|The Love Boat crew.|
The episode interweaves four stories. Cruise director Julie (Lauren Tewes) and purser Gopher (Fred Grandy) fear the wrath of Captain Stubing (Gaven MacLeod) when they botch decorating the ship's Christmas tree. Con men Keenan Wynn and Henry Gibson plan to smuggle gold into the U.S. by using nuns and orphans. A young married couple (Donny Osmond and Maureen McCormick) clash over her desire to continue working as a nurse instead of staying at home and having kids. Finally, Mickey Rooney is on hand as a genial old gentleman named Mr. Dominicus, who plays an angelic part in each of the stories.
|Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten.|
|Donny and Maureen.|
I've always had a soft spot for The Love Boat. The actors project a genuine warmth and make us believe in the crew's camaraderie. The writing may only be adequate, but at least the brevity of the individual stories keeps each episode moving along briskly. And finally, there's the cruise ship setting, which may hold the greatest appeal for me. Yes, most episodes were shot on a sound stage with fake-looking backdrops, but, hey, that never bothered Hitchcock. I just like the concept of a plot beginning and ending with a journey, whether it's a lady vanishing on a train or two old flames rediscovering love on the Pacific Princess (surely, one of the most oft-used Love Boat plots).
I enjoyed revisiting The Love Boat even if "The Christmas Presence" isn't a stellar episode. I'm always glad to see the series pop up on television (thanks MeTV). I find it odd that one of the biggest TV series of the late 1970s and early 1980s has never been fully released on DVD. Surprisingly, only the first two seasons are available. You would have thought that Gopher...I mean, Fred Grandy...could have added the release of the complete Love Boat DVD collection to a federal bill when he was serving in the House of Representatives!
This review is part of the Very Merry MeTV Blogathon hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association. Click here to see the full schedule of posts.