Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 2.5 “Julie’s Aunt/Where Is It Written?/The Big Deal”

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!

Things get a bit icky this week.  Ugh!

Episode 2.5 “Julie’s Aunt/Where Is It Written?/The Big Deal”

(Dir by Alan Baron, originally aired on October 14th, 1978)

How icky can one cruise get?

Well, consider this.  On this week’s episode of The Love Boat, Captain Stubing’s uncle (Red Buttons) is a passenger on the boat.  Uncle Cyrus decides that he likes Julie.  How does he express how much he likes Julie?  He invites her to his cabin and then lunges at her and starts kissing her.  Julie runs out of the cabin and Uncle Cyrus chases her through the corridors of the boat.  Once Julie does get away from him, she tells Doc and Gopher about what happened.  Doc and Gopher both think that it’s funny.

(Uhmm, guys, this isn’t some old guy with a crush.  This is someone who invited the cruise director to his cabin …. AND ATTACKED HER!)

Everyone agrees that Julie should just try to avoid Cyrus and that she should not tell the Captain about what happened.  Unfortunately, because Uncle Cyrus told the Captain about how much he enjoys Julie’s company, Stubing insists that Julie spend as much time as possible with Uncle Cyrus.  Every time that Julie goes down to his cabin, Cyrus grabs her and starts kissing her.  Scene after scene, Julie has to push Cyrus off of her so that she can escape, screaming, into the hallway.

Finally, realizing that she can’t go on like this, Julie realizes that she has to do something, even if both Doc Bricker and Gopher refuse to take the situation seriously.  Out of the three choice below, which do you think she goes with?

  1. Call the police
  2. Tell Captain Stubing and demand that he call the police
  3. Have Gopher dress up like a woman and pretend to be a member of the police

If you picked number three, you could have been a writer for The Love Boat!

Ugh!  I hated everything about this storyline!

I wasn’t a fan of the other two storylines as well.  The first featured Hope Lange as Sandra Newberry, the wife of publisher Alfred Newberry (Gene Barry).  She is upset to discover that Alfred has invited a Norman Maileresque writer named Mark Littlejohn (Richard Mulligan) to accompany them on the cruise.  Alfred wants Mark to hurry up and finish the final chapter of his autobiography.  Make wants to steal Sandra away.  In the end, Alfred and Mark get into a fight.  They’re too clumsy to actually hit each other but they do manage to knock out Captain Stubing.  Again, you would think that this would be the sort of thing that would eventually involve the police but instead Stubing just accepts a payment that will come from the royalties of Mark’s book.  Whatever.  Go deal with your uncle, Captain.

Finally, Martin Scott (Allen Ludden) is a businessman who is selling his business to Brad Collins (Sam Groom).  Martin’s daughter, Allison (Mackenzie Phillips), feels like she has to date Brad even though she’s actually in love with a musician named Jim Warren (Erik Estrada).  It was hard not to feel that, intentionally or not, Martin was basically pimping out his daughter.  Again, it was just icky.

This was not a fun cruise.  Hopefully, next week will be better.

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.25 “Pacific Princess Overtures / Gopher, the Rebel / Cabin Fever”

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!

The Love Boat

Today, we wrap up season one of The Love Boat!  All aboard!

Episode 1.25 “Pacific Princess Overtures / Gopher, the Rebel / Cabin Fever”

(Dir by Alan Baron, originally aired on May 20th, 1978)

As I sat down to watch this episode on Paramount Plus, I was once again confronted with that weird commercial featuring P!nk and Michael Phelps tossing a big red COVID germ at each other.  I’ve seen this commercial a few times.  It’s popular not only on Paramount Plus but also on Hulu and Peacock.  For a commercial that’s all about the terrors of COVID, I have to say that representing the risk by using a big rubber ball feels a bit …. well, counterproductive.  (Actually, perhaps silly would be a better way to describe it.)  To be honest, P!nk and Michael Phelps look like they’re almost having too much fun tossing COVID at each other.  Someday, someone will actually take a serious look at how and why the combined efforts of the media and the advertising industry struggled to convince people to take the vaccine and this commercial will hopefully be remembered.  Considering that it’s the elderly who are at the greatest risk when it comes to COVID, it’s interesting that almost all of the vaccination commercials that I’ve seen have been stylistically aimed at older millennials.  Michael Phelps saying that his depression puts him at a greater risk of COVID is not the sort of thing that’s going to convince an 80 year-old to get a booster.

