Horror on TV: Ghost Story 1.5 “The Summer House” (dir by Leo Penn)


On tonight’s episode of Ghost Story, Carolyn Jones and Steve Forrest play a couple who spend their summers in a vacation home that appears to be haunted as well.  This was one of Carolyn Jones’s final roles.

This episode originally aired on October 13th, 1972.  Director Leo Penn is perhaps best known as the father of actors Sean and Chris Penn.

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.5 “Isaac the Groupie / Mr. Popularity / Help! Murder!”


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!

Just remember …. the Love Boat promises something for everyone.

Episode 1.5 “Isaac the Groupie / Mr. Popularity / Help! Murder!”

(Directed by Peter Baldwin, Tony Webster, and James Sheldon, originally aired on October 22nd, 1977)

This episode was all about mistaken identities.

Robert Tanner (Jim Nabors) is the most annoying man to ever set sail on the Love Boat.  All he does is talk and talk about what he had for dinner.  Unfortunately, he’s had the same liver and onions dinner for several years now so it’s not like he has much to say that would be considered to be new.  Everyone on the ship avoids Mr. Tanner but Captain Stubing insists that Julie figure out a way to keep him happy.  (No, not like that….)  Fortunately, two passengers read an article about an international jewel thief named Roscoe Toler and they decide that Tanner must be Toler.  (What?)  Suddenly, everyone is hanging out with Mr. Tanner and listening to his stories.  I’m not sure why being mistaken for a criminal would make everyone want to hang out with Tanner.  I mean, aren’t they worried about their jewelry? 

While that’s going on, Isaac is excited because his favorite singer, Roxy Blue (Diahann Carroll), is sailing on the boat.  She’s using an assumed name.  Not even the rest of the crew know that she’s onboard.  But Isaac recognizes her as soon as she sits down at the bar and soon, the two of them are having a ship-board romance.  Good for Isaac and, even more importantly, good for Ted Lange, who gives a really likable performance in this episode.  Unfortunately, once the cruise ends, Roxy will go back to her life as the world’s most famous singer and Isaac will once again be the ship’s only bartender.  This is one of those storylines that would be unthinkable today.  Just try to imagine any celebrity managing to sneak on a boat (or anywhere) without the world knowing.

Finally, in our third and final storyline, Bert Fredricks (David Groh) wants to throw a surprise party for his wife, Denise (Michele Lee).  Unfortunately, his wife spots him talking to Julie and decides that Bert is cheating on her.  Then she overhears Gopher talking about “blowing up” something and she decides that Bert is going to kill her!  (Gopher was actually talking about the photographs that Bert had asked him to secretly take of his wife.)  Everything is eventually worked out but seriously, how bad was their marriage that Denise had absolutely no doubt that Bert was going to kill her so that he could run off with a cruise director that he had only known for a day?  

Anyway, this was another one of those mixed episodes.  The Isaac storyline was nice, largely because of the chemistry between Lange and Carroll.  The other two storylines were both examples of the type of thing that drives me crazy, where everything could be resolved if people just talked to each other and used a little common sense.  That said, Michele Lee had a few funny moments of panic.  I’d like to have a surprise birthday party on a cruise ship.  That’s the important thing.

Horror on TV: Ghost Story 1.4 “Bad Connection” (dir by Walter Doniger)


On tonight’s episode of Ghost Story, Karen Black plays a widow who starts to get mysterious phone calls from a man who sounds just like her late husband.  Black later expressed some regret that she ended up getting typecast a horror actress but she definitely did a good job in these roles.

This episode was co-written by Richard Matheson and originally aired on October 6th, 1972.

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!

Horror On TV: Ghost Story 1.3 “At the Cradle Foot” (dir by Don McDougall)


On tonight’s episode of Ghost Story, James Franciscus plays a father who discovers that trying to change the future isn’t as cut-and-dried as it seems.  When Paul (Franciscus) dreams that his daughter is going to be murdered 20 years in the future, he moves to the town from his dream to try to prevent it.  He ends up falling in love with Julie (Meg Foster), who happens to be engaged to man named Ed (Karl Swenson) who looks just like the man who Paul dreamt was going to murder his daughter!

