My particular brand of “Throwback Thursday” usually brings up classic television. When asked to do this piece, one little nugget of retro goodness continually came to mind. It aired during a time long ago when Saturday morning cartoons reigned supreme. One show filled me with excitement the very second I heard the intro music – and that show was ‘Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle!’
Before you start banging on that keyboard to question how Tarzan is sci-fi, let me explain.
Tarzan was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs who wrote some fantastic science fiction novels such as ‘John Carter of Mars’, ‘At the Earth’s Core’, and ‘The People That Time Forgot’. The character at the time was considered a superhero. Not the kind that we are used to in that he was a superhero due to a mutation, super powers or dependent on some superior technology. He was a superhero based on his intellect, superior strength (he was, after all, raised by apes), cunning and sense of heroics. He was what a superhero was before there was a Batman, Superman or Spider-Man.
So why do I love this animated series? First of all, as an artist myself, I was impressed with the visual world of ‘Tarzan.’ One of my recurring memories was how beautiful and dangerous the rivers looked in the show. The use of perspective and varying speeds of the whitecaps created the feeling of the danger inherent in the wilds of the untamed jungle. The character animation, too, was artfully done. Tarzan’s movements were fluid, not choppy and jerky and succeeded in giving you the idea that he was nimble and strong. He walked with purpose and pride, almost regal in his composure wearing nothing more than animal skin.
Robert Ridgely’s voice as the Lord of the Jungle was clear, intelligent, commanding and compassionate. He was so well spoken, which added to his air of nobility.
‘Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle’ presented children with moving stories, an obvious view of good and bad, and showed us the value of nature and protecting the environment long before society began to focus on it. Even the score of the show was brilliant! The music had an eerie, jungle sound that along with the outstanding visual animation created a feeling of menace and mystery.
While ‘Tarzan’ voice actor Ridgely did an amazing job, the most famous battle cry in film/television history was performed by Danton Burroughs, who just happens to be the grandson of ‘Tarzan’ creator Edgar Rice Burroughs!
Forget what you know of animated shows today, they are not created equal. ‘Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle’ was created the old fashioned way: by long, tedious hours of hand drawn artwork and strict voice over timing and sound effects. This is quality animation and story lines.
‘Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle’ ran for 4 seasons, and I feel it’s due for a comeback. Cartoon Network, perhaps? (Hint hint) Are they even listening?
Do yourselves a favor and take a look at the video below, and then look up all the other amazing productions from Filmation Associates!
Anyone remember this series from Saturday morning cartoons? Let us know of your favorite episodes in the comments below, and remember, protect the jungle and it’s inhabitants!