Okay, so maybe we are being hyperbolic due to all the love that’s in the air today, but you have to admit that the credits to The Love Boat are pretty great. From 1977 to 1987, this hit ABC comedy adventure set a course for adventure and put viewers’ minds on romance weekly through chronicling the exploits of the crew and passengers aboard the S.S. Pacific Princess. (Several TV movies prefaced the series’ weekly journey). Produced by television powerhouse Aaron Spelling, the show — which increased cruise travel tenfold — had lovable characters like Capt. Merrill Stubing (Gavin MacLeod), Dr. Adam Bricker (Bernie Kopell), ship’s purser Gopher (Fred Grandy), bartender Isaac (Ted Lange), and cruise director Julie McCoy (Lauren Tewes) attempting to make the vacation dreams of diverse passengers come true during voyages to exotic ports of call.
The greatest appeal of The Love Boat was how the show utilized guest stars every week as passengers aboard the Princess. Through a mixture of Hollywood legends, rising stars, and, well, Hollywood has beens, the series harnessed the power of casting in a way that no show has done before. Or since for that matter. Looking back at The Love Boat from a 2019 point of view, it’s easy to get snarky about the series’ sometimes awkward fondness for tonal shifts, it’s irksome laugh track, and its dubious celebrity guest roster, but during its initial airing these things were all celebrated. The Love Boat is very much a product of its time, rich with excess and corny storylines played completely without any semblance of irony. And you know what? It is still an absolute blast to watch, the ultimate in nostalgic television comfort food.
Now conversation on The Love Boat would be complete without a mention of Jack Jones’ soaring theme song. Written by Charles Fox (who also co-wrote the hit tune “Killing me Softly with His Song”) and 1970s icon Paul Williams, the jaunty, unforgettable tune was released as a single–making its way into the Top 40 in 1980. Simpler times.
Here’s a sample of the show’s fun opening credits sequence. Cliche though it may be, they really don’t make ’em like this any more:
So the next time you are feeling down, check out The Love Boat and let warm memories of this TV classic float back to you. Welcome aboard it’s love-ove-ove!