Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.17 “The Stripper/The Boxer”

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!  This week, we’ve got stripping and boxing!

Episode 2.17 “The Stripper/The Boxer”

(Dir by Lawrence Dobkin, originally aired on February 10th, 1979)

This week, Tattoo is wearing a monocle because his cousin Igor has discovered that they are descended from royalty.  Roarke is not impressed.  Indeed, he seems to be genuinely angered by Tattoo’s suggestion that he’s somehow better than him.

As for the fantasies, first off the plane is Maureen Banning (Laraine Stephens).  Maureen is a runaway heiress.  Her father doesn’t want her to marry a poet named Barnaby (William Beckley) so she has snuck off to Fantasy Island so that she can get married over the weekend.  Unfortunately, her father’s private detectives have followed her to the island.  In a panic, Maureen hops onto the first bus that she sees.  It turns out the bus is the tour bus for a burlesque show and the show’s manager, Russ McCoy (Michael Callan), has a fantasy that concerns bringing the show to Broadway.  Maureen is mistaken for a famous burlesque dancer.  Fortunately, Sheba Palumbo (Mamie Van Doren) and Betty (Beverly Powers) are avid tabloid readers and they immediately recognize Maureen as the runaway heiress.  They agree to teach her how to dance so that she can stay on the island and marry Barnaby.  Except, of course, Maureen is now starting to feel more attracted to Russ….

This fantasy was okay.  I enjoyed the dancing and I also enjoyed thinking about how much Gary Loggins would have enjoyed watching his favorite actress, Mamie Van Doren, teach Maureen all the moves.  I think the main problem with this fantasy is that, even after she ran way, Maureen never seemed to be in control of her own fate.  The appeal of dancing on stage, whether you’re an old school burlesque performer or a modern-day stripper, is that it gives you all the power but, for Maureen, it just seemed like something to do until she finally got around to getting married.

The other fantasy involves Billy Blake (Ben Murphy), a boxer who only has three years to live.  He wants a chance to fight the other leading leading championship contender.  Even though the fight will be unofficial, Billy just wants a chance to show that, if not for his fatal disease, he could have been a champ.  Of course, if he takes too many hits to the head, Billy could die in the ring.  Billy is okay with that until he discovers that his former high school girlfriend, Jennie Collins (Maureen McCormick), is working on the Island.  Billy’s trainer (Forrest Tucker) tells Jennie to stay away from Billy and Jennie is ashamed of all of the “things” she did when she ran off to Hollywood to try to become a star.  (Like starring on The Brady Bunch Hour, perhaps….)  But, in the end, Billy realizes that his real fantasy is to spend his last remaining years with Jennie.  Personally, I found myself wondering why Billy didn’t consider a fantasy where he was cured of his terminal but unnamed disease.  Then he could both be champion and spend the rest of his life with Jennie.

There weren’t many surprises with this fantasy but Ben Murphy and Maureen McCormick were an undeniably cute couple.  I hope they had many good times before Billy’s agonizing and tragic death.

Next week …. John Saxon comes to Fantasy Island!

One response to “Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.17 “The Stripper/The Boxer”

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 4/10/23 — 4/16/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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