Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.2 “Bet A Million/Mr. Irresistible”


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!

Welcome to Fantasy Island!  Who will have a fantasy this week and what will be left of them?

Episode 1.2 “Bet A Million/Mr. Irresistible”

(Directed by John Newland and Cliff Bole, originally aired on February 4th, 1978) 

In the second episode of Fantasy Island, a bit more was revealed about the resort.

First off, it only costs $6,000 to travel to Fantasy Island and have a fantasy.  (In the pilot, it cost $60,000.)  I assume that, with inflation, it would cost a bit more today but still, $6,000 seems like a pretty good deal for something that could potentially change your life.  However, we also learn that Mr. Roarke doesn’t always charge full price.  In fact, it appears that he often allows people to come to the island for free.  Tattoo thinks that is a little bit foolish and it is.  I mean, it’s a big resort.  I imagine it must not be cheap to run the place.

Secondly, in this episode, we discovered that Fantasy Island has a house band.  They play in the lounge and they are totally funky.  Check them out:

Finally, in this episode, we are introduced to the Fantasy Island casino.  Apparently, if a visitor “breaks the bank” at the casino, they can play for a chance to win the island itself!  However, Mr. Roarke insists on being at the table if anyone plays for the island and Mr. Roarke has magical powers so you can be sure that he’s never going to lose.

The casino plays a huge role in one of this episode’s two fantasies.  Fred Wade (Henry Gibson) sells hotel supplies for a living.  His friends call him “Mr. Hotel,” which he apparently considers to be a compliment.  Fred and his wife (Jane Powell) come to Fantasy Island.  Their fantasy?  A chance to talk to wealthy hotelier Otis Hayden about a resort that Fred wants to build and run.  (It seems like it would have been smarter to actually make running the hotel the fantasy but what do I know about the hotel business?)  Mr. Roarke informs Fred that, if he wants his fantasy to come true, he’s going to have to approach Hayden in the casino and play some card games.  Fred admits that he doesn’t have any money.  Mr. Roarke explains that Tattoo has totaled up all of Fred’s assets (including his house and his car) and, as such, Fred has $40,000 to play with.  Fred agrees to do so because this isn’t creepy at all.

Things don’t go so well.  Fred meets Hayden and makes his pitch.  But, in the process, he loses $30,000 and, the next morning, Hayden leaves the island without talking to Fred about his plans.  Fred nearly gives up on his dreams but then he decides to bet his remaining money at the casino.  With his wife at his side, Fred has an early run of luck.  He wins over a million dollars.  He gets to play for the ownership of Fantasy Island!  And …. he loses the final hand.

Not to worry though!  This is Fantasy Island!  Just as Fred and his wife are preparing to leave the island, words comes through that Hayden wants to build the resort.  And Hayden sends Fred a cashier’s check for $49,000!  Fred learns a valuable lesson about never giving up hope.

Meanwhile….

Gangly Chuck Sheffield (John Schuck) wins a free trip to Fantasy Island in a contest.  His fantasy?  He wants to know what it’s like to be irresistible to women.  It’s not that he doesn’t love his fiancée, Stephanie.  It’s just that Chuck doesn’t want to get married and then spend the rest of his life wondering.  To me, it sounds like he’s just looking for an excuse to cheat.  However, Tattoo sympathizes with Chuck.

In fact, Tattoo looking for love was a major subplot during this episode.

Mr. Roarke gives Chuck the “love root,” a cologne that makes Chuck irresistible to every woman that he meets.  Again, Tattoo thinks that it’s a wonderful idea.

And, at first, Chuck thinks it’s a wonderful idea.

However, Chuck soon has every woman on the island fighting over him and all of their boyfriends want to beat up Chuck!  Chuck learns to appreciate the life he has, despite the power of the love root.

Surprise, surprise!  It turns out that the love root is just scented water and that the entire contest was fake.  Stephanie arranged for Chuck to go to Fantasy Island so that he wouldn’t have any lingering regrets once they got married.  I would not do that for my boyfriend.

Anyway, this episode of Fantasy Island was fairly silly but at least Mr. Roark and Tattoo got to do a bit more here than they did last week.  Henry Gibson and Jane Powell were sympathetic as the couple with a dream.  John Schuck was a good actor but not even he could redeem Chuck.  Seriously, Stephanie, you deserve better!  The important thing is that the resort looked lovely and, since it only costs $6,000, I know where we’re all going on our next vacation!

Retro Television Review: Fantasy Island 1.1 “Escape” / “Cinderella Girls”


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, smiles, everyone….

Episode 1.1 “Escape/Cinderalla Girls”

(Directed by Don Weis, originally aired on January 28th, 1978)

Last week, while reviewing the Fantasy Island pilot, I commented on the fact that Mr. Roarke seemed to be a bit sinister, almost as if he took delight in the idea of mortals discovering that their fantasies weren’t as wonderful as they were expecting.

In the first regular episode of Fantasy Island, it’s made clear that, while Mr. Roarke may occasionally act like he doesn’t care, it’s only to teach a lesson.

When internationally renowned stage musician Gregory Udall (Bert Convy) requests that he be allowed to perform the world’s greatest escape, Mr. Roarke doesn’t appear to be the least bit concerned when Udall is transported to Devil’s Island, the infamous French island prison.  Devil’s Island was known for being escape proof.  It was also known for being harsh even by the prison standards.  75% of the people sentenced to Devil’s Island died before their sentence ended.  When Udall reaches the island, he discovers that the Warden (Reggie Nadler, best-known for playing the vampire in Salem’s Lost) doesn’t care whether he lives or dies.  He’s also told, by another prisoner named Ipsy Dauphin (Robert Clary), that Mr. Roarke regularly abandons people at the prison!

After Udall’s first escape fails, he is visited in the island’s infirmary by Mr. Roarke himself.  Udall says that he’s ready to give up and opt out of the fantasy.  Mr. Roarke informs him that failure is not an option.  He also suggests that Udall enjoy his cigarette because….

Agck!

