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EPISODE 21: TARZAN AND THE MYSTERY OF THE LAKE
“This is a living, breathing creature. A dinosaur. That has somehow managed to survive until this very day.”
“At least your friends are moving up the evolutionary chain, Tarzan.”
We get the “This week on Tarzan!” promo for the upcoming adventure! Which gives us another promise of JANE! Themba asks Tarzan, “Why didn’t you tell me Jane was coming?” and Tarzan yelling, “JANE!” extending the yell. AND yet another woman who might be Jane in the preview. We shall see.
A voice over of a letter from Jane is heard as Tarzan spearfishes.
Surrounded by exotic animals, Tarzan spears a fish while someone fires a rifle at something and wings it. Lyle Drake is a hunter from civilization, possibly England and he and a black man, possibly African (he seems to call Drake Bwana?), track something. While they do a strange bird makes a strange, almost human like sound but that seems inconsequential as a leopard sound is heard nearby. Is that what they are tracking? Probably not as this is Tarzan in the trees pretending to be a leopard. The two men flee.
The “thing” they were hunting seems to be a prehistoric man (Cro Magnon or Neanderthal?) who is shot in the arm and drinking water from a stream. He also has blue eyes. Tarzan arrives and says, “You have the ears of sheetah.” The subtitles get this wrong and print it out as Cheetah.
I’m guessing he means his hearing ability or lack of it as the man didn’t hear Tarzan arriving until the ape man was right in front of him. AND the cave man’s ears are completely covered up so Tarzan probably does not mean his physical ears.
When Tarzan offers his hand in friendship, the caveman smacks him in the head with a stone axe (it would seem) and while it hurts, Tarzan is still on his feet and not, well, dead.
Tarzan tracks the cave man who tries to make false tracks one way (some with his hands?) and restepping in his footsteps backwards.
Themba, shirtless again, is in a lake with a woman named Alfreda who is being paid to do research. He seems to know her well. No women are paid to this type of work. They are planting sound equipment for her to listen for a sea serpent that has to exist because she been working on this opportunity for years.
Lara is, as always, once again, brilliant as Tarzan. Whether in his strong voiced introduction to the cave man or a joy, prideful joy over his smiling knowledge that the cave man’s false tracks are detected as false by him or the appreciation of the cave man’s skills, he IS Tarzan. And here, he’s perfect. In every way.
Themba’s remarks seem to indicate that he tried to start something with Alfreda and she was too busy with her studies and work. She introduces him to her new boyfriend, Lyle Drake and he and Themba has crossed paths before and they do not see eye to eye.
Themba realizes that Lyle and Alfreda want to capture the serpent, not just take pictures of it. She sweet talks him into trusting her again and she seems genuine. Tarzan is coming and she talks Themba into staying on that count, to introduce them to him.
Tarzan catches up with the caveman and sweet talks him. This vaguely reminds me of THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, the movie version from the 1970s. As in most episodes, Tarzan (and others in other episodes), here, speaks in a native language as he tries to convey that the bullet went all the way through but the wound needs to be cleaned and dressed or it will get infected. One of the words Tarzan uses is Zulu.
While there is a Plesiosaurus labeled Plesiosaurs on her chart, Alfred tells Themba speculation is that the serpent is a distant relation (relative) of the nothosaurus.
With something from roots (?) or mud (?) and spider web (?), Tarzan makes medicine and applies it to the caveman’s wound.
Lyle imagines putting the creature on display in the London Paladium. As Themba expresses disapproval and Lyle tries to defend his position, not making a mockery of an important scientific discovery, saying he only wants to lighten the mood, his right hand man watches the conversation very carefully. As they talk, Tarzan brings the caveman into the camp, despite the man wanting to go the opposite way.
One thing to note here is the soundtrack. This series has a great soundtrack but this one is outstanding.
NOTE: we get each ad break turn the image into a book format that makes the book look olden style and then return in the same fashion to then let the image solidify into the regular show visual. Oddly the only time this NEVER happens is after the post credit break in each episode, five minutes or so in but all other breaks have this. I think there are usually three.
Tarzan knows Lyle, too. Lyle says that the cave man was stealing and he was just protecting their supplies.
Alfreda thinks this man might be part of the missing link. The term, she explains, refers to how ancestral arboreal man became an ape. And since the gap between men and non men is so large…she stops when she sees Tarzan amused at what she is saying. She feels awkward doing this. Lara is charming here.
The cave man points to one of the sea monster charts but Tarzan somehow deciphers that that is his home? Huh?
