Music Video of the Day: Don’t Say You Love Me by M2M (1999, dir by Nigel Dick)

Why exactly this chirpy tribute to abstinence was included on the Pokemon soundtrack is anyone’s guess.  Apparently, M2M had never heard of Pokemon until they were told that their song was going to play during the film’s end credits.  They were also not happy to learn when they were told that they would have to change some of the lyrics to make the song Pokemon-appropriate.  “You start kissing me, what’s that about?” was changed to “You said you love me, what’s that about?”

I’m not a huge fan of this song, as you may have picked up on.  But I do think the video is kind of cute.  Maybe it’s just because I wish there was a drive-in near my house.  Who knows?


Retro Television Reviews: Sarah T — Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (dir by Richard Donner)

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Sundays, I will be reviewing the made-for-television movies that used to be a primetime mainstay.  Today’s film is 1975’s Sarah T — Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic.  It  can be viewed on YouTube!

In 1975, two years after shocking audiences in and receiving an Oscar nomination for The Exorcist, Linda Blair played Sarah Travis.  Sarah is fourteen years old.  She has a high IQ.  She lives in a nice suburban home.  She has an older sister named Nancy (Laurette Sprang) and she makes a good deal of money working as a babysitter.  Sarah lives with her mother, Jean (Verna Bloom) and her stepfather, Matt (William Daniels).  She misses her father, a chronically unemployed artist named Jerry (Larry Hagman).  Jerry is the type who will complain about how no one is willing to give him a chance while he’s day drinking early in the morning.  Jerry’s an alcoholic.  That’s one of the many things that led to Jean divorcing him.  (Matt is fairly regular drinker as well but it soon becomes apparent that he can handle his liquor in a way that Jerry cannot.  Matt has a glass of Scotch after work.  Jerry has his daughter by a slushy so he can pour his beer in the cup.)  Jean is always quick to keep Sarah from drinking.  When someone offers her a drink at a party, Jean replies that Sarah only drinks ginger ale.

Of course, the name of this movie is Sarah T. — Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic so we already know that Jean is incorrect about that.  When we first meet Sarah, she is fourteen and she’s been regularly drinking for two years.  She’s even worked out a system where she gets liquor delivered to the house and then tells the deliveryman that her mother is in the shower but she left the money for the booze on the dining room table.  Like many alcoholics, Sarah has become very good at tricking people and hiding her addiction.  Of course, Sarah doesn’t think that she’s an alcoholic but …. well, again, just check out the title of the film.

When Sarah goes to a party with Ken (Mark Hamill, two years before Star Wars), the handsome captain of the school’s swim team, she ends up having too much to drink.  Nice guy Ken not only takes her home but also takes the blame, telling Jean and Matt that he was the one who gave Sarah the alcohol.  Jean, convinced that this is the first time that Sarah has ever gotten drunk, forbids her from spending any more time with Ken.  In the morning, Jean comments that Sarah will probably have a terrible hangover and maybe that’s punishment enough.  The joke, of course, is on Jean.  Sarah doesn’t even get hangovers anymore.

Soon, Sarah’s grades start to slip and she starts to skip class so that she can drink.  Still blaming Ken for all of Sarah’s problems, Jean finally takes Sarah to a psychologist, Dr. Kitteridge (Michael Lerner).  Dr. Kitteridge announces that Sarah is an alcoholic and recommends that she start attending A.A. meetings.  Sarah does go to one meeting, in which she meets a surprisingly cheerful 12 year-old alcoholic.  However, Sarah still has a way to go and so does the movie.  I mean, we haven’t even gotten to the scene where Sarah begs a group of older boys to give her the bottle of wine that they’re clumsily tossing in the air.  By the end of the film, she’s even managed to hurt poor, loyal Ken.

