Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.13 “Too Hot to Handle / Family Reunion / Cinderella Story”


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 Love!

Episode 1.13 “Too Hot to Handle / Family Reunion / Cinderella Story”

(Dir by James Sheldon and Richard Kinon, originally aired on January 7th, 1978)

It’s time for another cruise with three separate stories!

Newlyweds George (John Rubinstein) and Sally Allison (a youngish Kathy Bates) board the Pacific Princess, hoping to enjoy the ideal honeymoon.  Instead, it turns out to be one disaster after another.  Sally gets sunburned.  George gets poison ivy.  Having gotten off the boat in Mexico, Sally returns to discover a totally different couple staying in what she thinks is her cabin.  Uh-oh.  It turns out that Sally accidentally got on the Sun Princess and the Pacific Princess has already set sail without her!  This was a pretty simple storyline and, if anything, it mostly seemed to exist so that the show’s writers could see how many bad things that they could do to one perfectly innocent couple.  But John Rubinstein and Katy Bates are so likable as George and Sally that the story works.  You can’t help but hope the cruise gets a little better for them.  Kathy Bates was 29 when she appeared on The Love Boat and there’s nothing about her performance that would necessarily make you say, “Hey, that’s a future Oscar winner!”  But still, both she and John Rubinstein do a good job with the material that they’ve been given.

Meanwhile, Tommy (Bob Crane) is a middle-aged man who has been hired to work as a steward on the ship.  Captain Stubing takes an immediate dislike to the irresponsible, womanizing Tommy.  When he discovers that Tommy has been drinking on the job, Stubing comes close to firing him.  However, Tommy confesses that he’s drinking because he’s just discovered that the daughter who he abandoned years ago is on the cruise.  Wendy (Dori Brenner) has always believed that her father died in a shipwreck and she hopes that Stubing might know something about the wreck.  Seeking to help out Tommy, Stubing tells a lot of lies about Wendy’s “deceased” father but Tommy finally breaks down and confesses the truth.  At first, Wendy rejects Tommy but, with the help of her understanding husband (Robert Hays), she eventually forgives her father.

This storyline hinges on a huge coincidence.  What are the chances that Tommy and Wendy would just happen to end up on the same cruise together and that Tommy would be assigned to serve as Wendy’s steward?  On top of that, what are the chances that Wendy would just happen to have a picture of her mother sitting out where Tommy could see it?  It’s all fairly predictable but, if you’ve seen Auto Focus, it’s interesting to watch Crane’s performance here.  This episode aired just a few months before Crane was murdered in Arizona and it’s easy to see the charismatic but irresponsible and self-destructive Tommy as being a reflection of who Bob Crane himself had reportedly become at the time of his death.  Tommy is a character who lives with a lot of emotional pain and regret and Crane is so surprisingly effective in the role that it’s hard not to wonder if perhaps, on some level, he related to Tommy.

Finally, in the show’s final storyline, Bill Edwards (Bruce Solomon) is a supermarket manager who has booked a cruise with his wife, Doreen (Judy Luciano).  When a wealthy advertising exec cancels his trip, Julie and Gopher decide to let Bill and Doreen stay in the man’s luxury cabin.  This, of course, leads to Stubing mistaking Bill for the ad exec!  Suddenly, Bill and Doreen are sitting at the captain’s table and competing for an advertising contract!  Eventually, the truth comes out but business tycoon Greg Beatty (David White) is so impressed with Bill’s ideas that he arranges for Bill to get a job with an actual advertising company.  Mad Men it’s not!  However, it’s still a charming little story, largely due to the performances of Bruce Solomon and Judy Luciano.

If last week’s episode was a “lesser Love Boat,” this week’s episode show just how much fun The Love Boat could be.  Yes, all of the stories are fairly predictable but the guest stars all perform their roles with a lot of energy.  Bob Crane brings a poignant sense of regret to his performance as Tommy while Bruce Solomon and Judy Luciano are exactly the type of attrative couple that you would want to meet on a cruise.  And, as I said already, it’s impossible not to like John Rubinstein and Kathy Bates as the newlyweds who just can’t catch a break.  The regular cast is used sparingly but effectively in this episode.  Fred Grandy gets a nice scene where he has to explain to John Rubinstein that Kathy Bates got on the wrong boat.  Bernie Kopell plays Doc Bricker as being an agent of chaos.  It’s a fun episode and what more can you ask for?

