Having seen my good friend Jeff's latest TV-based discussion, Jeff Watches Torchwood, I thought, "Since Jeff is posting about a current program that he's watching for the first time, I ought to post about an old program that I'd be watching for what would be at least the fiftieth, but which I haven't looked at in quite some time - and what better program to watch than one of the seminal comedies of its generation, one which had a profound impact on American television, and which went on to inspire such varied fare as Dusty's Trail, Far Out Space Nuts, and Lost.

Gilligan's Island is one of the first television programs I ever remember watching - Having been born in 1963, I was a touch too young to watch it in first-run, but I must've caught it in its earliest re-runs - I'm pretty sure that "Happy Birthday to You" and "The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle" are among the first songs that I knew all the words to.

I debated putting a spoiler warning on this thread - it's hard for me to conceive that there's anyone out there who hasn't seen Gilligan's Island - certainly not in the U.S. Anyway, if by some chance you haven't seen the show, but might want to watch it someday - be forewarned! There will be discussions of plot points, here.

As for the rest of you, "Just sit right back..."

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Most of Emily Dickinson's poetry can be sung to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas".
Regarding the movie - didn't it end with everyone taking a cruise in the Skipper's new boat, and getting shipwrecked again on the same island? Or am I remembering something else?
That's the way I recall it, too.
That was the first one. (The castaways had a difficult time reintegrating into society.) They were then rescued a second time and ended up opening a resort on the island (which I thought has series potential), and at some point the Harlem Globetrotters dropped by.
As I recall (I watched it about a year ago, so there may be some holes in the retelling, and I can hope to be, at best, only half as entertaining as The Baron):

In the first half of Rescue from Gilligan's Island, the castaways are, as they often are, seated around the communal table, still in their same clothes, still getting by with the Professor's inventions. A faulty Soviet satellite is destroyed by the Russians, and the wreckage crashes on the island. From the parts, the Professor makes a barometer, and learns that a massive tidal wave is on the way, strong enough that it might push a boat into the shipping lanes. So the group resolves to bind all their huts together to ride out the coming tsunami, and then tie themselves to the combined hut for safety.

When the storm is about to hit, Mrs. Howell becomes concerned about her dog Fifi, and Gilligan goes to look for it -- despite the fact that there is no dog, which apparently everyone has forgotten. The tsunami hits and, indeed, flings the hut out to sea. At first, the castways all fear Gilligan has been lost, but he turns up alive; he tied himself to a tree, which was uprooted in the storm and landed near the floating communal hut.

After a couple of days adrift, and some rather dumb shenanigans with a shark, the Howells give permission for their extra clothes to be used as a makeshift sail. At one point, Gilligan starts to cook some fish, but he winds up setting the huts ablaze.

Fortunately, the big, smoky fire that results attracts the attention of a Coast Guard helicopter, and, finally, finally, FINALLY, after 15 years, they are rescued!

A Coast Guard ship tows the communal huts into port in Honolulu, and there's a grand parade, with fireboats spewing plumes of water and tall ships and confetti and balloons, and a proclamation from the governor of Hawaii and a telegram from President Carter. Later, there's another parade for the castaways in Los Angeles, and they're all dressed in their finery -- Mr. Howell looked especially natty in a suit and bowler, riding in a vintage car -- and, at the end, they all have a moment alone and say their goodbyes to each other, but resolve to have a reunion party at Christmas.

In Part Two, set a few months later, the Skipper has a new boat and he and Gilligan are again partners in an island tour business. However, his insurance company requires him to get affidavits from the others attesting that the shipwreck wasn't his fault. (Apparently, they've all forgotten that matter was resolved years ago.) So Gilligan and the Skipper travel the country to visit the others, one by one.

Ginger has reestablished her acting career, but she's unhappy; when the Skipper and Gilligan visit, she's being pressured by a producer to do a nude scene, which she refuses to do. She laments that while she's been away, movies had changed, with more profanity and crudeness, and she laments the loss of class and glamour. The producer overhears and changes his mind about the nude scene, and Ginger signs the affidavit.