Myself, I hardly ever drink.  Some of that is because, like Sarah, I’m the daughter of an alcoholic and a child of divorce and I’ve seen firsthand how difficult it can be to live with an addiction.  (My Dad has been sober for five years and I am so proud of him!)  Of course, another reason why I hardly ever drink is because my tolerance for alcohol is amazingly low.  I get drunk off one sip of beer.  Long ago, I realized my life would be a lot easier and simpler if I just didn’t drink and so I don’t.  Watching the film, I wondered if I was watching what my life would have been like if I had gone the opposite route.  Would I have ended up like Sarah T?

Probably not.  Sarah T is one of those films that was obviously made with the best of intentions but it just feels inauthentic.  A lot of that is due to the performance of Linda Blair, who often seems to be overacting and trying too hard to give an “Emmy-worthy” performance.  There’s not much depth to Blair’s performance and, as a result, the viewer never really buys into the story.  At her worse, Blair brings to mind Jessie Spano shouting, “I’m so excited!” during that episode of Saved By The Bell.  (Blair was far better served by B-movies like Savage Streets, in which she got to kick ass as a vigilante, than by films like this.)  As well, the film’s portrayal of A.A. is so cheerful, upbeat, and positive that it almost felt like a Disney version of InterventionWho are all of these happy addicts? I wondered as I watched the scene play out.

Because I’ve been a bit critical of his acting abilities in the past, I do feel the need to point out that Mark Hamill gives the best performance in this film.  He plays Ken as being a genuinely decent human being and it’s hard not to sympathize with him as he gets in over his head trying to deal with Sarah.  If Blair plays every emotion on the surface, Hamill suggests that there’s a lot going on with Ken.  Deep down, he knows that he can’t help Sarah but he still feels like he has to try.  Though Blair may be the star of the film, it’s Hamill who makes the biggest impression.

As a final note, this film was directed by Richard Donner, who is best-known for directing The Omen, Superman and Lethal Weapon.  This was Donner’s final made-for-TV film before he moved into features.  There’s nothing particularly special about Donner’s direction of Sarah T.  If anything, the film’s pacing feels a bit off.  Fortunately, just as Linda Blair would get to prove herself as one of the queens of exploitation cinema and Mark Hamill would go on to achieve immortality as Luke Skywalker, Donner would get plenty of opportunities to show himself to be one of Hollywood’s premier, big budget maestros.

As for Sarah T., I would recommend watching it on a double bill with Go Ask Alice.

Music Video of the Day: Smile by Katy Perry (2020, dir by Matthew Cullen)

We could all take a lesson from Katy Perry.  Get out there and enjoy life, despite all of the people who are determined to keep others from doing just that.  We live in a world where some people are addicted to spreading misery and, fortunately, Katy Perry is not one of those people.


Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 11/20/22 — 11/26/22

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!  Here’s some thoughts on what I watched this week!

The Amazing Race (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I wrote about the latest episode of The Amazing Race here!

The Brady Bunch (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

One of the Brady kids needed to make a movie for his Thanksgiving project.  The entire family helped!  Needless to say, Mike took it all way too seriously.  The movie itself looked awful but I’m sure the Brady kid — I think it was Peter — got an A.  No one ever had the courage to stand up to those Bradys.

California Dreams (YouTube)

Surf dudes with attitude….

Catholic Mass (Sunday Morning, The CW)

I always feel a bit weird watching Mass on television.  This Sunday, I felt even stranger about watching it while wearing a bikini and getting ready to lay out on the deck of my cousin’s place at Lake Texoma.  But, I did promise my sisters that I would try to go to Mass on Sunday so I did what I had to do!

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (Apple TV+)

Erin and I watched this classic on Wednesday.  She wrote about why she loves this special a few years ago.

Cheers (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

I haven’t seen many episodes of this show but I’ve read all the online praise and I am an unabashed fan of Frasier Crane.  The episode that I watched on Sunday was a Thanksgiving episode.  A bunch of barflies decided to spend Thanksgiving together.  Needless to say, it turned out to be a bit messy but also funny and even kind of heart-warming.

