Pack Your Bags – We’re Cruising On The Love Boat – Remembering The Beloved Situation Comedy
History & Plot
This hour long situation comedy with dramatic elements enjoyed a long run on the ABC network from May 1977 – May 1986. After the original series run there were three television specials that were originally aired from 1986 to 1990.
The plot revolved around a cruise line captain and his crew and the cruise passengers they served. The ships’ crew often interfaced with various guests that appeared on the show each week, getting involved in either comedic or dramatic experiences with them. Typically there are three storylines occurring at the same time. The first storyline is high comedy and usually involves the hi-jinks of one or many members of the crew. The second storyline has a mixture of comedy and drama and often time involves a crew member. The third storyline is completely dramatic in nature and usually involves only the guest stars.
The crew has ups and downs and highs and lows and the plot revolves around how they cope with their personal lives while serving the crew.
“Captain Merrill Stubing” was played by Gavin Mac Cloud who had just come off of many years on the critically acclaimed Mary Tyler Moore Show. He was often very serious though he got involved in comedy and romance just as much as his crew.
Bernie Koppel portrayed “Dr. Adam Doc Bricker”. His character, though an esteemed ships’ physician, often frequently imbibed on the ship and got involved in many romantic interludes.
The ship’s Yeoman Purser was nicknamed “Golfer” though his real name on the series was Burl Smith. He often got into trouble for taking his job too seriously. The actor who portrayed this role was none other than Fred Grandy. He provided a lot of comic relief on the show.
The young and attractive cruise director, “Julie” was played by Lauren Tewes. She was a bright-eyed and bushy tailed go getter who was looking for love and trying to do the best job possible for the passengers and crew aboard the ship.
The Ship’s bartender, “Isaac Washington” was portrayed by Ted Lange. He was a calming force aboard the Pacific Princess.
“Vicky Stubing”, the captain’s daughter portrayed by actress Jill Whelan comes aboard as she begins living then working on the ship.
The drama-comedy had a unique writing format. Instead of having one team of writers for the show, the producers decided they would use different writing teams for each of the episodes three storylines. This effect gave the show a resilient freshness because the dialog style was different even within the same episode.
The production staff was also really daring in that they used a recorded laugh track instead of using a live studio audience. The production style took the crew on many different location shoots and used an actual boat for many of the shooting sequences.
When they were not on actual location the shooting sets took place primarily on a California studio stage.