Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.3 “Ex Plus Y / Golden Agers / Graham and Kelly”

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!

Love!  Was it exciting and new this week?

Episode 1.3 “Ex Plus Y / Golden Agers / Graham and Kelly”

(Directed by  Adam Rafkin and Stuart Margolin, originally aired on October 8th, 1977)

The third episode of The Love Boat is all about age differences, growing together, and growing apart.

For instance, it’s love at first sight when Julie spots Jim Wright (Charles Frank).  I mean, hey, his name is even “Mr. Wright!”  And it turns out that, even though he looks like he’s 40, Mr. Wright is actually only 30!  And he likes Julie too!  The problem, however, is that Jim has been hired to serve as a tour guide for a group of elderly tourists.  And those tourists (led by Edward Andrews) simply will not leave Mr. Wright alone!  Every time Mr. Wright tries to spend some time alone with Julie, the old people show up.  Obviously, the show means for us to sympathize with Julie and Jim but I think I’m actually on the side of the old people as far as this is concerned.  I mean, they didn’t pay money so that Jim could have a vacation.  They paid Jim to be their tour guide and, unless he’s going to refund their money, that’s what he needs to concentrate on.  He and Julie can fall in love once Jim is off the clock.

While Julie pursues Jim, 12 year-olds Kelly (Kristy McNichol) and Graham (a very young Scott Baio) pursue their own romance.  Or actually, it’s Kelly who pursues the romance.  Graham likes Kelly but he’s also immature and not sure how to talk to girls so he always ends up doing or saying something silly or stupid whenever he and Kelly are on the verge of having a “real” moment.  On the one hand, this was actually a fairly realistic storyline, at least by Love Boat standards.  On the other hand, Baio and McNichol looked so much alike that any scene featuring the two of them was like that picture of the two Spider-Men pointing at each other.  Graham also ended up with a very convoluted backstory to explain why he was traveling with a British grandmother (played by Hermoine Baddeley) despite being a kid from Brooklyn.  It was one of those overly complicated and distracting things that could have been solved by simply not casting a British stage actress as Baio’s grandmother or not casting a very American actor as Baddeley’s grandson.

Finally, Robert Reed and Loretta Swit played a divorced couple who found themselves on the same cruise.  At first, they dreaded seeing each other but then, eventually, they agreed that they still had feelings for each other.  Surprisingly enough, the story did not end with Reed and Swit getting back together.  Instead, they just grew as people and were now ready to let go of the bitterness that was holding them back in their new relationships.  That was actually a pretty good story and I appreciated the realistic resolution.  However, before making peace with his ex-wife, Robert Reed came across as being so angry and so bitter that it was actually kind of scary to watch.  It turns out that the Love Boat has skeet shooting.  If you don’t think the sight of Robert “Mr. Brady” Reed with a rifle wouldn’t be terrifying, this episode is here to prove you wrong!

I have to give this episode a mixed review.  Two of the stories worked better than I was expecting but this episode suffered from the miscasting of some of the passengers.  Still, the ship and the ocean looked as lovely as ever and really, that’s the important thing.

Film Review: Race With The Devil (1975, directed by Jack Starrett)

220px-RaceWithTheDevilWarren Oates and Peter Fonda versus …. SATAN!

Roger (Peter Fonda) and Frank (Warren Oates) are lifelong friends and business partners who, along with their wives Kelly (Lara Parker) and Alice (Loretts Swit), are planning on taking the “best damn vacation we ever had.”  Traveling to Colorado in Frank’s RV, they decide to camp for a night next to a river.  Not only do Frank and Roger witness what appears to be a human sacrifice but they also have to run for their lives when they are spotted.  The local sheriff (R.G. Armstrong) tells them that they probably just saw a bunch of hippies killing an animal but Peter Fonda knows hippies and those were not hippies.  Taking some blood-stained dirt so it can be analyzed by the authorities, Roger and Frank try to drive on but find themselves being pursued by Satanists.

A relentless and entertaining B-movie, Race With The Devil is a hybrid of Rosemary’s Baby, Smokey and the Bandit, and Easy Rider, with some Parallax View-style paranoia mixed in as well.  Eventually, it seems as if everyone in rural Texas — from the sheriff to the gas station attendant to the residents of an RV park where our heroes try to spend the night — is a Satanist.  (Even a wrecked school bus turns out to just be an excuse to get the RV to slow down so the Satanic rednecks can attack, leading to Warren Oates’s classic line, “I don’t believe in a school bus on Sunday.”)

A big part of the fun of Race With The Devil is getting to watch Peter Fonda and Warren Oates acting opposite each other.  (A lot of drive-in patrons probably left Race With The Devil with a crush on the lovely Lara Parker as well.)  Friends both on and off-screen (Oates previously co-starred in Fonda’s directorial debut, The Hired Hand), Fonda and Oates are a lot of fun to watch playing off of each other in Race With The Devil, with Warren Oates’s natural intensity providing a good contrast to Fonda’s laid back style.

It may not rank up there with the movies that he appeared in for Sam Peckinpah and Monte Hellman but Race With The Devil is still one of Warren Oates’s most entertaining films.