The Love Boat:
The character of Dr. Adam Bricker could easily have deteriorated into a stereotype. After all, he was touted as little more than a skirt-chaser on the high seas. Fortunately, there was more to the character than that, which enabled one to overlook this weakness. In fact, his character is still so popular today, that he was the Love Boat character least likely to be killed by visitors of the hilarious web site whowouldyoukill.com (unlike poor Gopher, who got nearly 10 times more votes from viewers who would like to send him to Davey Jones' locker!).
So what makes Doc different from the usual sit-com lothario?
Doc's Love/Hate Relationship With Family
In the episode "The Folks From Home", it's revealed that Doc is cynical about families, since he has no family of his own. He mentions that his parents are gone, but the cause of this isn't specified. In this episode, he finds himself emotionally latching onto an older couple, after they tell him they want him to be part of their family (since they're all from Baltimore). So, despite Doc's assumed air of independence, it becomes obvious that he yearns for the security of a family. Which could explain....
Doc's Multiple Marriages...And Divorces
If he's subconsciously seeking a family, then it's no surprise that Doc would marry early. And, without a good example of a stable relationship in his own home life, he apparently never learned how to pick a suitable mate!
For example, in "Doc, Be Patient", he falls head over heels in love with a female passenger who is a doctor...simply because she stayed with him in his cabin overnight and nursed him back to health when he had a fever. She didn't make a single romantic overture (and he, quite frankly, made a fool of himself in front of her by fearing everything from the needle to the tongue depressor!). But he's so lonely and so desperate, that her simple acts of caring caused him to fall for her. Had she not been sensible enough to let him down gently, that might have become marriage/divorce #5 (or would that be #6...I've lost count!).
Another example of Doc's tendency to let his heart rule his head was in "Doc's 'Ex' Change". One of his ex-wives shows up, announcing that their divorce is not, in fact, final. Though Doc initially reacts with irritation to this news, sentiment overcomes cynicism, and he eventually comes close to reuniting with her. But then they finally decide to go through with the divorce after all. And no wonder...she's such a spoiled, bossy person, she doesn't even want to let him wear socks to bed, because she thinks it's not romantic. (And cold feet ARE? Give the poor man a break!) Situations like this most likely led to....
Doc's Skirt-Chasing Ways
As much as he likes to consider himself the Casanova of the cruise lines, Doc's not exactly the smoothest talker around. His pickup lines are so corny, that half the time his intended targets either roll their eyes, or cut him down to size with an ego-shriveling zinger. In one such exchange, Doc pretended to read a female passenger's palm, "predicting" that she'd have an encounter with someone who had sandy hair and glasses, and that she'd feel like a "new woman" the morning after. As she walked away, the woman told him that she was seeking "a second opinion". (Ouch!)
Yet he does manage to chat up quite a few of the dim-bulbs on board, thanks to his philosophy: "If at first you don't succeed, hit on somebody else!" (That memorable line came about after he'd been shot down not just once, but repeatedly, by the same woman, played by Toni Tennille.) Still, Doc pretty much dooms himself to failure, when it comes to finding the security that he actually seeks. He's too busy building this fake image to be sincere, and reveal the sensitive side of himself that would actually appeal to anyone worthwhile.
Though Doc isn't as arrogant as most doctors are in real life, he does have another exasperating trait: a tendency to be postively bratty at times! This is most often seen when he is battling a rival for the attention of yet another bimbo...!
But one of his worst displays of childish, petty behavior took place when a new nurse joined the crew.
She was a former showgirl, so all Doc had on his mind was (pardon the expression) playing doctor with his new assistant. Although she was fond of the doctor, she was more concerned with her work, and quickly made a name for herself among the crew and passengers, because she helped so many people get relief from their minor ailments. Doc ended up looking rather incompetent, compared to her.
But he brought it all on himself. He was so much more concerned with pursuing a good time, that he was neglecting his duties. Instead of realizing this and making an effort to do better, though, he merely started resenting the nurse!
His petty jealousy culminated in a completely unwarranted tirade which reduced the nurse to tears. Julie, upon witnessing this, chewed him out and stormed out of the room.
To his credit, though, Julie's scolding shocked him into realizing how unreasonable he had been, so he apologized to the nurse--and suggested that she should go back to medical school, because she was better suited to be a doctor.
Still, he would never have found himself in this embarassing situation in the first place, had he simply been mature enough to put work before pleasure...and not blamed someone else for his own failures.
Doc, The Busybody
Sometimes Doc goes overboard (if you'll pardon the pun) in caring about other people. To put it bluntly, he has a tendency to poke his nose into situations that are none of his business! If someone on the crew happens to be reading a letter, Doc cranes his head over their shoulder, trying to read it. Sometimes, even when passengers are kissing, Doc will hover around them, as if he's never seen a kiss before. This curiosity, combined with Doc's talkative nature, leads to another aspect of his personality....
Doc, The Gossip
Another of Doc's major faults is blabbing private information about other people, without their permission. In fact, some of his revelations would land him into serious trouble with the AMA; he's told the Captain that one passenger had a terminal illness, and told Julie that another passenger was pregnant--a flagrant violation of trust between doctor and patient! Though it's a trait he should curb before he loses his license (!), he does this with no malice aforethought; he's simply concerned about the people in question. One can forgive him his faults (well, usually!), because he's essentially a caring person.
Doc's Sensitive Side?
When Julie's heart was broken in Alaska, Doc was the first to give her a hug. When passengers or crew are having problems, he's often the first to notice (or at least the second; Julie is pretty perceptive, too!). He's quick to help out a friend in need, even dreaming up elaborate schemes to assist them, if necessary. They may backfire, but at least he tries!
One episode in which Doc finally stops pretending to be shallow is "Itsy Bitsy". His disappointment at being fixed up with an overweight blind date soon vanishes, as he's enamoured by her cheerful personality. When Gopher and Isaac tease him about his "heavy" date, Doc snaps at them and goes off alone to sulk. Gopher and Isaac find him, apologize, then ask why he's so fond of Bitsy. Doc replies that he loves all women, and there's more to them than just looks--he finds them equally appealing if they can make him feel happy.
Too bad he never realized that, if he'd dropped the pick-up lines and just been this sincere with any of the women he chatted up, he would have been even more successful with the ladies than he believed himself to be. But no, he had to waste this revelation on Gopher and Isaac--probably because they were his friends, and he trusted them.
Indeed, despite his outgoing, gregarious front, Dr. Adam Bricker feared rejection, and thus felt a lot more inside than he dared to show. For instance, on the reunion episode of Love Boat: The Next Wave, he advised the new ship's doctor not to get romantically involved with anyone on the crew. He went on to explain that this was why he, himself, had never let Julie McCoy know that he'd been in love with her all along....
LINKS TO MORE LOVE BOAT PHOTOS
(All are promo photos like the one above, unless otherwise noted)
» NEW: Vicki and Doc arrive at a costume party. At least, we hope it's a costume party....
» As usual, Doc noses into everybody's business...this time it's Captain Stubing (with Marion Ross)
» Ted Lange, Fred Grandy, Jill Whelan, Gavin MacLeod, Lauren Tewes, and Bernie Kopell in Fort Lauderdale, helping to christen the newest Princess Cruise liner, Dawn Princess. (People magazine)
» Ted McGinley, Lauren Tewes, Gavin MacLeod, Jill Whelan, and Bernie Kopell reunite aboard the Regal Princess in NYC's harbor. (People magazine)
» "Doc, I'm worried about The Beav!"