Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.12 “King For A Day/Instant Family”

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, Mr. Roarke proves himself to be the expert at granting fantasies and teaching lessons.  One group of visitors deals with international diplomacy.  The other group deals with taking care of children.  It’s time for …. FANTASY ISLAND!

Episode 1.12 “King For A Day/Instant Family”

(Directed by George McGowan, originally aired on May 6th, 1978)

There are a lot fantasies in this episode.

For instance, Ernie Miller (David Doyle) is a plumber who wants to be treated like a king.  When he arrives on Fantasy Island, he is informed that he is now the King of Carpathia and that he is married to Queen Auroroa (Diane Baker).  What Ernie doesn’t realize is that there actually is a country called Carpathia and that he just happens to look exactly like the nation’s recently deceased king.  It turns out that Aurora is not just an actress hired to pretend to be the Queen.  Instead, she actually is the Queen!  Aurora had a fantasy of her own.  She wanted the king to come back to life so that he could prevent the country by being taken over by the sinister Ambassador Soro (Theodore Bikel).

Roarke combines their two fantasies into one.  Ernie gets to become king, on the condition that he abandon his former life and identity.  (That’s something that Ernie has no problem with and, quite frankly, actor David Doyle wasn’t exactly the most convincing plumber that I’ve ever seen.  Some actors were just meant to play men who wore suits to the office and David Doyle was one of them.)  Aurora gets her husband back, except of course it’s not actually her husband.  It’s just someone who looks like him.  But Aurora is cool with that.  This is kind of a weird fantasy.  One has to wonder what would have happened in Ambassador Soro had announced that his fantasy was  to conquer Carpathia.  WHAT THEN, MR. ROARKE!?

As for the other fantasy, it involves a woman named Gail Grayson (Melinda Naud), whose fantasy is to get a job working for the world’s number one expert on how to raise children.  Gail, it turns out, has written a thesis about how housewives are unnecessary and how being a mother isn’t as difficult as everyone says.  (It’s hard for me to imagine any woman actually writing something like that but whatever.  We’ll just go with it.)  Gail gets to put her thesis to the test when she discovers that she’s been hired to act as a babysitter!  It turns out that the world’s number one expert on raising children has several unruly children of his own.

Accompanying Gail is her mother, Mildred Grayson (Jane Wyatt).  It turns out that Mildred didn’t appreciate Gail’s thesis (and really, who can blame her?) and her fantasy is for Gail to discover firsthand just how difficult it is to take care of a house and several bratty children.  Again, Mr. Roarke decided to combine everyone’s fantasies.  Gail gets to work for her mentor and Jane gets to watch as Gail is humiliated by the children.  Eventually, Mildred comes to feel guilty about wishing so much trouble on her own daughter but everything work out in the end.  Gail gets her dream job and Mildred gets to say, “I told you so.”

Yay!  Everything works out for everyone!

This is one of those episodes where you really have to wonder if Mr. Roarke actually had a plan or if he was just making it all up as he was going along.  If Ernie hadn’t agreed to become the king in real life, Carpathia would have been conquered by the communists.  If Gail hadn’t realized her thesis was wrong, one of the children could have died on the island.  Sometimes, I just think that there are better ways to teach people a lesson than taking them to a mystical island that is ruled in a somewhat arbitrary manner by a friendly but occasionally condescending host.  That said, I would totally go to Fantasy Island if it did exist.  I imagine the same was true of the majority of the people who watched the show when it first aired.

After all, who doesn’t have a fantasy or two?

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: Fantasy Island 1.10 “The Over-The-Hill-Gang/Poof, You’re A Movie Star!”

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!

Episode 1.10 “The Over-The-Hill-Gang/Poof, You’re A Movie Star!”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on April 15th, 1978)

Uh-oh, Tattoo has a new money-making scheme!  It involves a parrot.  While the exact details of Tattoo’s schemes are a bit vague, it all involves teaching the parrot how to speak.  Again, I’m not sure how exactly that’s going to make Tattoo a lot of money but whatever.  I like parrots.

