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Volume 7681a

 Tarzan: The Epic Adventures ~ XXII

Review by Charles Mento

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

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“A man like Tarzan does not just die.”
“The jungle has got eyes. Truth will be told.”
“Who is Tarzan’s murderer.”

Gosh. The finale. Which is sad considering what happened to Joe Lara not too long ago and at only 58 years. This show and Lara deserved at least another two or three seasons to find its footing more solidly than this first season. Even if it were to return, it seemed Lara would not be Tarzan (in that case, I’m glad it never returned) and while I’m sure the other guy would have done okay, it just would not be the same show, for better or worse. In a way, I’m glad it did not come back and I’m not sure why.

A slow version of the theme music plays as Tarzan hunts or seems to be hunting. He better not shoot that deer! In any case, there is a leopard. He smells something and seems to pick up that there are six men (one in the back looks like a woman?), one white, five African, hunting. Tarzan is either aiming at a deer or a lion stalking the deer? Meanwhile, Bolangi sits and is using a stick to take something out of a mound (honey? Bugs?) and eating? Maybe. The men sneak up behind him and one shoots a dart into him. They net him. This prevents Tarzan from firing his arrow from his bow at the lion.

Before the dart firer can fire off another dart, his name is Hatooki, the white man stops him. The white man is Clive Hemsley.

Hatooki grew up here and always makes a big deal out of the bush, worrying that something will take the unconscious gorilla from them. Tarzan watches their entourage as they pull Bolgani in a makeshift primitive stretcher. Tarzan hisses? Or growls.

Clive has been here 100 times before.

For some reason this is 46 minutes instead of the usual 44. The second part of THE RETURN (ep2) was 42 minutes.

Tarzan drops from the trees to the semi amusement of Clive. He takes out his knife. What was he planning to do against all those guns and spears? Clive seems sarcastic, “I’m sorry, Tarzan. Is this family?”

Before he can answer, Tarzan is shot in the back on his left side, near his lat. We do NOT see the shooter.

Clive checks him (watch the way he checks him and tell me if you think it’s odd). He orders his men to take the ape away and they leave Tarzan.

A seemingly African woman (that we do not see clearly) dressed in black gently drops brown leaves on Tarzan while chanting in a language other than English. She drops them mostly on his head, upper back and shoulders and a few on his wound. She leaves.

When Themba, in a slight windstorm, finds Tarzan the leaves have somewhat blown onto his legs and more leaves are on his wound. He uses his own knife to get leaves. Tarzan’s wound looks smaller. “I knew it wasn’t true. The newspapers said you were dead.”  It’s been at least two days since he was shot.

Tarzan wants to go after Bolgani right away but is weak. Themba helps him and they rest here with a fire (sleeping on the ground and hay?). When Themba awakes in the morning, the fire is going out but Tarzan is gone. Not sure how tall the actor playing Themba is but he looks much taller than Lara.

Themba catches up to Tarzan who has a reed or straw in his mouth (?). Tarzan is not bothered if people think he is dead. Themba says, “First of all, your cousin stands to inherit the Greystoke estate. That is your lineage.”

When Themba asks about Jane, Tarzan says she will have to wait. Themba asks, “Doesn’t she always?” Well, no. Last episode, she waited but left.

Themba wonders if Tarzan should find out who shot him. Tarzan senses Numa approaching. Together, Themba and Tarzan find the hunters have left camp. Themba does a strange thing and checks a discarded sandal against his own (for size?). A strange bird makes an almost human sound (again).

Tarzan finds a train schedule that has times between Ruanda and Nairobi. The top has the title EAST AFRICAN RAILWAYS. When Themba pushes Tarzan to do more to contact Jane by wire and petition the court in Nairobi to put out a legal notice to tell all the headlines are incorrect, Tarzan tells Themba that Hatooki is with Clive. Hatooki is one of Themba’s tribe.

It’s is unclear if Hatooki “made his choice” before or after the tribe vanished. Did Hatooki vanish with the tribe and has just turned up? Or did he leave a long time ago before the tribe vanished. Tarzan thinks that if Hatooki wanted to talk to Themba, he would come to him. Tarzan does not want Themba to come with him to get Bolgani. I’m not sure why he’s acting that way? Maybe he doesn’t want the Themba/Hatooki “reunion” to complicate his rescue of Bolgani? If so, he doesn’t say that.

