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


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Wednesdays, I will be reviewing the original Love Boat, which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986!  The series can be streamed on Paramount Plus!

It’s time to spend the holidays on the big seas!

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

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

Yay!  It’s a Christmas cruise!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.4 “Family Reunion/Voodoo”


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 1996.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Smiles, everyone!  We have two very strange fantasies this week and a few memorable guest stars!

Episode 1.4 “Family Reunion/Voodoo”

(Directed by George McGowan, originally aired on February 18th, 1978)

Finally!  After four weeks of trying to figure out how exactly the island works, I finally watched an episode that explained what Tattoo’s actual job is.  Apparently, Tattoo is an accountant.  It’s his job to keep track of how much money the island has in its treasury and to order stuff for the resort.  It’s also his job to rent things for the fantasies.  This episode, he mentions that it’s not cheap to rent a bear.  Mr. Roarke gives him a slightly disapproving look but no matter.  Tattoo’s correct.  Bears are not cheap.

As for the fantasies, they’re both kind of strange in this episode.

The more peaceful of the fantasies involves Tony (Tom Fridley) and Ann (Kathy Kurtzman) and their desire for their parents, Harry (John Gavin) and Evelyne (Juliet Mills), to get back together.  The fantasy involves tricking Harry and Evelyne into returning to the summer camp where they first met and having them fall in love all over again.  (Yes, it’s The Parent Trap, all over again.)  Unfortunately, Harry and Evelyne are accompanied by their new significant others, Stuffy McBorington (David Hedison) and Slutty LaGolddigger (Mary Frann.)  Actually, I guess those weren’t really their names but they might as well have been.  Fortunately a sudden rain storm and a visit from the expensive bear convinces Harry and Evelyne to dump Stuffy and Slutty and give love another chance.  Yay!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the island, Mr. Roarke has recreated a Haitian rubber plantation!  Jane Howell (Lauren Tewes, who I’ve also been watching on The Love Boat) is an amnesiac who might be the daughter of the plantation’s owner.  She, her adoptive parents (Howard Duff and Marjorie Lord), and her fiancé (Gary Collins) spend the night at the plantation.  However, it turns out that they’re not alone.  Mr. Roarke has also brought over a voodoo priest (Ernie Hudson!) who is determined to drive Jane mad!  It’s a really weird story that ends with not one twist but two.  It’s also an effectively creepy story, which makes it all the stranger that it’s paired with a light-hearted Parent Trap homage.

To me, the most interesting thing about this episode is that so many of the guest stars were veterans of the horror (or at least, the supernatural) genre.  The Family Reunion storyline features Juliet Mills (Beyond The Door), David Hedison (The Fly), and John Gavin (Psycho).  (Interestingly enough, David Hedison played Felix Leiter in two James Bond films while Gavin would have played Bond in Diamonds are Forever if Sean Connery hadn’t agreed to return to the role.)  Meanwhile, Voodoo features Lauren Tewes (who appeared in Eyes of a Stranger and Twin Peaks: The Return) and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters).  It’s an interesting mix of actors and it’s fun to see them all wandering around the island at the same time.

I enjoyed this episode.  Family Reunion was agreeably silly while Voodoo was creepy and melodramatic.  Add to that, Ricardo Montalban seemed to be having a genuinely good time as the mysterious Mr. Roarke.  He made the island seem like a fun place to visit, even with the bears and the voodoo hijinks.

Next week, more fantasies!  And more smiles!

The Man Who Would Be Bond (Almost): RIP John Gavin


cracked rear viewer

Most people know John Gavin, who died today at age 86, as the nominal hero of Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, who saves Vera Miles from a ghastly fate at the hands of maniacal Anthony Perkins. What most people don’t know is Gavin was once signed, sealed, and ready to go as the movie’s most popular secret agent of them all, James Bond!

Gavin in “OSS 117- Double Agent” (1968)

It’s true! Gavin had signed the contract with producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli to star as 007 in 1971’s DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER , taking over the role from George Lazenby. He would have been the first (and only) American actor to portray MI-6’s suave secret agent, except the powers that be at United Artists wanted someone with more star power to take the role. Saltzman and Broccoli then threw an enormous (at the time) sum of money at original Bond Sean…

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Celebrate National Trivia Day With The Actors Who Could Have Been James Bond!


 

Today is National Trivia Day so I thought why not share some trivia?  I love film trivia.  I especially love trivia about who was considered for certain films.  Hell, one of my most popular posts on the Shattered Lens dealt with all of the actors who were considered for the Godfather!