Still, it’s hard not to notice that Tattoo seems to spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to make extra money.  Tattoo is the second-in-command at the world’s most prestigious resort so you have to wonder why he always seems to be so desperate to bring in some extra cash.  It’s not like Tattoo is paying rent or even buying his own food.  That’s all provided by Mr. Roarke and the island.  Add to that, it has been implied that Tattoo is in charge of the island’s finances and that’s not a job that you give to someone who can’t handle his own money.  Maybe Tattoo isn’t looking to make money for himself.  Maybe Fantasy Island is on the verge of bankruptcy due to Roarke’s habit of giving people free fantasies.  Maybe the talking parrot is Tattoo’s latest scheme to save the Island.  If that’s the case, then Tattoo really is the secret hero of this series.

I actually wish this episode has spent more time with the parrot because that little throw-away story was still more interesting than the two main stories.  Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t a bad episode.  It’s just a bit bland.

Shirley Russell (Barbi Benton) comes to the Island with dreams of becoming a movie star.  Mr. Roarke simply snaps his fingers and suddenly, Shirley has not only an agent but also hundreds of fans following her everywhere that she goes.  She also has a role in a big movie that will be filming on the Island!  When the film’s producer (played by a veteran sleazy guy Herb Edelman) tells Shirley that she’ll have to film a nude scene for the movie, Shirley abandons her fantasy and happily reunites with her earnest fiancé.  Barbi Benton was likable as Shirley but the fantasy itself was predictable and on the blah side.  Shirley’s shock over the proposed nude scene made me wonder if she had actually watched any movies other than The Sound of Music.

The other fantasy dealt with Spencer Randolph (Ray Bolger), an aging bank robber who wanted to pull off one last job with his old gang before marrying a wealthy businesswoman.  Bolger’s old gang was made up of familiar Hollywood character actors like Tom Ewell, Foster Brooks, and Phil Foster.  Along with getting the old gang back together again, Spencer was also able to foil a blackmail scheme.  Again, the storyline was a bit bland but the chemistry between all of the Hollywood veterans was enjoyable.  Ray Bolger was just as spry and likable here as he was when he played the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.  Interestingly enough, 39 years passed between The Wizard of Oz and this episode of Fantasy Island and Bolger was still younger than Joe Biden is today when he played Spencer Randolph, the leader of the over-the-hill gang.

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.9 “Trouble My Lovely/The Common Man”

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!

Episode 1.9 “Trouble, My Lovely/The Common Man”

(Directed by Cliff Bole, originally aired on April 1st, 1978)

This week’s episode of Fantasy Island opens, as most of them do, with Mr. Roarke sharing a few words with Tattoo before they leave to meet the plane.  This week, Roarke is surprised to find that Tattoo wearing a turban.  Tattoo has decided that there is money to be made in being a phony mind reader.

Roarke shakes his head dismissively and then it’s off to meet the latest visitors to Fantasy Island.  Unfortunately, the fantasies that follow are so boring that you’ll find yourself wishing that Roarke had spent more time talking to Tattoo.

Don Knotts plays a Stanley Schecktler, a claims adjustor who dreams of being a hard-boiled private investigator.  He gets his wish and soon finds himself in a noirish version of Los Angeles.  Stanley is hired by Ivy Chandler (Lynda Day George) to investigate the man who is blackmailing her daughter, Peggy (Pamela Jean Bryant).  Like all good detectives, Stanley narrates the story.

Eventually, Stanley finds himself investigating an actual murder!  Mr. Roarke and Tattoo shows up to inform Stanley that his fantasy is potentially deadly.  They offer to refund his money.  (Tattoo says that he rarely ever refunds money so I guess Tattoo is the Island’s business manager.  I know that’s been mentioned in a few previous episodes but I still find it hard to believe, considering how little respect Roarke seems to have for Tattoo.)  Stanley, however, is determined to solve the murder.  This leads to Tattoo, who has switched his turban for a fedora, giving Stanley one important piece of advice:

This fantasy had potential.  What film lover hasn’t fantasized about being a character in a film noir?  Unfortunately, the execution was lacking, with the majority of the comedic lines falling flat.  Don Knotts has a few funny moments as the detective but the story itself never finds the right balance between comedy and noir.

That said, at least there was an unexpected twist to the detective fantasy.  The show’s other fantasy was not only lame but also kind of annoying.  Bernie Kopell, who was so likable as Doc Bricker on The Love Boat, is far less likable as a wimpy family man who comes to Fantasy Island with one request.  He wants Mr. Roarke to be a terrible host so that he can stand up to him and win the respect of his family.  Seriously, that’s the entire fantasy!