Speaking of commercials, the first season finale of The Love Boat featured Antonio Fargas as an advertising exec named Lee Graham.  When we first see him, he’s saying goodbye to his wife as he boards the ship.  He tells her that he’ll miss her and that the only reason he’s going to be on the boat is because he’s working on ad campaign for the cruise company.  Of course, he’s lying.  He’s actually taking the cruise so that he can spend some time with his mistress, Andrea (Jonelle Allen).  Lee and Andrea are excited to finally have a few days where they can be with each other without feeling like they have to hide for everyone.  However, Lee soon discovers that his nosy neighbors (played by Kaye Bass and Elias Jacob) are also on the boat!  As a result, Lee doesn’t get a chance to cheat on his wife and, at the end of the cruise, he and Andrea realize that they don’t want to continue their adulterous ways.  Fortunately, it turns out that Lee’s wife already knew about the affair and is incredibly forgiving.  I’m not really sure why she’s so forgiving but hey, it was the 70s!  It’s not like The Love Boat is going to end with a divorce.  That’s more of a 90s thing.

While this is going, ruthless business tycoon Mr. Yamashiro (Pat Morita — yes, you read that correctly) is determined to convince Ruth Newman (Diane Baker) to sell him her late husband’s factory.  Yamashiro even orders his assistant, Ken Davis (Gary Collins), to trick Ruth by pretending to fall in love with her.  However, Ken really does fall in love with her and he loses his job as a result.  Fear not, though.  Ruth hires him and agrees to invest in a special, voice-activated word processor that he’s created.  Yamashiro is so impressed that he agrees to invest as well.  Yamashiro says that they can consider his investment to be a wedding present.  Ruth and Ken have only known each other for a few days but sure, why shouldn’t they get married?  I mean, it’s the 70s!  People get married about knowing each other for a weekend and then they forgive each other for cheating.  Love is all around, no need to waste it.  They’re all going to make it, after all.

However, none of those stories can compare to what happens to Gopher.  After starting the cruise in a bad mood because he feels that Captain Stubing doesn’t respect him,  Gopher falls for a young communist named Vanessa!  And Vanessa is played by Eve Plumb.  That’s right!  This episode features the original Jan Brady filling Gopher’s head with a bunch of Marxist nonsense!  Vanessa is traveling on the boat with her wealthy father (Don Porter) and she sure does resent all of the money that’s being spent on the cruise.  When she tells Gopher that he should stop taking orders from the Captain because, as “members of the Personhood,” no one has any right to order anyone else around, Gopher takes her words to heart and he ended up getting fired for insubordination!  Fortunately, it doesn’t take long  for both Vanessa and Gopher to see the errors of their ways and the Captain hires Gopher back, with the understanding that Gopher will never again bring a certain impractical economic theory.  It’s a bit like that episode where the Captain told Isaac that he was spending too much time learning about black history.  The Captain’s not going to let his purser go down the Marxist rabbit hole!

And so, the first season comes to a close.  This was a good episode with which to end the season.  Though his storyline was undeniably icky, Antonio Fargas proved himself to be a talented physical comedian as he tried to keep his neighbors from noticing his girlfriend.  The second story was a bit bland but Pat Morita transcended his stereotypical role.  And seriously, how can you not enjoy Eve Plumb radicalizing Gopher?

When The Love Boat began, the crew was unsure of how to react around Captain Stubing.  As the first season comes to a close, they’ve learned that Stubing will always have their back, as long as they don’t talk about Black History or Marxism.  What will the crew discover about their captain during season 2?  We’ll find out soon!

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.23 “Musical Cabins”

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!

Let’s hear it for life’s sweetest reward!

Episode 1.23 “Musical Cabins”

(Dir by Allen Baron, originally aired on May 6th, 1978)

This week’s episode of The Love Boat opened with …. a commercial!

Actually, if you’re watching the show on Paramount Plus like me, every episode opens with a commercial and occasionally the commercial freezes and you have to start all over again.  This week, though, was significant because it was a new commercial from Pfizer.  The commercial opened with P!nk holding a rubber germ.

“If I was holding COVID-19,” P!nk says, “I would be in trouble …. because I have asthma.”

Plus, she would be in trouble because that’s the biggest goddamn germ I’ve ever seen.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have asthma too and I am more than aware of the dangers of getting an aggressive respiratory illness.  But I’m just not sure that having a bunch of celebrities passing around a big rubber germ is the best way to advertise the vaccine.  As soon as P!nk threw the germ at Michael Phelps and ?uestlove, the commercial started to lose me.  It felt cheap, like one of those ICDC commercials that Master P forced Romeo Miller to do.  Don’t throw germs at your friends.

Speaking of which, this week’s episode of The Love Boat is all about friendships and relationships.  Ms. O’Roarke (Marica Wallace) is a gossip reporter who has heard that the Pacific Princess is a notorious hotbed of lust and hedonism on the high seas.  She books a ticket and then sneaks around the boat with her notepad, watching as people go in and out of different cabins.  She thinks that she’s uncovering evidence of an orgy on the high seas but actually, she’s just witnessing a bunch of misunderstandings.

