Castaway for half a century Gilligan, the Skipper and all the passengers of the S.S. Minnow are back in the spotlight recently.
As TVLand prepared to reintroduce audiences to the shipwrecked seven this past week the Professor (actor Russell Johnson) died of old age. That’s right. The show’s egg-headed heartthrob was whisked from the island before a new generation of young women could fall for him.
Females only had the Professor to moon after because the only other men on the island were the older Thurston Howell who was dedicated to and accompanied by his wife Lovie, the chubby, older Skipper or skinny, bumbling Gilligan played by Bob Denver, whose previous claim to fame was the beatnik character Maynard P. Krebbs.
The guys had the two tantalizing choices of Ginger or Mary Ann. In fact the simple question of: “Ginger or Mary Ann?” has become a test of men’s taste in women. Both were gorgeous but different. Mary Ann represented the “girl next door, apple pie, Midwestern value, while Ginger represented the glamorous, star-studded Hollywood ideal.
I’m a Mary Ann sort of guy myself. You had to figure you had a shot with her and she was a lot brighter and more practical.
While the whole show started as a “three-hour tour” on a charter boat, it has led to decades of silly slapstick that is as predictable as a Laurel and Hardy routine.
The plots all played out along three or four themes and always ended the same way. One of the themes involved the inventive Professor devising a way for the passengers and crew to be rescued. In another someone or something visited their “deserted” island another was dream sequences that got silly and sometimes switched the character’s personalities or traits.
The show always ended with a rescue chance gone wrong because of Gilligan’s comical mistakes. Often after the plot unravels the cast is gathered round a radio that the Professor salvaged and get comical commentary from the outside world that involves their own plight.
We gladly accepted into the plotlines that the Professor could fix or build anything with bamboo, twine, and items found beachcombing. We also accepted that the Skipper would yell and berate Gilligan throughout the whole show but still refer to him as his “Little Buddy” who went to sleep every night in the hammock above him.
Personally I never watched the movie “Rescue From Gilligan’s Island.” The 1978 reunion just seemed a little too lame and I didn’t see how the original innocence could ever be there. If they’re rescued the story is over.
With Russell Johnson’s death, I learned the only living castaways these days are Ginger and Mary Ann and in real life Tina Louise and Dawn Wells aren’t exactly what they used to be. In my feeble mind, though, they’ll always be on that little lagoon in the Pacific, waiting to be rescued.
Karl Terry writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: