As I kid in the late 1970s, I religiously watched the TV double shot of Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Though both series were created by Aaron Spelling and had the biggest celebrities at the time as weekly guest stars, the two hour-long shows were really nothing alike — although they were often lumped together. Love Boat was more of a campy eye-roll-inducing rom-com (though, I did love that episode when Kristy McNichol and Scott Baio hook up!), while Fantasy Island usually had a serious story to tell and a lesson to be learned.
Unfortunately, hardly anyone ended up smiling, because there was always a “careful what you wish for” consequence to pay, but at least they all learned valuable lessons and were thankful to Mr. Roarke for helping them.
This month, Amazon has Fantasy Island – The Complete First Season as part of their Buy 1 Get 1 Free TV on DVD sale. This is the only season of the show available for purchase, but luckily Hulu is streaming full episodes from Seasons 1-3 and also has minisodes from Seasons 3-7, all for free (in the U.S. only).
Some of my favorite episodes were usually a take on classic literature and storytelling, like the one in Season 3 based loosely on the tale of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (watch the full episode “Aphrodite / Dr. Jekyll & Miss Hyde” here below). I remember watching that one with my parents, and boy was it awkward when that professor dude got his wish to get naughty naughty with the goddess Aphrodite. (Be on the lookout for Marcia Brady in a supporting role in this episode.)
But, really, the best part about the show is all of Mr. Roarke’s philosophical ruminations, and at times, his witty comebacks — just check out this one he used on a man who was angry about his daughter: “Tell me, what kind of charlatan are you, Sir?,” the man angrily asks. “If you tell me how many kinds of charlatans there are,” Mr. Roarke replies, “perhaps I can identify my own type.” Love it!
Seriously, this show, while insanely popular when it aired in the late 70s/early 80s, has since gotten a bad rap since then — again, I believe, due to its association with the much lower quality Spelling series Love Boat.
Check out the available episodes on Hulu and/or snag that Season 1 DVD sale while it lasts.