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All right, so "Gilligan's Island" may not be "The Dick Van Dyke Show," or
any other sophisticated physical comedy show-but all in all it is just pure
fun to watch. I remember when I was little watching the reruns on TNT and
TBS, and now own the complete first season on DVD. I don't know why it is,
but I've always had a special place for "Gilligan's Island," it's one of my
favorites. True, you can't take too many clothes on a 3-hour tour
realistically, or how in the world can you do everything from build a hut to
a lie detector, but can't make a fail-safe raft?
The ratings, in all its three seasons, shone high above many shows; despite the network's attempt of changing the time slot a few times. It beat Bonanza in its first season, and by the end of the third season, it had beat Star Treck, The Monkees, etc. If William Paley's wife hadn't loved Gunsmoke, "Gilligan's Island" would have easily gained at least two more seasons by ratings alone.
If you're looking for sophisticated humor, this show isn't it. It's silly, corny, but the cast is just a lovable one. You can't help but like the series (which is more than I can say for "Green Acres"; which gets annoying after a few episodes). The cast is brilliant in their roles, and the chemistry between Alan Hale Jr. and Bob Denver and Jim Backus' chemistry with Natalie Shcaffer is perfect. All in all, "Gilligan's Island" is just pure clean fun, which is more than I can say for shows on today. Watch it, give it a chance, and enjoy!
I never get tired of watching "Gilligan's Island." As one of the many
1960's TV shows with wacky premises (breaking away from the "Leave It
to Beaver" mold of the previous decade), it lives on to this day. At
the beginning of every episode, when the theme song begins, I always
act out the lines, and then wait for something crazy to happen.
Let's look at the characters. First mate Willy Gilligan (yes, he did have a first name) is the bane of everyone who believes in order and normalcy. Clumsy, pencil-thin and naive, he bungles every chance they have to get off of the island, and yet the other castaways didn't kill him. I guess they understood that he was a good guy under that idiocy.
Skipper Jonas Grumby is everything that Gilligan isn't: fatter than fat, competent and perfectly capable of taking charge. As his weight often is the butt of Gilligan's jokes, not to mention all the times when Gilligan drops things on his feet, the Skipper usually proceeds to hit Gilligan with his hat.
Thurston Howell III is the archetypal crass capitalist. He never does any work, and sits around all day talking about money. I always get the feeling that his grand ambition is to defraud all the other castaways. In spite of all this, Mr. Howell does have one weakness: his Teddy Bear.
Eunice "Lovey" Howell is as much of an heiress as can be. Always the aesthete, Lovey engages in eternal attempts to teach everyone the ways of the elite, but they never get the hang of it. Sometimes, it seems that she and Thurston married for money more than for love. Their marriage is often rocky, but they stay together.
Ginger Grant is the castaway with whom I would like to be stranded. A sultry movie star, Ginger can always seduce the men to get information. Her endless tales about life in Hollywood make life on the island sound not so bad. Ginger's dream would apparently be for Rock Hudson to rescue her from the island...and then some.
Professor Roy Hinkley is truly too smart for his (or anyone's) own good. Still, the Professor is the only reason that they are able to stay alive on the island. Whatever anyone needs built, he can take whatever materials are on the island and whip it up in a jiffy (unless of course anyone needs a raft).
Last but not least, Mary Ann Summers. She is the only castaway who can be classified as normal (and I use that term loosely). A wholesome farm girl from Kansas, Mary Ann tends the island's crops and keeps herself entertained by tuning into the soap operas on the radio. Nothing wrong with her.
So that's the story of the seven Castaways. They've been marooned on that island for over 40 years, and Gilligan's naivety, the Skipper's short temper, Mr. Howell's greed, Mrs. Howell's stuffiness, Ginger's sex appeal, the Professor's smarts and Mary Ann's glimpse into Americana never get old. It's always a riot to see their antics again and again...here on Gilligan's isle!