City Guys (Tubi)

They’re the neat guys.  I wrote about them here.

Football (FOX, NBC, CBS, Thursday)

The family was watching football so I joined them, kind of.  I cringed with every tackle and I felt terrible for the teams who lost.  I mean, what a sucky way to spend Thanksgiving.  Personally, I think they should allow for tie games so that everyone can be a winner!  But apparently, that’s not the way that football works.

Frosty Returns (Friday Night, CBS)

Frosty’s back!  But an evil businessman is going to destroy him with something called Summer Wheeze!  The 90s version of Frosty The Snowman tries a bit too hard.  I prefer the original.

Frosty the Snowman (Friday Night, CBS)

Yay!  Santa was able to bring Frosty back to life!  Seriously, I first saw this special when I was little and I was traumatized by melting Frosty!  Trauma aside, I love these old Christmas specials.

Full House (Sunday Evening, MeTV)

I watched two episodes on Sunday.  The first episode was from season one and it featured the Tanners having their first Thanksgiving since the death of Danny’s wife.  This was actually one of the better episodes of Full House.  This was followed by a much later episode of Full House, in which DJ finally got a boyfriend and started to show some independence from her overbearing family.  Good for her!

Gilligan’s Island (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

A bank robber (played by Larry Storch) somehow ended up on the island.  He menaced everyone with a gun, tried to hide his money, and then left without offering to help anyone else return to civilization.  I haven’t seen many episodes of Gilligan’s Island but apparently, this was a fairly common occurrence on the show.  For the record, I only watched this episode because I thought it was going to be Thanksgiving-themed but it wasn’t.

Happy Days (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

Upset that her family was more interested in football than fellowship, Marion Cunningham told the story of the First Thanksgiving.  To be honest, Happy Days is one of those popular old shows that I just don’t get.  The extremely enthusiastic “live audience” drives me crazy.  That said, this was an okay episode.  The cast got to dress up like pilgrims.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (NBC, Friday Night)

I love Boris Karloff!

The Love Boat (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

MeTV aired a Thanksgiving episode of The Love Boat on Sunday.  It was from season 6 so it’ll be a while before I get to review it as a part of my retro television reviews.

Saved By The Bell (Sunday Morning, MeTV)

I woke up early on Sunday morning and I watched six episodes of this show — that’s three hours! — as I had breakfast, cleaned up around the lakehouse, and packed for the trip home.  The episodes were a bit random.  It started with the Senior Prom episode, in which Zach realized that he still had feelings for Kelly.  This was followed by the infamous Graduation episode, in which the entire school rallied to help Zach avoid summer school despite the fact that they didn’t owe Zach a damn thing.  Then it was time for the “Time Capsule” clip show, in which a bunch of loser students gathered in Belding’s office to watch a VHS tape that had been left behind by Zach and the gang.

Time then moved backwards.  Suddenly, Zach was meeting Slater for the first time, Zach and Slater were competing to take Kelly to the school dance, and Zach was pretending to be Candy in order to get Screech to do his homework.

All of these episodes were, of course, pretty dumb and cringey.  But they made for nice background noise.  At this point, I think I have ever episode of this silly show memorized.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I wrote about the latest episode of Survivor here!

WKRP IN Cincinnati (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

“Oh my God!  They’re turkeys!”  Jeff introduced me to the Thanksgiving episode of this classic sitcom a few years ago and, since then, watching it has become a Thanksgiving tradition.  Poor Mr. Carlson!

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 2.13 “Schoolhouse Rock” and 2.14 “Save the Shark”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Saturdays, I will be reviewing California Dreams, which ran on NBC from 1992 to 1996.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

Surf dudes with attitude, kind of groovy….

Episode 2.13 “Schoolhouse Rock”

(Dir by Miguel Higuera, Originally aired on November 27th, 1993)

Sting is performing in California and it’s the hottest show in town!  Unfortunately, because Sly is an idiot, he spent all of the Dreams’s money before he could buy tickets for the band.  However, Sly has a chance to redeem himself!  Sting’s opening act has had to cancel and Sly decides that the Dreams should audition for the gig….


