Aaron Spelling’s Love Boat was “suggested by” cruise director Jeraldine Saunders’ non-fiction book The Love Boats. After three made-for-TV movies, it became a television series that ran for 10 seasons starting in 1977. The premise is reminiscent of Love, American Style, the anthology series about love, transported to the Pacific Ocean aboard the Pacific Princess. Each episode usually features three storylines that range from the comedic to the serious. They all develop conflict yet always end happily.
The crew of the second season is led by the stuffy and uptight Captain Merrill Stubing (Gavin MacLeod), the cute and perky Cruise Director Julie McCoy (Lauren Tewes), and the trio of oversexed crewmembers, Dr. Adam “Doc” Bricker (Bernie Kopell), Yeoman Purser Burl “Gopher” Smith (Fred Grandy) and Bartender Isaac Washington (Ted Lange), who are always on the make like dogs in heat. The importance of the crew members ranges from having limited involvement in the stories to being a focal point.
The guest stars of this half season make for an extremely impressive line-up. It’s a regular who’s who of celebrities as stars from movies, television, music, comedy and Broadway grace the decks if the Pacific Princess. There are also many young newcomers whose acting careers don’t appear to have gone past the port of San Pedro.
Looking back over 30 years, it’s surprising that the show was successful because the writing is terrible. The humor is corny, which is likely why a laugh track had to be added; the characters are one-dimensional; and the love stories are sappy, melodramatic, and at times unbelievable as opposed to being “exciting” as Jack Jones claims in the familiar theme song.
CBS DVD didn’t care much for the show and rushed it out to market. The special features are the episode promos, so they aren’t really special since the footage is about to be seen in the following episode. The video looks like it’s straight out of the vault considering all the dirt and scratches that are evident. The colors are slightly faded. The audio is mono and available in English and Spanish. The DVD jacket offers six trivia questions about cruise ships with only one related to the series.
The Love Boat is a show that needs a drinking game involved to make viewing it tolerable. One available online must have been created by serious binge drinkers because it suggests you pick a character and drink the entire type that person is on the screen. I was thinking more along the lines of one drink when a fake background is used and one drink when a crew member’s advances get shot down.