Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Love Boat: 1977-1986...

A happy birthday greeting goes out to Gavin MacLeod...reaching 82. I usually don't pay attention to celebrity birthdays but I heard it was his birthday today and so I decided to make note of it. Why? Well, he was part of an ensemble cast on one of the classic television comedies of all-time plus he starred in another one of my favorite television programs. MacLeod portrayed Murray Slaughter in the 1970-1977 classic comedy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Prior to the role on Moore's sitcom he had a role in McHale's Navy as a character referred to as Happy Haines. On The Mary Tyler Moore Show, MacLeod's character was forever annoyed at Ted Knight's character, the often inept news reader Ted Baxter. The big reason stemmed from the fact that Murray wrote the news scripts for Ted's show...only to have Ted bungle his lines on a daily basis.

After Moore's program ended production in 1977 both Ed Asner and Gavin MacLeod starred in highly successful programs on into the 1980's. Asner, who had played Lou Grant on Moore's show for 7 years, starred as the same character in the dramatic Lou Grant series for five more years (1977-1982). MacLeod, on the other hand, landed the starring role on The Love Boat. In this series MacLeod portrayed Captain Merrill Stubing, a single father and captain of a cruise ship. The program featured a crew and loads of extra's in addition to guest stars each week. The program typically aired on Saturday nights on ABC-TV and was one of many programs airing on ABC that was associated with and, or, produced by Aaron Spelling and his associates. A companion series arrived in 1978 in the form of Fantasy Island. The weekly series was tested in 1977 via a made-for-TV movie and it became a series the following year...airing right after The Love Boat on Saturday nights. Fantasy Island starred Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Roarke and Herve Villechaize as Tattoo. Each program had a similar formula which consisted of special guests each week who often appeared in separate, unrelated story-lines that were ultimately tied together by episode's end.

The ship on The Love Boat served mostly as a backdrop as the crew and the Captain were rarely shown performing their duties. There were brief scenes in practically every episode showing Isaac the bartender, for example, serving drinks and cracking jokes with passengers but for the remainder of the episode he was often roaming around the ship mingling with the guests. The ship's doctor, Adam, occasionally shown his medical prowess but was much more interested in flirting with female passengers. The cruise director, Julie, was shown performing her tasks at the beginning and end of each voyage but like the other crew members she spent her time socializing.

It's long been something of a habit for some people to make fun of Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Dynasty, Hotel, and other programming associated with Aaron Spelling. The common criticism expressed is "escapist drivel" or "trash TV". Even today there's often some critic or blogger making fun of the celebrity guest star concept and making it sound as if every legendary actor and actress that guest starred on The Love Boat or Fantasy Island did so out of desperation in order to be in the spotlight again. How cynical can people be? The Love Boat, as well as Fantasy Island, are/were available on DVD. You can check Amazon and other on-line stores for DVD availability, obviously. I am not much of a watcher of television too much anymore unless it's a sports program or news and so I don't know if any of those programs are currently airing on TV Land or Nick-at-Nite. I saw some uploads of Fantasy Island on You Tube and they had a TV Land logo on the lower right side of the screen and so I know at one time it aired on that channel.

No comments: