Monday, April 18, 2011


Hey, you starry-eyed... glassy-eyed...cross-eyed romantics ! The entire nine year run (1977-1986) of the smash-hit TV series The Love Boat is out on DVD, and I've just finished reliving season one! either love it, or you despise it, but take another look at the masthead of this blog and you'll notice that I'm an incurable romantic, so The Love Boat has always held a special place in my heart. Television's most affable cast of all time featured Gavin MacLeod as Captain Stubing; Bernie Kopell as Doc ; future congressman Fred Grandy as Gopher ; Ted Lange as Isaac the bartender; and a coked-up (by her own admission) Lauren Tewes as Julie the cruise director.

More than any other show, The Love Boat exemplified that old cliche that it's not the destination, but the journey, as each week they would set sail for some romantic locale, but the real action always occurred on board. When you find a formula that works--like Coke, (not the kind that Lauren Tewes was ingesting) you stick with it. Each episode featured three concurrent story lines--normally one that was serious, one that was cute/funny, and one romantic. The crew did no work to speak of, instead they hung out with and often got romantically involved with the passengers--which must be a serious no-no for cruise employees in the real world, but we're talking pure fantasy here.

The characters were stereotypical, and the acting was often wooden--but the dialogue was snappy and funny, and two or three big-name stars were on board for each episode, including the likes of: Milton Berle, Florence Henderson, (and her annoying screeching) Tom Hanks, Suzanne Somers, Telly Savalas, Ava Gabor, Phil Silvers, Jane Curtain, Leslie Nielsen, (in an uncharacteristic serious role) and even Anson Williams as a PRIEST--of all the ungodly things !

In the interest of full disclosure, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that one of the things that endeared The Love Boat to me was that, at least during the early episodes, many of the women on the show were sans bras--as was the fashion during the seventies--adding a "titillating" aspect that you won't find on today's network TV shows ! (And refreshingly, NO IMPLANTS.)

What REALLY made The Love Boat was the buoyant theme song, written by the great Paul Williams, and sung by Jack Jones. Some instrumental variation of the theme underscores the action throughout each episode, and it's totally invigorating--propelling us incurable romantics into a dreamy vision of a world where all things are possible.

So relive the PASSION...relive the ROMANCE...relive the PECULIAR LOOKING HAIRSTYLES... and come aboard--we're expecting you !

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Rated : R
Stars: Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal
Director: Edward Zwick
Genre: drama/comedy/romance

Okay, so the obvious selling point of Love and Other Drugs--based on Jamie Reidy's memoir: Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman-- is Anne Hathaway in the altogether. Which is altogether not a bad reason to watch, even if you don't like anything else about the movie. But I think you will.

Jamie (Jake Gyllenhall) is a hotshot drug rep for Pfizer during the mid nineties. He accosts doctors in parking lots, or, with a mixture of sexual charm and bravado, cons his way past their receptionists to slip his anti-depressant samples onto the ol' docs shelves. It's all a game--played much in the manner of Washington lobbyists who wield their influence over our lawmakers--to get the MDs to prescribe his drugs over some other rep's drugs.

Jamie bribes one of the docs to take him on as an "intern," and subsequently gets to be in the room when Maggie, (Anne Hathaway) a young woman dealing with premature onset Parkinson's disease, takes her boob out for a quick inspection. You know right there that this is the beginning of a budding romance.

Jake and Maggie begin a sex only relationship, because she is the type who won't allow anyone to love her because she perceives complications down the line due to her medical condition. But all that sex (and Hathaway is as believably real in the bedroom as she is anyplace else) brings them to the brink of wanting something deeper, but not letting on that they want something deeper, because that might spoil the party. It's your classic boy-gets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-has-to-fight-to-get-girl-back tale. And even though Love and Other Drugs is a drama, there are some choice comic moments as well--especially when Jake gets the go ahead to promote Viagra, the new wonder drug that's "lifting the spirits" of men everywhere !

Love and Other Drugs is also an indictment of a system that uses MDs as the middle-men--glorified drug pushers if you will-- to turn us into a nation of addicts and reap enormous profits for the pharmaceutical companies. That's why every other commercial on TV now exhorts you to "ask your doctor" about the benefits of some prescription drug with a laundry list of side-effects (like death) that are way worse than the condition you'd be treating. (And every day the lawyers are on there drumming up business from clients whose lives have been devastated by Accutane, or some other dangerous product that never should have been approved in the first place.) But our nation of zombies--especially vulnerable seniors-- keeps on popping those pills by the handful. If that isn't shameful enough, look at what they've done--in collaboration with the school system--to our hyperactive kids.

End of rant.

There's plenty of sex and lots of drugs in Love and Other Drugs...the only thing missing for baby boomers is the rock n roll. Play the movie, then go put on the Stones...and you'll feel complete.

Grade: B +