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DVD Reviews

Fantasy Island: The Complete Second Season DVD Review

TV Reviews

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#1 of 2 Timothy E

Timothy E

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Posted May 08 2012 - 09:54 AM

Fantasy Island is the fondly remembered anthology series produced by Aaron Spelling that aired originally on the ABC network from 1977 until 1984. Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban) was the owner of Fantasy Island and his diminutive assistant was Tattoo (Herve Villechaize). Each week, Tattoo’s exclamations of "De plane! De plane!" would herald the arrival of new guests who had paid a high price to come to live out their fantasies on the island.

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Fantasy Island The Complete

Second Season DVD Review

Studio: Shout Factory

Year: 2012

Rated: Unrated

Film Length: 19 hours

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Subtitles: Closed Captioned

Release Date: May 8, 2012

The Series

Fantasy Island premiered as a TV movie on the ABC network on January 14, 1977. The high ratings of this film convinced network executives to order it to series, and the series premiered one year later on January 20, 1978, with the film Return To Fantasy Island before the series began in its regular timeslot at 10 p.m. on Saturday nights following Aaron Spelling’s other anthology series, The Love Boat. The Love Boat and Fantasy Island were a Saturday evening staple on the ABC network for many years, and their similar formats meant that each series complemented the other series when viewed together. Fantasy Island even had a crossover event during its 4th season with The Love Boat, in which a character from The Love Boat traveled to Fantasy Island.

Each episode would begin with Mr. Roarke and Tattoo wearing their immaculate white suits and greeting the guests as they debarked from the plane. Mr. Roarke would provide exposition to the audience by identifying each guest and explaining to Tattoo the fantasies being sought by the guest stars. The guest stars were different every week, although some actors returned more than once to Fantasy Island, sometimes returning in the same roles and sometimes playing entirely different characters. The guest stars on Fantasy Island comprised a cross section of classic film stars and up and comer TV stars. The guest stars during this second season included Desi Arnaz, Jr., John Astin, Scott Baio, Barbi Benton, Vivian Blaine, Red Buttons, Danny Bonaduce, Sonny Bono, Yvonne De Carlo, Troy Donahue, Samantha Eggar, Shelley Fabares, Steve Forrest, Anne Francis, Jonathan Frakes, Annette Funicello, Eva Gabor, Peter Graves, Sid Haig, Florence Henderson, Celeste Holm, Don Knotts, Michelle Lee, Janet Leigh, Maureen McCormick, Jayne Meadows, Rue McClanahan, Roddy McDowall, Darren McGavin, Cameron Mitchell, Leslie Nielsen, Cassandra Peterson, Eleanor Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Regis Philbin, Robert Reed, Kyle Richards, Cesar Romero, John Saxon, Phil Silvers, Connie Stevens, Larry Storch, Mamie Van Doren, and Abe Vigoda.

The true nature of Mr. Roarke and the island was never fully explained but supernatural powers were hinted at since no amount of money could have created the elaborate fantasies lived out by the guests. Mr. Roarke even challenged the Devil in a couple of episodes, which suggested that Mr. Roarke must be very powerful indeed. The stories were usually morality plays in which the guest would want to live out a fantasy with the belief that they would receive what they wanted or needed, and the experience would teach them that they really wanted something else, or already possessed that which they were seeking. In this respect, Mr. Roarke was kind of like the Wizard of Oz.

Many of the fantasies sought by the guests were variations or reinterpretations of classic film scenarios like Captain Blood or The Great Escape. Even other TV shows were fair game: for example, the episode "Charlie’s Cherubs" features 3 guests whose fantasy was to be Charlie’s Angels (another Aaron Spelling production.) The series has aged well, and some of the dated aspects actually enhance its entertainment value. It was interesting to see the use of Dick Dale’s "Misirlou" to create period detail in the episode Let The Good Times Roll, in which the guest relives the 1950s. That song has different connotations for us today than it did in 1978 since it was used to such great effect by Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction.

This set consists of every episode from season 2 consisting of 23 full length episodes plus 2 extra-length 90 minute episodes on 6 discs. Season 1 of Fantasy Island was released on DVD by Sony Home Entertainment in 2005 with no later seasons released until now. Shout Factory has licensed this release from Sony for release in Region 1 for North America. The episodes appear to be complete and unedited based on their content and running times, which average approximately 49 minutes in length for the regular episodes and 75 minutes for the expanded episodes. These episodes were edited for syndication, particularly the extra-length episodes, so the inclusion of network versions is appreciated in this release.


The series and special features are displayed in a 1:33:1 screen ratio. The video quality on the individual episodes is great for a series from the late 1970s. Colors are vibrant with good contrast. There are some minor compression artifacts apparent occasionally in the form of black crush and color smearing but this is very minimal.  The episodes look much better today on DVD than they would have on broadcast teleivsion.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track accurately reproduces the audio of the original broadcasts. This means that the audio is not exceptional by modern standards but the audio is as good, if not slightly better, than when these episodes aired originally in the 1970s. There is no hiss audible and no fluctuations in volume level, and dialogue is always appropriately fathomable over music and sound effects.


Fantasy Island stands the test of time very well, much more so than most other TV shows from that era. The anthology format combined with a parade of guest stars from classic film and TV shows makes Fantasy Island an interesting time capsule of celebrities of the 1970s. The video and audio are excellent for a 30 year old TV series. Fantasy Island The Complete Second Season on DVD is highly recommended for fans of classic television.


#2 of 2 Bryan^H



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Posted May 09 2012 - 05:44 AM

Great review! I got my set yesterday, and I'm very pleased with the quality as well. I hope Shout keeps the sets coming.

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