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Volume 7680

 Tarzan: The Epic Adventures ~ XIX

Review by Charles Mento

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

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“Whatever this beast is, it has the unfortunate habit of choosing Dunali’s young women as its victims. The whole town has fallen into a hysteria.”
“Themba, you’ve been around the apes. In battle, there’s no one more fierce but only when attacked. They’re actually afraid of people.”
“My dear fellow in my career, I’ve discovered people tattoos in the most, ah, remarkable places.”

“You bewilder me, Tarzan. A Caucasian mind in the body of a man that runs wild with savages and apes.”
Okay the lack of character names won’t stop me. Apes warn Tarzan who knows something is  up in Dunali, daytime. Night time: a blond cowboy leads the other men on horses in a town called Dunali, which looks like a Western town with a bar. He tells the men to shoot to kill because a wounded ape will charge and tear you to pieces. In the bar, a brunette barsmaid tells a blond one that it is about time someone went after the apes because three women have been murdered and two more are missing. Mary, the blond one, asks the other woman, “What if the apes aren’t responsible?”  They sound English. The brunette woman mentions fairy stories about a beast. The drunk man at the bar asks about the time he wrestled a bull ape. The brunette woman calls him either Skip or as the sub titles say, “Skin.” Huh?

He’s told her other “lies” she reminds him. Offended that he does not lie but tells stories, the man leaves, the last customer.

The brunette is named Rica. From the “THIS WEEK ON TARZAN” we know Rica is one of the next victims to be murdered.

Rica will walks Mary to “the home.”

There’s a shot of a device (a generator?) that seems to be keeping the streetlight going. Or blinking.

Mary comments it is freezing.

The women separate because they realize from his knocking on the doors (bathroom?) that they’ve locked him in. As the women reunite in the “alley” an ape like beast suddenly lunges from a side area and grabs Rica and savages her. The thing comes at Mary and she either passes out or falls and hits her head on a sand bag (supplies).

The thing comes over her, grunting. A most unsettling and disturbing but intriguing opening.

Tarzan is in a canoe that looks like it is made of clay or stone (?) and not wood. He anchors it and clasps hands with a native man who is in civilized clothes. This man gives Tarzan a white horse (!) to ride on. They speak in African (which this series has always done here and there and I’ve failed to make notice of it every time). Last time, when Tarzan returned from Amtor he said something like, “Shep Shep Shep,” to the natives that welcomed him back.

Tarzan rides to Dunali. Here, there is more to be seen in the day. We see  a large fenced in area with animals inside. The village looks a lot like a Ron Ely series one. In fact, this episode has the feel of a Ron Ely episode, stronger than most, though there were a few other episodes that felt Ron Ely-ish.

Like last episode, we get a variation of the theme music as Tarzan rides (last ep it was Tarzan running). This happens more often than not in this series and more toward the middle half and later end.

There look like there are over 100 people in the village. And they are all dressed, some black, some white. It’s not a tribal village.

The blond is an Australian. He has a bull ape hanging, dead. Tarzan approaches. “Forget your clothes, did you?” the blond man asks.

When Tarzan tells the crowd that the gorillas are not responsible for the murders, the blond jumps down to Tarzan, blaming him. “You certainly smell like a gorilla.”  Why Tarzan takes this as an insult is beyond me but he grunts and seems about to beat this man down when other men with rifles ward him off.

When the man incites the crowd to want to string Tarzan up right now, Mary comes forth and tells them this man is not the murderer. She saw it. Rica was her best friend and she lost her to it. No one here seems to know who Tarzan is?

When Tarzan tells them the girl Mary is wrong and that the apes are not responsible, Themba, dressed in civilized clothes and a brim hat, vouches for Tarzan, telling them he is Lord Greystoke. Are we in an alternate universe? This feels nothing like the rest of the series! Themba’s “speech” makes an older Englishman take notice.

In the crowd, we see young children, teenagers, colonists, pioneers, Native Africans, ala LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE and in dress like from that era and that TV show. All dressed in “civilized” clothes and nothing like tribal dress, though some Africans there seem to wear the colors of tribes. No one is in a loin cloth is what I mean.

Themba is here to make a purchase of a generator to bring a little 20th century to his village (but isn’t he the only one in it?). He asks Tarzan what’s wrong with that and Tarzan asks, “Do you really want me to answer that?”


Mary overhears Tarzan and Themba talking. She is afraid to take Tarzan to where Rica was attacked but Tarzan tells her both the gorillas and humans’ lives are at stake if she does not.

She leads him there. While there, the old English man brings chief Inspector Hansen to them. He starts by declaring that there is an old chestnut about the murderer returning to the scene of their crime. The English man with him is Dr. Wheeler, Dunali’s coroner. The Inspector is selling Themba the generator. Themba told him that Tarzan was a forthright kind of fellow.