(I even came up with an alternative cast for The Godfather, even though I consider the actual film to be the best cast film in history.)

I also happen to love the James Bond films.  (Well, not so much the recent Bond films.  I’ve made my feelings on SPECTRE clear.)  As a franchise, I absolutely love them.  So, with all that in mind, here is a look at the actors who could have been Bond.  I’ve compiled this article from many sources.  And yes, you could probably just find a lot of the information on Wikipedia but then you’d miss out on my editorial commentary.

Hoagy Carmichael

Ian Fleming himself always said that his pick for Bond would have been the musician, Hoagy Carmichael.  He even made a point, in Casino Royale, of having Vesper Lynd exclaim that Bond looked like Hoagy Carmichael.  Of course, the first actor to actually play Bond was Barry Nelson in a 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale.  Nelson is probably best remembered for playing Mr. Ullman in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Barry Nelson, the first James Bond

When Dr. No went into production in 1961, many actors were considered for the role before Sean Connery was eventually cast.  Many of them were very well-known actors and, had they been cast, Dr. No would not have been remembered as a Bond movie.  Instead, it would be remembered as a star vehicle for … well, let’s take a look at some of the better-known possibilities:

Among the famous actors who were mentioned for Bond in 1961: Cary Grant, Richard Burton, James Mason, Trevor Howard, Stanley Baker, George Baker, Jimmy Stewart, Rex Harrison, and David Niven.  (Of that list, I think Burton would have made for an interesting Bond.  If the Bond films had been made in the 1940s, Grant would have been my first choice.  Trying to imagine Jimmy Stewart as a British secret agent is … interesting.)

Once it became obvious that a star was not going to play Bond, the role was offered to Patrick McGoohan and Rod Taylor.  McGoohan had moral objections to the character.  Rod Taylor reportedly felt that the film would flop.  Steve Reeves, the American body builder who became famous for playing Hercules in Italy, was reportedly strongly considered.  At one point, director Terrence Young wanted to offer the role to Richard Johnson, who later played Dr. Menard in Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2.

Of course, the role went to Sean Connery and made Connery a huge star.  In 1967, after Connery announced that he would no longer play the world’s most famous secret agent, there was a huge and widely publicized search for his replacement.  Some of the names that were considered are intriguing.  Others are just bizarre.

Oliver Reed

To me, perhaps the most intriguing name mentioned was that of Oliver Reed.  Reed definitely would have brought a rougher edge of the role than some of the other actors considered.  However, that’s one reason why Reed wasn’t picked.  Apparently, it was felt that he did not have the right public image to play the suave Mr. Bond.

Somewhat inevitably, Michael Caine was sought out for the role.  Caine, however, refused to consider it because he had already starred in three back-to-back spy thrillers and didn’t want to get typecast.  Caine’s former roommate, Terrence Stamp, was another possibility but wanted too much control over the future direction of the Bond films.  Future Bond Timothy Dalton was considered to be too young.  Another future Bond, Roger Moore, didn’t want to give up his television career.  Eric Braeden has the right look for Bond but was German.  Rumor has it that producer Cubby Broccoli even considered Dick Van Dyke for the role, though I find that hard to believe.  An even more surprising possibility was the nobleman Lord Lucan, who was offered a screen test in 1967 and who, ten years later, would vanish after being accused of murdering his children’s nanny.

Lord Lucan

Among the actors who auditioned before George Lazenby was cast in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Michael Billington, Jeremy Brett, Peter Purves, Robert Campbell, Patrick Mower, Daniel Pilon, John Richardson, Anthony Rogers, Hans De Vries, and Peter Snow.

After the mixed reception of both Lazenby’s performance and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Lazenby was soon out as James Bond.  Even today, there’s a lot of controversy about what led to Lazenby being dismissed from the role.  Some say Lazenby demanded too much money.  Some say that Lazenby was merely used a pawn to try to get Sean Connery to return to the role.  Regardless, Lazenby only made one film as Bond.  (Of course, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has retroactively been recognized as being one of the best of the series.)

With Connery still claiming that he would never return to the role, the film’s producers went through the motions of looking for a new Bond.  Once again, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton were considered.  Connery suggested that a talk show host named Simon Dee should play the role.  An actor named Roger Green auditioned.  So did Michael Gambon, though he later said he was turned down because, in his own words, he “had tits like a woman.”  Interestingly, several Americans were mentioned.  Clint Eastwood as James Bond?  Burt Reynolds?  Adam “Batman” West? The mind boggles but their names were mentioned.

