Vortex

The Fantastic Journey1945: A Navy fighter group heading for a landing at Ft. Lauderdale vanishes into thin air over open ocean. Their disappearance is never solved – yet another mystery blamed on the Bermuda Triangle.

1976: Professor Paul Jordan and his son Scott are part of an oceanic expedition aboard a boat chartered from veteran sea captain Ben Wallace. Their expedition into the Caribbean takes on a sinister turn with the sighting of roiling green clouds on the horizon, even though no storms are expected. Ben tries to steer the boat clear of the raging, unearthly storm, but to no avail – the ship is lost. The survivors make it to shore, but they can’t tell where they are, or when. A loincloth-clad man named Varian appears without any explanation, healing Ben’s broken arm and trying to lead them to safety, but Professor Jordan is cautious about following him. Varian finally confides in Jordan’s son instead: Varian is from Earth in the 23rd century, just another traveler stranded in the Bermuda Triangle, which is an unpredictable gateway in time as well as space. Ben, Fred and one of the women from the expedition find themselves trapped by salty British sailors who became stranded in the Triangle in the 1500s, whose captain will do anything to escape the island. Professor Jordan makes plans to free his fellow survivors, and asks for Varian’s help, but the man from the future insists that he is a pacifist, acting only as a guide. Even if Jordan can recover all the members of his party, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to return to their own place or time.

The Fantastic Journeyteleplay by Michael Michaelian & Katharyn Michaelian Powers and Merwin Gerard
story by Merwin Gerard
directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
music by Robert Prince

Cast: Scott Thomas (Paul Jordan), Susan Howard (Eve), Jared Martin (Varian), Carl Franklin (Fred Walters), Karen Somerville (Jill), Ike Eisenmann (Scott Jordan), Leif Erickson (Ben Wallace), Scott Brady (Carl), Don Knight (Paget), Ian McShane (Sir James), Gary Collins (Dar-L), Mary Ann Mobley (Rhea), Jason Evers (Atar), Lynn Borden (Enid), Jack Stauffer (Andy), Byron Chung (George), Tom McCorry (Scar), Mike Road (voice of the Source)

The Fantastic JourneyNotes: The city of Atlantium scenes in this and the following episode were filmed at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, which had only just been built at the time of filming. Though the series premise was written with travelers from the future and the past in mind, and NBC found the show promising enough to merit a series order, the pilot sees the only instance of adversaries from the past, and over half of the cast was eliminated after the pilot episode. Extra scenes were added prior to broadcast to try to smooth the transition into the series proper, which would focus only on Varian, Scott and Fred, and Star Trek veteran D.C. Fontana and the show’s other writers had barely a month to get episodes written and into production in time for the series’ premiere in February 1977.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Atlantium

The Fantastic JourneyA woman named Rhea leads Scott, Varian and Fred to the city of Atlantium, where the three travelers are told that Professor Jordan and the female members of his expedition have returned to their own time, leaving Scott to fend for himself. Fred and Varian promise to look after Scott, but the Atlanteans have other plans for him: their disembodied leader, the Source, has chosen Scott as his new host body. Liana, a woman whose father was from Atlantis and whose mother was from another solar system, leads a resistance movement against the Source’s hunger for power; she warns Varian of the Source’s plans for Scott. Varian and Paul demand to see Scott after the Atlanteans take the boy under their wing, but there’s something wrong with Scott when he is returned. Varian eventually figures out that the Source has created a clone of Scott to keep the boy’s friends distracted while the real Scott is prepared for his new destiny. Liana helps Varian and Fred fight their way through Atlantium to rescue Scott, but the only guaranteed way home is through the use of the Source’s power; the man from the future and his 20th century friends are now stranded.

The Fantastic Journeyteleplay by Katharyn Michaelian Powers
story by Michael Michaelian and Katharyn Michaelian Powers
directed by Barry Crane
music by Robert Prince

Cast: Jared Martin (Varian), Carl Franklin (Fred Walters), Ike Eisenmann (Scott Jordan), Katie Saylor (Liana), Gary Collins (Dar-L), Albert Stratton (Il-Tar), Jason Evers (Atar), Mary Ann Mobley (Rhea), Ian Jon Tanza (Under), Lawrence Bame (Maron), Mike Road (voice of the Source), The Felix Team (Sil-L)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Beyond The Mountain

