"Taking Sides / A Friendly Little Game / Going By the Book"
Original airdate: 2/17/1978
Episode summary: A retiree is shamed by Captain Stubing when he's caught cheating the crew at Gin Rummy to earn some much needed cash. A newly married couple befriends a bickering husband and wife and soon begins bickering themselves. A sheltered young woman is entrusted to Doc to keep suitors at bay.
Recap: Howard Wilson gets a ride to The Love Boat port from his much better looking friend Bernie, who encourages him to seek serious action while on the cruise and not blow it with the chicks. Howard's like, "I dunno how to come onto girls the way you do", so Bernie hands him a small handbook titled How to Hit on Girls and urges him to make good use of it. Howard chucklingly tells Bernie he's less interested in scoring with lots of women than he is in meeting someone nice - but Bernie just shakes his head in dismay before telling his dorky friend to watch and learn. He then sashays over to a beautiful woman standing nearby and asks her if she's a model...and when she tells him she is - 'cause, sure, models are usually standing on random street corners - he offers to give her a lift, She's like 'sure, getting into a strange man's car sounds like a super idea' and climbs into the passenger seat...and Howard looks very impressed by his friend's ability to woo.
Newlyweds Ellen and Scott Desmond check in with Julie and tell her they just got married and that this cruise is serving as their honeymoon - just as an older couple ambles by with the husband bickering about how much he haaaates being on board this horrible ship. Ellen exchanges a yikes glance with Scott and says she hopes that they never end up like those two...which is a clear indication that they're about to end up exactly like the squabbling spouses.
A retired couple, Wendel and Ida Snead, check in with Julie and tell her they're meeting up with their daughter and her family when the ship docks in Cabo San Lucas and hope it's OK if their grandchildren come aboard. Julie assures them it's no problem, and even offers to give the kidlets a tour. Ida gushes to her husband about the luxuriousness of the ship and asks him how they're able to afford such an extravagant vacay, and he avoids answering and just reminds her that the doctor ordered her not to fly. The two approach Isaac and Gopher, who don't think to discontinue their conversation about the crew's emergency fund that currently contains $635. Gopher reminds Isaac that he owes the fund his latest payment, while Isaac reminds him that he still owes him $10 for their last Gin Rummy game. Wendel perks up at the mention of Gin Rummy and tells Gopher he'd looooove to play with him sometime.
Captain Stubing assures an overprotective Mr. Lawrence that he and his crew will take excellent care of his dimwitted (and fully grown) daughter Sheila...and a few seconds later, Sheila arrives on the ship, tripping over her luggage. Doc looks immediately smitten with the blonde simpleton and tells Gopher he wouldn't mind playing bodyguard with her during the cruise. Mr. Lawrence hovers over Sheila as he urges her to be careful of everything every minute of every day she's aboard this ship, and she irritably assures him she can take care of herself. After he kisses her goodbye, Howard glances across the lobby and notices her vapid beauty, looks instantly smitten, and summons enough courage to pull a Bernie and ask her if she's a model - but before she's able to reply, Doc interjects and whisks her away.
While unpacking, Ida once again wrings her hands worriedly about how they're able to afford this cruise. Wendel admits that he took out a small mortgage on their house, and Ida's all, "The fuck..?!" and reminds him that they have only their meagre pensions to live on. He tells her he's figuring out a way to earn some extra money and assures her that he'll provide for them, and Ida somehow buys into that un-fleshed out plan and says she's A-OK with blindly put her faith in him. When an announcement is made via the ship's PA system about jackpot bingo, Ida says she's off to play, while Wendel says he'd prefer to stay in and refresh his memory on how to play Gin Rummy. After Ida exits the cabin, he takes out a deck of Magic Marked Cards, practices how to use them to cheat his opponent, then sheepishly mutters, "Ida, forgive me."
When Ellen and Scott arrive at the dining room, Julie - for some God only knows why reason - seats them at a table with the bickering couple from earlier, Max and Gladys Watkins. Max and Gladys inform the newlyweds that they've been married for twenty-five years, then continue their incessant bickering.
Wendel compliments Captain Stubing on his great crew, then adds that he and Gopher have [some ill-fated] plans to play a game of Gin Rummy.
While forcibly dining with Doc, Sheila flirtily waves at Howard until Doc warns her that Howard is nothing more than a "cruise ship cowboy" who's just looking to score and, in the process, rip her hear apart. Sheila says she'd still like to be introduced - just as Doc excuses himself for a private word with Captain Stubing. Howard uses the opportunity to wander over to Sheila to moan about how in love with her he is, and Doc notices the exchange and is all, "Ack!" before rushing back over to shoo the dorky suitor away.
