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5.0 out of 5 stars The History of Gilligan's Island 1964 to 1967 on CBS., January 10, 2004
This review is from: Gilligan's Island: Season 1 (DVD)
The Cast
Backus, Jim Thurston Howell III
Denver, Bob Gilligan (some say Willy Gilligan)
Hale Jr., Alan Skipper Jonas Grumby
Johnson, Russell Professor Roy Hinkley
Louise, Tina Ginger Grant
Schafer, Natalie Lovey Wentworth Howell
Wells, Dawn Mary Ann Summers
Maxwell, Charles radio announcer
A ship's captain, his first mate, an actress, a professor, a farm girl, a millionaire and his wife, all stranded on an uncharted desert island in the South Pacific. Seven random people thrown together by fate, united in search of an exit. A Twilight Zone episode, you say? An existential play by Jean Paul Sartre, perhaps? No, nothing quite so cerebral. It's the central plot line of Gilligan's Island, one of the most popular and most referenced sitcoms in television history.
In September of 1964 the S.S. Minnow set sail on a three-hour tour that would last three years in prime time. Although Gilligan's Island, the brainchild of Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz, was one of the worst reviewed shows ever broadcast, it was always a favorite with the viewing public. Millions of people tuned in to see the comic antics of the inept Gilligan and watch each week as the castaways inevitably failed to get off the island.
Gilligan was the boat's sole crew member, aside from the skipper. He was well-meaning but inept in his attempts to find a means of returning to civilization. As a result, and perhaps even more because this simple-minded farce became a top hit, the little band was stranded on that island for three full seasons. One question that never got answered, however, concerned the luggage. In the first episode, and in the theme song, it was pointed out that the cruise was only supposed to be for three hours. How, then, did the passengers have enough clothing to last three years?
Gilligan's biggest fans were kids, and when the series finally went into repeats on local stations and on cable TV such as Nick at Nite they made it one of the biggest rerun hits of all time. Even though the reruns were colorized, for a while, whereas they were all black and white when originally aired in the 60s. By the way, The Hallmark Channel now shows them in black and white as opposed to when they were on TNT. Anyways, an animated cartoon version called The New Adventures of Gilligan was produced for ABC, and ran on that network's weekend daytime schedule from 1974 to 1977.
Then in 1978 NBC had the bright idea of bringing the original cast back together for a reunion special, in which they were finally rescued. All agreed to appear except Tina Louise (who wanted too much money, and so was replaced by Judith Baldwin). "Rescue From Gilligan's Island" aired in October 1978 as a two-part special, and was a phenomenal hit. They did finally get off the island, and returned to a triumphant homecoming. But then they made the mistake of going on a reunion cruise on the Minnow II, only to wind up stranded back on the same island--the result of another freak storm! "Castaways on Gilligan's Island," a folow-up special aired in 1979, had them converting the island into a tourist resort. And in still another sequel in 1981, The Harlem Globetrotters dropped in! There was a talk of reviving the series, but audiences for the 1979 and 1981 sequels were not very large, and the plans never materialized.
One of TV's great bits of trivia is Gilligan's first name. None was ever revealed on the show, but years later on a talk show Bob Denver claimed that he had talked the matter over with the show's creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz, and they had decided that if Gilligan ever did need a first name it would be "Willie."
Also did you know that Jayne Mansfield turned down the role of "Ginger"; Carroll O'Connor tested for the role of The Skipper; Raquel Welch auditioned for the role of Mary Anne; Dabney Coleman tested for the role of The Professor and Jerry Van Dyke, Dick's Brother, turned down the role of Gilligan.
Bob Denver had a character on The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis playing Maynard G. Krebs.
Jim Backus,aka Thurston Howell III, appeared the year before Gilligan's debut in the 1963 movie It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World as the pilot of a plane which had Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett on board.
Natalie Schafer also was on the short lived drama series The Survivors with Lana Turner, Ralph Bellamy, Jan Micheal-Vincent, and George Hamilton in 1969-70.
The original pilot was filmed in November of 1963 but never aired until October of 1992 on TBS. In the original pilot, the characters of the Professor and Ginger were played by a different actor and actress. There was no character of Mary Ann. In the pilot, there was a character called Bunny. Bunny was the buxom blonde and Ginger was a practical brunette. In the pilot, Ginger and Bunny were both secretaries. The music for the original pilot's theme song was written by (a young) John Williams. This music had a Latin sound and the lyrics were sung with a Spanish accent. In the pilot, it was a six-hour trip, not a three-hour tour.
The three man folk singing group, The Wellingtons, sang the theme song for the first season, but were replaced by a similar sounding group, The Eligibles, for the following seasons. However, The Wellingtons (plus one) also portrayed 'The Mosquitoes' in a classic episode of the series.
Originally slated to return for the 1967-68 television season it was instead canceled at the last minute by CBS head William Paley, to make room for Gunsmoke.
The Music
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful trip.
That started from this tropic port,
aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
the skipper brave and sure.
Five passengers set sail that day,
for a three hour tour, a three hour tour.
The weather started getting rough,
the tiny ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew,
the Minnow would be lost; the Minnow would be lost.
The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle,
with Gilligan, the Skipper too,
the Millionaire, and his Wife,
the Movie Star, and the rest,
(the Movie Star, the Professor and Mary Ann,)
here on Gilligan's Isle.
So this is the tale of our castaways,
they're here for a long long time.
They'll have to make the best of things,
it's an uphill climb.
The first mate and his skipper too,
will do their very best,
to make the others comfortable,
in their tropic island nest.
No phones, no lights, no motor car,
not a single luxury.
Like Robinson Crusoe,
it's primitive as can be.
So join us here each week my friend,
you're sure to get a smile.
From seven stranded castaways,
Here on Gilligan's Isle.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 2, 2013 10:24:05 PM PDT
Matt says:
WOW, Nice review!
Were all episodes filmed in black & white?
I remember the first season B&W that but the last two in color.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2013 3:42:20 PM PST
Dan Iverson says:
Yeah, good review with some flaws. Only season one was in black and white, you are correct Matt.

Posted on Aug 17, 2014 1:41:20 PM PDT
Crabhain says:
Thanks for the review. Here is some more trivia/fun facts, in case anyone ever wanders into the comments:

Tina Louise claimed that she was told she would be the star of the show, and a large part of her bitterness came from this deception.

The movie star Ginger character was originally supposed to be catty and sarcastic, but Tina didn't want to play it that way. So they agreed to make Ginger like Marilyn Monroe (or at least like characters played by Marilyn Monroe).

Dawn Welles was a late addition to the cast. Her agent was also her husband, and negotiated a good contract for her. She was required to keep if from the other casts members by contract (and common sense), but she was the only cast member to get residuals, and so unlike the other cast members became wealthy from the show.

Tina and Dawn did not get along. Dawn was cooperative and tried to work with people, of which Tina, more of the demanding diva type, did not approve.

Whether by design or coincidence, the theme to Gilligan's Island has the same rhyme scheme and meter as "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner." Which means Ancient Mariner can be sung to the tune of the Gilligan's Island theme song.

Coincidentally, the Irish Rock/Punk/Folk group "The Pogues" also did a song inspired by "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner", called "The Turkish Song of the Damned". One may therefore sing the lyrics to Turkish Song of the Damned to the Gilligan's Island theme, and vice versa, or the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner to either.

Little Roger and the Goosebumps set the lyrics of Gilligan's Island to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven", giving the world "Gilligan's Island Stairway".
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