Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.7 “Let the Good Times Roll/Nightmare/The Tiger”

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, we’ve got a special, 90-minute episode of Fantasy Island!

Episode 2.7 “Let the Good Times Roll/Nightmare/The Tiger”

(Dir by George McCowan, originally aired on November 4th, 1978)

This week’s supersized episode of Fantasy Island begins with Tattoo revealing that he’s come up with a new way to annoy Mr. Roarke.

Mr, Roarke rolls his eyes and dramatically sighs, especially when Tattoo makes the mistake of assuming that Roarke is a Pisces.  (“I am a Sagittarius!” Roarke snaps.)  For once, Mr. Roarke is right to be annoyed.  There’s no time for this foolishness this week!  We’ve got three fantasies to deal with!

For instance, Duke Manducci (Paul Sand) and Ernie “Smooth” Kowalski (Peter Isacksen) want to go back to the 1960s and relive their youth.  Duke was once known as the King of the Strip because he could outrace anyone.  Now, years later, Duke is just a guy working in a garage.  Roarke leads them to an exact recreation of the Strip.  The Strip is so perfectly recreated that even Donny Bonaduce shows up to make trouble.

Uh-oh, it turns out that Mr. Roarke has also invited all of Duke’s old friends to come take part in Duke’s fantasy.  Except, of course, none of them know that Duke is still working at the same gas station that he worked at as a teenager.  Duke ends up telling a lot of lies in order to convince them that he’s made a success of himself.   But when he falls for Sheila Crane (Mary Ann Mobley), he realizes that it’s time to be honest.  And when Bonaduce challenges him to a race, Duke eventually realizes that his racing days are over and it’s time for him to be a grown-up.  Duke not only learns an important lesson but he’s also offered a job working on a NASCAR pit crew.  Yay!

Meanwhile, Janine Sanford (Pamela Franklin) is haunted by a recurring nightmare.  She always has the dream at midnight and she’s never made it to the end of the dream without waking up.  She travels to Fantasy Island with her husband (Brett Halsey, who later starred in Fulci’s Touch of Death) and her father (Ray Milland).  Her fantasy is see how her nightmare ends.  Mr. Roarke takes her to what he calls the Nightmare House.

And, oh my God, this nightmare is seriously freaky!  We see it twice.  It involves Janine watching as all of her childhood toys catch on fire.  There’s even a clown that comes to life and go crazy at one point.

Janine’s father is convinced that the dream is linked to some sort of past trauma and he fears that Janine will be hurt if she relives it. 

It turns out the joke’s on him!  Janine’s nightmare is not about the past but the future.  It turns out that it was warning her that her father was going to be trapped in a fire.  When her father is indeed trapped in a fire, Janine is able to rescue him.  Yay!  What a great fantasy and I love a happy ending.  This fantasy is handled so well that it takes a while to realize that the show just kind of dropped the whole idea of Janine suffering from past trauma, despite the fact that her father seemed really worried about what she might end up remembering.  

Finally, for our third fantasy, Victor Duncan (Darren McGavin) is a Hemingwayesque writer who wants to go to India so he can hunt a legendary tiger.  How do you think that works out for him?

Yep, the tiger kills him.

Fear not, though!  Mr. Roarke explains to Tattoo that Victor was actually terminally ill and his fantasy was to die on Fantasy Island.  So, I guess that’s a happy ending.

I actually liked this episode, if just because it was throwback to season one when all of the fantasies were linked by a common theme.  Here the link is aging and growing up.  Duke and Victor both have to deal with the fact that they’re no longer young men.  Janine manages to put her nightmare behind her and move on.  These three fantasies all seemed to belong together, so there were none of the strange tonal shifts that I’ve noticed in some of the other episodes.  All in all, this was a good trip to Fantasy Island.

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.18 “Last of the Stubings / Million Dollar Man / The Sisters”

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

This week’s cruise is all about family, love, and …. CRIME!

Episode 1.18 “Last of the Stubings / Million Dollar Man / The Sisters”

(dir by Jack Arnold, originally aired on February 4th, 1978)

Fresh from having given Isaac a lesson in black history during the previous cruise, Captain Stubing is excited to give the rest of the crew a lesson about his family.  The Stubings have a long and noteworthy Naval tradition and the Captain is proud to announce that his nephew, L. Courtney Stubing IV (Peter Isacksen), has been accepted to Annapolis.  But, before going to school, he’s going to work on the Pacific Princess and show everyone that he is a natural-born sailor.  The only problem is that Courtney Stubing is not a natural-born sailor.  Instead, he’s a tall, clumsy, near-sighted, and kind of goony guy who has no idea how to talk to the passengers and who would rather be a ballet dancer.  The problem, along with the fact that he’s the last of the young Stubings and expected to carry on the family tradition, is that he’s just as bad at dancing as he is at everything else.

Now, I have to give some credit to Gavin MacLeod here because he made this storyline work.  The scene where, having finally realized the truth of about his nephew, Captain Stubing tells Courtney that it’s okay not to become a sailor and that he should find out what he’s good at was well-written and sensitively acted by MacLeod.  It was about as honest a moment as you’ll probably ever find on a show like The Love Boat.

While the Stubings were bonding, two sisters were fighting.  Rose (Marion Ross) was upset that Noreen (Pat Crowley) was spending all of her time with the handsome Clark Tyler (Brett Halsey).  Seeing as how I mostly know Hasley from his starring role in Lucio Fulci’s Touch of Death, I would have been more concerned for Noreen’s safety than upset that she was ignoring me.  Anyway, it was kind of boring story but it all worked out in the end.  Marion Ross would go on to become the Love Boat’s most frequent passenger, though she always played a different character.  Eventually, she even played a woman who married Captain Stubing but we’ve got a long way to go until we reach that point.

A long, loooooooooong way.

Meanwhile, two passengers found love.  Unfortunately, it was only after they slept together that Stephanie (Marcia Strassman) discovered that Bill (Frank Converse) had stolen a million dollars from his employer and Bill discovered that Stephanie was a cop.  Stephanie explained that she would be required to arrest Bill as soon as the ship returned to the United States.  Bill considered running off to Mexico but, in the end, he decided to face justice in the U.S., on the condition that Stephanie would be waiting for him after he got out of prison.  Honestly, I think it would have made more sense for Stephanie to just join Bill in Mexico and thy two of them could have built a new life there.  I mean, they’ve got a million dollars!  But, whatever.  Strassman and Converse had a lot of chemistry so, despite yourself, you really do hope that things will work out for them while you’re watching the episode.

And I hope things work for you as well, as we sail towards 2023!  The Love Boat will return.