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, Eve Plumb and Leslie Nielsen visit Fantasy Island!
Episode 2.14 “Séance/The Treasure”
(Dir by Larry Stewart, originally aired on January 13th, 1979)
Tattoo is a horse thief! He claims that he just found the horse while wandering around the island but later, he comes across a wanted poster that has his picture on it and the declaration that Tattoo is wanted dead or alive. Mr. Roarke gets a good laugh out of that and even repeats the words, “Dead or alive,” as if he’s realizing that he’s finally found a way to get rid of his assistant. Fortunately, Mr. Roarke has a change of heart and, at the end of the episode, buys the horse for Tattoo. Awwwww!
As for this week’s guests, Joe Capos (George Maharis) is a fisherman who has always wondered what it would be like to be a millionaire. Joe and his wife, Eva (Shelley Fabares), come to the island and find themselves set up in a house that looks exactly like the one where Joe grew up. One day, Joe goes out fishing and what should he find in his net but a gold statue of Triton blowing his horn! It’s a valuable artifact, one that could make Joe a millionaire if it is found to be authentic. Soon, Joe is surrounded by a bunch of people who are hoping to be on his good side when he becomes rich. He’s the most popular man on the island! Unfortunately, Joe is having so much fun being rich and popular that his neglected wife leaves him. Joe knows that the only way to get Eva back is to return the statue to the ocean but will he have the courage to give up wealth and fame for love?
Meanwhile, Eve Plumb plays — wait a minute, Eve Plumb? Just last week, Robert Reed was on the show, playing a method actor who thought he was a vampire. Now, the original Jan Brady has come to the island. I wonder if the entire Brady Bunch will eventually make it to Fantasy Island?
Plumb is playing Clare Conti, a young woman who suspects that her twin brother was murdered. In order to prove it, her fantasy is to have a séance and contact him. Her entire family comes to the Island for the séance, including Uncle Victor (Leslie Nielsen). This episode is Neilsen’s second appearance on the Fantasy Island and, again, he’s playing a very serious and a very somber character but, because he’s so deadpan about it, it’s hard not hear everything that he says as being a joke. It’s always great fun to see Nielsen playing humorless authority figures in the days before he became a comedy superstar. The only thing that would make this episode better would be if Nielsen turned out to be the murderer but sadly, he’s not. As for the rest of the fantasy, the séance scenes manage to strike the right balance between being creepy and being campy. Clare’s dead brother yells a lot but I guess that’s what you do when you’re trying to communicate from the beyond.
This was an enjoyable episode, featuring good performances from the guest stars and fantasies that were intriguing without demanding too much from the audience. This trip to Fantasy Island was more than worth it.
Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 3/20/23 — 3/26/23 | Through the Shattered Lens