Fear not, though, Mr. Roarke is not evil.  Instead, he’s just giving Udall the extra push that he needs to not only successfully escape from the prison but to take Ipsy with him as well.  Udall not only gets his confidence back but he also saves another human being.  Mr. Roarke may have seemed harsh but it was only to make sure that everyone got something out of the fantasy.  As well, it’s revealed that Ipsy was not actually prisoner but was instead Fantasy Island’s head chef.

Mr. Roarke is far more cheerful in the episode’s other fantasy.  Georgia Engel and Diana Canova want to know what it’s like to be wealthy so they not only get makeovers but they also get a lot of new clothes.  Of course, being wealthy also means that they’ll be expected to bid at a charity auction that is being held on Fantasy Island.  (Apparently, Fantasy Island also doubles as a resort for people who don’t have fantasies but just want to spend the weekend hanging out by the pool.)  Georgia Engel ends up running away with a prince.  Diana Canova falls in love with an idealistic doctor who is played by John Saxon.  Does the doctor care that she doesn’t actually have any money?  Fortunately, it turns out that the doctor is poor himself.  Yay!

As you may have guessed, the first episode was a strange mismash of tones.  On the one hand, you had a silly but sweet story about two friends who wanted to pretend to be rich.  On the other hand, you’ve got a harsh prison story featuring Reggie Nadler as a desiccated villain and uber-70s actor Bert Convy as a stage musician.  It really shouldn’t work but it does, largely because the idea of the island is so appealing and Ricardo Montalban seems to be having fun in the role of Mr. Roarke.  Plus, who can resist John Saxon pretending to be from Texas?

The premiere episode got Fantasy Island off to a good start!  Would that continue next week?

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 9/4/22 — 9/10/22


Here are just a few thoughts on what I watched as I continued to spend this week preparing for the greatest month of the year, October!

The Bachelorette (Monday Night, ABC)

Poor Gabby!  What a mess.  She went from being the bachelorette that ever man wanted to date to the bachelorette who now only has one man left to compete for her, a man to whom she’s not even sure she is ready to become engaged.  Meanwhile, Rachel has got three men to choose from and it’s hard not to feel that it’s going to be a disaster no matter who she picks.  Gabby and Rachel were picked for this season largely because of how badly they were treated during the previous season of The Bachelor but, if they were hoping for a better experience this time around….

If Meatball were still on the show, he could marry both Gabby and Rachel and all of these problems would be solved.

Big Brother (All The Time, CBS and Paramount Plus)

I’ve been writing about Big Brother over at the Big Brother Blog.  The season is winding down.  That’s a good thing because I’m actually starting to get really bored with the show.  All of the really interesting players have been voted out of the House.  I’m predicting we’re going to end up with a Turner/Brittany final two and Big Brother Twitter is going to erupt in outrage.

The Challenge (Wednesday Night, CBS)

Enzo is doing a lot better on The Challenge than he did either time he played Big Brother.  If you come for Enzo, you better not miss.

Fantasy Island (Tubi)

I watched a few episodes this week and I wrote and scheduled a review for each one of them.  The Island is lovely.

Full House (Sunday Evening, MeTV)

DJ volunteered at an assisted living facility and decided that it would be a good idea to bring one of the residents home with her.  Personally, I would think that this would lead to DJ losing her volunteer gig but everything worked out in the end.  Being a Tanner apparently provided you with a magic shield that protected you from the consequences of your actions.  This was followed by an episode in which Stephanie decided that it was time to get serious about her dancing.  I could barely watch, it was so cringey.

Hang Time (YouTube)

I watched 16 episodes of Hang Time this week.  Somehow, I survived.  Look for the reviews in the weeks to come.

Inspector Lewis (YouTube)

Hathaway took a holiday to Croatia, where he helped paint an orphanage.  It was very much a Hathaway thing to do.  With Hathaway gone, Lewis was free to finally pursue a relationship with Dr. Hobson. Yay!

Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head (Paramount Plus)

How exactly are Old Beavis and Butt-Head still alive?  That’s what I found myself wondering as I watched the latest episode of Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head.  Old Beavis destroyed both of his original kidneys and then destroyed his new kidney because he didn’t like the person who donated it to him.  That’s certainly his choice to make but seriously, how is he going to recover from something like that?

Then again, how are Young Beavis and Butt-Head going to recover from drinking acidic pesticide?  I can’t lie, I worry about the boys.  They need someone to step in and say, “No, don’t drink that!”  But I don’t blame Mr. Anderson giving them the pesticide because he was just trying to help.  If anything, Mr. Anderson is perhaps my favorite character on the show because I’ve got someone just like Mr. Anderson living at the end of the block.  He means well.

Night Shift (Night Shift Plus)

On Friday night, I watched an episode about the “second British invasion” of the early 80s.  The episode featured music videos from Duran Duran, The Human League, and few other bands of the era.  The Human League video was for Fascination, which made me happy.

Retro Television Review: Fantasy Island (dir by Richard Lang)


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!

Ah, Fantasy Island!

There have been several versions of Fantasy Island.  In the late 90s, there was a version that featured Malcolm McDowell as the somewhat aloof owner of the island.  More recently, there was a movie that featured Michael Pena as the owner of the Island and which tried to turn the whole thing into a horror franchise.  It wasn’t very good.  And right now, there’s a show on Fox that features Roselyn Sanchez as the grand niece of the island’s original owner.  The Fox series is about to start its second season.  It’s a bit silly, which is why I kind of love it.

And then there’s the Fantasy Island that started it all, the Aaron Spelling-produced series that ran from 1977 to 1984 on ABC and which has lived on in reruns and on streaming platforms like Tubi.  Both the original series and all of its subsequent spin-offs took place on a mysterious tropical island where people would pay to live out their fantasies.  In the original series, the island was run by Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban), who wore a white suit and encouraged everyone to smile whenever the guests arrived.  Serving as Mr. Roarke’s second-in-command was Tattoo (Herve Villechaize), who was 3’11, always wore a matching white suit, and announced the arrival of the plane by ringing a bell and shouting, “The plane, the plane!”  Of course, each week would bring in a different group of guest stars.  They would come to the island with a fantasy and, hopefully, they would learn that reality was the only fantasy that they needed.

All seven seasons of the original Fantasy Island are currently streaming on Tubi.  However, if you want to see the 1977 pilot film that started it all, you have to go to YouTube.