The Fantastic JourneyVarian, Scott, Liana and Fred arrive in a windswept desert through the portal; shortly afterward, Sil-L, the cat with whom Liana shares a telepathic bond, arrives too. But they soon run into a new problem – a pulsating red cloud, not dissimilar from the green cloud that stranded them on the island. The men wind up in a swamp, surrounded by green-skinned people who seek help for their malaria-stricken leader, while Liana finds herself in a compound populated by attractive people in identical jumpsuits. She meets Professor Willaway, who seems to rule over these people, and he is instantly smitten with Liana, deciding that she must stay to marry him, whether she wants to or not. All of his “sons” and companions turn out to be androids, originally built by the species that has been forced into the swamp; Willaway, a radical scientist from 1963, reprogrammed all of the androids to serve him. But his desire for human companionship is driving him from radical to treacherous. When Fred, Varian and Scott leave the swamp and find their way to Willaway’s village, Varian quickly realizes that their inquiries about Liana’s whereabouts are being answered with lies. And no longer hampered by their leader’s health, the beings who created the androids are now returning to reclaim what is rightfully theirs, leaving Willaway to seek refuge with Varian’s group.

The Fantastic Journeywritten by Harold Livingston
directed by Irving J. Moore
music by Robert Prince

Cast: Jared Martin (Varian), Carl Franklin (Fred Walters), Ike Eisenmann (Scott Jordan), Katie Saylor (Liana), Roddy McDowall (Willaway), John David Carson (Cyrus), Marj Dusay (Rachel), Lester Fletcher (Chef), Frank Coresntino (Toren), Joseph Della Sorte (Aren), Ron Burke (Robert), Brian Patrick Clarke (Daniel), Bud Kenneally (Veteran), Crofton Hardester (Michael), The Felix Team (Sil-L)

The Fantastic JourneyNotes: Actor Brian Patrick Clarke is credited as “Brain.” Roddy McDowall joins the show in this episode, playing a part that was written specifically to attract him to the show. His genre credits already included the Planet Of The Apes films and their short-lived TV spinoff. Writer Harold Livingston also penned episodes of Mission: Impossible, Future Cop, The Six Million Dollar Man and the William Shatner series Barbary Coast, but his most famous genre gig was, of course, the unenviable job of coming up with a coherent script for Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, a job Livingston didn’t relish as it put him into conflict with Gene Roddenberry (Livingston later claimed that his rewrites were being rewritten and sabotaged by Roddenberry). This episode is contains rare references to the pilot, with Fred comparing the red cloud to the green one in the Bermuda Triangle, and Varian noting that the traveling party is almost as large as the original group of shipwreck survivors. Sil-L conveniently hides for almost the entire duration of the episode, appearing only at the beginning and the end; presumably he was marking his territory in Willaway’s outdoor planters the rest of the time.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Children Of The Gods

The Fantastic JourneyVarian and the other travelers find what appear to be Greek ruins of a kind that Willaway thinks are at least 3,000 years old. They set up camp for the night, but trouble soon finds them: a young boy races over a hill and collapses near a stream, sweaty and exhausted. Even Scott can’t get the boy to talk about what he’s running from. When the boy tries to sneak away from the ruins, Scott follows him and they are both captured by older boys and brought back to an underground command center. A young man named “Alpha” rules here, and serves up harsh punishment to anyone who defies his style of ruling by fear. Adults long ago extinguished themselves in a war, and Alpha has discovered a cache of advanced weapons left over from that conflict. Willaway is caught entering a temple at the ruins, and Alpha sentences him to death. With his friends’ lives in the balance, Scott challenges Alpha to a duel, with the survivor earning the right to lead.

The Fantastic Journeywritten by Leonard Katzman
directed by Alf Kjellin
music by Robert Prince

Cast: Jared Martin (Varian), Carl Franklin (Fred Walters), Ike Eisenmann (Scott Jordan), Katie Saylor (Liana), Roddy McDowall (Willaway), Mark Lambert (Alpha), Bobby Eilbacher (Sigma), Cosie Costa (Delta), Stanley Clay (Beta), Richard Natoli (Gamma), Al A. Eisenmann (Omega), Michael Baldwin (Rho), The Felix Team (Sil-L)

Notes: This is the first TV gig that IMDB shows for actor Cosie Costa, who did guest shots on numerous ’70s and ’80s shows, including Galactica 1980. One of his last entries for Costa in that same internet-based trove of showbiz knowledge is an appearance in the first season of Babylon 5.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

