The Love Boat: Season Two, Volume Two
Directed by Allen Baron et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Running Time: 665 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English, Spanish
Subtitles: CC, Spanish
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: August 4, 2009
Review Date: July 17, 2009
Was there ever a more innocuous series that reached great heights of popularity than The Love Boat? Week in and week out, the foibles and follies of love were sprinkled through plots featuring a dazzling array of guest stars who though sometimes ignominiously paired with one another for the sake of the story (Abe Vigoda and Nancy Walker? Roddy McDowell and Tammy Grimes? Charlie Callas and Jill St. John?) managed to get through the hour’s contrivances with their dignity usually intact. It was never a great series, but it was a mildly pleasant one and being scheduled on Saturday nights meant it was an undemanding way to end one’s work week. Though the second season was not its highest rated one, The Love Boat still managed to finish as the seventeenth most popular series on television in its second year on the air.
The series set on a luxury cruise ship the Pacific Princess features five regular cast members: jovial Captain Merrill Stubing (Gavin MacLeod), much-married ship’s doctor Adam Bricker (Bernie Kopell), assistant purser Burl Smith affectionately known as “Gopher” (Fred Grandy), bartender Isaac Washington (Ted Lange), and cruise director Julie McCoy (Lauren Tewes). During the course of this half season of twelve episodes, each of the regular cast members manages to find ways to work themselves into the three to four running plots in each episode, oftentimes losing their hearts to one of the guest stars but somehow deciding that it’s best to stay friends and have their memories and thus remain on board the ship.
As for the stories’ content, emotions and character conflict operate only at the surface level. People fall in love very quickly, and relationships tottering on the brink of dissolution either end without much acrimony or reconcile with promises for a brighter tomorrow. Even such potentially trendy or controversial subjects as open marriage, draft dodging, alcoholism, prescription drug addiction, May-December relationships, or late-in-life pregnancies are never given the depth such topics deserve. Instead, what drama there is remains drama-lite (it is supposed to be a comedy series, after all, though there is something melodramatic in every episode), and the comedy is never more than lightly pleasurable (though if the annoying laugh track is any indication, this is a gut-busting laugh riot of a show).
If The Love Boat has any claim to fame, it’s well known for providing much of A- and B-list Hollywood steady guest star employment during its nine seasons on the air. In these twelve episodes, the guest cast features such names as Ray Bolger, Martha Raye, Peter Marshall, Barbara Rush, Tina Louise, Lyle Waggoner, Elaine Joyce, Bobby Van, Abe Vigoda, Nancy Walker, Ron Polillo, Cathy Lee Crosby, Randolph Mantooth, Robert Mandan, Roddy McDowell, Tammy Grimes, Virginia Graham, Raymond Burr, Michael Cole, Kim Darby, Bob Denver, Chris George, Lisa Hartman, Michael Lembeck, John Rubinstein, Conchata Ferrell, Richard Anderson, Joyce Brothers, Hans Conried, Carol Lynley, Diana Muldaur, Ben Murphy, Donna Pescow, John, Hayley, and Juliet Mills, Celeste Holm, David Hedison, Telma Hopkins, Reggie Jackson, Debbie Allen, Gene Rayburn, Fannie Flagg, Dennis Cole, Minnie Pearl, Arthur Godfrey, Samantha Eggar, Warren Berlinger, Elinor Donahue, Paul Burke, Arlene Dahl, Leslie Nielsen, Mark Shera, Patrick Labyorteaux, Sonny Bono, Arte Johnson, Charlie Callas, Dana Wynter, Peter Lawford, Jill St. John, Cyd Charisse, Charo, Jerry Stiller, Corey Feldman, Anne Meara, Craig Stevens, Ken Berry, Beth Howland, Bob Cummings, Nanette Fabray, and Ethel Merman.
Here is the line-up of the twelve episodes which make up the contents of the four discs in this second half of the second season set:
1 – My Sister, Irene/The “Now Marriage”/Second Time Around
2 – Gopher’s Opportunity/The Switch/Home Sweet Home
3 – Second Chance/Don’t Push Me/Like Father, Like Son
4 – Alas, Poor Dwyer/After the War/Itsy Bitsy/Ticket to Ride/ Disco Baby (two hour episode)
5 – Best of Friends/Aftermath/Dream Boat
6 – A Good and Faithful Servant/The Secret Life of Burl Smith/Tug of War/Designated Lover (90-minute episode)
7 – Love Me, Love My Dog/Poor Little Rich Girl/The Decision
8 – Funny Valentine/The Wallflower/A Home Is Not a Home
9 – Ages of Man/Bo ‘n Sam/Families
10 – Murder on the High Seas/Sounds of Silence/Cyrano de Bricker
11 – April’s Return/Super Mom/I’ll See You Again
12 – Third Wheel/Grandmother’s Day/Second String Mom
The disc case contains the usual caveat about the possibility of edited episodes, but as each regular episode runs a few seconds over 49 minutes, there doesn’t appear to have been any editing.
The program’s original 1.33:1 aspect ratio is faithfully replicated in these DVD transfers. Color is richly saturated with very pleasing flesh tones, and sharpness is usually not an issue with all of the photography shot on soundstages (only the last episode in the set seems not to have been remastered). Location shots and stock cruise ship footage is much less sharp. There are white specks that turn up in almost every episode, and there are also occasional scratches, some slight debris, and some notable spotting in one episode, In the main, however, the episodes look very pleasing and better than I remember seeing on broadcast television. Each regular episode has been divided into 7 chapters though a few “supersized” episodes have more.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio mix is very typical for the soundtracks of the period. There isn’t much high or low end fidelity, but as the show is mostly talk, the track is more than adequate for those purposes. ADR is very noticeable on sequences shot on location, and while the laugh track is bothersome and intrusive, it doesn’t drown out the dialogue between the actors.
Each episode contains a 30-second network promo which originally aired as a preview of the next week’s episode. They are in lackluster condition compared to the video quality of most of the episodes themselves.
The first disc contains trailers for such CBS/Paramount comedy box sets as I Love Lucy, Cheers: The Final Season, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, Caroline in the City, and Dave’s World.
3/5 (not an average)
The Love Boat offers star watchers a galaxy of greater and lesser lights, and otherwise the show is a predictably bland but moderately pleasant time passer. The second half of the second season is well represented with above average video and audio encodes that fans will appreciate.