The Fantastic Journey
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The Fantastic Journey is an American science fiction television series that was originally aired on NBC from February 3 through June 16, 1977. Intended to run 13 episodes, as a mid-season replacement, NBC cancelled the series in April, after the ninth episode aired. A tenth episode, already produced, was burned off two months later.
|The Fantastic Journey|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||10|
|Executive producer(s)||Bruce Lansbury|
|Running time||45–48 minutes|
|Distributor||Sony Pictures Television|
|Original release||February 3 –|
June 16, 1977
The series concerns a family and their associates who charter a boat out into the Caribbean for a scientific expedition. After an encounter in the area of the Bermuda Triangle with an unnatural luminous green cloud accompanied by the eerie disembodied sound of ship's bells, the group find themselves shipwrecked on a mysterious uncharted island from which they are unable to escape.
They encounter Varian (Jared Martin), initially disguised as an Arawak native, who is later revealed to be from the year 2230. A 23rd-century pacifist, musician and healer, Varian explains to the travelers that, like he and many before them, they have been caught in a space/time continuum where people from the past, present, future and from other worlds are trapped, co-existing on the island in a series of "Time Zones". The only way home can be found in a place called "Evoland", which lies "far to the rising sun". (It was indicated in interviews of the time that Evoland was also the name of the island.) The only way to travel between Time Zones is via invisible gateways that instantaneously transport individuals or groups from one zone to another. In one episode "Beyond The Mountain" the group also encounters a second cloud, which has much the same effect, but which also splits up the group.
After the initial pilot story, a steady group of travelers forms around Varian as de facto leader, and the series then follows this group as they travel across the many Time Zones of the island to find Evoland. On their way, they encounter people from different planets and times who are also trapped on the island and who have adapted to their plight in different ways. The pilot initially suggested the historical past would be explored; however, the producers of the show rapidly adopted a consistently futuristic tone during the series following pressure from the network. They also dropped three characters after the pilot as they wanted a more exotic group of travelers, hence the arrival of Liana and Willoway. Liana disappears from the last two episodes when Katie Saylor fell ill.
- Varian (Jared Martin): "A man from the 23rd century possessing awesome powers", Varian generally uses a kind of crystalline "tuning fork" device called the Sonic Energizer through which he focuses his thoughts into what is described as a sonic manipulation of matter. The device is completely useless in anyone else's hands, and seems capable of a huge variety of tasks, from opening doors to disrupting electrical systems to large scale acts of destruction, as well as its apparently intended function as a diagnostic and healing device. Following the departure of Professor Paul Jordan at the end of the pilot film, Varian takes over as de facto leader to the travelers and adopts a parental role over Paul's teenage son, Scott (most notable in episodes such as "An Act of Love" and "Turnabout").
- Scott Jordan (Ike Eisenmann): "The 13-year-old son of a famous scientist", Scott has an excellent knowledge of Earth history and events, but is still young and has much to learn.
- Dr. Fred Walters (Carl Franklin): "A young doctor just out of medical school" whose impulsive and rather hot-headed nature acts as a counterpoint to the calm, pacifistic Varian. A friend of Scott's father and the only other member of the group from the same time period, the athletic black physician takes the role of protective "older brother" with the young teen.
- Liana (Katie Saylor): "Daughter of an Atlantean father and an extraterrestrial mother", the beautiful blond Liana possessed greater than human physical strength (due to her mother being from planet with a higher gravity than Earth) and powerful psychic abilities (presumably due to her mixed heritage) which allow her to, among other things, telepathically communicate with animals. Saylor left the show after the episode "Turnabout" due to illness. In the next episode "Riddles" the reason for her not being present with the group was given that she opted to stay a few days at Coriel to help the inhabitants work out their new government and would catch up with the group later.
- Dr. Jonathan Willoway (Roddy McDowall): "Rebel scientist from the 1960s" who has a mastery of computers, robotics and scientific knowledge which is quite useful to the group. He is something of a never entirely trustworthy black sheep, basically a cooler version of Dr Smith from Lost in Space without the congenital cowardice who often tends to do things for his own mysterious reasons. Over the course of the episodes, however, the black-clad Willoway comes to care about Scott and his fellow travelers and becomes more integrated into the group, although Fred makes no secret about still not trusting him which leads to a bickering Spock/McCoy-style relationship between the two.
- Sil-El (The Felix Team): Liana's companion and pet, a "tuxedo cat" with which she can communicate telepathically and who sometimes scouts ahead for her, acting as an extra set of eyes and ears.
D. C. Fontana recalled that once the show had been commissioned, she and the producers had a very short period of time to develop and produce the show before filming commenced. Additional scenes were filmed and inserted into the pilot which introduces the Atlanteans who are the focus of Episode 2, but this new material also quickly moves off-screen the characters Paul, Eve and Jill (who were originally intended to be regulars), as the network wanted a more diverse group of travelers. Also, a subplot involving the travelers finding a 1940s Air Force pilot held prisoner by 16th century pirates was removed from the first episode.
