Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 2.17 “Second Chance / Don’t Push Me / Like Father, Like Son”

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’s episode of The Love Boat is all about second chances!

Episode 2.17 “Second Chance / Don’t Push Me / Like Father, Like Son”

(Dir by Allen Baron, originally aired on January 27th, 1979)

As usual, this week’s episode presents us with three different stories involving people on the cruise.  Two of them aren’t that interesting and I’m going to deal with them first.

Fred Beery (Roddy McDowall) is a nerdy guy who is sailing on The Love Boat to get away from his clingy, marriage-obsessed girlfriend, Christine (Tammy Grimes).  However, Christine shows up at the last minute and boards the boat with Fred.  Fred suddenly starts sneezing.  When Christine asks Fred to marry her, he sneezes and, for some reason, she assumes that was his way of saying yes.  Fred goes to Doc Bricker and wonders if he could be allergic to Christine.  Doc says that people can be allergic to one another.  Fred is excited because this gives him an excuse not to marry Christine.  But then Fred changes his mind and discovers that he’s no longer allergic to Christine.  However, Christine now finds Fred to be too clingy and doesn’t want to marry him and …. well, that’s pretty much the storyline.

This was a bit of an annoying storyline.  Even with Roddy McDowall in the role, Fred was not particularly likable.  Fred’s refusal to get married and his sudden “allergy” was played for laughs but, when seen today, it’s hard not to feel that Fred is basically deep in denial.  If this episode were made today, it would end with Fred finding the courage to come out and Christine realizing the real reason why he didn’t want to marry her.  But, since it was made in the 70s, it ends with Fred begging Christine to give him a second chance.

The second storyline featured Robert Mandan and Randolph Mantooth as a father and a son who were both in love with the same woman (Cathy Lee Crosby).  Crosby, however, was far more attracted to the older Mandan than the younger (and, it seemed, alcoholic) Mantooth.  In the end, Mantooth made peace with the idea of the woman he loved becoming his stepmother.  It sounds like the premise of a Lifetime movie.

But enough about those stories.  The story that actually worked featured Debbi Morgan as Stephanie Jackson, a recent parolee who Isaac convinced the Captain to hire to work in the gift shop.   When some pearl earrings go missing, Stephanie is the number one suspect because she was previously arrested for shoplifting.  Isaac has to figure out if Stephanie stole the jewelry or if she still deserves her second chance.  Eventually, it is revealed that Stephanie did steal the earrings but she also returned them hours later, locking them up in the gift shop’s safe.  Stephanie nearly returned to her criminal ways but had a change of heart.  After hearing her confession, the Captain tells Stephanie that she did the right thing and that she will continue to work at the gift shop.

I actually liked this storyline.  Some of that was because Debbi Morgan gave a good performance as Stephanie.  But also I liked the fact that The Love Boat was highlighting the importance of helping out the formerly incarcerated.  Too often, when people get out of prison, they find themselves without any opportunities.  Most businesses and stores will always find an excuse not to hire someone with a criminal record and, as a result, those recently released are not left with many options beyond returning to a life of crime.  If we’re going to insist that prison is about rehabilitation than we have to be willing to give the formerly incarcerated a chance to prove that they’ve been rehabilitated.  The Love Boat may have been a rather silly show but, with this episode, it sailed with an important message.

Next week: The Love Boat hosts a high school reunion!

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 2.16 “Gopher’s Opportunity / The Switch / Home Sweet Home”

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 sets sail for a thoroughly pleasant cruise.  Come on board, they’re expecting you!

Episode 2.16 “Gopher’s Opportunity / The Switch / Home Sweet Home”

(Directed by Roger Duchowny and Allen Baron, originally aired on January 20th, 1979)

I’ve been watching these old episodes of The Love Boat for a while now and I have to say that I’m still not totally sure what it is that Gopher actually does on the ship.  Merrill Stubing is the captain and is responsible for the safety of all of the passengers.  Julie McCoy is the cruise director and is responsible for making sure everyone is entertained.  Adam Bricker is the doctor and is probably responsible for the cruise line getting sued by every patient that he hits on.  Isaac Washington is the bartender and is responsible for getting everyone so drunk that they’ll go back to their cabin with the first person who asks.  But what does Gopher do?

