The CW Spiral–a FanSided podcast run by myself, Reed Gaudens (Netflix Life), and Michael Patterson (Bam Smack Pow)–has started its season 3! As the network settles in for a line-up of programming that doesn’t fit in our wheelhouse of taste, we’ve chosen to pivot toward diving into the vault for past CW and WB shows to enjoy. Our first selection is Tarzan.
In its 11 years as a network, The WB had some iconic programming. From its hit Saturday morning cartoons to Dawson’s Creek, Charmed, Felicity, One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls, Smallville, and more, this was the channel to watch as a child and a young adult, I should know, I was coming of age during its peak. But I wasn’t aware of the adventure drama Tarzan which premiered Oct. 5, 2003 and ended on Nov. 23, 2003. This could have been because it was short-lived, only running eight episodes before it was canceled, and it aired on Sundays.
The WB’s Tarzan turns 20
Eric Kripke, who is best known for Supernatural and The Boys, developed the series along with collaborators Mike Werb and Michael Colleary (Face/Off). Tarzan was Kripke’s first show and he doesn’t remember it fondly, according to this screen grab, he said the following in an interview years later when he was asked how he ended up creating Supernatural:
"I had adapted another show for the WB, a piece of crap called Tarzan. Here’s my feelings on Tarzan: I’ll stand behind the pilot. It has a beginning, middle, and–the problem–it ends. I was hungry to have anything in production, so I wrote a 50-page story that ended. Then it got made and I had something in production and it was all my dreams come true.They said to me, “Let’s do 12 more.” I said, “Uh wait! What’s the story?” So, Tarzan was a hell ride in every way, and we only did eight before they wisely put us out of our misery. But I think Warner Bros. appreciated that I stood proudly on the deck of the Titanic with my violin and just played away. I never tried to dress as a woman and get off the boat…I just went right down with that ship. So they came to me the next year and said, “Thank you for developing Tarzan for us, but what idea do you want to do?”"
Honestly, this just made us more intrigued to dive in and that’s exactly what we did in The CW Spiral 3×01: Discovering The WB’s Tarzan after 20 years. You can watch the pod episode below or listen to it via Red Circle.
In this episode, after we got through giving listeners news about Sullivan’s Crossing, The Spencer Sisters, and the 2024 CW original unscripted crime series Crime Nation, we launched into our thoughts about the Tarzan pilot. Here’s the synopsis for the show, according to Rotten Tomatoes:
"A contemporary spin on an old story. Two decades after his parents died in the African jungle, leaving him to be raised by apes, Tarzan’s billionaire uncle has him captured and brought back to New York City. Escaping captivity, he meets a police detective named Jane, who is already romantically involved with another man, leaving her to choose between civilization and humanity."
Tarzan‘s first episode felt like a TV movie which makes sense considering the developers of the series were all filmmakers. It was everything we’ve missed from the TV landscape.
There were dialogue-less fight scenes, the beginnings of a dramatic love story that’s allowed to breathe and live on the chemistry of the actors (Travis Fimmel and Sarah Wayne Callies), and a story that makes you want to come back for more. Not to mention the musical cues! The ending moment to “I’m With You” by Avril Lavigne alone is iconic!
As a trio, we’re excited to see whether we agree with Kripke, and the show drops off after the pilot episode, or if we’re sticking to our statement that Tarzan is a hidden gem. We’ll be releasing a new review every Monday until we finish up its run, and we’ll give our final verdict. Subscribe to The CW Spiral on Youtube for our podcast videos and follow us on Twitter for general CW news and content.