The Love Boat: Now as Old as Its Jokes


Charo: “Cuchi-cuchi showed me the way to the bank that bull shit make me rich.

It’s the 30th anniversary of the Love Boat perhaps the worst written most convolutedly stupid show ever on television. Even its theme song perhaps one of the biggest pieces of musical dreck ever composed didn’t stop it from becoming a huge hit. How sentimental this makes you depends on how lonely you were on Saturday nights in the late ‘70’s and how much you appreciate really bad over the top television. The Love Boat was a show that made Charlie’s Angels seem like high art.

When aghast friends asked Gavin McCloud why he was stooping to such utter nonsense, he showed the foresight of a media mogul and repeatedly said something to the effect of “This thing will run forever and dollars earned making crap buy the same amount of stuff as dollars creating timeless art,” which I suppose earns him a measure of respect for honesty.

The Love Boat was sort of a Hollywood Pension plan for actors who hadn’t been able to get a job in years. Now we have celebrity reality shows, but back then if you were Vic Tayback and you had played Mel on Alice you could pick up a few checks doing The Love Boat six times. Florence Henderseon was on at least 8 times; Maureen McCormick 5 and thank god neither wound up kissing Barry Williams like they did in real life. Robert Reed, 5 appearances. Milton Berle, Ted Knight, Audra Lindley, Connie Stevens, Arte Johnson, Dick Van Patten, it was like a weekly talent show at a home for washed up sit-com stars.

Supposedly, this thing had writers, but I can’t imagine that there was a lot of heated debate on plot points. Each week three men would fall in love with three women. Three, Three’s Company like misunderstandings would occur to push them apart, and then somewhere around Puerto Vallarta things would be resolved benignly in a giddy devotion that would last long enough for the audience to forget that the star had previously been on the show, so he or she could return and do it all over again.

The big shock of the show wasn’t that virginal cruise director Julie McCoy had a huge problem with cocaine, it was that she was seemingly the only one that did. I went on a cruise once. I got sea sick before the boat left dock, and spent the next four days pining for my old girlfriend in my tiny little cabin. No shuffle board was played. No hook ups were made.

My friend worked in Washington for a while and told me the following story. Ex-Yeoman Purser (whatever that is – one of the funniest parts of The Love Boat was that Gavin McCloud acted more like he was in the Navy than he did when he was on McCale’s Navy, even though he was wearing shorts all of the time) and current congressman Fred Grandy is in a crowded elevator. When the door pings and opens a page calls out “Lido Deck” and Grandy has him fired. I was crushed when I found out that wasn’t true.

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