WB’S TARZAN - No. 2: SECRETS AND LIES
We get our first post BUFFY “Previously on TARZAN…”
BUFFY ended in May of 2003.
Michael is the man behind the door and he shuts Jane’s window (symbolic?), tells her he is grateful to John Jr for bringing her back to him.
Tarzan or rather John…
…okay let’s pause for a second. Nothing so far indicates this series is bad or slow paced or too talky. In fact, though it is early goings, it’s an action filled mystery but after the EPIC ADVENTURES, it’s a bit of a shock. First, having Tarzan NOT called Tarzan every minute or so is shocking. Second, Tarzan in NYC or NY is a good plot device but I don’t think I really want to watch Tarzan in NY for an extended period. Tarzan and the action belongs in the jungle and as long as he returns there OFTEN and we find out more about that exotic world, realistic (WOLF? Ely?) or fantasy (Lara’s EPIC) I don’t care as long as it only world hops once in awhile and doesn’t stray out of or stay out of the jungle for an extended period of time. This…seems as if it will be in NY for good and this feels not only cheap (it can’t be that cheap to film in NY IF it is filming in NY which I wonder about, too, if they did or not) but cheapens the character.
This John/Tarzan might not want to leave NY because he belongs with Jane here (which is in total opposition to the LARA EPIC ADVENTURES series) but it feels something Tarzan (in any and every iteration) might NOT say. Fimmel may look great but so far, he’s just speaking the lines, something Wolf, Ely, and Lara NEVER did. The three of them were actors. I’m not saying I dislike Fimmel and I think they are trying to keep the mystery of him going but it works against Tarzan and this show.
Setting Tarzan in NY, giving him a sort of force of nature personality-less or challenged persona, and making him stay in NY thanks to Jane all feels WRONG.
Tarzan from his rooftop (Jane’s I think) hears a woman in distress. He jumps off the building? Tarzan can’t just jump off a high rise without a physical way to land somewhere that isn’t going to kill him…a lower rooftop or something. A tree? A fire escape. It’s jars and makes him seem like SPIDERMAN or something. Tarzan might be LIKE a superhero (and I’m sure some comics might make him out to BE a superhero) but there’s a difference and he’s not really a superhero in the superhero SUPERMAN/BATMAN mold really. He doesn’t wear a costume to fight crime. This makes him seem as if he IS a superhero while not being one and being a regularly dressed guy. I’m not sure this show really understands Tarzan and the mythos at all. At. All.
The woman in panic seems to be in a park (Central Park?) and chased by three men in wool masks. Two hold her down while a third pulls a knife. There’s no real evidence but it does look like they are trying to rape her. Tarzan, of course, interferes and stops them, though the woman fears he will hurt her. What? I loathe when that happens, though today’s movies and TV shows, give women (and men) reason to think a rescuer might also be a villain out to get them.
The fight scene is fast, well choreographed and filmed with quick flashes and shots. It’s well done but three men? Tarzan can beat them with his hands tied behind his back.
Three policemen come running so Tarzan…uh, John, scrambles impossibly, up a tree.
We get the first opening credits sequence and the theme song with lyrics (and yes, it does have an ANGEL feel to it). The credits feature a close up of Tarzan’s eye spying on Jane and Michael dancing and…it’s kind of creepy on Tarzan’s part. It is also the first time we’re introduced to Lucy Lawless being in this show.
To add to the creep factor, as Michael leaves Jane’s room as she prepares to go to work, Tarzan appears outside her window on the ledge. This moves seem cool at a moment but just after they give the feel that Tarzan is a creepy stalker who doesn’t care about other’s feelings, be it Michael or Jane, just what he wants and he wants Jane. It’s almost a horror movie stalker.
When John finds out Michael is here, he jumps inside, aggressively. Are we supposed to like John here? Is this supposed to endear him to us…or to Jane? Or Jane to us?
Nicki is leaving for a college class despite Michael, who is making coffee for Jane, telling Nicki that the first rule of college is no classes before noon.
Jane gives a hate filled John some of Michael’s clothes because he “can’t run around New York looking like that.”
Jane makes him leave out the window. He gives her a romantic stare. On the streets, Mike tells her to take her time giving him his answer: a week, a month, a year. They cross the street and Tarzan from a high building is watching them. Again, this is creepy. Were the makers of this show going for that? It does not work in a Tarzan kind of way. It is, again, almost as if Tarzan is the villain, a horror movie stalker.
