1 9 7 7 – 1 9 8 4 (USA)
45 x 25 minute episodes
“Smiles, everyone, smiles!”
Fantasy Island consisted of several different stories each week played out against a common background.
The backdrop of the show was a remote tropical island resort where each visitor could have one lifelong dream fulfilled by paying an undisclosed amount of money. EG: a frustrated salesman who wanted to score the business deal of his life, or a homely guy wanting to become a sex symbol.
Many of the stories involved glamour and excitement for ordinary people whose lives were, for the most part, boring. There was usually some element of danger or a twist of fate, but everything always worked out just right on Fantasy Island.
Overseeing the stories each week was the island’s suave and slightly mysterious owner, Mr Roarke (Ricardo Montalban), and his diminutive helper, Tattoo (Herve Villechaize), who was replaced in 1983 by Lawrence (Christopher Hewett).
Viewers looked forward to hearing Tattoo exclaim “Da plane . . . da plane” as the seaplane bearing the weekly guests approached the island.
Visitors on the island were played by a variety of well-known guest stars such as Christopher George, Dennis James, Henry Gibson, Georgia Engel, Marcia Strassman and Roddy McDowall (in a recurring role as Mr Mephistopheles). Mr Roarke’s God-daughter Julie (Wendy Schaal) was also a regular for one season.
In later seasons, Roarke became increasingly mysterious, dispensing magic spells and potions, calling up events from the past and future and even doing battle with the devil.
Fantasy Island was originally filmed at a public park called the Arboretum – 25 miles from Los Angeles.
A 1998 remake starred Malcolm McDowell as Mr Roarke. The new series was much darker, had a strong supernatural theme, and was filmed on location in Hawaii. The revived series was not a success.