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.12 “The Old Man and the Runaway / The Painters / A Fine Romance”


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!  We’re expecting you.

Episode 1.12 “The Old Man and the Runaway / The Painters / A Fine Romance”

(Directed by Stuart Margolin and James Sheldon, originally aired on December 24th, 1977)

Hey, this episode of The Love Boat aired on Christmas Eve!  Oddly enough, unlike last week’s episode, it was not a holiday-themed episode.  You really do have to wonder if there was some sort of scheduling snafu at ABC and perhaps the episodes were shown out-of-order.  Then again, it could be that ABC realized that everyone would be busy getting ready for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve so they decided to burn off a lesser episode while no one was watching.

(Doesn’t everyone spend Christmas Eve getting ready for Midnight Mass while their aunt tells them to dress more like the Virgin and less like the Magdalene?  Or was that just my experience?)

Yes, this is a lesser episode of The Love Boat.  It’s not a terrible episode but, at the same time, it’s not all the memorable.  A big problem is that there’s not really much romance on this cruise.  The show was called The Love Boat for a reason and, when there’s no love, it just doesn’t feel right.

For instance, one subplot dealt with two incompetent painters (played by Arte Johnson and Pat Morita) painting the captain’s office during the cruise.  They kept screwing up the job, which led to Captain Stubing getting progressively more and more annoyed.  From the start, I guessed that the punchline would be that the painters were screwing up on purpose so that they could stay on the boat and get a free cruise and …. yep, that’s exactly what it was.  Johnson and Morita were a good comedy team but the story itself felt like filler.

Meanwhile, a grumpy old widower (Will Geer) discovered that he was sharing his cabin with a teenage runaway (Bayn Johnson), who had stowed away on the ship and who was planning on meeting up with her boyfriend in Mexico.  Once he got over complaining about her being young and irresponsible, Geer convinced her to return to her parents.  Again, it wasn’t terrible and Bayn Johnson did a good job of keeping her character from getting annoying but it felt a bit out of place on The Love Boat.  Obviously, the 75 year-old man and the 16 year-old runaway weren’t going to fall in love and leave the ship arm-in-arm while the crew smiled knowingly.  Instead, this was a typical generation gap story.  The most interesting thing about this story is that this was the second time that a runaway managed to stowaway on the Love Boat.  Does that boat not have a security team?  Don’t you actually have to show your tickets to board the boat?  How does these people keep sneaking aboard?

Finally, the third storyline felt a bit more like a Love Boat story.  Cruise director Julie (Lauren Tewes) is super-excited when she sees that Sean McGlynn (Anson Williams) is a passenger on the cruise.  Julie and Sean grew up together and Julie always had a crush on him.  At first, Julie and Sean have fun hanging out but, whenever Julie tries to flirt, Sean panics and runs off.  Julie worries that there’s something wrong with her (oh, Julie!) but …. nope, Sean’s a priest.  Apparently, he was having a crisis of faith when he boarded the boat, which is why he didn’t tell anyone he was a priest.  But, when his roommate (Tom Poston) has a heart attack, Sean delivers the last rites and his faith is restored.  (Don’t worry.  His roommate survives and has a surprisingly quick recovery.  Doc Bricker is a miracle worker!)  Anyway, Sean leaves the boat wearing his collar and Julie stays on the boat, no doubt waiting for someone else from her past to buy a ticket.  It’s a bit of a shame, as Lauren Tewes and Anson Williams did make a cute couple.  Then again, we all know that Julie and Gopher belong together.

Like I said, this was not a terrible episode.  It just wasn’t particularly memorable.  It needed just a bit more romance.  After all, love is life’s sweetest reward.

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.5 “Isaac the Groupie / Mr. Popularity / Help! Murder!”


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!

Just remember …. the Love Boat promises something for everyone.