In many ways, the 90-minute pilot film feels like a typical episode of Fantasy Island.  It’s interesting to see that the show’s basic premise and format was already set in stone when the pilot was filmed.  (Pilots are notorious for often being dramatically different from the shows that they were created to sell.)  The pilot opens with the plane arriving (and yes, from the start, Tattoo rings the bell and shouts, “The plane!”) and three guests meeting Mr. Roarke.  Our three guest stars are Bill Bixby, Hugh O’Brian, and Eleanor Parker.  Bixby plays Arnold Greenwood, a former war correspondent who wants to be reunited with Francesca (Sandra Dee), the woman with whom he fell in love during World War II.  O’Brian is Paul, a famous big game hunter who wants to be hunted for once.  Eleanor Parker is Eunice Hollander Barnes, one of the world’s richest women.  She wants to fake her death so she can see who, from her life, would actually mourn her and who would just try to steal her fortune.

If the pilot’s format is the same as the series that followed, the general tone is somewhat different.  Mr. Roarke is an almost sinister figure, one who doesn’t really seem to think much of his guests and who is quick to point out that no one gets a fantasy until they’ve paid him the required $50,000.  (That’s $50,000 in 1970s money.  I have to admit that when Mr. Roarke first mentioned how much the fantasies cost, I was like, “Hey, I could afford this place!”)

Consider the story of the hunter.  Paul wants to be hunted because he’s suicidal.  His real fantasy is to die.  The night before Paul’s fantasy is to begin, Michelle (Victoria Principal) shows up at Paul’s room.  Michelle explains that Mr. Roarke has hired her to provide Paul with companionship during the night.  Unfortunately, Michelle ends up handcuffed to Paul and, as a result, she’s hunted along with him!  Now, you could argue that Mr. Roarke did this to teach Paul to think about someone other than himself.  But what if Paul hadn’t learned the lesson?  Then Michelle would be dead too!  What would Mr. Roarke do then?  Just have Tattoo dump the bodies in the lagoon?  “To hell with you, Roarke!” Paul yells and who can blame him?

And then there’s our war correspondent, Arnold.  Arnold’s fantasy seems simple enough but then it turns out that the reason he lost contact with Francesca is because he murdered her!  As a result of his fantasy, Arnold not only relives the first time he met Francesca but also how their relationship ended.  The entire experience leaves Arnold laughing like a madman as his sanity slips away.

As for Eunice’s story, it’s pretty stupid.  She dresses up like a maid so that she can listen to what people have to say about her once they think she’s dead.  It’s like an episode of Undercover Boss.  At least former Kennedy in-law Peter Lawford makes an appearance as Eunice’s husband.  Eunice ends up far less traumatized than either Paul or Arnold but she still had to fake her death to come to peace with her life.

The pilot is entertaining.  One can understand why it would lead to a series.  The island is lovely to look at.  Even with the somewhat sinister tone of two of the stories, it’s still impossible to watch the pilot without wondering what type of fantasy you would pursue if you went to the Island.  For me, that’s always been the main appeal of all of the various versions of Fantasy Island.  Still, it’s interesting that the fantasies themselves are less comforting than what I think many would expect on account of the show’s reputation.  For all the criticism that Blumhouse received for their reinterpretation of Fantasy Island, they were not the first to imagine Mr. Roarke as being somewhat less than benevolent.  Of course, when the actual series started, Mr. Roarke was a far friendlier host.

Next week, the series begins and hopefully, no further guests are traumatized to the point of catatonia.

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 7/31/22 — 8/6/22


Yes, I watched a lot of old TV shows this week.  I was doing some work around the office and the retro channels always seem to keep me focused.

Here are this week’s thoughts on what I saw!

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

Fortunately, the attempted execution of Rene and Edith failed and they were safely returned to Nouvion.  Unfortunately, before they got back to their café, the Resistance attempted to run the business and thoroughly screwed things up.  Meanwhile, realizing that the war not going particularly well for them, the German occupiers made plans to leave France and perhaps relocate some place with a warmer climate.  While all of this went on, Officer Crabtree continued to wish everyone a “Good Moaning,” because Officer Crabtree was a professional.

The Bachelorette (Monday Night, ABC)

This week’s episode was extremely awkward to watch, with Rachel feeling insecure when compared to Gabby and the bachelors themselves not being particularly sensitive about the situation, but at least Meatball was given a second chance.  Seriously, this entire franchise will be redeemed if Rachel ends up getting engaged, even if it’s just temporarily, to Meatball.

Better Call Saul (Monday Night, AMC)

I am so worried about what’s going to happen to Jimmy/Saul/Gene!  During this week’s episode, we flashed back to Saul first meeting Walt and Jesse and then we flash forwarded to Gene treating Buddy and Jeff in much the same way that Walt used to treat Jesse.  Especially after Gene’s phone call to Kim, I’m starting to worry that Gene is becoming just as self-destructive as Walt was at the end of Breaking Bad.  Considering that there’s only a few episodes left before this show ends, that’s not a good development for those of us who are hoping that Jimmy/Saul/Gene gets some sort of a happy ending.

Big Brother 24 (Everyday, CBS and Paramount+)

I’m writing about the latest, surprisingly entertaining season of Big Brother at the Big Brother Blog!  This week, Nicole was voted out and proved to be as delusional on her way out and she was on her way in.  Even after Julie Chen explained to her why she had been targeted and voted out, Nicole still didn’t get it.

The Challenge (Wednesday Night, CBS)

This week, yet another former member of Big Brother 23‘s Cookout was eliminated.  Azah is out of the game, leaving Kyland as the last member of the Cookout standing.  Considering what happened when Kyland was voted out of the Big Brother House, it somehow seems cosmically appropriate that he’s managed to survive the Challenge while the other members of his former alliance have been eliminated.  That said, I hope Derek X. wins the show.

CHiPs (Weekday Afternoons, Charge TV)

I watched two episodes of this 70s motorcycle cop show on Monday.  Both episodes were pretty much the same.  There was a big accident on the freeway.  There was a lot of motorcycle cop action.  There was some pretty California scenery.  The bass-driven theme song is the main thing that I remember about the two episodes.  The show was bland but the music was great.

