Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past! On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1996. The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!
Welcome to Fantasy Island! Who will have a fantasy this week and what will be left of them?
Episode 1.2 “Bet A Million/Mr. Irresistible”
(Directed by John Newland and Cliff Bole, originally aired on February 4th, 1978)
In the second episode of Fantasy Island, a bit more was revealed about the resort.
First off, it only costs $6,000 to travel to Fantasy Island and have a fantasy. (In the pilot, it cost $60,000.) I assume that, with inflation, it would cost a bit more today but still, $6,000 seems like a pretty good deal for something that could potentially change your life. However, we also learn that Mr. Roarke doesn’t always charge full price. In fact, it appears that he often allows people to come to the island for free. Tattoo thinks that is a little bit foolish and it is. I mean, it’s a big resort. I imagine it must not be cheap to run the place.
Secondly, in this episode, we discovered that Fantasy Island has a house band. They play in the lounge and they are totally funky. Check them out:
Finally, in this episode, we are introduced to the Fantasy Island casino. Apparently, if a visitor “breaks the bank” at the casino, they can play for a chance to win the island itself! However, Mr. Roarke insists on being at the table if anyone plays for the island and Mr. Roarke has magical powers so you can be sure that he’s never going to lose.
The casino plays a huge role in one of this episode’s two fantasies. Fred Wade (Henry Gibson) sells hotel supplies for a living. His friends call him “Mr. Hotel,” which he apparently considers to be a compliment. Fred and his wife (Jane Powell) come to Fantasy Island. Their fantasy? A chance to talk to wealthy hotelier Otis Hayden about a resort that Fred wants to build and run. (It seems like it would have been smarter to actually make running the hotel the fantasy but what do I know about the hotel business?) Mr. Roarke informs Fred that, if he wants his fantasy to come true, he’s going to have to approach Hayden in the casino and play some card games. Fred admits that he doesn’t have any money. Mr. Roarke explains that Tattoo has totaled up all of Fred’s assets (including his house and his car) and, as such, Fred has $40,000 to play with. Fred agrees to do so because this isn’t creepy at all.
Things don’t go so well. Fred meets Hayden and makes his pitch. But, in the process, he loses $30,000 and, the next morning, Hayden leaves the island without talking to Fred about his plans. Fred nearly gives up on his dreams but then he decides to bet his remaining money at the casino. With his wife at his side, Fred has an early run of luck. He wins over a million dollars. He gets to play for the ownership of Fantasy Island! And …. he loses the final hand.
Not to worry though! This is Fantasy Island! Just as Fred and his wife are preparing to leave the island, words comes through that Hayden wants to build the resort. And Hayden sends Fred a cashier’s check for $49,000! Fred learns a valuable lesson about never giving up hope.
Gangly Chuck Sheffield (John Schuck) wins a free trip to Fantasy Island in a contest. His fantasy? He wants to know what it’s like to be irresistible to women. It’s not that he doesn’t love his fiancée, Stephanie. It’s just that Chuck doesn’t want to get married and then spend the rest of his life wondering. To me, it sounds like he’s just looking for an excuse to cheat. However, Tattoo sympathizes with Chuck.
In fact, Tattoo looking for love was a major subplot during this episode.
Mr. Roarke gives Chuck the “love root,” a cologne that makes Chuck irresistible to every woman that he meets. Again, Tattoo thinks that it’s a wonderful idea.
And, at first, Chuck thinks it’s a wonderful idea.
However, Chuck soon has every woman on the island fighting over him and all of their boyfriends want to beat up Chuck! Chuck learns to appreciate the life he has, despite the power of the love root.
Surprise, surprise! It turns out that the love root is just scented water and that the entire contest was fake. Stephanie arranged for Chuck to go to Fantasy Island so that he wouldn’t have any lingering regrets once they got married. I would not do that for my boyfriend.
Anyway, this episode of Fantasy Island was fairly silly but at least Mr. Roark and Tattoo got to do a bit more here than they did last week. Henry Gibson and Jane Powell were sympathetic as the couple with a dream. John Schuck was a good actor but not even he could redeem Chuck. Seriously, Stephanie, you deserve better! The important thing is that the resort looked lovely and, since it only costs $6,000, I know where we’re all going on our next vacation!