Just as things were serious and the tone is set, the writer (I guess?) or someone injects a comedy moment as a servant brings food to both Tarzan and the CaveMan and they have a comedy verbal bout as to who will take it? What?
Tarzan lets him have one and takes the other. Did I say Lara was perfect? He usually is but here, this is played far too over the top and maybe it’s the director’s fault or not but…this really isn’t funny.
Alfred: Somehow I don’t think Jane is ready for this.
Themba: Somehow I don’t think we’ll ever know.
As Themba and Alfreda discuss Jane coming here, which he did not know, Lyle comes to them and thinks it is worth sticking around for. He seems to sort of know Jane, too? He calls Jane Porter a socialite.
Themba leaves the two of them. Themba moves to Tarzan and the cave man.
Tarzan communicates with the cave man to learn his name, Glok. It’s almost a “Me Tarzan, You Jane,” or “Me Jane, you Tarzan” moment?
Alfie thinks they have experts in London who can learn the man’s name. Lyle and she bang glasses on agreeing to NOT keep something like this a secret.
When Glok attacks a servant who merely meant to take away the remainders of the meal once eaten (the bones), Tarzan stops Glok from doing this and gives him the bone.
At night, creepy Lyle goes to Alfie and convinces her that Tarzan is stealing her dream. He goes to Tarzan and says that Alfie has a responsibility as an anthropologist while he knocks Tarzan out with a rifle butt. Someone gets a sedative but I can’t tell who (Glok).
Themba knocks down the right hand man (named Buda?) with a punch and the cave man attacks another servant. Lyle pulls a gun on Themba who surrenders but the right hand man Buda punches him down.
Tarzan and Themba are tied back to back as we hear a soft version of the theme music. Tarzan frees them.
After the two give chase after the others, a horse drawn carriage is on its way (to them?). There is an African man in a suit and a white man in a suit (Tarzan’s cousin?) and a woman (Jane?) inside the carriage. We do not see her face.
It is this time, as the track Drake, Alfreda and Glok, that Themba decides to ask Tarzan about Jane. Jane is coming tomorrow. Themba worries that it will take Tarzan a long time to get to the station and he will miss Jane.
Themba asks, “How many times are you going to let Jane down.” Sigh. He’s annoying when he does stuff like this and so is this script now.
Tarzan tells him Jane will understand if he is not there and she will wait. He adds, “I hope.” Themba thinks Jane has waited an awful long time already.
Glok motions for Alfreda to let him go. She tells Lyle that maybe Tarzan was right and that they can still find the serpent as Lake Nogombi. Lyla and Alfie disagree strongly. As they do, Tarzan silently appears behind Drake and the right hand man who are planning to watch the girl. Tarzan makes the other bearers go with a wave of his hand, punches Drake down while the right hand man attacks Themba.
While they fight, Alfreda frees Glok and runs off with him, hand in hand. Is she taking him for herself as Drake thinks? Or Themba thinks?
Tarzan stops them and she says, “I give up.” What? Glok seems reluctant to go home.
Lyle holds Themba at gun point after he beats Buda down. He thinks he can do a swap.
Tarzan ignores Alfreda as she gives a reason why Glok coming back with her is better than someone else finding him and taking him. They may not be as kind. Glok stops to drink water from the stream.
She says Jane’s got more guts than she gave her credit for. She says she didn’t mean to insult Tarzan.
She can’t imagine Jane living like this but Tarzan tells her that Jane is not doing anything she doesn’t want to do. “All I really meant is that she must…she must really love you.”
Tarzan has taught Glok the word Friend and Friends. Alfreda tells Tarzan, who found Lyle tracking them, that Glok is bleeding again.
After Tarzan leaves to go do something (set up a trap or lead Lyle in a false trail? Not sure we’re told?), Bolgani arrives and seems to be attacking Glok. Alfie’s screams alert Lyle to their whereabouts. This is one time a good old Tarzan yell would have stopped Bolgani but this series NEVER had the yell. And doesn’t now. Tarzan has to swing through trees and run to get to them to make Bolgani and Glok turn from enemies to friends, much to Alfie’s amusement and astonishment.
While that happens, Themba wrests the gun from Lyle but both he and Lyle fall down a long hill and fight. Buda uses his rifle to make Themba stop and Lyle punches Themba and threatens to shoot him next time.
Glok takes Alfie and Tarzan to his cave where his wife and baby are. Tarzan figures the baby has a fever. Glok left to get food and that was when he was shot. Tarzan leaves to get medicine. Lyle and his man will camp until it gets light out again.
