Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.11 “Reunion/Anniversary”

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, Fantasy Island is all about confronting the mistakes of the past.

Episode 1.11 “Reunion/Anniversary”

(Dir by Allen Baron and John Newland, originally aired on April 29th, 1978)

Before I talk about the two fantasies in this episode, here’s a bit of trivia.  This episode was originally intended to be the first episode of the series.  That perhaps explains why it has a tone that is more similar to the original TV movie than to the more light-hearted episodes that followed.  Just as in the made-for-TV movie, Mr. Roarke is a bit of an enigma in this episode, one who has little trouble manipulating his guests in order to get the results that he wants.  This episode even ends with Tattoo saying, “Thank God,” and Mr. Roarke replying with a mysterious half-smile.  Roarke isn’t quite as sinister as he was in the TV movie but he’s also not quite the cheery host that he would become in later episodes.  Roarke, at one point, also mentions that he has people who research everyone’s fantasy before choosing whether to grant it.  That’s certainly different from later episodes, in which the fantasies are apparently available to anyone who can pay or who has been lucky enough to win Roarke’s sympathy.

Of course, when it came time to air the first season of Fantasy Island, this episode got pushed back and it aired as the eleventh episode.  As a result, it presents a bit of a change-of-pace from the episodes that aired the weeks before.  One can only imagine how someone who decided to start watching the show because of the fantasy where Don Knotts played a private eye reacted to this episode, in which four guests were stalked by a murderer who wore giallo-style black gloves.

The guests being stalked by the murderer are Agnes (Pamela Franklin), Hannah (Hilarie Thompson), Carol (Michele Lee), and Jill (Sue Loyon).  They are all members of the Honeybees, a group of former high school cheerleaders who are having a ten-year reunion.  Their fantasy is to spend the weekend at a recreation of the Beehive, a cabin where they used to hang out while in high school.  Of course, every one of them has a dark secret and, after one of the Honeybees is apparently blown up in a nearby barn, the three remaining Honeybees have to solve the mystery.  It all gets fairly dark and sordid but, fear not!  Mr. Roarke shows up and even takes part in some hand-to-hand combat before revealing the truth about what is going on at the Beehive.

(Again, this is not something that we would normally expect from Mr. Roarke.)

Meanwhile, troubled couple Toni (Lucie Arnaz) and Tom Elgin (Ronny Cox, looking slightly embarrassed) come to the island for their anniversary!  Toni wants to relive the weekend that they got married, when they were still happy and before Tom became a drunk.  All of their old friends are invited to the island and soon, Tom is flirting with another woman while Toni is flirting with another man.  Mr. Roarke even invites Rev. Allen (Stuart Nisbet), the man who performed the original wedding ceremony.  The reverend explains that, due to a mix-up at the licensing office, he wasn’t actually legally allowed to perform marriages when Toni and Tom get married so it turns out that Tom and Toni have been living in sin all this time!  Now, Tom and Toni have to decide whether to get married for real or to go their separate ways.

I vote for separate ways, just because they really do seem to be miserable together.  However, it turns out that Mr. Roarke has a plan to keep this awful couple together.

The decision to move this episode from the start of the season to the latter half was definitely a good one.  It was probably a bit too dark and dramatic to really work as the premiere episode but, as the 11th episode, it provides a nice change-of-pace.  After several comedic and somewhat shallow episodes, this episode emphasizes the dramatic side of Fantasy Island.  In this episode, the ultimate lesson appears to be that fantasies are fun but that it’s far more important to deal with the real world.  In other words, Fantasy Island is a nice place to visit but only Mr. Roarke and Tattoo should live there.

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.10 “Dear Beverly/The Strike/Special Deliver”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Wednesdays, I will be reviewing the original Love Boat, which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986!  The series can be streamed on Paramount Plus!

Come aboard!  We’re expecting you!

Episode 10.10 “Dear Beverly/The Strike/Special Delivery”

(directed by Allen Baron, originally aired December 3rd, 1977)

Tonight’s voyage is all about misunderstandings!

For example, Beverly Blanchard (Eva Gabor) is an advice columnist who has built a career out of helping people work their way through misunderstandings.  When she boards the Love Boat, she is swarmed by fans who all want her advice.  She even leads a little seminar by the pool, in which she asks people if they have any problems that she can help with.  Unfortunately, what she doesn’t understand is that her husband, Russ, is feeling neglected.  Usually, I would say that Russ should stop feeling sorry for himself but Russ is played Leslie Nielsen, who is so superlikable in his stiffly earnest way that it’s hard not to have some sympathy for him.  When Beverly finds out that Russ has been spending time with another passenger (Stephanie Blackmore), she writes a column in which she announces her retirement so that she can give Russ the attention he deserves.  Personally, I would think a better column would be about why husbands shouldn’t cheat on their wives, especially with someone who they’ve known for less than 24 hours.

