In 1977, when other kids were discovering The Sex Pistols, I was discovering The Love Boat. I stayed at my grandparents’ house on most weekends, so on Saturday nights at 8 p.m., I’d settle down on the sofa with the two of them to watch Aaron Spelling’s marine masterpiece. This column is my attempt to reclaim the wonder of those weekends.
Cinderella Story / Too Hot To Handle / Family Reunion
No sooner have we been introduced to Wendy and Sam Bradley (Robert Hayes) and Sam’s obsession with his new Polaroid camera, we’re also introduced to Teddy (Bob Crane of Hogan’s Heroes) and his stereotypical dumb blonde girlfriend Ginger. Julie, in a rare moment of anger, chides Teddy for not only being late but also for not using the crew entrance. Wendy is amused, especially when it turns out Teddy is their cabin steward.
Mr. and Mrs. Allison run onto the Pacific Princess in a breathless state. The minister was late to their wedding and they just barely made it on board in time. John Rubenstein (who’s done so much TV that you have definitely seen him in something) plays George, while Kathy Bates plays Sally. They have the worst luck. George gets a muscle spasm not long after they get into their cabin and while Sally is resting on deck, she gets terribly sunburned. “I always said you were Too Hot To Handle,” remarks George, hence the segment title. George goes into Puerto Vallarta and picks wildflowers for his new bride, resulting in poison ivy… that keeps him inside their cabin while Sally goes into Mazatlan and then accidentally boards the wrong ship. Whomp whomp whomp.
You might recognize Bruce Solomon, who plays Bill Edwards in “Cinderella Story,” from when he bleeds to death on Goldie Hawn in a darkened movie theater in Foul Play, which would hit theaters six months after this episode aired. There isn’t any bloody death in this segment, only cutthroat advertising executives.
Bill and his wife Doreen have saved up forever for this cruise but they can only afford the “boom boom room” located above the ship’s engines. Julie, Gopher, and Doc conspire to let the couple have the swank Promenade Suite, since the couple who were supposed to be on the cruise, The Stockwoods, cancelled at the last minute.
When Captain Stubing comes by to invite the couple to his table that night, Bill and Doreen play along like they’re the Stockwoods. Things get awkward when it’s revealed that not only is Martin Stockwood a hot shot advertising whiz, but his competitor, Everett Loudon is also seated at the captain’s table that night. And so is Greg Beatty (played by David White), Loudon’s biggest client. Bill/Martin brushes off business talk to dance with his wife and Stubing notices how the advertising world gets pretty rough (I guess he hasn’t seen Mad Men yet).
“Every once in a while I wish I knew my father,” muses Wendy Bradley to Sam. When Teddy knocks on their cabin door we already know that she’s going to get to know him a lot sooner than she thought. He notices a photo of Wendy and her mom and groans in recognition and despair. The bigger problem is that Wendy’s mom lied and told her daughter that her father was a ship captain who died at sea, not that he was a drunk who couldn’t accept responsibility. A hungover Teddy stumbles into Stubing the next day and instead of firing him, Stubing takes him to his office for some black coffee. When Wendy shows up, they try and pretend that they both knew her father and that he was a great guy, but Teddy can’t lie and confesses the truth. Naturally, Wendy is horrified and runs off in tears.
Bill/Martin continues to impress the advertising people by coming up with a new name for Beatty’s product on the spot. “Why not call it SPOTS GONE?” When Beatty hands his account to Bill/Martin at dinner, he can’t keep up the charade and tells them he’s a supermarket manager who got the cabin by mistake. Impressed, Loudon offers Bill a job in his ad agency and Beatty offers to let him work on his campaigns. Hello Don Draper! It truly is a “Cinderella Story.”
After Sam finds a tearful Wendy on deck, he tries to convince her to give Teddy another chance. She is hesitant until he shows up and cries about missing out on “26 years of her life.” They make up and it turns out to be a great “Family Reunion” after all.
The Fruit Tray Scene shows up about 15 minutes into the episode. Compare this image with last week’s Fruit Tray Scene and I think you’ll agree that it’s stock footage that they keep reusing!
Isaac’s Double Standard / One More Time / Chimpanzeeshines
Based on the segment title “Chimpanzeeshines” and the opening credits stating “Introducing Louise,” I had a bad feeling about this episode and I was right. I have a deep hatred for TV shows and movies that use animals as props, especially primates, so I found very little to enjoy about this particular segment. It feels forced and unnecessary.
Gopher has to “babysit” his friend’s chimp and he thought it was going to be on his week off. But it wasn’t, so “Louise” has to come onto the cruise. She causes a lot of trouble: stealing sunglasses and jewelry from a lady and her lovely daughter, who has just had plastic surgery on her nose. Gopher is smitten with the young lady, Ann, and she feels much the same. So when the primate stowaway is revealed, she tells Captain Stubing that it was her chimp so Gopher won’t get fired.
Pearl Bailey appears this time as Isaac’s mother Millie. She has something to tell him but he’s too busy. His girlfriend Charlene is also on board. When Isaac sees Mom smooching a certain Dr. Roy Harwood, he’s furious and confronts his mother about it. It turns out that she and Roy have been seeing each other for six months but that she’s hesitant to get married. Isaac accuses her of wanting to be a swinger; she slaps him in the face. She then goes to Stubing to ask if there’s a way she and Roy can fly home early, since Isaac doesn’t approve of her relationship. Instead, the three decide to teach him a lesson and confront him about “Isaac’s Double Standard” regarding his own relationship with Charlene. Everything works out.
“One More Time” is the best of a fairly weak episode overall. Nanette Fabray is Mitzy Monroe, the theatrically inclined singer who is supposed to perform on the cruise. When her accompanist comes down with the flu, Julie hires Lenny Camen (Don Adams) to take his place. What Julie doesn’t know is that Mitzy and Lenny have played together before. And they were also married before and there’s no love lost between them.
Lenny, who looks like a pimp, seems a terrible match for Mitzy, who is a bit of a diva in denial. When it’s finally show time, they spend an inordinate amount of time trading jabs with each other. But the crowd loves it, which not only inspires the two to rejoin and incorporate it into their act, it also reminds the former couple of what they loved about each other in the first place.
Until next week, remember to let it flow, because it always floats back to you.
Fun Fact: Not so much fun, as tragic: Bob Crane was murdered on June 29, 1978, just a few months after this episode aired. Although his friend John Henry Carpenter was suspected of the crime and eventually tried, he was acquitted of all charges. Crane’s murder remains unsolved, which adds a sad footnote to the revelations that Crane and Carpenter used to cruise for women and videotape their sexual encounters in the 1970s.