The Love Boat
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|The Love Boat|
|Based on||The Love Boats
by Jeraldine Saunders
|Developed by||W. L. Baumes|
|Opening theme||"The Love Boat" sung by Jack Jones, seasons 1–8; by Dionne Warwick in season 9|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||9 + 4 specials|
|No. of episodes||250 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||45–52 minutes|
|Distributor||CBS Television Distribution|
|Original release||May 5, 1977– May 24, 1986|
|Followed by||The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage (1990)|
|Related shows||Love Boat: The Next Wave|
The Love Boat is an American television series set on a cruise ship, which aired on the ABC Television Network from May 5, 1977, until May 24, 1986; three-hour specials aired in 1986–87 and 1990. The series revolves around the ship's captain (played by Gavin MacLeod) and a handful of its crew, with several passengers – played by various guest actors for each episode – having romantic and humorous adventures. It was part of ABC's popular Saturday-night lineup that included Fantasy Island until that series ended in 1984.
The original 1976 made-for-TV movie on which the show was based (also titled The Love Boat) was itself based on the nonfiction book Love Boats by Jeraldine Saunders, a real-life cruise director. Two more TV movies (titled The Love Boat II and The New Love Boat) would follow before the series began its first season in September 1977.
In 1997, the episode with segment titles "Hidden Treasure," "Picture from the Past," and "Ace's Salary" (season 9, episode 3) was ranked No. 82 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. The Love Boat ran for nine seasons plus four specials. A made-for-TV movie, titled The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage, starring four of the original cast members, aired on February 12, 1990.
- Gavin MacLeod as Captain Merrill Stubing
- Bernie Kopell as Dr. Adam "Doc" Bricker, ship's physician
- Fred Grandy as Burl "Gopher" Smith, Yeoman Purser (seasons 1–9)
- Ted Lange as Isaac Washington, bartender
- Lauren Tewes as Julie McCoy, Cruise Director (seasons 1–7, 9 (1 episode), 4 specials)
- Jill Whelan as Vicki Stubing, the captain's daughter (seasons 3–9, 4 specials, made-for-TV movie, plus a guest star appearance in Season 2 episode 8)
- Ted McGinley as Ashley "Ace" Covington Evans, ship's photographer (seasons 7–9), Yeoman Purser (4 specials)
- Pat Klous as Judy McCoy, Julie's sister and successor as cruise director (seasons 8–9)
MacLeod, Kopell and Lange are the only cast members to appear in every episode of the TV series as well as the last three made-for-TV movies. Grandy was in every episode throughout the run of the series, but was not in the last of the TV movies. MacLeod was not the captain of the Pacific Princess in the first two TV movies and did not appear in them, although when his character was introduced there was a mention of his being "the new captain".
Among the series' attractions was the casting of well-known actors in guest-starring roles, with many famous film stars of yesteryear making rare television appearances. It was not the first comedy series to use the guest-star cast anthology format—Love, American Style used the formula seven years earlier, but The Love Boat had such success with the formula that future series in similar style (such as Supertrain and Masquerade) were inevitably compared to The Love Boat. The series was followed on Saturday nights on ABC by Fantasy Island, which was also produced by Aaron Spelling, and had a similar format.
The one-hour sitcom was usually set aboard Pacific Princess, at the time a real-life Princess Cruises cruise ship. Other ships used were twin sister Island Princess, Stella Solaris (for a Mediterranean cruise), Pearl of Scandinavia (for a Chinese cruise), Royal Viking Sky (for European cruises) and Royal Princess and Sun Princess (for Caribbean cruises). In 1981, P&O Cruises' Sea Princess was also used for the special two-hour episode "Julie's Wedding", set in and around Australia. Only the latter four ships still exist.
The series was filmed primarily on sets in California—20th Century Fox Studios for seasons one through five and Warner Hollywood Studios for the remainder of the series. After being renamed MS Pacific and spending her golden years owned by a cruise line in Spain, Pacific Princess was retired to Turkey in 2013 where she was scrapped by a ship breaking company after no buyer could be found.
Episodes set and filmed in European and Asian locations became more frequent as the show continued. They traditionally aired as season premieres or during the sweeps months of February, May and November.
Another unique aspect of The Love Boat was its writing format. Every episode contained several storylines, each written by a different set of writers working on one group of guest stars. As a result, episodes ended up with ungainly titles like "Disco Baby/Alas, Poor Dwyer/After the War/Ticket to Ride/Itsy Bitsy: Part 1."
