Friday, July 01, 2016

Tarzan (Filmation): "Tarzan and the Golden Lion" (September 25, 1976)

The third Filmation Tarzan episode is titled “Tarzan and the Golden Lion.”

You may recognize that name if you are a fan of the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ books. Tarzan, in that story, befriends a golden cub, and raises it to adulthood. The lion then becomes something like a family pet, always loyal to Tarzan and his son and wife. The character of the “golden lion” recurs throughout the book series, following his first appearance in the ninth book. In the stories, he is known as Jad-bal-ja.

The Filmation episode that shares the book’s name is basically a two-part show.

The first part of the episode features N’Kima and Tarzan encountering the cub, and raising it to adulthood as a trusted friend. We see Tarzan teaching the lion in a kind of training montage. Apparently, years pass as it grows to maturity.

The second portion of the episode involves a group of gorilla-men who have taken N’Kima’s monkey friends as slaves.  Tarzan follows them to their kingdom to free them, and finds that these ape men are also enslaving a race of meek humanoids. These (speaking...) apes are known as the Bolmangani.

Tarzan teaches the primitives to fight, and that they are “slaves” to their fears.  When Tarzan is captured, one of the humanoid children leads a campaign against the ape-men, and the golden lion also arrives with reinforcements from the jungle.

I have to confess, I really loved this episode, especially the portion about the golden cub, Jad-bal-ja, at the beginning. The mother lion has died, and Tarzan notes that “Death is no stranger to the jungle.”  He then shows mercy and compassion for the lion, and there are lovely shots of him playing with the cub, training, it and, more importantly, living with the lion, and treating him as a friend.

The second part of the episode is as dogmatically moralistic as any Filmation show you can think of, with Tarzan lecturing the primitives about standing up for themselves.  

It’s a good message (“sometimes we must face our fears to do what is necessary,”) and the end is exciting, with the golden cub showing up with a stampede to stop the ape men.

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