The show benefited from a larger than normal amount of location filming, with familiar sites such as the Hollywood Hills, Zuma Beach, the Bonaventure Hotel in LA and Griffith Park Observatory all appearing in various episodes. The character Willaway was created specifically with Roddy McDowall in mind. Fortunately the actor was interested and took the role when approached.
Although airing in a time when the nation's interest in the Bermuda Triangle, UFOs and fantasy was at a height, the show failed to last beyond the ten episodes, having been scheduled as a mid-season replacement (following the failure of another fantasy series, Gemini Man) against The Waltons and Welcome Back, Kotter, both very popular family shows. NBC ordered 12 episodes to follow the revised pilot, but production ended early when it was apparent that the ratings were low. The show was either pre-empted or its time-slot changed several times during its short run. By its tenth episode, its ratings had dropped, and it was cancelled. The script for an unproduced eleventh episode, "Romulus", circulates on the Internet. Within a few months of its abrupt ending, several of the production team would be producing the thematically similar Logan's Run for the Fall 1977 season.
|No.||Title ||Original air date |
|February 3, 1977|
|A party of scientists disappears into the Bermuda Triangle and becomes trapped on an island where past, present and future co-exist. After meeting 23rd century healer Varian and encountering 16th century privateers, the survivors begin their quest to return to their own time. All the while, they are being observed by a mysterious man from a futuristic city in the desert.|
|2||"Atlantium (Part 2)"||February 10, 1977|
|With many of the original party returned to their own time, Varian, Scott and Fred find themselves caught up in the machinations of a megalomaniacal "brain in a box" called The Source, which has enslaved the inhabitants of the city of Atlantium (actually the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles), built by the survivors of the original Atlantis and intends to use Scott's life force to regenerate itself. The trio are aided by dissident Atlantean, Liana, who reveals that she is half alien.|
|3||"Beyond the Mountain"||February 17, 1977|
|The travelers are separated by a red cloud which leaves Liana as the 'guest' of Jonathan Willoway, who is the master of a utopian community of golden-garbed androids, and the others trapped in a dark swamp surrounded by shaggy, green-skinned humanoids. However, Willoway's intentions are less than honorable and he has no intention of letting Liana leave, while Fred's medical skills prove invaluable in discovering the truth.|
|4||"Children of the Gods"||February 24, 1977|
|The travelers arrive in a new Time Zone and meet a young boy who has escaped from a community inhabited solely by children led by the bullying teenager Alpha.|
|5||"A Dream of Conquest"||March 10, 1977|
An alien dictator, Tarant, is planning to invade other Time Zones and conquer the island. Willoway pretends to agree with him so that he can learn Tarant's secrets, especially as the true leader of this alien community is being slowly poisoned by the would-be dictator. Meanwhile, Liana takes pity on an abused furry creature called the Nefring.Guest star: John Saxon
|6||"An Act of Love"||March 24, 1977|
|Varian, under the influence of a love drug, meets a woman named Gwenith from a religious community in a geologically unstable Time Zone. His judgment impaired, Varian decides to leave the travelers to stay and marry her. He soon discovers that the community fanatically worships a volcano god called Vatticus, who demands human sacrifices.|
|7||"Funhouse"||March 31, 1977|
|Arriving at a strange, seemingly abandoned 20th century funfair, the travelers become part of a game played by an ancient Greek sorcerer named Apollonius who, with the help of a female werewolf, plans to possess Willoway's body so that he can escape his imprisonment.|
|8||"Turnabout"||April 7, 1977|
The travelers encounter a city where the women are subservient to brutish male authority. The women mutiny and imprison the male travelers in a strange black void, and Liana appears to join their cause.Guest star: Joan Collins
|9||"Riddles"||April 21, 1977|
Guided to an old house by a mysterious mounted messenger, the travelers – minus Liana – quest for an object that will assist their search for Evoland, and a strange couple conjures illusions drawn from their deepest fears.Note: The interior of the old house is the famous set of the Stephens' house in the sitcom Bewitched.
|10||"The Innocent Prey"||June 16, 1977|
A prison craft from Earth's future crash lands in the Time Zone where the travelers are resting, releasing two prisoners, a convicted murderer and a thief, into a community of stranded humanoid aliens that does not comprehend violence or the concept of doors and locks. With a killer on the loose scheming to abscond with an orb that gives the aliens psychokinetic powers, Varian and the others must deal with him and protect the pacifists.The Invaders as the saucer approaches Earth.
- From the Writers Guild of America, West catalog: "Signatory Project Confirmation [search: "Fantastic Journey"]". Writers Guild of America, West. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
- From the United States Copyright Office catalog: "Public Catalog - Copyright Catalog (1978 to present) - Basic Search [search: "Fantastic Journey"]". United States Copyright Office. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
- Muir, John Kenneth (October 11, 2007). "Cult TV Flashback # 35: The Fantastic Journey: "Beyond the Mountain"". Retrieved March 10, 2018.
- Muir, John Kenneth (March 11, 2012). "Cult TV Blogging: The Fantastic Journey: "The Innocent Prey" (June 6[sic], 1977)". Retrieved January 2, 2018.
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