For instance, Didi (Barbara Rhoades) is so disgusted by Curt (Dick Gautier), her chauvinistic boyfriend, that she refuses to stay in their cabin.  When Gopher informs her that the cruise is sold out and there are no other cabins available, Doc immediately volunteers his cabin.  Judging from the look on Gopher’s face, he’s just about had it with Doc hitting on every single passenger on the boat.  An HR report is about to be filed.

Doc, for his part, assumes that Didi is looking for more than just a place to sleep.  Being the swinger that he is, Doc slips into his pajamas and offers to help Didi unwind.

Didi is scandalized and kicks Doc out of his own cabin.  Doc ends up asking Julie if he can crash in her cabin.  Julie agrees but then wonders why Doc has never tried to hit on her.  Doc replies that he thinks of Julie as being a “kid sister.”

Wrong answer, Doc!

Fortunately, Julie is soon approached by Nelson Hoag (Paul Williams), who has been asking every woman on the cruise if she’ll consider marrying him.  Everyone turns Nelson down but what they don’t know is that Nelson is going to inherit a good deal of money but only if he gets married before his next birthday!

Julie and Nelson spend the night talking and Julie is actually charmed by Nelson.  However, just as she learns in to kiss him, Gopher shows up and puts the kibosh on it.  Gopher is going to have a lot of HR reports to write.

Since Doc is sleeping in her cabin, Julie ends up staying in Nelson’s cabin.  Meanwhile, Nelson meets Irene (Michele Lee), a widow who is pretending to be an heiress.  Irene allows Nelson to stay in her cabin and then she spends some time with an entirely smitten Captain Stubing.  Is anyone on the boat actually doing their job?

Eventually, as O’Roarke hides behind the corner and takes notes, everyone meets in one cabin to work out their feelings.  Curt wants Didi back but Didi actually prefers the company of the gentle Nelson.  For her part, Irene likes men who take what they want and say whatever pops into their mind and that certainly describes Curt.  By the end of the cruise, Julie and Doc are friends again, Didi is married to Nelson, and Irene is dating Curt.  And O’Roarke realizes that she doesn’t have a story so she tears up all of her notes.

Usually, I can’t stand shows (or movies) where the plot hinges on a series of misunderstandings that could all easily be cleared up by people just not being stupid but I actually found this episode of The Love Boat to be rather charming, as the show made good use of the cast’s natural chemistry and the guest stars actually brought some much needed emotional depth to characters who were otherwise rather thinly written.  Yes, Nelson was a little weirdo but, oddly, he and Didi made for a really sweet couple.  Add to that Michele Lee brought a sense of genuine sadness to her role as the lonely widow.  Watching the show, I found myself hoping that things would work out for her and they did!


I hope next week is this good!

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.11 “Lonely at the Top/Silent Night/Divorce Me, Please”

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 spend the holidays on the big seas!

Episode 1.11 “Lonely at the Top/Silent Night/Divorce Me, Please”

(Dir by Alan Baron, originally aired on December 10th, 1977)

Yay!  It’s a Christmas cruise!

Every season, The Love Boat did a special Christmas episode.  Last year, MeTV presented a marathon on Love Boat Christmases and what I discovered is that every Christmas episode featured the crew working through the holidays and missing their families.  Nearly every Christmas episode also featured someone dressing up as Santa Claus and at least one veteran of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

The very first Christmas episode opens with the Julie, Isaac, Gopher, and Doc talking about how much they miss their families.  We find out that Gopher’s family lives on a farm.  Julie is from Oregon.  Doc is from Las Vegas.  (The show always tried to portray Doc as being some sort of Sinatra-style swinger, despite the fact that he was played by the very even-tempered Bernie Kopell.)  Their conversation is interrupted by Captain Stubing who explains that 1) he’s divorced and 2) he’s a middle-aged man who doesn’t get along with his stepmother.  Not only does he not have a family but the sea is his home and he has more to worry about than everyone’s holiday spirit.

Much as with Doc being a swinger, Captain Stubing being a stern taskmaster was a recurring theme during the first season of The Love Boat.  The crew was always talking about how Stubing had a reputation for demanding perfection for those working under him and being quick to fire anyone who failed to live up to his standards.  And yet, we never really see anything that would back up Stubing’s fearsome reputation.  Just as how Bernie Kopell was a bit too even-tempered to be believable as a legendary playboy, Gavin MacLeod was a bit too naturally pleasant to be believable as someone who would strike fear in the hearts of his crew.  While I have no idea what Gavin MacLeod was like offscreen, when he’s onscreen he comes across as being likable and friendly.  Whenever Captain Stubing is meant to be upset or disappointed with his crew, he comes across as being more petulant than fearsome.  That’s certainly the case in this episode.  Captain Stubing may say that he’s not into the holidays but you never believe him.

