Shout! Factory // 1978 // 1140 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // May 16th, 2012
"There must be some mistake; this lady was here before, and you never let anyone come back twice on Fantasy Island." -- Tattoo
WHAT?! In the 25 episodes that comprise Fantasy Island: The Complete Second Season, no less than 14 guest stars reappear from Season One, which was only 16-episodes to begin with! Equally recyclable are the "fantasies" themselves, featuring a limited menu of storytelling tropes: treasure hunts for legendary artifacts; reunions of long lost lovers and family members; a chance to experience fame and adulation first hand; instant sex-symbol status; and the chance to play Western hero, buccaneer, private detective, femme fatale, hunter of mythical monsters, et al. There's also an odd and surprisingly popular fantasy that involves a bunch of aging war buddies looking to relive the most dangerous (albeit exciting) part of their combat experience together.
Throughout, our cordial host Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) remains the very picture of suave, sophistication and bonhomie, emitting only the slightest eye-roll as his miniature, similarly-suited assistant Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize, Forbidden Zone) presents his latest get-rich-quick scheme at the start of each program. Whether it's scheming to win a contest by writing jingles for "Prune Whammies" breakfast cereal or running a mail-order haberdashery, the little man with the big ideas and Peter Lorre's voice takes a figurative pie in the face on a weekly basis for our amusement.
Here's the itinerary for Season Two, complete with guest list:
* "The Sheikh/The Homecoming" -- David Birney (St. Elsewhere), Georgia Engel (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Lynda Day George (Mission: Impossible), and Arte Johnson (Laugh-In).
* "Big Dipper/The Pirate" -- Sonny Bono (Hairspray), Rory Calhoun (Motel Hell), Diana Canova (Soap), Cameron Mitchell (High Chaparral), Dan Rowan (Laugh In), Danny Wells (The Jeffersons), and Jill Whelan (The Love Boat).
* "The Beachcomber/The Last Whodunit" -- John Astin (The Addams Family), Lynn Borden (Frogs), comedian Jack Carter, Maurice Evans (Bewitched), Celeste Holm (High Society), and Janis Paige (Eight Is Enough).
* "The Best Seller/The Tomb" -- Desi Arnaz Jr. (Here's Lucy), Shelley Fabares (Coach), and Maureen McCormick (The Brady Bunch).
* "I Want To Get Married/The Jewel Thief" -- Ken Berry (Mayberry, R.F.D.), Steve Forrest (S.W.A.T.), Meredith MacRae (Petticoat Junction), and Leigh Taylor-Young (Soylent Green).
* "The War Games/Queen Of The Boston Bruisers" -- Don De Fore (Hazel), Anne Francis (Honey West), Christopher George (Rat Patrol), Greg Morris (Mission: Impossible), Christopher Norris (Trapper John, M.D.), Joan Pringle (The White Shadow), and Dick Wilson (Mr. Whipple from the "Please don't squeeze the Charmin!" commercials).
* "Let The Good Times Roll/Nightmare/The Tiger" -- Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family), Darren McGavin (Kolchak: The Night Stalker), Ray Milland (Dial M for Murder), Mary Ann Mobley (Diff'rent Strokes), and Paul Sand (The Hot Rock).
* "Return/The Toughest Man Alive" -- Red Buttons (The Poseidon Adventure), Samantha Eggar (The Collector), France Nuyen, (South Pacific).
* "The Appointment/Mr. Tattoo" -- Barbi Benton (Deathstalker), Bert Convy (Cannonball Run), Troy Donahue (Surfside Six), Fred Grandy (The Love Boat), Nancy Kwan (The World Of Suzie Wong), and Connie Stevens (Hawaiian Eye).
* "Island Of Lost Women/The Flight Of Great Yellow Bird" -- Cyd Charisse (Silk Stockings), Peter Graves (Airplane!), Lisa Loring (The Addams Family), Robert Morse (Mad Men), Michelle Pfeiffer (Scarface), and Barbara Rush (It Came From Outer Space).
* "Carnival/The Vaudevillians" -- Luke Askew (Easy Rider), John Fielder (12 Angry Men), Phil Harris (The Jungle Book), Carol Lynley (The Poseidon Adventure), Phil Silvers (It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World), and Stuart Whitman (The Mark).
* "Charlie's Cherubs/Stalag 3" -- Brenda Benet (Walking Tall), Yvonne DeCarlo (The Munsters), Bond Gideon (Operation: Petticoat), Mindy Naud (Happy Days), Bobby Troup (Emergency!), and Cornel Wilde, (A Song To Remember).
* "Vampire/The Lady And The Longhorn" -- Lloyd Bochner (b>Dynasty), Jack Elam (The Villain), Eva Gabor (Green Acres), Robert Reed (The Brady Bunch), and Julie Sommars (Matlock).
* "Séance/The Treasure" -- Shelley Fabres, Stepfanie Kramer (Hunter), George Maharis (Route 66), Leslie Nielsen (The Naked Gun), Eve Plumb (The Brady Bunch), and Marie Windsor (The Killing).
* "Cowboy/Substitute Wife" -- Jayne Meadows Allen (Casino), Peter Breck (The Big Valley), Hans Conried (The Cat From Outer Space), Sherry Jackson (Make Room For Daddy), Peter Lawford (Ocean's 11), and Hugh O'Brian (The Life And Legend Of Wyatt Earp).
