You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fantasy Island

Everything anyone remembers about ABC's hokey original "Fantasy Island" (which ran from 1978-84), about Ricardo Montalban and his ice-cream-man suits, about little Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) yapping about "Dee plane, boss! Dee plane!" and about those cornball lessons everyone wound up learning, is forgotten. This "FI" has more of a "Twilight Zone"-"Twin Peaks"-"Northern Exposure" edge, with McDowell contributing the perfect blend of wiles and arrogance.

With:
Mr. Roarke.....Malcolm McDowell Cal.....Louis Lombardi Harry.....Edward Hibbert Ariel.....Madchen Amick Fisher.....Fyvush Finkel Clia.....Sylvia Sidney Matthew Ashby.....John MeseCarol Ashby.....Farrah Forke Emily.....Rachel York Karl.....Hank Stratton Richard.....Paul Hipp Jackie.....Marley Shelton Regina.....Lisa Robin Kelly Roger.....Scott Denny Tommy.....Christian Hoff The first tipoff that this isn't going to be anything like your father's "Fantasy Island" comes early on in the vivid and unsettling pilot, when the camera follows the path of a container whooshing through a pneumatic tube, point-of-view style. It's a small but significant moment, crystallizing the ambition of a darkly quirky hour anthology that finds exec producer Barry Sonnenfeld's irreverent sensibility coursing through every frame, and Malcolm McDowell turning in a mind-blowing performance as a sinister and cagey Mr. Roarke.

Everything anyone remembers about ABC’s hokey original “Fantasy Island” (which ran from 1978-84), about Ricardo Montalban and his ice-cream-man suits, about little Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) yapping about “Dee plane, boss! Dee plane!” and about those cornball lessons everyone wound up learning, is forgotten. This “FI” has more of a “Twilight Zone”-“Twin Peaks”-“Northern Exposure” edge, with McDowell contributing the perfect blend of wiles and arrogance.

Gone is any trace of Tattoo, replaced by a triumvirate of sidekicks who include Cal (Louis Lombardi) and Harry (Edward Hibbert) — a couple of shmoes who appear to be working off some odd karmic debt to Roarke — and Madchen Amick (a “Peaks” alumna) as a beautiful shape-shifting morpher who becomes whatever the island visitors want her to be.

Show even pokes fun at its campy namesake predecessor at the beginning. As Cal strikes a bell dryly intoning, “The plane. The plane,” Roarke flashes him a dirty look and replies, “Quasimodo, would you mind?”

Aside from the far edgier tone, this “Fantasy Island” uses its tropical locale (Maui, Kauai and Oahu) to paint a visually dazzling portrait, with helmer Michael Dinner using the backdrop as a surreal counterpoint to the “Be careful what you ask for, you may get it” tales of caution. It pretty much apes the previous format of transporting people by plane to an island where their fantasies of romance or adventure or retribution are realized.

Opener from scribes Paul & Chris Weitz is by turns clever and creepy, interspersing a trilogy of short stories that embrace dilemmas and result in ironic comeuppance. In one, a man bored with his marriage longs to be reunited with his high-school flame. A second profiles a thrill-seeker addicted to the Adrenalin rush whose recklessness leads to death and epiphany. But the most disturbing tale involves a woman who is hellbent on becoming more knowledgeable than her brainy sister.

None of the three pieces ends predictably or plays in a contrived way, though the moral resolutions of the first “Fantasy Island” continue on here. Every step of the way, McDowell’s omnipotent Roarke is cajoling, mocking, sparring and questioning with his guests, his dark suit matching his black persona. The work is nothing short of spellbinding. And in a nod to camp, “Picket Fences” refugee Fyvush Finkel and Oscar nominee Sylvia Sidney supply a deft comic touch as the geezers running the Fantasy Island travel agency.

Put it all together and you have a surprisingly compelling hour that stands with CBS’ “Buddy Faro” as the finest of this fall’s new hour entries. It remains to be seen just how far the show will go in its fantasy fulfillment agenda. We can hear Roarke now: “I’m sorry, Miss Tarses, but we can’t really do much here to improve your 18-49 numbers.”

Tech credits are exceptional.

Fantasy Island

(DRAMA SERIES; ABC, SAT., SEPT. 26, 9 P.M.)

Production: Filmed on the islands of Maui, Kauai and Oahu by Sonnenfeld Josephson Worldwide Entertainment in association with Columbia TriStar TV. Executive producers, Barry Sonnenfeld, Barry Josephson, Michael Dinner, Diane Frolov, Andrew Schneider; producer, John Flynn; director, Dinner; writers, Paul & Chris Weitz; production designer, J.T. Walker.

Crew: Camera, Ed Pei; editors, William Scharf , James Austin Stewart; music, John Ottman; sound, Sandy Gendler, Mark Larry; casting, Nancy Naylor, Elizabeth Marx. 60 MIN.

