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 1.10 “The Over-The-Hill-Gang/Poof, You’re A Movie Star!”

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!

Smiles, everyone!  Smiles!

Episode 1.10 “The Over-The-Hill-Gang/Poof, You’re A Movie Star!”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on April 15th, 1978)

Uh-oh, Tattoo has a new money-making scheme!  It involves a parrot.  While the exact details of Tattoo’s schemes are a bit vague, it all involves teaching the parrot how to speak.  Again, I’m not sure how exactly that’s going to make Tattoo a lot of money but whatever.  I like parrots.

Still, it’s hard not to notice that Tattoo seems to spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to make extra money.  Tattoo is the second-in-command at the world’s most prestigious resort so you have to wonder why he always seems to be so desperate to bring in some extra cash.  It’s not like Tattoo is paying rent or even buying his own food.  That’s all provided by Mr. Roarke and the island.  Add to that, it has been implied that Tattoo is in charge of the island’s finances and that’s not a job that you give to someone who can’t handle his own money.  Maybe Tattoo isn’t looking to make money for himself.  Maybe Fantasy Island is on the verge of bankruptcy due to Roarke’s habit of giving people free fantasies.  Maybe the talking parrot is Tattoo’s latest scheme to save the Island.  If that’s the case, then Tattoo really is the secret hero of this series.

I actually wish this episode has spent more time with the parrot because that little throw-away story was still more interesting than the two main stories.  Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t a bad episode.  It’s just a bit bland.

Shirley Russell (Barbi Benton) comes to the Island with dreams of becoming a movie star.  Mr. Roarke simply snaps his fingers and suddenly, Shirley has not only an agent but also hundreds of fans following her everywhere that she goes.  She also has a role in a big movie that will be filming on the Island!  When the film’s producer (played by a veteran sleazy guy Herb Edelman) tells Shirley that she’ll have to film a nude scene for the movie, Shirley abandons her fantasy and happily reunites with her earnest fiancé.  Barbi Benton was likable as Shirley but the fantasy itself was predictable and on the blah side.  Shirley’s shock over the proposed nude scene made me wonder if she had actually watched any movies other than The Sound of Music.

The other fantasy dealt with Spencer Randolph (Ray Bolger), an aging bank robber who wanted to pull off one last job with his old gang before marrying a wealthy businesswoman.  Bolger’s old gang was made up of familiar Hollywood character actors like Tom Ewell, Foster Brooks, and Phil Foster.  Along with getting the old gang back together again, Spencer was also able to foil a blackmail scheme.  Again, the storyline was a bit bland but the chemistry between all of the Hollywood veterans was enjoyable.  Ray Bolger was just as spry and likable here as he was when he played the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.  Interestingly enough, 39 years passed between The Wizard of Oz and this episode of Fantasy Island and Bolger was still younger than Joe Biden is today when he played Spencer Randolph, the leader of the over-the-hill gang.

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.7 “Julie’s Old Flame / The Jinx / The Identical Problem”

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, exciting and new!

Let it go, it floats back to you!

We all float down here!

Episode 1.7 “Julie’s Old Flame / The Jinx / The Identical Problem”

(Directed by Don Weis, originally aired on November 12th, 1977)

The Love Boat is jinxed!

Or, at least, that’s what the crew assumes when they meet Horace and Henrietta McDonald (played by Ray Bolger and Harriet Nelson).  Horace and Henrietta first met when they were children and they’ve been in love ever since.  In fact, they met each other on a cruise.  Unfortunately, that cruise was the Titanic!

(Remember, when this episode aired, it had been 65 years since the Titanic sank.  So, there were still a few elderly survivors around.)

Anyway, the crew worries that Horace and Henrietta might bring bad luck with them and, before you know it, everyone’s getting injured.  Doc Bricker gets hit by a door and ends up having to wear a bandage on his head.  Gopher trips in the lounge.  Isaac gets whiplash after falling in the pool.  Julie ends up wearing an eye patch.  To be honest, I think the crew is just clumsy.

While the crew is trying not to die, identical twins Ellen and Helen (Diana Canova) are trying to keep the crew from realizing that they’re both on the boat.  (They only bought one ticket.)  One of the twins falls in love with Doc Bricker.  The other can’t stand him.  Bricker being Bricker, he really doesn’t care how the twins feel about him.  He just wants to get laid.  Still, Bricker spend most of the episode very confused and very afraid of the Titanic jinx.