Further, it makes Jane sort of messed up.
Further more, I’m not sure they filmed this in NY and it looks close to that but I’m also not sure THIS is NY as it sort of doesn’t look like NYC.
A much later series, by I think some of the same people, on the CW, a remake of the superior 70s series THE TOMORROW PEOPLE, might have had some scenes filmed in NYC but it mostly wasn’t filmed there and only had inserts (not sure CHARMED was filmed in San Francisco but they pulled that off) of NYC. In THE TOMORROW PEOPLE, it mostly worked but one could tell the interiors were NOT NYC. I think THE EQUALIZER was filmed totally in NYC and that worked, showcasing the city. It might be one of the first. Maybe, the first.
The Clayton fortune was divided among three: Richard, his sister—publishing magnate Kathleen and John until 1983 when John, his wife, and son John Jr. were killed in the plane crash. John left behind a trust: a massive one third of stock totaling just under six billion dollars. It is this estate that is the ongoing battle between Richard and Kathleen. Jane watches this info dump on a TV and we get the info at the same time she does.
And just like that: I don’t give a crap.
Whichever sibling controls the estate secures a controlling interest in Greystoke. Michael brings Jane to question the victim Rachel from the park attack. He has Sam digging around, too.
Rachel tells them about the attackers but not much about them. She tells them more about the man who rescued her: he was barefoot mostly (mostly?), blond hair, torn shirt, face unseen, and…maybe she meant mostly he was brutal. Yeah, she says he was wild, out of control, brutal and was going to slaughter those guys. She adds, “He scared me.” She says she was thankful but then proceeded to add that to it. What a jerk SHE is.
A man named Kowalski works for Park Services and tells them about two kids smashing windows and laughing. He identified one of them as Matt Keaton who has a rap sheet: petty larceny and car theft.
The guys that attacked Rachel seemed to be more than two. And they wore ski masks. How did Kowalski ID their faces?
Matt is African American, it would seem. In truth, the actor playing him is KC Collins, a native of Toronto, Canada who was Detective Hale in the excellent LOST GIRL series. Collins is a physically attractive, well built man who can act his socks off and did so in LOST GIRL.
NOTE: IMDB calls his character Matt Flynn but the episode, so far, calls him Matt Keaton.
Jane is smart: the victim mentioned four suspects (not three, not two). The knife was a thousand bucks, way out of Matt’s price range. She says the word “gut” which Michael asks Sam if she did. They lightly tease her. She doesn’t think Matt is responsible. Mike is going to follow through on the kid, Matt. Kid?
NYC streets. Maybe?
A newspaper that tells us Richard is accused of fraud.
Jane is reading the NY Star and apparently might not know Kathy is the publisher? Kathy meets with Jane, she is sorry about the wait. Jane tells her she is investigating Richard. Kathy tells Jane she saw him last at a board meeting six months ago. Kathy wants to end the meeting when Jane digs more but Jane tells her that she believes Richard has found a way to control the stock in Greystoke and that she wants to stop him. Jane wants to help Kathy stop Richard. Kathy believes her father and John invested in people and ideas. Richard just cares about profit.
Kathy is told by Jane about John surviving. Kathy doesn’t believe it. She thinks Jane is on Richard’s payroll, she would not be the first cop on Richard’s payroll and Richard put her up to this. Kathy also says, “Now get out of my house.” House? She lives at the office?
I’ve always liked Lucy Lawless and she makes this character work. On the other hand, I’m used to seeing her in something entertaining, funny, exciting, dramatic and humorous. This is sort of none of those.
In a car, at night, Richard’s right hand man gets a call from a desk sergeant who let them know that John is still alive. Richard is happy John is alive because “everything depends on him.”
Mike wants to have a night with Jane including wine and a Steve McQueen flick (does anyone in 2023 know who that is? I do but I’m just saying, it’s another world 2003).
More later. I’m bored by this stuff right now.
Jane walks in the street when the stalker…I mean Tarzan jumps down behind her and asks her to come with him. She follows him…followed by Mike who sees them. She sees him poised between a building corner. She catches up to him on a roof and he says the view is beautiful.
