Treasure Hunt/Beauty Contest 1.06

“Treasure Hunt/Beauty Contest” episode 1.06

First aired: March 11, 1978

KIM’S REVIEW:

After a week off for Roarke and Tattoo, we come back to the island to find our favorite oddly named Frenchman observing, “Another day, another dollar!” Roarke, again, comments on how mercenary he is; didn’t they agree to think only of the finer things? Tattoo admits Roarke’s right, but he’s changed his mind and wants to be selfish, because Roarke charges some guests astronomical amounts for their fantasies and practically gives others away. If he keeps doing that, how is Tattoo ever supposed to balance the accounts? Roarke reminds Tattoo that he cuts prices only when he finds the fantasy intriguing or deserving, to which Tattoo says that this is exactly his point: when is it to be his turn? Those familiar with the show will note that this is far from the last time Tattoo will allude to having some of his own fantasies made reality. This time, though, Roarke deflects him with the remark that “Everyone knows that he who works in a candy store has no desire for sweets.” Sourly Tattoo presumes this must be yet another Hemingway quote (somebody was obsessed with the guy, it seems); and Roarke informs him that no, the quote is his own and it’s time to get to the plane dock. It’s pretty clear from Tattoo’s sourpuss expression that he’s not very happy about being brushed off for a chance to partake of the sweets in this particular candy shop, but who could blame him? Roarke can, I guess, for he insists that Tattoo obey his weekly call for “smiles, everyone, smiles”…that gets Roarke a fake rictus, but he seems satisfied with that and proceeds to introduce us to this week’s new arrivals, tantalizing Tattoo with the suggestion that one of these fantasies could make some of his come true. Playing right to Tattoo’s lecherous little heart, out steps Marcia Brady…no, wait, no…it’s Sally Quinn. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself; this is the first of half a dozen appearances on the series by Maureen McCormick, still trying to establish herself as a successful actress post-“Brady Bunch”. Here she’s 21 years old and even prettier than she was during her days as Marcia. When Villechaize remarks of McCormick’s character that “I never heard of her”, his bored delivery of the line is simply gorgeous.) Sally Quinn is a sheltered child: she’s spent most of her childhood in boarding schools; Tattoo wonders why such a pretty girl got stuck with that fate, and Roarke says that Sally gets her looks from her mother, crowned most beautiful woman on earth way back in 1954. Now she wants to follow in Mom’s footsteps and win the “first annual” Miss Fantasy Island beauty pageant (we never see the second, third, or any other subsequent annual recurrences of this event, though there will be other beauty contests in the future, of course). Behind the ambitious Miss Quinn now come two men and a woman, the latter wielding a camera and all three enthusiastic. The first guy is James Defoe, the creative director of the ad agency he co-helms with the second guy, Stuart Chambers, the marketing director. The woman is Chambers’ wife Andrea. The three of them are here for an adventure and money (another of Tattoo’s perennial favorite subjects) — specifically, they intend to find the Lost Treasure of Carvajal. Tattoo is aghast: apparently others have been to the island looking for it in the past, and Roarke finally forbade that fantasy because it was so dangerous. So why is he granting it to this bunch? Because one of them, Roarke says in an ominous voice, is going to commit murder this weekend. And with that, it’s another welcome to Fantasy Island.

Act I shows us a buffet breakfast in a clearing across from the main house, where Roarke finds Sally Quinn contemplating a plate; she’s too nervous to eat, but he assures her everything will go just as planned. She notes it’s all so easy—and he replies that everything on this island is just that, if he wants it to be that way. Leaving her with that thought, he encounters Tattoo who evinces a certain amount of skepticism (the character seemed to be thoroughly ignorant in one moment, then the sage damper of Roarke’s endeavors the next; it may have been a wonder Villechaize stayed with the show as long as he did, considering the wild inconsistencies of his character). As it turns out, this time Tattoo has some apparent moral ground to stand on, for essentially, the beauty contest is rigged, and this outrages Tattoo utterly. Roarke tries to justify his actions by terming the situation “predetermined”, but Tattoo will have none of it: “It’s fixed!” he barks. But amidst such competition, Roarke protests, how else is he going to be able to grant Sally’s fantasy? And besides, maybe Tattoo can console one of the losers. So much for Tattoo’s moral objections; this cheers him right up. But as we’ll see later on, he hasn’t forgotten Roarke’s actions here.

