"Message for Maureeen / Gotcha / Acapulco Connection"
Original airdate: 10/15/1977
Episode summary: Captain Stubing is charmed by a Mexican guitar playing stowaway named April. A sportswriter and the tennis player he once bashed in his column resolve their differences and fall in love. A prankster finally gets a taste of his own medicine.
Recap: Serial prankster Cyril Wolfe boards the ship with his wife (Anita) and greets Julie by sticking out a fake plastic hand, then does the 'handshake with a joy buzzer' trick on another passenger, Reverend Dickerson, who gets angry and storms off with his wife (Martha). As Cyril sheepishly ambles off-camera, Anita tells Julie that she's been putting up with her idiot husband's constant need to prank everyone he's come across for twenty years and is utterly fed up.
Gopher is wheeling a wheelchair-bound woman, famous tennis player Maureen Mitchell, onto the ship. When they reach the lobby, Captain Stubing greets her and tells her he's been following her tennis career for years, then invites her to dine at his table this evening. After the crew checks her in, she assures Gopher that she's quite capable of wheeling to her cabin without his assistance.
Maureen runs into her ex-boyfriend and sports columnist, John Ballard. When he asks her how her injured back is doing, she snaps, "None of your business" and makes it clear how displeased she is to see him. John chides her for continuing to harbor a grudge 'cause he trash-talked her in his column after she played shittily during her last tournament, and she primly retorts that she only uses his column for wrapping fish. As she wheels off, John bellows after her, "Get well soon...the game needs you!"
When Cyril and Anita return to their cabin after dinner, Anita admonishes him for pranking the Captain with a dribbling glass. When she barks, "Stop it!", Cyril says he can't seem to control his prankish instincts. Anita sighs wearily and opens her makeup kit, then screeches when a stuffed snake bursts out of it.
Gopher wheels Maureen over to Doc's office for a checkup...and when she hands Doc her medical records, he looks them over and squeals that he went to med school with her orthopedist. She tells him she's scheduled for back surgery after the cruise...and a few seconds later, John hobbles in with a sprained knee. Doc tapes it up, then orders him to stay off it for a few days by confining himself to a wheelchair...which seems like a really contrived way to force John to experience first-hand what it's been like for temporarily disabled Maureen to function without the use of her legs, 'cause his sprained knee seems a lot more like a crutches or walking cane type injury.
A poofy-haired Mexican souvenir vendor toting a guitar named April boards the ship, and Gopher informs her that she needs to leave pronto 'cause the ship is about to depart Acapulco. April incoherently begs him for more time to sell souvenirs 'cause apparently she's the sole breadwinner of her family, but Gopher's just like, "That sounds like your problem" and heads upstairs. April sneaks deeper into the ship, finds a housekeeping closet, and climbs into a laundry hamper as she excitedly proclaims, "Am-edika, here I come!"
Gopher and Julie are milling around the lobby when they spot a hundred dollar bill on the floor...which Cyril Wolfe has attached with an invisible string and is hovering over the nearby stair landing, anticipating hilarity to ensue. Captain Stubing wanders over and asks the two what they're doing, and they pretend that they were about to put the money in the 'lost and found'. He snatches the bill away from them - just as Anita rushes over and apologizes for her husband's prank. Captain Stubing responds by snapping the string that's attached to the bill and declaring that he'll allocate the $100 for the Christmas fund. Haha!
Wheelchair-bound John runs into wheelchair-bound Maureen in front of the elevator...and when he has trouble getting into the elevator she tells him it's easier to back in. John thanks her and suggests a time-out from their constant bickering, and she happily agrees.
Julie tells Captain Stubing she's putting together a show to entertain the passengers and suggests he join her list of performers. He haughtily retorts that as Captain he can't command respect if he's seen singing or dancing, then ushers her out of his cabin. In the hallway, the housekeeper arrives...and a moaning sound can be heard from inside her laundry hamper. When April pops out and complains about her queasy stomach, the housekeeper tells the Captain she has no idea how the woman got in there. Captain Stubing wearily mutters, "Just what I need: a stowaway", which April translates literally and woots at the invitation to remain on board for the duration of the cruise. Captain Stubing clarifies that she broke the law and says she must leave the ship at the next stop...prompting April to screech joyously 'cause she assumes the ship is America-bound - until she's told that the next stop is Mazatlan. April begs the captain to keep her on the ship so she can disembark in Los Angeles and break into show business, but he refuses and summons Gopher to escort the transgressor to Doc's office - which, for some reason, he thinks is the best place for her to be spending the night.
Gopher escorts April to Doc's office, where Doc gives her pills for seasickness and tells her to go lie down in her cabin. Gopher says she can't 'cause she's a stowaway and that Captain Stubing wants her to bunk with him until they reach Mazatlan...and Doc perks up at the prospect of spending the night with a sexy Latina and literally shoves Gopher out of his cabin.
That evening, Anita orders dinner in, and complains to Cyril how sick she is of being out in public with him 'cause of his relentless pranking...and as she's admonishing him, he picks apart the flower that's on their dinner tray and puts the petals on his lips in an attempt to get a laugh out of his wife. An unamused Anita threatens to divorce him if he doesn't stop this kind of sophomoric nonsense, then sits in a chair that he rigged to collapse under her weight. She flails about and shrieks, "I want a divorce!" as he does his best to help her to her feet.