I know that Gopher is the purser but the show has never really made clear what that means.  I know I could look it up on Wikipedia but that’s not really the point.  The point is that, while Fred Grandy was certainly likable in the role, the show often seemed to be unsure of what to do with Gopher.  His cabin was decorated with posters of old movies but Gopher rarely spoke of being a fan.  Instead, while the other crew members fell in love with passengers and got involved in each other’s lives, Gopher was often left as a mere observer.

This episode is unique because it actually allows Gopher to do something.  When his old friends, Melody (Elayne Joyce) and Phil (Bobby Van), board the ship, they tell Gopher that they need a manager for their hotel and that they’re offering him the job.  Normally, Gopher would never think of leaving his friends on the Pacific Princess but this episode finds him getting on Stubing’s nerves by leaving too many suggestions in the suggestion box.  (One suggestion, which Stubing finds to be particularly egregious, is that the boat should have a designated “no smoking” area, which today just sounds like common sense,  Can you even smoke on a cruise ship anymore?)  Gopher, feeling underappreciated by the Captain, takes the hotel job.  But, after he realizes that there’s an attraction between him and Melody, Gopher decides to stay on the boat and instead, he encourages Phil to give the position to Melody.  It’s a pretty simple story but it does allow Fred Grandy to do something more than just make wisecracks in the corner.  To be honest, the main theme of this story seemed to be that Captain Stubing is an insensitive jerk who doesn’t really appreciate his crew until they threaten to quit.

While Gopher is trying to decide whether to pursue a new career, magician Al Breyer (Ron Palillo, co-star of the latest addition to Retro Television Reviews, Welcome Back, Kotter) comes to the ship as a last-minute replacement for his older brother, Ken (Michael Gregory).  Ken’s assistant, Maggie (Melinda Naud), is already on the boat and she’s disappointed when Al shows up instead of Ken.  It turns out that Maggie was more than just Ken’s assistant.  At first, she refuses to work with Al but she comes around when she discovers that Al is sensitive and nice and basically the opposite of Ken.  When Ken does finally show up on the ship, he’s such a sleazeball that you have to kind of wonder what Maggie ever saw in him to begin with.  Al responds to Ken’s arrival by locking him in a closet and then he and Maggie leave the boat, arm-in-arm.  Hopefully, someone found Ken before he suffocated because, otherwise, Al’s magic career might come to an abrupt end.

Meanwhile, Hetty Waterhouse (Nancy Walker) decides that she’s going to live on the ship.  She can do this because she’s a wealthy widow.  She books her cabin for the next five years.  Oddly, even though the audience has never seen or heard about her before, everyone else on the crew seems to know her and treats her like an old friend.  That always bothers me a little, when we’re told that a previously unknown character is apparently everyone’s best friend.  Anyway, the main reason that Hetty wants to live on the boat is because she’s in love with Charlie (Abe Vigoda), a cabin steward who has apparently been on the boat for years but who, again, the audience has never seen or hear about before.  Charlie is retiring but he wants to get an apartment on dry land.  He’s tired of the sea.  Hetty gives up her cabin so that she can move into Charlie’s apartment. Awwwww!

This was actually a pretty sweet episode.  Gopher finally felt appreciated by the captain.  Al and Maggie realized that they were both better than Ken.  Hetty and Tessio Charlie found late-in-life happiness together.  This was a perfectly charming cruise!

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.

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 2.9 “Till Death Do Us Part–Maybe / Locked Away / Chubs”

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 for another cruise!

Episode 2.9 “Till Death Do Us Part–Maybe / Locked Away / Chubs”

(Dir by Allen Baron, originally aired on November 11th, 1978)

The Love Boat is haunted!

Well, no, not really.  Instead, one of the passengers is haunted.  Ellen Garner (Vernee Watson) is having a difficult time getting over the death of her husband, Mickey (Jimmie Walker, who also appeared on the very first episode of The Love Boat, though as a different character).  It’s been two years since Mickey died and Ellen still has not been able to move on.  Some of that might be because Mickey’s ghost is still following Ellen around.  Only Ellen can see and hear Mickey.  This leads to a lot of scenes of her arguing with Mickey while everyone standing around her assumes that she’s talking to herself.

(To be honest, I think most people would be made nervous by a woman who spent the entire cruise loudly arguing with herself but the passengers and the crew of The Love Boat are oddly unconcerned.  It was the 70s so I assume everyone just assumed it was due to the cocaine.)