We next join our trio of adventurers, arriving in a jeep in quite a rugged, mountainous and scruffy-looking territory for what’s purported to be a South Pacific island; they’re decked out in safari attire (Andrea’s knee socks, or rather over-the-knee socks, make her look as if she got interrupted in the first stages of dressing for a blizzard) and the guys are raring to go. Andrea is skeptical, but Roarke insists the treasure is real and gives them the map he showed Tattoo at the plane dock. He and Tattoo then proceed to fill in the story of Pirate Carvajal, the scourge of the Caribbean (if that’s true, how did he, or at least his treasure, wind up in the South Pacific?), who buried four of his most trusted henchmen alongside the treasure to be sure there were no security leaks. And of course, there’s the obligatory curse on the thing; this one states that the greed that drove Carvajal to slay his four best pals will follow anyone who searches for the treasure. This seems to perfectly serve Roarke’s earlier observation that somebody’s doing away with somebody else this weekend, doesn’t it? Roarke lastly informs them they have enough supplies for three days (yes, this is significant) and wishes them luck, leaving them to themselves for the time being. From there we head right back to the clearing, where apparently Roarke and Tattoo have been for some time since Tattoo is busily checking out the pretty beauty contestants and Roarke notes to him that life does have its rewards (especially if you’re a man, one might infer from this). Sally is still nervous, and once again Roarke reassures her that the judging starts tomorrow and he feels she has a good chance. Which brings up a couple of points: while it’s clear that Roarke has “predetermined” the contest, it’s equally clear that he hasn’t said as much to Sally—but if she, or you the viewer, think about it enough, it becomes obvious anyway, so why should Sally be so nervous? Also, why do so many key people in this storyline seem to think that Sally Quinn doesn’t have a chance of getting anywhere in the contest unless it’s rigged? She’s certainly as attractive as any other girl in the contest; why would she have more of a chance of losing than they? While we ponder these philosophical questions, we follow Sally off to a large tent where several other contestants are primping in front of mirrors. One of them, named Elaine, remarks that this is exciting and there’s never been anything like it in her Texas hometown of Ben Bolt, wherever that is (if it is). She figures she sounds pretty corny to someone as sophisticated as Sally with her boarding-school past, but Sally assures her that boarding school isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, and they slowly begin to forge a friendship. While they’re chatting, another girl sashays in asking for some Vaseline, and the pretty African-American girl sitting nearby (played by former Miss Black America Claire Ford, whose only acting credit this seems to be) gives her some, sardonically advising her not to blind herself while she’s smearing it over her teeth in the mirror. Uh-oh, bad blood, Elaine informs Sally; Vaseline Lady is Shirl Dean, also known as Miss Everything since she seems to win so many beauty contests. Sally wants to know why she does it, and Elaine imagines it’s because she doesn’t think she can do anything else. How sad is that?

