Saturday, December 24, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day #12: Love Boat brings us home!

What better way to end this "12 Days of Watching" adventure than with a look at what I like to call the quintessential TV show of the BOTNS era, The Love Boat? The program didn't produce as many holiday episodes as you might expect given its 9-year, 250-episode run, but it created one I had never seen: Season 6's "The Christmas Presence," highlighted by BOTNS fave Mickey Rooney.

After a debacle like yesterday's Saturday Night Live experience, I had to turn to a safe bet, and as always, the Pacific Princess brought us through the rocky waters of Christmas--OK, that's a little much because I loved everything except the SNL stuff, but still I am pleased to end this 12-day journey with a Love Boat.

As I said, we tend to love the Mickster around here. Hey, we never had to work with him! He is classic Later Years Mickey Rooney here, actually even underplaying a bit for the fantastical character he plays: Angelarum Dominicus, an elderly but lively gentleman who boards under  mysterious circumstances and proceeds to meddle in the lives of everyone on the ship--well, at least the credited guest stars and the main cast. It's fortunate that he works for the forces of good, albeit with a bit of a Rooneyesque impish bent, because he does magic. I mean, he does literal magic, pointing at things and making them disappear and appear, transmorgrifying things, and doing everything but pulling a rabbit out of Captain Stubing's hat. Folks, MAGIC IS REAL in the Love Boat universe!

I want to talk about Captain Stubing here because, as gracious as he is to Dominicus, he is a bit rough with the crew on this one. More important is his dogged focus on getting the Christmas tree decorated. In itself, no biggie. It IS a Christmas cruise, as Julie announces at the beginning. What disappoints me is that Stubing hasn't planned ahead more. Why is there not a big tree with decorations in place as soon as the passengers board for what is, after all, a themed voyage? Julie has done her part by getting the ship decked out, and Gopher got the tree, but the public should have been able to enjoy a fully trimmed tree from the get-go. Was there some logistical situation that prevented that? I hope so because this is uncharacteristic of Stubing, and perhaps sublimated guilt over it comes out in his riding Julie and Gopher to get that tree done.

Back to the guests: A bearded Donny Osmond pouts because wife Maureen McCormick is late. Never get a wife with a career, he whines, because she will, like, show up late for stuff. A pair of nuns (Teresa Wright and Jan Rooney) brings a boys' choir on board after having to cancel their tour due to the lead singer's throat issues. A couple of suspicious "businessmen," Keenan Wynn and Henry Gibson, are apparently smuggling gold. The Mickster involves himself in all these situations, plus provides an assist on that tree thing AND ensures Isaac can talk to his mom for Christmas. What about Doc? Well, let's just say Adam Bricker gets to show he is more than just a lothario and display some actual medical skills.

I KNEW I could count on Love Boat for the holiday cheer that I lacked yesterday! Unlike most of the series' efforts, this has one single story credited to one pair of writers. It's appropriate since The Mickster appears in all of the various stories and really sticks his nose everywhere he can (Talking about the character, not the actor...I think).

And look at the Christmas splendor on display in this Getty Images pic:

We get it all here--laughs, tears, relationship drama, life-or-death drama, and the mystery of a whimsical stranger on board. And it all ends with a goofy but charming shot of Merrill Stubing's big blue eyes gazing up at the stars and acknowledging the same higher power that Dominicus had addressed moments earlier:

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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