Mickey wants Ellen to move on and he pressures her to find a new husband on the cruise.  In fact, Mickey thinks that Ellen should spend some time with Greg Elkins (Greg Morris), who is handsome, polite and wealthy.  At first, Ellen resists Mickey’s attempts to push them together but finally, she gives in.  Suddenly, Mickey starts to get jealous.  By the end of the cruise, though, Mickey is at peace with Ellen moving on and Ellen accepts Greg’s marriage proposal.  Mickey tries to congratulate Ellen, just to discover that she can no longer see or hear him.  Mickey vanishes into thin air, giving this otherwise frothy story a somewhat bittersweet aftertaste.

Whether you were being haunted or not, would you get married after only knowing someone for a week?  I know that there are reality shows built around this very idea but still, I have to wonder how many of these spontaneous Love Boat marriages ended in divorce.  Speaking of divorce….

Also on the cruise is a young married couple, Linda (a young Jamie Lee Curtis, looking relieved to not have to deal with Michael Myers or any other knife-wielding madmen) and Wayne (Peter Coffield).  Linda and Wayne are on the verge of divorce.  Ever since her parents, Les and Gail (Conrad Bain and Curtis’s real-life mother, Janet Leigh), acrimoniously split up, Linda hasn’t believed in love.  Linda and Wayne spend most of the cruise fighting, though it’s never quite clear what they’re fighting about.  What they don’t know is that Les and Gail are on the cruise as well.  Les and Gail came to the ship to see their daughter off and then, as they tried to exit, they accidentally got locked in an unused cabin.  Trapped together and subsisting only on peanuts, water, and stowaway sex, Les and Gail discover that they are still in love and they agree to get married for a second time.  At the end of the cruise, everyone is reunited and, seeing that her parents are going to give marriage another shot, Linda agrees to give Wayne another shot. Awwwww!

(Again, it should be kept in mind that Les and Gail fell back in love because they literally didn’t have anything else to do.  They were trapped in cabin for several days!  Will their rekindled love continue once they have to deal with each other in the real world?  Considering how much they hated each other before getting trapped, it’s easy to be pessimistic.  Can you imagine how Linda will feel if her parents get married a second time just to then get a second divorce?  Then again, this is The Love Boat.  Perhaps the whole point is not to give it too much thought….)

Finally, Gopher is super excited that his sister will be celebrating her 18th birthday on the cruise!  However, Gopher is shocked and horrified to discover that Jennifer (Melissa Sue Anderson) has grown up and now has every guy on the ship hitting on her.  Gopher asks Doc Bricker to look after her, which is an odd request given that Doc is a walking HR nightmare.  That said, for once, Doc tries to do the right thing.  However, Jennifer is eager to lose her virginity and she’s decided that Doc would be the perfect man to which to lose it….

Really?  Out of all the guys on that cruise, you’re going to pick Doc?

Stories in which Doc is portrayed as being a legendary lover are always a bit strange because Doc was played be Bernie Kopell, a likable actor who gave off suburban Dad vibes as opposed to international playboy vibes.  Kopell, Anderson, and the usually underused Fred Grandy all give likable performances in this storyline but it’s still just odd to think that Jennifer has apparently spent years dreaming about Doc Bricker.

It’s also strange that Captain Stubing mentions that it’s been years since he last saw Gopher’s sister.  The previous season established that Captain Stubing had just recently been assigned to the boat and that he was still getting to know the crew.  So, either several years passed between the first and the second season or someone in the writer’s room wasn’t paying attention to continuity.  Then again, I imagine that continuity wasn’t as big a concern in the days before the Internet.  Even if someone did notice the mistake, who would they tell?

This episode was a fairly entertaining one.  Janet Leigh and Conrad Bain were definitely the highlight of this episode and it was fun to watch Leigh and Curtis acting opposite of each other.  (That said, you just know the show’s producers probably tried to convince Tony Curtis to play Janet Leigh’s ex-husband before they asked Bain.)  The ghost subplot had a few funny moments and Gopher finally got to do something.  All in all, it was a pleasant cruise on the Love Boat.

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 2.6 “Mike and Ike / The Witness / The Kissing Bandit”

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, I learned that there’s no way to escape the Bradys!

