Summary: A Really Lost Episode
Word Count: 3800
The Love Paddle Boat
The four Cartwrights were sitting on their horses watching the cattle being herded toward the corral.
“We sure been working durn hard, Pa,” Hoss remarked, mopping his sweaty brow with a huge red bandana.
“Yeah Pa, it ain’t easy rounding up 32 gazillion cows with only that one puny feller who is gonna die by the end of the episode and a couple of gun slingers who are gonna bushwhack one of us when we get the money for selling the herd,” Adam observed. He agilely jumped off his horse and took a seat on the top rail of the corral fence.
”By the way, whose turn is it to get bushwhacked, boys?” Ben asked, taking out his tally book and climbing up next to his son. He always made sure the work was shared equitably among his sons. He was a very fair father.
“JOE!” Hoss and Adam immediately pointed at their little brother. They both knew Joe had been bushwacked and gone to Twilight Town, home town of Rod Serling who smoked an awful lot. Then Adam had been bushwacked out near East Gate and had horrific run-in with Lee Marvin, and then Hoss had been bushwacked, got amnesia and kidnapped by the tulip-planting Dutch weirdoes. It was back to Joe’s turn.
“MeeeEEeee?” Joe squealed with glee.” Meeeee? It’s my turn? WOWee zowee! Do I get broth in a not-yet-invented plastic sippee cup, Pa? And to have you pat my fevered brow with a damp cloth? And stretch out on the settee?”
“Sure, son, I will definitely mop your fevered brow and your dented head too! “ Ben nodded paternally. He patted the space on the fence next to him and Joe vaulted up. “Don’t I do that for each of my boys? And I’ll give you some brandy for good measure.”
“The brandy and broth diet!” Hoss and Adam exclaimed.
“Thanks Pa! You are the bestest Pa in the West!” Joe gave Ben a big hug and rested his head on his Pa’s shoulder.
“Now ain’t that cute, Hoss?” Adam grinned. Hoss pulled his amazingly narrow bottom for such a large guy up next to Adam’s tush on the top rail of the fence.
“MY TURN!!!!” Joe cheered. Little Joe was really adorable and extremely agile. Pa didn’t even notice that as Little Joe hugged him, the boy was lifting his wallet.
Later Joe would split the cash with his brothers and they would all ride into Virginia City and drink beer and barely avoid getting killed by angry miners. On the way home, if there was any money left, they would go to the Taco Bell Drive thru and get a big sack of buy- one-get-one-free bean burritos to eat on the way home. Nothing like tooting in unison as you crossed the Ponderosa with your beloved brothers, especially when Pa picked up the tab unwittingly.
Their $35 a month salary didn’t go very far.
“Like I was sayin’, we ain’t had no vacation in a mighty long time, Pa,” Hoss said, kicking Joe with the tip of his boot and sending him flying head first into the horse trough with a big splash. Joe surfaced. He floated on his back and spit water high into the cloudless blue Ponderosa sky.
“Looking good little brother!” Adam grinned sarcastically. “You got just enough loft and spin on that dive this time. Just arch your eyebrows a bit and wiggle your rear end as you make the spin.” Adam fished him out of the water by his collar and squeegeed him off and fluffed up his curls by waving him around a bit by his foot.
“Yeah Pa…and we ain’t had no girl friends since last week, living or dead,” Little Joe added with a wink. That boy had a one track mind and even a dunking in cold water wouldn‘t change that one bit.
“Pa, we ain’t been on a vacation since… since…” Hoss continued. He scratched his head and tried to remember. It was difficult to remember since that time he had amnesia and the Dutch people found him and called him Heinrich. He still had the cute little knitted hat they gave him up in his room as a souvenir of their time together. “When was the last time we had a vacation?”
“When Pa almost got shanghaied in Frisco?” Adam guessed.
”Or that time you wore the bathroom curtains?” Joe prompted. “You almost married that gambling widow that time.”
“Or that time that woman claimed she was my wife but wasn’t?” Ben asked.
“No.” Hoss shook his head.
