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!”
Sorry, Mr. Roarke, there’s not much to smile about when it comes to this episode.
Episode 1.7 “The Funny Girl/Butch and Sundance”
(Dir by Cliff Bole, originally aired on March 18th, 1978)
At the start of this episode, Tattoo is all excited because his birthday is coming up and he remembers that, last year, he partied all night and a bunch of beautiful women celebrated with him. Mr. Roarke promises Tattoo that things will be different this year. This year, Mr. Roarke says, there will be no presents. Tattoo will play a game of chess and drink a glass of sherry and maybe there will be a cello recital. Tattoo, needless to say, is disappointed.
Ignoring Tattoo’s anger, Mr. Roarke introduces him to the latest guests at Fantasy Island and it turns out that their fantasies are almost as disappointing and boring as Mr. Roarke’s plans for Tattoo’s birthday. Kay Penny (Marcia Strassman) is apparently the world’s most successful comedienne even though she never comes across as being particularly funny. Her fantasy is to move to small town where no one knows her. That sounds like a pretty lousy fantasy but whatever.
Bill (Christopher Connelly) and Alex (James MacArthur) are two friends who want to be Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid for a weekend. They’re huge fans of the film, though it appears neither one of them ever stuck around for the end. Mr. Roarke takes Bill and Alex to an old west town (perhaps the same one that we saw a few weeks ago) and Bill and Alex get to live out their fantasy while trading quips and robbing banks. The problem, for those of us who are watching then, is that neither Christopher Connelly nor James MacArthur can compare to Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Eventually, though, the great character actor William Smith shows up as a visitor whose fantasy is to be Wyatt Earp. He attempts to arrest Butch and Sundance. They outsmart him and then Bill and Alex go home, satisfied. Good for them but what about the guy who wanted to be Wyatt Earp? Does he get his money back? Seriously, I don’t think being humiliated was a part of his fantasy.
Meanwhile, Kay finds herself living in a small town. Using the name Katherine Patrino, she gets a job as the receptionist for a veterinarian (played by Dennis Cole) and she also helps the vet’s silent son get over the recent loss of his mother. She also tells a lot of jokes, none of which are particularly funny. The best thing about this fantasy is that Mr. Roarke disguised himslef as a clown and showed up at the small town’s Founders Day Festival.
And then Tattoo did the same thing.
Anyway, during the festival, a dog was hit by a truck but Kay helped to bring it back to life and that brought a tear to my mismatched eyes. Otherwise, this was a very forgettable trip to Fantasy Island.
On a positive note, though, it turned out that Mr. Roarke was just joking and Tattoo got to have a wild party after all. Good for him, he earned it!