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Volume 7679

 Tarzan: The Epic Adventures ~ XVII

Review by Charles Mento

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

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“Tarzan, he has no blood.”
“A timeless world deep within the Earth’s core.”
“We all have journeys to take. Some more mysterious than others.”
“I am not the wild man.”
“I care nothing for this jewel.”
Tarzan’s look at him after he says that is priceless.
Rokoff admits, “Okay, maybe a little.”
“Your hatred will get us all killed.”
“Greystoke, did you ever have any close to you murdered?”

Tarzan is finishing feathers onto arrows (I think) but Bolgani takes one out, leading Tarzan to ape debate with him, “Don’t bend the feathers.”  He wasn’t bending but pulling them out. Something unseen (note to all writers: if you want to leave your monster a mystery, then do not put the name of the monster attacking the foreigner to Africa in the title of your episode!) attacks a “civilized” man.

This is during the night when the moon is lighting up the area and for once, it is not too dark or too light: the lighting is perfect as Tarzan and Bolgani go to investigate the screech they heard.

The crickets are quiet as Tarzan notes it is far too quiet in the jungle. The man’s body falls from the sky.

Daylight: in a more civilized town, two men accost an older woman and roughly ask her if she’s seen a man. One takes her off camera in a creepy moment. One man seems native and with an open shirt or vest and a straw hat (?). The other bald and seems foreign? They go to the body when Tarzan and the woman examining the body leave the medic area (it’s an open area set inside a stone building, maybe?). It doesn’t seem that sanitary with chickens nearby. A sign reads OFFICIAL AREA: KEEP OUT. It doesn’t stop the two men. We do not see the old woman again!

Tarzan has brought the body of the man to a new-on-her-job forensic pathologist. He knows the man carries the seal (a medallion) of Russian royalty and wonders what a man of his stature is doing in the jungle without porters. Tarzan smells lava ash on the man. The nearest volcano is a two day march from the town. Ms. Goodman follows Tarzan out and asks for his help with the investigation. He tells her he is not a policeman and then smells something that reminds him of the past.

He loses the scent, “There’s too many people in this village.”

The two men report to another that his brother is dead and laid out like a commoner is the man’s assessment. This is Nicolas Rokoff, now played by Stephan Macht, a good actor but if you’re going to bring back a villain, chances it might be more successful if you used the same actor. Just take a look at John Astin (great as Gomez in the ADDAMS FAMILY) as he attempted to play the Riddler in BATMAN. He feels once again Greystoke has come to plague and haunt him.  “Someone will pay for this,” he says.

Ava Goodman, the pathologist sees Themba bring a body they have wrapped up, to the town. Ava is the territorial inspector. Among these who met Themba are a number of white men, one who looks like a hunter. Themba found in the East Canyon. “Tarzan, he has no blood.”

Themba pronounces the word similar as SIM-U-Lar when he tells them he has heard rumors of other such deaths throughout the bush. Ava, for some reason, looks at Themba’s horn on his necklace.

Tarzan hears a screech while alone in the …jungle (?), forest (?), or bush. It is Ava. “For a woman new to the job, your tracking skills are impressive.”

She notes Tarzan’s suspicious mind and that she is, like he, more comfortable away from people. She has news from a wire from Russia to share with him. The dead man is Ivan Rockoff (the sub title spelling) the brother of Countess Olga Dekade and Nicholas Rockoff. Tarzan tells Ava he tried to kill his own sister.

The last time Tarzan saw Rockoff, he left him trapped in Pellucidar. “A timeless world deep within the Earth’s core.”

Bolgani arrives and has a problem with Ava because she is not afraid of him. Huh? She cites rule 233 of the Field Guide to Africa: when charged by a wild animal, don’t make an sudden moves.

They see a Mahar in the sky. Tarzan runs to find it and tracks it to a cave. When he turns around, Ava is there, having arrived, again, silently.

NOTE: Lara is excellent in these scenes and throughout this episode and other than having Tarzan a bit TOO into his feather and arrow work at the very start, there is strong evidence, so far, of some good writing but either way, Lara exudes a confidence here that makes me glad that there are five more episodes but also sad that this show with him at the helm as Tarzan didn’t get at least two more seasons or more. Unfortunately, for whatever silly reason, Lara was NOT going to be Tarzan next season even if this show went a second year. Which would have been a bad move, not having Lara as Tarzan.

