For the time being, those setting a course for adventure, their minds on a new romance will have to settle for weekly reruns of one beloved and slightly unusual TV show.
Gavin MacLeod memorably portrayed Captain Merrill Stubing, the ship’s respected father figure and boss who is curiously never seen checking in with the bridge or consulting with deputy captains or officers. Instead, Stubing ignores all ship personnel with the exception of a cheery cruise director(Lauren Tewes), a wry yeoman purser(Fred Grandy), a sagacious ship doctor(Bernie Kopell) and a jovial bartender(Ted Lange). Stubing’s chief responsibilities seem to consist of roaming the deck to pry into his guests’ personal matters while sporting his magnificent tan.
The show’s sexual subtext is surprisingly more obvious than one might recall as the situations and dialogue prove that the preoccupation with sex on shows like The Love Boat were just as prominent as in shows today, if not more so. The difference is the veiled manner in which the era required it to be addressed as opposed to the blunt and direct language now permitted in entertainment accessible to all ages.
Even as the stories’ middle-aged guest stars trade one-liners and witty banter by poolside, a parade of young scantily-clad women and men, otherwise never seen on the ship, conspicuously flaunt their bods in the near background while posing awkwardly atop the uncomfortable perimeter of the soundstage pool careful to avoid any noise or splashing.
The Love Boat’s enduring appeal may, in fact, be the impressive roster of Hollywood greats, some making final appearances, who sadly, are now mostly gone. Even more sad is noticing the many ostensibly unknown young actors and actresses appearing alongside the famous veterans who had perhaps hoped and worked towards stardom that never came, despite frequent television exposure.
Well, If all this has properly primed you for a bon voyage then I’m sorry to say you’ll have to remain ashore for a spell. Until then, the next best thing can batten down the hatches for the real deal.
Do you sometimes need to see the world through media as a substitute for being there?
In any case, good luck and save me a place at the Captain’s table!