Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.6 “War Games/Queen of the Boston Bruisers”


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!

It’s time for another tonally confusing trip to Fantasy Island!

Episode 2.6 “War Games/Queen of the Boston Bruisers”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on October 28th, 1978)

We’re just six episodes into the second season of Fantasy Island but a definite pattern has emerged.  Just as in the first season, each episode features two fantasies.  But, in the second season, it appears that one fantasy is always comedic and the second is always serious.  This has created an interesting tonal mishmash on Fantasy Island.  Mr. Roarke spends half of his time laughing at the silliness of it all and the other half warning people that their fantasy could lead to death.

Take this episode for instance.

Rowdy Roberts (Anne Francis) is a roller derby champ whose fantasy is to become a “gentlelady” so that she can impress her daughter’s future in-laws.  (Rowdy’s future son-in-law, meanwhile, is played by a young Jonathan Frakes.)  Mr. Roarke and Tattoo spend an entire weekend teaching Rowdy how to speak properly, how to eat with silverware, and all the rest.  However, snobbish Betty Wendover (Joanna Barnes) doesn’t want her son marrying Rowdy’s daughter so she arranges for Rowdy’s roller derby rival, Hooligan Hanreddy (Mary Jo Catlett), to come to the island and challenge Rowdy to a fight.  Rowdy throws a punch and then runs off, ashamed at not being sophisticated.  But, it turns out that Rowdy’s future son-in-law is really impressed with what Rowdy did and the wedding takes place after all.  Yay!

Needless to say, this is all incredibly silly but it’s meant to be silly and both Anne Francis and Mary Jo Catlett seem to be having fun overplaying their rivalry.  There is nothing particularly realistic about this fantasy but it’s not meant to be.  It’s meant to make the viewer smile and, for the most part, that’s what it does.

But, at the same time, Vietnam vet Joe Beck (Christopher George) is chasing another Vietnam vet, attorney Ted Harmon (Greg Morris), through the jungle, intent on killing him.  Joe blames Ted for the death of Joe’s younger brother.  Apparently, they were all POWs together and Joe’s brother died during an escape.  Joe is convinced that Ted betrayed his country.  This is all pretty dramatic and it’s hard not to wonder why Roarke would have agreed to sponsor this fantasy in the first place.  Ted is a prominent attorney who is thinking of running for political office.  If he was murdered on Fantasy Island, that wouldn’t do much for the island’s reputation.  Fortunately, it all works out in the end as Joe discovers that his younger brother is not only still alive but that he’s also the one who informed the VC about the escape attempt.  Amazingly, Ted doesn’t seem to be at all upset that he was nearly murdered over a mistake.  I guess that’s the magic of Fantasy Island.

These two fantasies didn’t really go together and, as a result, this episode feels a bit messy.  But there is one cute moment in which Tattoo reveals to Mr. Rourke that his new side hustle involves selling phony college degrees.

Go Tattoo!

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Through The Mirror, Review by Case Wright


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Happy Horrorthon!!! We are back in the eeeeeeeeevil Star Trek universe! Why is it evil? Obviously, it’s because they have beards and follow strict capitalist principles with a healthy dose of militarism.

Before I get into the story, I want to write that David and Scott Tipton do a good job of not having the mirror universe characters seeing themselves as villains.  This may seem obvious, but it’s actually very common – especially in comics.  For example, Stan Lee once had Magneto lead a group of mutants with the moniker of Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  I get that the X-Men thought they were evil, but why would Magneto?

This volume: Through the Mirror brings our Mirror Universe to the Next Generation universe our youth for supplies and plunder.  Bearded Picard is faced with blockades from rival species in his universe and needs materiel and plunder to fuel his war machine in order to bring the Terran Empire back to its former glory before Emperor Spock made them go all drum-circle kumbaya…bleh.

My main complaint with the Volume Two is actually in the first installment.  It opens with Worf investigating the theft of precious minerals from a mining colony in the “good universe”.  He sees the thief and nearly catches him.  This is a recurring issue with volume 2; the story should be only from the perspective of the mirror universe characters.  There is simply too much of the “good universe”.  They also have the “Good Universe” find an Andorian Ship that has been attacked by Evil Picard after the fact.  WHY?  Show us the Evil Planning, Show us the Pirate Picard attack, Show us why they believe they are justified.  We bought the book; therefore, we are invested in these anti-heroes.   The story could be great if we just get to bathe in their villany.  Don’t judge them.  This is their code.  This is their society.  They don’t see themselves as evil and neither should we.  We can only judge them as evil if they violate their own code of morality not ours.  This isn’t our universe.  The good universe should be treated like MSG a little is … ok… too much and you vomit.