Would Sting really have such a hard time finding a new opening act that he would be forced to hire a garage band that no one outside of their high school has ever heard of?  According to this episode, he would!  All the band has to do is find a way to get into the office of Sting’s manager.  And what better way to do that than for Tiffani to pretend to be a Swedish massage therapist while Tony and Jake pretend to be window washers and….

No, I’m not lying!  That’s how they get in the office.  Tiffani speaks in a Swedish accent while Tony and Jake slip through an open window.  Sting’s manager is impressed with their moxie and he says he’ll give them an audition.  The only catch is that it has to be at 3:00 pm and the Dreams cannot be a minute late.

Unfortunately, Ms. McBride, the insane home economics teacher, has been promoted to vice principal and she’s an insane disciplinarian.  She’s a former Marine who will not tolerate laughter or a messy locker.  Tiffani and Jake end up in detention!  Can they break out of detention and make the audition?  Will Sly be able to trick to the manager into coming down to the the high school so the band can perform in the gym?  And will the show end with the manager praising the band but saying that Elton John has already agreed to be Sting’s opening act?

Yes, yes, and yes.

This was a dumb episode that basically recycled an old Saved By The Bell plot but, at the same time, it’s also a good example of why California Dreams is so well-remembered after all these years.  Yes, it’s dumb but the cast really gives it their all and they’ve got enough chemistry that they can get a chuckle from even the lamest of jokes.  Ms. McBride is a cartoonish villain but then again, that’s the way most teenagers view their vice principals.  Finally, the song that the Dreams perform at the audition is actually pretty good.  For once, their music has a bit of an edge to it.  The Dreams are rocking instead of just popping!  (Don’t ask me what that means, it just came to me and I liked the sound of it.)  Add in an enjoyably weird subplot about clog dancing and you’ve got an pretty entertaining episode of California Dreams!

Episode 2.14 “Save The Shark”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, Originally aired on December 4th, 1993)

Sharky’s, the band’s favorite hangout, has been sold!  Tony is the new manager!  The Dreams are playing every night!  Matt is dating the new owner’s daughter.  However, the new owner is a land developer who is planning on tearing down Sharky’s and replacing it with condos!

Whatever is the band to do?  How about staging a protest?  Maybe they can occupy Sharky’s!  They can’t tear the place down if the Dreams are inside of it, right?  Well, maybe not.  Tony’s presence doesn’t seem to be stopping that wrecking ball.

Fortunately, Matt figures out that Johnny and the Himalayas, a band that he loves, got their start at Sharky’s and, as result, Sharky’s is declared a historical landmark.  Take that, land developer!  The land developer not only agrees to not tear down Sharky’s but he also allows his daughter to continue to date Matt.  His daughter was a terrible actress so hopefully, this was the only appearance of her character.

The episode ends with the ghost of Johnny Himalaya appearing and congratulating Matt.  Matt is surprised but happy.  Personally, I would be worried about the fact that Sharky’s is haunted!  What have you done, Matt!?

Like the episode that preceded it, Save The Shark was dumb but it was saved by the chemistry of the cast.  It took them a while but, towards the end of the second season, the Dreams ensemble really stared to click.

Next week: Jake hooks up with an undercover cop!

Retro Television Review: One World 2.12 “A Cheating Heart” and 2.13 “Coming of Age”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a new feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Fridays, I will be reviewing One World, which ran on NBC from 1998 to 2001.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

The Cast of One World

This week, the second season of One World comes to an end!  Will we all still be living in one world once it’s over?

Episode 2.12 “A Cheating Heart”

(Directed by Mary Lou Belli, originally aired on December 4th, 1999)

Finally, Sui gets a storyline!

