Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 2.13 “El Kid/The Last Hundred Bucks/Isosceles Triangle”

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!

Welcome aboard!  Get ready for tonal whiplash on this week’s episode of The Love Boat!

Episode 2.13 “El Kid/The Last Hundred Bucks/Isosceles Triangle”

(Dir by Allen Baron, originally aired on December 9th, 1978)

Wes (David Madden) and Renee Larson (Dena Dietrich) are happy to be setting sail with their friend and business partner, April (Rue McClanahan).  They’re even more excited when the widowed April meets Van Milner (Dabney Coleman), a recently divorced businessman.  Not only is April falling in love with Van but it also appears that Van might even be willing to join the board of April’s hospital and invest some of his money into fixing the place up.  Except, of course, Van lost his job over a year ago and he really doesn’t have that much money left.  April is crestfallen to discover that Van is not the wealthy man that she believed him to be.  Was he just romancing her for her money?  When Van wins a few thousand dollars at the craps table, he donates the money to the hospital and April realizes that he was being honest about his feelings towards her.

This was a pretty predictable story and April was way too quick to forgive Van for his dishonesty but it was interesting to see an actor like Dabney Coleman, someone who brought a naturally cynical edge to any character that he played, on a show like The Love Boat.  As played by Coleman, Van seemed to be suffering from very real inner pain.  For once, the emotional drama on The Love Boat felt, if not quite real, then at least credible.

Speaking of pain, that’s what Larry (Robert Urich) and Cybill Hartman (Heather Menzies) had waiting for them when they took the Love Boat to Mexico so they could adopt a baby.  Upon arriving at the local orphanage, they were told that the mother of their baby had changed her mind and would not be giving up her baby after all.  Instead, Larry and Cybill left with 12 year-old Pepito (Gabriel Melgar), a little brat who steals Larry’s watch and sells it on the boat.  When Larry gets upset, Pepito grabs an inflatable lifeboat and prepares to jump overboard.  Fortunately, Larry and Cybill talk him out of it and he agrees to be their son and to stop stealing stuff.  This was an annoying story, largely because Pepito was so whiny.  It was hard not to feel that Larry and Cybill deserved better than having to raise Pepito.

Finally, Julie’s friend, Karen Maynard (Connie Stevens), boards the boat and both Captain Stubing and Doc Bricker spend the entire voyage pursuing her because it’s not like the Captain and the ship’s doctor would actually be expected do their job while the ship is floating in the middle of the ocean.  Gopher, Ike, and Julie take bets on who Karen will choose but, in the end, Karen chooses neither because both Doc and Stubing decide to respect the other’s feelings and stop pursuing Karen.  This whole storyline was silly because there was really no doubt about who Karen would have picked.  Seriously, anyone who is a passenger on a cruise is automatically going to fall for the captain because the captain is the most powerful person on the boat.  But, on the plus side, the storyline showed off the chemistry between all of the show’s regulars.  It was likable, even if it never quite felt plausible.

This was an episode about which I had mixed feelings.  The three storylines were so tonally dissimilar that they didn’t really seem that they all should have been happening on the same cruise.  Plus, Pepito was the most obnoxious orphan since the kids on One World.  I’m glad things worked out for Dabney Coleman, though.

2 responses to “Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 2.13 “El Kid/The Last Hundred Bucks/Isosceles Triangle”

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 5/7/23 — 5/13/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 5/8/23 — 5/14/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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