Tarzan tells Alfie that they are all entitled to make stupid choices. Talking about herself, Alfie says, “The jungle is no place for a city girl.”
During this cave sequence we hear Jane’s letter? Huh? She relayed that she’s finally going to be able to spend the rest of her life with him. “My dearest Tarzan, you are in my thoughts now more than ever. How lucky I am to finally be able to spend the rest of my life with you. My love, always, Jane.”
Mulandwandi (?): Jane gets out at a station (it looks like a primitive train station bench?) with the white man, both from the carriage.
Glok takes his wife and baby to a stone age boat. Apparently, he brought them here to the cave when the baby got sick (and they drew carvings on the walls)?
Lyle finds the cave empty and hits Themba who suggested he just give up.
Tarzan tells Alfie that Glok and his family have to go back to where they live across the lake, “They have to go back. They don’t belong here.” She worries the serpent might attack their boat.
When she thinks it is worth the risk to stay and try, Tarzan says, “Not when you don’t belong.”
Lyle and Buda emerge and now want to take the whole family (ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES anyone?). Alfie wants him to let them go. They can get the serpent.
The serpent emerges from the water and its tail hits Lyle into the water and he seems to drown. The thing chases Buda away. I was sure this monster would be shown eating them but that does not happen. Tarzan takes up a spear to attack it but Glok tells him that the serpent is his friend.
Though the monster is a bit awkward looking and compared to the monsters in HERCULES and XENA it looks ludicrous, it’s not terrible and we do see it in one frame with Tarzan and Glok in the foreground. Glok and his family head home in the stone canoe.
“This is a world I’ll never understand.”
“Maybe we’re not supposed to understand it,” Tarzan tells Alfie.
Jane looks at a watch piece. The cousin seems happy or annoyed? Not sure.
Themba has to remind Tarzan about Jane. He yells like a comedian of old (think Lou Costello) and runs off for Jane. Previously, Tarzan was hanging about and laughing and joking with the others, totally forgetting Jane. Gosh.
I guess the white man is not the cousin because he calls Jane, “Miss Porter. We’ve been waiting for hours. You really think he’s coming? Look, there won’t be another stage coach for three weeks. Do you want to stay or…? Leave?”
We still do not see her face but hear her say, “I’ll leave.”
As the coach drives off, the men look happy.
Tarzan arrives and does not look happy. Tarzan yells, “Jane!” Three times. It looks as if he’s right there but they do not seem to hear him. He runs after them. AND…
…that’s where this episode ends. WOT?
Okay, I’ve said it before and will say it again. TARZAN TV shows and movies, too, have to make choices from the start and not go back on them, mid series. Ely’s show decided NOT to have a Jane at all. No appearances. No mentions. Nothing. And it worked. It worked well. It can be taken to be a different universe with a different Tarzan, though that’s never stated, thank goodness. They also have to decide if Tarzan will have Cheetah and/or his definitive Tarzan yell (Weissmuller’s). More importantly, they have to figure out if Tarzan is post education or pre education and if he knows about civilization already or does not. They also have to decide if he has experience with other white men or not AND if he has a powerful connection to the animals that borders on supernatural or not. Will he act civilized or ape like? All of that and the setting as far as year and where in Africa this is, ARE ALL important.
I respect HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS for, at the start of the TV show, killing off Hercules’ wife and family. It could not have been easy to do that but having done it, they opened up the way for actual journeys to take place and movement beyond having Hercules tied to a family, a wife, sons, a daughter, one place. That just might work for the five or so TV movies they did but it would not work for a series. THIS TARZAN series didn’t understand that.
Wolf’s show had a Jane and, to a certain extent, worked, too because they committed to having a Jane. It did not work as well as some of the movies but the rapport between Wolf and Lydie did work, mostly. The movies had a romantic relationship from what I recall. Wolf’s show, being mostly a children’s show or teen show, could not do that and so having a Jane, I felt, hurt the show a lot in many ways. Yet, from a quality stand point and from a ratings stand point, it, too seemed to be a success despite Jane never really fully committing to be Tarzan’s mate, at least not sexually or not sexually that we saw. I think there was one episode where she said okay to being his mate but I can’t remember. I have gone through a lot of TARZAN.
Okay in a few episodes they talk about a mate but in THE RING OF ROMANCE, Jane is not sure she wants to be Tarzan’s mate and stay in the jungle forever. My repeat thoughts on that are here:
“Then, even more shocking is the next bit. Tarzan asks her, “If Tarzan TAKES Jane, will Jane promise never to leave the jungle?”
