Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 2.7 “Ship of Ghouls”

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, Vincent Price comes aboard for a special Halloween episode!

This is actually, the second time that I’ve reviewed this episode.  I also watched and reviewed it back in 2021.  I enjoyed it the first time that I watched it and my opinion remained the same the second time I watched it.  Still, I’m glad that I rewatched the episode as opposed to trying to write a second review from memory.  There were a few details that I had forgotten.

Anyway, it’s time for…. SHIP OF GHOULS!

Episode 2.7 “Ship of Ghouls”

(Originally aired on October 28th, 1978, dir by Roger Duchowny)

It’s time for the annual Halloween cruise and Captain Stubing is super excited because he has hired The Amazing Alonzo (Vincent Price) to provide the cruise’s entertainment.  Alonzo is a master illusionist and hypnotist, who can trick people into seeing just about anything.  The episode really doesn’t explain just how exactly Alonzo is able to hypnotize people by just saying a few words to them but no matter.  This is The Love Boat and Vincent Price is …. well, he’s Vincent Price.  Vincent comes across like he’s having the time of his life in this episode and, as such, we accept that Alonzo can cause a bunch of people to think that Gopher and Doc have been turned into two donkeys.  We accept that he can fool the Captain into thinking that the ship’s pool has been turned into a giant ice cream sundae.  We even accept that he can make Isaac’s head appear in a glass of beer.  We accept all of it because it just feels wrong to get hung up on logic when Vincent Price is involved.

The Amazing Alonzo is having so much fun flirting with his elderly groupies and casting spells that his long-suffering fiancé, Ramona (Joan Blondell), dumps him and instead moves into the Captain’s quarters.  At first, Alonzo is jealous of the Captain but he soon comes to realize that the Captain is not romantically interested in Ramona and is just letting her stay in his quarters because she needs some place to stay.  Alonzo also discovers that he can no longer hypnotize people without Ramona’s support.  At the big Halloween party, Alonzo freezes time and apologizes to Ramona.  He also confesses to her that his real name is Wendell.  They walk out of the ship’s ballroom, hand-in-hand.  Yay!

Needless to say, Vincent Price was the highlight of this episode.  However, as was always the case with The Love Boat, there were other passengers on the cruise.

For instance, nine year-old Bobby Diller (Charlie Aikman) is a habitual liar and prankster.  His behavior may be bratty but that’s largely due to the fact that his parents (Gary Collins and Mary Ann Mobley) are getting back together after previously getting a divorce and he’s worried that they’re going to split up again.  Fortunately, Bobby’s lying comes in handy when he spots Karen (Barbara Anderson) preparing to throw herself overboard.   Bobby tells Karen that his mother committed suicide and that he’s never gotten over it.  Karen changes her mind about committing suicide.  Once Karen is safely back on deck, Bobby admits that he lied but then adds, “It’s the last lie I’ll ever tell!”

Why was Karen suicidal?  Karen was a model until a car accident left her with a scar on her face.  Karen is convinced that no one will ever find her to be beautiful again.  Of course, Gopher and Doc both find her to be beautiful and they spend the entire cruise hitting on her and arguing over which one of them has the right to dance with her and have dinner with her.  (As I’ve said in the past, The Love Boat really was a floating HR nightmare.)  Karen, unfortunately, thinks that they’re just doing this as a favor to Karen’s best friend, cruise director Julie.  Fortunately, Bobby’s lie convinces Karen that people can sincerely care about one another.  Also, Karen realizes that she’s too good for either Gopher or Doc.  Good for her!

This was a good episode.  Vincent Price was a delight as always and Barbara Anderson was sympathetic Karen.  All Halloween cruises should be as entertaining as The Love Boat‘s!

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 2.1 and 2.2 Marooned / The Search / Issac’s Holiday: 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, the second season begins with a super-sized episode!

Episodes 2.1 & 2.2 “Marooned / The Search / Issac’s Holiday”

(Dir by Paul Stanley, originally aired on September 16th, 1978)

The second season of The Love Boat started with double-sized episode, promising twice the romance, twice the comedy, and twice the running time!

(Subsequently, this episode was split in two for syndication, hence the double numbering.)