It's Saturday night circa early 60's and right after The Jackie Gleason Show on CBS comes `Gilligans Island'. When it first aired about the only two well-known members of the cast to the vast majority of viewers were Bob Denver who had appeared as the beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on Dobie Gillis and the multi talented Jim Backus. Russell Johnson who played the Professor was one of those actors that would appear on various TV shows. It's run on prime time was three seasons but thanks to re-runs Gilligans Island has in fact never left the airwaves. The 98 episodes play over and over yet they still hold up well today and one can still find themselves laughing at various episodes even though they may have seen it dozens perhaps even hundreds of times. If You're not wrapped too tight then like the theme song said `You're sure to get a smile'
I have always been a fan of this show and I grew up with it.
I have to say that being in my late 30's now, I still enjoy watching it. There is nothing in the show to offend anyone and you don't have to worry about something inappropriate for young viewers. Not too many shows nowadays are around that you can let a child watch that doesn't have something that is either offensive or has objectionable content.
Oftentimes, if I come home after a hard day at work, not physically tired but mentally exhausted, the perfect thing for me is to turn on a television show that doesn't require too much thinking, its just fun and that is what Gilligan's Island is for me. It is a very welcome stress reliever to come home and spend thirty minutes laughing and getting rid of the stress of the day.
It is truly a classic television show because of the stories; the theme song and the cast and their chemistry. Everything is a perfect blend.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Gilligan's Island: One of the most loved and also (strangely enough)
often maligned sitcoms in TV history. It was originally run on CBS
(1964 - 1967). It must be one of the most heavily viewed programs in
the history of syndication. GI was an essential part of the after
school ritual for millions in the early seventies. Seeing it so much as
a kid left an indelible print on my brain to the extent that, even
though I haven't watched the show regularly for the past 25 years, I
can still recite some of the character dialog when prompted. A
remarkable testament to the effect (for good or ill) of TV on young
The show revolves around the fate of the crew and passengers of the lost Honolulu tour boat--the S.S. Minnow---blown off course by a freak storm onto "an uncharted desert isle".
Most of the episodes center on the "seven castaways" efforts to get off of the island and back to civilization. The attempts are always sabotaged by the bumbling first mate of the Minnow --Gilligan (Bob Denver). I like the skinny and young Denver as Gilligan -however the characterization works only on a rather limited basis marked by age and appearance. Put 15 years and 15 pounds on Denver (as was done in the reunion movies) and Gilligan's antics become almost intolerable. The Skipper (Alan Hale Jr) is seen by some to be a gruff authoritarian figure--however I see him as being much more benign (Alan Hale's natural affability comes shining through). I believe that Gilligan and the Skipper come across most of the time like "Mutt and Jeff" rather than as "Laurel and Hardy".
Jim Backus and Natalie Schaefer playing Thurston and Lovey Howell (The millionaire and his wife) are the most accomplished members of the cast. The Howells are played for all they're worth by Backus and Schaefer. Both actors were masters of the ad-lib. I especially like one laugh line Thurston Howell III gets as the castaways listen to a radio broadcasting the launch of a test missile that the professor calculates will hit and destroy the island. The radio announcer does the countdown... then crows, "And it's a perfect launch!"-- "It would be...," says Howell with bitter, comic resignation.
Ginger--the movie star--seductress, red head (Tina Louise) & Mary Ann (Dawn Wells) the virginal, wholesome Kansas farm girl, brunette--certainly set up the eternal question of preference among the male viewers of the show. For my part... either girl would do in a pinch. Tina Louise does a creditable imitation of Marilyn Monroe -I would bet heavy money that the character of Ginger holds the TV record for the sheer number of come-ons made by a woman (always for ulterior motives and never for sex). It's to Louise's credit that she made all that flirting seem real and in context and always in bounds. Sweet, little Mary Ann is a much more incidental character and the only character in the show that is played "straight" most all of the time.
Russell Johnson is first rate as the Professor---the island's resident intellectual / technician. He has a good laugh line in one of the episodes when the other other castaways wax nostalgic about what they miss the most about their previous lives back in civilization--the Professor suddenly pipes up: "What I miss most is Saturday night at the library....the hustle and bustle at the reference desk...." .
