Starring: Robert Ridgely, Alan Oppenheimer,
Directed by: Don Towsley
Created by: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Original Year of Release: 1976
Run Time: 360 Minutes
Rated: Unrated but think “G”
With the release of “The Legend of Tarzan” to theaters, naturally anything Tarzan from the past has been brought to the forefront. One of those is the DVD release of the first season of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle, the 1976 animated series. The 1970s was the Golden Age of Saturday morning cartoons when all three of the major networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) broadcast cartoons from morning until noon. There was something for everyone…from superheroes and science fiction to teenage hijinks and a dog that helped solve mysteries.
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle ran on CBS from 1976 until 1980 and was produced by the Filmation studio that also produced cartoons such as The Archies, Batman, Superman, He-Man And the Masters of the Universe, Star Trek, and the live-action Shazam series. Along with Warner Brothers and Hanna-Barbera, it was one of the three major producers of animated programs from the 1960s through the 1980s.
The two DVD set collects the first 16 half-hour episodes of the series and was one of the best animated shows of the era for several of reasons. First, it featured an animation style based upon the art of longtime Tarzan newspaper strip creator Burne Hogarth. Secondly, the series was one of the more faithful adaptations of the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. And finally, Tarzan is depicted as extremely intelligent and articulate instead of the grunting jungle man of many of the films.
In the series, Tarzan’s sidekick is a monkey named N’kima which again, is faithful to Burroughs’ novels while Cheetah was created strictly for the movies. Tarzan was voiced by actor Robert Ridgely who appeared in many films and TV shows as well as providing the voice of Thundarr the Barbarian in that animated series. Another regular was Alan Oppenheimer who voiced a couple of different characters in the series. The venerable Oppenheimer also provided the voices many other well-known animated characters including Skeletor, Man-At-Arms, BlackStar, Ming the Merciless, and even Mighty Mouse.
The series debuted with “Tarzan and the City of Gold” as Tarzan must aid the beautiful Thia against the evil Queen Nemone. The episodes not only feature adventure but also elements of fantasy, science fiction, and mystery. In “Tarzan and the Vikings” Tarzan encounters the descendants of Vikings who were blown off course and ended up in Africa several centuries earlier. “Tarzan’s Rival” finds him facing off against a robotic duplicate that is blamed for mistreating animals. He even has to battle aliens who are trying to take animal specimens back to their own world in “Tarzan and the Strange Visitors.”
Like a lot of animated shows of the era the violence was extremely tame and Tarzan often finds ways to solve problems without fighting. But while the show is kid friendly, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle still has enough action and adventure to keep things lively.
Unfortunately there are no extras in the set which is a disappointment. It would have been nice to get some thoughts from surviving cast members or Tarzan historians. A must for Tarzan fans!