* "Photographs/Royal Flush" -- Mabel King (The Wiz), Michele Lee (The Love Bug), John McIntire (Wagon Train), Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: The Original Series), John Rubinstein (Family), and Ronne Troup (My Three Sons).
* "The Stripper/The Boxer -- Michael Callan (Cat Ballou), Maureen McCormick, Ben Murphy (Alias Smith And Jones), Forrest Tucker (F Troop), and Mamie Van Doren (High School Confidential).
* "Pentagram/A Little Ball/Casting Director -- Phyllis Davis (Vega$), Lisa Hartman (Tabitha), Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch), Don Knotts (The Ghost and Mr. Chicken), Cesar Romero (Batman: The Movie), John Saxon (Enter The Dragon), and Abe Vigoda (Barney Miller).
* "Spending Spree/The Hunted" -- Diana Canova, Khigh Dhiegh (Hawaii Five-0), Lola Falana (Lady Cocoa), James Shigeta (Flower Drum Song), and Stuart Whitman.
* "The Birthday Party/Ghost Breaker" -- Ken Berry, Annette Funicello (Back To The Beach), Janet Leigh (Psycho), Christopher Stone (Cujo), and Larry Storch (F Troop), with special guest appearances by LA Rams players Frank Corral, Anthony Davis, Jim Youngblood, and coach Ray Malavasi.
* "Yesterday's Love/Fountain Of Youth" -- Lew Ayres (All Quiet On The Western Front), Dennis Cole (Felony Squad), Guy Madison (Adventures Of Wild Bill Hickok), Eleanor Parker (The Sound Of Music), and Craig Stevens (Peter Gunn).
* "The Comic/Golden Hour" -- Jack Carter, Fred Grandy, Pat Klous (The Love Boat), Michael Parks (Kill Bill), and Toni Tennille (The Captain And Tennille).
* "Cornelius And Alphonse/The Choice" -- Kimberly Beck (Independence Day), Michael Anderson Jr. (WUSA), Billy Barty (Legend), Red Buttons, Juliet Mills (Nanny And The Professor), Mary Ann Mobley, Regis Philbin, and Kyle Richards (Halloween).
* "Bowling/Command Performance" -- Joan Blondell (Here Come The Brides), Rue McClanahan (The Golden Girls), Roddy McDowall (Planet of the Apes), and Al Molinaro (The Odd Couple), plus real professional bowlers Marshall Holman, Mark Roth, and Dick Weber.
* "Amusement Park/Rock Stars" -- Jimmy Baio (Soap), Scott Baio (Charles in Charge), Tracey Gold (Growing Pains), Ted Lange (The Love Boat), Vernee Watson (Welcome Back Kotter) and Jill Whelan.
Let's face it, the comedy isn't particularly funny, the supernatural isn't very scary, and the drama is tepid at best. So why do we watch? The guest stars, of course! The celebrity guest roll is often derided for being largely (if not mostly) populated with B-to-Z listers, but that's really an unfair generalization. In this season alone, there are appearances by Oscar winners Ray Milland, Celeste Holm, and Red Buttons. There are also pop stars who've written gold and platinum Top 40 hits (Sonny Bono, Toni Tennille), eye-poppin' beauties (Barbi Benton, Michelle Pfeiffer), certified slabs of beefcake (Troy Donahue, Scott Baio), plus Emmy, Tony, and Golden Globe award-winners. True, many of them are past their commercial prime, but they can hardly be called has-beens when they're featured during the opening credits of a consistently top-rated series.
Which brings us to Michael Parks. A dead-ringer for screen legend James Dean in his youth, this steadily working actor hit the high-water mark of his career in 1969 playing the title role in Then Came Bronson, a series that ran for one season but has gone on to achieve cult status. Of late, Parks has become a favorite of such heaving-hitting directors as David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Roberto Rodgriguez, and Kevin Smith, for whom he played a key role in last year's controversial film, Red State. Here, Parks plays an escaped convict in "Golden Hour." Watching his work, even within the cardboard character and paper-thin scripted confines of Fantasy Island, one becomes immediately aware of what attracted the attention of those heavy-hitting directors; this is a REAL actor.
As any Fantasy Islander can tell you, episodes usually divide their time between two different storyline, the titles of which are often explanation enough to render plot summaries redundant. The three-titled entries are supersized episodes that ran as 90 minute specials. Furthermore, episodes 23 and 25 ran as "Fantasy Island Sunday Specials," each of which made kids the primary focus. One of those kids is none other than Paris Hilton's aunt and Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards at the tender age of ten.
Though Sony released Season One nearly seven years ago, those prime purveyors of classic television at Shout! Factory have taken over the distribution and upped the ante, rendering a set of thoroughly superior transfers (standard definition 1.33:1 full frame with Dolby 2.0 Mono audio). There are no extras and no subtitles, but it's hard to quibble when a set of 25 year old episodes look and sound this good!
Indefensible, irresistible, and occasionally unendurable, I've struggled with my feelings regarding Fantasy Island from the very beginning. And yet, bad as it can be -- and it can be baaaaad! -- I just can't look away. Who knows, maybe Mr. Roarke does hold some (possibly sinister) sway over me. Or perhaps, the gentleman simply knows how to treat a guest.
Given my prior involvement, I officially recuse myself from ruling on this case.
Review content copyright © 2012 P.S. Colbert; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 1140 Minutes
Release Year: 1978
MPAA Rating: Not Rated