Mark Burnett and Sony Pictures TV have partnered to create a reality show based on Fantasy Island. According to Variety, 12 contestants will compete to become the “real-life Mr. or Mrs. Roarke,” meaning each week their challenge will be to make dreams come true for their guests at an as-yet-undetermined resort. These will be “emotion-driven fantasies — such as a dream wedding or a chance at reuniting with a lost love,” says the trade. Guests will rate the performances of the contestants, one of whom will get tossed each episode.
“Dream wedding” makes me nervous. Fantasy Island was great because it was darker than you’d expect from the title, and Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban) was unsettling. He’d stand there and tell Tattoo about the professor of ancient Greece who wants to find the ideal woman of perfect beauty (a fantasy that “may threaten both his sanity and his life”) and about the female therapist who wants to explore “the criminal, the violent, the deadly instincts that some say lurk in all of us” before raising his glass for a welcome toast. Both of those guests would leave Fantasy Island happy, but their stays were painful and twisted. Do you see the new Mr. or Mrs. Roarke getting away with orchestrating the scenario that unfolds in the clip below? Will the show, which is currently being shopped to networks, be worthy of its title without the dark (but good-intentioned) magic — or at least 12 people who can scheme as if they possessed it?
What would it take to make Fantasy Island your dream reality show? Which network has the best chance of making that happen? (Note: Just because I want schemers, doesn’t mean I want Fox.)