It has been pointed out by more than one deep thinker that the "Castaways" are meant to represent "archetypes" of humanity. I am certain that the character types and the casting contributed much to the success of this show. The casting is so critical because the setting for the series (an otherwise uninhabited tropical island) is not the most promising for a situation comedy (which is the reason no doubt for the many strange visitors that find their way to the island--everyone from a World War One fighter pilot to a rock band to a mad scientist to an exiled South American dictator-to a dozen others).....
I mentioned at the beginning of my comments that Gilligan's Island is often abused by critics. It received bad reviews from the the very first show and there are plenty of people who have continued to hammer away at it through 5 decades down to the present day-(Did anyone else see Larry King make Bob Denver squirm when he was a guest on Larry King Live a few years ago?). Gilligan's Island is generally attacked for being comedy of a very low variety--dumb and unsophisticated and marked by a noted lack of realism (How is it that the Howells brought so many clothes along for a three hour cruise?---Why can't the Professor figure out a way to get them off the island if he can make a generator out of a coconut? And why doesn't anyone sleep with anyone else? etc...) I will concede that the overall tone of many of the episodes is slightly juvenile. (The most avid perennial viewers of this show would have had to have been 9 - 11 year old boys). However, that said, it's never been proved to me that Gilligan's Island was any more unlikely in either premise or execution than any number of its contemporaries. Contrived characters and situations have always been a hallmark of American network TV from the beginning --all the way, arguably to the present ---but that's another subject. I can find at least some jokes and situations on GI that contain more social and political comment and present sex in a way more realistic than can be found on Dick Van Dyke (as an example).
Sherwood Schwartz and the show's cast and writers must be given much credit for creating a unique version of an escapist fantasy---that has...like it or not...found a place in American pop culture.
While this show was on, the TV Executives did everything they could to kill this show that everyone loved. They moved it all over the schedule to no avail, but the fans faithfully followed it. It finally took one dreadful mistake to drag Gunsmoke on for a little while longer to finally kill the show. Since then, the show has become a cult hit; now what does that tell you ? That fans really do love the cartoony characters as they learn life's little foibles and lessons the hard way. Gilligan has since become the patron god for all guys with a Peter Pan complex who strive to hold on to their youth, and Skipper Jonas Grumby has become the boss or parent we would all prefer as he hands out chores and punishments with a smile on his face and laughter in his heart. Thurston and Lovee Howell have since become the first images we think of when we picture wealth, prosperity and happiness, and Professor Roy Hinkley is the teacher we would all want who knows his facts and figures and the calmness to explain them. He is criticized for not being able to build a boat, but how many boats do we know he may have tried repeatedly times between episodes ? The show was also made special by the beautiful visages of Ginger Grant and Mary Anne Sommers. Although Ginger probably intimidated a lot more guys than she claims to have dated, I think it was Mary Anne with her quiet innocence and girl-next-door attraction that made her the odds on favorite "babe" of the show. The series itself was excellant escapist fun that didn't need to be analyzed. It was created to entertain, and it did that wonderfully well.
Although this is considered the dumbest show in TV history, I still find it very entertaining, no matter how goofy it gets. Everything about it is great fun, especially the way Gilligan always messed things up no matter what. Too bad this didn't stay on longer.
Why is Gilligan's Island considered so often as the silliest show on TV?
Perhaps because it wasn't set in white suburbia?Because there was no
house,no kids,no first dates,no report cards,no morning newspaper, no
boss,etc.Was it really sillier than its rivals,such as
Bewitched,Munsters,Flying Nun,Addams Family,Jeanie, etc,which were basicly
stupid gimmick shows,featuring fantasy in the middle of pseudo-reality?
Some Gilligans Island episodes were very good and funny(by TV standards);some were stupid (by any standard).Yet unlike the other shows of its genre it clearly told all of us-this is fun,this is campy,this is a spoof of pop culture.It isn't reality. Maybe that's why we remember it(love it or hate it) and forget so many other shows.