Diff’Rent Strokes (Weekday Afternoons, Rewind TV)

Diff’Rent Strokes is one of those old sitcoms that I’ve heard a lot about but I’ve never really watched, just because everything I’ve ever heard about it just made it sound like a pretty stupid viewing experience.  That said, I did need some background noise on Monday so, when I saw that the show was now on Rewind TV, I decided to catch two episodes.

In the first episode, old Mr. Drummond attempted to go camping with his new stepson but things got complicated when his stepson’s biological father also decided to tag along.  In the second episode, Mr. Drummond decided to do the Undercover Boss thing by working in one of his factories.  He discovered that he wasn’t popular with his workers and that he needed to pay them more.  Surprisingly, no one saw through his disguise, despite the fact that it only consisted of a fake mustache that didn’t even match his hair color.  It was all pretty dumb.  For a rich man, Mr. Drummond lived in a really boring penthouse.  Like seriously, if you’re that rich, update your décor.

Family Ties (Weekday Afternoons, Rewind TV)

I used two episodes of this very 80s sitcom for background noise on Monday.  On the first episode, Elyse (the mother of the family at the center of the show) was struggling with her conscience about whether or not she should fire a recently divorced but extremely annoying employee.  It was kind of obvious that Elyse needed to fire her but Elysa was a former hippie and, as a result, had no idea how to wield authority.  On the second episode, an impossibly young Michael J. Fox had to babysit his bratty younger sister.  He took her to a poker game.  She got annoyed with being treated like an afterthought and wandered off.  Luckily, everything worked out in the end and lessons were learned all around.

Fantasy Island (Monday Morning, GetTV)

I watched two episodes of the original Fantasy Island on Monday morning but I have to admit that I was half-asleep during both of them.

The first episode featured two fantasies.  In the serious fantasy, a jazz trumpeter went back in time to New Orleans so that he could play with his idols.  In the comedic fantasy, a woman and the two men who were in love with her got stranded on an island in the Bermuda Triangle.  The goofier of the two men was played by football player Joe Namath.  His performance here was better than his performance in C.C. and Company but not by much.

In the second episode, the main fantasy dealt with a private detective who wanted to solve a case with Humphrey Bogart.  The guy playing Bogart did a passable imitation.  The other fantasy featured Michelle Phillips as a woman who wanted to be “the most famous equestrian in history.”  She thought this would mean that she would be famous but instead, the Island took her words literally and she was transformed into Lady Godiva.  First off, why did the island take her words literally when it didn’t do that for anyone else?  And secondly, is Lady Godiva really the most famous equestrian in history?  Oh well, the important thing is that everyone learned a lesson.

Full House (Sunday Evening, MeTV)

I watched two episodes of this show on Sunday and I’m sure I lost at least two brain cells as a result.  The first episode featured Uncle Joey auditioning to be the voice of a cartoon chipmunk or something like that.  Frankie Avalon was the episode’s special guest star.  Remember Frankie’s cameo in Casino?  “I have 8 children.  It was my pleasure.”  This was followed by an episode in which Aunt Becky told Danny that DJ was sneaking out of the house to hook up with her boyfriend.  DJ got mad and said, “I thought you were my friend!”  Poor DJ.  I don’t blame her for wanting to escape the Full House.

Ghost Whisperer (Weekday Mornings, Start TV)

I watched an episode on Monday.  Melinda was (understandably) concerned that Aiden was now seeing and talking to ghosts.  When the ghost of a girl who had recently died of Leukemia insisted on taking Aiden on a journey through town, Melinda had to track them down and find out what the girl wanted.  Fortunately, since this was Ghost Whisperer and not Medium, things worked themselves out.

Hart to Hart (Monday Morning, GetTV)

In this very 80s detective show, a fabulously rich married couple (played by Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers) traveled the world, spent a lot of money, and occasionally solved mysteries.  Their loyal chauffer was Max, played by the gravelly voiced Lionel Stander.

I watched two episodes of Monday morning.  In the first episode, the Harts were taking part in a car race in Greece.  A Greek tycoon wanted to kill off Jonathan Hart so that he could take over Jonathan Hart Industries.  Fortunately, he didn’t succeed.  If he had, I imagine they would have had to change the title of the show.  The second episode featured a mysterious woman who claimed to Jennifer Hart’s half-sister.  Needless to say, Jonathan did some investigating and it turned out that there was more to the story.

Anyway, the two episodes that I saw were kind of dull plotwise but I did enjoy the show’s shameless celebration of money and glamour.  It was all very 80s.

Inspector Lewis (YouTube)

I watched an episode with my TV Mysteries friends on Tuesday night.  A buried body was discovered.  Hathaway and Lewis investigated.  Lewis was in a notably cranky mood in this episode and even dismissively referred to one woman as being “Miss Marple.”  My theory is that Lewis had a drinking problem.  Usually, Hathaway was able to cover for him but this week, Lewis just lost control.

King of the Hill (Hubi)

Early Friday morning, I watched the episode in which Hank and his undefeated softball team took an exhibition game against the Ace of Diamonds and His Jewels just a bit too seriously.  “Believe to achieve.”

Kojak (Monday Morning, GetTV)

Kojak is a show from the 70s, about a bald homicide detective who calls people baby and who sucks on lollipops.  Kojak was played by Telly Savalas, who was also Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the Devil in Lisa and the Devil.

The episode that I watched on Monday morning was the first episode that I had ever actually seen of this show, though I had read about it in the past.  In this episode, Ruth Gordon played a psychic who had been having dreams in which she saw women being murdered.  Luckily, Kojak was there to eventually capture the killer.  Neither Gordon nor Savalas were particularly subtle performers and, in this episode, they both seemed to enjoy competing to see who could best steal every scene that they shared.  Add to that, the killer was played by Andy Robinson, who also played Scorpio in Dirty Harry.  It was kind of entertaining to watch.

Magnum P.I. (Weekday Mornings, Charge TV)

On Monday, I watched an episode of the original 80s Magnum, P.I.  Magnum’s friend T.C. was in a coma.  Magnum had to figure out why T.C.’s helicopter crashed.  Luckily, the mystery was solved and everyone survived.  The Hawaiian scenery was lovely.

