Jack Jones' crooning theme song may have been replaced by Shaggy-like rap, but "The Love Boat" is still "The Love Boat": If you liked the original, you'll like this updated version. UPN series won't burn up the Nielsen charts, but "The Love Boat: The Next Wave," produced by Spelling Television (which launched the first "Boat"), is a pleasant one-hour trip.

Jack Jones’ crooning theme song may have been replaced by Shaggy-like rap, but “The Love Boat” is still “The Love Boat”: If you liked the original, you’ll like this updated version. UPN series won’t burn up the Nielsen charts, but “The Love Boat: The Next Wave,” produced by Spelling Television (which launched the first “Boat”), is a pleasant one-hour trip.

TV vet Robert Urich is Capt. Jim Kennedy III, the new helmer of luxury liner the Sun Princess. He was forced to retire from the Navy and brings his military style to the light-hearted atmosphere of the ship. He also has his 15-year-old troublemaking son Danny in tow (Kyle Howard).

Kennedy’s style bugs the crew, but in the end his humanity shines.

Rest of crew jibes with original: perky (but not too perky) cruise director Suzanne (Stacey Travis); ultra-friendly barman Paolo (Randy Vasquez); chief purser Will (Phil Morris), who, unlike the bumbling Gopher, is superefficient; and (seasick) ship’s doctor John (Corey Parker). New staffer is tough security chief Camille (Joan Severance). Cast chemistry works, although the goofily endearing tone of the original series has been replaced with a slicker, more sophisticated polish. Gone is the unintended camp, but the spirit and tone of the first “Boat” have been retained.

In fact, Kay Camden and Elizabeth Orange’s script zips along with some snappy and topical dialogue (“I’m going down to steerage to see if Leonardo DiCaprio is there,” announces Danny) while managing to follow the “Love Boat”/”Love American Style” formula: three stories and neat resolutions.

Some well-known faces also pop up: Doug Savant, former token homosexual of “Melrose Place,” plays off a gay theme; Shari Headly and Kadeem Hardison hook up; and, of course, the durable and always likable Urich.

The regulars, i.e. the crew, are engaging, and director Dennis Dugan keeps the pace brisk.

Good use is made of location shots on the Sun Princess, as well as shots around the Caribbean.

Though the “Boat” travels in different waters, fans will notice the same back-screen projection shots of moonlit seas slipping behind the characters as they fall in love.

The Love Boat: The Next Wave

(Romantic comedy; UPN, Mon. April 13, 8 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Los Angeles and the Caribbean by Spelling Television. Executive producers, Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent, Jonathan Schmock; producers, Jon Pare, Eddie Gorodetsky; director, Dennis Dugan; writers, Kay Camden, Elizabeth Orange.

Crew

Camera, James Chressanthis; editor, Jeff Gourson; production design, Carlos Berben; sound, Brett Grant-Grierson; music, Kevin Kiner; casting Penny Ellers. 60 MIN.

With

Captain Jim Kennedy III ..... Robert Urich Camille Hunter..... Joan Severance Dr. John Morgan ..... Corey Parker Will Sanders ..... Phil Morris Suzanne Zimmerman ..... Stacey Travis Paolo Kaire ..... Randy Vasquez Danny Kennedy ..... Kyle Howard
With: Talia Balsam, Jason Brooks, Lenny Clark, Doug Savant, Kadeem Hardison, Shari Headly, Kate McNeil.
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