The Love Boat

TV classics

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, 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.

Love Boat crewReview: 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 with Captain 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 (Fred Grandy) and 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 ten 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).

12 Angry Men

Talkie of the Week: 12 Angry Men

USA 1957, 96 minutes, black & white, MGM. Director: Sidney Lumet, Written by Reginald Rose, Based on his teleplay. Cast: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, John Fiedler, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec and Robert Webber.

Plot summary: Twelve jurors discuss the case of a young man they were chosen to adjudicate on. Together, they examine evidence and testimonies to reach an unanimous verdict.

Review: Originally produced live and broadcast on CBS in 1954, 12 Angry Men was a success with critics and TV audiences before the teleplay was brought to the big screen to win three Academy Award nominations. Starring Henry Fonda as famed juror #8 whose intellectual curiosity saves a young defendant from being convicted upon neglect, the motion picture adaptation offered an atmosphere of density and literal anger, mixed with an almost tangible heat that added fuel to a starting fire. Relying on a stellar cast of character actors, 12 Angry Men was shot in a claustophobic setting, a juror’s room with only a restroom serving as a possible escape. Suspense erupted from the men and their tingling aggression brought on by prejudices, disinterest and their own personal struggles.

Fifty-five years ago, the film captivated audiences on the big screen but wasn’t completely successful until it found its way back to American TV. Today, the film is every bit as entertaining and tension-packed as it was upon release. Benefitting from vivid dialog and a darkish quality in black and white, 12 Angry Men is the kind of classic that will never grow old. Available on DVD and Bluray, the film has the potential to attract a whole new generation of movie buffs who – like their parents and grandparents – will find themselves engrossed in the plot as soon the jurors are in session.

Have a look at impressions from the movie here.

Insight

TV classics: Insight

USA 1960-84, 23 seasons,  250 episodes, approximately 30 minutes each, Syndication, black & white and color. Presented by Ellwood Kieser. Guest performers: Beau Bridges, Jimmy Doohan, Patty Duke, Barbara Hale, Jack Klugman, Walter Matthau, Bob Newhart, John Ritter, Martin Sheen, Bill Williams et al.

Plot summary: An anthology series, Insight presented a different cast and topic each week, mainly focusing on the meaning and perception of everyday issues concerning love, life and death.

Insight sample episode “A Thousand Red Flowers”

Review: Insight was an award-winning show produced by Paulist Productions and created by the show’s early day presenter, Ellwood Kieser, a Roman Catholic priest and member of the Paulist Fathers. The weekly half-hour series was a religious program presented in an anthology format which introduced different settings, scenarios and characters each week. The show attracted a variety of actors, including Martin Sheen, Walter Matthau, Patty Duke and Beau Bridges and was rewarded with of a number Emmy nominations and awards in the 1970s and 80s.

In 1969, Barbara Hale appeared on the program along with working actor husband Bill Williams. The episode is an excellent example for the diversity of the show, presenting a tale about loss, hopelessness and death. Shot like a staged production, “A Thousand Red Flowers” (see link above) used theatrical elements as well as basic special effects while relying on the power of its excellent cast of actors and their gripping lines. The episode, like so many, picked up on what society was struggling with at the time. It presented two sides of the coin, that of a young man in his world and that of his grieving parents. The writing of the episode was top notch and the acting fabulous. I know I may be biased, but trust Barbara Hale to haunt you with her portrayal of a mother who’s overcome by her emotions at the unexpected loss of her son. A difficult topic most delicately done.

“A Thousand Red Flowers” is not the only outstanding episode Insight had to offer back in its days. Unfortunately, the program has not been released as complete collection so far and is currently unavailable on DVD, selected episodes are available online however. So go check them out if you’re the slightest bit interested in spirituality and religious programs that used television as more than just an entertainment medium. You never know, you may even come across an episode that leaves a mark on you like “A Thousand Red Flowers” has left on me.