Of course, that works to this episode’s advantage.  Realizing that he’s failing to bond with his crew and that his lack of holiday spirit is rubbing everyone the wrong way, Stubing turns to Father Mike (Dick Sargent) for advice.  Father Mike is escorting a group of children to an orphanage in Mexico but he still takes time to give Stubing some counseling.  Let the crew know that you care about them, Father Mike says.  Stubing attempts to do so but his attempts at small talk are so awkward that the crew just becomes more frightened of him.  Finally, Stubing resorts to dressing up like Santa Claus.  The crew may be scared of him but Father Mike’s orphans love him.  Anyway, it all works out in the end and believe it or not, I actually did find myself getting invested in this very silly storyline.  Gavin MacLeod may not have been believable as a stern captain but he was likable enough that it’s hard not to feel bad about him having a bad holiday.

While this is going on, Dan Barton (John Gavin) and his wife, Lila (Donna Mills), attempt to enjoy the holiday cruise.  The only problem is that Dan has just been released from prison and he is struggling to adjust to being on the outside.  No soon has Dan boarded the ship then he spots his former law partner, Walter (Dean Santoro).  Walter committed the crime that Dan went to prison for and Dan becomes obsessed with getting revenge on him.  Lila, meanwhile, wonders if Dan will ever give up his anger.  There’s something a bit jarring about going from Captain Stubing dressing up like Santa Claus to Dan Barton plotting to murder someone.  John Gavin gave a good performance but the shift in tone between his story and the rest of the episode was almost too extreme.  It’d be like if they had made an episode of The Office where Pam suddenly found herself tempted to cheat on Jim with a member of the documentary crew.  Tonally, it just felt out of place.

Finally, everyone thinks that Paul (Shecky Greene) and Audrey Baynes (Florence Henderson) are the perfect couple but actually, they’re both sick of each other and they spend most of their time thinking about getting a divorce.  The gimmick here is that we hear their thoughts.  So, Paul will tell Audrey how much he loves her and then we’ll hear him think something like, “Yeah, I’d love to toss you overboard.”  It’s a one joke premise that gets old pretty quickly.  Also, needless to say, this is The Love Boat and not The Divorce Boat.  Things work out.

My reaction to this episode was a bit mixed but, to be honest, I like Christmas shows.  Even if they’re not perfect, I still like them.  And it was hard for me not to smile at the Christmas tree in the ship’s lounge or at all the decorations hanging on the ship’s walls.  The Captain’s story had a lot of Christmas spirit and I enjoyed that.  If you can’t spend the holidays at home, The Love Boat seems like a good substitute.

Horror on TV: Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1.7 “The Devil’s Platform” (dir by Alan Baron)

Tonight’s episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker is a fun one!

In this episode, Kolchak investigates a series of mysterious deaths that seem to involve one very ambitious politician (played by Tom Skerritt).  Kolchak’s investigation leads him to believe that not only has the politician made a deal with the devil but that the politician also has the ability to transform himself into a killer dog!


That’s Chicago-style politics for you,  I guess.

This episode originally aired on November 15th, 1974.


Horror On TV: Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1.5 “The Werewolf” (dir by Alan Baron)

What a day!

Hi, everyone.  If today’s horrorthon seemed to be missing some of the usual contributions, that’s because today has been a crazy day.  It’s been raining in Dallas since last Friday and it’s supposed to continue to do so for the next week.  This morning, the storms brought lightning and that lighting struck a building and set it on fire.  The building’s roof proceeded to collapse.  That building belonged to AT&T and it’s destruction let to what those of us in Dallas have christened the Great ATT Outage of 2018.

Basically, for the past 11 hours, the Texas Bureau of the Shattered Lens has had no internet access!  So, I’m sorry to say that I was not able to write and post all of the reviews that I wanted to post today.  I’ll have to play catch up later this week.  I do want to say thank you to Gary, Jeff, and Case for their contributions today!  It’s nice to know that you can depend on your partners in crime!

Fortunately, things are back up and running once again.  And just in time for me to share the fifth episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker.  In this one, our favorite nervous reporter deals with a — you guessed it! — a werewolf!  This episode originally aired on November 1st, 1974.


Horror on TV: Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1.1 “The Ripper” (dir by Alan Baron)

For tonight’s excursion into the horrific side of television, we have the very first episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker!

The Kolchak of the title was a reporter named Carl Kolchak (played by Darren McGavin).  Kolchak was kind of a nervous fellow because every story that he reported on seemed to involve some sort of terrible supernatural creature!  Seriously, that would make anyone anxious.

In his first episode, Kolchak investigates a series of murders and comes to suspect that Jack the Ripper might be haunting the streets of 1970s Chicago.

This episode originally aired on September 13th, 1974.