Tarzan ignores Wheeler for a time as Wheeler goes on about how it is an honor to meet him after hearing all the legends. Wheeler considers himself something of an expert of Tarzan’s life story.

Tarzan finds a green pine like piece of leaf and smells around. He declares that the Inspector was right and that there WAS an ape here (we saw it). Wheeler concluded the same thing: a hybrid ape: hominoidus hominidae which is rare to find them this far west. He wonders if they have migrated in search of food. Mary gets upset and leaves.

Themba tells Tarzan they will get him a room at the hotel but he will sleep in the stable. The Inspector has a motorcar.


There is a reward poster shown in the bar. It details a reward for capturing or more likely killing the apes.

A long haired younger blond man gets a drink. He looks like Vincent Van Patten but it is not him.

The door to the bar opens and behind it is Tarzan.

The music, for the first time, seems more string or guitar oriented as if this is a western of the 1990s on TV (PARADISE or GUNS OF PARADISE for one).

At the bar, Tarzan says to Mary, “I’m sorry about your friend.”

At night, the two blond men and another man follow Mary to the stable where she tells Tarzan she has a clue. She brings him to a place (her home? THE home?) that is the only place that does not have generator supplied electric lights. The men enter a room she’s brought Tarzan into.

The sucker attack Tarzan and hit him the stomach but he retaliates and defends himself, throwing one man out the window and off the balcony. The other two run off after being beaten a bit.

Mary says, “Welcome to Dunali,” almost laughing.

Mary nurses Tarzan’s wounds while telling him that she came to Dunali with her husband Mark, a geologist who died in a mine cave in. She will get out when she gets enough money together but he  tells her to get out now, “You don’t belong here.”  She offers to give him some of Mark’s clothes to wear but he turns down the offer. “No, thank you.”

She confirms she fainted when she saw the beast. When she woke up, a stone was in her hand. She’s not sure why the beast put it in her hand and left her alive. He denotes this as not a stone but a fossilized seed. It is from the baobab, the greatest tree on the continent. “The tree where man was born.”  He tells her he needs to see the other victims.

Something is not right. A great ape never attacks unless attacked and would never have let her live.

They go to Dr. Wheeler’s. A calico cat scares Mary. Sigh. Tarzan leaves her outside (WHY?) and sneaks in through a window at night (of course). Tarzan sees one human body and then laments over the body of a great ape. He also finds a woman’s body. On her palm is the great tree. He also finds her teeth are like ape’s or some fanged animal or monster. She feels warm. An arm of her’s rises upward but Wheeler comes in and tells him that this is normal. Wheeler catches Tarzan inside and doesn’t seem to mind. He tells him that many features have become apelike since her death.

Her skull has elongated by a centimeter. Wheeler wonders if the bite has affected her like the bite of an animal with rabies. He wants to do a paper on her and submit it to the Royal Journal of Forensic Medicine. He also studied the bite mark radius of the ape to the bites on the woman and other victims but the results are inconclusive. The ape was not rabid. Wheeler walks with a cane.

“My dear fellow in my career, I’ve discovered people tattoos in the most, ah, remarkable places.”

Outside, Wheeler notes the damp air. Tarzan thinks it is going to rain. Wheeler will go to sleep now and suggests Tarzan, being a gentleman, will use the front door on his next visit.

NOTE: Tarzan’s reactions to Wheeler are almost non-chalant and / or passive and / or not buying it. Is Wheeler a suspect?

On their way to the Inspector, Tarzan and Mary are caught in the rainstorm and thunderstorm. Tarzan realized something that he must tell the Inspector. He also realizes that something is hunting them. He sends Mary to the salon to lock herself inside.

Spotting the creatures on the other side of the horse fence, Tarzan tries to reach out to it and communicate with it but it does not look ape like but some kind of mutant monster. It vanishes, leaving in the flash of lightning.

From the roof, it jumps on Tarzan, who snarled at it. It uses claws on Tarzan’s shoulders after downing him and sitting astride him.

It tries to get away but Tarzan downs it and takes his knife out to fight it but it makes him drop his knife. It throws Tarzan into the side of the shed/stable and knocks him out. It then seems to run for Mary.

In perhaps one of the most exciting lead in to commercials ever (in any show, not just this one) the monster from its POV rushes at Mary who just about reaches the salon but cannot get in fast enough until it seems to come right at her and we see it all from the monster POV.

SO far, this is a great episode. More later but all evidence points to this being the best episode so far, though there are a few other contenders.

So far, well done.

More later…

Okay, I’m back. For the first time since I started watching this EPIC series, I didn’t feel as if it were a chore. Oh, I like almost all the other episodes but this episode made me WANT to return to it instead of feeling like it was a job. I really like this episode so far.

Themba finds Tarzan on the ground. Why no one saw him there before this is beyond me. Tarzan senses something and finds one gorilla being burned, dead and another dead one carried in by the blond and his cronies.

