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Jeraldine Saunders, a real-life cruise director, wrote about her experiences in a book called The Love Boats. A trilogy of Made for TV Movies followed, and then it finally became an Aaron Spelling-produced series airing on ABC from 1977 to 1986.
The show was an hourlong comedy, with several intertwining plots about the guests and the crew. As the title implied, people were falling in love all over the place. And, of course, went further than that.
Now, even if you never watched the show, you've probably heard the theme song, one of the most well-known TV themes ever, and a favorite for fictional lounge acts. This was sung by Jack Jones and written by Paul Williams. Yes, the man who wrote "The Rainbow Connection" also wrote this.
The Love Boat provides examples of:
- Cool Boat: Nearly all the action took place aboard the Pacific Princess.
- Crossover: A couple with Fantasy Island, another Aaron Spelling show which immediately followed The Love Boat on ABC Saturday nights.
- Yet another Spelling show, Charlies Angels, had an episode where the title characters pursue art thieves on a Pacific Princess cruise and encounter Capt. Stubing and his crew.
- Did Not Do the Research: On cruises, crew members are not allowed to mingle with guests quite as freely as happened on The Love Boat. In fact, "fraternizing" with a guest can get the crew member put off the ship at the next port, and "fraternizing" is pretty broadly defined.
- Framed Face Opening: Utilized for the guest passengers on each episode, from season 2 onward. The standard credit sequence had the port window motif over the Princess backdrop while the final season (1985-1986) used a wave motif over a panoramic montage of sights from around the world.
- Insatiable Newlyweds: A series Running Gag, starting from the pilot.
- Mad Magazine: Lust Boat
- The Movie: Besides the pilots, there were a number of special two-hour movies throughout the show's run, including three which aired in 1986-87 in lieu of a tenth season.
- The Other Darrin: The first pilot movie had an entirely different cast playing the ship's crew.
- Pilot Movie: Three of them, in fact.
- Potty Dance: Isaac does this when forced to share a cabin (and a bathroom) with the other male crew.
- Popcultural Osmosis: The theme song.
- Put on a Bus: Julie McCoy, after Lauren Tewes' cocaine addiction made her unable to do her job.
- The Bus Came Back, however. She made a guest appearance (as a passenger) in a season 9 episode, then returned as cruise director for the three season 10 movies.
- Reunion Show: A Valentine Voyage, in 1990.
- Revival: Love Boat: The Next Wave, which ran on UPN in 1998-99 and involved an entirely different ship and crew (although several members of the original show's cast did appear in one episode, where they got together for the wedding of the now-grown Vicki Stubing).
- Shipping Tropes: Let's just put this here and save ourselves the puns.
- Special Guest: Lots of them. Including, of all people, Andy Warhol.
- Stunt Casting: Virtually every guest star, including Billy Barty and Patty Maloney as a dwarf couple accompanied by their normal-height son.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Judy McCoy, for Julie McCoy.
- Theme Tune: Is a subject for a lot of parodies.
- This mash-up of Star Trek and Love Boat
- South Park did one called "The Catholic Boat", making fun of the priest sexual predator scandals.
- Saturday Night Live also made a parody on an episode guest starring Patrick Stewart: The Love Boat: The Next Generation (complete with surprise cameo by Bernie Kopell).
- Sesame Street did a sketch with Ernie and some Anything Muppets, called "I Love This Boat".
- The 1979 animated special Scooby Goes Hollywood had Shaggy and Scooby on The Love Ship.
- In the middle of a jailbreak in Airplane!! II, Jack Jones appears in the light of a searchlight singing the theme.
- Phineas and Ferb of all things had a parody with Boat of Romance
- Third Line, Some Waiting: Every episode featured three interwoven plot lines. Usually they were independent of each other, but on occasion they would intersect.
- Woobie of the Week