In an impressive scene, Ava finds Tarzan has found a huge metallic travel device. I’m not sure that from behind, that is Lara as Tarzan or even the actress playing Ava. It doesn’t matter much, as this scene is well done.

Tarzan knows it is a ship used to explore the Earth’s interior. It was built by a man named Abner Perry. Four years ago it set out on a trial run, bored into the earth outside of London. It hasn’t been seen since.

The novel AT THE EARTH’S CORE by Edgar Rice Burroughs seems to take place in the year it came out: 1914. If that is so, Tarzan, here in this episode, relates how that was FOUR YEARS AGO. Despite Tarzan saying it hasn’t been seen since, in the novel, the Iron Mole as it was called, did return to the surface world. Perhaps secretly? In any case, this probably means this version of events differ from the novel and David and the Iron Mole as well as Perry, never returned or have not yet returned. In the novel sequel, 1915, David leaves the surface world to return to Pellucidar. This means he did return in the original, first novel. He never did in the TARZAN: THE EPIC ADVENTURES universe, at least not before this episode and is still there when this episode takes place.

So, what was four years ago and what is the year now? If the novel publication year is the year it takes place in, that was 1914 and this is either 1918 or 1919 or possibly 1917.

The bald man and the native man report about Tarzan and Ava in the cave.

In the cave but in the ship Tarzan smells a jacket and realizes Rokoff is here. It was his scent he picked up in the town which is Loango. Ava says she will wire the Magistrate’s office and ask for soldiers but he does not think they will believe her. WHY? She has proof. He tells her she can do nothing to help.

An African teen boy in loin cloth leads Themba to a body he found two days ago, that of a woman. He also seems to calls Themba something like WaTimba. The body is that of Ava Goodman. Themba saw her alive this morning.

SO: Was the old woman the two creepy henchmen seems to abduct (or worse?) meant to be Ava or someone else? Do we ever find out? The old woman can’t have been meant to be Ava because when the two men confronted her Ava or her copy was with Tarzan at the same moment.

In yet another strange moment (or editing issue?), Themba and the boy set out to run off. Then, the next second, we see Themba running alone. Where is the boy? THEN, Themba sees what he thinks is his mother. Playing in an instrument. I’m not sure it is the same actress from the earlier episodes.

Themba follows the unspeaking woman into the cave.

Tarzan dives through the window of Rokoff and finds out that Rokoff did not kill Perry but “merely took his Iron Mole.”

Tarzan wants to send him back. The native African man attacks Tarzan saying one word, “Boy.” Is that HIS name or what he thinks of the manly Tarzan?

Okay, enough for now. Not a bad episode so far. More later…

After knocking him down, the bald man shows off karate moves which makes Tarzan bewildered and then makes Tarzan smile! Lara is, again, excellent in this. He knocks the man down and out with one punch. This is probably an INDIANA JONES tribute? One thing: why don’t these villains use guns?

Tarzan then uses his knife to Rokoff’s neck to get info out of him, the most raging we’ve seen him and it’s wonderful. Rokoff claims he does not know where the Mahars are. Rokoff tells him that he killed Mora their queen and fled but the Mahars followed him here. He also claims his brother was killed by Mora’s sister, who is more wicked than she was. He claims he is to blame for what happened to his brother Ivan and that Tarzan killing him is his own punishment.

Rokoff claims that Ivan was to broker a truce between himself and his sister.

Ava appears and reveals herself to be Mora’s sister. There are Mahars with her. She finds Tarzan difficult to control. Rokoff tells him that she can enter one’s mind. Rokoff stole a jewel that gives them immortality and he was to use this to broker a truce with his sister. Tarzan grabs the jewel from Rokoff’s hand and dives out the closed window, through the shutters.

Oddly, either Ava or a Mahar chases Tarzan but he seems to get away and we switch to…

…Rokoff with a rifle and Tarzan surprises him by rising out of the grass where he hid. Ava let Rokoff survive for him to deliver a message to Tarzan. She and the Mahars have gone back to Pellucidar but they will feed on all humans if they do not get the jewel back and they will start with Themba. Rokoff has the necklace and horn that Themba wore. This means they have him.

The vison that fakes being Themba’s mother says, what could be this series’ mission statement, “We all have journeys to take. Some more mysterious than others.”  She goes on to tell him that the tribe leaving is his journey. He thought he had nothing else to live for. She thinks that their leaving has made him stronger.

