Making the Grades
What do you get when you abandon a skipper and his first mate, a millionaire and his wife, a movie star, a professor and a girl from Kansas on a deserted isle? If you don't know, you haven't been watching enough TV reruns!
Gilligan's Island hit the airwaves in 1964-65, but it wasn't until the following year that the series appeared in color. Now you can bring home all 32 episodes of that second season on DVD, and get lost at sea for more than sixteen hours!
The popular television show followed the escapades of seven diverse (and stereotypical) characters, shipwrecked by inclement weather and washed ashore a tiny tropical island. Each week the stranded crew and passengers attempted to find some means of returning to civilization. These were usually bungled by Gilligan's (Bob Denver) best intentions.
Considering their location was supposed to be uncharted, it is amazing how many people stumbled across it-such as natives from a neighboring island (Gilligan's Mother-in-Law), Russian cosmonauts (Nyet, Nyet) and an American rock group (Don't Bug the Mosquitoes). These kinds of plots allowed for guest appearances, including Zsa Zsa Gabor, (Erika Smith to the Rescue), and Richard Kiel (Ghosts a Go-Go). Even family members were known to get in on the act, like Bob Denver's real life son Patrick (V for Vitamins), and Jim Backas' (better known as Mr. Howell) actual wife Henny (don't anyone tell Lovey!). Despite the perpetual traffic, the castaways fail to be rescued.
While none of the portrayals could be considered dramatically accurate or politically correct, creator Sherwood Schwartz did his best to keep the production with in the TV guidelines of his day. In his brief commentary (which is part of the bonus materials) he explains how difficult it was to insure Mary-Ann's (Dawn Wells) navel wasn't showing, and Ginger's (Tina Louise) dresses didn't expose too much cleavage. Viewers will also notice the millionaire and his wife (Natalie Schaffer) always slept in separate beds.
And it is those same rules of conduct that anchor Gilligan's Island in safe water for families. Although Ginger has more pick-up lines than a tow truck company, some episodes feature violence (from mild peril, to dangerous beasts, to weapons), and drinking or gambling are occasionally part of a storyline, there remains an innocence about these depictions. Emphasizing slapstick humor, the silly sitcom offers plenty of laughs (or groans) for all ages.
Much has changed in the forty years since the SS Minnow left the harbor on that now infamous three-hour tour. The professor (Russell Johnson) doesn't appear quite as smart as he used to, the Skipper (Alan Hale) seems much more patient and forgiving because he hasn't wrung his "little buddy's" neck yet, and the longevity of the batteries in the portable radio prove they don't make things like they used to.
But one thing remains the same: Gilligan's Island is still taking audiences by storm.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Gilligan’s Island; The Second Season.
In his commentary, Sherwood Schwartz relates a conversation he had with the Coast Guard regarding the number of request they received asking them to spare a boat to rescue the seven stranded passengers. Why do you think people sometimes blur the line between make-believe and reality? Why do you think fans of TV shows or movie stars are particularly susceptible to this phenomenon?