Then Gilligan and the Skipper visit the Professor, who is on the faculty of a prestigious university. (In preparation for their visit, the Professor set up a table full of test tubes and beakers and apparatus just so Gilligan could accidentally break them.) The Professor is unhappy; on the one hand, he keeps inventing things only to find out that they've already been invented and are on the market, but on the other hand, he's far, far behind on other scientific developments, and he feels worthless as a teacher. Which was okay by the university, because they really wanted him to go on the lecture circuit rather than spend time in the classroom, but that wasn't okay by him. He signs the affidavit, and Gilligan and the Skipper go on their way.

Next, Gilligan and the Skipper visit the Howells, but I'll skip over that because that was the best part of the movie; instead, I'll describe the second-best part, the visit to Mary Ann, in which -- surprise, surprise -- she's getting married!

What, and she didn't invite the castaways?

I don't know how that happened, but it's a rather glum affair, because she really doesn't want to go through with it. The groom is her old boyfriend who, bless his soul, had waited for her to return to Kansas, never giving up hope that she would come back, not even after 15 years. So she felt like she had to marry him, even though she had utterly lost interest in the big galoot. Mary Ann confesses this to her maid of honor -- her best friend from childhood -- just before the nuptials and swears her to silence.

What was worse was that, even though the groom had waited (15 years!) for Mary Ann to come back, he really had lost interest in her, too -- he actually was sweet on the maid of honor, and she was smitten with him! Through the kind of contrivance that can only happen in a situation comedy, the Skipper overhears these conversations and resolves that, for Mary Ann's own good, he and Gilligan have to stop the wedding! So when she's standing out in the pasture before the justice of the peace and the wedding party and the families and guests -- dressed in their finest calico shirts, bolo ties, cowboy hats and boots and jeans -- Gilligan and the Skipper come along in a tractor towing a cart and scoop Mary Ann up and take her away! (She is relieved, and grateful.)

Before that, Gilligan and the Skipper visit the Howells, which was the best part of the movie.

I will pause here and quote from myself, from the old board:

The best part of the movie was catching up with the Howells. We got to see just HOW rich they are.

HOW rich are they? Glad you asked. They were SO rich, Jack, that they had a mansion that made stately Wayne Manor look like Snoopy's doghouse. This house was SO big, Jim, that it had a dining hall with a table SO long, Chuck, that it had intercoms on each end!

Gilligan and the Skipper came to call, as the Howells were finishing dinner with another couple. The guy offered Mr. Howell an after-dinner cigar. "Domestic?" he asked, and turned it down. He then asked the butler if the cigars had arrived from Havana. The butler looks out the window and sees a helicopter landing in the yard on the roof and says, "They've just arrived, sir." A moment later, a scruffy, bearded guy wearing combat fatigues comes in and leaves a box on the table. Mr. Howell says, "Thank you, Fidel," and waves him off.

THAT'S how rich he is! (The best part of the whole movie!)

Not only that, Gilligan, the Skipper, and the Howells go into the kitchen to conclude some business (the plot of the movie, such as it is, was that the Skipper's insurance company needed signed affidavits from all the passengers absolving him of blame), and the Howells' guests start ragging on Gilligan and the Skipper. Unfortunately, they heard every word through the intercom in the kitchen wall. (Thought I was kidding about that, didn't you?) Mr. and Mrs. Howell marched right back into the dining room and gave those friends an earful! He told them these are my friends who stood by me through 15 years and he simply wasn't going to have anybody bad-mouthing them! And he threw those swells out on their ear! What a guy! Loyal to a fault!

(end quote)

I forgot to mention an eminently forgettable subplot about two bumbling Russian spies who were following the Skipper and Gilligan all over the country, because Gilligan was wearing a piece of that satellite that crashed on the island as a good luck charm around his neck, and they were tasked with retrieving it. Suffice to say that, at every point along the way, they failed to get it. At the end, when the castaways have their reunion party at Christmas, the FBI arrests the Russian spies, and that was the end of that.