“Never is a long time, Tarzan.”
“When Tarzan takes a mate, it is forever. Like two leopards. Does Jane understand this?”
It is then he gives her the ring and tells her, “As long as Jane wears this, Tarzan will always be with her.”
Then, back in the present, Jane finds Tarzan in her compound and hugs him, telling him to hold her and as tight as he can. They miss each other when he is not around. She explains she was thinking of what he told her, mating until life stops. Tarzan asks, “Is Jane ready to be Tarzan’s mate?”
Dear God. She tells him she doesn’t know. She wants to but isn’t sure she can commit for life. What? This was aired early in season three but should probably have been aired, depending on the turn out of the whole situation, last in the season (it was third from the last one made, presumably) or first in the first season! Is she kidding me?
Still, she wants him to keep holding her. I can’t go into what this might make the audience think of Jane but…let’s see how this plays out. Gosh. This is either the bravest episode and dialog or the worst, depending on the outcome.”
ABOUT THAT WOLF EPISODE:
Instead of making TV history and being brave and committing to their characters and story, the show hits the reset button AGAIN and makes Jane keep being reluctant to have a love romance with Tarzan by way of mating with him. So, the show becomes just another Tarzan show, almost forgotten today instead of what it could have been.
The problem with this WOLF LARSON episode is that it is TOO mature. There’s relatively little action: read NONE. It’s talky and almost mature. It studies Jane’s feelings for Tarzan and Tarzan’s desire for Jane for the first time really in this series despite some dabblings and skirting about the issues. Here, it’s almost frank but then…it also explores Dan and Jane’s friendship but then…it pulls back and does a reset by making Jane not commit to Tarzan. At this point, anyone who gave up on the show cannot be blamed as this was a cowardly and boring thing to do. It makes Jane seem unreal and stupid. And for Tarzan to be happy about that, that his desired mate has basically rejected him…is also unreal. None of this rings (sorry!) true at all only because of that ending. At worst, it makes Jane a tease as she wants Tarzan to hold her, kisses him, and tells him that she loves him.
A terribly frustrating episode that WOLF EPISODE that probably shouldn’t have been done if they were going to end it like that but should have been done if they ended it with her agreeing to Tarzan for life. I also wonder what Tarzan in the novels said about mating. It would interest me a lot. As I haven’t read more than one of them and that was a long time ago, I do not know. I do know that while I love this cast, this show is really starting to get to me and I want done with it. I think Wolf is the best Tarzan there was with some argument (Ely and Weissmuller are great, too) but the show’s inability to take chances, go more adult, and to have few if any guest stars in most episodes, makes it an almost mundane TV affair. It could, almost every episode, could have been far better than it/they were.
AND in some other episode they sleep in the same place but do NOT, clearly, have sex. Gosh.
I repeated all that because I used to think Jane had to be with Tarzan in any show but Ely’s show, which works best out of all of them, didn’t have Jane even as a thought.
So my new thing is: NO JANE. It just works better.
This show, THE EPIC ADVENTURES, does the worst thing it could possibly do. Or rather a number of THE WORST things it could possibly do.
Instead of killing Jane off or making them separate forever or just not having a Jane at all, it does NONE of those things but worse: it makes her a non entity. Tarzan and other characters talk about her from time to time and we hear a voice over letter from her in one or two episodes and we have a character in one early episode that pretends to be Jane…or something. All of that is crap.
What’s even worse is that here, we see her hands, her feet, even her head and face, covered with netting to protect her from bugs but this bugs ME. Jane is a non personality, never seen, never fully heard as a voice in the show. She has no presence. She’s not even felt in that Tarzan doesn’t have ANY dalliance with any other female ever in this show. Which also doesn’t work either. If he’s a savage and his woman rejected his way of life, because let’s face it, she DID.
I’m not sure this is in keeping as a sequel to the not-to-be-admired borefest that was GREYSTOKE (IMO) or what but none of this should have been.
There is no emotional tie in for audiences to Jane or even to Tarzan’s love of Jane. It all rings hollow. Tarzan’s love for Jane rings hollow or he’d be with her. Jane’s love for him rings hollow or she’d be in Africa. Tarzan let Jane down Themba says. How? In what way? He returned to the land he loved.
In an early episode, Jane wrote a letter that she was going to marry his cousin unless he didn’t want her to. Was that ever resolved? Is that eve mentioned in this episode? No, it is not.
And this is in THE RETURN OF KUKULCAN:
“Tarzan writes Jane a letter, “Jane, if my cousin, William, is ready, then maybe that’s who you need to be with. For me, I will feel the loss but I can’t change who I am. And the jungle is where I belong. All my love. Tarzan.””