A building in the background says Symon’s Livery. Hansen tells Themba and Tarzan that the hunting party trapped an entire pack of the apes at the Wudamba Ridge. Tarzan tells him that those she apes would have nursed any of them back to health if they had fallen ill.

Hansen seems sympathetic to Tarzan and the apes. He says, “Some people just don’t deserve to live.”

Mary’s last name is Burkstrom. Hansen tells Tarzan she has vanished. Wheeler comes and tells them another body was found up a baobab tree. Wheeler continues to express his fascination with Tarzan and his mind and life.

Wheeler thinks maybe the killer wanted to brag from his ego of his power so that is why he left a clue in Mary’s hands, leaving her alive.

He tells Tarzan natives around here believe the gods planted the tree upside down to punish the tree for its vanity. Some believe it was the original tree of good and evil in the Garden of Good and Evil. Wheeler has a wet spot on his hat.

When Wheeler offers Tarzan a ride back into town, Tarzan tells him he will find his own way back. Tarzan watches a gorilla block Wheeler’s horse and carriage. He also, from hiding, watches Wheeler act like an ape to scare it off but more importantly, sees Wheeler flip the great ape upside down. The ape runs off.

Arriving back at town, Tarzan finds himself under arrest for the murder of Rica Branson. They found something hidden in Tarzan’s bedroll that belonged to the victim.

Themba visits Tarzan in his cell and passes him something to get out with when he shakes his hand. He is doing everything he can to get Tarzan out. Tarzan tells him to do something about the noisy generator outside.

The generator is an Ingersoll Rand one. Themba shuts it down just as Tarzan escapes through the window, having cut the bars. Tarzan climbs a pole and then a connecting wire to get over the barb wire fence. Men fix the generator just as Tarzan lets go of the wire (though it looks as if he’s still on the wire?).

Tarzan jumps behind Themba and surprises him. Wheeler killed the women to experiment on them. They break in to see Wheeler about to inject Mary. His face is half mutated, half man, half mutant ape.

NOTE: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde had a maid named MARY REILLY from a 1990 novel and a Julia Roberts movie of the same name in 1996. I have not found out if Mary was a maid in the original book of THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL. However, in the book a maid, seemingly unnamed, was the only one to witness the murder of a victim…the murderer used a cane (Wheeler has a cane) and the killer also used his feet (like an ape might). At the same time, the maid, during the murder and after witnessing it, FAINTED, just like Mary in this episode. These cannot be coincidence. This episode also features Wheeler who is himself a Jekyll and Hyde like figure.

Themba distracts Wheeler mutant but then tries to free Mary as Tarzan distracts Wheeler. Wheeler knocks Themba down into a shelf, which falls. The monster man then tries to get Tarzan to join him in becoming what he calls immortal anthropoid hominids but Tarzan smashes the needle to the floor. This incites Wheeler to fully change into the monster mutant and not just half way.

As Tarzan is overcome by the monster, Mary gets fully free and stabs it from behind with a needle. It knocks her down but Tarzan is able to get another and stab it into the monster’s heart.

Day: Themba tells Mary, who mentions she is going to miss the both of them, to come visit them. He will soon have his generator up and running. Mary plans on going back to England as soon as she gets enough money. How did Tarzan expect her to go now without money? Hansen gives Tarzan reward money for ridding the town of the beast. He gives the money to Mary, “Have a safe trip, Mary.”  Mary hugs him and they have a moment.

“Well,” Themba breaks it. Themba leaves in a black horse drawn cart. Tarzan gets on the white horse to leave. Mary and Hansen watch him go.

As the sun sets, two apes wave goodbye to him.

Not sure I mentioned this but Lara is the producer or one of the producers.

This was a very good episode. It might be the best episode with the best writing, however, then one realizes it’s basically a Western with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde injected (sorry) into it and the apes used instead of the darker side of man. Still, for what it is worth, it’s not bad and still is a strong contender for best episode of the entire series. Tarzan has a good rapport with just about everyone. The fact that the blond Australian is not punished for killing the apes along with his comrades is annoying but realistic. Seeing dead apes is disturbing.

Lara is again, excellent and the guest cast this time rises to his level.

The music is different here and it all really works to provide an entertaining adventure with little to no BS about mystical soul searching. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but Tarzan doesn’t need to do that every week.

It’s a shame this show never found its groove or its real purpose but this episode, late in the season, might have headed it toward such a path.

Next time, it looks like we’re back on mystical clap trap with Tarzan’s dual nature again and sooth sayers and magic men and such.

In many ways, this is a sad series in that almost every episode shows what Tarzan: The Epic Adventures could have been like, sometimes just a moment or two in a mystic weird story and sometimes the bulk of a story such as the first La story or the center of the Earth stories or the Amtor story. It sure tried different things than what was done before on TV and film for Tarzan. For that, I’m grateful and for a great Tarzan in Joe Lara.


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