Back to our intrepid explorers; they’re laboring their way over some really nasty terrain, and the strain takes more of a toll on Andrea (of course) than the guys. But when she successfully negotiates some especially harrowing territory, she celebrates by falling into the first pair of arms to catch her—which just happen to be James Defoe’s and not her husband’s, getting a jaundiced look from Stuart and thus squarely marking him as the future would-be killer. And that’s all there is for them at the moment, for the next thing we know we’re back at the main house for a little comic relief. Roarke is weighing some things on a pair of expensive-looking gold scales; they look like jewels, but we learn better a moment later when Tattoo walks in, sees what he’s doing and turns around to leave. However, Roarke urges him into the room and remarks in an ominous voice that when they resume their Monopoly match that evening, after Tattoo’s first victory in 2736 games (either these two have a lot of free time, or they’ve been having a Monopoly marathon for the last 25 years), maybe they ought to use Roarke’s dice instead of Tattoo’s. Hmm, where’s that outrage about rigged contests now, Tattoo? Before they can get into an argument about Tattoo’s loaded dice, they get a visit from Neville Quinn—the gruff and very displeased father of young Sally. Once Tattoo shows Quinn in, he finally makes that escape he wanted, and when Roarke asks Quinn if he’d like to see his daughter, the guy actually refuses, getting Roarke’s dander up enough to castigate Quinn about how little concern he seems to have over Sally. Quinn barks back that he’s very worried about her and has been trying to find her since she disappeared from her latest boarding school the week before; in fact he even had the police searching for her. Roarke pushes on Quinn a drink he doesn’t want (hmm, very interesting, that!), and then beckons him along to get a gander at the preliminary judging for the beauty pageant. They’re about to pick the last of the five semifinalists when Quinn spies Sally on the stage and gets very hot under the collar. Of course, Sally is chosen (by Dennis James, whom I remember primarily as a substitute “Price is Right” host during a short evening run of the show somewhere in the mid-70s—I also remember disliking him, as Bob Barker always owned that show and still does, Drew Carey notwithstanding—but I digress). When Quinn tries to forbid Sally’s participation, Roarke reminds him that it’s not his place to make that decision. Quinn starts for Sally to impose his will on her anyway; she finally sees him there, looks horrified and flees the area for parts unknown. And as for us, it’s commercial time.

Act II opens that night with our three hikers around a campfire, just finishing supper and chatting. They seem to be getting along pretty well, till Stuart brings up what apparently is an old sore spot between him, Andrea and Defoe by remarking on how he got so lonely on the road in Muncie, Indiana, one night that he called her at 3 AM only to get no answer. She insists they’ve been over this and that she’s told him umpteen times that she just unplugged the phone that night, though you’ll notice that both she and Defoe look oddly guilty for some reason. Needless to say, Stuart doesn’t buy it, though Defoe assures Andrea he believes her. James then volunteers to get more firewood, but Stuart goes in his place and naturally uses the time away to spy on Andrea and Defoe, as if he’s certain he’ll catch them in an unguarded moment. They chat but certainly don’t do anything untoward, but that doesn’t convince old Stuart.

From here we cut to the following morning, where Roarke and Tattoo join a crowd that’s watching a hot-air balloon coming down for a landing, containing a dapper-looking fellow wearing elegant gray top hat and tails and seeming from another era. As it turns out, he just got back from an 80-day round-the-world air cruise and can’t wait for his next Jules Verne adventure (along with his assistant, a pretty and buxom young woman…naturally). This must be one of those super-rich fantasizing guests Tattoo wishes Roarke would welcome more of… While they’re otherwise occupied, Quinn finally has the opportunity to corner his daughter at the open-air breakfast buffet, ordering her to go and pack as they’re leaving the island post-haste. Sally coldly informs him she isn’t going anywhere; after all, she’s 19 now and all grown up. When he castigates her for her less-than-adult behavior, she wants to know if that was what he said to her mother all those years back. He claims that’s different and she wants to know why, but he just tells her again to go and pack. Once more she defies him, and after a little tug-of-war that ends with him informing her that he’s her father, dammit, and her fleeing in tears, the Voice of Conscience wants to know, “Since when?” Quinn is offended by Roarke’s question, but that doesn’t stop our host, who gives him a stern little dressing-down for not bothering with Sally other than to spend money to keep her stashed away in boarding schools. And when Quinn says it’s none of Roarke’s business, Roarke parries that indeed it is, since he promised Sally her fantasy. Quinn tells Roarke he just doesn’t understand…Roarke does understand, of course, and he understands Sally too, because he knows why she wanted to enter the contest: Sally’s mother was a beauty contestant and Quinn loved the woman, so maybe Sally could gain some of Dad’s love the same way. That’s all Sally wants, and since the girls have the afternoon off, it might not be a bad idea for him to go over to the lagoon and take a little walk. We have to presume Sally will be there as well by some convenient coincidence.