Among the passengers on this cruise is none other than Isaac Washington (Ted Lange)!  The Love Boat’s iconic bartender has decided to spend his vacation where he works and he’s bought a ticket to sail on the Pacific Princess.  It might seem strange to want to spend your vacation at the office but in Isaac’s case, I can see the appeal.  As we saw during the first season, no one works harder than Isaac.  He somehow always manages to be behind every single bar on the ship and it often appears that he’s the only bartender on the boat!  To top it off, he’s always on call.  He’s earned a vacation and he’s earned the right to be served for once.  From the minute Isaac boards the boat, he’s playfully asking the crew to do things for him and none of them mind because he’s their friend Isaac.  One of the key reasons why The Love Boat worked was that the friendships between the members of the crew felt very real.  As such, there’s never any doubt that Isaac would want to spend his vacation with Gopher, Doc, and Julie.

(Interestingly enough, the Captain doesn’t seem to realize that Isaac’s on the boat until Isaac takes his seat at the captain’s table.)

Of course, there are some problems with Isaac’s vacation.  Isaac quickly notices that the substitute bartender, Wally (played by Norm Crosby), is a bit sullen and not very knowledgeable about his drinks.  As well, Isaac has lied to a passenger named Mara (Lola Falana), telling her that he’s a wealthy race car driver.  Bitter old Wally just can’t wait to tell Mara the truth.

Even worse, when Captain Stubing goes to visit a nearby island, Deputy Captain Cunningham (Dick Martin) is left in charge and he quickly proves himself to be thoroughly incompetent.  (The show makes a point of assuring viewers that Cunningham actually works for a different cruise line and is just training on the Pacific Princess.)  Cunningham ignores the news that a hurricane is on the way.  When the hurricane hits, it’s falls on Isaac to take charge and make sure the passengers are safe.  Of course, to do this, he has to admit that he’s not a race car driver.  He’s just a bartender who, in a just world, would probably be a captain.

Meanwhile, Stubing, Doc, Gopher, Julie, and a group of passengers (Avery Schreiber, Barbi Benton, Edie Adams, and Audra Lindley) are all being held captive on that nearby island.  Their captor is an eccentric hermit named David Crothers (played by John Astin, who was often cast as eccentric hermits).  David has a gun, one that later turns out to be full of not bullets but dirt.  Unfortunately, the hurricane that threatens the Pacific Princess also maroons everyone else on the island and they have to wait for someone to rescue them.  Injured by a falling tree, Gopher spends his time deliriously speaking to imaginary women in foreign accents.  Doc, for once, actually gets to do some medical stuff and assures everyone that Gopher will be fine.  Interestingly enough, no one seems to be that worried about being captured by a crazed hermit.  Perhaps that’s because John Astin is just too naturally friendly to be viewed as a threat.

Finally, Jeannie Carter (Donna Mills) is on the boat because she’s been told that one of the passengers is her long-lost mother.  Soap opera actor Mike Adler (David Birney) offers Jeannie the moral and emotional (and romantic) support to confront the woman but the woman (Laraine Day) turns out to be Mike’s mother as well!  Agck!

The 2nd season premiers, with its mix of melodrama, broad comedy, romance, and hurricane-strength winds, is pretty much exactly what most viewers would want out of a show like The Love Boat.  Isaac gets to save the day while John Astin hams it up and David Birney, Donna Milles, and Laraine Day wring every emotion that they can out of their soap opera-style storyline.  It’s a fun and undemanding show, one that gets by on its breezy style and the likable chemistry between the cast.

This episode is also important because it was the second episode (after the first season’s supersized episode) in which the opening credits featured video images of the guest stars as well as their names.  This would continue in every subsequent episode and eventually become of the show’s trademarks.

Next week: Julie’s parents board the boat!

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 Review: The Love Boat 1.24 “This Business of Love / Crash Diet Crush / I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”

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 set sail for adventure!

Episode 1.24 “This Business of Love / Crash Diet Crush / I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”

(Dir by Roger Duchowny, originally aired on May 13th, 1978)

This week’s episode of The Love Boat is all about dealing with the past.

For instance, Captain Stubing is shocked when his old high school girlfriend, Jocelyn (Jessica Walter), boards the boat.  He’s even more shocked when Jocelyn points out that he’s gained a bit of weight since high school.  I have to admit that I was also shocked that Jocelyn — or anyone for that matter — would react to seeing an old friend by immediately pointing that out.  Even worse, Jocelyn makes a joke about how one of their other friends no longer has his hair.  This, of course, leads to the Captain refusing to take off his hat and going on a crash diet in an effort to lose weight.  This makes the Captain cranky and his beleaguered staff finally rig his scale to make Stubing think that he’s lost more weight than he has.  This gives Stubing the courage to tell Jocelyn that he’s fallen in love with her.