Even though the cast of Charlie's Angels had been on separate episodes of the series, there was a crossover episode of the series in which the lady detectives had a case on the ship.
On rare occasions, there were crossovers between the stories. In one episode, actors Robert Reed and Florence Henderson, formerly of The Brady Bunch, guest starred in separate segments. In one scene, the two pass each other in a corridor, exchange a "Do I know you?" double-take, and then continue on their separate ways without talking.
In a one-time Fantasy Island crossover episode, the cruise ship makes a detour to deliver a troubled woman (played by Loni Anderson) to the mysterious island, and her storyline continued on that series.
There were typically three storylines. One storyline usually focused on a member of the crew, a second storyline would often focus on a crew member interacting with a passenger, and the third storyline was more focused on a single passenger (or a group of passengers). The three storylines usually followed a similar thematic pattern: One storyline (typically the "crew" one) was straight-ahead comedy. The second would typically follow more of a romantic comedy format (with only occasional dramatic elements). The third storyline would usually be the most dramatic of the three, often offering few (if any) laughs and a far more serious tone.
The series was also distinctive as being one of the few hour-long series ever made for American television that used a laugh track (Eight Is Enough, on the same network and produced at the same time, being another example).
Theme song and title sequence
The Love Boat theme song was sung by Jack Jones (except for the last season, where a cover version by Dionne Warwick was used). The lyrics were written by Paul Williams with music by Charles Fox. The song has since been recorded and released commercially by Charo in 1978 and Amanda Lear in 2001.
The opening sequence for the series underwent three changes over the years. From seasons one to eight, the opening sequence began with a long shot of the ship before the camera slowly zoomed in onto its bridge area. This was followed by posing shots of the crew members (updated several times due to cast additions and changes throughout all seasons) at different points on the ship set. The long shot footage of the ship was used for the credits of the celebrity guest stars. For only the first season, the guest stars were credited by having their names appear on the screen while the series' logo, a radar/compass style circle with four hearts, wrapped around them. Beginning with season two (and originally experimented with in the fifteenth episode of the first season), the compass was graphically put in place and at its center, the guest stars were shown posing for the camera on different parts of the set (or a city spot used in on-location episodes) while their names appeared at the bottom of the screen. For the final season, the compass was replaced by a crescent wave and the long shots of the ship were replaced by a montage of the various locations traveled to on the series. At the center of the wave graphic, the guest stars were shown posing for the camera wearing their formal outfits against different colored backgrounds.
For its first seven years, The Love Boat was very successful in the ratings. During that time, it ranked among the top 20, and even the top 10. For the 1980–81 season it posted its highest rating at No. 5. By the beginning of the 1984–85 season, the ratings were beginning to drop, and at the end of the following year, The Love Boat was canceled after nine years on ABC, although four three-hour specials aired during the 1986–87 season.
The Love Boat entered the syndication market in the United States in September 1983, with Worldvision Enterprises handling distribution. As an alternative to stations with tight scheduling commitments, Worldvision offered edited 30-minute episodes in addition to the original hour-long programs beginning in the fall of 1986 after the series completed its original run on ABC. Reruns of The Love Boat were initially sold to and screened by WPIX in New York City, WTTG in Washington, D.C., WGN-TV in Chicago, KTLA in Los Angeles, KPTV in Portland, Oregon and WESH-TV in Daytona Beach, Florida, among other stations.
Sequels, spin-offs and crossovers
- A 1979 episode of another Aaron Spelling series, Charlie's Angels, had that series' characters attempting to recover a stolen statue while aboard the Pacific Princess on a Caribbean cruise (all of the Love Boat regulars had cameo appearances).
- In 1982, "The Love Boat Goes to Fantasy Island" was a 90-minute back-to-back of each series—the episode started on The Love Boat and the guest stars finished on Fantasy Island.
- In 1990 a TV reunion movie, The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage, aired on CBS.
- A second TV series, Love Boat: The Next Wave aired on UPN from 1998 to 1999, with Robert Urich as Captain Jim Kennedy, a retired United States Navy officer, Phil Morris as Chief Purser Will Sanders, and Heidi Mark as cruise director Nicole Jordan (several members of the original show's cast guest-starred on a reunion-themed episode, where it was revealed that Julie and Doc had been in love all along).