Episode 2.6 “Mike and Ike / The Witness / The Kissing Bandit”

(Dir by Allen Baron and Roger Duchowny, originally aired on October 21st, 1978)

This week, The Love Boat continued to be a floating HR nightmare as Newton Weems (a very young Billy Crytsal) donned a mask and spent his nights running around the ship and kissing every single woman that he came across.  Fortunately, Newton’s such a fantastic kisser that no one demands that the police be alerted.  Unfortunately, with every woman on board eager to get kissed, that means that no one is reacting to the lame flirtations of Doc, Gopher, and the Captain.  The Captain decides that the best way catch the Kissing Bandit would be to use Julie as a decoy.  If I was Julie, I would point out how reasonable I was about the Captain’s uncle and demand more money.  Instead, Julie allows herself to be kissed and soon, she’s in love with the Kissing Bandit as well.

However, Newton eventually realizes that he’s actually in love with another passenger, Roberta (Laurie Walters), and that he doesn’t have to wear a mask to be romantic.  Though this disappoints his biggest fans (played by Nancy Kulp, Pat Carroll, and Sharon Acker), it does make the rest of the crew happy.  It seems like the Captain should be worrying more about running the ship than hitting on every woman who comes aboard but I guess big luxury liners pretty much run themselves.

While this was going on, Isaac was reconnecting with his old friends, Lenore (Marilyn McCoo) and Mike (Billy Davis, Jr.).  When they were younger, they used to perform on street corners for spare change.  Now, Mike is an executive vice president and he’s so work-obsessed and stuffy that his own son (Todd Bridges) thinks that his father doesn’t love him!  Fortunately, things work out in the end.  Mike realizes that there are things more important than business.  Ted Lange gets to show off his dance moves, though it’s hard to forget that Isaac once accused another passenger of being a sell-out for doing the same thing.

Finally, Frank McLean (Robert Reed) is taking a cruise so that he can avoid testifying in a murder trial.  He is spotted by Suzanne (Toni Tennille), who knows Frank from the old neighborhood.  At first, Frank denies even being from New York but, eventually, he tells Suzanne his story.  Suzanne falls for Frank but she has a secret of her own.  By Love Boat standards, this story is fairly dramatic but it ultimately fails because there’s not a hint of chemistry between Reed and Tennille.  In fact, Robert Reed looks even more miserable after he falls in love than he did before.

On a personal note, I just can’t escape The Brady Bunch, can I?  Last week, even as I was finishing up The Brady Bunch Hour, Robert Reed showed up on Fantasy Island.  This week, Eve Plumb went to the island while Robert Reed boarded the ship.  There’s just no way to escape those Bradys!

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 Allen 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 2.4 “The Man Who Loved Women / A Different Girl / Oh, My Aching Brother”

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!

Come aboard!

Episode 2.4 “The Man Who Loved Women / A Different Girl / Oh, My Aching Brother”

(Dir by Allen Baron, originally aired on September 30th, 1978)

This week’s cruise is all about deception …. and love!

For instance, Joe (Marty Ingels) and Harold Nash (Sonny Bono) are two brothers who thrive on deception.  Harold specializes in pretending to get injured.  Joe specializes in threatening to sue until the brothers get paid off.  Apparently, it’s a scheme that works well for them, though Joe seems to be a lot more enthusiastic about it than Harold.  In fact, Harold seems to be a nice guy who mostly just wants to enjoy the cruise and flirt with another passenger, Rita (Judy Landers).  Still, Joe insists that Harold pretend to hurt his back so Harold takes a dramatic fall on the shuffleboard course.

Of course, the crew can spot a fake injury from miles away.  For once, Doc Bricker actually does his job and announces that, despite all of his yelling and groaning, there does not appear to be anything wrong with Harold’s back.  Still, if Harold goes through the entire cruise without walking, the Pacific Princess will probably pay a settlement.  Joe’s happy about that.  Harold’s unhappy because he wants to get up and walk over to Rita’s cabin.  In the end, it is Harold’s love for Rita that defeats the scheme.  When he sees Rita actually trip and take a fall, Harold can’t stop himself from jumping out of his wheelchair to help her.  Awwwwwww!

This storyline was dumb but kind of sweet.  Sonny Bono was not a particularly good actor but there was something rather genuine about his chemistry with Judy Landers.