Sorry, dude, but you deserve to get treated like a schmo for having pay thousands of dollar just to get your family to look up to you.  This guy spent a lot of money to have a fantasy on Fantasy Island that he could get for free just by taking his family out to Denny’s and demanding to see the manager.  Seriously, this whole fantasy was a bit pointless but at least Tattoo got to try out his mind reading tricks when he and Mr. Roarke came across the Kopell sitting at the bar.

Oh well!  Not every fantasy can be a winner.  Hopefully, next week will be better.

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.8 “Superstar/Salem”

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!

Despite being exhausted last night, I still made sure to watch the next episode of Fantasy Island before allowing myself to fall asleep.  It’s all about priorities.

Episode 1.8 “Superstar/Salem”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on March 25th, 1978)

After a conversation with Tattoo about Tattoo’s sudden interest in photography, Mr. Roarke heads to the docks to meet this week’s guest stars!

First up, we have Richard Delaney (Gary Burghoff) and his wife, Dora (Darleen Carr).  Dora thinks they are on a business trip but actually, Richard has a fantasy.  Despite the fact that he is short, middle-aged, and not at all athletic, Richard’s fantasy is to not only pitch in a baseball game but to also strike out the best baseball players around.

(As a side note, as soon as I saw that this was going to be a baseball episode, I woke up Erin and made her watch it with me.  Of course, it was also one in the morning at the time but still, I would have been a bad sister if I hadn’t.)

Anyway, Richard gets his chance.  It turns out that Fantasy Island is holding a charity baseball game and Mr. Roarke has told everyone that Richard is the best amateur pitcher in the world.  With the help of some Fantasy Island magic, Richard is able to strike out every batter who comes up to the plate.  (According to Erin, all of the batters were real baseball players.)  We know that Richard’s skills are due to magic because, whenever he throws the ball, we hear goofy sound effects.  (“This is dumb,” Erin said, “Why did you wake me up for this?”)  Richard is offered a try-out with the Dodgers.  Yay!

Richard immediately get a little bit full of himself but it turns out that Richard’s fantasy didn’t include becoming a professional baseball player and he loses his ability to pitch.  Unfortunately, Richard doesn’t discover this until after he tells off his boss.  Fortunately, his boss is impressed by Richard’s honesty and he gives Richard a raise.  Richard may never play pro ball but at least he’ll make a lot of money as an accountant or whatever it is that he does for a living.  Yay!  (“Is it over?” Erin asked, “Can I finally get some sleep now?”)

Meanwhile, Martha and Walter Tate (played by Vera Miles and Stuart Whitman) think that the world has become too permissive of bad behavior so they want to go some place where people are better behaved.  Mr. Roarke promptly sends them to 17th century Salem, where they are both accused of being witches and narrowly avoid being executed.  You know, Mr. Roarke, you could have just sent them to a friendly rural community in Nebraska or something.  NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO BE A LESSON!

The best thing about the Salem storyline was that the evil and feared Dr. Whitfield, the man who ruled Salem with a iron fist, was played by Leslie Nielsen.  When we first meet Dr. Whitfield, he’s explaining how the town drunk came to die.

Dr. Whitfield wanted to hang both Martha and Walter for the sins of dancing and giving aspirin to a child.

Leslie Nielsen may be playing a villain but he delivers his lines in the same style that later made him a comedic icon.  If nothing else, that makes this episode fun to watch.

Martha and Walter end up fleeing Salem and, miraculously, they find themselves back on Fantasy Island.  Mr. Roarke says that he hopes they have had an enlightening fantasy.  Personally, if I was Mr. Roarke, I would be more worried about the lawsuit that they’re probably going to file against him.

This was a pretty silly episode but, as a general rule, I enjoy anything that features Leslie Nielsen playing a humorless villain.  Add to that, it was hard not to smile at the sight of Mr. Roarke and Tattoo casually emerging from the jungle in their white suits to greet Walter and Martha after the latter two escaped Salem.  It may have been a silly episode but it was also a fun one.  And really, what else does one expect from Fantasy Island?

