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!
It’s time to give thanks as the Love Boat sets sail for another holiday adventure!
Episode 2.10 “Man of the Cloth / Her Own Two Feet / Tony’s Family”
(Dir by Richard Kinon, originally aired on November 17th, 1978)
It’s time for the big Thanksgiving cruise and love is in the air!
Unfortunately, the ship’s chief engineer calls in sick the day of the cruise. The ship can’t sail without a chief engineer! Rather than cancel the cruise, Captain Stubing decides that assistant engineer Tony Santini (Larry Storch) will just have to give up his Thanksgiving and work on the cruise. Needless to say, Tony is not happy about this. As he explains to Gopher and Julie, his entire family is in town and he was planning on spending his holiday with them. Julie comes up with a brilliant idea! Maybe Tony’s family could secretly take the cruise with Tony. They can just sneak on board and remember to stay away from the captain. Tony agrees. Of course, it then turns out that Tony has a gigantic family. Along with his wife and his children, he is also accompanied by his parents, neither of whom speak English. His parents bring a chicken with them.
The crew goes out of their way to keep the Captain from discovering the stowaways but, eventually, the chicken gets loose and Stubing figures out what is going on. The entire crew — including the Captain — volunteers to pay for the family’s tickets but Tony announces that he doesn’t take charity. He’ll figure out a way to pay the bill.
While that’s going on, Rev. Gerald Whitney (Peter Graves) is excited to find love on the cruise. The only problem is that the woman who he’s fallen in love with (Roz Kelley) is also a stripper! Rev. Whitney doesn’t care but unfortunately, Barbara Sharp (Vivian Blane) does. Barbara just happens to be a member of Whitney’s church and she is shocked to see the reverend and the stripper together on the cruise. Barbara gets so judgmental that her husband, Phil (Alan Young), threatens to divorce her. Barbara and Phil finally have a heart-to-heart talk in the casino. Barbara agrees to stop being so judgmental. Phil agrees to stop gambling as soon as he puts his last silver dollar in the ship’s slot machine. That silver dollar was given to him by one Tony’s kids and when the slot machine pays off, Phil and Barbara give all of the money to Tony’s family. Yay! Now Tony can pay for the cruise.
(I guess the lesson here is that, if you’re going to be a stowaway, make sure the ship has a casino.)
Finally, Bert (Van Johnson) and his wife, Audrey (June Allyson), are having to adjust to life now that Audrey has gone blind. Fortunately, Doc Bricker takes a break from hitting on every woman on the boat and gives them some words of encouragement. Soon, Bert is no longer lying about Audrey’s condition and Audrey is using her cane and learning how to read braille.
This episode felt a bit weird. Obviously, the most interesting story was the reverend falling in love with a stripper but the show itself devoted more energy to Tony and his family and Phil gambling. To be honest, with the amount of time that Phil spent in the casino, he came across like he might have a problem. Hopefully, he went straight from the cruise to Gamblers Anonymous. The guest stars themselves just seemed to be going through the motions and the end result was a fairly forgettable Thanksgiving.
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