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.
The Eyes of Love / Masquerade / Hollywood Royalty / The Caper
Episode 15 and 16 have been combined on this DVD into one 90-minute episode to include four narratives instead of the usual three. It aired originally as a two-part episode, so because of this and the large number of guest stars, there’s a slightly different version of the theme song with some strange orchestration before the “real” theme music kicks in. Plus, for the first time, the opening credits have the guest stars’ images in the porthole graphic.
“Hollywood Royalty” follows the Kimye of 1978, Bill Klieg and Roz Rogers, portrayed by Fernando Lamas and Michele Lee. Having not seen Lamas in anything ever, I was shocked and amused to discover that he actually sounds like the Billy Crystal impersonation from the 1980s. It’s uncanny!
Their arrival causes quite a stir on board (The Power Couple’s Coming To Town!), especially because Roz is wearing the “Star of Kashmir,” a ginormous diamond that is roughly the size of a Clif Bar. Every time the camera focuses on it, there is a “sparkle” noise. The best part is that no one would wear a diamond that big on a chain and not in a sturdier necklace, such as a festoon or pendant setting. Also, notice that no one actually wears things like The Hope Diamond. Duh.
And of course, there are people on the cruise who are planning to steal the diamond (hence “The Caper)”, namely Mr. Vernon Crowler and his crew: Elwood, Ox, and Taffi (Karen Valentine). Ox is… not smart, despite the fact that it’s Taffi who looks like the stereotypical dumb blonde. Naturally, Gopher and Doc flock to Taffi like bees to a hive.
The poignant narrative involves Jenny (Stephanie Zimbalist of Remington Steele), a young blind woman who recognizes the voice of someone she knew as a teen… it’s Desi Arnaz, Jr. wearing an incredible pair of tinted aviator sunglasses. Actually, his name is Steve and he’s as thrilled to see Jenny as she is to hear him. Steve had surgery after he left the School for Nice Young Blind People and now he can see again, which is what he tells Julie after Jenny is out of earshot. Soon enough they’ll both be looking through “The Eyes of Love.”
Alan and Barbara Danver (Dan Rowan and Juliet Mills) are on board, too. She’s a hardworking designer whom Alan had to beg to come on the cruise with him. Just as they’re exiting their taxi at the dock, another one pulls up behind it and Alan looks nervous. Turns out that it’s Kathy (Adrienne Barbeau) who is Alan’s mistress. Barbara found the tickets that Alan had stashed away for him and Kathy and so he had to bring his wife along. Kathy is pissed and says she’s coming on the cruise anyway. Barbara and Kathy discover they have a lot in common, despite Alan’s attempts to keep them as far away from each other as possible. Kathy designs clothing from Barbara’s fabrics, but that’s not how Kathy and Alan met. He was her divorce lawyer.
Bill and Roz have their own problems. Bill has written a screenplay that he wants to direct. Roz is not impressed with his skills. It could also be the two giant gold necklaces that he’s wearing most of the time. At any rate, she’s pissed.
The first night of the cruise, Steve and Jenny are enjoying the sunset. “Oh Steve, you’ve never seen a sunset,” she notes pityingly, not knowing that Steve can actually see the sunset. He reveals his “secret” and she seem sad somehow despite asserting, “I don’t feel sorry for myself.”
And at about 17 minutes into this episode, we’ve got The Fruit Tray Scene. There’s another one at 22 minutes in! Two in one episode!
Gopher is whining to Julie about how he’s got the hots for Taffi but that Doc is way more charming. She assures him that “Doc doesn’t have a patent on charm,” yet when Gopher approaches her table, Doc swoops in. But the joke’s on him: Crowler lets Taffi know that it’s Gopher who holds the combination to the vault safe where the “Star of Kashmir” (sparkle noise!) will be kept and that it’s him she’ll have to seduce. At another table, Alan is annoyed that Barbara invited Kathy to dinner with them and things get awkward when Barbara asks why a fox like Kathy is traveling solo. “His wife found the ticket.”
Now it’s time for the jewel heist, which is like The Love Boat’s version of Mission Impossible but set to Scooby Doo music. While Taffi distracts Gopher, Crowler and Elwood have Ox guard the door of the sauna. It’s above the vault and their plan is to drill a hole in the floor/ceiling and insert a periscope/claw to open the drawer where the jewel is kept and pull it through the hole. Only the jewel is too wide. And the drill overheated. And Ox left his other drill bits in L.A. Yep, that’s why his name is “Ox.”
