lessons learned, nostalgia, silliness, TV

Life lessons from The Love Boat…

I love watching cheesy TV shows from the 70s and 80s. I especially enjoy watching them when I’m laid up in bed and in need of comfort. Although I’m mostly over the virus that kicked me in the butt all weekend, I was still a touch under the weather for most of Monday. I did experience sort of a second wind later in the day, but not enough of one to call myself “well”. I managed to find the energy to wash all the bed linens and turn on the robot mower 😉 , which I forgot to check on, and later found stuck in the corner of the backyard. I even summoned the energy to walk the dogs in the afternoon, which they both appreciated. But then I came back, hurled, and spent more quality time on the toilet.

Yesterday, I watched The Love Boat, an Aaron Spelling/Douglas Cramer television show that aired on ABC throughout most of my childhood. Someone on YouTube uploaded a bunch of episodes from the 1982-83 season and I found myself glued to them for most of the afternoon. Although most of the plot lines were completely ridiculous and implausible, it was still kind of fun to watch. There are even a few pearls of wisdom within the episodes.

Yes, I did have to suspend belief when I watched the late Eva Gabor (born in 1919) playing the mother of a teenaged boy in the early 80s. It was a bit jarring to see Connie Needham (born in 1959), playing the fiance of her mother’s ex boyfriend Gene Barry (born in 1919), only to have her mom steal him back. I’m sure Alan Hale, Jr. and Bob Denver, both of whom were best known for their roles on Gilligan’s Island, had a great time on the show. It’s a trip to watch the crew members romancing the passengers as they live in huge, sumptuous quarters that I know are not the reality for actual cruise crew members. But still, I remember yesterday afternoon, actually stopping in my tracks to ponder when Dr. Adam Bricker (played by Bernie Kopell) said something unexpectedly profound. Or, at least I thought it was profound when he said it… I wish I could remember what he said at this moment, but alas, the thought has passed. Oh well, next time, I’ll make a note of it.

It’s always a treat to see Charo perform. Seriously– Charo is a very talented entertainer, especially when she plays guitar. She was a staple on The Love Boat, though, and I don’t think I ever need to watch her sing “Physical” again. My respect for Charo came when she was on The Surreal Life around 2004 or so. Even though that was a silly show, Charo showed everyone that she’s a lot smarter than anyone ever gave her credit for in her heyday, and she can REALLY play guitar.

Granted, this is supposed to be tacky and obnoxious, but it kind of goes beyond the pale. Charo later said she “cuchi cuchi-ed” all the way to the bank! I think I see a little Las Vegas era Tina Turner in this performance.
But at around 12:25 on this video of The Surreal Life, you can hear Charo play guitar… she does have some chops. I’d rather hear her play guitar and listen to her sing. Incidentally, this was one of the better seasons of The Surreal Life.

The Love Boat also did a couple of on location two-parters during that time period that were fun to watch, especially since Bill and I have been to some of the places they went. In 2013, we did our last SeaDream cruise from Rome to Athens, which included pre-cruise stops in Venice and Florence. The Love Boat, which usually focused on cruises to Mexico, went to Italy and Greece. They did one two-parter based on an Italian cruise, and one was based on a Greek cruise. I noticed they had some pretty high ranking guests for those episodes, too. Both specials made me want to travel! I have wanderlust anyway, but COVID-19 has made it more intense.

I’m sure all of the footage for the Italy and Greece episodes was filmed at the same time, production costs being what they were. I came to the conclusion they were filmed at the same time because I noticed that Lauren Tewes’ hair was the same “Sun-In” bleached blonde in both of the specials, plus the used the same footage of a TWA plane taking off. Forty years later, I’m amazed that people in the 80s thought that orange hydroxide look was attractive. Lisa Whelchel, who guested on the Greek special, had the same bleached hair with brassy overtones. It was pretty ghastly. As I watched the show, I realized it was work for everyone involved. But it also looked like a lot of fun to film.

I know this is a common phenomenon, but it seems like life was a lot more fun in the 80s… I know it probably wasn’t, for many reasons, but I was a kid back then. Actually, looking back on it, the 80s were hard for me, personally, because that was when I was growing up, and I didn’t have the greatest childhood. But we had all these feel good TV shows that were light entertainment. The Love Boat always had happy endings, with people falling in love, getting married, or discovering a new path in life. The staff on the ship was caring, friendly, and always invested in seeing that everyone had a good time. The Love Boat and Fantasy Island were great shows to watch on Saturday nights when I was growing up– at least until we had The Golden Girls, which was a much better show on all levels.

Granted, The Love Boat definitely jumped the shark around the time they kicked Lauren Tewes (cruise director Julie McCoy) off the show because of her cocaine addiction and other issues, but it always featured old movie stars alongside up and coming stars of the 80s. It was great fun to watch when I was a kid, and probably more fun to watch now for entirely different reasons. I could imagine someone turning it into a Mystery Science Theater 3000 type of show, where there are snarky comments made for every ridiculous scenario, cheesy band number, or godawful evening gown. Also, I noticed all the women wore dresses no matter what, many of which were pretty frumpy and uncomfortable looking, even if they weren’t having dinner.

As a child, I was oddly enchanted by evening gowns and fancy events. It’s probably because I used to love reading fairytales. I also used to love watching beauty pageants, not because I believed in evaluating women by their looks, but because I loved the evening gowns. I liked the colors and designs. But times change, and just like The Love Boat and silly shows like it, beauty pageants have also gone out of style. Even Miss America, which was probably the most prestigious pageant, has changed its focus more toward promoting scholarship and community service than beauty. I think that’s a positive thing, but I must admit that as a kid, I loved the glamour of 80s television. It was fun to revisit it over the past couple of days, watching The Love Boat, a televised intellectual equivalent to empty calories.