“Since them two-headed calves ate the Bishop’s cabin and the uranium mine exploded?” Joe suggested savoring the memory of the greenish glow that lit up the Sierras for a few weeks after that incident. The boys made the most of the situation and many evenings Joe and Adam and Hoss took Marcia and Jan and Cindy up for a buggy ride and a few smoochies while looking at the view.
Steam rose out of Joe’s wet clothes from the heat his brain generated thinking of those evenings of smooching. Soon, his cowboy suit was completely dry and even looked like it had been ironed wrinkle free.
“No,” Hoss shook his head. “Don’t know if that was the last time we had a vacation.”
“Since rebellious gypsies stole the chickens and made us dance with wolves?” Adam prompted. He won a blue ribbon for dancing the Macarena when he was at Back Eastern University.
“We ain’t had a vacation since that hairy circus gorilla got loose and knocked over the outhouse and stampeded the horses and Roy Coffee got stomped on and Little Joe and Adam almost got lynched?” Ben sighed nostalgically. He pushed his hat to the back of his head and watched as the last cow got branded and the exhausted puny ranch hand fell limply into the branding fire and immediately burned to ashes.
“Better not make out a payroll check for Puny, Adam. Just scrape up his ashes and mail ‘em to the Puny Family over in Placerville,” Ben ordered.
“Won’t need a big envelope fer him, Pa…” Hoss chuckled.” He was a right puny guy.”
His brothers laughed heartily and pounded each other’s backs. “Ho Ho! Puny!”
“Well, boys, I think we are due for a vacation no matter when we took the last one!” said Ben.
“Yay, Pa!”the boys cheered. They loved vacations
“…And I booked our passage on the Love Paddle Boat!” Ben was a generous and decisive Pa.
“Ya hoo!” the boys cheered.
Little Joe swiftly ripped off his shirt again, executed a perfect high dive off the corral fence back into the water trough and swam a few victory swam laps. His brothers applauded his dive and gave him thumbs up.
“Good one, little brother!!” Adam and Hoss said in unison.
“And we can even bring Hop Sing along, since we don’t have to pay Puny now that is burned up and daid!” Hoss said with a grin.
“Ya Hoo!” hollered Hop Sing, throwing up his meat cleaver and barely missing an eagle flying overhead. The eagle made a fist, spat out some birdish curses and flew off.
“And we can all get matching Bermuda shorts and flowery sport shirts!” Ben grinned. “And Puka beads too! Then everyone will know you are my handsome cowboy sons and I am your proud handsome cowboy Pa taking you on a vacation cruise!”
The boys looked at each other and grimaced. “Matching Bermuda shorts and flowery sport shirts, Pa? Puka beads?”
“And knee sox and sandals too! And straw fedoras with madras headbands too.” Ben added. “I ordered them down at the Tarjay Mercantile.”
“Yipes, Pa! You know I like black in summer…”Adam started. He thought quickly and tried to escape from wearing the awful outfit Pa had suggested.
“Yeah and you know how I have to wear my magical green corduroy jacket and tight tan pants, Pa…”
“And you know how the Virginia City Tall, Large and Big Size Shop don’t carry them Bermuda shorts in my size…”
Ben sighed. “Guess I will just have to just get us matching Ray ban sun glasses instead…”
The boys grinned, imagining how super cool they would all look on the cruise ship wearing their Ray bans and sipping drinks in pineapples with little paper parasols stuck in them.
“Yipee!” the three boys cheered and carried Pa around the corral on their shoulders. “Hooray for Pa!!!”
Puny’s ashes were dust in the wind.
“Love, exciting and new
Come Aboard. We’re expecting you.
Love, life’s sweetest reward.
Let it flow, it floats back to you,” sang Jack Jones as the four Cartwrights galloped to the dock and boarded the boat.
“We got a right to pick a little fight
If anyone fights anyone of us
He’s gotta fight with me!” sang the Cartwrights
“Love Boat soon will be making another run
The Love Boat promises something for everyone
Set a course for adventure,
Your mind on a new romance.
Love won’t hurt anymore
It’s an open smile on a friendly shore.
