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).

Three’s Company

TV classics: Three’s Company

USA 1977-84, eight seasons, 172 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, ABC, color. Cast: John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, Suzanne Somers, Norman Fell, Audra Lindley, Jenilee Harrison, Priscilla Barnes, Richard Kline, Don Knotts, Ann Wedgeworth.

Plot summary: To be allowed to share an apartment with two girls, ladies’ man Jack Tripper tells a lie to his landlords that turns his life into a comedy of errors.

three's companyReview: There are not a lot of things from the 70s I have fond memories of. Three’s Company, however, was one of the few series I thoroughly enjoyed as a kid. It may have been the odd mix of slapstick and comedy of errors that made me fall in love with it or the comedic genius of John Ritter who died ten years ago at only 54. The early seasons were my favorites, starring John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt, Suzanne Somers, Norman Fell and Audra Lindley. Based on the British sitcom Man About the House, Three’s Company was re-written and re-cast several times before it finally premiered on ABC in the spring of 1977. An instant hit, the show was promptly renewed for a second season and didn’t lose audience approval until its eighth and final season.

Today, the storyline is a pop culture classic. When Jack Tripper moves in with two young women, Janet Wood and Chrissy Snow, he is confronted with the scrutiny of his new landlord Mr. Roper who is not fond of the idea that a man shares an apartment with two single girls. So Jack and his roommates come up with a lie that temporarily saves the day, but also turns their lives into a game of hide and seek, of misunderstandings and double entendre. What sounds simplistic now was actually great entertainment. Jack Tripper, the ladies’ man with the ironic name, pretended to be gay and thus unmasked the hypocrisy of his respectable landlord. Mrs. Roper, the sensually charged (and constantly starved) wife of Stanley Roper, was well aware of Tripper’s lie but never gave him away. She enjoyed seeing her husband being messed about with too much.

Blessed with a talented cast who knew how to sell a charmingly silly storyline, Three’s Company started lasting careers but also survived cast departures, changes and additions. Following into the footsteps of its British predecessor, the show sparked off two spin-offs, The Ropers in 1979 and Three’s a Crowd in 1984, both of which were unfortunately short-lived.  Available in reruns and on DVD today, the show is still popular with members of all generations and tickles the risible muscles of anyone who’s fond of the late 1970s.

Don’t remember the show?! Watch the pilot 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.