Friday, August 20, 2021

Classic TV: Fantasy Island (1977)

 ABC finally solved their Saturday night ratings problems in the late 70's, thanks to Aaron Spelling.

Fantasy Island anchored the back end of the Saturday block, and was more than just another star studded anthology series. There was an air of mystery surrounding Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban), the genial host and owner of the island. Fantasy Island was formatted similarly to its lead-in, The Love Boat, in which there were multiple storylines in each episode, although there was just one instance of a singular storyline, in which Roarke was actually planning on getting married. Also, several guest stars made multiple appearances in different roles (i.e. Arte Johnson, Ken Berry, Carol Lynley). This was the formula that Spelling had perfected at Four Star, and would duplicate again in the mid-80's with an adaptation of Hotel.

Fantasy Island launched as an ABC Movie of The Week in January 1977, with a sequel following a year later. The series followed in short order as a mid-season replacement, and ran for seven seasons (1978-84). However, the equally iconic Tattoo (Herve Villachaize, "The Man With The Golden Gun") was long gone before the series ended due to, presumably, a contract dispute. Wendy Schaal joined the show in season 5 as Roarke's niece, but, she, too, departed, and in the final season, Roarke gained a new assistant, Lawrence (Christopher Hewett, who moved on to Mr. Belvedere after the series ended).

The series has been revived twice, including the current iteration airing on Fox, which we'll look at another day, and a supposed prequel movie, which came out last year. Nothing, however, matches the original.

Rather than risk losing another video (because we looked at the original previously) to Sony's copyright patrol, we'll settle for a sample intro/outro video from the 1st season:

Rating: B.

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