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!
This week’s episode of The Love Boat is one of historical value so let’s climb aboard and get to it!
Episodes 1.15 & 1.16 “The Eyes of Love / Masquerade / Hollywood Royalty / The Caper: Parts 1 & 2”
(Dir by Allen Baron, originally aired on January 21st, 1978)
This is an important episode for two reasons.
First off, this episode marked the first time that the opening credits featured video of the guest stars along with their names. This was the only time that this was done during the first season, though it would become a regular feature of the show from the second season forward.
Secondly, excluding the three pilot films that aired before the series was ordered, this was the first super-sized two hour episode of The Love Boat. This episode is split into two parts when it airs in syndication, which is why it’s listed as being the 15th and the 16th episode of The Love Boat.
Oddly enough, despite all of that, it’s pretty much a standard episode. Usually, whenever a TV shows airs an extra-long episode, it’s because some important event is occurring. Usually, either someone’s getting married or someone’s leaving the show or maybe an actor died and the show needs an extra hour to pay tribute to them. In this case, though, it’s just a typical cruise of the love boat, complete with three separate stories and a lot of time spent looking at the ocean.
For instance, Roz Rogers (Michele Lee) and Bill Teague (Fernado Lamas) are a famous and glamorous Hollywood couple who book a voyage and who are followed all the way to the dock by the paparazzi. As quickly becomes clear, Bill and Roz’s relationship is not as perfect as the world believes. Still, Bill is convinced that their relationship can be fixed by Roz co-starring in an old-fashioned adventure film that he wrote. Along with having written the script, Bill hopes to direct, produce, and star in it. Roz is a bit skeptical but fear not, everything works out in the end and she finally convinces Bill that she loves him for him and not because he’s a star.
Roz boards the boat with not just Bill’s script but also a large and valuable diamond. A group of jewelry thieves follow her onto the boat, hoping to steal the diamond for themselves. Vernon (Howard Gould) is the arrogant leader of the group. Taffy (Karen Valentine) distracts Gopher, Doc, and the Captain by flirting with them. Elwood (Larry Storch) is the group’s technician. And Ox (John Schuck) is the muscle who tends to take things literally. When the first attempt to steal the jewel fails, Vernon disguises himself as Captain Stubing and Gavin MacLeod gets a chance to do something more than just look slightly annoyed by the crew. To be honest, I actually enjoyed the jewelry theft subplot far more than I was expecting. Gould, Valentine, Storch, and Schuck all seemed to be having fun playing off of each other. Plus, the whole story ended with a nice little twist that James Cameron would later use in Titanic.
(No, the Love Boat does not sink.)
While this is going on, a blind girl named Jenny (Stephanie Zimbalist) is stunned to discover that one of her former classmates, Steve (Desi Arnaz, Jr.), is also on the boat. Jenny and Steve fall in love but Steve has recently gotten back his sight and Jenny worries that he won’t want to spend the rest of his life with someone who can’t see. Fortunately, it turns out that Jenny’s wrong.
Finally, Alan (Dan Rowan) is horrified to discover that not only are both his wife (Juliet Mills) and his mistress (Adrienne Barbeau) on the cruise together but that they’ve become friends. Alan was an adulterous jerk so it was pretty difficult to really care about this story.
Again, it was pretty much a typical episode of The Love Boat, despite the extra length and the inclusion of a masquerade ball during the episode’s 2nd hour. That said, the thieves were funnier than they had any right to be and the Jenny/Steve storyline was sweet. The ocean scenery was lovely. That’s really all I ask from The Love Boat. This episode delivered.