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!