Yes LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE! It’s LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE! (hey-ah!)”
Bonanza!” Jack Jones, Ben, Adam, Hoss, Joe and the four Cartwright horses harmonized. Buck had perfect pitch.
The Tahoe Princess, a.k.a. the Love Paddle Boat, sailed Lake Tahoe filled with a fun-loving crew, excited passengers and a deck full of gals in blue dresses. Each handsome Cartwright fell for a gal…and at least one gal fell for each Cartwright. It is just the nature of the Love Boat. It is just the nature of Bonanza. It was television at its best.
First, just after they boarded the Tahoe Princess, Adam flirted with guest star Sandy Duncan at the welcome cocktail party. She was drinking a pink fizzle drink garnished with kiwi fruits that matched her dress and one of her eyes. Sandy was pert and perky and adorable enough to make you puke, even if you weren‘t seasick. Sandy made some of the foolish women portrayed on Bonanza seem like a combination of Einstein and Rambo by comparison.
A masher, played by the guy who was the first Phil in “All My Children”, was bothering her; Adam leaped to her defense and tossed him out of a port hole. Good thing the guy was skinny. Adam tipped his hat and Sandy swooned. Sandy was attractive but another woman caught Adam Cartwright’s eye at the breakfast buffet the next morning.
Sitting eating a large platter of bagels and grits was Adam’s former girl friend Rebecca Helen Kaufman-Krump, the peddler’s daughter who had left him 25 years earlier to marry Andy Taylor. Rebecca Helen was even more appealing to Adam than saccharine Sandy. Now having fought the Civil War and carpet baggers, and the fried chicken conglomerates, Andy had retired as sheriff of a small Southern town called Mayberry. Rebecca Helen and Andy were on the Tahoe Love Boat celebrating their 20th anniversary (please note the dates…Bonanza was never really good at continuity). As soon as Rebecca Helen saw Adam sipping his black coffee, she offered to ditch Andy but Adam was too honorable to break up a marriage and tried to send her back to Andy.
“We will always have that romantic evening when the outlaws held your father the Jewish peddler hostage until he shot them in their kishkas…” Adam said, kissing Rebecca Helen hotly in a life boat.
Adam always thought with his lips first.
“What a night, my darling! And Hop Sing made matzo ball soup when you brought me to the Ponderosa to meet your horse!”
“And we all got bushwacked! Despite all that we shared, darling, you must return to your husband. He loves you!” Adam said reluctantly and kissed Rebecca Helen for the last time as the moonlight was reflected in the shimmery surface of Lake Tahoe.
What a vacation!!
Meanwhile, Andy Griffith was in the Lido Lounge singing “Jimmy Crack Corn.” with Goober Pyle and Wayne Newton. Ben was thinking how much little Opie reminded him of Jamie. (WHO?)
On the tiny crowded dance floor, Hoss danced the two-step with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders but secretly longed for guest star Betty White, who loved animals and could speak Swedish like his dead mama Inger.
On the other side of the Lido Lounge, guest star Judy Carne was a terminally ill gambling nun. She was playing poker with Little Joe, Brett Maverick and the guy who played the first Phil in “All My Children” and Ray Milland without a toupee. Judy Carne was fervently re- evaluating her vows on the way to Vegas. She almost married Hoss, but by the time the Love Paddle Boat docked, she decided to join Ricardo Montalban (Father Kahn, the Indian Priest) at his orphanage on Fantasy Island.
As he was playing poker and winning handily, Joe longed for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, and for the life of him, couldn’t imagine why they are going for Hoss instead of him. He was jealous of the swell time that Hoss was having until he saw Julie, the adorable perky cruise director. He wound up having a little romantic fling with perky cruise director Julie and abandoning the poker game for the rest of the cruise. They climbed into the life boat to smooch. Coincidentally, it was the same boat that Adam and Rebecca Helen had just vacated and the bottom was warmed up nice and cozy and Rebecca Helen has left a half a bagel behind which Joe quickly devoured.
“Smooching is such hungry work!” Joe explained as he nibbled simultaneously on Julie and the bagel.
