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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Not Guilty:

While fishing, Gilligan lands a crate full of coconuts. The crate also contains a newspaper which states that one of castaways is wanted in the murder of Randolph Blake. The Skipper and Gilligan set out to identify the killer, going so far as to re-enact the crime.

It just happens that when they beign their investigations, the Professor (looking particularly maniacal) is designing a guillotine for splititng coconuts, and the girls are brewing poison form wild oleander for killing mice, and perhaps other, larger creatures.

Back Story: Mr.Howell owns a movie studio.
Randolph Blake was killed by a speargun shortly before the Minnow left Hawaii on its last voyage.
Blake claimed authorship of a paper on marine biology that the Professor had spent seven years writing.
He managed a boating supply store owned by Mr. Howell, which was losing money because Blake was embezzling.
Blake had been dating Ginger, and the night before the Minnow sailed, Blake had told her he was marrying someone else.
Blake was from Mary-Ann's home town. He and her father had been business partners, and Blake had forced Mary-Ann's father into bankruptcy.
Mrs. Howell didn't like him much, either.

Taking It Seriously: You know, until I started re-watchng this series, I had never really thought about this episode critically. I also hadn't read Murder on the Orient Express until fairly recently. It's true that in the end, both the castaways and the police decide that Blake's death was an accident. But still, imagine McGarrett back at Five-O contemplating this homicide case. Would he believe that the five un-cleared suspects in this case just happened to all charter the same tour boat, which just happened to vanish off the face of the ocean? And it's all just a coincidence? I wonder...

I suppose it wouldn't of fit the tone Schwartz wanted for the show, but I think it would of been funny to end this episode with the Skipper - much relieved - saying how glad he was that they had proved that Blake's death was an accident. Then he drags Gilligan off to do some chore, and the remaining castaways are left sitting at the table giving one another what might or might not be knowing looks, leaving the viewer thinking, "Hey, wait a minute - could they've? No! No?"

Gilligan Spoils A Rescue: No.
The back story here has enough links and crosses to be an episode of LOST.
What if If Randolph Blake hadn't died and decided to take the same three-hour tour as the rest of the castaways?

Gilligan's Island could have been a very different show with Blake stranded on the island as well!
Jeff of Earth-J said:
What if If Randolph Blake hadn't died and decided to take the same three-hour tour as the rest of the castaways?

Gilligan's Island could have been a very different show with Blake stranded on the island as well!

I dunno - If I was Randolph Blake and saw those five people on the boat, I would've made myself scarce. I suppose, of course, you could have presented him as one of those "I'm not afraid of you, do your worst!" types.
You've Been Disconnected:

A storm washes a phone cable ashore, and the castaways attempt to phone home. Meanwhile, Triangle Studio is considering filming The Ginger Grant Story.

Back Story: Ginger speaks a little Spanish.
Mrs. Howell is fluent in French and Italian.
The Skipper speaks Hawaiian and some of the island dialects.
The Professor speaks Latin.

Taking It Seriously: I have no idea how feasible any of this is. None of it seems outrageous.

Gilligan Spoils A Rescue: Yes. When another storm washes the cable back out to sea, the Professor hopes that the seawater will corrode the exposed cable, and a repair ship will be sent that the castaways can signal to. However, Gilligan helpfully seals the cable with rubber so that the wires won't get wet.
That cable must have a lot of "give".

It's surprising how well I remmber these episodes... even after 30 years!
The Postman Cometh:

When the castaways come to believe that Mary-Ann's boyfriend has eloped with another woman, they become very solicitous of her feelings. She, on the other hand, thinks that she has eaten poison mushrooms, and only has a week to live.

As the Commander has mentioned earlier, Mary-Ann has a dream sequence in which she imagines herself as Mary-Ann Frobisher, a patient suffering from "roomis igloomis" (The somewhat dubious etymology is given as "'igloomis' from the Eskimo word 'igloo' meaning 'mush' and 'roomis' from the Latin word 'motel', meaning 'vacancy' or 'room'.")

Mr. Howell is Dr. Zorba Gillespie, Mrs. Howell and Ginger are nurses, and Gilligan, the Skipper and the Professor are doctors with personae based on Charles Boyer, Marshal Dillon and Cary Grant, respectively.

