Monday, July 02, 2007

Another 1970s redux post They're coming thick and fast lately! Just a confluence of events, nothing planned.

Today's installment: The return of Fantasy Island on Comcast's On Demand, for those with that service.

Just a couple of observations. First, it started later than I thought, 1978. I was certain it began earlier than that, like 1975-76 (update: this link says a pilot aired 1/14/1977, presumably as a TV movie, and then the series started one year later). I remember it being paired with The Love Boat on Saturday nights, I think. For some reason, I remember my whole family watching it, but by 1978 my sister had left and my brother went off to college.

Second, it (at least that pilot) was darker than I remember it, too. Maybe it got fluffier over the years, but the pilot movie was actually pretty sophisticated and edgier. True, the action scenes are, by today's standards, pretty lame. OOOOoooo, a big snake is going to attack them! Not. But it dealt with some fairly sinister issues. The supernatural nature of Mr. Rourke and who/what he works for is also more up front than I recall.

I guess in the popular imagination what got remembered was "Smiles, everyone, smiles!" and "De plane! De plaaaaane!" and whatever nuance there was got forgotten. I guess we'll see how the remaining episodes hold up. There was a short-lived reimagining of the original a few years ago. I agree with most of the comments at that link that the new one was darker and less goofy than the original, but that's more a comment on how TV has evolved since then than a real comparison, I think. Some commenters there liked the new version's going into more backstories of the island inhabitants, but I liked the mystery more. Besides, the original series was straightforward about how the people came to be there: They paid $50 grand. Though, quite frankly, I do way prefer Mädchen Amick to Hervé Villechaize. . . .