Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Fantastic Journey (1977)

The Fantastic Journey
Stars: Jared Martin, Ike Eisenmann
1977
10 episodes

Timing is everything – or so I’ve heard. Take the case of The Fantastic Journey, a short-lived TV series that ended its 10-episode journey on NBC in June, 1977. Which was little less than a month after the release of a movie once known, in a galaxy far, far away, simply as Star Wars (it was a simpler time). Close Encounters of the Third Kind made its debut at the end of the same year and Star Trek reappeared in an animated version a few years earlier. The original Star Trek series went off the air a decade earlier but was gaining momentum in syndication and the first Star Trek movie was only two years away.

So one might argue that The Fantastic Journey failed, at least in part, due to an accident of timing. If you look at some of the SF-themed drek that was churned out in the post-Star Wars years you might concede that they have a point. Not that the late Seventies and early Eighties had a monopoly on SF-themed drek, mind you.

I grew up in the Seventies but I don't remember the show from back when. Looking back at it from the vantage point of four decades later I had to cringe at the sheer Seventies-ness of it all. But even setting all that aside I arrived at the tentative conclusion that The Fantastic Journey was just not very good. Perhaps it has something to do with the sheer goofiness and incomprehensibility of its basic premise. I don't claim to be the sharpest tool in the shed but I get by. And yet after watching an episode of the show and reading through numerous summaries I still can't quite pin down exactly what the premise of The Fantastic Journey is.

Its starts with a boat trip, apparently, in the Caribbean. Which is, of course, reputed to be the site of the Bermuda Triangle. Which, as I recall, was quite a popular topic back in the Seventies. Well, as the show would have us believe, it's a place of strange green clouds and a weird island, where our castaways are shipwrecked. So Gilligan's Island in the Bermuda Triangle - if you're looking for the elevator pitch.

This is where it gets tricky - at least for me. Apparently, the island contains a number of different time zones and is full of people from the past, present, and future. And so the only way to get back to your own time is to go through various invisible gateways through the different zones until you wind up in a place called Evoland. Your results may vary but none of this makes a speck of sense to me.

Of Note:
The big name on the marquee here is Roddy McDowall, best known to genre fans for his roles in the original Planet of the Apes movies and the spin-off series.
Executive producer Bruce Lansbury, brother to Angela Lansbury, also produced episodes of The Wild Wild West, Mission: Impossible, Wonder Woman, Knight Rider, and Murder, She Wrote.
Story editing on several episodes and an episode written by D.C. Fontana, who had her hand in a number of well-regarded Star Trek TOS episodes and went on to work on the animated Star Trek series and a few TNG and DS9 episodes.
Notable guest stars included Gerald McRaney, Joan Collins, Cheryl Ladd and John Saxon.

Observed: (???)
I watched an episode maybe a year or two ago. It wasn't so memorable that I could pick it out from a list of episode summaries. I guess that says something.

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