Is it me or is it just that…well, this is just NOT Tarzan or anything he was say about a city like NYC?
She tells him about meeting his aunt, his father’s sister. She thinks he can stay with his aunt but he wants to stay with her. She says, “You can’t just jump into someone’s life.” She brings up the attack in the park and the fight.
He says, “When someone needs help, I help them.”
She asks if he saw their skin and if their skin was black. He tells her their skin was like Jane’s. He gets romantic again and she leaves.
Jane goes home and finds Michael in her apartment waiting for her. He wants to get married NOW. Gosh. She lies about stopping to get something to eat. She isn’t saying no to marriage. He asks what’s changed. She says nothing has changed. He tells her to forget he even asked her to marry him. She calls to him and this wakes up her sister who comes into the room. We cut away and then it is back to the room where Jane has told her sister everything.
“I love Michael, I can’t believe I’m doing this to him and for what? John? I mean he can barely speak. He won’t wear shoes. He’s completely uncontrollable. He doesn’t understand anything. It’s like he’s from a different planet. And my God, talk about a traumatic background.”
Nicki, her sister, tells her their mom always said Jane thinks too much. She thinks Jane should think less in this situation. She tells Jane to listen to how she feels. Jane decides to get John somewhere safe and never see him again and not do as Nicki suggested.
Michael talks to someone who turns out to be Richard. Mike thinks John is dangerous for Jane and tells Uncle Richard he can find his nephew and deliver him.
The precinct is the 12th. There, Sam tells Jane that the two murder suspects have been brought in. Mike questions Matt Keaton who claims innocence and seems innocent to me! Matt says he and his friend found the victim’s stuff (in a plastic bag, maybe she was jogging?) in the mud and figured someone lost it and they’d keep it.
Jane laments that Michael is lying to Matt that his prints and hair samples were all over the murder victim’s clothes. He also claims Matt’s buddy Doug told him it was all Matt’s idea.
When Michael tells Matt to tell the truth so he can get the DA to drop his charges or Matt will spend 20 years in jail, Jane pulls Mike out to talk to him. She does not want him to take out what happened between them on the two kids. Mike apologizes to Jane about what happened and that he lost his head.
Michael now seems like a jerk, too.
Kate shows up to a meeting that Richard didn’t think she would? Kate is tired of the anger and bitterness between them. Kate went to the cemetery today and realized she never thanked him for never stopping to find the bodies of her brother and sister in law. She wants to split the estate 50/50. He turns her down because he claims he needs that trust to keep Greystoke strong and keep the company running. He does not reveal John Jr is still alive but she was already told John was found alive but didn’t believe Jane.
Jane questions a man who may have seen something, a worker in the park. Sam wonders what they are doing there. He tells her he really is a big ass fan of the white boy theory and nothing would give him more pleasure than to nail a bunch of snippy white boys. Hilarious. He calls her out on her change from collected and calm to rash decision maker and acting on a feeling. He wonders if she is in trouble. She tells him nothing. Which now makes her unlikable, too, instead of trusting her partner. He tells her she has the most important job in the city. She asks what that is. “Keeping my ass alive.”
She sees the trees move and tells Sam she will walk and meet him later. It is 12 blocks. He tells her she is getting freakier and freakier.
John drops behind her again and tells her that he found the men who attacked the girl by following their scent. En route to finding them, Tarzan asks Jane why the men do what they do. He asks if it is for food. Attack a woman for food? Huh? Maybe he means the money? She tells him they just do it for fun and he can’t understand that.
He senses something. Michael comes out, having followed Jane and there are men with him approaching. Clayton’s men fire stun guns at John as he takes to the trees. Once more, he falls to the ground and is captured.
Jane seems to tell Michael that this is not about them and tricks him so that she can handcuff him to the car to save John from the van the men threw him in.
John escapes the van and beats the two men but the main henchman is about to stun him again but from behind, Jane stuns him instead. Tarzan holds Jane’s face but he hears another victim screaming. He and Jane go to the woman who was attacked. They find her at the Grand Army Plaza.
The woman points out where the men went. Jane calls it in. Multiple suspects are heading east up 68th. John goes after them, jumping up and rolling over a taxi, running through the streets, climbing over trucks and scaling walls. Mike hears the call and when he hears that Jane called it in, he goes after Tarzan and the suspects. John beats all four of them up despite one having and using a baseball bat. John throws that one through the windshield of a car in the car park he caught them in.