Over dinner, Maureen tells John that the operation she's scheduled to undergo has a high success rate, and is therefore confident that it'll fully restore her ability to walk. John gazes at her all dreamy-like and asks, "Whatever happened to us?", and she reminds him that when they were together they were both so laser focused on their careers...and never ended up following through on their plan to take off an entire month to just hang out together. She makes it clear that she's super eager to hit the sheets with him once she's out of her wheelchair...and John perks up at that prospect and raises a toast to true love.
Gopher rails at Isaac for bailing on their act for Julie's show...and then the two cackle about how April is spending the night with Doc. Julie decides she should prolly check in on her new Mexican friend and heads over to Doc's cabin...and finds Doc in his bathrobe and a fully clothed April putting sheets and pillows on the exam table for Doc to sleep on. Julie nods approvingly at the separate sleeping arrangements and looks assured that no unwarranted hanky panky is about to be indulged in.
Hours later, a scantily clad April wakes a bare chested (!) Doc to tell him how skeered she is about leaving the ship tomorrow, and how ashamed she is to return to her family without first hitting it big as a musical artist. Doc assures her she'll be fine in Mazatlan, and urges her to continue following her dream to make it into show business. April seems satisfied enough with that response, gives him a grateful hug, and scampers back to bed.
The next morning, the crew bids April adiós...and she glances around shiftily before rushing towards the exit.
Doc removes John's knee bandage and declares his knee fully healed...and as John is exiting the exam room, Doc gets a call from Maureen's orthopedist. Doc's all, "Wha-at? That's terrible news. The operation is off?" and John looks alarmed at what he's just overheard and reenters the office to discuss Maureen's condition. Doc forbids him to share the privileged information about her permanent paralysis...but when John implores him to let him be the one to break the devastating news to his lady love, Doc's like 'I'm pretty sure that doctor-patient confidentiality is more of a guideline than a ruling principle' and gives him the OK to risk him losing his medical license and spill the beans.
That afternoon, April sneaks back onto the ship with the other returning passengers and heads straight to Doc's office. He reminds her that she was supposed to return to her family - but then promises to not rat her out and invites her to bunk with him again.
John drops by Maureen's cabin - but can't bring himself to tell her the devastating news of her diagnosis and instead suggests they take a trip to the mountains after the cruise, then proposes marriage. Maureen happily accepts and says she can't wait to walk down the aisle with him...and as the two embrace, John stares sadly into space.
Anita pulls off the kick me signs that Cyril taped to the backs of Reverend Dickerson and his wife and apologizes for his relentless pranks. Cyril, who's eavesdropping, decides it'd be funny to toss his hat into the ocean and cry, "Help! Man overboard!", and Reverend Dickerson and his wife panic and try to find someone who can rescue the drowning man - but then abruptly stop and correctly assume that it's yet another of Cyril's pranks. They find Anita and tells her about the hat...and when she assures them that Cyril's fine, Reverend Dickerson suggests turning the tables on Cyril and making him the butt of the joke for a change. Anita grins and says she definitely likes the sound of that.
Gopher, Isaac, and Julie discover April in Doc's cabin...and Julie says she may have a way that they can break the news to Captain Stubing without his head completely exploding.
Cyril finds a suicide note in his cabin from Anita, claiming that she flung herself overboard to join her darling husband in his watery grave. Cyril sinks into a chair and sadly moans, "I'm sorry...I didn't mean it" - just as Anita, Martha, and Reverend Dickerson burst out of the bathroom and yell, "Gotcha!"
That evening in the lounge, Julie welcomes the passengers to Crew Night and introduces Gopher and Isaac, who have faces painted on their torsos, and are wearing giant hats and baggy suits...and the singing duo is a big hit with passengers. After that number, Julie announces "a very special treat", then introduces April...and wanks her boss when she describes the Latina as "Captain Stubing's personal discovery". April, who's decked out in a fitted black glittery gown, plays guitar and sings while sexily gyrating, and Captain Stubing looks impressed, and gets congratulated by various passengers during her standing ovation.
John and Maureen are on the deck, gazing out at the ocean when John excuses himself to get them some brandy. During his absence, Doc rushes over and apologizes to Maureen for the misinformation he assumes that John passed along to her, and explains that a lab flunky at the orthopedist's office mixed up her test results with a paralyzed person's. He says her operation is back on, and assures her that she's going to be A-OK. Maureen digests what Doc just told her, then begins to wheel away...and ends up running straight into John. She tells him she has no desire to be with a man who's marrying her out of pity, then explains that she just spoke to Doc, who told her about her diagnosis...and chides him for not having the guts to tell her the truth. John says he simply couldn't bring himself to tell the lady he loves that she'll never walk again, but insists that he loooooves her and would be lucky to have her in any condition. Maureen looks incredulous and asks, "It really doesn't matter to you?" and he assures her that it absolutely doesn't. Maureen happily informs him that all signs point toward her being back to her usual walking self after the surgery - but that she'll need his love and support during the recovery process. He exclaims, "You've got me!" and leans in for a big smooch.
When the ship docks in Los Angeles, Cyril and Anita greet their young son. The lad offers to take their photo...and by take their photo, he means use a trick camera that squirts out water. Womp womp! As Anita groans wearily, Cyril chuckles and chirps, "That's my boy!"
John and Maureen disembark while nattering about their wedding plans, and inform Julie and Gopher that the entire crew is invited.
Captain Stubing informs April that she's been hired as an entertainer aboard another ship for $300 a week, and she jumps up and down and shrieks joyfully while lunging at him in a series of forcible hugs. He warns her that the cost of this cruise is going to be deducted from her pay check, and she's all, "Wuh?" and rambles incoherently as the crew grins delightedly at the happy ending.
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