By June Mathews
One of my favorite TV channels in recent years has been Me-TV, a network that airs many of the classic shows I grew up watching and still enjoy. But I recently saw an episode of “The Love Boat” that set my teeth on edge from beginning to end.
Though I rarely watched during its original run – the Love Boat sailed each week on Saturday night, and I was usually on a date or out with friends – I liked it just fine. The passengers were known stars of stage and screen, and the story lines always ended in sweet, happily-ever-after embraces. The crew, which included the ship’s purser Gopher, bartender Isaac and cruise director Julie, provided a consistent element to the ever-changing cast.
Nowadays, however, “The Love Boat” is too sugar-coated for my taste. But whenever I fail to turn off the bedroom TV by its 8 a.m. airtime, I can’t help but sit down with another cup of coffee and watch the entire sappy show. It’s like one of those paperback romance novels. You know it’s nothing but literary junk food, but once you start reading it, you can’t stop.
The plot (if you could call it that) of last Friday’s episode involved a massive multi-couple wedding on the deck of the ship for which the officiant, of course, was Merrill Stubing, the Love Boat’s captain.
Ted Baxter of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” married Blanche Devereaux of “The Golden Girls;” an over-tanned Joni Cunningham of “Happy Days” married some guy I didn’t recognize; one of her TV brother Richie’s best friends, Ralph Malph, married Lucy Ewing of “Dallas.”
Mary Ann of “Gilligan’s Island” served as a judge in a contest in which a millionaire awarded a home, car and cash to one of the lucky couples. Her co-judge was Cassie Cranston of “It’s A Living,” a 1980s series of which I had no independent recall and had to find on Wikipedia.
Capt. Stubing enjoyed a fling with Debbie Reynolds, who boarded and departed with Darren McGavin, aka “The Night Stalker.” But in between, she charmed the good captain, who briefly considered walking down the aisle with her until his 13-year-old daughter, Vicki, pointed out he really wasn’t really in love but only looking for somebody to play mother to his father.
Meanwhile, Gopher languished in a south-of-the-border jail due to a misunderstanding with the police at one of the ship’s tropical ports-of-call over his attempt to purchase medical supplies for Doc. But seriously, anybody who stands on a foreign street corner inquiring of passersby the best place to buy drugs deserves to be thrown into the slammer.
And oh, yeah, the couples who got married? Most of them got together (or reunited) during the cruise and impulsively decided to join in the nuptial bliss. For instance, Joni’s mother hooked up with the father of her groom-to-be, and the two long-in-the-tooth lovebirds were wed on-deck alongside their children.
Now think about it: All in one whack, the father of the groom became the father-in-law of his stepdaughter, and the mother of the bride became the mother-in-law of her stepson. At the same moment the young bride and groom became man and wife, they also became step-siblings. And if you think about it hard enough, you realize that as the spouses of the kids’ in-laws, the older bride and groom would also be their own child’s mother-in-law or father-in-law.
The whole episode had my head spinning. More than once, I found myself squinting at the screen in distaste, wanting to hit the “off” button on the remote just as desperately as I wanted to see if Gopher ever got sprung from the clink (He did).
I later came to the troubling conclusion that watching classic shows wasn’t all it was cracked it up to be and that I should give up Me-TV for a while. The pairing of the ever pompous Ted and the overly promiscuous Blanche was disturbing enough, but seeing Lucy in a lip-lock with Ralph nearly made me lose my breakfast. I hate to think of how I’d react should one of “The Brady Bunch” pair up with a member of “The Partridge Family.” I doubt I’d ever watch TV again.
Email June Mathews at firstname.lastname@example.org.