Plan B is then put into motion. Plan B is Crowler wearing a prosthetic mask that turns him into Gavin McLeod. 1978 jewel thief technology was amazing! Now Taffi is instructed to hit on Captain Stubing and distract him while “Captain Stubing” gets Gopher to open the vault, explaining his vocal strangeness as laryngitis. The trouble is that the real Captain Stubing walks by while the fake one is with Gopher. Gopher swears that there are somehow two of them and Stubing attributes it to stress until he catches a glimpse of himself in the elevator. He follows himself around the ship until Crowler vanishes into the sauna and changes out of his costume.
But Julie, Doc, and Isaac have also seen the Stubing clone. Although the possibility of someone dressing as the Captain for the upcoming Masquerade Ball is suggested as a possibility, the Captain comes to the conclusion that it must be because someone is trying to steal the “Star of Kashmir” (sparkle noise!). He tells the crew not to tell anyone so of course Gopher immediately tells Crowler who wants to implement Plan C: crawl through the air vents and replace the stone while it’s in Bill and Roz’s cabin.
After dinner, Barbara invites Kathy to see a screening of An Affair to Remember (!!) but she declines, so Barbara goes by herself. Kathy asks Alan why he started their affair with her in the first place because Barbara is so amazing. When he can’t provide a good reason, Kathy breaks up with him. “I’m your ex mistress.”
After a lot of flirting, Steve and Jenny finally kiss, up on deck in the moonlight. Jenny’s disappointed that Steve has to get off at Puerto Vallarta and offers to help him get off before Puerto Vallarta (hehe). But Steve is engaged to a gal in Puerto Vallarta! But he says he loves Jenny! He insists he’ll break up with his fiancée but Jenny won’t hear of it and runs off to her cabin. “Steve, this never happened.” Steve shows up at Jenny’s later, but she pretends that she doesn’t love him and claims the only reason he thinks he loves her is because he pities her. He gets mad and leaves. But the next day, Kathy goes to his cabin and apologizes and they both admit their love for each other.
Bill and Alan are hungover and depressed. “I’m just a simple guy trying to make both ends not meet,” says Alan ruefully. Bill offers him some advice about holding onto the person you love and excuses himself to take his own advice. While Bill and Roz are making up in a bubble bath in their cabin, Crowler and Ox climb through the air vents. Ox drops in, Tom Cruise style, but drops the necklace and gets the real one and the fake one mixed up. This is proved when Crowler tries to cut the mirror with the diamond and it crumbles. (He must have seen that episode of Alice.)
Kathy and Barbara are chatting the next day when a polaroid of Kathy and Alan in Hawaii slips out of her bag as she’s looking for her cigarette lighter. Barbara is horrified but Kathy has a plan to find out how Dan truly feels, hence the “Masquerade.” They both dress as Pierrot clowns that night to fool Alan who confesses to “Kathy” that he loves Barbara (wouldn’t he be able to recognize his wife’s eye color?) and when she reveals who she is, she forgives him and they embrace.
At the masquerade ball (a.k.a. The Love Boat’s Mardi Gras), there’s a power outage during which Crowler steals what he thinks is Roz’s necklace but when the gang goes up on deck, it turns out it was Captain Stubing’s Henry VIII pendant. (Whomp whomp whomp!) Back at the party, Roz and Bill are talking about all the expensive gifts he is going to buy for her and Jenny overhears. She tells Steve to promise they’ll never be that way. Now it’s Roz and Bill’s turn to overhear. They ask the crew who that young lady is and suitably chastened by her truthbombs, go out on deck to toss the diamond into the sea, much to the dismay of Crowler and company, who are still out there stewing.
But wait! When the Power Couple leave at the end of the cruise, they admit the real necklace is back at home… and that they’re going to donate to that School for Nice Young Blind People. “You know, those two really are stars,” remarks Captain Stubing as he hugs a misty-eyed Julie.
Until next week, remember to let it flow, because it always floats back to you.
Fun Fact: Actress Karen Valentine was in the 1976 TV movie version of The Love Boat, playing a character named Ellen Carmichael.