Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 2.15 “My Sister, Irene / The ‘Now’ Marriage / Second Time Around”

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!

This week, The Love Boat becomes …. THE DIVORCE BOAT!

Episode 2.15 “My Sister, Irene / The ‘Now’ Marriage / Second Time Around”

(Dir by Roger Duchowny, originally aired on January 13th, 1979)

Dr. Todd Gardiner (Peter Marshall) is the author of a best-selling book that advocates for open marriage but he’s never had one himself.  He’s determined to finally have an affair while sailing on The Love Boat and, just to prove that he’s not a hypocrite, he’s brought along his wife, Eleanor (Barbara Rush), and he’s encouraging her to have an affair as well!  Initially, Eleanor is not particularly enthusiastic about the idea of cheating on her husband, with or without his permission.  But then she meets Captain Stubing!

The Captain and Eleanor have a very chaste shipboard romance.  He gives her a tour of Puerto Vallarta but that’s it.  As the Captain explains it, he’s a traditionalist at heart and, even though he’s fallen in love with Eleaonor, he’s not the type to take part in an adulterous affair.  Eleanor realizes that the same is true for her.  And, of course, Todd realizes that he doesn’t want an open marriage either!

However, it’s too late for Todd.  Both Eleanor and Todd’s cruise girlfriend, Nancy Bishop (Phyllis Davis), reject him.  Eleanor announces that she’s going to file for divorce.  Since that was The Love Boat, I was expecting Eleanor to suddenly change her mind but the episode ended with Todd alone and Eleanor promising that she would see the Captain again in the future.

I believe this is the first episode of The Love Boat to end with a breakup instead of a romance.  This episode also came out very much against open marriage, which isn’t surprising.  For all the innuendos and the jokes about people hooking up during each cruise, The Love Boat was a pretty conservative show at heart.  If you hooked up on the boat, you were expected to get married on shore.

Speaking of marriage and divorce, another passenger on this cruise was Doc Bricker’s ex-wife, Betty (Tina Louise).  Doc Bricker found himself falling once again for Betty, which was a problem as Betty was traveling with her fiancé, Lance (Lyle Waggoner).   Except, of course, Lance was just an actor that Betty hired to make Doc jealous.  But then Lance and Betty fell in love for real and decided to get married.  It was incredibly silly but Lyle Waggoner’s dumb-but-earnest actor schtick did make me laugh.

Finally, Irene Austin (Martha Raye) boarded the ship with plans to reunite with her old college classmate, Andy (Ray Bolger).  However, upon discovering that Andy was still as spry and funny as he was in college, Irene panicked and introduced herself as being her own sister.  Andy saw through the ruse and he and Irene left the ship as a couple, which was sweet.  I mean, it was another silly story but the old school, showbiz veteran charm of Raye and Bolger carried the story.

All in all, it was a good cruise this week.

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.18 “Casting Director/Pentagram/A Little Ball”

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 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

This week, we have a special, super-sized episode of Fantasy Island!

Episode 2.18 “Casting Director/Pentagram/A Little Ball”

(Dir by George McCowan and Michael Vejar, originally aired on February 17th, 1979)

This week, we get three fantasies, instead of the usual two!

Sister Mary Theresa (Lisa Hartman) is a nun who has been struggling with her faith even since the death of her mentor.  Her fantasy is a chance to meet the only mortal man that her mentor ever loved.  Colin McArthur (John Saxon) is tall, dark, handsome, and he loves animals!  Not only does he seem like the perfect guy but he’s also played by John Saxon.  Today, Saxon is best-known for appearing in horror movies and for playing B-movie villains and it’s easy to forget that he could also be quite a charming actor when given the chance.  That said, as charming as he is, Colin just can’t compete with God and Sister Mary Theresa once again dons her habit before leaving the Island.

Meanwhile, Felix Birdsong (Don Knotts) has spent his life fantasizing about being a big time Hollywood casting agent and he gets his chance when he comes to the Island and is put in charge of selecting the woman who will star in a film called The Most Beautiful Girl In The World.  Felix soon discovers that Hollywood isn’t as glamorous as he thought.  (Uh, yeah, no doubt.)  The film’s producer (Abe Vigoda) is a sleaze.  The film is being funded by a combination of gangsters and oil sheikhs (one of whom is played by Cesar Romero) and all of them expect Felix to select their girlfriends for the role.  Felix ends up very disillusioned, though you have to wonder what type of sheltered existence he experienced before coming to the island.  I mean, he’s shocked to discover that Hollywood can be a heartless place and that rich men have mistresses!  In the end, Felix announces that all 20 of the women will be cast as The Most Beautiful Girl In The World and that every single one of them will get the prize money.  Yay!  Of course, now the production is probably out of money so it’s not as if the film will ever actually be made.  Actually, if I was a contestant in a beauty pageant and the judge just declared a 20-girl tie instead of giving me the prize, I would probably think he was the biggest jerk in the world.  Boooo!  Felix, you jerk!

