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The Love Boat

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Title: The Love Boat  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Princess Cruises, Gavin MacLeod, Paul Williams (songwriter), Lauren Tewes, Kristy McNichol
Collection: 1970S American Comedy Television Series, 1977 American Television Series Debuts, 1980S American Comedy Television Series, 1986 American Television Series Endings, American Anthology Television Series, American Broadcasting Company Network Shows, American Television Sitcoms, English-Language Television Programming, Fictional Ships, Nautical Television Series, Princess Cruises, Television Programs Based on Books, Television Series by Cbs Paramount Television, Television Series by Cbs Television Studios, Television Series by Spelling Television
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Love Boat

The Love Boat
Genre Sitcom
Created by Jeraldine Saunders
Developed by W. L. Baumes
Starring Gavin MacLeod
Bernie Kopell
Fred Grandy
Ted Lange
Lauren Tewes
Jill Whelan
Ted McGinley
Opening theme "The Love Boat" sung by Jack Jones, seasons 1–8; by Dionne Warwick in season 9
Composer(s) Ben Lanzarone
Duane Tatro
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 9 + 4 specials
No. of episodes 249 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Aaron Spelling
Douglas S. Cramer
Running time 45–52 minutes
Production company(s) Douglas S. Cramer Productions
Aaron Spelling Productions
The Love Boat Company
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Original channel ABC
Original release September 24, 1977 (1977-09-24) – February 27, 1987 (1987-02-27)
Followed by The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage (1990)
Related shows The Love Boat: The Next Wave

The Love Boat is an American television series set on a cruise ship, which aired on the ABC Television Network from September 24, 1977, until February 27, 1987.[1] The show revolves around the ship's captain (played by Gavin MacLeod) and a handful of its crew, with several passengers – played by different guest actors for each episode – having romantic and humorous adventures. It was part of ABC's popular Saturday night lineup that included Fantasy Island until that show ended in 1984.

The original 1976 made-for-TV movie on which the show was based (also titled The Love Boat) was itself based on the nonfiction book The Love Boats by Jeraldine Saunders, a real-life cruise director. Two more TV movies (titled The Love Boat II and The New Love Boat) would follow before the series began its run.

The executive producer for the series was Aaron Spelling, who produced several successful series for ABC from the 1960s into the 1980s.

In 1997, the episode with segment titles "Hidden Treasure," "Picture from the Past," and "Ace's Salary" (season 9, episode 3) was ranked No. 82 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.[2] The Love Boat ran for ten seasons, including specials.


  • Cast 1
  • Episodes 2
  • Production 3
    • Writing format 3.1
    • Laugh track 3.2
    • Theme song and title sequence 3.3
  • Sequels, spin-offs and crossovers 4
  • Syndication 5
  • DVD releases 6
  • International syndication 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


  • Gavin MacLeod as Captain Merrill Stubing (also played Captain Stubing's brother Marshall, under the name O. D. Warbux, in two episodes, and as Captain Stubing's brother Milo, under the name Sonny Wilde, in one episode)
  • Bernie Kopell as Dr. Adam "Doc" Bricker, ship's doctor
  • Fred Grandy as Burl "Gopher" Smith, Yeoman Purser
  • Ted Lange as Isaac Washington, bartender
  • Lauren Tewes as Julie McCoy, Cruise Director (Seasons 1-7)
  • Jill Whelan as Vicki Stubing, the captain's daughter (seasons 3–10)
  • Ted McGinley as Ashley "Ace" Covington Evans, ship's photographer (seasons 7–10)
  • Pat Klous as Judy McCoy, Julie's sister and successor as cruise director (seasons 8–9)

Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, and Ted Lange are the only cast members to appear in every episode of the series, including the last three made-for-TV movies. Fred Grandy was in every episode throughout the run of the series, but was not in the last of the TV movies. MacLeod was not the captain in the first two TV movies, however. The viewers are told in Love Boat II that Gopher, Doc, Isaac, and the captain served together in Vietnam, but no reference to this is ever made to their shared history again. (Note this is in conflict with episode 2-18 where Gopher says he only served in the Army Finance corps at Fort Knox, Kentucky and never went to Vietnam) However, when MacLeod's character was introduced, there was mention of him being "the new captain."

Among the series' attractions was the casting of well-known actors in guest-starring roles, with many famous film stars of yesteryear making rare television appearances. It was not the first comedy series to use the guest-star cast anthology format—Love, American Style used the formula seven years earlier, but The Love Boat had such success with the formula that future shows in similar style (such as Supertrain and Masquerade) were inevitably compared to The Love Boat. The show was followed on Saturday nights on ABC by Fantasy Island, which was also produced by Aaron Spelling, and had a similar format.