- A two-part 1997 Martin episode, "Goin' Overboard", had the main characters going on a cruise and encountering Isaac, Julie, Doc and Vicki
- Isaac Washington also appeared in a 2005 episode of The King of Queens, "The Black List".
- The crew of the Pacific Princess appears as some of the prisoners kept by the Sirens in their island, in the episode "Scotsman Saves Jack: Part 2" of the animated series Samurai Jack
- One of the waiters of The Bloody Steak restaurant in the 2010 animated series Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated is based on Isaac Washington.
|DVD Name||Ep No.||Release dates||Bonus Features|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Season 1, Volume 1||12||March 4, 2008||September 1, 2008||April 10, 2008||
|Season 1, Volume 2||12||August 12, 2008||September 1, 2008||October 2, 2008||
|Season 2, Volume 1||13||January 27, 2009||N/A||September 2, 2009||
|Season 2, Volume 2||12||August 4, 2009||N/A||December 24, 2009||
|Season 3, Volume 1||14||January 17, 2017||N/A||N/A||
|Season 3, Volume 2||14||January 17, 2017||N/A||N/A||
|Australia||The Love Boat||None||Nine Network (1978–86)
|Canada||The Love Boat||Global Television Network (Ontario)
First-run syndication (rest of Canada)
|Cyprus||To ploio tis agapis
(The Ship of Love)
|Denmark||The Love Boat||Subtitled||Kanal 2|
(Ship of Love)
|France||La croisière s'amuse
(The Fun Cruise)
|Dubbed||TF1 (80's) FR3 (90's & 00's)||As usual in France, the laugh track was omitted in the French synchronisation which made this a romantic telenovela-like series rather than a sitcom|
Premiere (pay television network)
|Originally shown on Sat.1 and later on Tele 5, 9Live, Premiere, and Anixe.
The laugh track was omitted
|Gibraltar||Love Boat||GBC TV||Hugely popular in Gibraltar, with The Love Boat (the real one) having berthed at Gibraltar Port various times over the years|
|Greece||Το Πλοίο της Αγάπης
(The Ship of Love)
|Dubbed||Movies 24||Aired in 2010; The laugh track was omitted|
(The Love Boat)
|Italy||Love Boat||Dubbed||Mediaset||First run on Canale 5, beginning in 1980; reruns on Canale 5, Rete 4, SkyVivo, FoxRetro, Raidue; In Italy, the laugh track was omitted|
|Netherlands||The Love Boat||Subtitled||VARA and later RTL4|
|New Zealand||The Love Boat||None||TVNZ|
(The Love Ship)
|Philippines||The Love Boat||None||GMA Network|
(The Love Boat)
|Portugal||Barco do Amor
(The Love Boat)
|RTP 1 (first run) in 1980s
RTP 2 (rerun) in 1980s and early 1990s as possible choice of phone-vote selection program Agora Escolha
Sic Gold (reruns)
Sic Comédia (reruns)
|South Africa||Die Plesierboot
(The Pleasure Boat)
|Dubbed in Afrikaans||TV2|
|South Korea||사랑의 유람선
(Cruise ship of Love)
(Ship of Love, Ship of Fun)
|Spain||Vacaciones en el mar
|Dubbed||Televisión Española (first run)
(Love on Board)
(The Boat of Love)
(The Love Boat)
|Dubbed||TRT 1 (first run)
Show TV (reruns)
|United Kingdom||The Love Boat||None||BBC TV|
|Venezuela||El Crucero del Amor
(The Boat of Love)
|Dubbed||Venezolana de Televisión
XHGC Canal 5 Televisa
|The series was dubbed in Mexico for Latin America and, with the exception here marked, is known as "El Crucero del Amor" (The Cruise Ship of Love). Also the laugh track was omitted.|
Awards and honors
On May 23, 2017, the original cast (MacLeod, Kopell, Grandy, Lange, Tewes and Whelan) reunited on Today, where it was announced they will be receiving a joint star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for their contributions to television, sponsored by Princess Cruises.
- "Then/Now: The cast of 'The Love Boat'". FoxNews. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
- "Special Collectors' Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28-July 4). 1997.
- from watching Season 2 on DVD
- Sloan, Gene (August 8, 2013). "Famed 'Love Boat' makes final voyage to scrapyard". USA Today. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "Cruise ship tour: Last look at the original 'Love Boat'".
- "See 'The Love Boat' cast reunite live on TODAY -- and get a big surprise!". today.com. NBC. May 23, 2017. Retrieved June 26, 2017.