A Dream Of Conquest

The Fantastic JourneyThe travelers arrive just in time to witness the brutal capture of an ape-like animal by guards in futuristic armor. Varian and the others are captured, but when they’re taken to the leader of the human hunters, Tarrant, he orders their release. The travelers are invited to rest in Tarrant’s compound, where they find a power struggle brewing; the actual leader of these humans is a dying man named Luther, who Fred later discovers has been poisoned. Willaway inveigles his way into Tarrant’s inner circle, offering his scientific expertise in a program to develop advanced weapons, but when Tarrant suspects that Willaway is double-crossing him, he locks him up. Fred devises an antidote to Luther’s poisoning, which could interfere with Tarrant’s plans to seize control without the limitations of being a mere interim leader. Now Varian, Fred and the other travelers are real obstacles to Tarrant’s power grab, and must be eliminated.

The Fantastic Journeyteleplay by Michael Michaelian
story by Bruce Lansbury
directed by Vincent McEveety
music by Dirk DeBenedictis

Cast: Jared Martin (Varian), Carl Franklin (Fred Walters), Ike Eisenmann (Scott Jordan), Katie Saylor (Liana), Roddy McDowall (Willaway), John Saxon (Tarrant), Morgan Paull (Argon), Lenore Stevens (Lara), Robert Patten (Luther), Johnny Doran (Nikki), The Felix Team (Sil-L), Bobby Porter (Neffring)

Notes: The first pre-empted episode of the show’s brief run (and not the last), this was the first episode to feature a new narration over the main title music, a request ordered by NBC to try to explain the show’s backstory and characters to new viewers who hadn’t tuned in for earlier episodes:

  • Lost in the Devil’s Triangle, trapped in a dimension with beings from the future and from other worlds, a party of adventurers journeys through zones of time back to their own time.
    Varian, a man from the 23rd century, possessing awesome powers.
    From 1977, Fred, a young doctor just out of medical school.
    Scott Jordan, the 13-year-old son of a famous scientist.
    Liana, daughter of an Atlantean father and an extraterrestrial mother.
    And Jonathan Willaway, rebel scientist from the 1960s.
    Together they face the frightening unknown on… the Fantastic Journey.

The Fantastic JourneyThe narration was performed by actor Mike Road, who had provided the voice of the Source in the show’s first two episodes.

Actor John Saxon was a mainstay of TV and film in the ’70s, often cast as a villain, with appearances in Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, Kung Fu, Fantasy Island, Gunsmoke, The Rockford Files, Starsky & Hutch, and many, many others; on the big screen, Saxon appeared in Enter The Dragon opposite Bruce Lee, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3, and Battle Beyond The Stars; two years before his appearance here, he had co-starred as the criminal mastermind trying to shake off Joe Don Baker in the movie that formed the core of one of Mystery Science Theater 3000‘s most famous “experiments,” Mitchell. Bobby Porter, who has a long history as a stunt coordinator working on such shows as The A-Team, Tales From The Crypt, the American version of The Office and both TV episodes and movies in the Planet Of The Apes franchise, had a recurring role in the 1991 remake of Land Of The Lost; mere months after his appearance here, he’d make the first of his many appearances in the metal suit of Andy the robot in the Buck Henry SF spoof Quark, a series with an even shorter run than The Fantastic Journey.

Vincent McEveety directed several key episodes of the original Star Trek, including Miri, Balance Of Terror and The Spectre Of The Gun, along with dozens of episodes of Gunsmoke, The Untouchables and Simon & Simon, and a few episodes of Buck Rogers In The 25th Century.

The Fantastic JourneyThe “futuristic” model of the Alpha 2 spaceship from Scott’s future is indeed from the future… a few years in the future. It’s a model of the Space Shuttle, attached to its external tank with solid rocket boosters, with an exotic red-and-white paint job. Though the Shuttle’s design was well known in 1977 (if Scott was the child of someone who moved in scientific circles, he really should’ve recognized it), the test orbiter Enterprise was only just getting off the ground for proving flights to test the Shuttle’s ability to glide to a safe, unpowered landing at the time that The Fantastic Journey was on the air. The first Space Shuttle launch wouldn’t happen until 1981. Also, the highly advanced futuristic audio surveillance equipment used by Tarrant’s underlings has a prominently-positioned, highly advanced futuristic parallel port. As the first mass-market home computers didn’t arrive until later in 1977, this would’ve been an exotic piece of equipment to most TV viewers.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

An Act Of Love

The Fantastic JourneyThe travelers materialize in the shadow of an erupting volcano and immediately seek shelter in a nearby cave. Awoken by a disturbing dream, Varian wanders away from their camp and meets a woman he saw in that dream. When he sees his friends again, Varian has big news: he’s giving up his travels to marry the woman he dreamed of and then met. Scott and the others find this shocking, but they’re not as shocked as Varian is to discover that, as the groom, he’s expected to allow himself to be sacrificed to the volcano to appease the “gods” that govern its eruptions.

