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 1.2 “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.


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!

A Blast From The Past: One Step Beyond 3.15 “The Last Round” (dir by John Newland)

In honor of what would have been Charles Bronson’s 100th birthday, today’s blast from the past is an episode of the old 1960s anthology series, One Step Beyond. The gimmick with this show was that every story was said to be based on fact, no matter how outlandish or improbable the story may be.

In this episode from 1961, Charles Bronson stars as Yank Dawson, an aging boxer who finds himself in haunted auditorium in England during World War II. Bronson was 39 years old when he starred as Yank Dawson and he gives a good performance. The role makes good use of both Bronson’s imposing physicality and also the smoldering anger that would eventually make Bronson a star in both Europe and, later, the United States.

The episode below first aired on January 10th, 1961.

Horror on TV: One Step Beyond 2.25 “The Haunting” (dir by John Newland)

On tonight’s episode of One Step Beyond, a man suspects that his best friend is having an affair with his fiancee.  What better way to take care of the problem than by leaving his friend to die on the side of a mountain?

It seems like the perfect crime and the man might get away with it …. but only if he can do something about the ghost who seems to be stalking him in the days leading up to his wedding!

As always, this is supposedly based on a true story.

This episode originally aired on March 1st, 1960.


Horror On TV: One Step Beyond 2.14 “Make Me Not A Witch” (dir by John Newland)

In tonight’s episode of One Step Beyond, Emmy (Patty McCormack) makes the mistake of telling her parents (Eileen Ryan and Leo Penn) that she can read minds.  Needless to say, the news does not go over as well as Emmy might have hoped.  Her parents have a farm to run!  The last thing they need is a witch in their midst!

Emmy runs to the church and prays, “Make me not a witch!”

But what if the world needs a witch?

As with every episode of One Step Beyond, this episode is supposedly based on fact.  Patty McCormack is best-remembered for her Oscar-nominated performance in The Bad Seed while Eileen Ryan and Leo Penn are best remembered as being the parents of Sean and Chris Penn.

This episode originally aired on December 22nd, 1959.


Horror On TV: One Step Beyond 2.1 “Delusion” (dir by John Newland)

On tonight’s episode of One Step Beyond.

A young woman (Suzanne Pleshette) desperately needs a blood transfusion.  Fortunately, the police have managed to track down one of the only people to share her blood type, an accountant named Harold Stern (Norman Lloyd).  Harold seems like a nice, rather mild-mannered guy and he has a long history of donating blood.  However, when the police approach him, Harold refuses to donate.

“What type of crumb are you!?” the police demand.

Harold explains that, whenever he gives someone blood, he develops a psychic connection with that person.  He can see their future.  And that’s simply a burden that he can no longer shoulder….

This episode of One Step Beyond originally aired on September 15th, 1959.  Norman Lloyd, who plays Harold, got his start as a member of Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater and he also played the villain in Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur.  (Speaking of Hitchcock, Suzanne Pleshette played the doomed school teacher in The Birds.)  When Lloyd appeared in this episode of One Step Beyond, he was 44 years old.

Today, Norman Lloyd is 105 years old and guess what?  He’s still active!  He had a role in Trainwreck and still occasionally appears on television.


Horror On TV: One Step Beyond 1. 16 “The Burning Girl” (dir by John Newland)

When I first started searching YouTube for episodes to use in this feature, I came across quite a few episodes of an old black-and-white TV show called One Step Beyond.  Running for three seasons (from 1959 to 1961), One Step Beyond was hosted by John Newland.  Every week, Newland would tell the audience about some sort of possible paranormal phenomena.  Then, a dramatization of a “real” event would be shown and occasionally, the show would end with Newland interviewing the real people whose story we had just watched.

To me, that all sounds like a lot of fun.

The 16th episode of One Step Beyond was called The Burning Girl and it dealt with a teenage girl who, whenever she got upset, could apparently cause fires to spontaneously erupt.  It was written by Catherine Turney and directed by John Newland himself.

It was originally broadcast on May 5th, 1959 — presumably long before Stephen King even had the idea to write about a girl named Carrie.

Horror On TV: One Step Beyond 3.36 “Eyewitness” (dir by John Newland)

For this year’s horrorthon’s final episode of One Step Beyond, we have the …. final episode of One Step Beyond!

In this, the series’s very last episode, a Boston newspaper reporter in 1883 somehow manages to write a firsthand account of one of the greatest natural disasters in human history, the volcanic eruption of Krakatoa.  Making his accomplishment all the more amazing is that he not only filed the story the day before it happened but he also says that he has no memory of writing it!  What’s going on?  Take one step beyond and find out!

This episode originally aired on July 4th, 1961.

Enjoy and tomorrow, we start a new series here on the Shattered Lens!

Horror on TV: One Step Beyond 3.6 “Moment of Hate” (dir by John Newland)

On tonight’s episode of One Step Beyond, fashion designer Karen Wadsworth (Joanne Linville) believes that she has the power to cause people to die just by wishing death upon them.  Her psychiatrist tells her that this simply isn’t possible and then dares her to try one little test of her supposed powers.

This episode features a good performance by Joanne Linville and, if nothing else, it perhaps makes the case that we should be a little bit less quick to wish the worst upon other people.  Just imagine all of the damage that Karen could have caused if she had ever set up a twitter account.

This episode originally aired on October 25th, 1960.

Horror On TV: One Step Beyond 3.5 “If You See Sally” (dir by John Newland)

On tonight’s epiosde of One Step Beyond, we visit the legend of the ghostly hitchhiker.

Will Sally ever make it home?

This episode originally aired on October 18th, 1960!