Themba says that being alone is Tarzan’s way of life and not his. He wants his tribe back even if Hatooki is the only one left. This also seems like an odd choice. And something mean to say.

The station is miles away from the two of them.

At the station, men load a cage with Bolgani in it. It’s disgusting, this. The station name plate seems to say something like Malalal Station.

As Clive revels in that fact that he got Tarzan off his back, finally. “Pity I couldn’t sell him to the circus.”

In a train station waiting room or restaurant (?), a young man named Jimmy Dorgo, who has a knife tattoo on his arm, introduces himself to Clive when he hears that Clive knew this Tarzan person. He wired the article to his paper about Tarzan’s death and now wants to do a follow up by interviewing the people that knew him.

Hatooki tells him, “A man like Tarzan does not just die.”

The woman in black is there, too, and we see her fully. She tells Hatooki to heed his own wisdom. Jimmy tells her to get lost.

Tarzan pronounces Clive’s name Hemsley and the sub titles agree but Dorgo seems to say Helmsley. Since he started hunting, Tarzan has been on Clive’s back. He mentions elephants, lions, and Dorgo mentions gorillas…for a circus.

Unsettled by the lady, Dorgo intimidates her or tries to by getting in her face. She tells him he wears the mysteries of the jungle yet turns his back on them. She asks him what these powers are that he has and he tries to joke that it is charisma but he’s married. She warns him that the mysteries of the jungle may turn on him.

A young woman gets on the train at the last moment as it is leaving. Dorgo is behind her and gets on. The engineer (?) or ticket taker (?) gets on last.

Tarzan and Themba run for the train and make it on, too, but after it started going faster. This is most undramatic but visually arresting.

The door is locked but Themba kicks it in. Tarzan does not wait and goes on top of the train.

Inside, the young lady, the older African lady, and a Hatooki (with his head gear off) all discuss with Clive and Dorgo the fact that Clive did nothing to help Tarzan or find the murderer. The older woman believes the jungle has eyes and the truth will be told.

Themba shows up. Clive obviously knows the tension between the two men and seems to want to calm Hatooki. Before anything else can happen, Tarzan jumps into the train through an open window, causing the young woman to pass out (sigh). There was a young man across from her.

As she tries to revive the young woman, the older woman sneezes (is this part of the plot or a blooper not meant to happen?). Tarzan revives the girl who knows him and calls him by name. Is this Jane? She tells him she is Julia Clayton, his cousin Wilhelm’s wife. She was traveling in Africa when Wilhelm wired her and told her the news. Dorgo asks Tarzan for his story and what happened. “I lived,” Tarzan answers and goes to find Clive. Tarzan notices the knife tat. Tarzan also tells him that he knows Hatooki did not try to kill him.

Jimmy introduces himself to Julia. Hmmm.

Themba and Hatooki talk at the bar. Hatooki blames Tarzan for not being able to live in the bush any longer. Themba tells him that Tarzan did NOT ask Themba’s father to banish Hatooki from the Wagambi tribe. “Tarzan dictates everything that goes on in the bush,” Hatooki says but Themba tells him to stop blaming others.

Hatooki thinks that the tribe disappeared because he and Themba both sold out and they cannot go back because the spirits of the bush will not allow it.

Themba grabs him and he pulls a knife on Themba, telling him the law says it is acceptable to kill a man in self defense. Themba claims he never turned his back on his home or his people.

Hatooki asks, “And where did that get you?”

Tarzan and Clive verbally spar over Bolgani and their pasts colliding as Clive wants animals for the circus and Tarzan will always be there to stop him. Clive threatens Tarzan, overheard by Jimmy Dorgo who is outside the cabin of Clive’s. Tarzan asks him since when has his profession or his kind been happy with just the facts.

Hatooki appears and taunts Tarzan to say goodbye to his ape friend. “Your heart grows colder with every day,” Tarzan tells him.

“Tell me Tarzan, if your views are so noble, then how come you seem to have more enemies than friends?” Jimmy asks.

