Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.5 “Isaac the Groupie / Mr. Popularity / Help! Murder!”


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Wednesdays, I will be reviewing the original Love Boat, which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986!  The series can be streamed on Paramount Plus!

Just remember …. the Love Boat promises something for everyone.

Episode 1.5 “Isaac the Groupie / Mr. Popularity / Help! Murder!”

(Directed by Peter Baldwin, Tony Webster, and James Sheldon, originally aired on October 22nd, 1977)

This episode was all about mistaken identities.

Robert Tanner (Jim Nabors) is the most annoying man to ever set sail on the Love Boat.  All he does is talk and talk about what he had for dinner.  Unfortunately, he’s had the same liver and onions dinner for several years now so it’s not like he has much to say that would be considered to be new.  Everyone on the ship avoids Mr. Tanner but Captain Stubing insists that Julie figure out a way to keep him happy.  (No, not like that….)  Fortunately, two passengers read an article about an international jewel thief named Roscoe Toler and they decide that Tanner must be Toler.  (What?)  Suddenly, everyone is hanging out with Mr. Tanner and listening to his stories.  I’m not sure why being mistaken for a criminal would make everyone want to hang out with Tanner.  I mean, aren’t they worried about their jewelry? 

While that’s going on, Isaac is excited because his favorite singer, Roxy Blue (Diahann Carroll), is sailing on the boat.  She’s using an assumed name.  Not even the rest of the crew know that she’s onboard.  But Isaac recognizes her as soon as she sits down at the bar and soon, the two of them are having a ship-board romance.  Good for Isaac and, even more importantly, good for Ted Lange, who gives a really likable performance in this episode.  Unfortunately, once the cruise ends, Roxy will go back to her life as the world’s most famous singer and Isaac will once again be the ship’s only bartender.  This is one of those storylines that would be unthinkable today.  Just try to imagine any celebrity managing to sneak on a boat (or anywhere) without the world knowing.

Finally, in our third and final storyline, Bert Fredricks (David Groh) wants to throw a surprise party for his wife, Denise (Michele Lee).  Unfortunately, his wife spots him talking to Julie and decides that Bert is cheating on her.  Then she overhears Gopher talking about “blowing up” something and she decides that Bert is going to kill her!  (Gopher was actually talking about the photographs that Bert had asked him to secretly take of his wife.)  Everything is eventually worked out but seriously, how bad was their marriage that Denise had absolutely no doubt that Bert was going to kill her so that he could run off with a cruise director that he had only known for a day?  

Anyway, this was another one of those mixed episodes.  The Isaac storyline was nice, largely because of the chemistry between Lange and Carroll.  The other two storylines were both examples of the type of thing that drives me crazy, where everything could be resolved if people just talked to each other and used a little common sense.  That said, Michele Lee had a few funny moments of panic.  I’d like to have a surprise birthday party on a cruise ship.  That’s the important thing.

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