The Love Boat is an American comedy/drama television series set on luxury passenger cruise shipS.S. Pacific Princess, which aired on the ABC television network from May 5, 1977 until May 24, 1986; plus, four three-hour long specials aired in 1986, 1987, and 1990. The series revolves around the ship's captain Merrill Stubing (played by Gavin MacLeod) and a handful of its crew, with several passengers—played by various guest star actors for each episode—having romantic and humorous adventures. It was part of ABC's popular Saturday-night lineup of the time, which also included Fantasy Island until that series ended two years earlier in 1984.
The original 1976made-for-TV movie on which the show was based (also titled The Love Boat) was itself based on the nonfiction book Love Boats by Jeraldine Saunders, a real-life cruise director on a passenger cruise ship line. It was followed by two more TV-made-for movies (titled The Love Boat II and The New Love Boat), all before the series began its first season in September 1977.
In 1997, the episode with segment titles "Hidden Treasure", "Picture from the Past", and "Ace's Salary" (season 9, episode 3) was ranked No. 82 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time from TV Guide magazine.The Love Boat ran for nine seasons plus four specials. Another made-for-TV movie, titled The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage, starring four of the original cast members, aired finally on February 12, 1990.
Pat Klous as Judy McCoy, Julie's sister and successor as cruise director (seasons 8–9)
MacLeod, Kopell and Lange are the only cast members to appear in every episode of the TV series as well as the last three made-for-TV movies. Grandy was in every episode throughout the run of the series, but was not in the last of the TV movies due to his 1986 campaign for (and election to) the United States House of Representatives. MacLeod was not the captain of the Pacific Princess in the first two TV movies and did not appear in them, although when his character was introduced there was a mention of his being "the new captain".
Among the series' attractions was the casting of well-known actors in guest-starring roles, with many famous film stars of yesteryear making rare television appearances. The Love Boat was not the first comedy series to use the guest-star cast anthology format—Love, American Style had used the formula seven years earlier—but it had such success with the formula that future series in similar style (such as Supertrain and Masquerade) always drew comparisons to The Love Boat. The series was followed on Saturday nights on ABC by Fantasy Island, which was likewise produced by Aaron Spelling, and had a similar format.