Created by Sherwood Schwartz, it has been said that the show's early failure was due to the fact that it was too similar to Bob Denver's earlier series Gilligan's Island (1964), also created by Schwartz. Denver plays a character very similar to that of Gilligan. In addition, there is a wagon train leader (similar to the Skipper), the Brookhavens, a rich couple (the Howells), Lulu, a saloon entertainer (Ginger), Betsy, a sweet young girl traveling alone (Mary Ann), and Andy, a bright young man who easily figures things out (the Professor). With "Gilligan's Island" in constant reruns, people preferred to tune in to that series rather than this one. See more »
In the show with the tornado coming towards the wagon train, it was quite obvious that someone superimposed a hand drawn, scribbled sketch of a tornado over the finished film. Has to be the worst replica of a tornado in television history! See more »
I admit that I do like GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. Idiot show that it was, the cast (despite rumors of personality clashes) blended perfectly and the stories, while predictable, were funny. And I suspect that I have the support of most television viewers about this. When I watched the antics of Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, and the others I never expected it was the equivalent of Shakespeare, but I normally felt humored after 30 minutes.
GILLIGAN actually lasted three years on television in terms of new episodes (except for a couple of television movies in the late 1970s), Bob Denver moved on to a now forgotten comedy THE GOOD GUYS with Herb Edelman and Joyce Van Patton (and later Jim Backus, as Edelman's disapproving father-in-law). It lasted two years. Then Denver got offered this show. Regretfully he accepted it.
I have pointed out that there have been only three really good western sit-coms that have popped up on television: MAVERICK, BEST OF THE WEST, and F-TROOP. There were also two others of mediocrity only: PISTOLS 'N PETTICOATS and RANGO. But DUSTY'S TRAIL makes RANGO (whose sole asset was Tim Conway) look like it was written by William Congreve or George Bernard Shaw or Oscar Wilde.
Basically DUSTY'S TRAIL replaced the situation of Gilligan, the Skipper, the Howells, Mary Ann, Ginger, and the Professor being on that deserted island, and put Gilligan and the Skipper, the Howells, and Ginger into a stagecoach going west. Now the central idea of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND was the isolation of the castaways on that island, and how they face weekly threats to their existence. It works, oddly enough (still does on a serious note - the reality show SURVIVOR is identical to it, in that the last one to "survive" has not been voted "dead" and off the island by the others). But this can't be transferred to a stagecoach going through the American West of the 1870s. How can it? You have threats (natural disasters, buffalo stampedes, Indian wars, bandits), but you have plenty of settlements to go to. The writers tried to make it similar by making "Dusty" (Denver) a woefully inept guide. It's not quite the same thing. Moreover, although Forrest Tucker was a good actor (and even a good comedian) he was not as properly fussy as Alan Hale Jr. was in GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.
I saw it twice, and mercifully have forgotten the content of the episodes. Because I like Tucker and Denver I am giving this a "4", but only for them.
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