The one-hour sitcom was usually set aboard a Patrick Duffy and Anthony Andrews, among others. (The series was filmed primarily on sets in California—20th Century Fox Studios for seasons one through five and Warner Hollywood Studios for the remainder of the series). After being renamed the MS Pacific and spending its golden years owned by a cruise line in Spain, the Pacific Princess was retired to Turkey in 2013 where it is being scrapped by a ship breaking company because no buyer could be found for it.[4]

For its first seven years, The Love Boat was very successful in the ratings. During that time, it ranked among the top 20, and even the top 10. For the 1980–81 season, it posted its highest rating at No. 5. By the start of the 1984–85 season, the ratings were beginning to drop, and at the end of the following year, The Love Boat was cancelled after nine years on ABC, although four three-hour specials aired during the 1986–87 season.

Writing format

Original cast in a program premiere publicity photo 1977

Another unique aspect of The Love Boat was its writing format. Each episode contained several simultaneous storylines, each one written by a different set of writers. Each set of writers worked on one group of guest stars and their story of the week. As a result of this, episodes ended up with ungainly titles like "Disco Baby/Alas, Poor Dwyer/After the War/Ticket to Ride/Itsy Bitsy: Part 1." This also led to notorious continuity errors, most notably in Julie's outfits during boarding and disembarkation, which were often inconsistent between storylines.

Even though the cast of Charlie's Angels had been on separate episodes of the show, there was a crossover episode of the show in which the lady detectives had a case on the ship.

On rare occasions, there would be crossovers between the stories. In one episode, actors Robert Reed and Florence Henderson, formerly of The Brady Bunch, guest starred in separate segments. In one scene, the two pass each other in a corridor, execute a "do I know you?" double-take, and then continue on their separate ways without talking.

In a one-time Fantasy Island crossover episode, the cruise ship makes a detour to deliver a troubled woman (played by Loni Anderson) to the mysterious island, and her storyline continued on that show.

There were usually three storylines. Usually, one storyline focused around a member of the crew, a second storyline would often focus on a crew member interacting with a passenger, and the third storyline was more focused around a passenger (or a group of passengers). The three storylines usually followed a similar thematic pattern: One storyline (typically the "crew" one) was straight-ahead comedy. The second would typically follow more of a romantic comedy format (with only occasional dramatic elements). The third storyline would usually be the most dramatic of the three, often offering few (if any) laughs and a far more serious tone.

Laugh track

The series was also distinctive as being one of the few hour-long series ever made for American television that used a laugh track (Eight is Enough, on the same network and produced at the same time, being another example).

Theme song and title sequence

The Love Boat theme song was sung by Jack Jones (except for the last season, where a cover version by Dionne Warwick was used). The lyrics were written by Paul Williams with music by Charles Fox. The song has since been recorded and released commercially by Charo in 1978 and Amanda Lear in 2001.

The opening sequence for the series underwent three different changes over the years. From seasons one to eight, the opening sequence began with a long shot of the ship before the camera slowly zoomed in onto its bridge area. This was followed by posing shots of the crew members (updated several times due to cast additions and changes throughout all seasons) at different points on the ship set. The long shot footage of the ship was used for the credits of the celebrity guest stars. For only the first season, the guest stars were credited by having their names appear on the screen while the show's logo, a radar/compass style circle with four hearts, wrapped around them. Starting with season two (and originally experimented with in the fifteenth episode of the first season), the compass was graphically put in place and at its center, the guest stars were shown posing for the camera on different parts of the set (or a city spot used in on-location episodes) while their names appeared at the bottom of the screen. For the final season, the compass was replaced by a crescent wave and the long shots of the ship were replaced by a montage of the various locations traveled to on the show. At the center of the wave graphic, the guest stars were shown posing for the camera wearing their formal outfits against different colored backgrounds.

Sequels, spin-offs and crossovers

  • A 1979 episode of another Aaron Spelling series, Charlie's Angels, had that show's characters trying to recover a stolen statue while aboard the Pacific Princess on a Caribbean cruise (all of the Love Boat regulars had cameo appearances)
  • In 1982, 'The Love Boat Goes to Fantasy Island' was a 90-minute back-to-back of each show--the episode started on The Love Boat and the guest stars finished on Fantasy Island.
  • In 1990 a TV reunion movie, The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage, aired on CBS.
  • A second TV series, The Love Boat: The Next Wave aired on UPN from 1998 to 1999, with Robert Urich as Captain Jim Kennedy, a retired United States Navy officer, Phil Morris as Chief Purser Will Sanders, and Heidi Mark as cruise director Nicole Jordan (several members of the original show's cast guest-starred on a reunion-themed episode, where it was revealed that Julie and Doc had been in love all along)
  • A two-part 1996 Martin episode, "Goin' Overboard", had the main characters going on a cruise and encountering Isaac, Julie, Doc, and Vicki
  • Isaac Washington also appeared in a 2005 episode of The King of Queens, "The Black List".