When Marci sets up a charity date auction at Miami’s “hottest under-21 club,” The Warehouse, Sui is purchased by a guy named Scott (Jason Strickland) and …. ugh, this is cringey already.  Anyway, Scott turns out to be kind of dorky and Sui doesn’t really want to date him but Scott decides that he’s totally in love with her and insists that she is actually in love with him too.  Scott even befriends Dave so that he can hang out in the Blake House with Sui.  Needless to say, Scott’s behavior is stalkerish and more than a little disturbing but the show plays it for laughs.  Ugh, poor Sui.

Meanwhile, Ben is purchased by a woman with whom he has little in common and Cray is purchased by an old woman who needs him to do some yard work.  Wait a minute …. the Warehouse had an auction in which they sold someone to do manual labor for free?  This is seriously icky.

Meanwhile, Jane has suddenly decided that she wants to go to college but, after 12 years of goofing off, she knows that there is no way she’s going to do well on the SAT.  Since St. Neal is a genius, he tries to tutor her.  Jane suggests just cheating instead but Neal is like, “No!  Cheating is wrong!”  (He may be right but, on the other hand, cheating is the only way I passed Algebra.)  However, when they take the test, Neal realizes that Jane is struggling and he allows her to copy his answers.  Good for you, Neal!  Your sister deserves a future.

Uh-oh!  The SAT proctor noticed what they were doing and, as a result, their tests are thrown out and they’re both told that they will never be allowed to retake the SAT.  Jane confesses to cheating but lies and says that Neal had nothing to do with it.  Neal announces that he will not lie and will instead accept his punishment.  St. Neal says that he’s not going to give up on getting into college, even if it’s going to take him longer now.  St. Neal also asks to be allowed to see what his score would have been.

“What did we get!?” Jane asks him.

Neal replies, “Let’s just say that mom and dad would have been very proud of us …. IF WE HADN’T CHEATED!”

And that’s how the episode ends!  Seriously, what a dark world!

Anyway, my main impression of this episode is that Neal is a complete chump.  After spending two seasons working hard and trying to make something of himself and talking about how important it was to him to go to an Ivy League college, Neal threw it all away for someone who probably would have ended up dropping out of college anyways.  Call me a cynic but I doubt this sort of thing would happen in real life.

Episode 2.13 “Coming of Age”

(Directed by Mary Lou Belli, originally aired on January 1st, 2000)

According to the imdb trivia page, this episode was originally supposed to air on September 25, 1999 but it was pushed back to January 1st.  I guess that’s why no one mentions the fact that both Jane and Neal have thrown away their futures.  This also means that, originally, the plan for the second season of One World was for it to end with Neal and Jane getting busted for cheating.  That would have been an incredibly depressing way to end the season.

The delayed air date explains why, in this episode, Cray is noticeably shorter than he was in the previous episode, his voice is noticeably higher, and his hair is a lot longer.  In fact, the episode opens with Cray’s birthday party and Cray announcing that he is now a teenager and he’s ready to start dating.  Jane and Ben give Cray a lot of silly dating advice.  It’s dumb.  Maybe if Ben and Jane had done a better job, Cray wouldn’t have gotten caught up with that crazy marijuana girl.

Meanwhile, Karen gets a job as a waitress at the Warehouse and the kids are forced to finally appreciate everything that she does for them.  It took two seasons but Karen finally gets to call out all of her spoiled adoptive children.  Good for her!

Anyway, this was an episode that in no way felt appropriate for a season finale.  Regardless, season two is over!  Next week, we start the third and final season of One World.

Music Video of the Day: Madam by Aidan (2022, dir by ????)

This music video has a retro feel to it that I like.  It’s like an old film about one of those wonderfully sordid wedding ceremonies that rich people have on the Isle of Capri.  All that’s missing is Fernando Rey smoking a cigarette.


Retro Television Review: City Guys 2.13 “Saving Private Johnson” and 2.14 “A Gift of Friendship”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Thursdays, I will be reviewing City Guys, which ran on NBC from 1997 to 2001.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Today, the 2nd season of City Guys come to an end with L-Train considering his future and Al considering the true meaning of friendship.  Let’s get to it!

