The Love Boat is an American comedy television series set on a cruise ship, which aired on the ABC Television Network from May 5, 1977, until May 24, 1986; three-hour specials aired in 1986–87 and 1990. The series revolves around the ship's captain (played by Gavin MacLeod) and a handful of its crew, with several passengers—played by various guest actors for each episode—having romantic and humorous adventures. It was part of ABC's popular Saturday-night lineup of the time, which included Fantasy Island until that series ended 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. Two more TV movies (titled The Love Boat II and The New Love Boat) would follow before the series began its first season in September 1977.
The executive producer for the series was Aaron Spelling, who produced several TV series for Four Star, and ABC from the 1960s into the 1980s.
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.The Love Boat ran for nine seasons plus four specials. A made-for-TV movie, titled The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage, starring four of the original cast members, aired 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. 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.