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What's Not To Love About
"The Love Boat"?
by Linda Coffman
Ah, the '70s. The era of disco music, leisure suits, and big hair. We
were newlyweds back then. By 1977 our circle of friends included
other couples like us—young,
just getting started, and broke. Movies and dance clubs were an
occasional treat and most Saturday nights found us in one another's living
rooms watching television and passing around a pizza.
It was also an era of new love and the object of our affection was a
sleek white cruise ship. Into our world had sailed what became a favorite
getaway—"The Love Boat." Every week we escaped to Mexico aboard the
Pacific Princess, with its zany crew and quirky passengers.
At this point I have to admit that we young wives were more
enchanted by a cruise than our husbands. Most of us wanted Julie McCoy the Cruise Director
as a friend
and cheered on her efforts to hold her own in a man's world.
None of us had taken a honeymoon cruise and, truthfully, some of us
had far simpler trips after our weddings to not-so-exotic places.
When we encountered the Pacific Princess on our small screens, we
were truly enchanted by the way "rich" people could sail away on a
luxurious vessel to far-away places.
How much has changed in the past three decades? A lot! Some of us
qualify for retirement and many of us have lived our dream of taking
an affordable cruise vacation. Most of us found our "love boat"
experiences as rewarding as what we expected, but some things are as
different today as they were in 1986 when "The Love Boat" sailed
it's final journey across our televisions.
The Berth of an Icon
Back in the 1970's, videos had a
lot in common with cruises—they
weren't widely available and certainly not inexpensive. In order to
watch "The Love Boat" we had to stay home. Not any more, though. CBS
& Paramount Entertainment
has recently released a DVD collection of
The Love Boat™ Season One,
Volume One that includes the first twelve episodes
of the long-running show. I've just spent ten enjoyable hours in a
television time machine that returned a wave of memories.
Each "Love Boat" episode began at embarkation and was a fashion show
of late-'70s style without a rollaboard in sight. Personally, I was interested in the evening wear
when the passenger guest stars wore the latest in gowns and
tuxedoes. I don't know when I've ever seen so many ruffles. And that
was just the men! Cruise Director Julie was a woman after my own
wardrobe budget for her character must have been rather slim and she
wore the same gowns week after week. Just like me today. Some things
Cruise Diva with "Captain
How has the show held up? Surprisingly well
in my eyes. Events aboard are
funny (even if all the jokes aren't timely) and the characters as
lovable as I remembered. Every episode had three storylines, each
written by a different team of writers. A
particularly appealing aspect of "The Love Boat" was the appearance
in each episode of guest star passengers, notably actors and
actresses from the "where are they now?" and "up and coming"
categories, but a real super-star appeared now and then. My favorite
is the poignant appearance of the late John Ritter, who found that
booking passage as a woman was the only option available for him to get
on board. In drag, he discovered that his female cabin-mate was a
sad and lovely just-jilted bride. They just naturally fell in love
when she met him without the wig, dress, false eyelashes, and (ahem)
other false body parts. Corny? Sure, but that's what "The Love Boat"
and 1970s television was all about.
Although the situations were unlikely
even then, some were touching—like
the one about a mom who'd lost her young son and became attached to
a stowaway boy and another that focused on an elderly curmudgeon whose
heart was won by a troubled teen stowaway. Even Charo made her first
appearance to "cuchi-cuchi" as a stowaway (did that many
After sailing on nearly a hundred real cruises, the DVD was a fascinating
look into a much simpler time when passengers waved good-bye to
(presumably) friends at the dock and everyone tossed streamers into
the air at sailaway. Skeet shooting was a featured activity and
passengers were often seen diving into the tiny swimming pools.
leading down into the ship's reception area made it inaccessible for
the wheelchair-bound and, unheard of today, cigarettes were de
rigueur in the Love Boat's dining room!
I remember older ships and noticed that accommodations aboard "The Love Boat" were
not only uncommonly spacious, they also featured a luxury—telephones—Julie
McCoy's cabin even had a Princess-style phone. When we didn't have a
phone, the steward provided a wake-up "call" by knocking on the door. And only Captain Stubing had a television in his quarters
aboard Pacific Princess. Computers? Well, I heard
the word 'computer' mentioned once on the show in regard to the ship's
autopilot, but the entertainment staff had only an
honest-to-goodness record player to spin discs (oops, records!) in
the ship's lounge.
The Love Boat™ Season One,
Volume One may not be high-tech entertainment, but it's
entertainment for a certain viewer. If you're old enough to have
watched the show with your friends, or young enough to have watched
it with your parents, you'll want to sail back to when it
never rained on the Pacific Princess, no one aboard except
Charo got seasick, and love conquered all.
The Love Boat™
Season One, Volume One, available at
© Amazon.com & Linda Coffman
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