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Fantastic Journey, The (1977)
Movie Review by The Gravedigger

Fantastic Journey, The (1977) In the series pilot, THE VORTEX, Navy planes on maneuvers in 1945, off the Florida coast, disappear after their compasses go nuts. Then, it's to the present day (1977). A group of scientists on a yacht encounter a weird green cloud and are sucked in. Also among them is Scott Jordan (Ike Eisenman of ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN) the teenaged son of one of the scientists. Another main character, Randy, is the only African American. The castaways find themselves shipwrecked on what they first believe is an island. When they climb up to the top of a ridge on the beach they see jungle and mountains sprawled out in the distance before them. The next day two of the people try to leave in a small motorboat that also washed up but they end up drowning. So the rest of them start hiking inland. They see flamingos, jaguars, a North American possum, elephants and giraffes. What they don't know is that a native has been watching them. He makes his first appearance one day to heal the broken arm of the ship's old captain by waving an instrument to it. It totally heals the guy's arm. Then, when it begins storming again he leads them all to the shelter of a cave. Within are the ancient mummified remains and drawings on the walls. Later, he leaves and lets the kid follow him to his ship, where he reveals that he's really from the 23rd Century. His name is Varien (Jared Martin of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS series). The kid's father and part of the group go in search of him and also find this out. Meanwhile, the other three members are captured in nets by guys on horseback. These are pirates. In the second episode they also encounter a city called Atlanteum, which existed 30,000 years ago. Scott, Randy and Varien are told by Atlantean Dar-el (Gary Collins) that Scott's father and the others went back to their own time via a gateway. Now, they want to go back. However, "The Source", which rules the city, wants them for another purpose. The Source is this huge brain in a glass container. Yes, a brain in a huge jar. It creates a duplicate of Scott but the others catch on and rescue him as it tries to drain his life energy. They defeat the brain but not before it sucks the juice out of the evil Atlanteans who imprisoned them. They take off and area joined by Liana, who had helped them escape. She's half Atlantean and half alien. She not only has psychic powers but can communicate wit her pet cat.

In the third episode, BEYOND THE MOUNTAIN, they encounter a man named Willoway (Roddy McDowell of PLANET OF THE APES) who controls an entire village of human looking androids who do his bidding. At first he welcomes the visitors but has a desire for Liana who he wants to marry. But Liana has fallen for Willoway's "son", who she doesn't realize is a robot. He also tries to get rid of the three guys, who end up in a strange swamp inhabited by green humanoid aliens. They turn out to be the creators of the androids and Willoway, who is from Earth's 1950's, somehow stole these creations away from them. All is set right in the end and Willoway is ousted from the town. In fact, he ends up joining the group on their quest to make it back to their own time period.

Then, they appear in a zone where there's an active volcano. Varien falls in love with a young woman and wants to marry her and stay there while the others continue on in search of their own time periods. But she learns he's to be sacrificed to the Volcano God and chooses to jump into the fiery hole instead. So he continues the journey with the group. In FUNHOUSE they come to an old amusement park run by a guy named Apollonius, an ancient magician who is cursed along with a few other inhabitants. Apollonius wants to possess Willoway's body because his true appearance is hideous--he's all covered in fur. In the next episode Liana is captured by a group of men. When the others encounter them they say they hadn't seen her. It's clear that this society treats women as slaves--until the Queen (Joan Collins) stages a revolt and turns things around. Now, she wishes to keep Valerien as her consort and use Fred and Willoway as breeding stock for their new community. In RIDDLES Liana stays behind in a previous soon. The first thing the others encounter is a rider dressed like a Mongol. He tells them they need to get a stone from a guy named Kendron. They come across a house where Kendron lives with his wife. They are aliens (again with the aliens!) who came from a crowded planet. Yet they are hiding a secret. Scott sees Kendron as an old man and at dinner Willoway runs into an older version of the Butler. Then, they find a weird cavern that looks like it's covered in aluminum foil. In the next story two people crashland in a shuttle. But the group doesn't realize that these two are really prisoners. And they encounter yet another bunch of human looking aliens. It's a father, sister and brother who are able to manipulate matter with their minds. A hot Cheryl Ladd portrays Natica, the alien girl.

While I really enjoyed the pilot and the first few episodes, way too many of the subsequent ones dealt with aliens when they really should have had more human people/places stuck out of time. After all, this is about the Bermuda Triangle, not Area 51.

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