Back in my ill-spent youth, before we had any video games other than Pong, I watched a lot of TV. Along with the classics (I Love Lucy, Star Trek), I watched a good bit of the same primetime fare everyone else watched back in the days of three broadcast networks and no cable. In particular, I would watch pretty much any prime time science fiction show in the 1970s, no matter how bad. Some, like Kolchak: The Night Stalker, hold up much better than I would expect them to.
I’m pretty sure The Fantastic Journey does not, mainly because I remember thinking that it sucked even while I was watching it. I even remember thinking it sucked more than The Man From Atlantis, which, I assure you, sucked pretty hard. (After all, that was a show with an episode that had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as an alien on another planet panning for gold in invisible water. And no, it didn’t make any more sense in context.)
Anyway, I thought I’d do this post on The Fantastic Journey not because it was good, but because once every six months or so I found myself discussing the TV shows of the 1970s and being unable to recall the name of the show. It could also be seen as some sort of weird precursor to Lost, but with a smaller cast and a refreshing lack of tedious flashbacks. So this page is more or less something for people to find on the Internet searching for the same half-remembered plot elements just so they can prove to their friends that no, they didn’t imagine it. (Keywords: The Fantastic Journey, island, Bermuda Triangle, zone, portal, TV show, 1970s, bad, suck)
The setup, as I remember it, was some modern Americans (including an annoying kid, which was the style at the time) being marooned on an uncharted island somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle, and every week they’d go through some sort of zone or barrier that would transport them to another time period where they ran into pirates, aliens, future civilizations, or any other thing 70s TV writers on deadline could think of to keep them in cocaine for another month. According to this far more informative writeup on the show, they were stranded there by some weird green cloud enveloping their boat. And it went downhill from there.
Here’s the opening credits, which I seem to have mercifully forgotten:
Wow, that cheesy disco synth theme is everything that was wrong with music in the 1970s rolled into one excruciatingly painful package. I’m sure that right now, it’s being played on an infinite loop to torments the souls of the damned at Hell’s own disco.
And here’s the opening of one episode, which makes it seem even worse than I remember:
Roddy McDowell adds that touch of class to remind you that, yes, he was in an awful lot of horrid crap. (See also: Laserblast.)
That’s pretty bad. Thanks you sir, may I have another?
What that scene really needs is the Monty Python knight to limp up and whack Mongol Riddle Guy upside the head with a rubber chicken. There also seemed to be a contractual requirement for several minutes of running in every show. (Cheap! Pointless! Eats up screen time!) And nothing says “It’s the future!” like green unitards and shiny, asymmetrical skirts.
And there’s plenty more where that came from on YouTube, for those with an unquenchable thirst for cheesy 70s science fiction TV shows. But everything about the show gives you the distinct impression people involved knew it was doomed and were only in it for the paycheck.
Let’s face it: The Fantastic Journey was just a big slab of suck, and I only post this here as a warning to others and to prove that, yes, it actually existed.
Tune in next week when I channel my vague memories of John Saxon blowing up mutants with a photon bazooka (or some damn thing).