John Gavin

And interestingly enough, an American was cast.  John Gavin is best known for playing Sam Loomis in Psycho but he was also, briefly, James Bond.  After Gavin accepted he role and signed a contract, Sean Connery announced that he would be willing to return to the role.  Gavin was paid off and Connery went on to star in Diamonds are Forever.

After Diamonds, Connery left the role for a second time and, once again, Bond was recast.  This time, Roger Moore would finally accept the role.  However, before Moore was cast, several other actors were considered.  Some of the regular possibilities were mentioned again: John Gavin, Simon Oates, Timothy Dalton, and Michael Billington.  Others considered included Jon Finch, Ranulph Fiennes, Peter Laughton, and Guy Peters.  Some of those names are probably as unknown to you as they are to me but it’s intriguing to think that Guy Peters may not be a well-known name but, at one time, there was a possibility that he could suddenly become one of the biggest stars in the world.

Looking over the history of the Bond franchise, it’s interesting to see the number of times that Moore tried to leave the role, just to be talked into returning.  Every time that Moore considered quitting, a new group of actors would be considered for the role of Bond.  In 1979, when Moore said he might not return after Moonraker, Timothy Dalton, Michael Jayston, Patrick Mower (who was also considered for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), and Michael Billington were all considered as replacements.  So was Julian Glover.  Ironically, when Moore did agree to return to the role, Glover was cast as the villain in For Your Eyes Only.

David Warbeck

To me, the most intriguing actor mentioned as a replacement for Roger Moore was David Warbeck.  Warbeck was a television actor and model who subsequently had a nearly legendary film career in Italy.  Not only did he play a key role in Sergio Leone’s Duck You Sucker!, but he also starred in Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat and The Beyond.  He also appeared in the best of Italian Apocalypse Now rip-offs, The Last Hunter.  In interviews, Warbeck claimed that he was under contract to Cubby Broccoli to step into the role in case Roger Moore ever walked off the set.  The likable and rugged Warbeck would have been an interesting Bond.

In 1983, when Moore again said he might not return to the role, Michael Billington (who actually did appear in a Bond film when he played a KGB agent killed at the start of The Spy Who Loved Me) would be once more considered as a replacement.  British TV actors Lewis Collins and Ian Ogilvy were also considered for the role.  In a repeat of what happened with John Gavin in Diamonds are Forever, American actor James Brolin was actually put under contract until Moore agreed to play the role in Octopussy.

James Brolin, in a screen test for Octopussy

After A View To A Kill, Moore left the role for the final time.  Famously, future Bond Pierce Brosnan was actually cast as his replacement until the surge of interest created by his casting led to the renewal of Remington Steele, the American television show in which Brosnan was starring.  Once the show was renewed, Brosnan could no longer work the Bond films into his schedule.

Among the other names mentioned: Sean Bean, Simon MacCorkindale, Andrew Clarke, Finlay Light, Mark Greenstreet, Neil Dickson, Christopher Lambert, Mel Gibson, and Antony Hamilton.  Sam Neill was another possibility and reportedly came very close to getting the role.  Watch any of the films that Neill made when he was younger and you can definitely see hints of Bond.

Sam Neill

In the end, Timothy Dalton finally accepted the role.  Ironically, for an actor who spent 20 years being courted for the role, Dalton turned out to be a bit of a flop as Bond.  He made two movies (both of which were considered to be disappointing when compared to the previous Bond films) and then left the role.

Looking over the contemporary reviews of Dalton as Bond, one thing that comes through clearly is that a lot of people resented him for taking a role that they felt should have gone to Pierce Brosnan.  When the Bond films resumed production with Goldeneye in 1994, Brosnan finally stepped into the role.  Reportedly, if Brosnan had turned down the role, the second choice was Sean Bean.  Much like Julian Glover, Bean may have lost out on 007 but he did end up playing the villain.

Sean Bean

Among the other actors who were reportedly considered before Brosnan accepted the role: Mark Frankel, Paul McGann, Liam Neeson, Russell Crowe, and Lambert Wilson.  Ralph Fiennes, who has been M since Skyfall, was also considered.

As opposed to his predecessors, Brosnan seemed to be very comfortable with the idea of playing Bond and never threatened to leave the role.  Looking over the Bond-related articles that were published from 1995 to 2004, I found the occasional speculation about whether Rupert Everett would be the first gay James Bond or if Sharon Stone would be the first female James Bond but I found very little speculation about Brosnan actually leaving the role.  Indeed, when Brosnan officially retired as Bond in 2004, it was less his decision and more at the prodding of the franchise’s producers, who felt that the series needed to be rejuvenated with a new (and younger) actor.  After Brosnan left, the series was rebooted and Daniel Craig played the role in Casino Royale.

