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!
Episode 2.4 “The Man Who Loved Women / A Different Girl / Oh, My Aching Brother”
(Dir by Allen Baron, originally aired on September 30th, 1978)
This week’s cruise is all about deception …. and love!
For instance, Joe (Marty Ingels) and Harold Nash (Sonny Bono) are two brothers who thrive on deception. Harold specializes in pretending to get injured. Joe specializes in threatening to sue until the brothers get paid off. Apparently, it’s a scheme that works well for them, though Joe seems to be a lot more enthusiastic about it than Harold. In fact, Harold seems to be a nice guy who mostly just wants to enjoy the cruise and flirt with another passenger, Rita (Judy Landers). Still, Joe insists that Harold pretend to hurt his back so Harold takes a dramatic fall on the shuffleboard course.
Of course, the crew can spot a fake injury from miles away. For once, Doc Bricker actually does his job and announces that, despite all of his yelling and groaning, there does not appear to be anything wrong with Harold’s back. Still, if Harold goes through the entire cruise without walking, the Pacific Princess will probably pay a settlement. Joe’s happy about that. Harold’s unhappy because he wants to get up and walk over to Rita’s cabin. In the end, it is Harold’s love for Rita that defeats the scheme. When he sees Rita actually trip and take a fall, Harold can’t stop himself from jumping out of his wheelchair to help her. Awwwwwww!
This storyline was dumb but kind of sweet. Sonny Bono was not a particularly good actor but there was something rather genuine about his chemistry with Judy Landers.
Meanwhile, the Captain Stubing’s godson, Dave Stanton (Grant Goodeve), is taking the cruise with his wife, Laura (Bess Armstrong). Though they’ve been married for two years, they are only now getting to take their honeymoon. (Dave was in the army and Laura was caring for her terminally ill mother.) During the trip, they discover that they’ve both changed over the past two years. Laura’s more independent now. Plus, she had an affair while Dave was gone. Dave gets pretty upset but Captain Stubing asks Dave if he can really say that he’s never cheated on Laura. Dave admits that he cheated on her too. Now that they know that they’re both cheaters, Dave and Laura’s marriage is strong than ever!
This storyline was defeated by the fact that neither Dave nor Laura were particularly sympathetic characters. At one point, Dave actually says that his cheating was different from Laura’s cheating because he’s a guy and she’s a woman. AGCK! Probably the most interesting part of this story is that it gave Stubing a chance to talk about why his own marriage fell apart. This show has often hinted that there is a lot of darkness and trauma in Stubing’s past and Gavin MacLeod always brings a lot of sincerity to the scenes where the captain admits that he has regrets.
Finally, Charlotte (Cathryn Damon), Bonnie (Jo Ann Pflug), and Anita (Brett Sommers) are three divorcees who take the cruise together. All three of them end up meeting a man. Charlotte meets a man named Alvin, who she decides to call him by his middle name, “Cornelius.” Bonnie meets a man who she calls Vinny. Anita meets a man who she calls by his last name, “McNair.” What they don’t know is that all of them have met the same man, Alvin Cornelius McNair (David Doyle). Alvin goes out with all three of the women but he starts to feel guilty when he realizes that they’re all cabinmates. However, Charlotte, Bonnie, and Anita tell him that it doesn’t matter to them because Alvin was always honest with them and didn’t try to manipulate any of them. Awwwww! I liked this story. Damon, Pflug, and Sommers were believable as old friends and Doyle was likable as Alvin.
This was actually a pretty enjoyable episode. It may not have been perfect but it was a pleasant trip.