Later on the deck, Howard spies on Doc and Sheila, then sneaks into the lobby to report to Julie that he has a stomach ache. She tells him to go to his cabin and lay down, then asks for his cabin number so that she can dispatch Doc, and he gives her a phony number before scuttling off. Julie then wanders over to Doc to alert him about a passenger's faux stomach ache...and Howard keeps out of sight while consulting his How to Hit on Girls book for a good opening line. Once the coast is clear, he approaches Sheila and stammers about the way her eyes reflect the shimmering moonlight on the rippling water. Or some such schlock.
Doc arrives at the wrong cabin and interrupts a couple's sexy time...and the man tells Doc there's no stomach ache here and snarls at him to get the hell out.
Sheila is deeply impressed with Howard's smooth speaking style. He gives her one last kiss for the night, says, "See you tomorrow", and rushes off a few seconds before Doc returns.
Scott and Ellen climb into bed and sexily canoodle as they agree on how lucky they are that they're nothing like that bickering Watkins couple. A few seconds later, Ellen says she kind of sympathizes with Gladys, so Scott's like, "In that case, I sympathize with Max." He chides Ellen for planning a cruise for their honeymoon even though she knew how much he wanted to go to Aspen, then makes a half-hearted effort to diffuse the argument he needlessly started before shutting the light off.
After a few rounds of Gin Rummy, Gopher is in debt to Wendel for $321...but when Ida arrives at the bar, the two men lead her to believe that the debt is only about $5. Gopher privately tells Wendel he doesn't have enough cash on hand to pay the entire sum, so Wendel says he'll give him until noon tomorrow...and Gopher scrunches his face worriedly 'cause clearly the only way he's going to be able to come up with that kind of money is by raiding the crew's emergency fund. After Gopher dejectedly shuffles off, Wendel orders a gin from Isaac and invites him to be his next Gin Rummy victim.
As the ship docks in Cabo San Lucas the following day, Wendel suckers Julie into a game of Gin Rummy with his set of marked cards.
Scott and Ellen wander over to the Desmonds, who are lounging by the pool, to say hey...and then, for some God only knows why reason, Scott starts talking smack about how he's making the best of this honeymoon cruise, despite that fact that he would much prefer to be skiing in Aspen. Ellen's all, "The fuck?", snarks back that next time they go on a honeymoon he can plan it, and storms off. Max schools Young Scott in the art of spousal squabbling, declaring that the man rarely wins an argument until he's at least ten years into the marriage. As Scott races after his wife, a put out looking Gladys asks Max if he doesn't think they have any good times together, and he replies, "Good times. Bad times. Who cares? It's all about being together, and that's all good" ... and Gladys beams happily and coos about how much she loves him [in spite of the endless arguing].
Doc urges Sheila to wear a hat 'cause of the intensity of the Mexican sun, and she snappishly groans, "Doctor, please..", then spots Howard sitting across the pool, motioning for her to come on over. She tells Doc that she's suddenly interested in taking a dip, then slips into the pool and swims over to Howard...and the two exchange some amiable chit-chat - until Doc gets wind of what's going on and rushes over to tell Howard to beat it. As Sheila climbs out of the pool, Howard points at the nearby pool shower, and Sheila nods conspiratorially at him, then tells Doc she'd like a piña colada...and while he's distracted with that task, she races over to the pool shower, where Howard smooches her under the running water and delivers more schmaltzy lines from How to Hit on Girls.
Scott returns from his day trip in Cabo, finds Ellen standing by the deck railing, and presents her with a turkey piñata as a peace offering. She snarlingly tells him she doesn't want it - but does want him to admit that he was wrong to bitchily complain about them not honeymooning in Aspen. As the two start bickering back and forth, Gladys wanders over and remarks on how much they remind her of herself and Max - but adds that their marriage also has a loving side to it. Max appears and chides his wife for meddling in the Desmond's affairs...and as Scott fails to shut his stupid pie hole and continues bickering, an angry Ellen storms off.
Gopher opens up the crew emergency fund box, and is taking out some of the cash when Isaac unexpectedly pops by his cabin. After an ill attempt of hiding the fund box beneath the bedding, Gopher confesses that he needs to make a sizeable withdrawal 'cause he owes Wendel Snead money. Isaac's like, "Hey, me too!" and says that his Gin Rummy debt is $149...and a few seconds later, Julie calls Gopher to report that she owes Wendel $67 after their Gin Rummy game. Cue Doc, who stops by Gopher's cabin to inform him and Isaac that a kindly old man just tried to sucker him into a game of Gin with a marked deck...and that he can spot a marked deck from a mile away 'cause apparently one of his ex-wives was a card dealer in Vegas and, for whatever reason, taught him how to spot a marked deck from a mile away.
