Fantastic Journey, The: The Complete Series (1977) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1977|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Various|
Dick De Benedictis
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In 1976 a marine scientific expedition led by Professor Paul Jordan (Scott Thomas) and including his thirteen year old son Scott (Ike Eisenmann) and seven other scientists charters a boat skippered by Ben (Leif Erickson) and heads into the Caribbean and the infamous Bermuda Triangle. There they are engulfed by a mysterious green cloud and end up shipwrecked on an island. Most of the party survive and as they journey inland they see animals not from the Caribbean including elephants, giraffes, leopards and even koalas! They also encounter a man, Varian (Jared Martin), who has some unusual powers. From Varian, who turns out to be a human from the 23rd century, they learn that they are trapped on an island where the past, the present and the future all exist together but are separated from each other in zones by invisible shields. In the first, longer pilot episode (it is 73 minutes, the remaining episodes are around 48 minutes) the travellers encounter English Privateers from the 16th century and a past / futuristic Atlantis (called Atlantium) ruled over by a mass of energy called The Source.
When episode 2 starts, half the characters, including Professor Jordan who was set up as the hero in episode 1, disappear; in story terms they have been returned to their own world by The Source, which is then destroyed. This leaves only Scott Jordan, Dr Fred Walters (Carl Franklin), a young doctor, and Varian in the rest of the series having adventures as they seek a way to return to their own worlds although, as all the females in the pilot episode had departed, they are joined by Liana (Katie Saylor), a woman born from an Atlantean father and extra-terrestrial mother. In episode three the group are joined by Dr Jonathan Willoway (Roddy McDowall - Cornelius / Caesar in the Planet of the Age film and sequels), a maverick scientist who had disappeared in 1963.
Seeking to return to their homes the group enter a different “zone” in each episode and interact with a diverse assortment of “people”, both human and extra-terrestrial, including green swamp men, a civilization of only children with ruined ancient Greek temples but futuristic weapons, extra-terrestrials lead by a Hitler type figure bent on conquering all the zones, a very silly episode that blends a love story with extra-terrestrials / hippy costumes / future technology and a Kali type cult making human sacrifice to appease the volcanoes (the temple here looks like a precursor to the one in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), a fun fair in the middle of nowhere populated by a couple of ancient Greek magicians that turns into a carnival of horrors, a zone where women are slaves of boorish men but who turn the tables with some unforeseen results or a prison space shuttle from the 21st century that crashes into a Utopia, where crime, and doors, are unknown.
A number of things label The Fantastic Journey as a 1970’s TV series. It is not only the wooden acting, corny dialogue, huge wigs or somewhat simple “messages” in the plots as the sets and costumes. Where else would you find cheap sets that look like a wind would blow them over, huge rocks that are so featherweight they are easily lifted and cheap filming; in the episode at the carnival the second unit exterior photography of the rides, including the merry-go-round, took place in obvious heavy rain but the characters, when we move to them, are totally dry. There are blue, red or green papier-mâché rock walls and sets with bright primary colours including yellow walls with vivid blue carpets and chairs, red walls with blue furniture, red plastic tables with yellow chairs or orange walls with red bedcovers. The costumes are very kitschy: some look as if they are made of green plastic, others are glitzy gold lamé jumpsuits, silver lamé pants on men with vivid red jackets and rocket man helmets, or some with enough fake leather to outfit a motorcycle gang. On the other hand, most of the female costumes, no matter from which time or planet, seem to involve very short skirts and high boots! Despite some cleavage and short skirts however The Fantastic Journey is a family show rated PG here: there is no bad language, the violence is bloodless, young kids feature prominently and adult themes (such as a wedding night) are very chaste. And there is a cute (very well behaved) cat!
The Fantastic Journey was originally intended to be a 12 episode season but ratings were so indifferent that the show was axed after 10 episodes. Even before that Katie Saylor as Liana disappeared following episode 8, removing the female presence, but even before that the leads in the show, with the occasional exception of a wry Roddy McDowall, were bland and charisma free. The series was enlivened a bit by some of the guest stars in single episodes including Ian McShane (now better known as Winston in the John Wick films or as Al Swearegen in Deadwood), John Saxon as a Hitler like Dictator, Mel Ferrer (who two decades before had been Prince Andrei in King Vidor’s version of War and Peace (1956)), the one and only Joan Collins (Dynasty), prolific TV tough guy Richard Jaeckel, who was also Sgt. Bowren in The Dirty Dozen (1967) or Cheryl Ladd, who would shortly after become one of Charlie’s Angels.
The Fantastic Journey aired on US TV between February and June 1977. Because the show was axed after 10 episodes there is no resolution and an artefact found in episode 9 that was supposed to help them find a way home goes nowhere. This release of The Fantastic Journey: The Complete Series contains all 10 episodes on 3 DVDs.
The Fantastic Journey: The Complete Series is presented in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, 4x3 and in the NTSC format.
This is an unrestored print with a range of artefacts, big and small. There are frequent small marks, both white and black, some vertical scratches, there is heavy grain in some of the scenes with stock footage of the boat or aircraft, shadow detail can be indistinct and blacks that are generally good but occasionally not quite solid. The scene around 23:51 in episode 4 looks like it was filmed through a gauze. There is regular aliasing on chequered clothing and branches, the gold lamé jumpsuits shimmer and contrast can vary after a scene change. Colours are, however, natural except for some red colour bleed, some very reddish skin tones and the very unnatural green and red clouds (which were intended to be unnatural!). These things are noticeable but, except for a few instances, don’t impact greatly on the viewing experience.
There are no subtitles.
Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 224 Kbps.
Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. Effects are good, from the wind, thunder and chiming bells of the early green cloud scene, to the surf, jungle animals and bird calls, eerie electronic sounds and footsteps. The theme music is by Robert Prince, who scored some of the episodes, others are by Dick De Benedictis, and all are somewhat loud and obvious, signalling what is happening, or about to happen, on screen.
Lip synchronisation was sometimes a bit off. Perhaps the most obvious examples are at 24:46 in episode 3 where Roddy McDowall’s lips do not move as he delivers a line of dialogue or 21:02 in episode 8 where Joan Collin’s lips move but there is no sound.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This Region All, NTSC release of The Fantastic Journey is the only one available.
The Fantastic Journey is very US 1970s television. The premise is interesting but they make very little of it amid predictable “message” plots, some of which are very silly, wooden acting and corny dialogue that is groan worthy. It is cheap and very kitschy but put your mind into neutral and marvel at the sets with the primary colours and the way out costumes (as well as the cat) and the show is entertaining and, mostly unintentionally, funny. As far as I can tell the show has never been available on home video until now; this release from ViaVision of all 10 episodes is a chance for fans of the genre or 70’s television to catch this cult sci-fi series.
The video has lots of imperfections, the audio is fine. No extras.
The Fantastic Journey: The Complete Series was supplied for review by Via Vision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|