Fantasy Island (1998)

ABC (ended 1999)


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Fantasy Island (1998)

Show Summary

A darker and much more twisted take on the premise, this version of Fantasy Island bore little resemblance to the original 1978 series "Fantasy Island." This time around, the character of Mr. Roarke was taken over by character actor Malcolm McDowell. Sinister yet somehow charming, Mr. Roarke hung up his white tuxes in the pilot to don a more stylish black suit, which was foreshadowing of the change in the character. His powers, which would often defy nature, were taken to the ultimate extreme as he summoned lightening and storms, terrorized his prisoners (and sometimes guests), and even changed the gender of one man. Meeting the guests at the dock with Mr. Roarke were Cal (Louis Lombardi), the chubby brainless bellhop, and Harry (Edward Hibbert), the debonaire Englishman concierge. Cal and Harry were reduced to being Roarke's prisoners, using their time on the island to work off a debt to Roarke. Also working as Roarke's assistant was Ariel (Madchen Amick), a beautiful shapeshifter whose powers nearly equaled Roarke's. The relationship between Ariel and Roarke was never fully explained -- sometimes they'd seem like brother and sister, other times like husband and wife -- many episodes hinted at an incestuous-like relationship. Working on the mainland in the dreary Fantasy Island travel agency office were the eccentric Fischer and his secretary, Clia (Sylvia Sidney). Fischer (Fyvush Finkel), who was extremely jealous of Roarke's powers, spent his time recruiting unsuspecting guests for their fantasy vacations. Clia spent most of her time wisecracking. As in the original, stories involved people confronting their jealousies and obsessions, this time usually with more traumatic consequences. Wedged in the same timeslot that made the original a hit, Saturday nights had become a certain-death wasteland in the years since the original went off the air. Fans of the Ricardo Mantalban version were quickly turned off, though this series did gain enough of a cult audience to keep it on the air for the entire run of episodes. In fact, the show was canceled and ABC began scheduling other programs, but due to fan response for both this series and its' companion, "Cupid (1998)", both shows finished their 13 episode runs. Sadly, Sylvia Sidney (best remembered as the chain-smoking social worker with the slit throat in "Beetlejuice") died shortly after the show went off the air. ABC Broadcast History September 1998 - January 1999 -- Saturdays 9:00 PM Eastern USmoreless