ABC also aired reruns of the show in their daytime lineup from 11:00 a.m. – noon (10 a.m. – 11 a.m. Central) from June 30, 1980 to June 24, 1983 (with the exception of June 15, 1981 to September 11, 1981 when back-to-back reruns of Three's Company aired instead). The show currently reruns 2 episodes (or both parts of a 2 part show) Sunday afternoons at 5 and 6 p.m. (4 and 5 p.m. Central Time) on Me-TV. Pop also airs the program at various times throughout the week, particularly on Thursdays and Saturdays.

DVD releases

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released Seasons 1 & 2 of The Love Boat on DVD in Region 1 & 4. Each season has been released in two volume sets.

DVD Name Ep No. Release dates Bonus features
Region 1 Region 4
Season 1, Volume 1 12 March 4, 2008 April 10, 2008
  • Episodic promos
Season 1, Volume 2 12 August 12, 2008 October 2, 2008
  • The New Love Boat (pilot TV-Movie)
  • Episodic promos
Season 2, Volume 1 13 January 27, 2009 September 2, 2009
  • Episodic promos
Season 2, Volume 2 12 August 4, 2009 December 24, 2009
  • Episodic promos

International syndication

Country Foreign title Translation Network(s) Notes
 Australia The Love Boat None Nine Network (1978–86)
Eleven (2011–)
 Canada The Love Boat Global Television Network (Ontario)
First-run syndication (rest of Canada)
 Cyprus To ploio tis agapis
(The Ship of Love)
Subtitled CyBC
 Denmark The Love Boat Subtitled Kanal 2
 Finland Lemmenlaiva
(Ship of Love)
Subtitled MTV3


La croisière s'amuse
(The Fun Cruise)
Dubbed FR3


As usual in France, the laugh track was omitted in the French synchronisation which made this a romantic telenovela-like series rather than a sitcom
 Germany Love Boat
Dubbed Sat.1
Tele 5
Premiere (pay television network)
Originally shown on Sat.1 and later on Tele 5, 9Live, Premiere, and Anixe.
The laugh track was omitted
 Gibraltar Love Boat GBC TV Hugely popular in Gibraltar, with The Love Boat (the real one) having berthed at Gibraltar Port various times over the years
 Greece Το Πλοίο της Αγάπης
(The Ship of Love)
Subtitled ERT
 Hungary Szerelemhajó
(Love Ship)
Dubbed Movies 24 Aired in 2010; The laugh track was omitted
 Israel ספינת האהבה
(The Love Boat)
Subtitled IBA
 Italy Love Boat Dubbed Mediaset First run on Canale 5, beginning in 1980; reruns on Canale 5, Rete 4, SkyVivo, FoxRetro, Raidue; In Italy, the laugh track was omitted
 Netherlands The Love Boat Subtitled VARA and later RTL4
 New Zealand The Love Boat None TVNZ
 Norway Kjærlighetsskipet
(The Love Ship)
Subtitled TV2 (1994–96)
 Philippines The Love Boat None GMA Network
 Poland Statek miłości
(The Love Boat)
Dubbed TVP2
 Portugal Barco do Amor
(The Love Boat)
Subtitled RTP 1
Sic Gold
Sic Comédia
RTP 1 (first run) in 1980s
RTP 2 (rerun) in 1980s and early 1990s as possible choice of phone-vote selection program Agora Escolha
Sic Gold (reruns)
Sic Comédia (reruns)
 Slovakia Loď lásky
(Love Ship)
Dubbed Tv Joj
 South Africa Die Plesierboot
(The Pleasure Boat)
Dubbed in Afrikaans TV2
 South Korea 사랑의 유람선
(Cruise ship of Love)
Dubbed MBC
 Thailand เรือรัก เรือสำราญ
(Ship of Love, Ship of Fun)
Dubbed TV3
 Spain Vacaciones en el mar
(Sea Holidays)
Dubbed Televisión Española (first run)
Telecinco (reruns)
 Sweden Kärlek ombord
(Love on Board)
Subtitled TV4
 Taiwan 愛之船
(The Boat of Love)
Subtitled CTV
 Turkey Aşk Gemisi
(The Love Boat)
Dubbed TRT 1 (first run)
Show TV (reruns)


El Crucero del Amor
(The Boat of Love)
Dubbed Venezolana de Televisión


The show was dubbed in Mexico for Latin America and, with the exception here marked, is known as "El Crucero del Amor" (The Cruise Ship of Love). Also the laugh track was omitted.


  1. ^ "'"Then/Now: The cast of 'The Love Boat. FoxNews. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Special Collectors' Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time".  
  3. ^ Sloan, Gene (August 8, 2013). "Famed 'Love Boat' makes final voyage to scrapyard". USA Today. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  4. ^

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