Gopher, Isaac, and Doc promptly launch Operation Trick Wendel into Giving Back the Gin Rummy Money, which translates to Gopher going over to Wendel's cabin and telling him he'd like a chance to win some of his money back. Wendel decides 'sure, why the hell not?' and shuffles his deck of marked cards...while Doc peers through the cabin's window with binoculars so that he can see what's in Wendel's hand so that he can radio Isaac, who in turn makes announcements via the ship's PA system that offer some non-subtle clues to Gopher about what his next moves should be...which seems like a ridiculously cumbersome way to cheat at cards even for 1978, but OK.
Sheila drops by Howard's cabin, who recites another corny line from How to Hit on Girls, and Sheila marvels about how he always knows just what to say to make her swoon.
Captain Stubing meets up with Julie and is all 'the fuck?' about Isaac's series of weird PA announcements..
and, much to Julie's alarm, decides he needs to get to the bottom of it pronto.
Sheila tells Howard she's eager for him to meet her father, then adds that he's been sooooo worried that she's going to fall for a disingenuous Casanova who plots to take advantage of her. As they embrace, she suddenly notices that he's clutching the How to Hit on Girls book. She grabs it from him, reads a few passages, and angrily swats him over the head with it before angrily fleeing the cabin.
Captain Stubing, with Julie, Isaac, and Doc in tow, enters Wendel's cabin to apologize for his crew's nefarious plan to cheat him at Gin Rummy, and assures him that they're all going to be fired asap. Wendel deflates and implores him to not do that, then sheepishly confesses that he was the one who had cheated them first. Captain Stubing sternly retorts, "In that case, you should be ashamed of yourself", so Wendel explains that he desperately needed the money 'cause he took out a mortgage on his house he could ill afford just so Ida could meet her grandchildren. He adds that he has no way to pay the money back, and that if Ida finds out about his deceit, it'd kill her. Or, at best, severely embarrass her. Gopher chews on that for a few seconds, then solemnly collects the pile of cash on the card table and says that he was able to win back most of the money the crew lost...and Captain Stubing decides he couldn't give the tiniest of rat's asses about Wendel's financial predicament and declares the matter closed.
That evening in the lounge, Sheila's dancing with Doc while Howard stands off to the side and rehearses what he hopes he's going to have the opportunity to say to her.
Ellen seats herself with Gladys at a table while Scott joins Max at the nearby bar...and the two men lament the fact that their wives are not currently speaking to them.
Ida brings her grandchildren aboard the ship, and Julie gaily offers to give the tots a tour.
Scott tells Max he's seriously contemplating apologizing to Ellen, but Max urges him to stay strong and not give in...and to go so far as to emulate his marriage even after the kind of dysfunction he and Gladys have been regularly demonstrating on this cruise. Scott points out that Gladys is so peeved at him that she doesn't want to sit anywhere near him, and Max has no response to that as he sheepishly glances over at his wife.
Scott saunters over to where Ellen's sitting and apologizes, and she responds with an apology for her bitchitude before leaning in for a make up kiss. After the two head off together, Max musters up the nerve to approach his wife and stammers, "I'm sorry", something he acknowledges he's never said in twenty-five years of marriage, and Gladys coos, "Ooooh Max", and gives him a happy kiss.
Howard explains to Sheila that he got the How to Hit on Girls book from his womanizing friend Bernie, and says if she were his girl he'd be soooo proud that he'd be yelling, "She's my girl!" He then shrieks that pronouncement three times...and as everyone in hearing range applauds his proclamation of love [despite knowing his girl for less than a week], Sheila is so overcome that she knocks over everything on the table and gets tangled up in the tablecloth as she presses herself against Howard.
Captain Stubing, Gopher, and Isaac approach Wendel to give/loan? him the money from the crew's emergency fund. When Wendel's all, "Wuh? But I'm not a member of the crew!", Captain Stubing explains that being part of the extended Pacific Princess family means they know how to forgive, and are willing to help out when one of them is in trouble by raiding the crew's emergency fund. Wendel looks overcome by their kindness and expresses his gratitude at having two families, then cuddles his grandchildren.
When the ship reaches port in Los Angeles, Mr. Lawrence tells Captain Stubing he was upset to learn that Sheila has suddenly gotten engaged. A few seconds later, Sheila saunters over with Howard, who's frantically searching his How to Hit on Girls book for just the right line to impress his future father-in-law...despite the obvious fact that the book is useless in this particular circumstance, given that Mr. Lawrence isn't a girl he wants to hit on. Sheila tells Howard he doesn't need that silly book anymore, then grabs it out of his hand and tosses it in the direction of Doc, who catches it and looks intrigued by the title. LOL.
Ida tells the crew that she and her family will cherish the memories of this cruise forever, while Wendel quietly assures Gopher that he'll repay the money they gave him. Gopher tells him to take his time with that, then waves goodbye as the couple climbs into a cab and heads home.
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