Episode 2.13 “Saving Private Johnson”

(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on December 5th, 1998)

It’s career day at Manny High!  Dawn wants to be a doctor.  Al wants to be a stockbroker.  L-Train wants …. well, L-Train doesn’t know what he wants.  In fact, he’s so upset at his bad midterm grades that he decides that he’s going to drop out of school and join the Marines!  Ms. Nobel is stunned and says that she feels like she failed with L-Train.  L-Train tells her it’s not her fault.  Ms. Nobel wishes him luck and she also wishes for peace….

It’s interesting to watch this episode today because we know what the future would have held for L-Train if he had joined the Marines.  L-Train would have eventually ended up in either Afghanistan or Iraq.  From that perspective, this storyline feels a bit different in 2022 than it probably did in 1998.  Of course, L-Train doesn’t end up joining the Marines.  He’s not allowed to join because the Marines discover that he’s dyslexic.  L-Train returns to school, confident that he will now be able to get good grades and go to a good college.

This is one of those “very special episodes” that shouldn’t work but it does.  This largely due to the performance of Steven Daniel, who bring just the right hint of melancholy to the scene in which he tells Nobel that he’s dropping out of school.  L-Train was often a one-joke character but Steven Daniel always played him as being someone who was secretly far more intelligent than even he realized.  Daniel took the role seriously, even if the show’s writers often didn’t.  Steven Daniel was often this show’s secret weapon and this episode shows why.

Episode 2.14 “A Gift Of Friendship”

(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on December 12th, 1998)

It’s the Christmas season and Dawn and Cassidy are in charge of the canned food drive.  Ms. Nobel is proud of them but, unfortunately, some of the students aren’t as concerned about helping out as Ms. Nobel believes they should be.

For instance, Chris, Jamal, and L-Train are all excited because Chris’s uncle has a place in Florida and he’s willing to let them use it during the Christmas break.  They just have to pay their own way to Florida and that won’t be difficult.  Chris has a rich father.  Jamal has a middle-class father.  L-Train gets a job walking dogs.  However, by going on vacation, they won’t be around to help “feed the poor.”  Ms. Nobel tells them that she’s very disappointed in them.  Considering that 1) it’s their Christmas break and they can do whatever they want with it and 2) none of what they’re planning has anything to do with the school, I have to kind of wonder just how exactly it is any of Ms. Nobel’s business.

Meanwhile, Al hasn’t even donated any food!  Al keeps saying that he’ll bring some food “tomorrow” but, unfortunately, Al can barely afford to feed himself.  Al’s father has been laid off and Al is planning on dropping out of school so that he can take on a full time job so that he can help support the family.  Ms. Nobel is not happy to hear this and that’s not really a shock.  I mean, first L-Train tried to drop out and now Al!  Plus, Chris and Jamal would rather spend their break on Florida beach than getting mugged in New York City!  Ms. Nobel has failed them all!

Anyway, it all ends on a good note.  After Jamal reveals that Al’s family is struggling, Everyone goes to Al’s apartment and they give him and his family food.  Ms. Nobel dressed up as Santa Claus and announces that there is a janitorial job at the school for Al’s father.  Al realizes that there’s nothing wrong with accepting help.  It’s not a bad message for Thanksgiving and Christmas, though I did have to wonder just how exactly Ms. Nobel could just magically give someone a job.  I mean, seeing as how Mr. Ramos is going to be working at a school, it seems like he would have to at least pass a background check before he was hired.  Also, does Ms. Nobel offer a job to all of the out-of-work parents who have children enrolled at her school or is she just making an exception for Al?  Indeed, for all the time that the students spend singing her praises, Ms. Nobel really only seems to care about L-Train and Al.