In the past, I’ve made it clear that Daniel Craig is hardly my favorite Bond.  I loved Skyfall (and I consider it to the 2nd best Bond film, after From Russia With Love) but, even in that case, I felt that the film succeeded despite Craig instead of because of him.  With Casino Royale, we were supposed to be seeing a young and inexperienced Bond.  That’s never come through to me, probably because Craig looked like he was nearly 50 years old when he made Casino Royale.

Among the actors who were mentioned for the role before Craig received the role: Ralph Fiennes (again), Colin Salmon, Ewan McGregor, Henry Cavill, Rupert Friend, Julian McMahon, Alex O’Laughlin, Clive Owen, Dougray Scott, and Goran Visjnic.  Dominic West, who I think would have been great in the role, reportedly ruled himself out because he heard a rumor that Brosnan would be returning to the role.

Dominic West

Daniel Craig, of course, has been talking about leaving the role ever since he was first cast.  I think Skyfall would have been a perfect movie for him to leave on.  (It would have saved the world from SPECTRE.)  However, Craig has apparently agreed to do at least one more Bond film.  Maybe two.

When Craig does leave, who will replace him?  Idris Elba, of course, is probably the most widely discussed possibility.  James Norton has also been named as a possibility.  Others that I’ve seen mentioned: Tom Hardy, Jack Huston, Aidan Turner, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, and Henry Cavill (again).

My personal choice?  Dominic Cooper.  He’d be an off-center Bond but I think it would still be an intriguing pick.

Dominic Cooper

Who knows what the future may hold for 007?  All I know is that I look forward to the speculation.

Happy National Trivia Day, everyone!

Horror Book Review: Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello


57 years after it was first released, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho remains one of the most influential films ever made.

Certainly, every horror film ever released since 1960 owes a debt to Psycho.  The infamous shower scene has been duplicated so many times that I’ve lost count.  Whenever a big-name actor is unexpectedly killed during the first half of a movie, it’s because of what happened to Janet Leigh in that shower.  If not for Psycho, Drew Barrymore would have survived Scream and that shark would never have eaten Samuel L. Jackson in Deep Blue Sea.  Every giallo film that has ended with someone explaining the overly complex psychological reasons that led to the killer putting on black gloves and picking up a scalpel owes a debt to Simon Oakland’s monologue at the end of Psycho.  Psycho is so influential and popular that, decades later, A&E could broadcast a show called Bates Motel and have an instant hit.

What goes into making a classic?  That is question that is both asked and answered by Stephen Rebello’s Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho.  Starting with the real-life crimes of Ed Gein, Rebello’s book goes on to examine the writing of Robert Bloch’s famous novel and then the struggle to adapt that novel for the screen.

This book is a dream for trivia lovers.  Ever wanted to know who else was considered for the role of Marion Crane or Sam Loomis or even Norman Bates?  This is the book to look to.  Read this book and then imagine an alternate world where Psycho starred Dean Stockwell, Eva Marie Saint, and Leslie Neilsen?

(That’s right.  Leslie Neilsen was considered for the role of Sam Loomis.)

The book also confronts the controversy over who deserves credit for the shower scene, Alfred Hitchcock or Saul Bass.  And, of course, it also provides all the glorious details of how Hitchcock handled the film’s pre-release publicity.  Ignore the fact that this book was cited as being the inspiration for the rather forgettable Anthony Hopkins/Helen Mirren film, Hitchcock.  This is a fascinating read about a fascinating movie and a fascinating director.

First published in 1990 and still very much in print, Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho is a must-read for fans of film, horror, true crime, history, Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, and Psycho.

Leslie Nielsen, R.I.P.


Earlier tonight, I read on twitter that veteran character actor and Prom Night co-star Leslie Nielsen had passed away.  While people seem to know him best as a former “serious” actor turned deadpan comedian, it is forgotten that Nielsen was — during the 70s — an exploitation and grindhouse mainstay.

Along with playing Jamie Lee Curtis’s father (and no-nonsense high school principal) in Prom Night, Nielsen was also the star of the kung fu classic Project: Kill and the bad guy in Day of the Animals.

The clip below comes from Day of the Animals and it shows Nielsen at his exploitation best:

Here’s a little bit of the movie history trivia that I live for: In 1959, along with famously auditioning for a role in Ben-Hur, Nielsen also came close to being cast in another iconic film.  He was among the finalists for the role of Sam Loomis (eventually played by John Gavin) in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.