Tarzan (Lord Greystoke), already well educated and fed up with civilization, returns to the jungle and, more-or-less assisted by chimpanzee Cheetah and orphan boy Jai, wages war against ... See full summary »
Tarzan (Lord Greystoke), already well educated and fed up with civilization, returns to the jungle and, more-or-less assisted by chimpanzee Cheetah and orphan boy Jai, wages war against poachers and other bad guys. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Mike Henry, who had just filmed several big-screen adventures as Tarzan, was intended to have also played the lead in the TV series, but backed out. Ron Ely, who took his place, was originally to have played a Tarzan imposter in a proposed episode of the TV series. See more »
This was one of my favorite shows as a kid. It was exciting and suspenseful and had some of the most evil villains on TV every week.
However, when I saw reruns of "Tarzan" in the early 1980s, either I caught a batch of bad episodes or I had evolved because I found 6 episodes in a row to be very poorly written and even boring, so I stopped watching.
Recently, a friend loaned me four episodes and all four were exceptional. So, I saw an additional four episodes and three were quite good. Aside from obviously being an uneven series (although I have read that the show had script problems during the first year), I agree with previous posters that just the fantastic on-location photography puts all of the other Tarzan TV series to shame. Ron Ely was perfectly cast, an honorable and articulate "lawman" who respected the native tribes around him. There's one episode, "Last of the Superman" (which must have been written by an Ayn Rand admirer) where Tarzan philosophically reflects on how humans owe it to themselves to be the best they can be.
The other distinguishing thing was that there was no holds barred when it came to violence - guest star William Smithers frantically firing a revolver as piranha fish devour him, and Bo Hopkins as a no-gooder who is lazing around a lake shore when he's pulled into the lake and killed by a crocodile (one of the goriest TV scenes ever filmed). When bad guy Pat Conway is shot to death as he tries to escape by swimming across a raging river, Tarzan angrily admonishes the shooter with, "He had a right to choose how to die!"
The show was attacked by critics in the 1960s, and yet dig the guest star roster - Helen Hayes, Jimmy MacArthur, James Earl Jones, Michael Dunn, Maurice Evans, Julie Harris, James Whitmore, George Kennedy, Sally Kellerman, Diana Ross, the great (if late) Gia Scala, Leslie Parrish, the late Michael Witney, Nichelle Nichols, etc. People like that don't appear on a show if it's bad.
TV Guide reported in June 1968 that the series still had a 31 share and finished in the top 40 during 1967-68, but NBC felt its demographics (too many older women and too many kids) made it unappealing and it was cancelled. Popular demand brought it back for summer reruns in 1969.
A good series.
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