The Love Boat (simply Love Boat in its final season) is an American television series set on a cruise ship, which aired on the ABC Television Network from September 24, 1977 until May 24, 1986. The show starred Gavin MacLeod as the ship's captain, who encourages his customers to find romance. It was part of ABC's Saturday night "one-two punch" along with Fantasy Island until the latter 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, respectively) 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 to the 1980s.
The sitcom was usually set aboard a cruise liner called the Pacific Princess, whose passengers and crew had romantic and funny adventures every week. Other ships used were twin sister Island Princess, the Stella Solaris (for a Mediterranean cruise), Pearl of Scandinavia (for a Chinese cruise), the Royal Viking Sky (for European cruises) and the Royal Princess (for a Caribbean cruise).
Series stars MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, and Ted Lange are the only cast members to appear in every episode of the regular series, including the last three 2 hour made-for-TV movies, and stayed throughout the entire run. MacLeod was not the captain in the first two TV movies, however. We are told in Love Boat II that Gopher, Doc, Isaac, and the captain in that movie all served together in Vietnam, but no reference to this is ever made to their shared history again. However, when McLeod's character was introduced, there was mention of him being "the new captain." Though Grandy was given an appearance in every episode and stayed throughout the entire run, he missed the last of the three two-hour made-for-TV movies.
The long-running TV series was finally canceled in 1986 (with the exception of the final three made-for-TV movies), not only because of low ratings, but much due to the fact that actor Grandy wanted to leave the series to work as a Congressman for the Republican Party, in his native Iowa, which he successfully won and served four terms for Congress, just the year after the show's cancellation. After the show's cancellation, the show became immensely-popular in reruns, both in syndication and on TV Land.
* Gavin MacLeod - Captain Merrill Stubing, "Your Captain" - also played Captain Stubing's father, under the name O. D. Warbux, in 2 episodes, as well as Captain Stubing's brother, under the name Sonny Wilde
* Bernie Kopell - Dr. Adam "Doc" Bricker, "Your Ship's Doctor"
* Fred Grandy - Burl "Gopher" Smith, "Your Yeoman Purser"
* Ted Lange - Bartender Isaac Washington, "Your Bartender"