Saturday, January 21, 2017
Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle: "Tarzan and the City of Sorcery" (November 20, 1976)
In “Tarzan and the City of Sorcery,” Tarzan saves an imperiled boy from a lion, and then learns that his father has been transformed into a baboon by an evil and deceptive queen, Nubia who claims to possess magic powers.
In her city, Nubia’s people worship Tarzan as a 400 year old jungle God, and so Nubia perceives the king of the jungle as a threat to her power.
Despite this fact, Tarzan must convince the people that Nubia possesses no magic and is merely fooling them. He is pitted against the Mighty Luxor, a crocodile, but eventually his wisdom and reason carry the day (along with a bit of help from Tarzan’s animal friends).
“Tarzan and the City of Sorcery” is a middling entry in the series if for no other reason that it features familiar -- or stock -- characters and situations. We have already encountered evil queens aplenty on the series, and Tarzan has come to the aid of many a young stranger. He's also led several insurrections of "the people" against autocratic leaders.
Similarly, Tarzan has already traveled to several intriguing “lost worlds,” and helped set them on a path of freedom and dignity. Already in the series we have seen an underwater kingdom, a Roman kingdom, a Viking kingdom, and now -- this week -- an Egyptian-styled one.
And speaking of familiar or stock material, Filmation’s Flash Gordon (1979) also featured an episode in which the hero (Flash, in that circumstance) traveled to a faraway kingdom, only to learn that his doppelganger is worshiped there, in stone form, as a God.
Still, there are some worthwhile points in this particular episode of Tarzan. It is interesting that Tarzan, a man of nature, is constantly called upon to be the voice of rationality and science, for example. He notes (quite rightly) that “Not being able to explain something does not make it magic.
His final speech to the no-longer cowed populace is also inspiring (if heavy-handed): “The greatest magic of all: intelligence and love for one another.”
Next week: “Tarzan at the Earth’s Core.”