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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

'Fantasy Island' S2: Tasty Video Comfort Food

Shout Factory's May 8, 2012 DVD release of the second season of "Fantasy Island" fulfills a fantasy of many fans of this mid-70s show that Tori Spelling's father Aaron created. This release adds "Fantasy Island" to the long and growing list of classic shows that Shout  rescued after another studio seemingly abandoned them after releasing one or two seasons.

Shout Factory adding "Fantasy Island's" companion show "The Love Boat" to its catalog would be a true fantasy come true.

Like most Aaron Spelling shows, "Fantasy Island" followed a trite but successful formula. Each episode had two or three independent story lines involving someone coming to the tropical island to live out a fantasy.

The second season fantasies are typical of those of the series in that they either involve enjoying the glamorous life of a dynamic figure or the more personal wish of improving an aspect of someone's personal life.

Examples of  second season "glamorous life" fantasies include living the lives of a pirate and a jewel thief. More personal ones include an MIA Vietnam vet wishing to reunite with his wife and child and a handful of guests seeking a "The Love Boat" style romance with a current or former significant other.

Also like many Aaron Spelling shows, much of "Fantasy Island's" appeal comes from casting minor league faded and upcoming stars. Season two guests range from '50s bad girl Mamie Van Doren to rising teen star Scott Baio. 

I would like to warn viewers that a couple of episodes include "The Love Boat's" highly annoying moppet Jill "Vicki" Whelan. Breathing deeply and saying that it is almost over will get you through those segments. 

Seeing Jonathon Frakes, who went on to play Commander William T. (Thomas not Tiberius) Riker in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" appear with "Fantasy Island" star Ricardo Montalban, who notably played "Star Trek" villain Khan was particularly fun. Only seeing Frakes roar "ROARKE!" would have improved the episode.

Revisiting "Fantasy Island" 35 years after being allowed to stay up late enough to watch it on Saturday nights made me realize how the show was an interesting study in contrasts. Having the suave and tall lanky Montalban play against the far less sophisticated short and stout Herve Villechaize, who came up to Montalban's waist, is an obvious example. These contrasts are also elements that makes many many classic comedy teams so great.

On a deeper level, "Fantasy Island's" depicting the contrast between the idea of a fantasy and its reality made moderately compelling television. This definitely proves the proverb of being careful what you wish for.

Many of us get to realize small personal fantasies that do not turn out as planned. Major Nelson learned that living with a beautiful devoted genie is not all that it cracked up to be and many of us start dream relationships and ideal jobs that transform into nightmares within a year.

Unlike real life, the "realistic" outcomes on "Fantasy Island" are still pretty darn good and leave the viewer with a warm fuzzy feeling.

"Fantasy Island" also had a strong cultural impact than is usually recognized. Just as "The Love Boat" helped revitalize the cruise industry, "Fantasy Island" almost surely helped spark a demand for fantasy baseball camps and rock band weekends. Like "Fantasy Island," these experiences provide a chance to revisit childhood idols.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Fantasy Island" is encouraged to email me.