In the Iron Mole Tarzan prepares to go trade the jewel for Themba’s life. Rokoff says, “I care nothing for this jewel.” Tarzan’s look at him after he says that is priceless. Rokoff admits, “Okay, maybe a little.”

Rokoff wants Ava killed for what she did to his brother. Tarzan tells him, “Your hatred will get us all killed.”

Rokoff asks, “Greystoke, did you ever have any close to you murdered?”

Tarzan answers that his mother was murdered and he killed the murderer but it did not ease the sting and his mother was still dead.

Rokoff tells him that was his experience, “Allow me mine.”

Together, they use the Iron Mole to return to Pellucidar. Once there, the horizon bends so it is hard for Rokoff to tell which way is due North. He says, “I am not the wild man.”  Tarzan smiles as they stop to eat: his idea.

Is Tarzan cooking the lizard they just saw? Ewl.

Tarzan’s plan is to have the Mahars find them. Five of the sub human slaves do find them. Rokoff worries about the Sagoths, large ugly stinking creatures, which are the sub humans.

The Sagoths are not resisted by Tarzan and Rokoff, who are taken to the Temple. There, Tarzan sees black men and women and white men and woman who are prisoners of the Mahars and the prisoners are in cages, probably food for the monsters.

Brought before Ava who is in her human form but adorned with different clothes, she debates with Tarzan over the humans’ role in the world and their mistreatment of it. Tarzan tells her who is to say who is the mistake, Mahar or human. He also tells her that man learns from his arrogance, she does not. She wants the jewel.

She takes Themba’s necklace from Tarzan.

A woman is taken from a cage and served as dinner while Ava urges Rokoff to betray Tarzan since she cannot read his mind and find out where the jewel is that Tarzan hid. He resists her but then asks her for a weapon, seemingly to betray Tarzan.

In what is the first stupid move of this episode (as opposed to all the other episodes) Ava doesn’t observe Rokoff “kill” Tarzan, which he fakes. She thinks Rokoff would find out the location of the jewel from Tarzan that way? Tarzan is not dead, of course, and when Ava and the ape monsters come in, Tarzan attacks them. It looks like the ape monster man accidentally hits Ava down? Tarzan, on his way out, after saving Rokoff’s life, frees all the prisoners.

Themba’s “Mother”, the fake, gives him his necklace back and tells him he is ready for the truth. Mother tells Themba that Tarzan used a magical jewel to cast a spell over her and the tribe to make them vanish. She wants him to get the jewel.

Rokoff questions Tarzan’s ability to find the correct way out. Tarzan tells him the scent of the Sagoths lead this way out to where they were captured. Rokoff snaps, “Fine!” and takes off, clapping his open hand on Tarzan’s left pectoral and nipple. WTF? Lara looks surprised or Tarzan does, almost bemused.

Was that to slow Tarzan down?

Themba arrives with his “mother” and the Sagoths. The mother is really Ava and urges Themba to keep Tarzan here. Tarzan throws his knife into Ava and this releases Themba from the spell. Tarzan becomes DOCTOR WHO when he says, “I’ll explain later.” Themba, Rokoff, and Tarzan run.

The trio reach and start out in the Iron Mole but one of the Mahars (probably Ava) clings to it and starts to rip into the vehicle.

Rokoff explains about the accelator and the self destruct if something should happen to him. He believes the blast should seal the hole and prevent the Mahar from coming back up (?).

Rokoff says Tarzan gave him back his dignity and gives him back something in return. He jumps out, with the jewel, in order to stop Ava reaching the motor of the Iron Mole.

He rolls down the tunnel they were leaving…and Ava dives at him while he says, “Come and get it.”

I don’t get it. Isn’t that going to make her immortal? Weren’t they trying to prevent that?

As they reach the surface, Tarzan sets the self destruct with ten seconds to escape for him and Themba. He also sends the Mole back down the tunnel to explode.

Tarzan tells Themba that Rokoff kept his “hero” hidden. “I guess man isn’t all bad,” Tarzan tells Themba.

That we do not see Ava or Rokoff die means they could return?

In any case, this seems to be the most straight forward adventure for the series and it’s all the better for it. Despite the flaws (see above) it has less than most episodes and makes a logical kind of sense. It also moves along nicely even if it is VERY predictable that Ava is a monster or at least a nasty villain.