With: Mr. Roarke.....Malcolm McDowell Cal.....Louis Lombardi Harry.....Edward Hibbert Ariel.....Madchen Amick Fisher.....Fyvush Finkel Clia.....Sylvia Sidney Matthew Ashby.....John MeseCarol Ashby.....Farrah Forke Emily.....Rachel York Karl.....Hank Stratton Richard.....Paul Hipp Jackie.....Marley Shelton Regina.....Lisa Robin Kelly Roger.....Scott Denny Tommy.....Christian Hoff The first tipoff that this isn't going to be anything like your father's "Fantasy Island" comes early on in the vivid and unsettling pilot, when the camera follows the path of a container whooshing through a pneumatic tube, point-of-view style. It's a small but significant moment, crystallizing the ambition of a darkly quirky hour anthology that finds exec producer Barry Sonnenfeld's irreverent sensibility coursing through every frame, and Malcolm McDowell turning in a mind-blowing performance as a sinister and cagey Mr. Roarke.

More Film

  • Jeff Nichols32nd Film Independent Spirit Awards,

    Film News Roundup: Jeff Nichols Releases 'Long Way Back Home' Short, Starring Michael Shannon

    Everything anyone remembers about ABC’s hokey original “Fantasy Island” (which ran from 1978-84), about Ricardo Montalban and his ice-cream-man suits, about little Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) yapping about “Dee plane, boss! Dee plane!” and about those cornball lessons everyone wound up learning, is forgotten. This “FI” has more of a “Twilight Zone”-“Twin Peaks”-“Northern Exposure” edge, with […]

  • RYUICHI SAKAMOTO- async AT THE PARK

    Ryuichi Sakamoto, Genius Composer set as Asian Film Maker of the Year

    Everything anyone remembers about ABC’s hokey original “Fantasy Island” (which ran from 1978-84), about Ricardo Montalban and his ice-cream-man suits, about little Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) yapping about “Dee plane, boss! Dee plane!” and about those cornball lessons everyone wound up learning, is forgotten. This “FI” has more of a “Twilight Zone”-“Twin Peaks”-“Northern Exposure” edge, with […]

  • Craig Zadan dead

    Craig Zadan, Prolific Stage, TV, and Film Producer, Dies at 69

    Everything anyone remembers about ABC’s hokey original “Fantasy Island” (which ran from 1978-84), about Ricardo Montalban and his ice-cream-man suits, about little Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) yapping about “Dee plane, boss! Dee plane!” and about those cornball lessons everyone wound up learning, is forgotten. This “FI” has more of a “Twilight Zone”-“Twin Peaks”-“Northern Exposure” edge, with […]

  • Monica Barbaro Top Gun

    'Unreal's' Monica Barbaro to Play Miles Teller's Love Interest in 'Top Gun: Maverick' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Everything anyone remembers about ABC’s hokey original “Fantasy Island” (which ran from 1978-84), about Ricardo Montalban and his ice-cream-man suits, about little Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) yapping about “Dee plane, boss! Dee plane!” and about those cornball lessons everyone wound up learning, is forgotten. This “FI” has more of a “Twilight Zone”-“Twin Peaks”-“Northern Exposure” edge, with […]

  • Michael Pena

    Michael Pena Joins 'Dora the Explorer' Movie as Dora's Dad

    Everything anyone remembers about ABC’s hokey original “Fantasy Island” (which ran from 1978-84), about Ricardo Montalban and his ice-cream-man suits, about little Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) yapping about “Dee plane, boss! Dee plane!” and about those cornball lessons everyone wound up learning, is forgotten. This “FI” has more of a “Twilight Zone”-“Twin Peaks”-“Northern Exposure” edge, with […]

  • Chris Cooper'Live By Night' film premiere,

    Chris Cooper Joins Tom Hanks in Mr. Rogers Film 'You Are My Friend' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Everything anyone remembers about ABC’s hokey original “Fantasy Island” (which ran from 1978-84), about Ricardo Montalban and his ice-cream-man suits, about little Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) yapping about “Dee plane, boss! Dee plane!” and about those cornball lessons everyone wound up learning, is forgotten. This “FI” has more of a “Twilight Zone”-“Twin Peaks”-“Northern Exposure” edge, with […]

  • Kornél Mundruczó

    Sony Taps Kornél Mundruczó to Direct 'Inherit the Earth' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Everything anyone remembers about ABC’s hokey original “Fantasy Island” (which ran from 1978-84), about Ricardo Montalban and his ice-cream-man suits, about little Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) yapping about “Dee plane, boss! Dee plane!” and about those cornball lessons everyone wound up learning, is forgotten. This “FI” has more of a “Twilight Zone”-“Twin Peaks”-“Northern Exposure” edge, with […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content