The Love Boat: Season One, Volume One

Every Saturday night, my younger sister and I eagerly climbed aboard Aaron Spelling's Love Boat -- which first set to sea 30 years ago, graduating from its bawdy processor, Love, American Style - and its shipload of angry spouses reigniting their love; forlorn souls nursing aching hearts with rebound affairs and too many pi¤a coladas; and hopeless and hopeful romantics on the make. Admittedly, most of the sexual innuendo and antics flew over our heads: we tuned in for the guest-star roster. Everyone from our favorite TV shows -- The Brady Bunch, Charlie's Angels, Happy Days, and Good Times -- was casting a line for "love, exciting and new." Screening the newly released Love Boat DVD, a stingy collection offering only the first half of the premiere season, I was able to catch the details I missed the first time around: The lewd, double-entendre jokes, the intricate dramas among the lovelorn passengers, and the lascivious and predatory nature of "Doc" (Bernie Kopell) and Captain Stubing (Gavin McLeod), the latter of whom is indelibly cast in my mind as The Mary Tyler Moore Show's mild-mannered, placating, asexual Murray Slaughter. In the first half season alone, the dizzying amount of '70s luminaries is enough to get a girl seasick on the Lido Deck: Robert Reed; Kristy McNichol; Jimmie Walker; Bill Bixby; Jaclyn Smith; Milton Berle; Scott Baio; and a shimmying, voluptuous, albeit pre-cuchi-cuchi Charo. But it's the enduring talents who will right the course, like Tovah Feldshuh, John Ritter in his comic prime, and Saturday Night Live's Jane Curtin. The DVD lacks extras, save for the montage of highlights in the episode previews, but the infectious if insipid Love Boat continues to "set a course for adventure, your mind on a new romance."-

July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).