Entertainment News and Views
Judge John Floyd's Blog
• Location: Reynoldsburg, OH
Today's lesson: Don't mess with The Love Boat!
I don't receive that much direct feedback for my reviews, so I tend to pay a lot of attention to whether readers think my critiques are fair, based on the yes/no option at the bottom of the page. Generally, I find my reviews are considered fair by the majority of readers who rate them. Strange, then, that only 5 of 9 readers as of this writing feel that I have given The Love Boat - Season One, Volume 1 a fair shake.
Anyone who has read my reviews of "lightweight" material like the Frankie and Annette Collection or the Tammy Triple Feature set knows that I am generally very open to films and TV shows which are frothy and fluffy, but not overly substantive. I'm not one of those critics that enjoys looking down his nose at something because it doesn't make a profound statement about human nature, the Iraq War, globalization, the plight of the humpback whale, etc. If a film or show is meant to be entertaining and fun in a very simple or superficial way, I acknowledge that going in, and I do my best to judge the material with that intent in mind.
I approached The Love Boat knowing full well (from having watched it fairly regularly during its network run) that it was never meant to be heavy or "important" stuff. It was intended to be romance and mild farce on the high seas, with recognizable actors enjoying a week on a cruise ship and a break from their typical roles. I didn't set out to hold the show to any unfairly high standard which it had no chance of meeting. I took it at face value, and still found it lacking.
For whatever charm it had (and still has), The Love Boat was a thoroughly predictable and generally only mildly amusing program. Its plots were given too little time to develop, its characters were too broadly drawn, and its resolutions were too easy to see coming for the show to be really satisfying on any level. Too often, great comedic actors were handed scripts which required them to deliver humorous dialogue on a par with the commentary for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, and which did not fully take advantage of their considerable talent as performers. As I cited in the review, when you see George Jefferson and Aunt Esther trading venomous barbs and still don't laugh, something is wrong in TV Land.
Those who found the review unfair should note that I gave credit to many of the guest stars, and to a few of the regulars, for doing fine work in the series' early episodes. Also noteworthy is the fact that much of my dissatisfaction with the box set centered on the high retail price, the lack of extras, and the distributor's decision to release the show in half-seasons. Had this been a full season of the program, with commentary tracks and other extras, I undoubtedly would have given the release a higher overall grade, in spite of the show's inherent shortcomings.
This is the first time I've ever felt compelled to defend a review in a public forum. I'm not certain why the 4 "unfair" ratings bother me so much, though I suspect that it stems largely from the fact that I subconsciously wanted to like this set a lot more than I did. Again, I watched this show as a kid, and I fully acknowledge its place in TV history. Sometimes, though, a strong feeling of nostalgia is not sufficient reason to overlook artistic flaws in, or stingy home video presentation of, a film or television program. I stand by my review of this set. I can only hope that those who think I have judged it too harshly will take a second look at both the review and the DVD, and realize that my criticisms, though at times scathing, are still honest and fair.
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