Meanwhile, the Captain Stubing’s godson, Dave Stanton (Grant Goodeve), is taking the cruise with his wife, Laura (Bess Armstrong).  Though they’ve been married for two years, they are only now getting to take their honeymoon.  (Dave was in the army and Laura was caring for her terminally ill mother.)  During the trip, they discover that they’ve both changed over the past two years.  Laura’s more independent now.  Plus, she had an affair while  Dave was gone.  Dave gets pretty upset but Captain Stubing asks Dave if he can really say that he’s never cheated on Laura.  Dave admits that he cheated on her too.  Now that they know that they’re both cheaters, Dave and Laura’s marriage is strong than ever!

This storyline was defeated by the fact that neither Dave nor Laura were particularly sympathetic characters.  At one point, Dave actually says that his cheating was different from Laura’s cheating because he’s a guy and she’s a woman.  AGCK!  Probably the most interesting part of this story is that it gave Stubing a chance to talk about why his own marriage fell apart.  This show has often hinted that there is a lot of darkness and trauma in Stubing’s past and Gavin MacLeod always brings a lot of sincerity to the scenes where the captain admits that he has regrets.

Finally, Charlotte (Cathryn Damon), Bonnie (Jo Ann Pflug), and Anita (Brett Sommers) are three divorcees who take the cruise together.  All three of them end up meeting a man.  Charlotte meets a man named Alvin, who she decides to call him by his middle name, “Cornelius.”  Bonnie meets a man who she calls Vinny.  Anita meets a man who she calls by his last name, “McNair.”  What they don’t know is that all of them have met the same man, Alvin Cornelius McNair (David Doyle).  Alvin goes out with all three of the women but he starts to feel guilty when he realizes that they’re all cabinmates.  However, Charlotte, Bonnie, and Anita tell him that it doesn’t matter to them because Alvin was always honest with them and didn’t try to manipulate any of them.  Awwwww!  I liked this story.  Damon, Pflug, and Sommers were believable as old friends and Doyle was likable as Alvin.

This was actually a pretty enjoyable episode.  It may not have been perfect but it was a pleasant trip.

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 2.3 “Rocky/Julie’s Dilemma/Who’s Who?”

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, Julie’s parents set sail on The Love Boat!

Episode 2.3 “Rocky/Julie’s Dilemma/Who’s Who?”

(Dir by Allen Baron and Roger Duchowny, originally aired on September 23rd, 1978)

After last week’s hurricane and hostage situation, things calm down a bit for this week’s episode of The Love Boat.

Julie is super-excited because her parents, Bill (Norman Fell) and Martha (Betty Garrett), are going to be on this cruise.  Her parents, meanwhile, are only slightly excited about seeing where Julie works and getting to see all of the members of the crew.  They would perhaps be more excited if not for the fact that they’re planning on getting a divorce as soon as the cruise is over.  They haven’t told Julie, of course.  In fact, they tell Captain Stubing before they tell Julie.  Why would they tell someone whom they’ve only know for ten minutes before they would tell their own daughter?  What awful parents!

When they do eventually tell Julie, she has an emotional breakdown and runs through the corridors of the ship, sobbing.  Listen, I’ve been there.  When my parents told me that they were getting divorced, I had a difficult time with it as well.  Of course, I was twelve years old, whereas Julie is in her late 20s.  Still, it’s never easy.  Fortunately, Julie realizes that her parents still love each other so she just sets them up with different people on the boat so that they can get jealous and fall back in love.  And it works!  Julie’s parents get back together….

Which is nice, I guess.  I mean, one doesn’t watch The Love Boat because one wants to see a realistic story about the complexities of love and marriage.  Still, the show made it look so simple that it got on my nerves.  It’s not that simple and any actual child of divorce can tell you that.  Again, it’s The Love Boat so perhaps I shouldn’t judge too harshly but I would have had so much more respect for the show if Bill and Martha had told Julie that they were still getting a divorce at the end of the cruise.  It would have been a lot more honest than presenting a story where a marriage can be saved by wishful thinking.

While Julie was trying to save her parent’s marriage and prevent several years of awkward holidays, a young girl named Rocky (Melissa Gilbert) was developing her first crush on a boy named Norman (Jimmy Baio).  It was actually a sweet little story and both Melissa Gilbert and Jimmy Baio gave likable performances.  When Rocky learned that her family would be moving after the cruise, she was upset until she learned that their new home would be in El Paso, which was also where Norman and his family lived.  Again, it was simple but sweet.  And it went along well with the divorce storyline.  While one relationship nearly ended, another began.

