A Guest Blogger Remembers The Love Boat

D53815The Love Boat. USA 1977-87, nine seasons, four specials, 249 episodes, approximately 50 minutes each, ABC, color. Produced by Aaron Selling, Douglas S. Cramer. Cast: Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, Lauren Tewes, Jill Whelan, Ted McGinley, Pat Klous. Guest stars: June Allyson, The Andrew Sisters, Eve Arden, Gene Barry, Polly Bergen, Amanda Blake, Tom Bosley, Raymond Burr, Sid Caesar, Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, Charo, Olivia de Havilland, Patty Duke, Joan Fontaine, Greer Garson,  Andy Griffith, Katherine Helmond, Celeste Holm, Gene Kelly, Werner Klemperer, Jack Klugman, Dorothy Lamour, Janet Leigh, Allen Ludden, Rue McClanahan, Leslie Nielsen, Lilli Palmer, Donna Reed, Della Reese, Debbie Reynolds, Marion Ross, Eva Marie Saint, Jaclyn Smith, Jean Stapleton, Gale Storm, Sada Thompson, Lana Turner, Gloria Vanderbilt, Betty White, William Windom, Shelly Winters, Jane Wyatt, Jane Wyman and many others

Plot summary: On the Pacific Princess, love and laughter are all-inclusive.

Review: In 1976, three TV movies launched the career of a special ship, the Pacific Princess. Based on a non-fiction book by cruise director Jeraldine Saunders, the so-called Love Boat traveled the world under the steady hand of Captain Merrill Stubing and his crew. Each week, they were accompanied by a wide array of guests stars ranging from Hollywood legends to contemporary starlets. Split into three different stories, every episode focused on love, comedy and drama. Written by three sets of writers, the weekly plots rarely crossed over but instead made The Love Boat crew the pivotal element that held them all together.

The Captain (Gavin MacLeod), Doc (Bernie Kopell) and bartender Isaac Washington (Ted Lange) were the longest serving members of an ensemble that appeared to be tight on camera and off. They were supported by Gopher the purser (Fred Grandy) and cruise director Julie McCoy, played by Lauren Tewes, a young actress who successfully earned her stripes on TV in the first seven seasons. Eventually, they were joined by Jill Whelan as Vicki Stubing, the Captain’s daughter, and Pat Klous as Jody McCoy, Julie’s sister and replacement for the last two seasons. In 1979, Charlie’s Angels checked in on the Pacific Princess to solve a case and simultaneously introduce Shelley Hack as the latest angelic addition. Collaborations like that were rare but boosted ratings for Aaron Spelling’s other projects; Fantasy Island following suit in 1980.

Popular around the world during its 10-year run, The Love Boat offered an escape from the grim realities of politically callous times. At the height of the Cold War, the program was bubbly, glamorous and diverting. A perfect vehicle for old stars and new ones alike and thus an evening favorite for boomers and their parents. Shown in reruns for many years, the first two seasons were finally made available on DVD in 2008. A great treat for anyone who has fond memories of flares, weekly cameos and the famous theme song performed by Jack Jones (as well as by Dionne Warwick in 1987).

Melanie Simone is a writer with a degree in American Studies and English. On Talking Classics, she savors her love for vintage Hollywood.

  • pamhandle

    Loved that show. Even though the people almost always fell in love in such a short time, I liked the array of actors and actresses that starred on the different episodes. It was a fun flight into fairyland where the guy or girl finds their true love. I enjoyed the fact the new and long time actors appeared. When the opening credits came on, I was there to see what stars I would see that week. I know the stories were sometimes silly, but it was an escape into a wonderland for just an hour and I looked forward to it each week. I also never missed Fantasy Island.

  • Gord Jackson

    For most, if not their entire runs, ABC very wisely scheduled LOVE BOAT from 9-10 and FANTASY ISLAND 10-11 on Saturday night. Now for some reason, Saturday night is considered a wasteland, but then again, so is much of commercial television. The real quality in programming these days seems to be on the cable networks, at least some of the time.

  • kp22kc

    I used to love watching Love Boat and Fantasy Island on Saturday nights when my parents would go out for the evening. Completely cornball back then, and even more so now, but It still holds a place in my heart. I haven’t seen it in years and I probably wouldn’t buy the DVDs, but I still have fond memories of it. I also love the fact that the newest Love Boat series brought back the original crew for an episode and Julie and Doc found love after all these years. Very nice ending for their story.

  • Debra Smith

    Loved the SNL parody with Patrick Stewart, featuring a cameo by Bernie Kopell (Doc)

  • badleg60

    It should be made as a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley as the Captain, Johnny Depp as Doc, Jamie Foxx as Issac, Sean Penn as Gopher, and Jennifer Lawrence as Julie.Of course Clint Eastwood should direct

    • Bruce Reber

      Very interesting casting choices you made!

  • Tom

    Always wondered why the entire series is not on DVD, most popular series are?

  • Jonathan Lippman

    would LOVE TO get a copy of the LILLI PALMER TWO PART SEGMENT shot in EUROPE late in the series; ANYONE who has it and can sell me a copy jonathanlippman@hotmail.fr THANK YOU