nice way to end the episode and it seems to really strike home in Tarzan’s heart and Lara’s reading of it is very well done and emotionally apt.

Bringing back a character from an early episode (Kali) mixed with a character from a more recent episode (Vusi) and solving an open ended ending from episode 3 (DEMON QUEEN) really helps to make this a more continued universe, even minus the Waziri and Tasi and her tribe (they bogged down the series anyway IMO).

All in all, this is probably the best episode up to now but it does have several other contenders (not too many but a few here and there). It might be a case of too little too late though to have a shared universe, a Tarzan novel feel, AND a fantasy supernatural mystic edge, all well balanced. This was episode 15 and there are only 7 more after this one. It’s a shame as I even am liking Themba and the actor playing him, too and Lara is a terrific Tarzan. I think he, Wolf, and Ely might be my favorite Tarzans of all time (though I sort of grew up with Johnny on TV all the time).

Given another season, this might have been a show that could have been shaped up.

On the other hand, and this might be getting ahead of myself, Lara was going to be replaced, which is unthinkable. I wonder why.

From Wikipedia: a second season was planned to air, but with actor Xavier DeClie replacing Lara in the lead, and Julie St. Claire cast as Jane.

However, bankruptcy proceedings were initiated against the show's distributor Seagull Entertainment in summer 1997, and a second season was never produced.

Back to me: I remember seeing French actor Xavier DeClie on an interview show before all of that and it was definitely planned. They may have even filmed some of it from what I remember.

I had his appearance on video tape but I think in my move, it was lost, thrown out, or converted but I’ll probably never know which. He was definitely on a TV Talk Show and talked about taking over as Tarzan, which didn’t thrill me.

I mean he looked fine enough as Tarzan but liked Lara a lot and thought replacing him was NOT a great idea at all. In addition, I didn’t think this actor’s English was good enough to be type of Tarzan Lara was. IF they were planning that or changing it totally?

I also seem unable to find my novel TARZAN: THE EPIC ADVENTURES which I might have tossed in frustration due to lack of space?

From IMDB:
After serving his country at a young age of 20 with the French Foreign Legion, Xavier traveled the world from Europe (Monaco, Spain and Italy) Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia) Tahiti, Caribbean (St. Martin, St. Barth and Guadeloupe), La Réunion (Mauritius, Seychelles Islands). He was discovered in St. Martin by producers of "Greatest Sports Legends" TV show. Xavier was offered a contract for two of his personal workout videos and became the European Hunk for personal training workout videos. He was then offered modeling contracts and a demand from America to take publicity tour for such shows as "Regis and Kathy Lee", "MSN Show BIZ", "Entertainment Tonight, E Entertainment, Good Morning America, "Extra", "Access Hollywood", Today in LA, "USA Live", "Hard Copy", "Arthel and Fred", "Evening Magazine", "New Yorks Entertainment Drive","East Coast Home and Family", "LA's Hot Spots Magazine Live", "Bloomberg New York".

Xavier was taken to New York to start a new career with William Morris Talent Agency, signing a holding fee with Harvey Weinstein at Miramax as a new action star. He was then sent to Jake Bloom in Hollywood who took him further for a screen test for Johnathan Dolgen, President of Sony Pictures, who penned Xavier on for a four picture deal and 6 figures per film. Later Declie worked with Avi Nesher signing a 6 picture deal. Xavier continued on the Hollywood bargaining table penning a 4 picture deal with Interlight. Co-starring in the popular Television series "Conan", he picked up the reigning title as 21st Tarzan for Television. A wide search for his mate "Jane" took place in New York at the famous "Planet Hollywood Cafe".

Xavier continues his passion for his extensive Martial Art training (3 Black Belts).Declie has dedicated his MA success to the "Iron Tiger of Persia"(3 time World Champion Master Nikoo).Declie has won an outstanding amount of Gold Medal titles in the martial art arena in weapons,forms,sparring and Judo championships. He left USA for the internal training of Shaolin Kung Fu. Returning to the USA he is Hollywood's doctor of personal training to the Stars and Entertainment and Music Moguls. Recently married to actress Rebecca Ferratti, he is going back to the entertainment world.


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