Finally, in the silliest story of the week, TV network censor Pat (Dody Goodman) boards the ship and is told that she will be sharing a cabin with Marion Atkins.  That’s fine with Pat.  Her main concern is making sure that nothing shocking or sordid happens on the cruise.  However, it turns out that Marion Atkins (played by James Coco) is actually a guy!  Fortunately, Marion turns out to be just as puritanical as Pat.  He even brings a bunch of pamphlets on chastity with him for the cruise.  Pat and Marion first meet while wandering around the ship and they fall very chastely in love.  Since their morals forbid them from following each other to their  cabin, they somehow manage to go nearly the entire cruise without realizing that they are living together.  When they do realize that they’re cabinmates, they resolve to get married as soon as the boat docks.  This whole story was just incredibly dumb and not in a fun way either.  Obviously, The Love Boat was taking a swipe at the same network censors who probably insisted that the show be relatively discreet about what was going on behind the closed doors of the ship’s cabins.  But Pat and Marion were both so incredibly clueless that it was hard to care about them one way or the other.

This was a bit of uneven episode but, in the end, the boat still looked like a fun place on which to hang out and work.  And really, that’s the important thing.

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.15 & 1.16 “The Eyes of Love / Masquerade / Hollywood Royalty / The Caper: Parts 1 & 2”

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’s episode of The Love Boat is one of historical value so let’s climb aboard and get to it!

Episodes 1.15 & 1.16 “The Eyes of Love / Masquerade / Hollywood Royalty / The Caper: Parts 1 & 2”

(Dir by Allen Baron, originally aired on January 21st, 1978)

This is an important episode for two reasons.

First off, this episode marked the first time that the opening credits featured video of the guest stars along with their names.  This was the only time that this was done during the first season, though it would become a regular feature of the show from the second season forward.

Secondly, excluding the three pilot films that aired before the series was ordered, this was the first super-sized two hour episode of The Love Boat.  This episode is split into two parts when it airs in syndication, which is why it’s listed as being the 15th and the 16th episode of The Love Boat

Oddly enough, despite all of that, it’s pretty much a standard episode.  Usually, whenever a TV shows airs an extra-long episode, it’s because some important event is occurring.  Usually, either someone’s getting married or someone’s leaving the show or maybe an actor died and the show needs an extra hour to pay tribute to them.  In this case, though, it’s just a typical cruise of the love boat, complete with three separate stories and a lot of time spent looking at the ocean.

For instance, Roz Rogers (Michele Lee) and Bill Teague (Fernado Lamas) are a famous and glamorous Hollywood couple who book a voyage and who are followed all the way to the dock by the paparazzi.  As quickly becomes clear, Bill and Roz’s relationship is not as perfect as the world believes.  Still, Bill is convinced that their relationship can be fixed by Roz co-starring in an old-fashioned adventure film that he wrote.  Along with having written the script, Bill hopes to direct, produce, and star in it.  Roz is a bit skeptical but fear not, everything works out in the end and she finally convinces Bill that she loves him for him and not because he’s a star.

Roz boards the boat with not just Bill’s script but also a large and valuable diamond.  A group of jewelry thieves follow her onto the boat, hoping to steal the diamond for themselves.  Vernon (Howard Gould) is the arrogant leader of the group.  Taffy (Karen Valentine) distracts Gopher, Doc, and the Captain by flirting with them.  Elwood (Larry Storch) is the group’s technician.  And Ox (John Schuck) is the muscle who tends to take things literally.  When the first attempt to steal the jewel fails, Vernon disguises himself as Captain Stubing and Gavin MacLeod gets a chance to do something more than just look slightly annoyed by the crew.  To be honest, I actually enjoyed the jewelry theft subplot far more than I was expecting.  Gould, Valentine, Storch, and Schuck all seemed to be having fun playing off of each other.  Plus, the whole story ended with a nice little twist that James Cameron would later use in Titanic.

(No, the Love Boat does not sink.)

While this is going on, a blind girl named Jenny (Stephanie Zimbalist) is stunned to discover that one of her former classmates, Steve (Desi Arnaz, Jr.), is also on the boat.  Jenny and Steve fall in love but Steve has recently gotten back his sight and Jenny worries that he won’t want to spend the rest of his life with someone who can’t see.  Fortunately, it turns out that Jenny’s wrong.