Maybe getting the journalist on his side might have been a better idea?

Themba hears from Julia when he talks to her. Her husband Wilhelm was ill and wanted to see Tarzan in case he died but Wilhelm is doing much better now. It is why he could not come to Africa himself. Themba asks her questions like a detective (well, in case no one’s noticed this has become MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS). Themba asks if she said Wilhelm wired her or the other way around. She does not answer and retires to her room for the night.

The older woman is staring at Themba who asks if they met before in another village. She denies that. She tells him the answer is before him. He asks what the question is. It is, “Who is Tarzan’s murderer.”

As the woman continues to talk cryptic, she also says that Tarzan embraces everything to do with life including death.

“If that were so, he’d be dead already.”

“Perhaps he is.”

Honestly and finally, this is the way to do a mystical character and it works in the series and the episode. And that mystical stuff is not all that there is.

Someone seems to be using poison. In the car with the gorilla cage, Tarzan finds Bolgani and tries to get him out but someone hits him with a dart (in his back again!) and he passes out.

Wait. As if you to prove me wrong, when Tarzan seems to wake up, he’s not. In a beautifully scored, beautifully filmed sequence, Tarzan seems to wake up and go through the empty train which is now stopped on tracks in the jungle/bush surrounded by ethereal smoke and strange human sounds (ghostly laughs or crying?). He goes outside to find himself (is that Lara in the pit in the ground; a burial in the ground?) in a burial pit. He finds a circus mock up of a HALF MAN HALF APE. Behind curtains he is in a cage as the display.

He sees the older woman and asks her questions but she has cryptic answers and their conversation is more mystic clap trap crap.


It goes toward the idea that his life effects no one and she says perhaps his death will effect no body. I thought the show moved past this kind of stuff.

The train whistle sounds and it starts moving. It goes faster so he runs to catch it and jumps on and in. We see that there are flats on some of the cars and no real interiors.

Inside, he finds the cage and lets Bolgani out after finding the key. The gorilla knocks him back and leaves through the train. Tarzan searches but only finds all the others (except the old woman) standing around something. Clive comments it is only a matter of time before the poison gets him. Themba kicks them all out and they moved past Tarzan but don’t seem to see him. Gosh.

On the couch in the train car is his own body.

Is this stuff filler for an episode that under ran or didn’t know how to keep the mystery story going or both?

Themba tells Tarzan’s body he will get the ape back to the jungle safely, “I kind of like that ape.” He’s crying. Tarzan tells Hatooki to go talk to Themba.

Tarzan sees Dorgo take his shirt off in his car/cabin. The old woman comes in. Dorgo has tats on his front (a lion?) and on his back a sword and an axe on the back of his shoulder. The woman says, “You sold your soul for these evil powers.”   He wanted to be the best and got it. He pulls an axe from his back, from the tattoo.

He does not have to chase after stories any more. He can create them and he shows her the poison bottle tat on his right arm. There is never any evidence. He seems to pull weapons from his tattoos. She tells him he was cheated because he is not the best. He puts his shirt on and leaves the room.

The old woman sees the Tarzan we see while Dorgo and the others do not. Tarzan knows, “Dorgo killed me.”

“So, you do embrace death.”

He says, “No.” He goes on to say that he is here and cannot get back. She tells him that Dorgo has no soul and Dorgo can never get back. She says Tarzan has a soul.

Tarzan goes through Julia’s body when in the other car, she takes out a knife and attempts to stab Tarzan’s body. Dorgo uses a rope lasso to stop her and he tells her not to blow it. She is mad because Tarzan is supposed to be dead already. He imagines the next headline, “Tarzan comes back from the dead only to be murdered again.”

She hopes to finish off Wilhelm and the entire estate will be owned by her. Huh? What about the other cousin and Jane? Well, it seems they meant the same cousin.

Again, THE RETURN OF KULKULCAN names the cousin as William. This calls him Wilhelm. Same cousin? Who knows? Well, the plans Jane had to marry William, IF William and Wilhelm are the same cousin, must have crumbled and not happened, with Jane and he NOT being so close any more or breaking up. In that incredibly fast time (unless MORE time has gone by than the year of these episodes, there is some suggestion that the show spans from 1914 to 1917 or even to 1918 but in between KUKLULCAN and this last episode?).