Finally, Jane Garwood (Florence Henderson, continuing the tradition of Brady Bunch cast members showing up on the island) is a television news reporter who recently gained a lot of attention for a report she filed on Satanic cults.  As a result of the report, a Satanic priest put a curse on Jane.  Jane laughed it off until all of the men in her life started dying.  Jane’s fantasy is to learn whether the curse is real.  Mr. Roarke’s solution is to become the new man in Jane’s life.  When he doesn’t die, Jane will see that the curse is not real….

Except, the curse is real!  The cult has followed Jane to the Island and now they’re not only trying to kill her but Mr. Roarke as well!  I have to admit that I’ve always assumed that Mr. Roarke was meant to be a supernatural being and I also assumed that he was immortal.  Apparently, that’s not completely true.  Still, despite the cult leader kidnapping Jane and dancing around with a cobra, Roarke is able to reveal that the cult leader is not only not a supernatural being but that he’s also Jane’s ex-boyfriend!

This episode was a fun mix of cartoonish comedy, sincere romance, and ludicrous melodrama.  It was entertainingly silly in the way that only Fantasy Island could be at its best.  I mean, with the exception of The Brady Bunch Hour, how many other shows would have the guts to give us Florence Henderson being menaced by a Satanic cult?  For that, you have to go to Fantasy Island!

Film Review: Guns (dir by Andy Sidaris)

As you can probably tell by looking at the poster at the top of this review, the 1990 film Guns was Andy Sidaris’s attempt to make a Bond film.  Not only does the poster feature a man in a tuxedo and two gun-wielding women but the tag line even reads, “James Never Had This Kind of Help!”

(Of course, that’s not really true, as anyone who has seen Dr. No, Goldfinger, The Spy Who Loved Me, or For Your Eyes Only can tell you.)

Much like a Bond film, Guns features a secret agent fighting to defeat an international conspiracy.  The agent’s efforts lead her and her allies to several different cities in several different … well, really only one country.  Being a Sidaris film, it’s doubtful the Guns really had the budget to film anyplace other than the United States but still, the action does move from Lake Huvasa, Arizona to Hawaii to Las Vegas.  That’s about as close as a Sidaris film ever gets to featuring exotic locations.

(If Lake Havusa sounds familiar, that’s because Jimmy Kimmel gave away at trip to Lake Havusa during the Oscars.)

And like any good Bond film, Guns has a flamboyant and almost comically evil villain.  Juan “Jack of Diamonds” Degas (telenovela star and future reality tv mainstay Erik Estrada) is an international gun dealer and an all-around sociopath.  He’s the type who shoots someone and then smirks about it.  He’s so evil that he’s even got Danny Tejo working as his main henchman!  That’s really evil!  Estrada gives a surprisingly good performance in the role.  Especially when compared to the forgettable villains who appeared in Sidaris’s previous films, Juan Degas feels like a worthy opponent.  It’s not just that he’s evil.  It’s that he’s so damn smug about it.  You can’t wait to see him get taken down.

Degas is planning on smuggling a bunch of Chinese weapons into America through a base on Hawaii.  The only problem is that Donna (Dona Speir) and her new partner, Nicole Justin (Roberta Vasquez), are based in Hawaii!  Degas knows that he has to get rid of them if he’s going to have any hope of succeeding.  (For whatever reason, it never occurs to Degas to smuggle the weapons through Guam or American Samoa. I mean, there are other islands out there.)  When Degas sends two cross-dressing assassins to kill Nicole, they end up not only shooting the wrong woman but also killing a friend of Dona’s as well.

Now, it’s personal!

Except, it was already personal.  In a typical example of Sidaris’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along style of  plotting, it turns out that Degas previously killed Donna’s father.  And now, it appears that it might get even more personal because Degas has kidnapped the Attorney General of Nevada, who happens to be Donna’s mother!

Obviously, this means that it’s time to gather together another group of misfit agents and take down the bad guys.  That means that Savage Beach‘s Shane Abilene (Michael J. Shane) and Bruce Christian (Bruce Penhall) both show up again.  It also means that a lovable magician named Abe (Chuck McCann) gets to help out as well.  Unfortunately, one member of the team is eventually blown up by a remote control boat.

That’s right!  A remote control boat!  For some reason, remote control vehicles were a Sidaris obsession and it’s not a Sidaris film without someone getting blown by either a remote control boat or helicopter.

Anyway, there’s a lot of explosions to be found in Guns but the good thing is that it’s women blowing stuff up and it’s women who are in charge of the entire operation.  That’s the thing with a Sidaris film like this one.  For all of the nudity and the double entendre-filled dialogue, Guns was an action film where women got to shoot the guns, beat up the bad guys, and ultimately save the world from a smirking misogynist.  When Donna picked up that rocket launcher, it was both ludicrous and empowering at the same time.

