The Love Boat is one of those shows that you either love or you hate — there’s simply no in-between on this one. Personally, I enjoy the show: it's a campy bit'o cheeky fun from a time when television was still semi-innocent. Granted, I can only watch the show so long as it is in small doses, and as long as it’s not one of the later episodes with Jill Whelan as the Captain's daughter (who simply did not do it for me — actually, I'm opposed to the inclusion of the bosses' kids anywhere), and so this DVD release from CBS/Paramount okay in my book.
Now people like my boss, they hate the show. They exhibit the most sour facial expressions imaginable whenever anyone mentions the series. In the case of my boss, the argument goes something like this: "You've seen one episode, you've seen 'em all." Now, while that may be entirely true (and, the more I ponder upon that one, it is indeed true, but that's besides the point), the show still has its charms.
Now, for those of you who may have gone through life without ever seeing so much as a single episode of The Love Boat, folks, the "plot" goes something like this: Captain Merrill Stubing (played by TV actor extraordinaire Gavin MacLeod) is the commander of the Pacific Princess, one of those cruise lines that offer their passengers nights of romance and wonder, but really just stick you with booze and shuffleboard. But The Love Boat differs from other cruise ships by actually delivering on the amore bit: each week, several couples and singles take a journey through the waters of the Pacific Ocean and either help to rekindle or begin a romance.
How do they do this? It's TV, folks — it's magic! And the crew helps of course, too: there's the kindly (and horny) Dr. Adam Bricker (Bernie Kopell, who was James Spader long before it was popular); the all-wise bartender Isaac, the show’s token “ethnic” character (portrayed by Ted Lange, embedding the role with all of the Blaxploitation pizazz he could); that annoying (and also horny) yeoman Gopher guy (Fred Grandy); and, last (but certainly not least — Gopher receives that honor), there’s Julie, the Cruise Director (a role that is brought to us with a certain amount of bland seductiveness by Lauren Tewes).
The Love Boat: Season Two, Volume One brings us the first 13 episodes of the classic TV sitcom from the series’ sophomore year, including the two-hour season premiere (shown here in its original format, before the network syndication split it in two), all housed onto four discs.
CBS/Paramount presents these episodes in their standard television format (1.33:1 aspect ratio) along with a decent-sounding Mono Stereo audio track. The only Special Features offered up for this cruise are the original Episodic Promos and a few nautical Trivia Questions on the flipside of the cover art.
Although the whole “only releasing half-seasons at a time” thing will no doubt infuriate consumers once again and CBS/Paramount’s all-too-frequent habit of snipping little bits and pieces from episodes will annoy those same viewers even further, you do have to give CBS and Paramount credit for their release of The Love Boat: Season Two, Volume One. Why? Because, if you look at the back of the box, there is no sign of the dreaded “Some Music Has Been Changed For This Home Video Version” disclaimer.
Wait. Could it be? Did we actually get a vintage TV-on-DVD release from CBS/Paramount in which studio execs finally opted to lease the home video rights of the original incidental music without replacing the background score with newer (and often more noticeable) music? Yay!!!
No, wait, wait — I distinctly noticed that the background music in “Ship Of Ghouls” was different in the episode than it was in the Episodic Promo…
Oh, damn them all to Hell!
Cult? Iconic? Yeah, I s’pose so! The Love Boat definitely anchored itself into pop culture — I mean, how else can you account for the numerous references, spoofs, and spin-offs over the years? Why, you should see it for that reason alone! Or, if you’re not really a fan of the show, you can always pick this DVD set up for the guest stars alone (Vincent Price alert! Vincent Price alert!). Why, there's Billy Crystal, Robert Goulet, Billy Barty, Richard Dawson, Loretta Swit, Janet Leigh (and Jamie Lee Curtis), Sonny Bono, Erik Estrada. Why, everyone is onboard this set, including Jill Whelan making her first appearance as the Captain's daughter (doh!).
Or, if you're a lounge crooner like I am, you can always get it just to sing along with the theme song like I do (it’s not like you have a choice, you know: that damn song is like a virus).
(sings) “Love…exciting and new…come aboard…we’re expecting you…”