Meanwhile, Julie is shocked when she discovers that Buddy Stanfield (David Hedison) is on the cruise!  Buddy is a wealthy and handsome attorney and he’s also Julie’s former lover.  They had a whirlwind romance in Paris but then Julie discovered that Buddy was married and her heart was broken.  Now, Buddy claims that he’s divorced and Julie starts to fall for him again.  It’s pretty obvious that Buddy is lying but who can blame Julie when he’s played by the classy and suave David Hedison.  Hedison played Felix Leiter in Live and Let Die and License to Kill.  In between dealing with the jinx, the crew tries to proect Julie from Buddy.  Of course, Buddy’s wife eventually shows up but at least Julie has her friends to support her!

Anyway, this was a pretty predictable episode and the plot with the twins was way too silly to believed.  It didn’t help that the twins appeared to be in their early 20s while Doc Bricker is in his 40s at least.  But David Hedison was a perfect cad and Ray Bolger (who, of course, is best-remembered for playing the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz) and Harriet Nelson were an adorable couple.  This episode was nothing special but it was still enjoyable while it lasted.

Scenes That I Love: The Witch Melts In The Wizard Of Oz

I’ve reviewed two movies about witches today and I should be posting a review of a movie about Rasputin in a few more hours.  Needless to say, all of this witch talk might be disturbing to some.  Well, fear not!  Today’s scene that I love is for you!

Cleaning Out The DVR #30: The Great Ziegfeld (dir by Robert Z. Leonard)

(For those following at home, Lisa is attempting to clean out her DVR by watching and reviewing 38 films by the end of this Friday.  Will she make it?  Keep following the site to find out!)


Do you know who Florence Ziegfeld was?

Don’t feel bad if you don’t because, until I saw the 1936 film The Great Ziegfeld, I had no idea and history is my number one obsession.  Florence Ziegfeld was a theatrical producer who, in the early days of the 20th Century, produced huge spectacles.  He was a showman who understood the importance of celebrity and gossip.  He produced a show called The Ziegfeld Follies, which was considered quite risqué at the time but which looks remarkably tame today.  Florence Ziegfeld was so famous that he even got his own Oscar-winning biopic.

The Great Ziegfeld features the always smooth William Powell as Ziegfeld.  When we first meet him, he’s promoting a strongman and a belly dancer and nobody takes him seriously.  But through hard work, good luck, and his own instinct for showmanship, he becomes famous and his shows gets bigger and bigger.  The film follows Ziegfeld as he gets married, both times to someone he is grooming to be a star.  His first wife is Anna (Luise Rainer), who loves him but divorces him when it becomes obvious that Ziegfeld’s life will always revolve around his work.  His second wife is Billie Burke and we know that she is Ziegfeld’s true love because she’s played by Myrna Loy.  Whenever you see William Powell and Myrna Loy in the same film, you know that they belong together.

The majority of The Great Ziegfeld is taken up with recreations of Ziegfeld’s stage shows.  In fact, the film almost feels more like a musical variety show than a real biopic.  (Judging from the credits, quite a few of Ziegfeld’s stars played themselves and recreated their acts on the big screen.)  I can understand why this was attractive to audiences in the 1930s.  With no end in sight to The Great Depression and Ziegfeld himself recently deceased, this movie was their only opportunity to see one of his spectacles.  The film made sure that they got their money’s worth.

However, for modern audiences, all of the acts just add to what is already an oppressive running time.  My main impression of The Great Ziegfeld was that it was really, really long.  The movie itself is well-produced and William Powell and Myrna Loy are always fun to watch but the movie just goes on and on.  As well, this biopic is so worshipful of Ziegfeld — the title is meant to be taken literally — that, as a result, he comes across as being one-dimensional.  I did appreciate the film as a historical artifact but otherwise, it didn’t do much for me.

However, it did something for the Academy.  The Great Ziegfeld was named the best picture of 1936!  Luise Rainer won best actress despite only being on-screen for a handful of scenes.  So many people were critical of Rainer’s award that, the very next year, the Academy introduced the award for best supporting actress.

As for why Ziegfeld won that Oscar — well, if you look at its competition and some of the other 1936 films that received nominations, you’re struck by the lack of truly memorable films.  It would appear that, in a weak year, the Academy decided to give the award to the biggest production they could find.

And that was The Great Ziegfeld.

(Incidentally, if Flo Ziegfeld were alive today, he would probably be a reality TV producer.)