So…THIS WAS never resolved. Jane was going to marry William. This episode suggests she never did. If you are going to do a story about Jane then I suggest you get your continuity right and/or explain why something didn’t happen as much as why something did happen.
As it we are not rooting for either Tarzan or Jane to get together with the other. My money is on Tarzan because we’ve gotten to know him well over the past 20 episodes and Lara is engaging, a screen presence, good looking, funny, charming and physically the hero we want Tarzan to be and that role grew over time in better scripts, mostly.
How can we root for Jane at all? She doesn’t want to be in the jungle. Doesn’t want to be on these incredible (mostly?) adventures and wants to be a city girl in England. All we know of her is a few voice over letters from England, one stating she is going to marry another man. We never get to see her as a presence even in episodes such as ep 3 where she’s talked about a lot. We never get to see her face or like her at all. Thus, we could care less if Tarzan catches up to that carriage in this episode. Were they going for a season ending cliffhanger?
If so, they failed again as this was not aired as episode 22, nor was it resolved in the episode that was aired as 22. We never find out if Tarzan caught up to the carriage, if Jane stayed, if they got together or if the plans for the show were to have Jane and he resolve this issue. In fact, a Jane was auditioned for and hired for season two. So maybe this was supposed to be the season ending and the second season would see Jane be a main character?
But without Lara. Basically, the guy they did hire couldn’t hold a candle to Lara.
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.
I saw Xavier on a talk show discussing his casting and while he was a nice guy, he is no Joe Lara and it would be difficult for me to see him as Tarzan. Sort of a cross between Denier (French?) and Mike Henry or even Gordon Scott’s build and/or a less Tarzany Tarzan like the miscast Jock Mahoney.
Point is if you’re going to “do” Jane this way, why bother? Tarzan seems none too interested in her. He’s not in love with her from what we can see, does not react to her letter that she’s going to marry another in any way that shows sadness or anger or that he will take action to prevent it or show that he does love her, and even in THIS episode forgets she’s coming!
While he’s laughing it up with his friends. If the love of your life is coming to be with you (marry you?), your entire being would be thinking about her and wanting to get there for her. Right after the entire resolution, the hero who should stay to make sure his heroic deeds are done and his friends are safe, should be racing to get to the love of his life. I can’t see how a second season would work if it were to be based on the love between Tarzan and Jane if this was the build up. Him not all that thrilled with getting to see her and not trusting her to understand and wait; her not waiting and a non-character. WT?
And Tarzan isn’t even sure she will wait for him. And who do we dislike more here? Jane, of course. Why not wait? She doesn’t trust him.
A character disloyal to the main character that he doesn’t seem to really care all that much about, who’s not showing up in face or personality or in the script, who’s a mystery here but not anywhere else Jane appears (countless movies, comics, books, TV shows). So why include her at all?
It shows, on the part of the TV show makers, that they just didn’t care and/or could not make firm choices when it came to the show. The one choice they really blew was including Jane and / or including her THIS way. If you’re going to include Jane, go the whole hog, show her, make her a charming personality that we can believe Tarzan will like, not some mamby pamby city girl that seems to stay away forever, writes about marrying Tarzan’s cousin, and then doesn’t wait for the man she supposedly loves when she does come to Africa. No risk taking here from the character or the show runners.
As for the cave man story it’s functional and okay but nothing new either. Ditto the sea monster. The stunts and fight scenes are okay and the show, as ever, looks great but that’s about it. An adventure and thank goodness no mystical nonsense here that can’t be explained or no Tarzan doesn’t know himself. Themba’s remarks make it seem as if HE blames Tarzan for Jane’s not wanting to wait; that Tarzan let her down somehow. This makes us dislike Themba, too. And maybe even Tarzan. With Themba, Tarzan, and Alfie unlikable (let’s face it, she’s almost a villain or at least a Batman villainess who pairs up with someone like the Joker) who is there to root for? And Jane totally absent and unlikable? What were they thinking?
And again, this plot seems to want to be THE LAND TIME FORGOT or even THE PEOPLE TIME FORGOT and it’s clearly not up to that scope. What it is is entertaining enough and the guy playing Glok does a good job. The make up is also pretty good, too. A few mis-stepped scenes as in the comedy stuff which doesn’t work as comedy at all and Bolgani’s attack….shouldn’t the gorilla smell Tarzan on them?
Here’s what season two did prepare or rather the pre season one?
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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