Sunday, September 6, 2015

FEATURED TF: Fantasy Island - Young at Heart

This week, I’ll share a TF that while not particularly great, it’s very obscure and difficult to find, so I bet some of you don’t know about it.

It’s a TV episode from 1979’s Fantasy Island. Its title is The Red Baron / Young at Heart, and it’s the sixth episode from the third season.

I’ve seen it a few times, but regrettably I don’t have the video. I’ll share a few screencaps that essentially have all of importance.

As you probably know, Fantasy Island revolves around random vacationists who go there to make their dreams come true. The manager of the island, Mr. Roarke, seemingly has magical powers that can grant those wishes.

This particular episode revolves around a 50 year old woman, Helen Philips, who greatly desires to “shed half her age and become 25 again.” She has apparently lead a selfless life but has missed a lot, mainly romance, of course (same old, same old).

Helen is played by Diana Canova, already a 25-year-old in spinster make-up, and that’s the first of the problems. At some points, she’s a convincing 50-year-old, but it’s mostly distracting.

Roarke offers her a vial which is kind of the opposite of our very own Double-Up: it will temporarily make you half your age.

Despite being her fantasy, she doesn’t look visibly excited about the prospect when Rourke gives her the vial. They suggest she should sit down before drinking it.

She does so and removes her glasses.

There’s no visible process, obviously, and what they do is spin the camera and use weird lights. We’ll forgive them that considering it’s old and on a meagre TV budget. But she is 50 at one moment, and next time you see her…

She’s young again. Not only that, but they changed her bun for lose hair. I guess it was necessary to make the transformation noticeably.

I would like this show twice as much if they had used two actresses instead of one in make-up. Then, in this scene, they could have put the young actress within the old one’s clothes (and yes, the hair bun too). She could have unmade her hairpin, letting her now lustrous hair cascade on her.

Notice her dress is not the same either. Just as her hair, it has also changed to suit her better, particularly the collar. You can’t see it in the pictures, but the skirt also gets shorter.

She’s given a mirror…

And likes what she sees.

A bit of face-touching would have been great, but she simply asks Rourke what she should do next.

He prompts her to enjoy her time, so she heads to the pool in a bathing suit, showcasing her young body.

Heels too. So far this could be a caption story.

But from here on, things get boring. She meets a guy at the pool.

Nice legs, if anything.

Helen and the guy click. She invites him to Rourke’s costume party.

I’m not sure if I find this girl pretty or not. I know this actress was considered a great beauty in her time, so maybe I’m simply expecting too much.

The costume party. She goes as… a bride, or something.

The guy arrives. They fall in love.

A nice plot, but which remains unexplored, is about a man in his fifties who knows Helen and loves her, but she doesn’t. He also goes to the island searching for her, but thinks there’s a mistake when she sees the young Helen.

By the next scene, though, he has convinced himself the young woman IS Helen. “I don’t know how you did this, but I know it’s you.” He confesses his love, but she keeps denying she’s Helen.

From there, the story jumps to its conclusion. The episode is an hour long, but most of it is dedicated to an unrelated storyline about another tourist played by Don Adams, and obviously that one gets most of the focus.

Anyway, Helen and the guy she just met but she loves go riding. They fall from the horses.

The guy’s leg is a bit hurt. Helen is fine but her vial breaks (she still had two dosages there for the rest of the vacation). And… are those white hairs?

Oh, no. The time is up and she’s aging again. She’ll be discovered!

She runs away pretending she’s going to get help. She falls, maybe because she’s losing stamina, and bumps into Rourke. She’s 50 again by now, but her clothes don’t change this time. Weird!

She pleads for another vial and after some hesitance, Rourke agrees.

Back at her room, she’s about to drink the vial but suddenly decides against it, as it wouldn’t be tru to herself, and all that blah.

The guy she loves appears, revealing he’s also middle-aged. He had loved her when they were young and had gone to Fantasy Island to be with her again.

They get married by the end as 50 year olds and that’s the end.

As you can see, the whole thing is a bit bland, but I guess it’s better than nothing. A pity they didn’t do an age TF episode in the revival of the series.

I give it 2 TF STARS out of 5.

See you next week with a probably more stimulating TF.


  1. There are probably available episodes of Fantasy Island on YouTube, though I might not put this episode high on my priority list. Much like the original Star Trek, this show is better known for its stories than its special effects. There really isn't much reason to showcase this episode other than to compare the potion involved to Double-Up and to show the opposite end of the spectrum. I'm not saying that the show is bad, but standards for special effects has risen quite considerably since then. I'm hoping next week's feature will be something easier to appreciate.

    1. The reason I decided to showcase this episode is because it's not very well known, and I'm sure a lot of readers are interested in discovering it.

      Actually, to me, the special effects aspect of this show is a very minor drawback. After all, even many contemporary transformations are done instantly (without a process, just changing a shot of form 1 with form 2).

      This is no different from those, but the actual reason I rated it so lowly was because the story lacked, not the effects.

  2. Thank you for haring this, I didn't even know this one existed!


  3. By "haring" I meant "sharing" :P


  4. Perhaps if they ever remake Fantasy Island and this episode in particular. Maybe the Special effects will be better?

    1. I repeat, the problem with this episode aren't the effects.