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!
Love? Don’t worry. Love won’t hurt anymore.
Episode 1.9 “The Captain’s Captain / Romance Roulette / Hounded”
(dir by Jack Arnold, originally aired on November 26th, 1977)
As I watched the opening scenes of the cruise’s passengers making their way onto the Love Boat, I noticed that this episode was directed by Jack Arnold. I did some online checking and I discovered that this was indeed the same Jack Arnold who directed It Came From Outer Space, Creature From The Black Lagoon, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Tarantula, and a host of other so-called B pictures. By the time the 70s rolled around, Arnold was directing blaxploitation films (including Fred Williamson’s Boss) and episodic television. As I watched the episode, I found myself wondering which member of the cast probably asked Arnold the most questions about shooting Creature From The Black Lagoon. I guess that it was probably Fred Grandy, since apparently he’s a pretty intelligent guy.
As for the show itself, it featured the typical three-story structure. Gary Burghoff (who I had just watched on Fantasy Island) played a passenger who found himself trapped in his cabin with a security dog that had somehow gotten loose. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a fear of big dogs so this particular scenario would be quite traumatic for me. Burghoff, however, got along with the dog and even helped to deliver her puppies. Awwwwwwww! Big dogs are scary but little puppies are cute!
While Captain Stubing was dealing with the dog problem, his irascible father (played by Phil Silvers), who was himself a former cruise ship captain, was wandering around the ship and eventually falling in love with a cook named P.J. Muldoon (Judy Canova). Captain Stubing was skeptical of his father’s romance but, by the end of the episode, he was proposing a toast to his future stepmother. This storyline was fairly predictable but Phil Silvers and Gavin MacLeod were believable as father-and-son and their scenes together added some depth to Captain Stubing, a character who, in other episodes, has come across as being a bit flat.
Finally, Jane Curtin played Regina Parker, a literature professor who was on the cruise with two friends from college (Joanna Kerns and Susan Heldfond). The three of them played a game, in which they basically had to make the first man that they heard use a certain word fall in love with them for the duration of the cruise. The word was “screwdriver.” When Regina went up to Isaac’s bar to wait for someone to order a screwdriver, she was taken by surprise when Frank (Vincent Baggetta), the ship’s plumber, walked up with a toolbox and asked for someone to hand him a screwdriver. Regina started to hit on Frank. Frank almost immediately fell in love with her and he let her read some of his poetry. Even though his poetry was terrible, Regina fell in love with him. As you can guess, Frank eventually found out about the game but, by the end of the episode, he and Regina were promising to write each other every day. In its undeniably silly way, this was actually kind of a fun storyline. Curtin and Baggetta actually had a lot of chemistry. Frank’s poems still sucked though.
All in all, this was a pleasant episode. The guest stars were likable and the cruise itself looked like it would have been a lot of fun. Was this episode life’s sweetest reward? It was good but I wouldn’t go that far. Love is life’s sweetest reward.