Bring The Love Boat Back

Lots of great things are back. Marie Osmond is back on the American Broadcasting Corporation, starring this season on Dancing with the Stars. Sally Field is saying screwy things at an awards show. On top of all this redux, there is evidence (sketchy) that a Love Boat movie might be in the works. Yes, you heard it correctly.

Tori Spelling told Entertainment Weekly‘s Dan Snierson that:

One of my dad’s dreams that never got fulfilled [Aaron Spelling died in 2006] is he desperately wanted to do a feature. He’d tell me about that every year. First he’d be like, ”I’m thinking about Jim Carrey.” Then he’d be like, ”Wait, we’re going to have a young captain and it’s going to be Ben Stiller.” It would’ve been awesome.

Because The Love Boat is a great franchise, the perfect franchise. The UPN network brought it back as the Robert Urich TV show The Love Boat: The Next Wave, but it didn’t work. It wasn’t like the old one, and people didn’t watch. Problems included:

  • It didn’t have Jack Jones singing the theme song, nor did it have a laugh track.
  • The logo and show credits were different. Very often, if an episode was crap, the intro graphics and TV theme song still had an appeal. TV programmers forget this and now rely upon the episode to do all the lifting.
  • There was another problem, and this makes for serious point about the resuscitation of dead brands. The Love Boat franchise was intrinsically connected with the ABC brand, so when it wasn’t shown on ABC, it didn’t feel real.
  • It was shown on Monday night and then Friday night. Part of the original The Love Boat’s power as a brand was that it was shown on Saturday night. What a perfect show for people who are home, a show about old stars who are unhappy and searching for love! People who are home at 9 p.m. Saturday are either retired, young parents, single without dates or college students getting prepped for an 11 p.m. drinking binge. Hence, the perfect audience for The Love Boat.
  • Saturday night is a dog night for TV networks anyway. ABC (or ABC Family) might do well to show, on occasion, a few reruns of The Love Boat at 9 p.m. Saturday, just for fun, for a test, when college football season is over. Launch it, like Nick at Nite, under an “ABC Classic” banner. It might actually do better than reruns of current shows like Full House, or could be paired with other classic ABC shows. The Saturday night was ideal; people who did not have love were home Saturday night. So the escape was perfect.

So if “they” bring it back as movie or TV show, don’t sex it up. Don’t make it ironic. Don’t camp it up. Don’t screw it up. Do it in a straightforward way. Do bring back Jack Jones. Do include Tori Spelling in the planning. Do think of it as Oceans 11 for Generation Y.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.

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