So, yeah, besides the superheroes, there were plenty of other Saturday morning cartoon heroes in my kidhood. To name a few, there was Blackstar and Flash Gordon, then the Defenders of the Earth and the Mighty Orbots, and Thundarr the Barbarian. Hell, I even liked Captain Caveman. And then there were the straight out icons. In 1980 Filmation produced The Tarzan/Lone Ranger Adventure Hour, which a season later changed to The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour with the addition of the swashbuckling Old Californian bandit. So, yes, you best believe, back in the day, I was waking up early on them Saturday mornings to tune in to CBS and thus get my cartoon on.
I never got to see the 1960's Lone Ranger cartoon which preceded this one, but I definitely caught the live action Clayton Moore episodes. As a kid, even as much as I enjoyed Clayton Moore, it wasn't even close when it came to preference. The Filmation version was a cartoon, and that just made it more splendid and oh-so-appealing to a kid's eyes. The Lone Ranger show also peppered in historical figures into its episodes, from female journalist Nellie Bly ("The Great Balloon Race") to President Grant ("The President Plot") to Samuel Clemens ("The Abduction of Tom Sawyer"). So you got tricked into learning something. Verrrry devious.
Nowadays, the Lone Ranger might be a bit too straight-laced for my cynical taste. But, back then, oboy, mister, he rocked hard! Even though the Lone Ranger wielded his blazing guns with righteous fury, he never shot to kill (and that went beyond the cartoon show). On his trusty white stallion Silver and with his Indian friend Tonto, he patrolled the wild West, serving up his own brand of justice and living by his strict moral code, a silver bullet his calling card. C'mon, don't tell me that when you were a kid, you didn't cheer when the Lone Ranger's "Hi-yo, Silver!" rang out.
Zorro, on the other hand, even though every bit as idealistic as the masked ex-Texas Ranger, is much more relaxed in his methods. Set in Old California, Don Diego de la Vega walks around pretending to be a foppish nobleman. But when tyranny strikes (usually in the form of Captain Ramon), he dons the disguise of Zorro, brandishing his flashing rapier, carving out his famous "Z" and making fools of the soldados. Zorro rides his mighty steed Toronado and, in this cartoon, mentors his young sidekick, Miguel, who goes around in a similar, albeit more colorful, get-up. Another cool thing about the Zorro episodes - and an educational plus - is that, at the end of each show, Zorro would teach his viewers something about his culture. By the way, the Lone Ranger, at episode's end, would also take turns with Tonto in imparting historical tidbits.
Watching the Jungle Lord, the Masked Man, and the Curse of Capistrano on television led me to check out the works of pulp writers Johnston McCulley and the even more influential Edgar Rice Burroughs. And then it was only a short step from becoming a voracious reader. So I owe these cartoons a lot. Since the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate retains the rights to Tarzan, this 2 disc dvd set doesn't have Lord Greystoke in it. But it's all good. NEW ADVENTURES OF THE LONE RANGER AND ZORRO VOL. 1 is comprised of 17 cartoons in total, 11 Lone Ranger episodes and 6 Zorro episodes. The special features consist of two spotlight interviews: one with Filmation co-founder and producer Lou Scheimer (10 minutes long) and another with Zorro writer Robbie London (4 minutes). Both dudes talk on a bit about Zorro.
Remember that the animation is from the 1980s, and be kind. At that, the animation's not too shabby, anyway. Performance-wise, we might have been denied Robert Ridgely's strong turn as Tarzan, but we do get to hear the Lone Ranger and Zorro admirably voiced respectively by William Conrad (he provided narration for the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons) and Henry Darrow. Interestingly Darrow, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was later involved in two other Zorro television projects (and, this time, in live action): Disney's short-lived 1983 sitcom ZORRO AND SON and the more straight-forward ZORRO (1990-93).
Excitement and adventure in the Old West as provided by two legendary masked heroes. No, this show doesn't come too much in the way of super powers or space aliens or magical artifacts, and it's definitely not anime. And yet I had so much fun in watching it. Expert gun toting and fiery swashbuckling never get old. So, hopefully, NEW ADVENTURES OF THE LONE RANGER AND ZORRO VOL. 2 is just around the corner (maybe 2008?). Let's hope, yeah?
Disc 1 has the Lone Ranger episodes:
- Episode 1: "The Runaway"
- Episode 2: "Hanga the Night Monster"
- Episode 3: "Yellowstone Conspiracy"
- Episode 4: "The President Plot"
- Episdoe 5: "The Great Balloon Race"
- Episode 6: "The Escape"
- Episode 7: "The Valley of Gold"
- Episode 8: "Tall Timber"
- Episode 9: "Blowout!"
- Episode 10: "The Abduction of Tom Sawyer"
- Episode 11: "The Black Mare"
Disc 2 has the Zorro episodes (and the 2 interviews):
- Episode 1: "Three's A Crowd"
- Episode 2: "Flash Flood"
- Episode 3: "The Blockade"
- Episode 4: "The Frame"
- Episode 5: "Turnabout"
- Episode 6: "The Tyrant"