The Fantastic Journeywritten by Richard Fielder
directed by Virgil W. Vogel
music by Dirk DeBenedictis

Cast: Jared Martin (Varian), Carl Franklin (Fred Walters), Ike Eisenmann (Scott Jordan), Katie Saylor (Liana), Roddy McDowall (Willaway), Ellen Weston (Maera), Christina Hart (Gwyneth), Jonathan Goldsmith (Zaros), Vic Mohica (Baras), Belinda Balaski (Arla), Jeffrey Byron (Heras), Jerry Daniels (The Guard), The Felix Team (Sil-L)

Notes: For someone who knows that you can’t make a deal with a volcano, Willaway should’ve warned his fellow travelers away from seeking shelter from a volcano in a nearby cave; any cave-like structure in close proximity to an active volcano would be likely to be, or have been formed by, an equally active lava tube – perhaps not the safest structure available.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Funhouse

The Fantastic JourneyScott is excited to spot a carnival full of rides in the distance, and against Willaway’s misgivings, Varian agrees that the travelers should investigate. They soon meet the proprietor of the carnival, Marcus Apollonius, who offers the weary travelers a chance to relax and amuse themselves. But the invitation is too good to be true: Marcus and his underlings plan to trap the travelers, and possess their bodies and minds to escape this time zone. Marcus chooses Willaway, and Varian instantly detects that something is different about him and tries to help Willaway expel the evil spirit and regain control. This only angers Marcus, who now decides that the travelers who aren’t chosen as new host bodies are expendable.

The Fantastic Journeywritten by Michael Michaelian
directed by Art Fisher
music by Robert Prince

Cast: Jared Martin (Varian), Carl Franklin (Fred Walters), Ike Eisenmann (Scott Jordan), Katie Saylor (Liana), Roddy McDowall (Willaway), Mel Ferrer (Marcus Apollonius), Mary Frann (Roxanne), Richard Lawson (Barker), Christina Hart (Gwyneth), The Felix Team (Sil-L)

Notes: A vision of Gwyneth, Varian’s doomed wife from An Act Of Love, appears briefly. Considering all the gunfire from the possessed shooting gallery guns and the other mayhem around him, Sil-L again proves that he’s the calmest cat in the universe.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Turnabout

The Fantastic JourneyThe travelers’ latest stop brings them to a male-dominated realm, where Liana is kidnapped by the local men. Sil-L returns to the base camp to lead Varian and the others to the futuristic city where Liana has been taken. The thuggish leader of this society is elusive when asked about Liana’s whereabouts, but soon Varian and his fellow travelers have a new problem: all of the men vanish into thin air, sucked into the inner workings of the computerized Complex that controls the city. The women, tired of being treated like slaves, have revolted and reprogrammed the Complex, though the computer immediately starts trying to correct its programming. Liana has been freed, and may now be the only chance her fellow travelers have to survive in a society that is now harshly dominated by women.

The Fantastic Journeywritten by D.C. Fontana and Ken Kolb
directed by Victor French
music by Robert Prince

Cast: Jared Martin (Varian), Carl Franklin (Fred Walters), Ike Eisenmann (Scott Jordan), Katie Saylor (Liana), Roddy McDowall (Willaway), Joan Collins (Halyana), Paul Mantee (Morgan), Julie Cobb (Adrea), Beverly Todd (Conell), Charles Walker II (Orbil), Amy Joyce (Masel), The Felix Team (Sil-L)

The Fantastic JourneyNotes: Despite her seemingly pivotal role in the story, Liana isn’t seen much in this episode, reportedly due to actress Katie Saylor’s illness at the time. Joan Collins was still the queen of the guest stars at this point in her career, having already appeared in Star Trek, Space: 1999 and the first segment of the Hammer Studios film version of Tales From The Crypt; Dynasty was still four years away. Guest star Julie Cobb was married to episode director Victor French at the time of production. The Complex’s “robot” minions are a familiar prop: they’re the lower half of a studio camera pedestal, complete with casters to ensure smooth “dolly” movement of the camera across a studio floor… minus, of course, the upper half of the pedestal and the camera, making it unrecognizable to anyone who doesn’t work in a studio. Studio camera pedestals were also turned into robots on Quark.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Riddles

