Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…about a show that ran for three years in the 60’s and then lived forever in syndication.
For the five people with Internet access that have never heard of this show, here’s the rundown.
The Skipper (Alan Hale, Jr.) and his first mate Gilligan (Bob Denver) along with their five passengers, the Professor (Russell Johnson), farm girl Mary Ann, (Dawn Wells), movie star Ginger (Tina Louise), and the millionaire Howells, Thurston (Jim Backus) and Lovey (Natalie Schafer), were on a three hour tour of the Hawaiian Islands when they were blown way off course by a sudden storm and ended up stranded on a deserted island where hilarity ensued.
The show wasn’t exactly heavy on realism. For a group of people on a day trip, they ended up taking a whole lot of clothing with them (though there must not have been any room for the Skipper, Professor, or Gilligan to bring their wardrobes). The Professor could make anything from coconuts, bamboo, and palm leaves, but a boat. Everyone else in the world could arrive and leave the island as they pleased, but the castaways were perpetually stuck. Speaking of, anything in the world washed up on the shore or dropped down from the sky -mines, lions, space capsules, robots- but not a damn message could off of the place.
A few of the people that washed up on the shores, and then later left, included: Vito Scottie (four times!), Zsa Zsa Gabor, a 14 year old Kurt Russell in a loin cloth swinging from trees, Mel Blanc (voice only, of course), Hans Conreid aka Wrongway Feldman, Denny Miller, Larry Storch, Harold J. Stone, Nehemiah Persoff (taking a break from drama, I guess), Vincent Beck, Richard Kiel, Phil Silvers, John McGiver, Don Rickles (he shows up everywhere), Strother Martin, and Rory Calhoun as a big game hunter hunting Gillian, which should have been gruesome, but instead was pretty funny.
It was that sort of silliness that has most people writing the show off as stupid. Silly, yes. Unrealistic, of course. Stupid? I wouldn’t say that.
If you pay attention, it’s funny. Not just the slapstick and sight gags, but the dialogue. Okay, none of it is quite as cutting and brash as something you’d see today, but the back and forth is pretty great, particularly if Mr. Howell is involved. There’s some really hilarious, LOL stuff that you wouldn’t expect to find on this wacky island.
Besides, the show is supposed silly. It’s supposed to be a complete deviation from reality, a break from it. Embrace that and enjoy it.
I will say, though, now that I’m watching it as an adult, I’m realizing just how often and how quickly the other castaways take advantage of Gilligan. If this was as realistic as people think it should be, Gilligan would have been the first one killed in the eventual murder rampage that no doubt would have gripped the island. And those that survived would have eventually died of some malnutrition related disease because you can only eat so many coconut cream pies and bananas.
Yeah, so maybe it’s better the show went with silly rather than realistic.
So sit back and relax and enjoy.
Hit the music.