This has got to be one of the campiest shows of all time. When you look
at all this show you see a stereotype of the different types of people
who make up our society. You have the working guys (Skipper and
Gilligan), the intellectual (the Professor), the sex pot (Ginger), the
sweet girl (Mary-Ann) and the upper crust capitalists (the Howells).
Too bad this show didn't last another season. I would have loved to
have seen them do a series finale instead of the horrid reunion movies.
Maybe if they did it that way we could have gotten another season where
Mr. Howell builds a resort on the island and Gilligan was the jack of
all trades that really kept things rolling.
Also, the biggest question of all, Ginger or Mary-Ann?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
GILLIGAN'S ISLAND was one of my mandatory rerun shows as a kid! I
watched it, like many other classic TV shows that aired in syndication
at the time of my youth with regularity. Didn't really pay attention to
much of the detail or innuendo or commentary. Just was a kid watching
what was on. Back then, there weren't nearly as many choices as there
In re-watching the series recently to gain some perspective, I realize that, no matter how silly and brainless people say this show was, it really was a FUNNY show! I'd say that it's utter lack of realism and complete focus on comedy is the primary reason for it's popularity and staying power. It never tried to be anything more than it was. Even "greater" shows can't lay claim to that trait!
The humor of GI is really broad, laced with sarcasm, wisecracking, innuendo, double-entendres, and, of course, physical comedy. There's quite a bit of ad-libbing that I realized went on. The dialogue, while simplistic for the most part, is actually engaging and still fresh in many ways. The main reason is that the 7 castaways are so well-defined and unique, illustrating that the actors really had a handle on their characters.
Gilligan, Skipper, Mr. and Mrs. Howell, Ginger, Professor, and Mary Ann are all awesome in their own way. TV icon Bob Denver played the equally iconic titular and central character Gilligan, with the then early 30ish Denver so effortlessly essaying the role of the innocent man-child. Alan Hale was also wonderful as the lovable Skipper. The Laurel-Hardy routine of he and Gilligan is a joy to behold!
I'd say my favorite character upon re-watch is really Mr. Howell. I'm amazed at how quick and natural that Jim Backus was with such a broad and somewhat cartoonish character. I'd bet he must have gotten at least an Emmy nomination for this role!
Mrs. Howell (played by then veteran Natalie Schafer) was an ad-libbing scene-stealer much like her hubby and garnered many laughs of her own. Russell Johnson must be commended for having to play the straight-laced, no-nonsense Professor amidst all the wackiness!
Glamorous Tina Louise was a childhood crush for me as Ginger and still does it for me! And hot Dawn Wells was so fresh and engaging as earnest do-gooder Mary Ann, and she did it WITHOUT ever coming across as annoying...no small feat! Of course, THE eternal question is "Ginger or Mary Ann?". They're both great in their own way and I'd take either one of them (as if I had a choice!). I can see why so many seem to prefer Mary Ann (the sweet farmgirl who would be the perfect mate) over Ginger (the sultry fantasy girl beyond reach), but it's not like Ginger was an awful person! She, like all the other castaways, in all their diversity, were presented as truly NICE people, which I find endearing as I re-visit this show. There are very few shows where EVERY character is likable. GI is definitely one of them.
When I started re-visiting this show, I couldn't believe that it ran for only 3 seasons! Honestly, it seemed like it was longer and that is because there were over 30 eps per season! Plus, the running time of each ep was longer than the average half-hour show now. So, if you equate GI to a show today, it actually would amount to about 5 seasons worth of episodes...I'll take it! I also find that I can watch GI much more so than several other shows from this era that I used to watch as a kid. It just has a warm, inviting quality and setting that I prefer. And I simply love ALL the characters! And, ironically, with it supposedly being a "silly" show, I find much of it's dialogue NOT to be silly, as some of those other shows. GI still a winner over 40 years later!
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