Jeff Smith 9:30 a.m., Aug. 31
Gangway to Hell: The Love Boat sails again
It floats back to you
It was Central Casting's answer to the elephant's graveyard, the last shot at the limelight for many a faded star. The Love Boat served up talent from the golden age in a tarnished bowl. Here was a weekly reminder that old Hollywood was dying off and thanks to Hollywood gravedigger Aaron Spelling, the bodies were stacking up right before our very eyes.
I refused to set sail during the program's original run. The Boat's open-casket reverie didn't hit me until years later when the show was in syndication. Being the head of a cable television dispatch office offered the rare luxury of having a TV on during every second of my workday. Das Love Boot, as it was dubbed, aired three times during the course of business hours. At 12 p.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m., we dutifully tuned in to catch each show's boarding list.
The absence of The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon left a 24-hour hole in my Labor Day festivities. Instead of tote boards and "Timpanis!" I set a course for adventure, my mind on a old distraction. It took some time, but eventually I was able to track down every episode of TLB on YouTube. Believe me: it floats back to you.
What a difference a month makes. I had every intention of including a favorite episode or two -- Mackenzie Phillips as Gopher's transgendered college roommate, Ethel Merman and Gene Rayburn as husband and wife -- for your viewing pleasure, but in the time it took to put this post together, they had all but vanished.
Luckily I save my old screencaps. Here are but a few of my favorite Love Boat players and several dream guests that would surely set sail today if Tori ever decides to once again make the old scow seaworthy.
A complete listing of Love Boat stars is yours for the clicking.