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