Mike tells John he’s not that hard to find, he makes so much damned noise.
They are on 69th and second.
Mike will bring John back to his uncle’s, “You’ll be safe there.” When a suspect moves, Mike turns with his gun so John runs. Mike starts shooting bullets at Tarzan even as he scales a huge pipe on a building. And shoots between his legs?!
Jane hears the shooting.
Mike’s shot makes Tarzan almost fall. He chases John to a roof and John jumps on him and chokes him but Mike uses a bullet wound he inflicted on John’s arm to make John get off him. They fight but Jane intervenes.
As if to rub salt in the wound, Tarzan touches Jane romantically so Michael rushes him and he and Tarzan go over the edge of the building’s roof.
Tarzan is holding onto the side and holding Michael up, too. But it seems as if Michael’s hands are slipping because he has John’s blood on them and he falls from Tarzan’s hands and down to his death. Jane just kind of leaves John to get onto the roof by himself. Jane tells him the police will not care what happened and they will kill John for this.
From a window with blinds, someone is watching them leave.
Jane brings John to Kathy’s house and tells her that John is her nephew and he needs her help. The maid or her assistant sees them. Kathy tells her to get Dr. Jaffey now.
As the four attackers are brought in, Sam questions Jane about Mike. Jane lies that she doesn’t know who could have done this to Mike. Sam was Mike’s friend, too, and he will find who did this and then he mumbles something profound about when he does find the killer. “God help us?” is what it sounds like but I don’t know. We hear a song as John sits down, bandaged and Jane leans against a wall near a window where we see it is raining outside.
Phew. I can’t say that was boring. It just doesn’t feel like TARZAN. At all. The show might as well be called SURVIVING IN NYC. It’s a cop show, a police show and not even a good procedural. I’m not really interested in the show down between the aunt and uncle though the two performers make it watchable as they are both very, very good. If they weren’t in those roles that plot would be extremely boring.
We get a some good fight scenes and a lot of improbably stunts, mostly John jumping over cabs and scaling walls and pipes.
I will say that it is NOT predictable. Sure, we get roof chases, attacks on women, and tension between Jane’s two romantic interests of the highest order (BOTH of them are jerks BTW and Jane who does NOT trust the police herself, isn’t very likable either) and a lot of boring talk but…
…who could predict Michael would die this soon in the series? Not me. OR that Sam would turn out to be Jane’s nemesis instead of her loyal sidekick and partner? We also do not know who is on the side of good or bad if such a thing exists in this series, the aunt or the uncle so there’s that. There’s shades here, Michael probably doesn’t think he’s really going to put John somewhere safe. Tarzan/John really did seem to save him and later apologized to Jane but…was he really all that put off by Mike’s death?
Nicki is wrong: Jane’s feelings led to THIS. Jane is right: what is she doing for this freak who just got her boyfriend killed? Sam is an idiot for letting Jane walk 12 blocks alone when they know there are more than one attacker out there. And Jane is right: if John didn’t fight Michael he might still be alive. For his part, Mike shot at John, too. No one here is blameless.
Truth is I care little for any of this. The show is just not that involving and there are a lot of fancy camera angles and lighting to try to involve us but it doesn’t work. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s mundane, something Tarzan, even bad Tarzan shows, shouldn’t be. EPIC had its huge faults and fair share of sad and boring moments but it was never a total bore and this kind of is. It’s also miserable.
There’s also a lot of close ups of John, the pretty boy in almost every scene he’s in, including the fights. Probably more than of Jane.
The acting is okay, I guess. Travis is okay but rather flat at times. The rest are okay. The series just does not work for and is probably the least of my favorite Tarzan TV shows and Travis barely seems like Tarzan. He’s not called that at all. He does have long hair and bare feet. He never interacts with animals here and gets shirtless for one brief moment at the very end.
The show also plays it both ways: John knows very little about civilization but…somehow seems to be able to talk and interact with things he might not know about or does from being a little kid when the plane crashed. He’s not that educated but not that uneducated either. This makes a rather unpredictable “Tarzan” but that should mean we are off balance. Unfortunately we’re off balance for all the wrong reasons and things and ultimately, it’s because this show is NOT Tarzan.
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