This episode originally aired on September 29th, 1972.

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 1.9 “Stranded” and 1.10 “The Sweat Shack”


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

I’ll always remember, me and my friends at Hang Time!

It’s time to check in and see what’s happening at Deering High!

Episode 1.9 “Stranded”

(Directed by Howard Murray, originally aired on November 4th, 1995)

“Great!” Sam announces halfway through this episode, “we’re all stuck together and we hate each other!”

And yes, it is true.  After a terrible loss, Coach Fuller makes the team come in for a Saturday morning practice.  Only a few members of the team make it due to the fact that it’s snowing and those who do make it end up getting trapped in the gym by the blizzard!  Way to go, Coach!

This actually wasn’t a bad episode.  For one thing, memories of the 2021 Texas blizzard are still fresh on my mind so, for once, I could relate to what the characters on the show were going through.  I actually have been snowed in, with the power going on-and-off.  Fortunately, I wasn’t trapped in a gym.  I was in my house, with a book to read.

The majority of the episode was taken up with a group therapy session, in which Fuller tried to get the team to open up about both the loss and their feelings to each other.  And while I initially groaned when the scene started, it was actually handled fairly well.  We got to hear each character’s inner thoughts and it turned out that most of them were just as tired of Julie being the center of every storyline as the viewers undoubtedly were.  Add to that, a new member of the cast made an appearance when one brave boom mic made an appearance, hovering over the group.

While everyone tried to figure out how to survive being stuck in the gym overnight (did none of these high school students have parents trying to dig them out?), Julie and Chris debated whether they could both date and be teammates and Mary Beth, who was in the gym despite not being a member of the basketball team, tried to take care of the fake baby that she had been assigned for a class assignment.

As I said, this was not a bad episode.  Chris and Julie were still an amazingly boring couple but, with this episode, it felt as if the cast had finally come together as an ensemble.  Still, it’s strange that the episode ended with Michael saving everyone in the high school as opposed to say the parents who were undoubtedly wondering to where their children had disappeared during the worst blizzard in Indiana history.  Did the adults in town just not care about their high school basketball team?

Episode 1.10 “The Sweat Shack”

(Directed by Howard Murray, originally aired on November 11th, 1995)

This was a weird episode.  Mary Beth’s father demanded that she get a job so, somehow, she ended up as manager of the Sports Shack (which is the store in the mall where most of the characters work).  At first, Mary Beth is too lenient of a boss.  Then she become too strict of a boss.  All of her employee go on a strike but is there really a Sports Shack union?  Is the strike even legal?  Couldn’t everyone be arrested for disturbing the peace and, even more importantly, why can’t Mary Beth just fire all of them and hire cheap replacements?  That would definitely cut down on payroll.

Meanwhile, Coach Fuller is in charge of a new exchange programs where members of the basketball team pair up with girls from Russia and …. wait, WHAT!?  Earl gets a Russian who loves hanging out with him.  Michael gets a Russian who is overweight so, of course, the audience goes, “Whoa!”  “You are fresh prince,” the Russian tells Michael, on account of the fact that Michael appears to be the only black student at Deering High.  “Hah hah hah!” the audience responds.  Eventually, Michael learns an important lesson about not judging Russian mail order brides by their weight.  It’s all more than a little cringey but it is kind of sweet that Earl’s exchange student even follows him around while he’s working his security job at the mall.

Anyway, this one of those episode that kind of felt as if it was just a mix of scenes and storylines that had been cut from other episodes.  Perhaps it would have been better if everyone had been trapped at the mall by another blizzard.  Seriously, blizzards bring out the best of this show.