I had two thoughts on this storyline.  First off, Jocelyn’s kind of a bitch and Captain Stubing, while being a bit of a handful himself, still deserves better than someone who greets him by informing him that he’s no longer as impressive as he was in high school.  Secondly, I didn’t really buy that Stubing would be that insecure in the first place.  He’s the captain of the ship!  He’s in charge!  That takes a certain amount of confidence.  In order to be a captain, you have to have the respect of your crew and it’s hard to imagine the crew respecting a captain who literally refuses to take off his hat because his high school girlfriend is on the cruise.

Meanwhile, Nate (Michael Callan) and Roberta (Annette Funicello) are both depressed because, over the past year, they’ve both lost their spouses.  They meet on the boat and it’s obvious to everyone that they’re meant to be together.  Isaac certainly sees it!  But both Nate and Roberta say that they’re through with love.  Fortunately, an obnoxiously happy couple (played by Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie) are also on the ship as a reminder that love can live forever.  This was a standard Love Boat storyline.  (Even though the show was still only in its first season, this was not the first time The Love Boat featured a depressed widow finding love on the cruise.)  But Funicello and Callen were both sympathetic in their roles and I was happy they found each other.

Finally, Jill (Caren Kaye) is a former high-priced escort who is setting sail for a new life.  On the Boat, she meets Bill (Christopher George) and they fall in love.  Jill doesn’t want Bill to find out about her past life.  Unfortunately, one of her former clients (Jack Carter) is also on the boat, traveling with his wife (Jayne Meadows).  Again, this was a standard Love Boat story but it worked largely due to the chemistry between Caren Kaye and Christopher George.

This was an okay episode.  The storylines were predictable and a bit forgettable but the guest stars brought a lot of charm to their roles.  It was an pleasant cruise.  I just hope Captain Stubing stops being so hard on himself!

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 Review: The Love Boat 1.22 “A Selfless Love / The Nubile Nurse / Parents Know Best”

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!

All aboard!

Episode 1.22 “A Selfless Love / The Nubile Nurse / Parents Know Best”

(Dir by Roger Duchovny, originally aired on February 25th, 1978)

The week’s cruise begins with the walking HR nightmare known as Dr. Adam Bricker announcing that he’s hired a new nurse and she’s a former Las Vegas showgirl!  Gopher and Isaac are excited to learn this but no one is more excited than Doc, who quickly makes it clear that he’s hoping that she’ll be more than just his nurse.

However, it turns out that Dawn Delaney (Elaine Joyce) not only takes nursing very seriously but she would also rather do her job than make out with her boss.  Needless to say, this upsets the doctor.  It also turns out that she knows about all of the latest medical developments.  This also upsets Doc Bricker because it leads to him getting upstaged.  The final straw is when Dawn manages to cure Captain Stubing’s hiccups.  Bricker gets upset but then Dawn explains that she actually wants to be a doctor but, because she’s a former showgirl, no medical school is willing to accept her.  Bricker promises to use his contacts to got her admitted and then they share a long passionate kiss.  And that’s the end of that story.

As I watched Doc react to his nurse, it occurred to me that this show was very lucky that Bernie Kopell agreed to play the role because Doc, to be honest, is a terrible doctor who violates his Hippocratic oath on every cruise.  In the real world, Doc Bricker would be unemployable.  On The Love Boat, everyone loves him and the reason that we believe he would be so popular is because Bernie Kopell was so naturally likable that it made it easy to overlook all of the character’s shady behavior.

While Doc hit on his new nurse, two parents (Monty Hall and Janis Page) tried to hook their dorky son (Mark Shera) up with a girl (Laurie Prange) on the cruise.  What the parents didn’t know is that the girl was actually their son’s girlfriend and the entire cruise was an elaborate ruse to get them to finally meet.  Seriously, that was the entire story.  It was a bit forgettable.

Finally, Harry Morrison (Leslie Nielsen) is an old friend of Captain Stubing’s.  He’s going to Mexico with his much younger girlfriend, Laura (Lynda Day George) and they plan to get married.  However, Harry starts to worry that Laura is too young for him and Laura starts to worry that Harry would rather hang out with people his own age.  She makes a reference to Donnie and Marie Osmond and Harry admits to not knowing who they are.  Agck!  Fear not, though.  After talking about it, Harry and Laura decide to get married anyways.  It was a predictable story but how can you not like watching the future stars of The Naked Gun and Pieces acting opposite each other?

It was a bit of an odd episode.  The Doc/Nurse storyline was cringey.  The son and his parents storyline were forgettable.  But I liked Leslie Nielsen and Lynda Day George’s story.  They saved the cruise!

Next week, we’ll continue to set sail for adventure with three new stories!