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.

Film Review: Cold Turkey (dir by Norman Lear)


The 1971 satire, Cold Turkey, is the film that boldly explores just how much into the ground one joke can driven.

It’s a film that imagines what would happen if a big tobacco company decided to try to improve its image by giving people an incentive to quit smoking.  In the real world, of course, they ended up funding Truth.org and coming up with anti-smoking commercials that were so lame that they would make viewers want to go out and buy a pack of cigarettes just to spite the self-righteous people lecturing them during the commercial breaks.  In the film, however, Marwen Wren (Bob Newhart) comes up with the idea of offering to pay 25 million dollars to any community that can completely stop smoking for 30 days.

Wren figures that no large group of people will be able to just give up smoking for a month.  Not in 1971!  However, Wren didn’t count on the single-minded determination of the Rev. Clayton Hughes (Dick Van Dyke).  Hughes is the stern and self-righteous minister of Eagle Rock Community Church in Eagle Rock, Iowa.  He knows that Eagle Rock could really use that money so he sets off on a crusade to convince all 4,006 of the citizens of Eagle Rock to take the pledge to quit smoking.

As I said at the start of this review, Cold Turkey is pretty much a one-joke film.  The joke is that everyone in the movie — from the tobacco company execs to the citizens of Eagle Rock to Rev. Hughes — is an asshole.  They start the film as a bunch of assholes and, once they try to quit smoking, they become even bigger assholes.  Soon, everyone in town is irritable and angry.  The only people happy are the people who never smoked in the first place, largely because they’ve been set up as a sort of paramilitary border patrol.  Even though his anti-smoking crusade lands him on the cover of Time, Rev. Hughes is also upset because he started smoking right before it was time to quit smoking.  He deals with his withdraw pains through sex and frequent glowering.

Wren is concerned that the town of Eagle Rock might actually go for a full 30 days without smoking so he attempts to smuggle a bunch of cigarettes into the town and then runs around with a gigantic lighter that looks like a gun.  It’s a storyline that doesn’t really go anywhere but then again, you could say that about almost all of the subplots in Cold Turkey.  There’s a lot of characters and there’s a lot of frantic overacting but it doesn’t really add up too much.  Storylines begin and are then quickly abandoned.  Characters are introduced but then never do anything.  For a while, It seems like the film is at least going to examine the Rev. Hughes’s totalitarian impulses but no.  Those impulses are clearly there but they’re not really explored.

If I seem somewhat annoyed by this film, it’s because it really did have a lot of potential.  This could have been a very sharp and timeless satire but instead, it gets bogged down in its own frantic storytelling and the film’s comedy becomes progressively more and more cartoonish.  By the end of the movie, the President shows up in town and so does the military and it all tries to achieve some Dr. Strangelove-style lunacy but the film doesn’t seem to know what it really wants to say.  It seems to be setting itself up for some sort of grandly cynical conclusion but instead, it just sort of ends.  One gets the feeling that, at the last minute, the filmmakers decided that they couldn’t risk alienating their audience by taking the story to its natural conclusion.

Admittedly, while watching the film, I did find myself comparing Hughes and his bullying mob to the same people who are currently snapping at anyone who suggests that maybe the Coronavirus lockdowns were a bit excessive.  It’s easy to think of some modern politicians and media figures who probably would have had a great time in Eagle Rock, ordering people around and shaming anyone who wants a cigarette.  But otherwise, Cold Turkey was just too cartoonish and one-note to really work.

Horror on TV: Thriller 2.6 “Masquerade” (dir by Herschel Daugherty)


For tonight’s excursion into the world of televised horror, here is the 6th episode of the 2nd season of Thriller!

Introduced by Boris Karloff, Masquerade tells the story of a married couple (Elizabeth Montgomery and Tom Poston) who find themselves checking into a creepy boarding house.  If the house looks familiar, that’s because it’s the same house that was used in Psycho!

The house is occupied by a family of cannibals.  And who plays the patriarch of this dangerous clan?  The always wonderful, theatrical, and intimidating John Carradine!

And, of course, there’s a fun little twist at the end!

This episode originally aired on the day before Halloween, October 30th, 1961.

Enjoy!