From episode one: TARZAN’S RETURN: First, this takes place…and to differentiate it from both Wolf Larson’s TARZAN series AND TARZAN IN MANHATTAN, the past of a VERY specific year 1914. Unlike Wolf’s shows and Ely’s show, we’re given very specific settings, too, and this episode moves from Paris to North Africa and then deep Africa jungles. There is no wondering here and that’s a good thing.

From TARZAN AND THE MAHARS (episode 17):
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.

NOTE: the following from LOST LEGION is off and may just be an approximation from Tarzan and may just confuse dating matters when discussing. In other words, 1900 years ago from 1914 is not around when Marc Antoni’s son was in danger (and just when that year is that he was in danger is not fully known by me as Marc had THREE SONS and at least one who fled to Egypt; it had to be somewhere in the 30BCs or so but even so 1900 years doesn’t bring us to the 30BCs but maybe sometime in the early AD?).  This info is included here for completion about the dating of years from the EPIC ADVENTURES. From LOST LEGION: Tarzan knew the events happened 1900 years ago (he must be approximating unless the son grew to be a man and it was a VERY early AD year?).  Marc Antoni and Cleopatra really did have children.

The point being that if it is 1914 from the series start, episode 1, to 1917 in episode 17, three years could be the span of time that William/Wilhelm breaks up with Jane, who has chosen to wait for Tarzan after all, despite her letter in episode 11 (which would still be 1914). It could also be the span of time that William/Wilhelm marries Julia. THEN, Jane comes to Africa and leaves, not waiting in episode 21. Julia came to Africa in episode 22 or between episode 21 and 22.

It would be nice of the show to have some continuity and consistency and give it to us, giving us details.

This doesn’t happen.

Tarzan’s cousin is William. Is he also called Wilhelm? Is there another cousin? It seems the writer of this last episode thought it was the same person as there is only William to inherit the estate if Tarzan dies.


Jimmy attacks Tarzan with his tattoo knife that he pulls from his body so that there is no physical evidence. Tarzan wakes up and chokes Dorgo, who laughs as he’s being choked, what a sicko. Tarzan warns Themba and tells him to get Julia. Themba’s muscles are no match for her. “I would do anything to have my family back but you would kill yours for money.”

Hatooki overhears Themba telling Julia he would never understand killing family for money.

Tarzan chases Jimmy Dorgo through the train and then on top of it. It’s impressive as it looks just like the two actors and in many shots it is, maybe even all the shots. The chase ends up on a flat bed on the outside but Jimmy runs into the train again. Bolgani is still in his cage. In their fight, before Jimmy can draw another tattoo from his body, Bolgani grabs his arm and chest and stops him. He tries to make a deal with Tarzan, telling him he has powers that came from the jungle.

A pair of handsome police (?) wait for the train to stop. One is white, one is African. As the train stops, Clive pulls a gun on Tarzan who is about to release Bolgani. Hatooki stops him, “Tarzan is a man unlike others. He holds all the mysteries of the jungle.”

Clive tells him to keep his ape, there are others out there.

“Keep your damn ape. There’s plenty more out there.”

Tarzan tells Hatooki that he knows his place in the jungle and Themba wants to welcome him back.

Dorgo, handcuffed, smiles at Themba on his way out to jail with Julia. The handsome men have them. Tarzan reunites with Bolgani.

Hatooki parts with Themba, both hoping to see each other again.

Themba tells Tarzan he wired Wilhelm. He left it to Tarzan to wire Jane, thinking Tarzan would want to do that himself.

Tarzan and Themba walk with Bolgani between them, alongside the train (not sure if they going to reboard it or if they are going into the bush/jungle). They have their backs to us but Tarzan is play rough housing with the gorilla and also smacks Themba’s shoulder. Themba lifts his hands in the air, joking or fake surrendering. Tarzan turns a bit toward us so we can see him as he raises his hands in play with the gorilla.

And…that’s the end.

Was it worth the ride? I think so, yes.

The show had moments that were greater than any other Tarzan I’ve ever seen. It also had a number of episodes that just didn’t rise to the occasion and probably more than the Ely show and even the Wolf show, some episodes that just didn’t work.

