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!
Smiles, everyone, smiles! It’s time for another trip to Fantasy Island, the most dramatic mystical island this side of Lost! This week, we have three fantasies and Tattoo tries to grow mustache.
Episode 1.5 “Lady of the Evening/The Racer”
(Directed by Don Weis, originally aired on February 25th, 1978)
This episode begins with the bell ringing and Tattoo yelling that the plane is arriving. Before Mr. Roarke and Tattoo drive off to greet the plane, Mr. Roarke tells Tattoo to wash his face because he has what appears to be a smudge on his upper lip. Tattoo explains that he’s growing a mustache because all of the world’s great lovers (including, Tattoo says, Burt Reynolds) have mustaches. Tattoo’s effort to grow a mustache is a running joke through this episode of Fantasy Island. Needless to say, it doesn’t go well for him. Eventually, he resorts to using shoe polish. By the end of the episode, Tattoo finally washes his face and presumably returns to doing whatever it is that he actually does on the island.
As for the fantasies….
Renee Lansing (Carol Lynley) is a high-priced New York “call girl” who just wants to take a vacation some place where no one knows what she does for a living. At first, the fantasy seems to be going well. She even meets a nice guy named Bill (Paul Burke). But then, on the tennis court — OH MY GOD, IT’S ONE OF HER CUSTOMERS! Renee runs off to Mr. Roarke’s office and demands her money back. Mr. Roarke tells her that she’s not being honest with herself about what her fantasy actually is. At this point, I was really wondering what one goes through when one signs up to Fantasy Island. I assume some sort of agreement has to be signed. Does the agreement actually state that Mr. Roarke gets to decide what your fantasy actually is? Renee’s fantasy was to not be recognized. She’s been recognized. GIVE HER BACK HER MONEY, ROARKE!
Anyway, it all turns out for the best. Bill reveals that he also knows who Renee is (GIVE HER BACK HER MONEY!) but he doesn’t care because he’s secretly been in love with her for years and apparently, it was his fantasy to be reunited with her. Good for Bill but Renee still didn’t get her fantasy. Someone needs to introduce her to a good lawyer.
Meanwhile, Jack Kincaid (played by the master of overacting, Christopher George) is a race car driver who has never mentally recovered from a serious crash. His fantasy is to reexperience the crash so that he can get back his confidence. Mr. Roarke goes through a lot of trouble to build an exact replica of the race track on which Jack crashed. He even brings Jack’s mechanic, Corky (Alan Hale, Jr.), to the island. Fortunately, Jack’s wife (Carol Lawrence) convinces Jack that he has nothing to prove. So, Jack doesn’t get his fantasy but he does become a better person.
Did anyone get their fantasy this week!? Actually, Mr. Brennan (Jerry Van Dyke) did. Mr. Brennan shows up in one scene and tells Roarke that he loved his fantasy, which was apparently to play tennis without having to deal with his wife nagging him …. wait, what? That’s the fantasy that Roarke actually honors?
I’m starting to think Fantasy Island might be a scam! We’ll find out more next week, I guess.