The Commander has mentioned above one of his favorite lines from this episode, here's a couple of mine:

The Skipper: "I've always thought that I should be a cowboy."

Mr. Howell: "Somewhere there breathes a horse that is glad that you are not."


and

Nurse Ginger: "Walk this way, gentlemen."

"Doc" Dillon: "We'll try and walk that way, ma'am, but I don't think we're gonna make it."


Back Story: Gilligan has a sister. He has a copy of the book How to Tell a Mushroom from a Toadstool, by the late Dr. Morton Kepstone.
Mary-Ann likes to listen to the radio drama Old Doctor Young. She knew Horace Higgenbothum, who was from a small town near Horner's corners, Kansas, and who eloped with the shipping heiress, Cybil Wentworth. Mary-Ann thought he was a creep. she was never involved, but only wanted the others to think that she had someone.

Taking It Seriously: There's nothing too outrageous in this.

Gilligan Spoils A Rescue: No.
The Baron said:


The Skipper: "I've always thought that I should be a cowboy."

Mr. Howell: "Somewhere there breathes a horse that is glad that you are not."




Ah, yes, I had forgotten about that great dialogue exchange. I should have because, besides being funny on its own merit, it reminds me of one of my favourite ripostes from The Honeymooners.

Ralph is bragging to Alice about how much he loved sports when he was younger---baseball, football, basketball, all of them.

RALPH: "I even loved horse racing. I would've been good at it too, but I was too big to be a jockey."

ALICE: "You were too big to be the horse!"
"One of these days, Alice... Bang! Zoom!"
Seer Gilligan:

Gilligan discovers a bush whose seeds that allow those who eat them to read minds.

One of the exchanges in this epsiode that has always stayed with me, for some reason:

Ginger: "Well, do you know what I think?"
Skipper: "I most certainly do."


Back Story: Gilligan has a Cousin Rudolph.
Mister Howell has an Uncle Egbert.
Mrs. Howell has a brother.
According to a book the Professor had, the plant that produced the seeds was believed to have died out three centuries before.

Taking It Seriously: Well, of course (at least to my knowledge), there's no such thing as "telepathy seeds" in the real world. On the other hand, this episode is a nice little exploration of why it would be dangerous for us to always know what each other is thinking.

Gilligan Spoils A Rescue: No.
Love Me, Love My Skipper:

The Howells hold a dance, but Mr. Howell bangs into a tree and drops the Skipper's invitation, and the other castaways take umbrage at the perceived slight.

I particularly liked how this episode showed how, under his gruff exterior, the Skipper is a very feeling and indeed, perhaps a little lonely, man.

Back Story: The Howells have a tradition of holding an annual cotillion.

Taking It Seriously: Even when I was a kid, I thought it was odd that with only five invitations to deliver, Mister Howell somehow failed to notice that he'd only delivered four, and particularly that he'd only delivered one invitation to a hut where he should have delivered two. Perhaps hitting the tree shook him up more than it seemed.

Gilligan Spoils A Rescue: No.
Gilligan's Living Doll:

A robot parachutes onto the island, and the castaways try to figure out a way to use it to get them off the island. The robot is reasonably well-conceived - about the level of a "Tenth Planet" - era Cyberman.

I strongly suspect that the title of this episode is a gag on the 1964-65 series My Living Doll, which is not much remembered now, but would've been current when this episode was released.

Back Story: The robot was Model XR-1000. It was being carried on an unmanned drone plane for Hickam Field to Vandenberg AFB on a radiation detection flight when it was accidentally ejected.

Taking It Seriously: I think we have to assume that robotics is somewhat more advanced in the Schwartzverse. The robot claims to be programmed to buld a carrier, destroyer or minesweeper - it is also programmed to construct a toy schooner.
Considering this is apparently one of the most advanced robots in the world, the Professor seems to be able to reprogram it awfully easily.

Gilligan Spoils A Rescue: Yes. The castaways determine that the robot is able to walk to Hawaii. They give it a message to deliver to the authorities. However, Gilligan places his rabbit's foot charm into the robot's interior to bring it luck, and the charm somehow reverses the polarity of the neutron flow demagnetizes the receptor spools and hopelessly garbles the castaways' message.

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