Every Saturday night, my younger sister and I eagerly climbed aboard Aaron Spelling’s Love Boat — which first set to sea 30 years ago, graduating from its bawdy processor, Love, American Style – and its shipload of angry spouses reigniting their love; forlorn souls nursing aching hearts with rebound affairs and too many pi¤a coladas; and hopeless and hopeful romantics on the make. Admittedly, most of the sexual innuendo and antics flew over our heads: we tuned in for the guest-star roster. Everyone from our favorite TV shows — The Brady Bunch, Charlie’s Angels, Happy Days, and Good Times — was casting a line for “love, exciting and new.” Screening the newly released Love Boat DVD, a stingy collection offering only the first half of the premiere season, I was able to catch the details I missed the first time around: The lewd, double-entendre jokes, the intricate dramas among the lovelorn passengers, and the lascivious and predatory nature of “Doc” (Bernie Kopell) and Captain Stubing (Gavin McLeod), the latter of whom is indelibly cast in my mind as The Mary Tyler Moore Show‘s mild-mannered, placating, asexual Murray Slaughter. In the first half season alone, the dizzying amount of ’70s luminaries is enough to get a girl seasick on the Lido Deck: Robert Reed; Kristy McNichol; Jimmie Walker; Bill Bixby; Jaclyn Smith; Milton Berle; Scott Baio; and a shimmying, voluptuous, albeit pre-cuchi-cuchi Charo. But it’s the enduring talents who will right the course, like Tovah Feldshuh, John Ritter in his comic prime, and Saturday Night Live‘s Jane Curtin. The DVD lacks extras, save for the montage of highlights in the episode previews, but the infectious if insipid Love Boat continues to “set a course for adventure, your mind on a new romance.”-
About the Author
Kera Bolonik's writing has appeared in the New York Times, Salon.com, Slate, the Forward and Bookforum, among others. She lives in Brooklyn.