As soon as Joe left the game, an evil bad guy moved in and threatened Maverick. The handsome fellow quickly changed his name to Jim Rockford and jumped ship and swam to Malibu to have lunch with his father Lothario Jones.
Hop Sing toyed with becoming a bartender on the Love Paddle Boat like Isaac Washington. Isaac revealed that he was the great grandson of Thomas Bower, who was wrongly accused of being a runaway slave.
Meanwhile, Thomas Bower performed an operatic duet from Porgy and Bess with Dionne Warwick in the Lido Lounge.
Doc Martin shared a laudanum cocktail with Doctor Adam Brickner and proceeded to show him how to remove a bullet from a Cartwright by carving an ice sculpture.
Never had the passengers seen the likes of an anatomically-correct cowboy looming large and sparkling crystally clear on the banquet table. Doc Martin had creatively used radish roses and black olives in place of the bullets. “Can’t use lead near food,” he explained.
Meanwhile, back at the night club, Charo had fallen for Ben Cartwright, who was really uncomfortable when she played with his leather vest and said, “Hoochie Coochie, you hunky Cattle Baron!” The voluptuous entertainer kissed an embarrassed Ben full on his lips and sat on his cowboy lap.
“But I am old enough to be your father!” Ben protested.
“Oh my goodness! You keees more better than Senator Douglas!” she squealed enthusiastically. “Hoochie Coochie!!!”
Then Charo, the Latin bombshell, sang and danced with Desi Arnaz Jr. to Babaloo Bonanza. Ben blushed manfully and held hands with guest star Yvonne De Carlo, who reprised her role as Lotta Crabtree. She was performing on the Love Paddle Boat after her career peaked at Piper’s Opera House. By the end of the voyage, Lotta would leave Ben for Fred Gwynne, who had a pasty green complexion and bolts in his head. Fred claimed that he was green because he is seasick but could not explain the bolts in his head to anyone.
The laugh track laughs. Hahhahahahahaha!
Gopher just looked perplexed and walked away with one of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. They climbed into the life boat that Joe and Julie have vacated once Joe finished his nibbling of bagel and cruise director.
Ben was sad but since Lotta didn’t want him, he accepted her rejection with the comment, “You aren’t the first and won’t be the last, Baby! A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do…And let’s be friends.”
They kissed and Lotta started to have second thoughts but Ben shoved her aside, politely telling her to go to Fred. “He must be dying or even walking dead and needs you more than I do.”
The next morning, Pa had coffee with Captain Stuebing, who was one of Ben’s long lost buddies from back in the day on Captain Stoddard’s ship. Adam’s dead mama Liz had dated Stuebing once but ditched him for Ben when she realized he looked too much like Murray Slaughter and Ben made her heart go pitter pat.
Meanwhile Joe, Adam and Hoss went swimming in the pitiably small swimming pool that was about the same size as the water trough near the barn on the Ponderosa. Joe was shirtless and drippy wet and the audience went wild. Adam wore a black Speedo and worked on his tan while Hoss was splashing around very happily with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders in the tiny pool. Hoss was wearing a Dallas Cowboys tee shirt and cap and using an inflatable rubber horse. The gals didn’t need anything besides their bazooms to keep them afloat.
Joe and Adam tried swimming laps in the teeny pool but it was hardly bigger than the horse trough at the Ponderosa. Even guest stars young Scott Baio and very young Adam Rich could stand up in the deep end and the water was hardly up to their boyish dimpled knees.
“Kinda small, ain’t it?” Joe said as he splashed his brother Adam.
“Well,” said Adam looking down at his Speedos. “The water is very cold.”
Meanwhile, Hop Sing attended a feng shui demonstration and decided that he should redecorate the Ponderosa when he returned. “Those rooms need a perk up!” Then he played ping pong with Zsa Zsa Gabor and Scott Baio and Charo. Scott Baio mentioned that his pal Richie Cunningham looked a lot like Opie who looks a bit like Jamie.
“Who?” said Lillian, a passenger who was enjoying some babka.
