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 Valentine’s Day on The Love Boat!
Episode 1.20 “Memories of You / Computerman / Parlez Vous?”
(Dir by Richard Kinon, originally aired on February 13th, 1978)
It’s time for the annual Valentine’s Day cruise! On Valentine’s Day, only singles are allowed to board the Love Boat. Everyone, even the members of the crew, wears a heart-shaped nametag. Julie has decided to liven things up by hiring Nick Heider (Frankie Avalon), who claims that his computer can decide who is compatible and who isn’t. Captain Stubing is hoping that the computer will set him up with someone because apparently, Stubing is tired of being single. To be honest, that really doesn’t make much sense. When you’re the captain of the ship, you’re going to get laid on Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t matter if you’re bald, middle-aged, and take yourself a little bit too seriously. A captain has power and power is an aphrodisiac.
Nick turns out to be kind of sleazy, with his wide collars and his unbuttoned shirts. Nick also has a crush on Julie and he wants her to take part in his compatibility survey. Julie says that she doesn’t believe that computer can decide who is compatible. If Julie doesn’t believe in Nick and his computer, why did she hire him for the cruise?
As you can probably guess, Nick fills out a survey for Julie anyway. The computer pairs them together and Julie and Nick actually do fall in love, though I have a feeling we will never again see or hear about Nick after this episode. Meanwhile, Captain Stubing is told that the computer can’t find any matches for him. The Captain is pretty depressed until all of the computer-selected couples start fighting. I would think that people taking a dislike to each other would be a problem on Valentine’s Day cruise but whatever. The computer fails and Stubing smiles smugly.
While this is going on, Gopher is recruited to act as a translator for two French women (Barbi Benton, Susan Silo) who are on the cruise. Gopher’s French turns out to be really bad but fear not. It turns out that the French women are actually Americans and they speak perfect English. They’re just pretending to be French in order to attract wealthy men. Jamie Farr and Danny Dayton nearly fall for the scam but then Gopher hears the women speaking English and he exposes them. Of course, despite ruining their scam, Gopher still gets a (temporary) girlfriend out of it when Brigitte (played by Barbi Benton) turns out to be very forgiving.
Finally, Doc thinks that he’s found his soulmate for the cruise when he spots jingle writer Lilly Mackin (Patty Duke). However, Lilly can’t stop looking at another passenger named Ted (Ricky Nelson). Lilly swears that Ted looks just like Alex, her former partner who mysteriously vanished. Doc suggests that Ted might be suffering from stress-related amnesia. Fortunately, Ted falls in love with Lilly and, after she kisses him, he starts to slowly remember bits of his past life as Alex. That’s the power of Valentine’s Day on The Love Boat!
I loved this episode. I took French in high school and college and I used to be really pretentious about it so I definitely related to Brigitte and Yvonne. And the amnesia story was just intriguing enough to hold my attention. Finally, I could help but laugh at how impressed everyone was with Nick and his match-making computer. There was nothing that Nick said that sounded different from what we currently hear in Match.com and EHarmony commercials. That said, I agree with Julie. Romance should be spontaneous and unpredictable, not pre-programmed.
The Valentine’s Day cruise was success! Will the success continue? We’ll find out next week!