Finally, Alan (Dan Rowan) is horrified to discover that not only are both his wife (Juliet Mills) and his mistress (Adrienne Barbeau) on the cruise together but that they’ve become friends.  Alan was an adulterous jerk so it was pretty difficult to really care about this story.  

Again, it was pretty much a typical episode of The Love Boat, despite the extra length and the inclusion of a masquerade ball during the episode’s 2nd hour.  That said, the thieves were funnier than they had any right to be and the Jenny/Steve storyline was sweet.  The ocean scenery was lovely.  That’s really all I ask from The Love Boat.  This episode delivered.

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.11 “Reunion/Anniversary”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

This week, Fantasy Island is all about confronting the mistakes of the past.

Episode 1.11 “Reunion/Anniversary”

(Dir by Allen Baron and John Newland, originally aired on April 29th, 1978)

Before I talk about the two fantasies in this episode, here’s a bit of trivia.  This episode was originally intended to be the first episode of the series.  That perhaps explains why it has a tone that is more similar to the original TV movie than to the more light-hearted episodes that followed.  Just as in the made-for-TV movie, Mr. Roarke is a bit of an enigma in this episode, one who has little trouble manipulating his guests in order to get the results that he wants.  This episode even ends with Tattoo saying, “Thank God,” and Mr. Roarke replying with a mysterious half-smile.  Roarke isn’t quite as sinister as he was in the TV movie but he’s also not quite the cheery host that he would become in later episodes.  Roarke, at one point, also mentions that he has people who research everyone’s fantasy before choosing whether to grant it.  That’s certainly different from later episodes, in which the fantasies are apparently available to anyone who can pay or who has been lucky enough to win Roarke’s sympathy.

Of course, when it came time to air the first season of Fantasy Island, this episode got pushed back and it aired as the eleventh episode.  As a result, it presents a bit of a change-of-pace from the episodes that aired the weeks before.  One can only imagine how someone who decided to start watching the show because of the fantasy where Don Knotts played a private eye reacted to this episode, in which four guests were stalked by a murderer who wore giallo-style black gloves.

The guests being stalked by the murderer are Agnes (Pamela Franklin), Hannah (Hilarie Thompson), Carol (Michele Lee), and Jill (Sue Loyon).  They are all members of the Honeybees, a group of former high school cheerleaders who are having a ten-year reunion.  Their fantasy is to spend the weekend at a recreation of the Beehive, a cabin where they used to hang out while in high school.  Of course, every one of them has a dark secret and, after one of the Honeybees is apparently blown up in a nearby barn, the three remaining Honeybees have to solve the mystery.  It all gets fairly dark and sordid but, fear not!  Mr. Roarke shows up and even takes part in some hand-to-hand combat before revealing the truth about what is going on at the Beehive.

(Again, this is not something that we would normally expect from Mr. Roarke.)

Meanwhile, troubled couple Toni (Lucie Arnaz) and Tom Elgin (Ronny Cox, looking slightly embarrassed) come to the island for their anniversary!  Toni wants to relive the weekend that they got married, when they were still happy and before Tom became a drunk.  All of their old friends are invited to the island and soon, Tom is flirting with another woman while Toni is flirting with another man.  Mr. Roarke even invites Rev. Allen (Stuart Nisbet), the man who performed the original wedding ceremony.  The reverend explains that, due to a mix-up at the licensing office, he wasn’t actually legally allowed to perform marriages when Toni and Tom get married so it turns out that Tom and Toni have been living in sin all this time!  Now, Tom and Toni have to decide whether to get married for real or to go their separate ways.

I vote for separate ways, just because they really do seem to be miserable together.  However, it turns out that Mr. Roarke has a plan to keep this awful couple together.

The decision to move this episode from the start of the season to the latter half was definitely a good one.  It was probably a bit too dark and dramatic to really work as the premiere episode but, as the 11th episode, it provides a nice change-of-pace.  After several comedic and somewhat shallow episodes, this episode emphasizes the dramatic side of Fantasy Island.  In this episode, the ultimate lesson appears to be that fantasies are fun but that it’s far more important to deal with the real world.  In other words, Fantasy Island is a nice place to visit but only Mr. Roarke and Tattoo should live there.