Part of the problem was it was very uneven. It also didn’t seem to ever really find its footing, mixing supernatural, science fiction, mystery, horror, and jungle adventure in a very unbalanced mix. At least by the season’s end, Tarzan seemed much more sure of himself and that he was going to stay in the jungle.

Another problem was the Jane problem (see last episode’s review). The show never committed to Jane and had her as a fully fleshed out character that we saw. We never saw her and always heard about her and heard about one letter from her to Tarzan about her wanting to know from him what he wanted to do or she was possibly marrying William. Then, we never hear what happened with that in a very BAD MOVE by the series. Suddenly, Jane is coming to Africa to meet with Tarzan. Why? What for? To stay? To make him leave? As if he ever would? And in the next episode, this one, we hear the cousin, a slightly different name, has married another named Julia, who would murder both Tarzan and her husband to get the Greystoke estate. No explanations.

I’m not even sure what episodes to pick as my favorites or least favorites. I think the reviews individually show which ones I liked and favored as to the ones I thought could have been better or not existed at all.

I think the show experimented with itself a lot and there’s nothing wrong with that, however, a lot of that experimentation seemed to destroy the confidence of the main character and his place in his world and our world as well as making him insecure and off footed. Many episodes had a sort of mystic of some sort guiding him, teaching him, and steering him toward things…and many of those things TARZAN should have already known. Maybe they were trying to tell the story of how he came to know these things. If so, that really didn’t come across well in most of these mystic episodes.

Visually, the show is just about perfect, though the real Africa doesn’t look like the fictional Tarzan Africa of the 1930s to 1960s movies. It looks like …the real thing. No overheard canopy trees, no thick greenery, no exotic lakes and rivers, though some seem to pop up. It all looks fantastic anyway.

For fantasy we had lost legions and mystics, sorcerers, demons, monsters, lizard people, ghost people, strange mists.

For science fiction we had two trips to the Earth’s core (or another dimension Earth’s core), a trip to Amtor (which used to be Carson of Venus?), and a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story as well as others.

For horror, see the fantasy and science fiction episodes. Almost every story has elements of horror and some have elements of mystery.

Joe Lara in the interview documentary that came out before the show stated, “We’re taking Tarzan not completely out of the jungle but now there’s a kind of whole science fiction application to the show where he goes to all kinds of lost civilizations, lost worlds.”

And the show did do all of that. Like no other live action show or movie ever did.

Joe was probably the best Tarzan there was but I felt that way about how Wolf Larson did Tarzan and Ron Ely, too, all three very different Tarzans. I also like Johnny Weissmuller, have an affinity for Buster Crabbe in everything but especially Flash Gordon and really like Mike Henry, too. But it is the TV Tarzans I think are the best starting with Ely and with Wolf and Lara just alongside him. I also like Lex Barker and Gordon Scott. In fact, I can’t say I didn’t like any Tarzan actor but Jock Mahoney seemed very miscast IMO and his movies far too slow moving.

In any case, not sure what else there is to say. It’s a shame what happened to Joe Lara and it makes me feel sad that that happened. I’m also sad he never did another season of this (and I’ve already gone into that in at least two other reviews).

I am not sure why plans were proceeding for him NOT to be Tarzan in season two but Xavier I’m sure would have looked like a different Tarzan but I’m not sure he would have had the acting ability or presence of Joe Lara or much of the others on TV either. For the record: Xavier DeClie replacing Lara in the lead, and Julie St. Claire cast as Jane.

All of that indicates that Jane would have had a larger role. I wonder if any villains would have returned, especially Jimmy from the last episode, one of the most insane villains they had and who survived in the end of the story. He was also unique. We never find out what his backstory was. Who did he sell his soul to? The devil? Who made the tattoos? Was this a tribal thing? Are there more like him? Can he pull a lion from his chest that would attack anyone?

If Jane were to appear as a main character and a regular character, I am SURE that La would return. La’s first episode was magnificent and her appearances always helped. She was played with a fun glance and mischievous nature or maybe a fun nature and mischievous glance.

