September 3, 2001 – The Animated Series Disney’s The Legend of Tarzan Premieres
“Come on! What’s more important than an afternoon of mindless frolicking with his old pals, huh?”
On September 3, 2001, the animated series Disney’s The Legend of Tarzan premiered on UPN and in syndication, as part of the Disney’s One Too programming block. The series was based on the characters from the Edgar Rice Burroughs series of Tarzan and the animated feature based on the books. It is set after the events of the film, where Tarzan succeeds Kerchak as the Lord of the Jungle. The series ran for 39 episodes in two seasons. The series was created by Disney Pictures Television, and starred Michael T. Weiss as Tarzan, Olivia d’Abo as Jane, April Winchell as Terk, Jim Cummings as Tantor, Suzanne Blakeslee as Kala, and Jeff Bennett as Professor Archimedes.
The first episode, “Tarzan and the Race Against Time,” begins with Tantor standing quietly in the jungle, talking to himself before he is startled by friend Terk. The two can’t find Tarzan, though they do find him swinging vines with his wife Jane, and Terk thinks that Tarzan has forgotten them in favor of Jane. Jane tries to show off, but Tarzan quickly saves her from falling to her doom. She continues to swing, and the two head back to the treehouse. Terk starts talking badly about Jane, and Tantor points out that Terk is jealous. Tarzan drops in, and as Terk starts to talk about Jane, Tarzan begins wrestling with Terk, just as they used to do. As they play, Terk gets caught in a hollow log and is pulled out, covered in spiders. Tarzan is bitten by one of the spiders, but brushes it off as nothing.
When he heads back to the treehouse, Jane sees the mark where he was bitten, and immediately calls her father to investigate. It turns out that the spider is quite poisonous, and there isn’t much time before Tarzan dies from the poison. The only antidote is in the root of the Mububu flower, which only grows at the top of a waterfall. Jane rushes off to get the flower, although Tarzan believes that he is fine. Against her wishes, Tarzan goes with her, as well as her father, Tantor, and Terk. Terk doesn’t believe there is anything wrong with Tarzan, and is more annoyed by Jane than anything. Terk continues to torment Jane, who constantly finds herself in dangerous situations. The group is attacked by a snake, and although Tarzan fights back, he is growing weaker thanks to the venom. Tarzan’s pride keeps him from accepting help from the others, and he quickly sets forth to get the others across the chasm, but falls when blurry vision keeps him from catching his vine. He lands in the lair of wild jackals, and barely has enough strength to ward them off. The group sets off to save Tarzan, managing to make it just in time.
Tarzan collapses after the attack, and Jane struggles up the ledge with Terk to retrieve the Mububu root. Tarzan has a hallucination that Tantor’s trunk is the earlier snake, and that Jane’s father is Clayton. When Jane and Terk reach the top of the waterfall, they find the flower in the middle of the raging waterfall. Jane has finally had enough of Terk’s berating, and finally tells Terk to hold her tongue rather than tell her she can’t do anything. Terk begrudgingly helps, but the vine snaps once Jane retrieves the flower. Terk dives in to grab the vine, and the two end up hanging from the rock. Terk and Jane work together to save themselves and get the flower quickly to Jane’s father. The antidote is quickly made, and Tarzan is saved. The episode ends with Terk appreciating Jane, though she acts as though she doesn’t.