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.7 “The Funny Girl/Butch and Sundance”

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!”

Sorry, Mr. Roarke, there’s not much to smile about when it comes to this episode.

Episode 1.7 “The Funny Girl/Butch and Sundance”

(Dir by Cliff Bole, originally aired on March 18th, 1978)

At the start of this episode, Tattoo is all excited because his birthday is coming up and he remembers that, last year, he partied all night and a bunch of beautiful women celebrated with him.  Mr. Roarke promises Tattoo that things will be different this year.  This year, Mr. Roarke says, there will be no presents.  Tattoo will play a game of chess and drink a glass of sherry and maybe there will be a cello recital.  Tattoo, needless to say, is disappointed.

Ignoring Tattoo’s anger, Mr. Roarke introduces him to the latest guests at Fantasy Island and it turns out that their fantasies are almost as disappointing and boring as Mr. Roarke’s plans for Tattoo’s birthday.  Kay Penny (Marcia Strassman) is apparently the world’s most successful comedienne even though she never comes across as being particularly funny.  Her fantasy is to move to small town where no one knows her.  That sounds like a pretty lousy fantasy but whatever.

Bill (Christopher Connelly) and Alex (James MacArthur) are two friends who want to be Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid for a weekend.  They’re huge fans of the film, though it appears neither one of them ever stuck around for the end.  Mr. Roarke takes Bill and Alex to an old west town (perhaps the same one that we saw a few weeks ago) and Bill and Alex get to live out their fantasy while trading quips and robbing banks.  The problem, for those of us who are watching then, is that neither Christopher Connelly nor James MacArthur can compare to Robert Redford and Paul Newman.  Eventually, though, the great character actor William Smith shows up as a visitor whose fantasy is to be Wyatt Earp.  He attempts to arrest Butch and Sundance.  They outsmart him and then Bill and Alex go home, satisfied.  Good for them but what about the guy who wanted to be Wyatt Earp?  Does he get his money back?  Seriously, I don’t think being humiliated was a part of his fantasy.

Meanwhile, Kay finds herself living in a small town.  Using the name Katherine Patrino, she gets a job as the receptionist for a veterinarian (played by Dennis Cole) and she also helps the vet’s silent son get over the recent loss of his mother.  She also tells a lot of jokes, none of which are particularly funny.  The best thing about this fantasy is that Mr. Roarke disguised himslef as a clown and showed up at the small town’s Founders Day Festival.

And then Tattoo did the same thing.

Anyway, during the festival, a dog was hit by a truck but Kay helped to bring it back to life and that brought a tear to my mismatched eyes.  Otherwise, this was a very forgettable trip to Fantasy Island.

On a positive note, though, it turned out that Mr. Roarke was just joking and Tattoo got to have a wild party after all.  Good for him, he earned it!

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!


Retro Television Review: Fantasy Island 1.5 “Lady of the Evening/The Racer”

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!  It’s time for another trip to Fantasy Island, the most dramatic mystical island this side of Lost!  This week, we have three fantasies and Tattoo tries to grow mustache.

Episode 1.5 “Lady of the Evening/The Racer”

(Directed by Don Weis, originally aired on February 25th, 1978)

This episode begins with the bell ringing and Tattoo yelling that the plane is arriving.  Before Mr. Roarke and Tattoo drive off to greet the plane, Mr. Roarke tells Tattoo to wash his face because he has what appears to be a smudge on his upper lip.  Tattoo explains that he’s growing a mustache because all of the world’s great lovers (including, Tattoo says, Burt Reynolds) have mustaches.  Tattoo’s effort to grow a mustache is a running joke through this episode of Fantasy Island.  Needless to say, it doesn’t go well for him.  Eventually, he resorts to using shoe polish.  By the end of the episode, Tattoo finally washes his face and presumably returns to doing whatever it is that he actually does on the island.

As for the fantasies….