Episode 1.5 “Isaac the Groupie / Mr. Popularity / Help! Murder!”

(Directed by Peter Baldwin, Tony Webster, and James Sheldon, originally aired on October 22nd, 1977)

This episode was all about mistaken identities.

Robert Tanner (Jim Nabors) is the most annoying man to ever set sail on the Love Boat.  All he does is talk and talk about what he had for dinner.  Unfortunately, he’s had the same liver and onions dinner for several years now so it’s not like he has much to say that would be considered to be new.  Everyone on the ship avoids Mr. Tanner but Captain Stubing insists that Julie figure out a way to keep him happy.  (No, not like that….)  Fortunately, two passengers read an article about an international jewel thief named Roscoe Toler and they decide that Tanner must be Toler.  (What?)  Suddenly, everyone is hanging out with Mr. Tanner and listening to his stories.  I’m not sure why being mistaken for a criminal would make everyone want to hang out with Tanner.  I mean, aren’t they worried about their jewelry? 

While that’s going on, Isaac is excited because his favorite singer, Roxy Blue (Diahann Carroll), is sailing on the boat.  She’s using an assumed name.  Not even the rest of the crew know that she’s onboard.  But Isaac recognizes her as soon as she sits down at the bar and soon, the two of them are having a ship-board romance.  Good for Isaac and, even more importantly, good for Ted Lange, who gives a really likable performance in this episode.  Unfortunately, once the cruise ends, Roxy will go back to her life as the world’s most famous singer and Isaac will once again be the ship’s only bartender.  This is one of those storylines that would be unthinkable today.  Just try to imagine any celebrity managing to sneak on a boat (or anywhere) without the world knowing.

Finally, in our third and final storyline, Bert Fredricks (David Groh) wants to throw a surprise party for his wife, Denise (Michele Lee).  Unfortunately, his wife spots him talking to Julie and decides that Bert is cheating on her.  Then she overhears Gopher talking about “blowing up” something and she decides that Bert is going to kill her!  (Gopher was actually talking about the photographs that Bert had asked him to secretly take of his wife.)  Everything is eventually worked out but seriously, how bad was their marriage that Denise had absolutely no doubt that Bert was going to kill her so that he could run off with a cruise director that he had only known for a day?  

Anyway, this was another one of those mixed episodes.  The Isaac storyline was nice, largely because of the chemistry between Lange and Carroll.  The other two storylines were both examples of the type of thing that drives me crazy, where everything could be resolved if people just talked to each other and used a little common sense.  That said, Michele Lee had a few funny moments of panic.  I’d like to have a surprise birthday party on a cruise ship.  That’s the important thing.

Horror Scenes That I Love: Anthony Sends Dan To The Cornfield in The Twilight Zone


“You’re a very bad man!”

Today’s horror scene that I love comes not from film but from television.  In this episode of The Twilight Zone (entitled “It’s A Good Life”), the citizens of a rural community have to go out of their not to upset a rather unpredictable six year-old.

What happens when you upset little Anthony Fremont?

Take a look:

Written by Rod Serling and directed by James Sheldon, this episode originally aired on November 3, 1961.

Horror on TV: Twilight Zone 3.76 “Still Valley”


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In this episode of The Twilight Zone, a Confederate soldier (Gary Merrill) meets an old man (Vaughn Taylor) who claims that, through magic, he can help the Confederacy win the Civil War. However, as often happens when it comes to weird old men and magic, there’s a price that must be paid.


I like this episode, largely because I’m obsessed with three things: history, the Civil War, and magic. And this one has all three!


It originally aired on November 24th, 1961.


Horror on TV: The Twilight Zone 3.8 “It’s A Good Life”


 

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Don’t think bad thoughts or Anthony Freemont will turn you into a giant jack in the box!

That’s lesson to be learned from tonight’s example of televised horror. In this classic episode of The Twilight Zone, the citizens of Peaksville always have to be happy or else they’ll be punished by the cruel monster that lives among them. The big twist, of course, is that the monster is just a little boy and sometimes, it’s difficult to predict what exactly is going to upset him.

It’s A Good Life was originally broadcast on November 3rd, 1961.