Speaking of cheaters, Jeff Smith (Robert Urich) cheated on his wife, Gail (Pamela Franklin), and now they’re separated.  When Jeff boards the ship, he tries to pursue a romance with Julie but he quickly admits that he’s still hung up on his wife.  What Jeff doesn’t know is that Gail is also on the ship and she’s 9 months pregnant!  Now, considering that this is The Love Boat, it probably will not surprise you to learn that Gail goes into labor while on the boat and it’s up to Doc and Jeff to deliver the baby while the rest of the crew waits outside.  Fortunately, the baby makes it and Jeff and Gail get back together.  But what about Jeff cheating on Gail?  Well, Gail takes responsibility for that, saying that she drove him to it.  I was expecting at least one member of the crew to tell her that Jeff was responsible for his own decisions but instead, everyone nodded alone.  Like, what the Hell?

Meanwhile, Captain Stubing was upset to learn that Chef Antonio Borga (Al Molinaro) was going to be in charge of the ship’s kitchen for the cruise.  Apparently, there was bad blood between the two.  When Borga refused to work, Stubing attempted to prepare dinner himself.  The results were disastrous but the Chef respected the Captain for trying.  And perhaps Chef Borga realized that Captain Stubing could probably get him fired for insubordination.  Well, the important thing is that everyone came to an agreement and people got to eat.

This was a weird episode.  The Chef storyline seemed like filler.  The other two stories both featured women making excuses for cheating husbands.  If this episode wanted to remind me that The Love Boat is very much a show of the 70s, it succeeded.  This episode had a lot of boat but not a lot of love.

Hopefully, next week’s cruise will be a bit less problematic.

Retro Television Review: Fantasy Island 1.6 “Treasure Hunt/Beauty Contest”

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 1996.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Smiles, everyone!  Smiles!  My fantasy is to get this week’s review over with because, to be honest, this was one of the less interesting episodes of the original Fantasy Island.  So, let’s get to it!

Episode 1.6 “Treasure Hunt/Beauty Contest”

(Directed by Allen Baron and George McCowan, originally aired on March 11th, 1978)

For this week’s episode of Fantasy Island, we have two so-so fantasies and a lot of scenes of Mr. Roarke and Tattoo arguing with each other.  After having an almost brotherly relationship over the past few weeks, Roarke and Tattoo both seem kind of annoyed with each other during this episode.  If I had to guess, I’d say that the episodes are probably being shown out of production order and this episode was written and filmed before the show’s producers were sure what the overall tone of the show should be.  

Indeed, the first fantasy features Mr. Roarke allowing three people to search for a lost pirate’s treasure on an isolated part of the island.  He does this despite the fact that the terrain is dangerous and that he knows that one of the three treasure hunters is planning on killing the other two.  When Tattoo points out that a murder would be bad for business, Roarke kind of shrugs Tattoo off.  Indeed, in this storyline, Roarke comes across as being rather aloof, as if he has little concern for the troubles of humanity.

As for the three treasure hunters, they are Stu Chambers (Michael Callan), his wife Andrea (Jo Ann Harris), and their friend James (Peter Haskell).  Stu is under the impression that James and Andrea are carrying on an affair and, as Mr. Roarke mentioned, he is planning on killing the two of them.  Fortunately, he changes his mind during the fantasy and, instead of murdering his wife and his best friend, he instead helps them survive when they get trapped in a cave.  In the end, they don’t get the treasure but they do win back their ability to trust each other.  One has to wonder what the consequences would have been if Stu had gone through with his original plans.  Is there a Fantasy Island police force?  Would Tattoo be forced to arrest Stu?  Who knows?

Meanwhile, in the other fantasy, Maureen McCormick plays Sally Quinn.  Sally is the daughter of a legendary beauty pageant winner.  She wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps and win a pageant herself.  However, Roarke — who seems far more invested in Sally’s fantasy than the treasure hunt fantasy — figures out that Sally’s real fantasy is to win the love of her father, Neville (Gene Barry).  In the end, Sally doesn’t win the pageant but she does learn that there’s more to happiness than being beautiful.

To be honest, both of the fantasies in this episode are pretty dull and predictable.  But we do learn a little bit about what Tattoo actually does on the island.  He’s the accountant.  He starts the show complaining that Mr. Roarke doesn’t charge enough for the fantasies.  Tattoo then says he has a fantasy.  Mr. Roarke laughs him off, saying that candy shop employees never develop a taste for candy.  WHAT!?  

We also learn that Roarke and Tattoo enjoy playing Monopoly but Tattoo apparently cheats by using loaded dice.  And, to be honest, the thought of Roarke and Tattoo arguing over Boardwalk is such an appealing one that it saves the entire episode.

As for next week’s episode …. hopefully, it’ll involve even more Monopoly!


Horror on TV: Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1.3 “They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be….” (dir by Allen Baron)

On tonight’s episode of Kolchak, Carl investigates a series of mysterious thefts which could very well be connected to a series of mysterious murders.

Needless to say, it’s all very mysterious.

Kolchak is often cited as having been an influence on The X-Files and you can certainly see why in this episode.  While I don’t want to spoil the nature of this episode’s monster, I will say that this episode will be enjoyed by conspiracy fans everywhere.