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Fantasy Island

Seventies television series Fantasy Island takes place on a mysterious and exotic island resort where anyone’s fantasies can come true. The man who runs the place is Roarke (Richardo Montalban), who has some magical abilities of his own. One of the many characters who visits Fantasy Island is a mermaid princess named Nyah, played by Michelle Phillips.

Nyah first appears in the segment "The Mermaid" in season 3. In this story, married couple Harold and Amanda DeHaven are visting the island, for Harold wants to fulfil his fantasy of making a momentous marine discovery. While swimming in the ocean, he stumbles upon Nyah, who is weakened after being trapped in a storm. (Well, she says so, but after what else we learn of her, it could just as easily be a ruse, but that’s my personal interpretation.) Harold takes her back to his chalet so she can recover in the bathtub, filled helpfully with salt and bubble bath. Nyah offers Harold a kiss in gratitude, which he eagerly accepts.

Harold is even more drawn to Nyah after they swim in the ocean together, Nyah’s magical abilities seemingly enabling Harold to stay underwater as easily as she does. Amanda, however, is distraught when learns that her husband might be taken away from her. Roarke advises Amanda to win her husband back, because Harold is surely being lured to his death. Roarke even has a confrontation with Nyah, with Roarke saying that they've "battled before", but Nyah is determined to win this time.

There are some lovely underwater scenes in this episode, and Nyah is a particularly sneaky and enigmatic siren.


In season 4 segment "The Mermaid Returns", Princess Nyah returns to the island and asks if Roarke will help her fulfil her own fantasy: she wants to learn what human love feels like. To this purpose, Roarke transforms Nyah into a human so she can mingle with his human guests and find someone to love. Nyah isn't impressed with legs, nor with other human conventions, such as wearing clothes or making small talk. Roarke ends up having to herd her around the resort to keep her from offending the other guests.

Nyah, so used to getting her way, doesn't know how to react to being bossed around or spoken to by someone whom she can't charm. Naturally, this means that she does end up learning what human love is like, for she's fallen in love with Roarke. The trick about human love is that it can't be forced, too, so Nyah also learns about heartbreak, for Roarke doesn't love her back that way.


Nyah also appears in season 7 segment "Mermaid and the Matchmaker", but I haven't been able to watch that one yet.

Thank you to Jason for letting me know about these episodes!

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