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!
Smiles, everyone, smiles! It’s time to search for Bigfoot!
Episode 2.11 “The Flight of the Great Yellow Bird / The Island of Lost Women”
(Dir by Joseph Pevney, originally aired on November 25th, 1978)
This week’s episode is all about people looking for things.
Tattoo, for instance, is looking for success on the stock market. He thinks he’s got a hot tip on how to make a lot of money. Mr. Roarke rolls his eyes when Tattoo speaks about it. Obviously, Mr. Roarke has heard a lot about Tattoo’s hot tips and he’s given up on pretending to have any respect whatsoever for his loyal assistant. Later, Mr. Roarke will order Tattoo to get his stock ticker out of the office. One gets the feeling that, much like Joseph P. Kennedy in the 1920s, only Mr. Roarke will be smart enough to escape the collapse of the world’s economy.
(Legend has it that Joseph Kennedy — father of the Kennedy children — got out of the Stock Market when the guy who was shining his shoes started giving him stock tips. Kennedy figured that if even the shoe shine guy was playing the market, that meant there were too many deals being made. Kennedy turned out to be correct and, as a result, his family suffered not at all during the Great Depression. Of course, after the Great Depression, there would be suffering all around.)
While Tattoo looks for money, this week’s guests look for ancient legends.
For instance, Barney Shore (Robert Morse) is a sailor who spent two years on an atomic submarine.
“He went two years without seeing a woman!?” Tattoo says, “Boss, what did he do?”
Well, what do you think he did!? Mr. Roarke, being a gentleman, says that Barney spent all of his time reading and researching legends of an island that was populated only by women. Barney’s fantasy is to discover the island and indeed, he does. Barney is dropped off on a tropical island that is populated by women who all dress as if they’re extras in an Italian Hercules movie.
Unfortunately, for Barney, Queen Delphia (Cyd Charisse), has very strict rules about men on the island. Only one man is allowed to be around the women per year. That man is crowned the Harvest King and his job is to …. well, make sure that the population continues to grow. Of course, once the Harvest King has done his job, there’s no reason to keep him around and he’s sacrificed. Barney falls in love with one of the women and he convinces the rest of the tribe that it’s okay for men and women to live together on the same island. Good for Barney….
“But what about Bigfoot!?”
I hear you, I’m getting to him. Barney’s a nice guy and I’m glad he survived his trip to the island but obviously, the main attraction here is to watch Peter Graves play the world-renowned adventurer Singapore Eddie Malone. Eddie comes to Fantasy Island to give a lecture about his hunt for Bigfoot. However, he’s hired to help Prof. Smith-Myles (Barbara Rush) explore an isolated area of the island where Bigfoot may indeed live. Eddie is here to help the professor experience her fantasy of finding Bigfoot while Eddie’s fantasy is to be a true explorer and everyone’s fantasy comes to true! Of course, Eddie is also an old friend of Rourke’s and, at the end of the episode, Tattoo suggests that maybe the whole thing was just Roarke’s fantasy to make Eddie feel better about his life.
But what about Bigfoot!?
The actual Bigfoot doesn’t really get much screen time, sorry. Then again, I think that’s why Bigfoot is so intriguing. He’s elusive! He’s fun to search for. He’s fun to talk about. But spending too much time with him would just take away the mystery. Besides, who needs Bigfoot when you have Peter Graves glowering and doing his whole “international man of mystery” routine?
This was a silly episode and both stories felt a bit rushed but Peter Graves gave such a grave, deep-voiced performance that the episode was still entertaining. Hopefully, Bigfoot will return!