The producers of reality television, specifically those who prey upon the once-famous and infamous, can thank Aaron Spelling for perfecting the formula of bringing together several B-, C- and D-list celebrities in a single program and turning it into entertainment.
But unlike the train-wreck mentality of today's lower-rung celebs, there is an innocent optimism among the stars who frequented the first season of Spelling's "The Love Boat," whose first 12 episodes recently came out on DVD (CBS, $40).
Perhaps it was because they at long last had an opportunity to engage in the freewheeling, booty-bumping trends of the disco era, which was the risqué thrill of watching the voyages of the Pacific Princess.
Robert Reed ("The Brady Bunch") beds his ex-wife, played by Loretta Swit ("M*A*S*H"); Meredith Baxter-Birney ("Family Ties") poses for a centerfold, and Sherman Hemsley ("The Jeffersons") gets trapped in an elevator with his wife, LaWanda Page ("Sanford and Son"), and they make sweet, trapped-elevator love.
As potentially dreadful as this all sounds -- and at times it is quite tiresome -- Season 1 of "The Love Boat" can also be surprisingly engaging. It's not only the high camp of Bonnie Franklin's lime-green pantsuit and the bad acting of a Scott Baio-Kristy McNichol shipboard romance that captivates, it's also watching the pre-AIDS, pre-Reagan era freedom of adults acting like goofy, lusty teenagers after a few of Isaac's piña coladas that makes the cliché story lines slightly more bearable.
Well, that, and Charo, who turns every appearance into a surreal flamenco fantasy.
For extras, the DVD has episode promos.