Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.18 “Last of the Stubings / Million Dollar Man / The Sisters”

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 cruise is all about family, love, and …. CRIME!

Episode 1.18 “Last of the Stubings / Million Dollar Man / The Sisters”

(dir by Jack Arnold, originally aired on February 4th, 1978)

Fresh from having given Isaac a lesson in black history during the previous cruise, Captain Stubing is excited to give the rest of the crew a lesson about his family.  The Stubings have a long and noteworthy Naval tradition and the Captain is proud to announce that his nephew, L. Courtney Stubing IV (Peter Isacksen), has been accepted to Annapolis.  But, before going to school, he’s going to work on the Pacific Princess and show everyone that he is a natural-born sailor.  The only problem is that Courtney Stubing is not a natural-born sailor.  Instead, he’s a tall, clumsy, near-sighted, and kind of goony guy who has no idea how to talk to the passengers and who would rather be a ballet dancer.  The problem, along with the fact that he’s the last of the young Stubings and expected to carry on the family tradition, is that he’s just as bad at dancing as he is at everything else.

Now, I have to give some credit to Gavin MacLeod here because he made this storyline work.  The scene where, having finally realized the truth of about his nephew, Captain Stubing tells Courtney that it’s okay not to become a sailor and that he should find out what he’s good at was well-written and sensitively acted by MacLeod.  It was about as honest a moment as you’ll probably ever find on a show like The Love Boat.

While the Stubings were bonding, two sisters were fighting.  Rose (Marion Ross) was upset that Noreen (Pat Crowley) was spending all of her time with the handsome Clark Tyler (Brett Halsey).  Seeing as how I mostly know Hasley from his starring role in Lucio Fulci’s Touch of Death, I would have been more concerned for Noreen’s safety than upset that she was ignoring me.  Anyway, it was kind of boring story but it all worked out in the end.  Marion Ross would go on to become the Love Boat’s most frequent passenger, though she always played a different character.  Eventually, she even played a woman who married Captain Stubing but we’ve got a long way to go until we reach that point.

A long, loooooooooong way.

Meanwhile, two passengers found love.  Unfortunately, it was only after they slept together that Stephanie (Marcia Strassman) discovered that Bill (Frank Converse) had stolen a million dollars from his employer and Bill discovered that Stephanie was a cop.  Stephanie explained that she would be required to arrest Bill as soon as the ship returned to the United States.  Bill considered running off to Mexico but, in the end, he decided to face justice in the U.S., on the condition that Stephanie would be waiting for him after he got out of prison.  Honestly, I think it would have made more sense for Stephanie to just join Bill in Mexico and thy two of them could have built a new life there.  I mean, they’ve got a million dollars!  But, whatever.  Strassman and Converse had a lot of chemistry so, despite yourself, you really do hope that things will work out for them while you’re watching the episode.

And I hope things work for you as well, as we sail towards 2023!  The Love Boat will return.