Medium (Weekday Morning, Start TV)

On Monday’s episode, Allison had a dream about a courtroom shooting and also discovered that she wasn’t the only psychic offering up her abilities to the legal system.

Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head (Paramount+)

I watched the first two episodes of this show on Thursday night, immediately after the Nicole eviction on Big Brother.  I laughed and I cringed.  Beavis and Butt-Head don’t look like they use deodorant so that worries me.  You can read Jeff’s review of the show here!

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

It’s been a few months since I last watched Open All Hours.  I checked it out this week.  Arkwright was cheating his customers and Granville was consumed with resentment.

Traffik (DVD)

I watched Traffik on Wednesday and Thursday and I wrote about it here.

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television — 5/8/22 — 5/14/22


Let’s get to it.

Atlanta (Thursday Night, FX)

Atlanta has been pretty evenly split, this season, between “anthology” episodes and the episodes that follow Earn and Al in Europe.  It’s an interesting format but, as I watched this week’s anthology episode, I really found myself thinking about much more interested I am in what’s going on in Europe.  This week’s episode was filmed in gorgeous black-and-white but the story of a biracial teen passing as white was nowhere near as interesting as what happened to Al in Amsterdam last week.

Barry (Sunday Night, HBO)

This week, Barry attempted to make things up to Gene by getting him a role on a plausibly terrible television show.  Unfortunately, for Barry, it turned out that Gene isn’t just going to forget about Barry murdering his girlfriend in return for a role.  Meanwhile, Sally was forced to take part in a series of vacuous interviews in order to promote her new television series.  Everyone wants to know: “Who should be the next Spider-Man?”

Better Call Saul (Monday Night, AMC)

This week, we got to see what Saul’s office was like before he redecorated it.  It was kind of a slow episode.  Better Call Saul is always watchable because of the performers but its status as a prequel also means that there’s a certain lack of suspense as to what’s going to happen to everyone.  Still, this week’s episode was worth it for the boxing scene.

Beyond the Edge (Wednesday Night, CBS)

The remaining celebrities continued to try to survive living in the jungle.  Jodie Sweetin finally ran the bell and removed herself from the show, just leaving a bunch of former pro athletes to continue the competition.  I don’t blame her.  Jodie lasted longer than I would have.

The Brady Bunch (Sunday Morning, MeTV)

I don’t remember anything that happened during last Sunday’s Brady Bunch episodes so I guess I should count myself lucky.

Candy (Hulu)

I reviewed Hulu’s latest true crime miniseries here!

Dynasty (Friday Night, The CW)

Having missed most of the latest season, I finally got caught up on Dynasty this week and I was reminded of why I enjoy this wonderfully over-the-top and self-aware show.  Unfortunately, no sooner was I caught up than the CW announced that they were canceling the show.  Booooo!

Fantasy Island (Hulu)

Several months after watching the pilot, I finally watched the rest of Fantasy Island’s 1st season this week.  It’s an extremely silly but fun show.  Roselyn Sanchez plays her role with just the right mix of gravitas and mockery.  The show’s a bit heavy-handed at times but I think that’s to be expected.  The island looks lovely and the fantasies themselves are ultimately harmless and good-natured and that’s all the really matters.

Full House (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

If I remember correctly, Jesse was worried that he was losing his cool and Joey said, “Cut it out.”

Ghosts (Paramount Plus)

I finished binging the first season of Ghosts on Monday and Tuesday.  What a sweet show!  I’m kind of amazed that it took me so long to give this show a chance.  I’ll be curious to see what happens with the second season.  Hopefully, the show can keep up its momentum.

Law & Order (Thursday Night, NBC)

“This story is fictional….”

Yeah, whatever.  This week’s episode started out as an homage to Inventing Anna and then it ended as an homage to Dopesick.  Price decided to make a deal with a murderer so that he could then prosecute the owner of a pharmaceutical company.  It was all because Price’s brother died of a drug overdose.  To be honest, Price didn’t really make his case and he should have been fired for wasting tax payer money on a personal crusade.  But the jury disagreed.  It may sound like I’m trashing this episode but it was actually pretty well-acted and I actually appreciated that it totally turned into a different story during the second half.  That said, I don’t think the Law & Order revival will ever be known for having a particularly nuanced political outlook.

The Love Boat (Sunday Evening, MeTV)

Vicki discovered that one of the passengers was hooked on speed.  Luckily, everything worked out in the end.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I reviewed the latest twist-filled episode of Survivor here!

We Own This City (Monday Night, HBO)

It was a pretty boring episode this week.  The cast is convincing and Baltimore continues to be a fascinating portrait of the American Dream gone bad but David Simon doesn’t really seem to have much to say, beyond pointing out that cops are bad and federal investigators are underfunded.

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 8/8/21 — 8/14/21


I’m healthy again this week, at least physically.  (I’m stressed out mentally but that’s a story for another time.)  Here’s what I watched:

Allo Allo (PBS, Sunday Night)

It appeared that Rene and LeClerc were about to executed by the Communist Resistance until it was discovered that Denise, the leader of the communists, was Rene’s “childhood love.”  So now, Rene has to marry Denise, despite the fact that he’s already married to Edith.  Meanwhile, the two British airmen decided to surrender themselves to the Germans but they could not find an officer to surrender to and surrendering to an enlisted man just wouldn’t be the right thing to do.  So, they ran off to search for Officer Crabtree.

It was a chaotic but funny episode, as they tend to be.

The Bachelorette (ABC, Monday Night)

This week was the finale of The Bachelorette!  Still mourning the loss of Greg, Katie got engaged to Blake.  In fact, she basically just told Justin to go home so that she and Blake could spend all of their time together.  For all the talk about how Katie was all about ending drama, this was certainly a messy season and it only got messier when Blake met Katie’s mother and her aunt.  Her mom actually had some intelligent things to say and was right to be skeptical.  Katie’s aunt was perhaps the scariest person to ever appear on The Bachelorette and it was hard not to feel that her main concern was just making sure that Katie would forever be as miserable as everyone else in the family.  Katie and Blake got engaged in the desert, in a ceremony that was so pretentious that …. well, Katie and Blake are both fairly pretentious so I guess it was appropriate.