Renee Lansing (Carol Lynley) is a high-priced New York “call girl” who just wants to take a vacation some place where no one knows what she does for a living.  At first, the fantasy seems to be going well.  She even meets a nice guy named Bill (Paul Burke).  But then, on the tennis court — OH MY GOD, IT’S ONE OF HER CUSTOMERS!  Renee runs off to Mr. Roarke’s office and demands her money back.  Mr. Roarke tells her that she’s not being honest with herself about what her fantasy actually is.  At this point, I was really wondering what one goes through when one signs up to Fantasy Island.  I assume some sort of agreement has to be signed.  Does the agreement actually state that Mr. Roarke gets to decide what your fantasy actually is?  Renee’s fantasy was to not be recognized.  She’s been recognized.  GIVE HER BACK HER MONEY, ROARKE!

Anyway, it all turns out for the best.  Bill reveals that he also knows who Renee is (GIVE HER BACK HER MONEY!) but he doesn’t care because he’s secretly been in love with her for years and apparently, it was his fantasy to be reunited with her.  Good for Bill but Renee still didn’t get her fantasy.  Someone needs to introduce her to a good lawyer.

Meanwhile, Jack Kincaid (played by the master of overacting, Christopher George) is a race car driver who has never mentally recovered from a serious crash.  His fantasy is to reexperience the crash so that he can get back his confidence.  Mr. Roarke goes through a lot of trouble to build an exact replica of the race track on which Jack crashed.  He even brings Jack’s mechanic, Corky (Alan Hale, Jr.), to the island.  Fortunately, Jack’s wife (Carol Lawrence) convinces Jack that he has nothing to prove.  So, Jack doesn’t get his fantasy but he does become a better person.

Did anyone get their fantasy this week!?  Actually, Mr. Brennan (Jerry Van Dyke) did.  Mr. Brennan shows up in one scene and tells Roarke that he loved his fantasy, which was apparently to play tennis without having to deal with his wife nagging him …. wait, what?  That’s the fantasy that Roarke actually honors?

I’m starting to think Fantasy Island might be a scam!  We’ll find out more next week, I guess.

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.4 “Family Reunion/Voodoo”

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!  We have two very strange fantasies this week and a few memorable guest stars!

Episode 1.4 “Family Reunion/Voodoo”

(Directed by George McGowan, originally aired on February 18th, 1978)

Finally!  After four weeks of trying to figure out how exactly the island works, I finally watched an episode that explained what Tattoo’s actual job is.  Apparently, Tattoo is an accountant.  It’s his job to keep track of how much money the island has in its treasury and to order stuff for the resort.  It’s also his job to rent things for the fantasies.  This episode, he mentions that it’s not cheap to rent a bear.  Mr. Roarke gives him a slightly disapproving look but no matter.  Tattoo’s correct.  Bears are not cheap.

As for the fantasies, they’re both kind of strange in this episode.

The more peaceful of the fantasies involves Tony (Tom Fridley) and Ann (Kathy Kurtzman) and their desire for their parents, Harry (John Gavin) and Evelyne (Juliet Mills), to get back together.  The fantasy involves tricking Harry and Evelyne into returning to the summer camp where they first met and having them fall in love all over again.  (Yes, it’s The Parent Trap, all over again.)  Unfortunately, Harry and Evelyne are accompanied by their new significant others, Stuffy McBorington (David Hedison) and Slutty LaGolddigger (Mary Frann.)  Actually, I guess those weren’t really their names but they might as well have been.  Fortunately a sudden rain storm and a visit from the expensive bear convinces Harry and Evelyne to dump Stuffy and Slutty and give love another chance.  Yay!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, Mr. Roarke has recreated a Haitian rubber plantation!  Jane Howell (Lauren Tewes, who I’ve also been watching on The Love Boat) is an amnesiac who might be the daughter of the plantation’s owner.  She, her adoptive parents (Howard Duff and Marjorie Lord), and her fiancé (Gary Collins) spend the night at the plantation.  However, it turns out that they’re not alone.  Mr. Roarke has also brought over a voodoo priest (Ernie Hudson!) who is determined to drive Jane mad!  It’s a really weird story that ends with not one twist but two.  It’s also an effectively creepy story, which makes it all the stranger that it’s paired with a light-hearted Parent Trap homage.

