TARZAN OF THE 1960s - IN THE YEAR MILLENNIUM TWO
Recalling When Rod Serling's Twilight Zone Reigned Supreme
David Bruce Bozarth
Copyright © 2001
Burroughs was just plain fun for all ages and all generations! Middle Fans (those "hard core" ERB fans who discovered or fully embraced the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs during the 1960s read these fabulous adventure stories in the shadow of the then popular TV culture. Three cross-over parodies, originally published on Jim Thompson's ERBCOF-L list server follow:
Meet John Carter. Just your average miner-prospector-camper from small town, U.S.A. Just a guy who wants to live a normal life and look up at the stars now and then. He could be your next door neighbor. John is doing what he enjoys, just trying to make a few bucks in Arizona and see some caves. What he doesn't realize is that soon he'll find his life so caught up in the bizarre that his life will change forever. For when John steps over the entrance into his next cave, he'll be stepping into the Barsoom Zone. da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da.
ROD SERLING: Meet John Carter, a Virginia cowpoke and veteran of the recent Civil War who considers himself to be just another normal bean. Today he is prospecting near an old cave, looking for gold and perhaps some adventure. Little does he know that his quest will soon lead him into more adventure than he'd bargained for when he suddenly finds himself prospecting for more than gold in a strange new world; a strange world that can only be
[raises voice, adding emphasis]
found IN ...
THE BARSOOM ZONE........
[Camera rises to stars, POV dissolves into night sky with a single bright red point of light: Mars! Music wells up....]
Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh DUUUHH Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh
In gray suit and smoking a cigarette, of course.
Across the cold and dark of 40,000,000 miles comes a stalwart soul. Into the hot jungles of Equatorial Africa does the astral spirit materialize for a date with La, the High Priestess of Opar--a sumptuous business lunch served by a naked man bearing a crimson scar on his forehead...
(voice over fades, scene volume rises)
"...and that's 500,000 units on the West Coast?"
"Yes, John, the ape-man product did moderately well with the Double Arches. My projection suggests the the Barsoom toys will eventually out-perform by 1/100th% because of the six-legged goofy character and the lovable calot creature."
"That damn ape-man has always overshadowed my thunder--still (looking at papers on the table) this is a pretty good rate of return on the investment."
"Doing wonderful. Any luck with your love life since last time?"
(She looks at the waiter with a stern eye) "Not so you'd notice."
These are amusing asides and even more amusing mixes of elder TV with elder adventure writing; gentle spoofs of the Twilight Zone's imprint on the American culture and a renewed statement that Burroughs is far from forgotten in the world of literature. From memories of yesterday to today's multi-media reality, Burroughs is presented--but is it the beloved John Carter, Warlord of Mars who ranks top among the pantheon of Burroughs Heroes?
Alas, we cannot say this is so.
Tarzan continues to reign supreme in the mass audience eye, primarily because of the Tarzan films from 1918 to present. Tarzan is the jewel in the crown, regardless of dumbing down or directorial determinations to present off-beat psychological interpetations.
Yet, Tarzan is only a part of the legacy Ed Burroughs left behind. His worlds of wonder continue to inflame the imagination of those who discover his works; Pellucidar, Va-nah, Barsoom, Poloda, the Wild West, and cloud-shrouded Venus--stories that speak to the human spirit.
The T-Zone parodies above embrace the first work of Edgar Rice Burroughs A Princess of Mars, which appeared before Tarzan of the Apes.