Guns is one of Sidaris’s better films.  For once, despite all of the usual Sidaris red herrings, the plot can actually be followed and Estrada is an appropriately hissable villain.  While the film may not be able to compete with the best of the Bond films, it’s still more fun that SPECTRE.

Embracing the Melodrama #26: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (dir by Russ Meyer)



If I hadn’t reviewed it already, I would definitely have included 1967’s Valley of the Dolls in this series on film melodrama.  However, seeing as I have already reviewed it (and you can read that excellent review here!), I figured why not take this opportunity to review a film that was legally required to acknowledge that it was not a sequel to Valley of the Dolls.

I’m speaking of 1970’s Beyond the Valley of The Dolls, a satirical take on every Hollywood melodrama that had been made up until that point.  It was directed by notorious exploitation veteran Russ Meyer and written by film critic Roger Ebert.  The combination of Meyer’s unapologetic tawdriness and Ebert’s film school in jokes comes together to create a truly memorable film experience.

Okay, so what happens in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls?  Let’s see if I can keep all this straight because, in its clearly satirical way, BVD is a bit like the Game of Thrones of satiric Hollywood melodrama.  There are so many characters with so many subplots that it helps to have a flowchart to try to keep track of it all.


Kelly (Dolly McNamara), Casey (Cynthia Myers), and Pet (Marcia McBroom) start a band and, after playing the high school graduation dance, they decide to head out to Los Angeles to become famous.  Accompanying them is their manager, Harris Allsworth (David Gurian), who is in love with Kelly and spends the entire film looking miserable.  As opposed to the three main characters in Valley of the Dolls, Kelly, Casey, and Pet do not arrive in Hollywood as wide-eyed innocents.  Instead, they’re already talking endlessly about their love of weed, pills, and sex but they do so in dialogue that is so deliberately over-the-top, so intentionally artificial, and so cheerfully delivered by the three girls that it’s impossible not to root for them.  More than that, though, these are three strong, independent women and, regardless of whether they’re appearing a film directed by a man best known for being obsessed with boobs, that’s still three more than you’ll find in most American films from both the 70s and today.

Fortunately, the girls already have a contact in Los Angeles.  Kelly’s rich aunt Susan (Phyllis Davis) knows all sorts of people and wants to share some of her fortune with Kelly.  Unfortunately, Susan’s lawyer is the evil Porter Hall (Duncan McLeod), who hates free spirits.  Porter tries to keep Kelly from getting the money but Kelly is willing to seduce Porter in order to get that money, even after she discovers that the uptight Porter wears his black socks to bed.  Obviously, Porter is a bad guy but who can help Aunt Susan realize this?  How about the wonderfully named man’s man, Baxter Wolfe (Charles Napier)?


Through Aunt Susan’s influence, the girl’s end up at a party thrown by the legendary music promoter Z-Man (John Lazar).  Z-Man is one of those flamboyant 70s characters who simply has to be seen to be believed.  Z-Man speaks in some of the most florid dialogue ever heard and there are more than a few secrets hidden behind all of that eccentricity.  But, at the moment, what’s important is that Z-Man takes control of the girl’s group — now known as the Carrie Nations (which is actually a pretty good name for a band) — and makes them famous overnight.

Soon, Kelly is spending more and more time with notorious Hollywood gigolo Lance Rocke (Michael Blodgett, who gives a hilariously narcissistic performance) and ignoring poor Harris.  This drives Harris into the waiting arms of porn star Ashley St. Ives (Eddy Williams) who, with her unapologetic and non-neurotic approach to sex, is probably the most stable character in the entire film.


Casey, feeling uncomfortable with the Hollywood jet set, is soon popping pills like they’re candy.  She finally starts to find some comfort and happiness with Roxanne (Erica Gavin).

And finally, Pet falls in love with Emerson Thorne (Harrison Page), a serious-minded law student.  However, as much as Pet and Emerson seem to be meant for each other (and they even get a slow-motion montage where they run through a green field), Pet is still tempted to stray by a punch drunk boxer (James Inglehart).

And finally, there’s Otto (Henry Rowland).  Otto is Z-Man’s butler.  Apparently, he’s also a Nazi war criminal.

And, not surprisingly, all of this lust and all of these secrets lead to a suicide attempt, renewed love, and finally a disturbingly violent massacre that leaves the surviving members of the cast feeling wiser and sadder but not necessarily older.  Fortunately, just in case we the viewers might be wondering how all of this could have happened, a somber-voiced narrator suddenly explains what every character did wrong and how those mistakes led to their fate.  Thanks, narrator guy!

So, obviously, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is not meant to be taken seriously.  The film is a satire of all of the self-serious and hypocritically moralistic Hollywood melodramas that came before it .  Fortunately, the largely likable cast plays all of this absurd material with the straightest of faces and the end result is a film that is sordid and oddly likable.  This is one of those films that, if it offends you, you may be taking life too seriously.

beyond the valley of the dolls party