We then rejoin the treasure hunters, paddling a raft across a murky-looking little lake while Andrea perches in back snapping pictures. Then the boat catches on something on the bottom and they can’t get it loose, so Defoe drops into the water to see if he can clear whatever it is away. Just about then the obligatory alligator spies an easy lunch and rockets into the water; at first the trio is too preoccupied to notice, but finally Andrea happens to look the right way at the right time and sounds the alarm. Panic ensues; the guys howl at her to shoot the gator, but when she finally manages to fire the rifle, she misses by half a mile and everyone falls into the water. One of the backpacks meets the same fate, but for some reason they won’t go after it—even though the water, as clearly shown when Defoe gets out to try to pull the boat free, is only waist-deep! (I guess that gator and the muddy appearance of the lake are enough for them to write off the pack and its contents.) Stuart takes the chance to accuse Defoe of not hauling him out of the water when he fell in, in the hope the gator would eat him; that ticks off Andrea, and Defoe says he’ll just take it as a joke, good sport that he is. But old Stuart just won’t let go of his suspicions. Maybe it’s a good time for the sponsors to try to sell us something.

Act III: sure enough, Quinn and Sally happen to meet up at the lagoon. Well, okay, Roarke told her to go, so for once we get a nice plausible explanation. Anyway, when Sally reiterates that she isn’t quitting the contest, Quinn does a one-eighty and starts encouraging her, to her initial disbelief and finally her tearful acceptance. But then dear old Dad starts going overboard the other way, talking about how this could be the beginning of a wonderful new career for her, and that dampens her spirits all over again. Geez, Dad, you just don’t get it, do you? Leaving a disappointed Sally trying to pull herself together, we drop in on the hikers, pausing for a little rest in what looks rather like the same place they camped in last night. Stuart actually apologizes for what happened on the raft and suggests they just move on, which will be difficult at best, since they’re lost and their compass is back in the sunken pack (presumably along with their food rations). By now Andrea and Defoe both want to turn back, but Stuart refuses and starts pressing forward; they seem to think they have no choice but to go with him. We can see who’s really running this show…or are Defoe and Andrea just a little greedier than they want to admit to themselves?

It’s nighttime again, and Sally drops in on Roarke and Tattoo at the main house. She must have been thoroughly disillusioned by Dad’s inability to see what she’s trying to accomplish, for now she wants to drop out of the pageant, after all her adamant insistence that she isn’t quitting. Does Dad love her, or does he just want a famous daughter, as he had a famous wife? Roarke thinks that’s harsh, but Sally is convinced she really will end up following in Mom’s footsteps, in a way totally different from what she intended, so she wants to pull out. Roarke remarks that she and her father are quite alike: they have the same solution to their problems, i.e. to run and hide from them. When Sally protests that she thought it’d all be so easy, Roarke pulls her to her feet from the chair and tells her she has to face life the best she can. Evidently that’s all she needs to come up with some profound and generous thoughts, for she realizes aloud that the contest means much more significant things to most of the other girls, and it’s not fair having it set up for her to win. You almost expect Tattoo to blurt out something like, “See, toldja!” but he settles for a magnanimous smile of approval when Roarke announces that, just like that, the contest is no longer preordained and Sally will just have to take her chances along with all the others. Roarke notes that she’s learned a lot now that the contest is no longer…and he nearly uses the word “fixed” before Tattoo’s reproachful look makes him change it to his own “predetermined”.

We next find our hikers putting all their concentration on picking their way along a very narrow little trail on the almost sheer face of an escarpment, with a lot of rocks and a little stream way, way down below them. They’re laboring too hard for very much dialogue, so after some nail-biting abseiling of sorts, we drift over to a much safer spot where Roarke and Tattoo, hanging out alongside the jeep they drove up in, are preparing to have a little champagne while idly watching their guests risking their lives on that cliff over there. Tattoo brings Roarke a glass while scolding him that the hikers could have been killed; Roarke reminds him that there are no guarantees on Fantasy Island and all their guests take their chances. Tattoo remarks that this isn’t very good for business…but Roarke notes that they’re closer to the treasure, and now all they have to do is overcome the biggest danger: their own greed, of course. This may well be the only time Tattoo gets to imbibe on the entire series!

