Surviving Gilligan's Island: The Incredibly True Story of the Longest Three Hour Tour in History (2001)

TV Movie  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  14 October 2001 (USA)
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A fun behind-the-scenes look into the 60's television series, "Gilligan's Island."



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Title: Surviving Gilligan's Island: The Incredibly True Story of the Longest Three Hour Tour in History (TV Movie 2001)

Surviving Gilligan's Island: The Incredibly True Story of the Longest Three Hour Tour in History (TV Movie 2001) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Network Executive #1
Network Executive #2
Friend's Sister


The complete recapping adventure of the seven idiots trapped on a deserted island. No phones, no lights, no motor cars. Not a single luxury. Like Robinson Crusoe, it's primitive as can be. People portray not only Bob Denver, Alan Hale, Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Tina Louise, Russell Johnson and Dawn Wells but also portray them as their world famous characters. We also get behind the scenes looks at how Sherwood Schwartz attempted to put his show on the air, and how they did casting, and how everyone dealt with the publicity, like people thought Jim Backus and Natalie Scahfer were really married, and when they took a picture of Gilligan, Ginger and Mary Ann for the cover of TV Guide and cut off Mary Ann, and about Tina Louise taking a dislike to her character. The trials and tribulations are explored too, even to the moment when Jim Backus was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and the deaths of he, Alan Hale and Natalie Schafer. The real life Bob Denver, Russell Johnson and Dawn ... Written by Dylan Self <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Scandals. The Egos. The Fights. Find out what when on when the cameras went off.


Comedy | Drama





Release Date:

14 October 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Surviving Gilligan's Island  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


As Dawn Wells, Samantha Harris says she won the 'Ms. Fitness' contest, but there was no such thing at the time "Gilligan's Island" was being filmed. The first fitness contest was held in the mid-nineties. Also, the term "Ms" was not in use at the time. "Miss Fitness" would have been the term used in that era. See more »


References Gunsmoke (1955) See more »

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User Reviews

So doesn't "Camp Runamuck" rate a TV movie? (Well, no.)
15 June 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

"Surviving Gilligan's Island: The Incredibly True Story of the Longest Three Hour Tour in History," as well as fitting alongside "Rascals and Robbers: The Secret Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn" and "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom" in the realm of TV movies with unbelievably long titles, is part documentary, part dramatization, part comedy and part nostalgia trip. Accordingly, it's also part successful.

Hosted by Dawn Wells, Russell Johnson and Bob Denver - the latter with "And Special Appearance By" credit, although he appears throughout the movie - this is shown from the off to be one for the fans, when the still-cute Wells boards a plane and the passengers break into the show's indelible theme song (she says this really did happen to her, and it's impossible to doubt it). It's especially hard to believe that many UK viewers will fully appreciate it; though it has aired in the UK, "Gilligan's Island" isn't as well known here as other American TV shows that have also been the subject of telemovies (like "Charlie's Angels" and "Batman"), but then again who's in a hurry to see ones about "The Good Life" or "Man About The House"? Especially as the most repeated series on British TV may well be "The Phil Silvers Show." But I digress. (Then again, maybe I don't - Silvers guested on the show once, and Gladasya [which made the show with United Artists for CBS] was his production company. Not many people know that.)

The movie's need to cram so much story into so little time means it plays like a Reader's Digest version of a book about the making of the series; it's rather jarring when an anecdote about a friend of Natalie Schaefer's having a mastectomy comes up. And though Tina Louise isn't too flatteringly portrayed here, it doesn't really come across as mudslinging (Louise has always been keen to distance herself from the series - she didn't even lend her voice to the cartoons "The New Adventures of Gilligan" and "Gilligan's Planet"). The constant cutting between the other three surviving cast members and the actors playing the original cast is an odd conceit, with every wall in sight broken when Dawn Wells gives Samantha Harris a crash course in Mary Ann's look ("This is a two-hour movie... let's cut to the chase"). But with the fine recreations – with a particular nod to Steve Vinovich as Jim Backus – and Laura Karpman's music in tune, as it were, with both the series and the period, it works.

It works in fits and starts, admittedly – the scenes where it gets serious are very hit and miss, especially considering that the original series was not renowned for its sentimentality – and it's ultimately more for people with a massive interest than the casual viewer (it bothers me a bit that the aforementioned animated spinoffs aren't mentioned - more understandably, neither is the next series Bob Denver did with Sherwood Schwartz, "Dusty's Trail"). Still, at least this approach is more original than a bigscreen movie, and this is a nicely put-together effort that serves both as a valentine to the show and a potted history, with some good laughs as well.

It would have been good if the story of how Schwartz pitched the idea to CBS by writing the theme song first and singing it to the board (as related in the book "TV's Greatest Hits") had been included, but at least the Professor finally answers the question of how someone so smart couldn't fix a hole in a boat - as the man says, if YOU were stuck on a desert island with Ginger and Mary Anne, would you fix it?

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