To me, the most interesting thing about this episode is that so many of the guest stars were veterans of the horror (or at least, the supernatural) genre.  The Family Reunion storyline features Juliet Mills (Beyond The Door), David Hedison (The Fly), and John Gavin (Psycho).  (Interestingly enough, David Hedison played Felix Leiter in two James Bond films while Gavin would have played Bond in Diamonds are Forever if Sean Connery hadn’t agreed to return to the role.)  Meanwhile, Voodoo features Lauren Tewes (who appeared in Eyes of a Stranger and Twin Peaks: The Return) and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters).  It’s an interesting mix of actors and it’s fun to see them all wandering around the island at the same time.

I enjoyed this episode.  Family Reunion was agreeably silly while Voodoo was creepy and melodramatic.  Add to that, Ricardo Montalban seemed to be having a genuinely good time as the mysterious Mr. Roarke.  He made the island seem like a fun place to visit, even with the bears and the voodoo hijinks.

Next week, more fantasies!  And more smiles!

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.3 “The Prince/The Sheriff”

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!  Is everyone smiling?

Episode 1.3 “The Prince/The Sheriff”

(Directed by Phil Bontelli, originally aired on February 11th, 1978)

The third episode of Fantasy Island is about two men searching for a simpler way of life.

Peter D’Antonoli (Dack Rambo) is the prince of the nation of Andoli.  As Mr. Roarke explains it, Peter is on the verge of becoming one of the last true monarchs, someone who not only wears a crown but who sets governmental policy.  Peter has never known what it’s like to be one of the common people and he feels that he should give it a try before he takes power.

Mr. Roarke arranges for Peter to get a job on a fishing boat.  Apparently, there’s a small fishing village located near the Fantasy Island resort.  I’m just three episodes into the original series and I have to admit that I’m already confused about about how Fantasy Island operates.  The pilot and the first two episodes suggested that Fantasy Island was a magical resort that belonged exclusively to Mr. Roarke.  But, with this episode, it is revealed that there is a fishing village near the resort and that the blue collar fisherman resent all of the people who hang out at the resort.  So, is Fantasy Island actually a nation, one that has many different village and an economic class system?  Is Mr. Roarke the president?  Has Fantasy Island been invited to join the United Nations?  And why is the Fantasy Island fishing village full of people who look like they belong in a second remake of The Fog?  Is Fantasy Island near New England?  Is it off the coast of Maine?  Seriously, this is a confusing place.

Anyway, Mr. Roarke arranges for Peter to get a job on a fishing boat, where he befriends a fisherman named Jamie (Ed Begley, Jr.).  Jamie immediately notes that Peter must be new to the fishing industry because his hands don’t have any callouses.  Jamie explains that he’s been a fisherman his entire life.  (So, did Jamie grow up on the island?)  Peter learns about generosity from Jamie and about rejection from Chris Malone (Lisa Hartman).  Peter falls in love with Chris as soon as he meets her but Chris has lived a tough life and she doesn’t want to marry someone who is just a fisherman.  Peter struggles to explain that he’s actually a prince.  Chris doesn’t believe him.  Peter says that there are things more important than money.  It leads to a big argument but fear not!  Things work out for everyone.  Chis becomes a princess.  Peter learns humility.  And Jamie gets a new boat and remains trapped on the island….well, okay.  Things worked out for almost everyone.

Meanwhile, John Burke (Harry Guardino) is a tough New York cop who wants to go back to a time when there weren’t any liberal DA’s letting criminals out of the street.  He wants to be an old west marshal!  Mr. Roarke mentions that “the old west fantasy” is Fantasy Island’s top seller.  He takes Burke to a western town.  Burke asks about the people who live there.  “They’re not robots, like in that movie, are they?”  No, Mr. Burke, it’s not Westworld!  It’s Fantasy Island!

It turns out that the two men who Burke believes murdered his partner had a similar fantasy and they’re living in the town as well!  Marshal Burke sets out for revenge but, with the help of saloon owner Julie (Sheree North), he learns that upholding the law with mercy is more rewarding than seeking blind vengeance.  Burke and Julie leave the island but fear not.  Mr. Roarke is sure that someone else will show up and request the old west fantasy.  It’s their biggest seller, after all.

(So, Fantasy Island really was just like Westworld….)

The prince storyline was silly.  The old west storyline was also silly but Harry Guardino gave a pretty entertaining performance as John Burke.  This episode also featured a visit to the Fantasy Island disco, which I appreciated.  Why go to the old west when you can dance?

Next week …. more fantasies!