DVD Review: The Love Boat (Season Three – Volume One & Volume Two)

DVD Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

While it’s easy to mock The Love Boat for being a bit corny, the series was essential to acting careers in the late ’70s. Since the show revolved around familiar faces being the passengers, it was a boon for both actors young and old. Older actors who had been major stars in the ’50s and ’60s had a great way to remind their fans that they weren’t just alive, but able to memorize their lines. Young actors who had supporting roles on various sitcoms and dramas had a opportunity to get a bit more camera time to demonstrate their ability to be the main driver of a storyline. Stars that had been typecast in their iconic roles had a chance to show that they could play other characters. They all had a chance to impress executive producer Aaron Spelling who could use them as guest stars in his numerous other shows such as Charlie’s Angels and Fantasy Island. Or Aaron might make you a star in his next smash series. Now where does an actor go for such a break? Being a contestant on Dancing with the Stars or Celebrity Apprentice might get their name back on TV, but they’re not showing off their craft. The Love Boat: Season Three Volume One & Volume Two is filled with nearly 100 stars expanding an audience’s perceptions of their talents.

“Alaska Wedding Cruise: Buddy and Portia’s Story/Julie’s Story/Carol and Doug’s Story/Peter and Alicia’s Story” is a double length episode that takes the Pacific Princess up to Alaska instead of its usual Mexican lap. The big story line is the destination marriage between Mark Harmon (NCIS and Lisa Hartman (Knots Landing). Troulbe perculates between their parents which include Ray Milland (Panic In Year Zero!), Eleanor Parker (The Baroness in The Sound of Music, Lorne Greene (Bonanza) and Audra Lindley (Miss Roper on Three’s Company). Cruise Director Julie (Lauren Tewes) gets pursued by Don Most (Ralph on Happy Days). But she only has eyes on Tony Roberts (Annie Hall). There’s barely enough space for Alaska. The Audit Couple/The Scoop/My Boyfriend’s Back turns funny woman Phyllis Diller into the most hated person in America: an IRS agent. She’s on board to go through the tax returns of Captain Stubbing (The Mary Tyler Moore Show‘s Gavin MacLeod). Joyce Dewitt and Richard Kline take time away from Three’s Company for a cruise, but in different plots. Joyce is the sexiest woman in the world being pursued by a reporter. Richard has just married Jennifer Salt (Soap & producer on American Horror Story). Their honeymoon is ruined by Lyle Waggoner (Wonder Woman) wanting her back.

“Crew Confessions/Haven’t I Seen You?/Reunion” has bartender Issac (Friday Foster‘s Ted Lange) writing a tell all novel. The crew is not happy. One person who is happy is Don Knotts since he’s often mistaken for a big movie star (like Don Knotts). He finds himself in the arms of Julie Newmar (Batman‘s Catwoman). If you ever wonder why any actor would do The Love Boat, look at Don’s face when Julie holds him tight. He would have paid Aaron Spelling for such a moment. “Crew Confessions/Haven’t I Seen You?/Reunion” reminds us that Frank Sinatra Jr. was a singer too. He’s performing on the boat in a story that involves a Cinderella theme. The evil stepmother is Caroline Jones (The Addams Family). “The Critical Success/The Love Lamp Is Lit/Take My Boy Friend, Please/Rent a Family/The Man in Her Life” marks the arrival of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Does there need to be more? Billy Daily (The Bob Newhart Show) wants a job with a company that only wants family men. So he does the obvious thing and hires a bunch of actors to play them including Roz Kelly (Pinky Tuscadero from Happy Days) and Jackie Earle Haley (The Bad News Bears & The Watchmen). Larry Linville (M*A*S*H*) tries his hand at being a cat burglar although on the water, wouldn’t he be a catfish burglar? “The Stimulation of Stephanie/The Next Step/Life Begins at 40” brings back two stars of Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. Dick Martin can’t catch on that his assistant is making passes at him. This tells us how we’ve changed since he’s doing what’s right in today’s sexual harassment prone work place. Jo Anne Worley will marry the first guy who asks her on the cruise since she doesn’t want to be single and 40. There’s also a visit from Judy Landers of the Landers sisters.

“April’s Love/Happy Ending/We Three” wants us to believe that Charo would be engaged to Forrest Tucker (F Troop). Don Adams (Get Smart) and Juliet Mills attempt to finish a script before they toss each other overboard. “The Kinfolk/Sis and the Slicker/Moonlight and Moonshine/Too Close for Comfort/The Affair” is a double episode that’s got more stars than a planetarium. First up is the arrival of Pam Grier (Foxy Brown & Foster Friday) with a bad title card calling her Pamala Grier – it’s Pamela! In a match made in grindhouse cinema, she’s married to Richard Roundtree (Shaft). But all isn’t good since she’s having an affair with Robert Guillaume (Benson & Superfly T.N.T.). His wife Denise Nicholas (Blacula) is suspicious. Donny Osmond performs his rock act to impress an unknown promoter, but get sucked into his family matters from the country when his dad (Dr. Strangelove‘s Slim Pickens) and other book passage. Turns out his sister (WKRP in Cincinnati‘s Loni Anderson) is supposed to marry Randall Carver (the Southern cabbie who vanished after the first season of Taxi). But she’s being pursued by Rich Little. Who can blame Rich since Loni spends a lot of time in her swimsuit. “Rent a Romeo/Matchmaker, Matchmaker/Y’ Gotta Have Heart” makes Joe Namath (The Brady Bunch) want to date Vicki Lawrence (Mama’s Family). How can this be when Brett Somers (Match Game) is on the Lido Deck? “Not So Fast, Gopher/Haven’t We Met Before?/Foreign Exchange” answers the question if Gene Rayburn, the host of The Match Game was an actor. Yes. He plays a guy named Lyle. Of course he has to share the screen with the Hudson Brothers, one of which is the father of Kate Hudson. “Invisible Maniac/September Song/Peekaboo” mixes the red hot body heat of Ann B. Davis (Alice on The Brady Bunch) and David Hasselhoff. How did these two keep the show PG?

The Love Boat is a show that you can easily get sucked into a whirlpool of marathon viewing. You get to enjoy so many actors playing against type or using their iconic role’s schtick. How else can you explain Richard Roundtree not breaking Benson’s fingers for touching his wife? Or believing that Loni Anderson is related to Slim Pickens and Donnie Osmond. The episodes are a vacation for the mind. The Love Boat: Season Three Volume One & Volume Two is a weekend cruise in two volumes.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers bring out the details when they go on a real cruise versus just shooting in the studio. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You’ll hear all the slapstick. The episodes are subtitled.

Promos preview the episodes. They seem to be missing Ernie Anderson’s iconic way of introducing the show.

Home & Family: The Love Boat – Come Aboard (19:52) reunites many of the cast members on talkshow. Jack Jones sings the theme song. Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, Lauren Tewes and Jill Whelan put on nautical uniforms. Besides an interview, they help out with a ornament craft project. This is only on Volume Two.

Home & Family: The Love Boat – We’re Expecting You (24:57) is second half of the special. Now they get a major surprise with the arrival of Charo! This appears to have been produced back in 2015. This is only on Volume Two.

CBS DVD presents The Love Boat: Season Three Volume One. Starring: Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, Lauren Tewes and Jill Whelan. Boxset Contents: 14 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: January 17, 2016.

CBS DVD presents The Love Boat: Season Three Volume Two. Starring: Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, Lauren Tewes and Jill Whelan. Boxset Contents: 11 episodes on 4 DVDs. Released: January 17, 2016.

Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.