THE FANTASTIC JOURNEY Cast And Crew - Where Are They Now?
“Time is changed here. Your present is their future. And it’s my past.”
That line of dialogue, delivered by twenty-third century healer Varian (Jared Martin) to an assembled group of time travelers, sums up the concept of The Fantastic Journey. Sadly, it would be one the last lines spoken on the inventive sci-fi series, which was cancelled after that broadcast on June 16, 1977.
Like its lead characters, The Fantastic Journey traveled on a wild ride of its own, from big-budget pilot film in November of 1976, to highly promoted mid-season replacement in February, to quickly canceled series in June. Ultimately, it was The Waltons who killed our heroes, with an assist from Welcome Back, Kotter, Barney Miller and What’s Happening. How could any show have survived against those primetime powerhouses, let alone one as delightfully odd and quirky as The Fantastic Journey?
Happily, time has transformed The Fantastic Journey from a forgotten failure into a cult classic. And you can travel back to 1977 to see how the Journey ended, when the final five episodes air Sunday, March 18 in an overnight binge starting at midnight ET on getTV!
Here’s a look at the cast and crew of The Fantastic Journey – and their past and future endeavors:
1. Roddy McDowall as Dr. Jonathan Willaway
Willaway is introduced as a megalomaniacal former NASA engineer living in exile amongst a society of androids he created. He joins our heroes, becoming the pragmatic brain of the group, much like Spock to Carl Franklin’s Dr. McCoy-esque Fred. At age 48, the former child star was Journey’s senior cast member, with four decades of acting credits stretching back to 1938. He’s best known to genre fans for the Planet Of The Apes franchise, where he played apes Cornelius, Caesar, and Galen (the latter on the 1974-75 TV spin-off). McDowall’s career continued for two decades after Journey, in films like Fright Night (1985) and TV shows like The New Lassie. (As a child he had starred in 1943’s Lassie Come Home.) His later years included frequent voice acting roles in animated TV shows and movies, including the Mad Hatter on Batman The Animated Series. He died at age 70 in 1998.
2. Ike Eisenmann as Scott Jordan
The “Will Robinson” of The Fantastic Journey, 14-year-old Scott is the moral center of the series. He’s mature enough to understand the adult world, but young enough to still be relatable for a kid audience. Viewers of a certain vintage will recognize Ike as Tony, the harmonica-playing, extra-terrestrial sibling in Escape To Witch Mountain (1975) and Return From Witch Mountain (1978). Ike was a frequent face (and voice) on TV and film throughout the ‘80s, most notably as Scotty’s nephew in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982) and in numerous voice acting roles. He has continued to work in the entertainment business in mostly behind-the-scenes roles, directing, producing, and working in post-production and dialogue replacement. He also made a cameo appearance in Disney’s Race To Witch Mountain (with former co-star Kim Richards) in 2009.
3. Carl Franklin as Dr. Fred Walters
At age 27, Fred (a “young doctor just out of medical school”) is the action hero of the team. He’s quick to throw a punch – and a funky dresser, despite the lack of any discernable laundry facilities. Fred is the only adult survivor from the boat that brought the team to the island, and extremely protective of Scott (whom he calls “Scotty”). Fred grew up in a tough, inner-city neighborhood where he watched his mother victimized (as he recalls in the finale). After Journey ended, Franklin went on to roles in McClain’s Law and The A-Team before moving to a career behind the camera in the ‘90s. He directed the critically acclaimed neo-noir thriller One False Move (1992) and directed and wrote Devil In A Blue Dress (1995). More recently he’s directed premium cable dramas like House Of Cards, Homeland, and Bloodline.
4. Katie Saylor as Liana
When NBC decided to pick up The Fantastic Journey pilot to series, they made some immediate changes. Most of the cast was not retained, a sub-plot about a stranded WW II pilot (Desi Arnaz Jr.) was cut, and new cast members were added. Liana (“the daughter of an Atlantean father and an extra-terrestrial mother”) is not seen in the expanded pilot, but her black cat is. Sil-El (played by a collection of kitties known as The Felix Team) communicates telepathically with Liana, who is clad in an assortment of stylish capes (again, where is the ironing board?). At age 25, Saylor was a veteran of drive-in-oriented B-movies, including Dirty O’Neill (1974), The Swinging Barmaids (1975), and Supervan (1977). Saylor also appeared with Journey co-star Jared Martin in Men Of The Dragon (1974), an ABC TV movie that was a pilot for a martial arts action series. Saylor stepped away from The Fantastic Journey after episode eight due to an illness and did not return before the cancellation. As of this writing, she has not acted again.
5. Jared Martin as Varian
Already marooned on the island when the castaways arrive in the pilot, Varian befriends and, later, joins forces with Scott and Fred. He explains that he is a musician and healer from the year 2230, a time when there are “no more countries and no more war.” Despite being six-foot-three and athletic, Martin was cast against type as the super-chill pacifist of the group. His biggest role before The Fantastic Journey was in Men Of The Dragon with Saylor. His most significant role after the series was as Dusty Farlow on Dallas, a role he played on and off for 12 years. He was also a lead on War Of The Worlds, a 1988-90 syndicated sci-fi series. He died in 2017 at age 75.
6. Bruce Lansbury (Creator)
The British-born younger brother of Angela Lansbury produced and/or wrote sci-fi and fantasy TV classics like The Wild Wild West, The Magician, Wonder Woman, The Powers Of Matthew Starr, and Knight Rider. Lansbury also produced Buck Rogers In The 25th Century (1979-81), where he cast Roddy McDowall and employed three producers, two directors, a composer and a writer from The Fantastic Journey! He died in 2017.
7. Leonard Katzman (Producer)
Katzman did some of his earliest work for his uncle Sam Katzman on Saturday morning adventure serials, a format that would provide inspiration for The Fantastic Journey thirty years later. Leonard had a prolific four-decade career, but he’s best known as the mastermind behind Dallas. On that long-running nighttime soap he employed more than twenty people associated with The Fantastic Journey – including an actress (Susan Howard) he fired after the Journey pilot. Katzman died in 1996.
8. D.C. Fontana (Story Editor)
Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana is perhaps best known as a writer and story editor on the original Star Trek. She also contributed scripts to genre classics like The Six Million Dollar Man, Babylon 5, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Buck Rogers (for Bruce Lansbury), and Dallas (for Leonard Katzman). And, proving that everything in Hollywood comes full circle, she was also a writer for War Of The Worlds starring Jared Martin!
Catch the final five episodes of The Fantastic Journey Sunday night March 18 beginning at 12am ET. For more information, visit the getTV schedule.