Except that the castaways decide, for old times' sake, to go on another cruise ... and 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 ship ran around on the shore of an uncharted desert isle ...
Yeah, that one looked very much like the pilot for a new series that would kinda take part of "The Love Boat's" premise, part of "Fantasy Island's," and mash it up with the traditional Gilligan's Island stuff.

Jeff of Earth-J said:
That was the first one. (The castaways had a difficult time reintegrating into society.) They were then rescued a second time and ended up opening a resort on the island (which I thought has series potential), and at some point the Harlem Globetrotters dropped by.
suedenim said:
Yeah, that one looked very much like the pilot for a new series that would kinda take part of "The Love Boat's" premise, part of "Fantasy Island's," and mash it up with the traditional Gilligan's Island stuff.

Jeff of Earth-J said:
That was the first one. (The castaways had a difficult time reintegrating into society.) They were then rescued a second time and ended up opening a resort on the island (which I thought has series potential), and at some point the Harlem Globetrotters dropped by.

Yes, the second movie was fully intended to be a pilot for a spinoff series. Aaron Spelling used the premise in the short-lived Aloha Paradise, starring Debbie Reynolds and Bill Daily a couple years later on ABC.
The nitpicky nerdboy in me didn't like how the movies seemed to ignore continuity (Mary-Ann having a fiancee waiting for her when it had been established in a episode that she didn't have anyone back home, the existence of Thurston Howell IV, and so on), but on re-watching the series I realized that they didn't pay much attention to "continuity" back then, either.
I forgot to mention the conclusion of Rescue from Gilligan's Island: Part of the reason the new Minnow wound up sailing into another storm was that Gilligan had removed the magnet from the ship's compass. Why? Why ask why?

I guess we can't chalk that up as "Gilligan Spoils a Rescue," but something like, "It's Gilligan's Fault They Had to Be Rescued." Why the rest of the gang didn't kill him dead that time, I'll never figure out. What jury would convict them?

But -- speaking of continuity lapses -- Gilligan is the one who certifies that they are back on the island that has been their home for the past decade and a half, because he finds a scrap of wood from the original Minnow, painted with the name ""Minnow - I."

Um ... why would that scrap of wood bear the name "Minnow - I" if nobody ever knew or expected there was going to be a Minnow II? And as we've seen in the opening credits of the show and in several other scenes, the first vessel was simply named S.S. Minnow.

And didn't the original Minnow fly to pieces during the first season, anyway?
The Baron said:
The nitpicky nerdboy in me didn't like how the movies seemed to ignore continuity (Mary-Ann having a fiancee waiting for her when it had been established in a episode that she didn't have anyone back home, the existence of Thurston Howell IV, and so on), but on re-watching the series I realized that they didn't pay much attention to "continuity" back then, either.

Regarding Mary Ann and the boyfriend, I posited on the old board that maybe it was an on-again, off-again thing that was off when she went on the three-hour tour. Or, possibly, that they went out a few times but they didn't mutually feel any sparks, and then she was lost at sea and the guy belatedly realized what a good thing he was missing. I mean, for a girlfriend like Mary Ann, wouldn't you wait 15 years?
It's interesting - I re-watched this series having internalized the notion that the vast majority of episodes involved Gilligan fouling up a "rescue", that is, an attempt by or opportunity for the castaways to escape from the island and return to "civilization".

Well, I've done a little math and found out that this is not so. In fact, out of the 98 episodes (I'm not counting the pilot), a full 61 episodes did not involve a "rescue" at all, but instead concerned themselves with the viscissitudes of life in the island - dealing with the effort to survive and to live peacefully with one another. This is not to say that Gilligan never fouled up in any of these episodes, but that his foul-ups did not involve a "rescue".

Of the 37 episodes that did involve a chance to get off the island, 20 such chances were foiled by someone or something other than Gilligan - the other castaways, various "visitors", or mere circumstance.

That leaves only 17 episodes in which Gilligan could be said to have foiled a "rescue". That's still alot of rescues for one man to foil, but not nearly as many as I thought there were.

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