Julie, the cruise director, sat and chatted with the Cartwright brothers by the pool, and as soon as she left, Joe confided to his brothers that he adored her and would propose to her before the Love Paddle Boat docks. “I want that little gal to be Mrs. Joseph Francis Cartwright!”
“Good plan!” Hoss and Adam agreed. They both knew she is doomed. Could the Love Paddle Boat handle a burial at sea?
Hiding behind the stack of clean towels, Little Vicki thought Little Joe, who she adored, was in love with her. After all, Vicki was a little gal. She spent the rest of the episode writing “I love Joe” on the restroom walls and planning her wedding to be “Mrs. Little Joe Cartwright” and trying to work up the courage to ask her father, Captain Stuebing, the Love Paddle Boat Captain, to marry them. She planned to name their first child “Teeny Tiny Little Joe Junior” and Charo and Zsa Zsa, playing Charo’s mother, took Vicki shopping for her trousseau in the ship’s shop.
In the climatic end of the episode, adorable Little Vicki Steubing, the orphan girl the Captain adopted, fell under the paddle wheel and almost drowned, Joe (who had no shirt and was very wet) feigned a cramp from swimming too soon after sharing some babka with Lillian. Then Hoss helped guest stars Adam Rich and Scott Baio rescue Little Vicki so she would fall for young boys and leave Joe alone .
“Too bad Jamie ain’t here!” Hoss said, thinking that red haired orphan boy who looked like Opie would be a more suitable match for Little Vicki Steubing.
“Yeah, we could have tossed him under the paddle wheel and watched him go glub blub glub,” Adam said with a cynical grin.
Realizing how cute Scott and Adam really were, Vicki told Joe Cartwright that she was too young for him and Joe pretended to cry by pulling the hair in his nose. Then she walked off with Scott Baio and Adam Rich, and Joe sighed with relief.
Joe proposed to Julie, who said, “We will always have the moonlight on Tahoe but I must stay on the Love Paddle Boat. I can‘t marry you, fool that I am.”
Joe cried and Pa consoled him. Ben said, “Hold a place in your heart for her but let her go, son. Don’t hold her too close or you will get heartburn. And maybe catch stupidity from her too.”
“I know that Pa,” Joe blubbered as Ben stood on Joe’s bare foot with his golf shoes (he was about to go golfing with Gofer and Rockford and Wayne Newton.).
“New show next week and a new girl for you, son, too.” Ben said lovingly.
“Ain’t that the truth!” Hoss said with a smile as he waved goodbye to Sister Judy Carne and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Hoss had the best vacation he can remember.
“I know, Pa!” Joe grabbed Ben around the chest in a bear hug and tried to hoist him off his smashed toes. Ben misinterpreted this as a desperate attempt at affection and said, “That’s all right, boy. I never held my land above my sons; before that would happen, I would give up golf!”
“Vacation is over!” Hoss griped. He spat over the rail into Lake Tahoe.
“Sigh! It’s over too soon!” Adam added, putting on his Ray Ban sunglasses and leaning on the railing morosely. He spat into Lake Tahoe too.
Andy and Rebecca Helen started down the gang plank followed by Jack Jones, Rockford, Scott Baio and Betty White, who realized that age is no barrier to romance.
Everyone laughed as the Love Paddle Boat docked. They all spit into Lake Tahoe too.
The Cartwrights rode off on their conveniently parked horses at the end of a happy family vacation and sat on a hill overlooking Lake Tahoe. The Love Paddle Boat sailed by and the hunky Cartwrights waved as it chugged away and tooted the whistle.
The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders formed a pyramid on the deck and shouted “HOSS HOSS HOSS he‘s our man! If we can‘t have him, no one can!!” The Love Paddle Boat hit a wave and the pyramid got off balance, tossing the doomed cheerleaders into the drink where they all disappeared under the surface, never to be seen again.
“Oh, well!” said Julie the cruise director as she waved farewell and ate some babaka offered to her by Lillian.
The Cartwrights laughed, spat in the lake and galloped away. Another cruise has ended.