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, hearts are broken on a special 90-minute episode of The Love Boat!
Episode 2.8 “A Time for Everything / The Song Is Ended / Accidental Cruise / Anoushka”
(Dir by Roger Duchowny, originally aired on November 4th, 1978)
What a sad episode!
Seriously, this cruise is all about heart break.
For instance, when Russian Commissar Anoushka Mishancov (Loretta Swit) first boards the boat, Doc Bricker is upset when he’s assigned to keep an eye on her. As has been established over the previous 32 episodes, Doc prefers to spend his time talking to women who are about twenty years younger than him and who are from capitalist countries. Anoushka, on the other hand, is a communist (boo!) who, for some reason, is boarding the Pacific Princess so that she can learn about how Americans handle catering. (I said it was weird.) At first, Anoushka is so determined to do her duty that she insists on wearing her uniform at all times.
However, after Anoushka reveals that she does find old Doc Bricker to be a little bit intriguing, Julie tells her that she’s going to have to loosen up if she’s going to capture Doc’s attention. Which, Anoushka does at dinner that night….
Doc does notice Anoushka. In fact, he falls in love with her and, at the end of the cruise, he asks her to marry him! Anoushka confesses to having fallen in love with Doc but then she explains that she also loves her country. (Really? It’s just Russia.) Doc loves America and Anoushka loves Russia and, as a result, they cannot marry. Anouska leaves the ship and a heart-broken Doc looks like he’s actually about to cry. And let’s give credit where credit is due. It’s a really well-acted scene. Doc Bricker has always been a fairly ludicrous character but, in this episode, Bernie Kopell does a good job of suggesting that, even if he is a lecher, Doc Bricker is a lecher with a heart.
While Doc is falling in love with a commie, Captain Stubing is getting to know Vicki (Jill Whelan), the 9 year-old daughter of Captain Stubing’s former lover, the late Georgina (played, in flashbacks, by Melendy Britt). Vicki was originally supposed to travel with her aunt, Delores (Sandra Deel). However, something has come up and Delores will not be able to travel with her. Captain Stubing agrees to look after Vicki and even allows Vicki to stay in his quarters. Over the course of the cruise, Captain Stubing and Vicki bond. Everyone agrees that they have the same eyes. Of course, that’s because Vicki is actually Captain Stubing’s daughter!
Vicki wants to live on the ship but the Captain explains that a cruise ship is not a good place for a nine year-old to grow up. Stubing considers retiring and living on dry land but Doc Bricker reminds Stubing that he would never be happy if he wasn’t on the ocean. Stubing promises that Vicki can return to the boat whenever she has time off from school and he tells her that, when she gets older, she could even “be a cruise director, like Ms. McCoy.”
(In other words, don’t even think of trying to become a captain, girl!)
Now, of course, Vicki did later return to the ship. In fact, she returned just a year later and became a regular during the third season. I guess Captain Stubing decided that going to school on dry land wasn’t that important after all. (We’ll find out when we reach the third season!) That said, even with that in mind, it was undeniably sad to watch as Stubing sat in his cabin and struggled to hold back the tears after Vicki left the ship. Much like Bernie Kopell, Gavin MacLeod gave a surprisingly heartfelt and sincere performance in this episode.
Luckily, it wasn’t all heartbreak on this episode. After getting drunk and boarding the boat by mistake, Sandy Beal (Jo Anne Worley) and Victor Marshall (Soupy Sales) fell in love for real. And jingle writer Charlie Godwin (Robert Goulet) ran into his old song-writing partner (Richard Dawson) and the two of them saved Charlie’s marriage to June (Juliet Mills). There were two happy endings but they were overshadowed by all the sadness.
This was a good episode. Even The Love Boat needs a little heartbreak every once and a while.
I once sold Soupy Sales a hot dog.
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