Monday, June 20, 2016

TARZAN, LORD OF THE JUNGLE - THE COMPLETE SEASON ONE

First of all, Filmation Studios' TARZAN, LORD OF THE JUNGLE is one of the best Saturday morning adventure shows of its era (1976-1979). Well-written and extremely respectful to the spirit of Edgar Rice Burroughs' character and stories, this Tarzan adaptation stands among the best to date. 

Yes, 1970s animation was limited compared to today, and Filmation relied heavily on re-using animation in order to stay within budget and keep the work in the U.S. rather than farming it out to inferior overseas contractors like rival studio Hanna-Barbara. But the show is extremely well-designed, with lush backgrounds, fine character design, and a generous use of rotoscoping, which helps keep our hero's movements realistic and dynamic. Voice actor Robert Ridgley (who also voiced FLASH GORDON and THUNDARR) is perfectly cast as the Lord of the Jungle. The stories are very much in the mold of Burroughs' later Tarzan novels, with the ape man encountering a plethora of lost cities and civilizations in his remote jungle home.

Unfortunately, Warner Brothers has completely messed up this blatant cash-grab release. Presented in their original 4x3 aspect ratio, the prints used for this collection of the series first "season" of 16 episodes are in terrible shape, with an almost unrelenting barrage of scratches, specks, dirt and faded colors. No effort whatsoever appears to have been put into this release. There certainly was no restoration work done, and I can't prove it, because I have nothing to compare against, but it appears that these are syndication prints with a few seconds missing, as evidenced by awkward cuts halfway through each episode.

And I don't want to even discuss that horrid, eye-bleedingly amateurish cover art, which is completely off-model and poorly drawn. Heck, even the logo is wrong.

I'm pleased to finally have these great cartoons on DVD, and hope they'll eventually release the remaining episodes. But this two-disc DVD set is just an embarrassment to Warner Brothers and an insult to the creators of the series... and its fans.