I watched the episodes with my girls, Evelyn, Emma, and Amy, and a bottle of wine.  Between the four of us, a lot of snarky and unrepeatable comments were made towards the television on Monday night.  That’s really the only right way to watch the finale of any season of the Bachelorette.  Admittedly, I’m not much of a drinker, which is another way of saying that a little Chardonnay puts me flat on my ass.  Evelyn says that I was drunk before I finished my first glass.  Personally, I think it was probably more like two glasses.  The point is that this messy show is the only thing that ever drives me to drink.

As we watched Katie scream at Greg at the reunion show, we all agreed that Katie is still in love with him and that she only got engaged to Blake as a sort of rebound revenge thing.  It was interesting to watch Katie literally transform into the villain of her season before our eyes.  If Blake and Katie break up (which they will), will Blake appear on a fourth season of the Bachelorette?  I guess we’ll find out.  Have they broken up already?  I don’t know, I was dealing with a sip of Chardonnay

.

Bar Rescue (Sunday, Paramount TV)

I watched an episode of this on Sunday morning, while I was trying to work up the strength to get out of bed and start my day.  Actually, since I wasn’t wearing my contacts or my glasses, I didn’t so much watch it as I listened to it while squinting.  Taffer was yelling at some blurry guy who I guess owned a fetish bar of some sort.

Big Brother (All the time, CBS and Paramount Plus)

Yep, I’m still watching this and writing about it over at the Big Brother Blog.

Court Cam (Wednesday Day, A&E)

I only had this show on for background noise while Windows was doing an update.  At this point, it seems like they’ve repeated every episode of Court Cam at least a hundred times.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen Amber Guyger received a hug from Botham Jean’s brother before going to prison.

Fantasy Island (Tuesday Night, FOX)

Fox’s Fantasy Island reboot premiered this week and the first episode was stylish but also a bit predictable and, dare I say it, a little dull.  Roselyn Sanchez seems like a good choice to play the proprietor of Fantasy Island but it’s already easy to see that the show, much like last year’s attempt to turn Fantasy Island into a film franchise, is probably going to get bogged down in its own mythology.

Fasten Your Seat Belts (Wednesdays, A&E)

Originally, I was pretty skeptical of this show, which is made up footage of people acting either silly or crazy at airports and on airplanes.  But the two episodes that I watched on Wednesday morning were actually kind of cute.  It helps that Robert Hays is a very charming host.

Friends (Weeknights, Channel 33)

I watched an episode on Monday.  Chandler and Monica returned from their honeymoon, convinced they had made new friends, just to discover that they had been given fake numbers.  (Chandler was particularly shocked as all he did during the entire honeymoon was “joke and joke and joke!”)  That was just the B-plot, though.  The main plot was Ross and Rachel again trying to figure out who was responsible for their latest tryst.  It was a cute episode, featuring Joey’s “western Europe” story.

I watched another episode on Thursday, this one featuring Monica obsessing on whether or not the maid had stolen her clothes.  Needless to say, both she and Chandler went a bit overboard in their investigation and they were soon left without a maid.  The debate over whether or not the maid had stolen Monica’s pink bra — which Monica later discovered that she was actually wearing at the time — was one that I could relate to, as Erin and I have had similar debates and oddly, many of them have centered on a pink bra.  It’s a cute bra and I’m pretty sure that I’m the one who bought it.  My sister disagrees.

Hell’s Kitchen (Monday Night, FOX)

After taking two weeks off for the Olympics, Hell’s Kitchen returned this week with an episode in which Hell’s Kitchen hosted a charity dinner.  Needless to say, it was a disaster and Victoria’s dream of being head chef at Gordon Ramsay Steak came to an end.  Why does Chef Ramsay always agree to allow charities to hold events at the restaurant?  It’s always a disaster.

Kids Behind Bars: Life or Parole (Tuesday Night, A&E)

As the result of a Supreme Court decision, prisoners who were sentenced to life imprisonment when they were juveniles are being given new sentences and, of course, A&E is there to record every dramatic and heart-wrenching moment.  It all feels a bit exploitive, of course.  I watched two episodes, both of which were painfully heavy-handed as far as who the cameras focused on and on whose pain was considered to be more important, the victim or the victimizer.  A&E undoubtedly gets good ratings from shows like this but they still leave you feeling icky after the finish.

Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court (Weekday Morning, Channel 33)

I watched two episodes on Tuesday morning.  The first episode was memorable because there were two possible fathers and both of them looked exactly like Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman.  The second episode featured a married couple that was being driven apart by accusations of infidelity.  No one drags out reading DNA test results like Judge Lake.

Lonesome Dove (Wednesday Night, DVD)

I’ve been watching this classic 1990 miniseries with the #WestWed live tweet group, hosted by Matthew Titus.  I watched the first two episodes this week.  It’s the story of a cattle drive during the dying days of the old west, featuring great performances from Tommy Lee Jones, Diane Lane, Chris Cooper, Fredric Forrest, and especially Robert Duvall.  Even Steve Buscemi showed up during the second episode!

Moone Boy (Sunday Night, PBS)

There’s a chance that Moone Boy might be leaving PBS’s schedule next week.  If so, this week’s episode was a good one to go out on.  When Liam and Debra go on a anniversary vacation to the beach, Martin and Padriac head down to Dublin (“where the streets all have names,” we’re told) to stay with Martin’s uncle.  When we last Uncle Danny, he was pretending to be a roadie with U2.  However, in this episode, Danny is honest about his profession as an encyclopedia salesman.  Through a series of events too complicated to explain in a capsule review, Martin and Padriac spend the week selling encyclopedias while Liam is tempted by an ex-girlfriend who happens to be at the same resort as he and Debra.  It was funny, sweet, and just silly enough to be effective.

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

Arkwright got a dog to protect the shop while Granville feared that he might be the father of Maureen’s baby.  Silly, Granville!  You have to have sex with someone to get them pregnant and that’s definitely something Granville’s never done.

Seinfield (Weeknights, CBS)

I watched two episodes on Sunday.  I relate so much to Elaine Benes.  During the first episode, she went hoarse after spending all night yelling at a barking dog.  (Like I said, I can relate.)  During the second episode, she worked with a potentially psychotic co-workers and still managed to put out the latest edition of the J. Peterman catalogue on schedule.

