Out of sheer boredom, or perhaps a sign of deepening insanity, I spent a bunch of time thinking about the old television show Fantasy Island today. For those of you too young to have seen it in prime time and too smart to have watched it in syndication, the show centered around a mysterious Latino man and his gay lover/dwarf who lived on an island that granted wishes to random assholes who flew to the island every Saturday night at 9:00. It should come as no surprise to learn that Fantasy Island went on the air in the 70’s.
The 70’s were a cultural fucking wasteland. You know why cocaine was so popular back then? Because it allowed you stay out all night so that you wouldn’t have to watch shit like this:
Yes, that’s the infamous Happy Days scene where the Fonz jumps a shark on waterskis. Think about that. At one point in time, someone who was in charge of entertaining a nation of 250 million was so profoundly stoned that this made sense. And what’s more, his supervisors were cool with it.
Show Runner: Ok, next week’s episode is a little weak, to tell you the truth. But we’re still working on it.
Network Executive: Weak? What do you mean?
Show Runner: Well, Fonzie jumps a shark on waterskis.
Network Executive: You think that’s weak? Tuesday night we’re running Battle of the Network Stars just in case anyone was wondering if Jamie Farr could beat Charo in a kayak race. No one fucking cares.
So when someone showed up pitching an idea for a show involving wishes and midgets, ABC executives hardly glanced up from their coke trays.
Producer: Ok, I’ve got a great idea for a show to anchor Saturday night.
Executive: (snort) I love it!
Producer: I haven’t told you what it is yet. Don’t you want to hear my idea?
Executive: (snort) No.
Producer: Well, an enigmatic man of South American persuasion runs an island resort with his midget sidekick, and they grant wishes…
Executive: (snort) You had me at midget. I’ll give you $4 million for 3 seasons (snort) but only if you leave my office right fucking now. (snort)
I used to get pissed off watching Fantasy Island as a kid. This was because of the Love Boat-esque story arcs. There were two “guests” on each show, one of whom got to fulfill some sort of action-based fantasy. I swear to God, one week fucking Radar got to play baseball. Yeah, Radar from M*A*S*H, because watching a 4′ 10″ dude in coke-bottle glasses bunt a runner over is such gripping fucking television. The other guest was invariably involved in some sort of romantic plot, like wanting to know what life would have been like if he hadn’t dumped his high-school sweetheart 20 years ago when she gave him crabs.
This sure as shit isn’t what I would wish for if I went to Fantasy Island, and it used to irritate the hell out of me that I had to watch Radar sitting in a dugout, or some other asshole fantasy-stalk his ex-girlfriend when there were clearly much more realistic and interesting wishes that would be getting granted on a daily basis at Fantasy Island.
Tattoo: Who’s that, boss?
Mr. Roarke: Ah, yes. That, Tatoo, is Greg, a prominent blogger of some renown. His fantasy is to experience an orgasm so powerful that it reduces his IQ by 40 points.
Tattoo: Wow, that’s an incredible fantasy, boss!
Mr. Roarke: Yes, but I have a suspicion that Greg will also learn the value of intelligence before all is said and done.
And then after an utterly kick-ass (and X-rated) show, I would be loaded back onto the plane on a wheelchair, drooling, and sporting a grin that embalmers will someday have to remove with a goddamn blowtorch.
Very few realistic fantasies were ever granted. Give the fact that there were 158 episodes of Fantasy Island, you’d assume that sooner or later someone would show up with the fantasy of seeing his mother-in-law being eaten by tigers, but no. It was always some completely asinine fantasy. Here are some of the honest-to-God plots from the second season of Fantasy Island.
- A girl wants to work with her dad, who is a professional pickpocket
- A man wants to become a beachcomber
- A “roller derby queen” wants to be more feminine
- A woman wants to stop having a nightmare, so her fantasy is to have it again on an island (remember: 70’s, drugs)
- A man looks for Bigfoot
- A son somehow discovers during his fantasy that his dad is a rodeo clown (really)
- Two girls go shopping
The other thing that bothered me was that if such a place existed, they’d be absolutely flooded with customers, yet you only get the occasional asshole hopping off a plane. In one episode, it is mentioned that cost of a fantasy is $50,000, which is chump change when you consider that your fantasy could be to light Justin Bieber on fire. Yet, two customers a week. Let me tell you something, if your business model is to make people’s dreams literally come true and you only get two customers a week, you need to punch your fucking publicist in the taint.
CEO, Fantasy Island, LLC: Another week, and we only had two paying customers. What the hell are you doing to fix this, Marty?
Marty the Publicist: Well, we’re trying to set just the right tone here, because we don’t want to…
CEO: THE RIGHT TONE? Here’s the right tone, you fucking asshole: Fantasy Island: You can fuck all the hot chicks you want!
Marty: Well, we’ll have to see how that would test with different demographics…
CEO: Here’s another one: Fantasy Island: You’re 100 feet tall, coated in gold, and you can fly. And you can fuck all the hot chicks you want.
Marty: Hmmm, well, that might not fit on a park bench ad, but it sounds like…
CEO: Or how about, Fantasy Island: Where the only unobtainable fantasy is Marty having a goddamn job tomorrow.
Still, I suppose there are other things to get all worked up about. I mean, Fantasy Island was bad, but it’s not like the actors were trying to torture us or anything.