Back to the story, Pirate Picard lures the good enterprise into a trap, hoping to seize it.  They fail, but they failed too much.  It should’ve been more of a draw with a push to the evil universe. Scott and David – the evil guys are your heroes.  They need to win at least a bit.  You can have a close game, but don’t have them get their ass kicked because it makes it too much of a Good Next Gen story.  The other knock is that they left Evil Barclay behind, dragging us back unnecessarily into the good universe.  You are thwarting them waaaaay too much.

It’s time for Evil Picard to kick some ass, but it in a good way.  Is it just for wealth for Pirate Picard?  I don’t think so.  In this universe, the Terrans see themselves as Superior like the British or Roman Empire.  Therefore, when the Klingons and Cardassians took back a lot of the Empire they likely took many Human captives as slaves.  This must be disgustingly unacceptable to Pirate Picard or any Terran Empire member.  Have them liberate a planet, rescuing Human captives.  From their perspective, they are not only NOT EVIL, but good because they are reasserting rightful human dominance to their universe.   If you have to, make some propaganda posters with Pirate Picard.  Make it personal for Pirate Picard.  Maybe Picard’s brother joined the fleet and was captured?  Make it personal! Go for it!  Have Pirate Picard risk it all: mutiny, the ship, the Terran Empire to liberate and rescue his brother and nephew Robert.  It would be epic!!!!! You have an unending depth that you can give Pirate Picard.  Give him his version of humanity.

This volume was ok, but they are not fulfilling some great story potential here.   This could be a great way to reboot the series.  Just remember: They Don’t Consider Themselves Evil.

 

Horror on TV: Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Episode 4.7


It’s time for another episode of Beyond Belief!  This episode was originally broadcast on July 22nd, 2002 and host Jonathan Frakes appears to be even more amused with it all than usual!

Can you figure out what’s fact and what’s fiction?

Horror on TV: Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Episode 3.13


Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction aired off-and-on for about five years on the Fox network.  A sign of just how randomly this show was scheduled can be found in the fact that season 3 started in 2000 while season 4 didn’t start until 2002.  Reruns of the show currently air on the Chiller Network which is where I recently discovered it.

Hosted by Jonathan Frakes, each episode would present the viewers with five different stories.  Each story would appear to defy logic and then, at the end of the episode, Frakes would reveal which of the stories were fact and which were fiction.  The show was often incredibly silly and yet, it occasionally had an odd charm to it.  A lot of this was due to Jonathan Frakes, who always seemed to be rather amused with it all.

Even more importantly, as bad as this show often was, it’s the perfect type of show to watch in October.  It’s the television equivalent of a scary story being told around a campfire.

Below, you’ll find the final episode of the third season.  Can you guess what’s fact and what’s fiction?

Horror On TV: Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Episode 1


Earlier this month, we featured an episode of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction that was hosted by Jonathan Frakes.  What I did not mention, in that post, is that Frakes was not the 1st person to host this show.

The first season was hosted by veteran scenery-chewer James Brolin.  Whereas Frakes brought a bemused appreciation to the absurd to his role of host, Brolin’s approach was far more earnest.

And, in appreciation of that earnestness, here’s the very first episode of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction?  This originally aired on May 25th, 1997 and it’s worth watching just to compare Brolin’s blandly sincere approach to the far more snarky approach of Jonathan Frakes.

Horror On TV: Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Episode 13


Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction aired off-and-on for about five years on the Fox network.  A sign of just how randomly this show was scheduled can be found in the fact that season 3 started in 2000 while season 4 didn’t start until 2002.  Reruns of the show currently air on the Chiller Network which is where I recently discovered it.

Hosted by Jonathan Frakes, each episode would present the viewers with five different stories.  Each story would appear to defy logic and then, at the end of the episode, Frakes would reveal which of the stories were fact and which were fiction.  The show was often incredibly silly and yet, it occasionally had an odd charm to it.  A lot of this was due to Jonathan Frakes, who always seemed to be rather amused with it all.

Even more importantly, as bad as this show often was, it’s the perfect type of show to watch in October.  It’s the television equivalent of a scary story being told around a campfire.

Episode 13 aired during the show’s 2nd season.  Can you guess what’s fact and what’s fiction?