Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.16 “Photographs/Royal Flush”

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!  Especially you, Tattoo!

Episode 2.16 “Photographs/Royal Flush”

(Dir by Cliff Bole, originally aired on January 27th, 1979)

After announcing the arrival of the plane, Tattoo informs Mr. Roarke that he is reading a book on hypnotism.

“Ah, it’s hypnotism now,” Roarke replies, “To what end?”

Tattoo looks at a passing native girl as the cameraman gives the viewers a close-up of her sarong-covered behind.

Okay, 1979.  We see ya.

The less interesting of this week’s two fantasies involves the Fantasy Island poker tournament.  (Fantasy Island reminds a bit of Hell’s Kitchen, in that there’s always some weird theme night.)  Johnny Court (John Rubinstein) is an up-and-coming player whose fantasy is to play against the greatest poker player of all time, Victor Holly (John McIntire).  Johnny has borrowed a good deal of money from a group of gangsters in order to enter the tournament so, if Johnny doesn’t win, guess who is getting his fingers broken?

Complicating matters is that Victor travels with his daughter, Emily (Ronne Troup).  It doesn’t take long for Johnny to realize that Emily is helping Victor cheat but Johnny has also fallen in love with Emily.  To save his own life, he has to defeat Emily’s father but, if he does so, that’ll mean Victor will no longer have the money necessary to support his daughter.

This fantasy wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t particularly interesting either.  Rubinstein, McIntire, and Troup all gave good performances but the poker scenes were a bit draggy.  Perhaps it would have been more interesting to me if I was a poker player myself.  But I prefer craps, just because you get to jump up and down before rolling the dice.

The second fantasy was a bit more intruding.  Nancy Weston (Michele Lee) is photographer who has just returned from a trip to Europe and Asia, where she took many pictures.  When she got the pictures developed, she discovered that a mysterious girl appeared in almost all of the pictures, even though it would have been impossible for the girl to have followed her all the way from Stonehenge to Thailand without Nancy noticing.  Nancy’s fantasy is to know who the girl is and why she’s following her.

The girl shows up on Fantasy Island.  Her name is Allison (Elizabeth Cheshire) and, as Roarke explains, Allison is not only the daughter of a powerful psychic but she also has the power to speak to the dead as well.  And it turns out that one of the dead has a message for Nancy….

This fantasy was really well-done and nicely creepy.  At heart, it was a pretty basic ghost story but Michele Lee and Elizabeth Cheshire both gave good performances and some of the imagery — particularly of a white horse running in slow motion through a green field — was surprisingly effective.

All in all, one mild but well-acted fantasy and one memorably creepy fantasy came together and added up to one good episode of Fantasy Island!  These are the type of episodes that we fantasize about.

2 responses to “Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.16 “Photographs/Royal Flush”

  1. Did Tattoo actually hypnotize anyone?? Maybe next week he will be in charge and Mr Roarke will think he’s a donkey


  2. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 4/3/23 — 4/9/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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