I then watched two episodes on Thursday.  The first featured one of my favorite Seinfeld characters, Bob Cobb.  Bob is better known as the Maestro.  The Maestro told Jerry that there were no houses for rent in Tuscany, which of course led to Jerry and Kramer going to Tuscany just to spite him.  The second episode featured Jerry and Kramer switching apartments due to the red neon sign of a new chicken restaurant.  I laughed.

S.W.A.T. (Wednesday Night, CBS)

When this show suddenly came on my television on Wednesday night, I was shocked to discover that it still existed (because, seriously, I figured it had been canceled after one season) and that Shemar Moore is still the most boring man on television.  I would be lying if I said I actually paid attention to the episode, of course.  I had it on for background noise.  I imagine that’s the way many people use this particular show.

Tokyo Olympics Closing Ceremonies (Sunday Night, NBC)

Remember how, last week, I said I was okay with the idea of the United States not winning the most gold medals?  Well, I may have been fooling myself because, when I found out the U.S. had defeated China in the gold medal race on Sunday afternoon, I was incredibly happy and excited!  Congratulations, Team USA!  (Especially those of you who went to the Olympics to try to win, as opposed to just trying to promote your brand or your politics….)

Though I missed a lot of the 2nd week of the Olympics, I did catch the Closing Ceremonies and I found them to be very moving.  This year, more than any other, the International Games truly meant something.  Congratulations to everyone who competed (but especially to the ones who won)!

Upstart Crow (Sunday Night, PBS)

PBS is apparently intent on breaking my heart as it appears that this is the last episode of Upstart Crow that they’re going to broadcast for a while.  Of course, it was also the last episode of the show’s third series.  It was followed by two Christmas episodes but, unfortunately, those episodes don’t appear to be in the show’s American syndication package.  Hopefully, I’m wrong and this will be corrected but, right now, PBS doesn’t have the show on its schedule for next week.  Of course, PBS doesn’t have any of their other regular British sitcoms scheduled for next week, either.  So, we’ll wait and see, I guess.

This week’s episode — wow, where to even start?  It started out as a typical episode of Upstart Crow, with Shakespeare blowing off the confirmation of his son, Hamnet, so that he could attend the first annual London Theatrical Awards.  Shakespeare confidently expected to win because, due to the Plague, his plays were the only ones running.  However, Robert Greene produced a one-night only showing of one of his plays and then paid off the voters so that he swept the awards.  The highlight of the ceremony was not Shakespeare winning (for he won nothing) but instead a tribute to the “late” Kit Marlowe (Kit, who faked his death, attended but told everyone that his name was Kurt) and the caustic hosting of Will Kempe.  It was all very funny, especially if you’re into awards shows.

Empty-handed, Will returned home to Stratford, where he discovered his family in mourning as Hamnet has died, of the Plague, the night before.  Though the agnostic Will did not believe that he would be reunited with his son in Heaven, he pretended that he did to comfort his wife, Anne.  It was a powerfully handled scene, wonderfully written and performed by the entire cast.  It ended the show on a melancholy note but also a historically accurate one.  Hamnet Shakespeare did die at a young age, presumably of the Plague.  The episode’s final scene of Will and Anne sitting silently in their room was sad but also somewhat comforting.  In mourning, they had each other.

Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2020


 

Well, it’s nearly February so I guess it’s time for me to start listing my picks for the best and the worst of 2020.

It’s pretty much a tradition here at the Shattered Lens that I always end up running behind as far as posting these lists are concerned.  I always think that I’m going to have everything ready to go during the first week of January but then I realize that there’s still a host of movies that I need to see before I can, in good conscience, post any sort of list.  In fact, as I sit here writing this post, I’m watching some films that could very well make it onto my best of 2020 list.

Of course, the list below is not my best of 2020 list.  Instead, below, you’ll find my picks for the 16 worst films of 2020.  Why 16 films?  Because Lisa doesn’t do odd numbers!

It probably won’t be a surprise you to see some of these films on the list.  For instance, I don’t think anyone will be shocked to see The Grudge or After We Collided mentioned.  However, I imagine that some people will be surprised to see The Trial of the Chicago 7 on the list.  What can I say?  The more I thought about it, the more it represented everything that I dislike about mainstream Hollywood filmmaking.  The fact that it’s probably going to be a major Oscar contender made it even more important to list it.  I’m sure there’s a lot of critics, for instance, who wish they had found room for Green Book when they were compiling their 2018 lists.

In the end, of course, this list is my opinion.  You’re free to agree or disagree.  That’s the wonderful thing about having an opinion.

(Also be sure to check out my picks for 2019, 20182017201620152014201320122011, and 2010!)

And now, the list:

16. John Henry (dir by Will Forbes) — I actually feel kind of bad for listing this silly B-movie as one of the worst of 2020 but it was just so slowly paced and thematically muddled that I really didn’t have a choice.

15. The Binge (dir by Jeremy Garelick) — Doing The Purge with drugs and alcohol as opposed to murder is actually a pretty cool idea so this movie has no excuse for being so dull.  There is one fun dance number that livens things up, which is why The Binge is listed at number 15 as opposed to number 3.

14. Once Upon A Time In London (dir by Simon Rumley) — London has a rich and exciting history when it comes to organized crime but you wouldn’t know that from watching this dull film.

13. Valley Girl (dir by Rachel Lee Goldenberg) — This remake was a boring jukebox musical that featured 30 year-old high school students and unimaginative use of a host of 80s songs.  (A girl at the beach says that she just wants to have fun.  Can you guess what song the cast started singing?)

12. Ava (dir by Tate Taylor) — Jessica Chastain’s an assassin and …. *yawn.*  Tate Taylor was exactly the wrong director to be expected to do anything interesting with this story.

11. Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island (dir by Jeff Wadlow) — My fantasy would be for a better film.  Boom!  Roasted!  (Actually, I bet I’m the thousandth blogger to have said that.)

