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 1986. The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!
This week’s episode of Fantasy Island is …. well, let’s just say that not every fantasy can be a winner.
Episode 1.13 “Fool For A Client/Double Your Pleasure”
(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on May 13th, 1978)
This episode begins with Tattoo suffering from a toothache and Mr. Roarke giving him a hard time about it. Indeed, Mr. Roarke seems to take an almost sadistic delight in telling Tattoo that he shall have to see a dentist. The relationship of Mr. Roarke and Tattoo strikes me as being an odd one. On the one hand, Roarke allows Tattoo to handle the money and Tattoo appears to be the second-in-command. One assumes that, if Mr. Roarke ever went on vacation, Tattoo would be left in charge. At the same time, Mr. Roarke doesn’t seem to particularly like Tattoo and he seems to take a lot of pleasure from the various humiliations that Tattoo suffers on a weekly basis. From what I understand, Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize were not exactly friends offscreen so perhaps, this is just a case of reality bleeding into fiction.
Anyway, Tattoo’s toothache is perhaps the most interesting thing about this episode. Both of the fantasies are kind of lame.
In the first fantasy, Ken Berry plays Larry, a blue collar guy who has spent 12 years working on the Alaskan pipeline. His fantasy is to spend the weekend with two beautiful women. No sooner has Larry arrived on Fantasy Island, then he meets Nina (Caren Kaye). She’s beautiful and Larry’s happy. Then he meets Dina, who is Nina’s twin sister and, because of the whole twin thing, she’s beautiful and Larry is happy. EXCEPT …. it turns out that there’s only one woman and her fantasy was to pretend to be a twin for the weekend. Wait …. what? I mean, it works out. Dina and Larry fall in love and they leave together but it seems like Larry didn’t really get his fantasy and, at the very least, he deserves a partial refund.
In the second fantasy, comedian Rich Little plays Herb Costigan, a paralegal who wants to be the world’s greatest lawyer. Mr. Roarke sets him up with a house on the “other side of the island,” which Roarke explains is populated by rich people who apparently have vacation homes on Fantasy Island. Roarke has told everyone that Costigan is a world-famous attorney. However, when a murder occurs, Costigan is framed for the crime and soon, he’s defending himself in court! Eventually, it turns out that there was no murder and the supposed victim just faked his death and is now wandering around the Island with a fake beard glued to his face. It really doesn’t make any sense but this fantasy does establish that the island is, at the very least, a territory of the United States as there’s a big American flag in the courtroom.
Neither one of these stories really worked for me, largely because neither Ken Berry nor Rich Little seemed to be particularly invested in their characters. It also doesn’t help that Berry and Little shared a superficial physical resemblance, to the extent that it was often a struggle to keep straight who was having which fantasy.
In the end, Tattoo’ toothache was the highlight of this show. Fortunately, it just turned out to be his wisdom teeth coming in. Take that, Mr. Roarke!