Seeing an ad for the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars, I realized the reason I don’t watch it: it is The Love Boat without a plot.
The Love Boat was on TV back when there were only three networks so everybody watched all the same shows and Aaron Spelling produced every one of them. So, if you lived in America from 1977 through 1986, then on Saturday night you watched The Love Boat followed by Fantasy Island.
And the premise of the Love Boat was that has-been stars would all show up on the same cruise and compete for camera time. They would have Sonny Bono and Ethel Merman fall in love or Ernest Borgnine reconcile with his long lost daughter, Charo, or something like that. The cheesey factor got so bad on Love Boat the Lauren Tewes, who played the cruise director, starting stealing drugs from the ship's doctor so she could get kicked off the show.
Fantasy Island was the Love Boat with mystery, dream fulfillment and a midget in place of love, family drama and a wacky crew. The B-list guest stars were the same people recycled though another Spelling production.
Now that Aaron Spelling is dead, the new showcase for washed up entertainers is evidently Dancing With the Stars. The upcoming season features Kelly Osbourne, Melissa Joan Hart, Donnie Osmond, Debbie Mazar and Tom DeLay, who is, I guess, doing the Sonny Bono part from Love Boat. When it was on, I had no choice about watching Love Boat, but I can choose not to watch Dancing With the Once Famous, and I exercise that choice happily.
One upside for the formerly famous: with the limited number of shows back in the 80’s, Love Boat/Fantasy Island was the last stop on the downhill slide for performers. The DWTS celebrities have the luxury of feeling superior to the D-list stars who aren’t even worthy of passing through DWTS on the way down. Those people go straight to I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.