Horror on TV: Ghost Story 1.2 “The Concrete Captain” (dir by Richard Donner)


In the 2nd episode of Ghost Story, an important lesson is learned.  If you’re going to bury a sea captain, do not bury him in concrete because his spirit belongs to the ocean.  Upset his spirit and he’ll basically ruin whatever hopes you have of bringing tourists to the seashore!

This episode stars Gena Rowlands and Stuart Whitman and it was directed by none other than Richard Donner.  Donner, of course, would go on to direct such films as The Omen, Superman, and Lethal Weapon.

Enjoy!

(Despite the weird thumbnail, this video should work if you click play.)

Horror on TV: Ghost Story 1.1 “The Dead We Leave Behind” (dir by Paul Stanley)


During the month of October, we like to share classic episodes of horror-themed television.  That was easier to do when we first started doing our annual October horrorthon here at the Shattered Lens because every single episode of the original, black-and-white Twilight Zone was available on YouTube.  Sadly, that’s no longer the case.

However, there is some good news!  Twilight Zone may be gone but there are other horror shows on YouTube!  For instance, I’ve discovered that, in 1972, there was a horror anthology series that was originally called Ghost Story.  It was produced by William Castle and each episode featured a different guest star having to deal with the supernatural.

The show made its debut on September 15th, 1972.  In this episode, Sebastian Cabot (playing the role of the mysterious Winston Essex) introduces a story about the mortality and technology.  Jason Robards and Stella Stevens are a married couple who discover that their television cannot only predict the future but that also one of them is going to die!

Enjoy the first episode of Ghost Story!

Retro Television Review: California Dreams 1.9 “Mother and Child Reunion” and 1.10 “Romancing The Tube”


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Saturdays, I will be reviewing California Dreams, which ran on NBC from 1992 to 1996.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

Last week, California Dreams dealt with both racism and misogyny.  It was two heavy episodes, featuring important lessons about the problems of the world.  Would the trend continue?  Let us find out!

Surf dudes with attitude, feeling mellow, let’s get on with it….

Episode 1.9 “Mother and Child Reunion”

(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 7th, 1992)

It’s been over a month since the Dreams last had a gig.  Maybe they should break up!  Matt thinks that they just need to practice more.  (Of course, being a music camp kid, he would say that, wouldn’t he?)  Sly thinks that the band need to change its image and be less beach-y.  Considering what was going on in music in the early to mid-90s, Sly probably has a point.  Anyway, Sly goes out and buys a smoke machine so that the Dreams can use it to change their middlebrow image.  Maybe they just need a new lead singer.  WHERE’S JAKE!?

Now, the smoke machine and the edgy image stuff is actually kind of cute but the majority of the show revolves around Tiffani and her mom.  It turns out that Tiffani’s mom essentially abandoned her when Tiffani was only six.  For ten years, Tiffani’s mom worked as a dancer in New York.  Now, she’s back in California.  At first, everyone is shocked by the fact that Tiffani doesn’t seem to be angry at her mom but it turns out that Tiffani is angry and that anger finally comes out at Tiffani’s 16th birthday party when her mom suggests that Tiffany come live with her for a year.

By the standards of California Dreams’s first season, this wasn’t a bad episode.  Kelly Packard did a good job of portraying Tiffani’s anger.  Plus, this episode did have one good joke, in which Sly tried to rename the band The California Nightmares in an attempt to change their image.  They should have stuck with the new name.

Episode 1.10 “Romancing The Tube” 

(Directed by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 14th, 1992)

This was a weird episode.  I’ve seen plenty of episodes of California Dreams but somehow, I never knew that Sly and Tiffani were a couple for an episode.  Apparently, Tiffany and Sly fell for each other while Tiffany was teaching Sly how to surf.  It all led to a “Surf Soul Swapping” ceremony, which was overseen by Peter Tork of the Monkees.  However, at the last minute, Tiffani realized that she was just using Sly as a rebound to help her get over her ex.  And Sly never really wanted to be in a committed relationship to begin with.  So, they broke up and I guess it all worked out in the end.