10. The Grudge (dir by Nicolas Pesce) — Eh.  Who cares?

9. Artemis Fowl (dir by Kenneth Branagh) — This was a confusing movie that mixed the least interesting parts of the Harry Potter franchise with the least interesting bits of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

8. The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson (dir by Daniel Farrands) — I actually defended The Haunting of Sharon Tate but this semi-follow up was just too distasteful.  What was the deal with Nicole being dragged across the ceiling?  Both Mena Suvari and Nick Stahl deserve better.  So does director Daniel Farrands, for that matter.

7. The Dalton Gang (dir by Christopher Forbes) — Never has the old west looked so cheap.

6. After We Collided (dir by Roger Kumble) — This was marginally better than the first After but that’s not saying much.  The total lack of chemistry between the two romantic leads makes it difficult to care about whether or not they ever end up together.  The cloying cameo from writer Anna Todd (“What have you written?”  “Oh, this and that,”) almost made me throw a show at my TV.

5. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (dir by Aaron Sorkin) — I liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance and the scene where Bobby Seale gets gagged in court was powerful and disturbing.  Otherwise, this movie represented Hollywood at its most vapid.

4. Sergio (dir by Greg Barker) — This was a muddled and poorly acted commercial for the United Nations.

3. A Fall From Grace (dir Tyler Perry) — Tyler Perry’s beard was the best thing about this movie.

2. The Last Thing He Wanted (dir by Dee Rees) — This was the first bad film that I saw in 2020 and it’s remained here, near the bottom of the list, for 12 months.  This movie was a muddle mess that thought it had more to say than it did.  It did feature a good performance from Willem DaFoe, which saved it from being the worst film of the year.  Instead, that honor goes to….

1. Let Them All Talk (dir by Steven Soderbergh) — This mind-numbingly dull film from Steven Soderbergh seems to be determined to troll everyone who has ever said that they’d watch Meryl Streep in anything.

Coming up tomorrow: my favorite songs of 2020!

TSL Looks Back at 2020:

  1. My Top 20 Albums of 2020 (Necromoonyeti)
  2. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems That I Saw In 2020 (Valerie Troutman)
  3. Top 10 Vintage Collections (Ryan C)
  4. Top 10 Contemporary Collections (Ryan C)
  5. Top 10 Original Graphic Novels (Ryan C)
  6. Top 10 Ongoing Series (Ryan C.)
  7. Top 10 Special Mentions (Ryan C.)
  8. Top Ten Single Issues (Ryan C)

Horror Film Review: Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island (dir by Jeff Wadlow)


Welcome to Fantasy Island, where your fantasies come true….

Well, some of them do.  Some of them don’t.  Some of them play out ironically and some of them play out literally.  How does the island work?  Who knows?  It seems to be kind of random.  Mr. Rourke (Michael Pena) is your host and he’s got a tragic backstory of his own.  Is he a friend or an enemy?  Is he an angel or is he a devil?  Who knows?  Who cares?  The film doesn’t.

My point here is that Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island does not make much sense.  It’s about a group of people who go to Fantasy Island and each get their own individual fantasy from Mr. Rourke.  Apparently, all you have to do to get a fantasy is fill out a one-page questionnaire and have a conversation with Mr. Rourke.  It sounds like it should be fun but sometimes, people die!

Gwen Olsen (Maggie Q) visits the island so that the love of her life will propose to her and then they can get married and have a child.  Gwen’s lover, Nick (Evan Evagora), died in a fire years ago but suddenly, he’s alive and he’s proposing!  But is a fantasy family the same as a real family?

Melanie Cole (Lucy Hale) wants revenge on a girl who tormented her in junior high but is torturing Sloane (Portia Doubleday) really worth giving up her humanity and working with the fearsome Dr. Torture (Ian Roberts)?  Seriously, the dude’s name is really Dr. Torture.

Patrick Sullivan (Austin Stowell) is a policeman who wants to serve in the army, like his father did.  Patrick’s fantasy leads to him being forced to wander around in the jungle until he gets taken prisoner by a bunch of soldiers, one of whom is his father (Mike Vogel)!  Considering his father is dead, Patrick is initially shocked but then a few minutes later, Patrick’s like, “Cool, whatever”

J.D. (Ryan Hansen) and Brax (Jimmy O. Yang) are brothers who want to “have it all!”  That’s their fantasy.  For them, having it all means a big mansion, sexy models, and a nonstop pool party.  But what if having it all also means getting hunted by a drug cartel led by Devil Face (Kim Coates) and …. wait a minute.  That doesn’t make any sense at all.  If their fantasy was, “I want to be a super rich like Scarface or Escobar,” maybe it would then make sense for a drug cartel to show up but how does “having it all” lead to Kim Coates running around with a machine gun?

Anyway, needless to say, everyone’s fantasy goes differently than how they were expecting.  Eventually, all the fantasies connect because everyone has a Final Destination-style connection.  For some reason, this leads to everyone ending up in an underground cavern, where they’re chased by random killers.  I’m not sure why, to be honest.

Usually, I love incoherent movies but Fantasy Island was just annoying.  The main problem is that the fantasies were all just ripped off from other, better movies.  For instance, Melanie’s fantasy was basically just a sequel to Saw.  J.D. and Brax were in a cheap, Hulu action comedy.  Patrick and Gwen’s fantasies felt as if they were lifted from one of those religious films where someone prays and gets a chance to visit with their dead loved ones.

Now, at this point, I should say that Fantasy Island is based on an old TV show where, every week, different guest stars would visit the island and they would have a fantasy and, I assume, learn a lesson.  I’ve only seen a few episodes of the show but my impression is that the island was always portrayed as being a benevolent force.  People didn’t come to the island and say, “I want this experience” and then end up getting shot in the head.  I imagine that explained why the Island was able to remain open and popular.  In the movie, though, the Island leads to several deaths and you have to wonder why that wouldn’t hurt business.  I mean, if I survived a trip to the movie’s Fantasy Island, I’d probably call my senators and demand that the island by nuked into oblivion.  Both of my senators are Republicans so you know they’d be willing to do it, too.

Anyway, my fantasy was for Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island to be shorter than it was because the movie’s about 30 minutes too long and not really interesting enough to hold your attention during the slow spots.  Unfortunately, my fantasy did not come true.