The Fantastic Journey (1977)

aka Vortex

Article 3623 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-1-2011
Posting Date: 7-16-2011
Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Featuring Jared Martin, Carl Franklin, Ike Eisenmann
Country: USA
What it is: Pilot episode of the TV series of the same name

When a boat passes into the Bermuda Triangle, its passengers find themselves stranded in a strange world in which they can pass through different time continuums.

I was a little confused by the listing of this in John Stanley’s “Creature Features Movie Guide Strikes Again”; I was unable to establish whether it was indeed a movie and not just an episode of a TV series. Finally, I decided check out the series pilot. Despite having the episode name listed on IMDB as “Vortex”, it’s longer than the sixty minute running time that it’s listed as having, and the credit sequence looks a lot more like a movie than a TV series; furthermore, it never uses the title “Vortex”, and just calls itself by the title I have listed above. I remember having seen an episode of the short-lived series, and the biggest question I had during the credits of this was “Where is Roddy McDowall’s name?” It turns out McDowall did not become a member of the series until it actually became a series; he is absent in the pilot. In fact, it looks like quite a few changes were made from the pilot to the series. The movie ends on a cliffhanger, and I suspect these sequences were added after the rest of it was made; it looks like they were preparing to get rid of about half of the cast. It’s just as well as far as I concerned; there’s no one in the pilot that has the star power of Roddy, and the hysterical screaming woman is taken out of the mix.

All in all, I found the pilot fairly so-so, though I do like the central idea; most of the plot involves some rather uninteresting sixteenth-century pirates. My guess is that the series was bought with the idea of making a few changes to make it more viable. Since I had to buy the whole series to get the pilot, I’ll probably check them out, though I won’t be covering them here. Since the series was so short-lived, I suspect it never really developed into anything special.


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