Meanwhile, Matt, Jenny, and Tony were supposed to paint a room in the Garrison House in return for Mrs. Garrison paying them $300 so they could get a new lighting system.  But then they got bored and abandoned the job.  Fortunately, the new lighting system turned out to be a bust so they tricked Mrs. Garrison into taking it off their hands.  No one learned a thing, which was probably about as realistic as California Dreams ever got.

Weird episode.

Retro Television Review: One World 1.9 “Two Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” and 1.10 “Ben’s Brother”


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a new feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Fridays, I will be reviewing One World, which ran on NBC from 1998 to 2001.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

The Cast of One World

This week, Ben discovers he has a brother and Sui and Jane discover that they have no choice but to live together, regardless of how little they have in common.  It’s all a part of living in …. one world!

Episode 1.9 “Two Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”

(Directed by Chuck Vinson, originally aired on November 14th, 1998)

“You’re not a better parent than our Dad,” Neal says at one point in this episode, “When we kids aren’t in jail, we’re pretty great.”

And he’s got a point.  The Blake children are a good group of people but they certainly do seem to spend a lot of time in jail.

When they’re not in jail, they’re getting visited by social workers who are trying to figure out why they’re still free.  In this episode, a social worker suggests that Jane and Sui see a therapist to determine why they’re incapable of getting along.  Jane thinks that Sui is spoiled.  Sui thinks that Jane is unstable and destructive.  It turns out that they’re both right!  But it also turns out that, underneath their hostility, they secretly care about each other and neither wants to see the other kicked out of the house.

Meanwhile, Mr. Blake is challenged to a bowling game by another coach and Ben tries to convince Marci to include him in a calendar of sexy Miamians.  It’s all a bit disjointed, to be honest.  This is another one of those episodes that seems to have been randomly pieced together with footage that was found on the editing room floor.  Still, I’ll give the episode some credit for its title.

Episode 1.10 “Ben’s Brother”

(Directed by Chuck Vinson, originally aired on November 21st, 1998)

“I just can’t believe I’ve got an identical twin brother!” Ben declares, shortly after meeting Bryan (Denny Kirkwood).

It’s true.  Even though Ben didn’t know it, he had a twin brother who was adopted by another family.  When Bryan learned of Ben’s existence, he came out to Miami to find him.  When they happen to run into each at The Warehouse (a.k.a., Miami’s Hottest Under-21 Club), they’re both overjoyed.  Bryan is even happier when he meets Jane.  It turns out that Bryan likes bad girls and, as was casually mentioned a few episodes ago, Jane is kind of in love with Ben.  Since Ben is dating Alex, why not just go out with someone who shares his face and his DNA?  Besides, the audience keeps going, “Woooo!” whenever Bryan and Jane talk to each other.

Unfortunately, it turns out that Bryan has a gambling addiction.  Bizarrely enough, City Guys also did a show about being addicted to gambling and I’m pretty sure that Hang Time eventually did an episode about gambling as well.  Was teenage gambling a huge problem in the 90s?  Because of the fact that they both look exactly alike, Ben discovers that Bryan is in trouble with some dangerous people but Jane refuses to break up with him because she’s a rebel.  Go, Jane, go!

In the show’s B-plot, Neal and Sui went on a game show.  Sui got mad at Neal for insisting on answering all of the questions himself.  Unfortunately, for the final question, Neal gets asked the name of the “pop singer who wore a cone bra on her Blonde Ambition tour.”  Somehow, Neal doesn’t know that it was Madonna.  Sui tries to answer the question but spends too much time talking and doesn’t beat the buzzer.  Oh well.  At least Sui gets to wear a really cute pair of boots on the game show.

So, in short, Jane is now dating a gambling addict, Ben is dating an alcoholic, and Marci and Sui are the best characters on the show.  What will happen next week?