Visually, the Iron Mole is unlike anything that showed up in a Tarzan TV show but is like the Iron Mole from the movie version of AT THE EARTH’S CORE. One of the white men prisoners might have been David Innes?

Strengths include Macht being a good actor. The actress playing Ava is good, too, tending to not to over the top and keeping things even tempered and as realistic as possible. The monster costumes look even better than in past episodes and the way they are filmed from different angles and not in full light, really works. The woman being eaten sequence, though mostly off screen, is sinister enough to create a plausible threat, though if Tarzan and Rokoff’s plan went into action earlier, she might have been saved but her death creates tension.

All of this really works and it makes one hope there would be more straight forward adventure in future episodes and seasons.

And as usual, Lara IS up for all of it. He IS Tarzan. I can’t help but be sad for two reasons: ONE: that he passed away before his time and TWO: he never got to do more seasons of this show with at least two more seasons and better scripts.

Lara handles all the stuff well: both the talking scenes and the action, he looks better than ever, physically, and handles things the way a leading man should, at least as far as I can tell from this side of the TV. He even finds ways of adding a small bit of humor in his reactions in a  script that has little humor (though Macht seems to be adding some personality to Rokoff).

Side NOTE about the two actors who played Rokoff: I liked Divoff, too, but Macht might be better and also giving it more personality though this script, to be fair, gives him more than Divoff’s script did.

Lara’s infinitely watchable and does things that are unexpected while making Tarzan definitely Tarzan in a show that sometimes seems more defined by trying to make Tarzan dysfunctional. ALL of that is wonderful tribute and/or testament to a wonderful Tarzan: Joe Lara.

I also wanted them to find a reason for Themba’s people to have vanished and solved that mystery, one way or the other. Having them back would be the more optimistic of the two paths that story could have gone.

I intended this for the end of the series but a video on You Tube showed me this information. Some of it is about Themba’s tribe and the mystery.

TARZAN AND THE LOST LEGION-Tarzan saves Athena from being tied to a cross and facing the elements.

TARZAN AND THE BLACK ORCHID aka TARZAN IN THE MIST (or MISTS) OF MIRROR-Themba is infected and treated by two quirky doctors. Tarzan has to find the lost city of Murr. Nadia emperor or Murr wants Tarzan to give her a baby. So her people can take over the world. Tarzan rejects her advances. Tarzan battles a foul creature to the death. Things in Murr are not as they seem.

TARZAN AND THE FURY OF THE MADI-The Zadu would have been called the Madi. La knows she can go back to Atlantis and wait out the fury of the Madi/Zadu and retake the surface for the Oparians.

LA OF OPAR-a different reason for Tarzan to go to Opar: he’s looking for a missing American adventurer.

SAVAGE REVENGE-after thwarting an ivory hunter Tarzan becomes prey for a sadistic hunter empowered by the mystical princess of the Zuba tribe. The hunter is able to enter the mind of the hunted.

RELFECTIONS OF AN EVIL EYE-when the queen of a friendly tribe is kidnapped Tarzan confronts a tribe of shape shifters who can shift into their animal counterparts at will. Tarzan has to face himself when he clashes between his civilized and primitive persona.

AMTOR-Tarzan’s “walking” or “waking” dreams show him a place where people seem to walk in the clouds.

WANTED: DEAD OF ALIVE-Tarzan and the Circus Hunter without the Circus Hunter. Tarzan and Themba are on a train to Nairobi to prove Tarzan’s existence in court. Themba is framed for the murder of a violent chief who has a violent history with his tribe.

POSSESSED-unaired episode: (or unmade?): Themba follows a lead that may solve the mystery of the disappearance of his tribe—the Wugambi, his people. Strange and mystical creatures appear before him, claiming to know the truth.  What Themba doesn’t realize is that these spirit creatures are really the souls of the Wugambi warriors in search of their freedom, wandering this world and the next. The mystery of Themba’s people will be revealed as he also comes under the spell of an evil jungle spirit.

A character Lt. Werper from the novel JEWELS OF OPAR was supposed to be in the show. He was going to be working with Ahmed Zed like in the novel.

Tarzan’s mother might die first. Then Kerchak kills Tarzan’s father. Tarzan discovers his father’s treehouse log cabin. Porter, Jane and Paul Darnou, French adventurer find Tarzan and bring him to civilization but he rejects it all, even Jane.


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