Kali, btw, seems to have vanished by the middle of the season never to be in the show again. Her tribe, too. Which I guess was a good thing as she seemed to have little on screen rapport with Themba, and their storylines felt forced as did the tribe she was with.

I wonder if any of the other worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs would appear. The most on my mind is John Carter of Mars. I’m sure they would have gotten around to that.

The new actor that would have played Tarzan looks more like a typical “jungle” Tarzan. I wonder if they would have stayed shooting in Africa (hope so) and if he and Jane would have had a traditional treehouse home? Having a Jane would allow the stories to stop adding in a romance or possible tension causing female in every story, though I think within that framework, this show, as well as Ely’s show, did well in that area. The guest stars were usually acting up a storm and worked well with Lara, who seemed to have a rapport with everyone.

Themba’s actor Seville, grew on me and I see the need for how an African friend of Tarzan would make sense in a series about Africa in Africa rather than Wolf’s white teen boy and white French Jane, though he did have African friends in each season that were regulars (and no reason why they changed but see the reviews for that; they were obviously separate alternate and similar universes). Themba had a rapport with almost everyone except the girl that played his “love” interest, which might be why they got rid of her and her tribe storylines. Frankly, those slowed the show down.

If the show went on into a second season (or a third?), it was sure to address what happened to Themba’s tribe, maybe have him find out and hopefully (in season three?) find them or his mother or his mother and the tribe and have them returned to the regular world from wherever they were. It was sure to have been dealt with…IF Themba were still going to be a character! I mean with Jane back, how much time would there be for a Themba, though I’m sure story ideas could spring from Themba being around.

More successful episodes were the more straight forward action adventure and mystery episodes.

I can see why the clap trap mystic stuff was done and they could have all been better in many ways and I’m not sure they added to the show’s aura in any way other than to make it puzzling at times. With a bit better writing maybe they could have been better but even those have their moments and I can see what they were reaching for but I do think they dilute Tarzan’s status as a hero.

This was a push I think left over from a movie I think was not very good, GREYSTOKE but I tend to think I’m alone in that assessment of that overlong, overwrought dramatic and dark love story that had a slow pace and a boring pair of actors doing Tarzan and Jane. I can’t remember a single scene other than something about Tarzan knocking someone down steps? I can remember scenes from just about EVERY other Tarzan movie but not much from that one. AND THE EPIC ADVENTURES seems to have happened after the movie GREYSTOKE, taking some plot or maybe tone from that but NOT the Jane/William thing or Jane/Wilhelm thing.

From what I recall about the movie, it was filled with loss and grief and certainly this show isn’t as dark as that but it does seem to want to be. Happily, it separates itself from GREYSTOKE early on but the Jane thing lingered. The first two episodes, really one movie, had Phillipe as a character and Themba was not a character in it.

Joshua was only in the first movie (two episodes). I feel Themba was superior so that was a good change.

Certainly, if this went to season two, Rokoff would have returned is my guess. The second actor to play him was too good to lose forever. I liked the first actor to play him, too but the second was superior.

I don’t need everything explained but episodes like BLACK ORCHID and WHITE PEBBLE (and a large handful of others) almost have no explanation, among others and some have open ended climaxes that do not always ring true and in a way cheat the audience and/or leave the audience wondering what else happened. Lots of stuff is never followed up on and this is annoying and off putting.

All in all, Lara is an excellent Tarzan, the show looks great, tries different things with Tarzan and his setting(s) and brought to life a few other Edgar Rice creations (Pellucidar, Amtor) and tried a sort of LAND TIME FORGOT episode with a real dinosaur (so take that TRACK OF THE DINOSAUR from Ely’s show). There were real monsters and the supernatural was a definite, almost a given in this Tarzan show where in both Ely (maybe one episode?) and Wolf (maybe two episodes?), there was a strong hint that the supernatural was about but not often and not usually seen or encountered by Tarzan or anyone.

No other live action Tarzan has done a lot of this and for that I salute this show. I just leave with the feeling, a sad one, that it could have been, like Wolf’s show (though I think that was more successful and more entertaining in a way, yet far too safe where this show is not safe by any means), far better than it was.

That’s not to slight Lara, who I think is probably my favorite alongside Ely and Wolf.


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