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, the Love Boat departs on one weird cruise.
Episode 2.12 “The Captain’s Cup / The Folks from Home / Legal Eagle”
(Dir by Alan Rafkin, originally aired on December 2nd, 1978)
This was a strange episode.
Let’s start with the simplest of our three stories first. Danny Holt (Bert Convy) is recently divorced and still crying over having to pay his wife alimony. When he boards the boat, he specifically asks Gopher if there are any single men onboard who might be interested in marrying his ex-wife. His ex isn’t even on the cruise! Danny is one bitter passenger. From the minute he boards the boat, he’s whining about how unfair his divorce was and how badly he was treated by his wife’s divorce lawyer, Ann Sterling (Leigh Taylor-Young).
Uh-oh, it turns out that Ann is one the cruise as well! And she’s been assigned to be Danny’s dinner companion. Danny isn’t happy about this but then, from out of seemingly nowhere, the two of them end of falling in love. It’s hard to say why they suddenly fall in love. Danny is superbitter over his divorce and Ann knows all of the details about what type of husband he was so it seems like the last thing that would ever happen would be them leaving the ship, arm-in-arm. But somehow, that’s what happens. It was a straight-forward story but it lacked any scenes that would have explained why the two of them fell in love. They just did because they were characters on The Love Boat. (It certainly wasn’t due to any noticeable romantic chemistry between Bert Convy and Leigh Taylor-Young.) This story felt lazy and generic.
In the episode’s second storyline, Captain Stubing is excited because he’s due to receive the Captain of the Year Cup. Diane DiMarzo (Florence Henderson, proving that former Bradys just cannot stay off The Love Boat) boards the ship with the Cup but she’s shocked to discover that 1) her boss — the guy who actually decided to give Stubing the Cup — will not be on the ship and 2) Stubing fully expects her boss to personally present him with the Cup. Now, I’m not really sure how the logic works here but apparently, Diane could lose her job if her boss isn’t there to give Stubing the cup. But why would that be Diane’s problem? She did what she was supposed to do. She boarded the ship with the Cup. Her boss is the one who decided not to show up and he is the boss so it’s not like there was anything Diane could have done about it.
Anyway, Diane recruits one of the ship’s handymen to pretend to be her boss. Though he works on the boat and the rest of the crew know him, it appears that the Captain himself has never met Hank Vosnik (Pat Harrington, Jr.), which kind of leads one to wonder if Stubing really deserves his award. Anyway, Hank falls in love with Diane and is crestfallen when she turns down his marriage proposal. (Seriously, at this point, they had only known each other for like three days so I’m not sure what Hank was expecting.) But, despite being turned down, Hank still pretends to be Diane’s boss. So, Diane decides that she might as well marry him. WHAT!?
Finally, Doc Bricker is happy to meet two passengers from his hometown. George (John McIntire) and Gloria (Jeanette Nolan) spend every moment with Doc and they even announce that, as far as they’re concerned, the 40-something Doc is a member of their family. Doc is touched. But then Gloria falls down a flight of stairs and Doc has to do emergency surgery on her. Gopher calls a doctor in San Francisco and he talks Doc through the surgery. Doc removes Gloria’s spleen and saves her life! Yay! Only at the end of the surgery does he get George to sign a consent form. In real life, that would lead to Doc to losing his job and the cruise line getting sued. But, on The Love Boat, it just leads to more laughter.
On the plus side, this storyline featured the charming performances of McIntire and Nolan, who were married in real life. The story was also written by Fred “Gopher” Grandy and Bernie “Doc” Kopell so, not surprisingly, it actually allowed Grandy and Kopell to do something more than just leer at the passengers. The show rarely gave Grandy or Kopell a chance to show off the fact that they were both capable of giving good dramatic performances so, whenever they got that rare chance to do so, they took advantage of it. That said, it was still a bit awkward to see Doc suddenly performing major surgery in his tiny examination room. It was all for the best on the show but, in real life, it would have led to a major lawsuit. Even though Doc Bricker saved Gloria’s life, it still seems like the ship could probably be held liable for her getting injured in the first place. I mean, the boat is in the middle of the ocean. Shouldn’t there at least be a warning posted on the stairs?
Well, who knows? Strange things happen at sea. Let’s just be happy that everything worked out in the end.
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