Obviously, this episode presented me with a lot of unanswered questions.  But it also ended with everyone gathered in front of a Christmas tree and singing Silent Night and that was a nice moment.  It appealed to my sentimental side.  That said, I do hope that Chris, Jamal, and L-Train still went down to Florida because, seriously, they had nothing to feel guilty about!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.12 “The Old Man and the Runaway / The Painters / A Fine Romance”

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!

Welcome aboard!  We’re expecting you.

Episode 1.12 “The Old Man and the Runaway / The Painters / A Fine Romance”

(Directed by Stuart Margolin and James Sheldon, originally aired on December 24th, 1977)

Hey, this episode of The Love Boat aired on Christmas Eve!  Oddly enough, unlike last week’s episode, it was not a holiday-themed episode.  You really do have to wonder if there was some sort of scheduling snafu at ABC and perhaps the episodes were shown out-of-order.  Then again, it could be that ABC realized that everyone would be busy getting ready for Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve so they decided to burn off a lesser episode while no one was watching.

(Doesn’t everyone spend Christmas Eve getting ready for Midnight Mass while their aunt tells them to dress more like the Virgin and less like the Magdalene?  Or was that just my experience?)

Yes, this is a lesser episode of The Love Boat.  It’s not a terrible episode but, at the same time, it’s not all the memorable.  A big problem is that there’s not really much romance on this cruise.  The show was called The Love Boat for a reason and, when there’s no love, it just doesn’t feel right.

For instance, one subplot dealt with two incompetent painters (played by Arte Johnson and Pat Morita) painting the captain’s office during the cruise.  They kept screwing up the job, which led to Captain Stubing getting progressively more and more annoyed.  From the start, I guessed that the punchline would be that the painters were screwing up on purpose so that they could stay on the boat and get a free cruise and …. yep, that’s exactly what it was.  Johnson and Morita were a good comedy team but the story itself felt like filler.

Meanwhile, a grumpy old widower (Will Geer) discovered that he was sharing his cabin with a teenage runaway (Bayn Johnson), who had stowed away on the ship and who was planning on meeting up with her boyfriend in Mexico.  Once he got over complaining about her being young and irresponsible, Geer convinced her to return to her parents.  Again, it wasn’t terrible and Bayn Johnson did a good job of keeping her character from getting annoying but it felt a bit out of place on The Love Boat.  Obviously, the 75 year-old man and the 16 year-old runaway weren’t going to fall in love and leave the ship arm-in-arm while the crew smiled knowingly.  Instead, this was a typical generation gap story.  The most interesting thing about this story is that this was the second time that a runaway managed to stowaway on the Love Boat.  Does that boat not have a security team?  Don’t you actually have to show your tickets to board the boat?  How does these people keep sneaking aboard?

Finally, the third storyline felt a bit more like a Love Boat story.  Cruise director Julie (Lauren Tewes) is super-excited when she sees that Sean McGlynn (Anson Williams) is a passenger on the cruise.  Julie and Sean grew up together and Julie always had a crush on him.  At first, Julie and Sean have fun hanging out but, whenever Julie tries to flirt, Sean panics and runs off.  Julie worries that there’s something wrong with her (oh, Julie!) but …. nope, Sean’s a priest.  Apparently, he was having a crisis of faith when he boarded the boat, which is why he didn’t tell anyone he was a priest.  But, when his roommate (Tom Poston) has a heart attack, Sean delivers the last rites and his faith is restored.  (Don’t worry.  His roommate survives and has a surprisingly quick recovery.  Doc Bricker is a miracle worker!)  Anyway, Sean leaves the boat wearing his collar and Julie stays on the boat, no doubt waiting for someone else from her past to buy a ticket.  It’s a bit of a shame, as Lauren Tewes and Anson Williams did make a cute couple.  Then again, we all know that Julie and Gopher belong together.

Like I said, this was not a terrible episode.  It just wasn’t particularly memorable.  It needed just a bit more romance.  After all, love is life’s sweetest reward.