The Fantastic JourneyThe travelers arrive in a new time zone without Liana, who has remained at their last stop and will catch up with them later. A man on horseback approaches with a cryptic, almost poetic clue about the way to Evoland, the point at which everyone can supposedly return to their own time. Varian and Fred follow a running man as instructed by the horseman, but they lose track of him when he uses a strange power to cause an avalanche to slow them down. Willaway and Scott find the safe house also mentioned by the enigmatic horseman, finding a man and a woman living there with their servant; when Varian and Fred catch up, they recognize the man: the man with strange powers who they were told to pursue. Over dinner, Scott realizes that the man he sees is not the man that the others see: they see a healthy younger man, while Scott sees a much older man. Willaway later has a similar experience with the house servant: he sees a much older man than the others do. When it becomes apparent that their wandering guests have seen through their disguises, the occupants of the house drop any pretense of hospitality: Varian, Fred and the others are trapped and subjected to a series of their own nightmares. But what secret are their hosts concealing?

The Fantastic Journeywritten by Katharyn Michaelian Powers
directed by David Moessinger
music by Robert Prince

Cast: Jared Martin (Varian), Carl Franklin (Fred Walters), Ike Eisenmann (Scott Jordan), Katie Saylor (Liana), Roddy McDowall (Willaway), Dale Robinette (Kedryn), Carole Demas (Krysta), William O’Connell (Simkin), Dax Xanos (The Rider), Lynn Borden (Enid Jordan)

Notes: Due to Katie Saylor’s illness, Liana is mentioned but does not appear in this episode outside of the opening credits. She has supposedly stayed at the travelers’ last stop (possibly the time zone visited in Turnabout), and it is said that she will catch up with the others at a later date, implying that Saylor was expected to return to the show. (In any case, production on the series was halted, and the show was then cancelled, during her leave of absence.) The aliens in this story have been banished from a world of youth where one of the highest crimes is growing old: a coincidental prediction of the next project most of The Fantastic Journey’s writers and crew would find themselves working on later in 1977 – the TV version of Logan’s Run. Enid Jordan returns as Scott’s mother, the only instance of a member of the ousted cast of the pilot returning to play the same role in the series.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Innocent Prey

The Fantastic JourneyVarian, Scott, Fred and Willaway are awakened at their campsite by a brilliant light in the sky which slams into the ground in the distance. They find a crashed space shuttle with several injured astronauts inside, and they help them to find shelter in a nearby village inhabited by otherworldly beings with incredible powers and no knowledge of humanity’s dark side. Rayat and his people know nothing of the human concept of committing a crime, preferring instead to use their telekinetic powers to pursue higher purposes. Astronaut York, supposedly the shuttle’s commander, tells a story that doesn’t quite add up, and seems to be actively trying to silence his fellow crewmembers. Varian and Willaway discover that the shuttle was a prison transport which had been taken over by the inmates. They go to warn Rayat, and confront York, only to find that the psychopath who took over the shuttle now has a hostage: Scott.

The Fantastic Journeywritten by Robert Hamilton
directed by Vincent McEveety
music by Robert Prince

Cast: Jared Martin (Varian), Carl Franklin (Fred Walters), Ike Eisenmann (Scott Jordan), Katie Saylor (Liana), Roddy McDowall (Willaway), Richard Jaeckel (York), Nicholas Hammond (Tye), Cheryl Ladd (Natica), Lew Ayres (Rayat), Gerald McRaney (The Co-Pilot), Burt Douglas (The Pilot), Jim Poyner (Roland)

Notes: In keeping with a previous episode’s depiction of a space shuttle as an alien spacecraft, this episode’s “mid-21st century space shuttle” returning to Cape Canaveral is shown to be a The Fantastic Journeyfamiliar flying saucer design. Willaway says he once worked for NASA. This is the second episode not to feature Katie Saylor; there’s no mention of Liana’s whereabouts, even though she remains in the opening credits. This was one of the last guest starring roles for Cheryl Ladd before she became one of the stars of Charlie’s Angels, while fellow guest star Gerald McRaney was still a few years away from gaining fame as one of the stars of Simon & Simon. The Innocent Prey is a rare example of The Fantastic Journey trying to step into Star Trek’s issue-based storytelling, in this case touching on the hot-button topic of capital punishment. This was the final episode produced, and it aired nearly two months after the rest of the series.

LogBook entry by Earl Green