Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle: "Tarzan and the Olympiads" (December 11, 1976)

In “Tarzan and the Olympiads,” Tarzan rescues two escaped slaves, Dmitri and Logos, from Roman troops marching in his jungle.

These Roman troops hail from a (lost) city where the physically strong rule the roost, and the losers in athletic games become slaves. The tyrant of Olympus is named Cronos.

Tarzan is captured by the Romans and must fight to regain his freedom, but he must also help bring freedom to the city.

“Tarzan and the Olympiads” is a not-very compelling installment of this 1976 Filmation Saturday morning series. All the elements present here we have seen in episodes before, and handled better, too. We get a lost city, for example, that apes some other famous historical time period in human civilization, (The Roman Empire) and we also get the young people that must be freed from captivity. Finally, we encounter the evil tyrant, Cronos, who resists change.

The only fresh angle is the fact that physical or athletic games form the centerpiece of this particular civilization. Athletes prove their worth by competing in the pole vault, the long jump, spear throwing (!) and foot races. Naturally, Tarzan is well-equipped to win in all those events, and thus challenge Cronos. In fact, he saves Cronos from a crocodile during one athletic event.

What’s weird here is that the city appears to have no women in it all. This fact adds a whole other subtext to the installment. It’s all about half-naked men and their acts of physical prowess. I’m not saying there’s a problem with that, or that this subtext was intentional, just that the total lack of females on screen encourages a different reading of the tale. And it’s a little strange too.  Someone has to be giving birth to the children, right? Wouldn't the women have to compete in games too?

“Tarzan and the Olympiads” ends, naturally, with Tarzan victorious and Cronos changing his ways. “We must stop conquering and staring caring,” is the message for audience at home. 

Of course, the city also needs to find some women…

Next Week: “Tarzan’s Trial.”

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