Having now been on some cruises myself, I now realize that there’s a price to be paid for wearing fancy duds, and not just at the cash register. I have a few sparkly dresses, but I don’t wear them well. I find them uncomfortable, and I never want to spend a lot of money on dresses that I won’t wear more than a time or two. Consequently, I don’t really look smashing in an evening gown. Even if I had a really cute figure, I think I would rather just wear a nightgown with no bra, rather than a hot evening dress that is always too long for me and heavy with sequins. And that is exactly what I did yesterday, as my stomach and intestines launched into a few more revolts. I did feel markedly better yesterday, but I wasn’t quite all the way…

Well, I’m happy to report that today, I feel 100% better. I have a spark of energy, and I managed to eat a banana, toast with butter, and drink two cups of coffee with cream without feeling like I needed to puke. I’m sure there will be some residual crud from the virus my body seems to have vanquished, but I think I’m on the mend. It was the first time I’ve been sick in ages. In fact, I don’t remember the last sickness I’ve experienced since moving to Wiesbaden. I was sick more often in Stuttgart, probably because Bill was always traveling to Africa and exposing me to exotic pathogens.

One thing I’ve learned from being sick for the past few days is that I needed a reminder that I don’t enjoy the experience of sickness. In fact, perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that I definitely don’t want to catch COVID-19. I have no idea how I got this stomach bug, which I’m guessing is less contagious than COVID is. But being sick for the past few days has SUCKED, even though I was somewhat functional the whole time. Maybe if this bug has done anything, it’s renewed my resolve to stay healthy.

Will I watch more Love Boat today? Maybe… I was watching the second part of the Greek two-parter when Bill got home. He worked late last night and stopped by the store to get me some OTC meds and food. I might watch the second part, just to finish. I could tell I was getting better, though, because as the day wore on, I was getting more tired of the lame storylines. I may need to view something with more substance today, if I choose to watch television at all. It’s amazing the boost one gets when that initial post-sickness energy surge hits.


Sweating to Bible Verses!

Yesterday, right after my daily nap, I happened to run across a funny video someone compiled of a Christian aerobics teacher who had a show called Believercise. The compilation was all kinds of crazy. It made me laugh out loud to see the 80s era outfits, hairstyles, and crazy eyes. Then there was the music… Check this out!

I love a little Amy Grant with my stirrup tights. As she jumps, I half expect her foot to slip and send her crashing to the floor.

In this clip, she looks like Sandy Squirrel or something. Look at those shorts and socks!

Sweating to Bible verses.

Not for nothing, though… I like Amy Grant. I think she is genuinely a very talented musician. I like her even better since she went secular and married Vince Gill. Some of her Christian songs are genuinely good, even though I don’t generally like Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) at all… especially 80s era CCM.

Oh lord… I just can’t with this. I see the comments were disabled on this video. Wonder why…

The compilation video was even funnier than these clips are, mainly because whoever did the editing found the craziest of the crazy parts and strung them all together.

Yeah, she really brought the crazy!

After I watched a few of these cringeworthy videos, I went looking to see if any other “Christian” aerobics videos from the 80s exist. Sure enough, I found one. It’s called Blessercise, and it stars the ever perky Mary Chapian. I’m not sure if her name is Mary or Marie, because when I went looking for more information about her, I found a lot of references to a Christian writer named Marie Chapian. Marie looks a lot like Mary and is about the right age to be making this video (she’s 80 now)… but maybe they’re twins.

Nice crotch shot! You can barely hear her chirpy voice over the cheesy Christian pop.

I wonder where this was distributed. Was it shown on a Christian TV station like CBN or PTL? I grew up near CBN’s headquarters and we had a local channel called WYAH that aired on regular TV. They did air exercise shows. I seem to remember they used to have “Morning Stretch” with Joannie Greggains on in the wee hours of the morning. They did not air this show, as far as I can remember. Seems like this would have been perfect, though. Christians could get up in the morning and get their Jazzercise on, listening to peppy God inspired tunes. On an unrelated note, I miss independent TV stations. You never knew what you’d see. Same thing with independent radio stations. Nowadays, everything is owned by a big corporation and syndicated.

It looks kind of like Mary and her minions tried to dress modestly, but I don’t think they quite pull it off. The leotards they’re wearing are really not much less revealing than regular leotards would be. But back in the 80s, it seemed like people were more moderate than they are now. Or, at least that’s how it seems to me.

According to a YouTube comment, this video is called “Take Charge with Cheryl & Friends“. Cheryl Prewitt was Miss America in 1980. The video was made in 1986 and it looks like some of Cheryl could shave off some free time by spending less time shellacking her hair.

I wonder if JimBob Duggar has considered having his daughters make an exercise video? I wonder what they’d wear. They’ve released an album, written books, had TV shows that bored the masses, so why not have an exercise video for Christians who want to work out with fundies? It would be interesting to see what they’d wear… and what music they’d use. Boob doesn’t like dancing or music with a beat that might lead to anyone beating off. But banning those things in his household didn’t stop his son from molesting Boob’s daughters. Why not loosen up on the music “standards” and get the girls in leotards? I bet some guys would buy the videos simply so they could watch them, a la Alyssa Milano’s video from 1988.

Ahh… the 80s were a fun time to be alive… I think my favorite of the Christian aerobics videos is the one done by the Believercise lady. Her name is Cathi Stout and she’s from Texas. She made her videos in the 80s, starting in her living room. They went “viral” 80s style. I guess people took them seriously back then. Maybe some people still do. They just make me laugh. Exercise is a good thing. So is laughter. I think I’d rather take a walk, but if some people want to Blessercize, Believercise, or Take Charge of Their Lives, more power to ’em. I’ll just sit here and giggle.