In Act IV, at last our intrepid threesome have reached the X on the map, a large cave. Stuart makes a disgusted Andrea wait outside while he and Defoe venture in to look for the treasure. It’s very interesting to see the two men pretending to pick their way through this decidedly well-lit cave, flashlights and all, but it doesn’t take them long to discover a clear sign of a booby trap (after all, the show’s hour will be up pretty soon now) and duck underneath the long pole stuck about four feet up in both walls—which is already creaking ominously—and dig away a pile of rocks to uncover a good old-fashioned wooden chest. Stuart breaks the lock with a few blows from a stone, and voilá, we have pay dirt. We notice Defoe grab what looks like an ostentatious necklace dripping with diamonds and stuff it into his back pocket before they close the chest’s lid and start to drag it out of the cave. Defoe says he can’t wait to see Andrea’s face, and Stuart stops right under the booby-trap pole and announces he knows all about Defoe and Andrea, and won’t listen to Defoe’s protestations of innocence, upon which Defoe angrily asserts that Stuart doesn’t deserve Andrea. That sets off a fight, which in turn sets off the booby trap, and the next thing you know Defoe is half buried under loads of dust and rocks, and there’s plenty more where that came from. Andrea hears the commotion and comes in looking for them; Stuart starts to drag out the chest, but Defoe manages in the end to lay enough of a guilt trip on him that he finally gives in and digs the poor guy out, just before the entire cave collapses and swallows up the grand and glorious treasure once and for all. Andrea has to dig out enough space in the next rockpile so they can squeeze through and get out of the cave. Here, at last, Stuart seems to realize what he’s done and apologizes to his injured partner and to a dubious Andrea. But there’s hope for these two yet, because we see her squeeze his hand.

Back in the clearing near the main house, it’s all down to the wire. More nail-biting excitement ensues as we wait to see who the runners-up are going to be. Oh, come on—you can’t honestly say you have no idea who’s going to win and who’s going to lose, can you? Sure enough, Shirl Dean is good and teed off when she manages only first runner-up; and when Elaine wins and poor Sally is overlooked altogether for any kind of runner-up, Quinn is so disappointed that he gets up to go and console his daughter. He tells her how sorry he is and how bad he feels for her, but she remarks that she doesn’t feel as bad as he does, so maybe he can sign up Elaine for the photo ops he was talking about earlier. But Dad isn’t interested in that. At first she doesn’t seem to realize he finally gets it, and says something about how she can never be her mother and it was probably nuts just to try it. But he gets it across to her that he knows that now, and he loves her for who and what she is; now he’s going to spend his life proving it, if she’ll let him. And on their tearful (on Sally’s part, anyway) hug, Tattoo speculates that Sally’s going to want a refund since they failed her…but as Roarke asks, did they really?

The farewells at the plane dock are quite subdued. Stuart wonders what the treasure was worth, and Roarke asks if it really matters. Defoe turns over the necklace he rescued from the buried treasure chest, telling Roarke that’s his share of the treasure, before they turn and head for the plane. When the Quinns take their leave, they both own up to having made a lot of mistakes to get where they are, but obviously they’re glad to have gotten there. As Sally says, the best fantasy of all is reality. (Well, maybe in her world…)

This is a fairly run-of-the-mill episode with predictable endings and the usual moral: appreciate who you have in your life, not what. But there’s some pretty decent acting, particularly from Maureen McCormick who is very good at conjuring up tears when they’re called for. It’s been posited that the overall premise of this entire television series could have been something really amazing and fascinating if it hadn’t been firmly in the Aaron Spelling stable of camp, T&A, pat-ending storytelling. It’s a good point; but at the same time, there’s something very appealing about a good old-fashioned happy ending, in this world full of greed, struggle, mindless hatred and terrorism, political polarization and moronic reality TV. It takes you back to a more innocent time, and I think we all need that now and then.

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