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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"Now, this is the tales of our castaways..."

Wow, so that's the whole original series. I am aware of the three TV movies. I have the first one on disk, somewhere - I'm not going to dig it out. While it has a few good moments - the castaways sailing into Honolulu, the Howells standing up for the Skipper and Gilligan - by and large, it wasn't that good, and my recollection of the other two was that they were even worse. If anybody else wants to post on them, they are welcome to do so.

I am also aware of the two animated series - I recall watching them when they were first broadcast. From my recollection, they were standard Saturday morning kids' fare of the time, and I'm to seeking them out, either.

Once I've sat right back and disgested abit, I will be posting a few thoughts and ideas about the show as I watched it.

I thnk the biggest surprise was, that "Gilligan spoiling rescues" was a much smaller part of the show than people have traditionally made it out to be - smaller than even I would've thought it was.

Another thing was, I was sure that somewhere in the show, Mrs. Howell's first name was given as "Eunice". But, to the best of my ability, it's not. I even went back and re-watched "Mr. & Mrs. ??" - her family name is given as Wentworth, but "Eunice" is never mentioned. I mean, I watched these pretty closely, with an eye out for details like that, but I didn't find it there.
Here's a tentative timeline that I came up with for the island. I may eventually post an expanded version in the Timeline Group, but thought I'd post it in its rough form here, for folks to look at and critique if they want.
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ca. 30,000 B.C.: People of unknown origins visit the island, leaving behind behind a stone tablet engraved with instructions on how to get to the island. (1)

ca. 300 B.C.- A.D. 500: Polynesian explorers first reach the island.(2) Different groups, including the Marubi(3), the Matoba(4), the Kapuans(5) and the Kupaki(6), will visit the island over the years to come.

ca. A.D. 500-900: People who have had contact with the Mayan civilization of Central America visit the island. (7)

ca. A.D. 1666: The "mind-reader" plant is believed to have become extinct.(8)

ca. Approximately A.D. 1713-1763: An ancestor of Jonas "The Skipper" Grumby acquires a ring which will still be in his family in 1964.(9)

ca. A.D. 1780-1880: A chest full of cannon balls is buried on the island.(10)

A.D. 1906: Thieves rob the San Francisco Art Museum, then hide out on the island. When they leave the island, they leave behind a parrot named "Sam".(11)

ca. A.D. 1917-1918: "Wrongway" Feldman serves in World War One. (12) Gilligan's Uncle Ramsey serves as a guide in the same war. (13) An attache case containing classified U.S. plans for defense against enemy attack are lost at sea in the Pacific Ocean.(14)

ca. A.D. 1917-1927: A yacht belonging to Fifi Lafrance and Ricardo Laughingwell sinks in the lagoon of the island.(15)

A.D. 1929: The Howell family loses alot of money in the stock market crash.(16)

A.D. 1931: "Wrongway" Feldman crashes on the island while on an around-the-world flight. (12)

ca. A.D. 1942-1945: Japanese troops occupy the island during World War Two, but are eventually driven off the island by U.S. forces.(17)

A.D. 1942: Jonas "The Skipper" Grumby serves aboard a sub-chaser during the Battle of Guadalcana(18)l. The Japanese submariner that visited Gilligan's Island claims that his radio broke in this year.(19)

A.D. 1944: Thurston Howell III and Lovey Wentworth are married(20). The service is performed by the Reverend Norris Buckley. (21) Consolidated General jumps 17 points.(22)

A.D. 1947: Jonas "The Skipper" Grumby is in a bar fight in Singapore. (23)

A.D. 1955: The painter Alexandri Dubov begins his voluntary exile on the island. (24)

ca. A.D. 1956: The "Jungle Boy" is marooned on the island. (25)

ca. Approximately A.D. 1960-1963: The Mosquitoes hit it big.(26)

A.D. 1963: Gilligan buys a ticket in the Argentinean Sweepstakes.(27)

A.D. 1964: Randolph Blake is killed. (28) The passengers and crew of the S.S. Minnow are shipwrecked on the island.(29)

(1)In "The Secret of Gilligan's Island", the Professor says the tablet may be a million years old. This strikes me as extremely unlikely. From what I've read, the earliest form of pre-literate "symbolic" systems were created around 30,000 B.C., so I placed the tablet's creation in this timeframe.

(2)This is the timeframe in which the original Polynesian settlers are said to have reached Hawaii, so I'm assuming the island would've been first visited by the Polynesians around the same time.

(3)Mentioned in "Two on a Raft".

(4)Mentioned in "Slave Girl".

(5)Mentioned in "Gilligan, the Goddess".

(6)Mentioned in "High Man on the Totem Pole"

(7)The Professor says that the relics Gilligan finds in "Voodoo" show a Mayan influence. I chose this timeframe as it represents the high point of the Mayan civilization, and thus to my mind the time when they might have been most likely to influence the island peoples.

(8)The Professor mentions in "Seer Gilligan" that the mind-reader plant was believed to have become extinct three hundred years before.

(9)The Skipper says in "Waiting for Watubi" that his ring has been in his family for over two hundred years, so I would think it would fall roughly into this timeframe.

(10)The cannon balls are found in "Plant You Now, Dig You Later". To my knowledge, none of the native peoples in the area used cannons, and Europeans didn't reach this area until around 1780, and by 1880, cannon balls had been replaced by more modern weapons, so this is the timeframe I chose. Someone who knows more about the history of weapons than I do could probably pick a better range.

(11)Described in "New Neighbor Sam".

(12)Mentioned in "Wrongway Feldman".

(13)Mentioned in "How to be a Hero".

(14)Mentioned in "The Invasion"

(15)Mentioned in "Castaways Pictures Presents". No date was given, but I chose this range as the most likely, as the heyday of silent film.

(16)Mentioned in "Will the Real Mr. Howell Please Stand Up?".

(17)American ammunition from the war was found on the island in "Forward March", and the Professor speculates that the gorilla observed humans in combat. A Japanese ammunition pit was foind in "And Then There Were None". I am making the assumption based on the above that a battle in the Pacific War was fought on the island.

(18)Mentioned in "Goodnight Sweet Skipper".

(19)Mentioned in "So Sorry, My Island Now".

(20)Mentioned in "Home Sweet Hut".

(21)Mentioned in "Mr & Mrs. ???".

(22)Mentioned in "Angel on the Island".

(23)Mentioned in "Waiting for Watubi".

(24)Mentioned in "Goodbye Old Paint".

(25)In "Gilligan Meets Jungle Boy", the Jungle appears to be about 14 years old. Since he can't speak, I'm positng that he's been on the island since he was about five, and lost the power of speech due to lack of human contact. As to how he survived? Maybe one of the island's apes raised him up.

(26)In "Don't Bug the Mosquitoes", Gilligan says that he has all their albums, which implies to me that they had to have been around at least a few years before the shipwreck.

(27)In "The Sweepstakes", the Howells note that Gilligan's ticket is two years old.

(28)Mentioned in "Not Guilty".

(29)Proceeding form the broadcast date of "Two on a Raft".
Another thing I meant to remark on about this show was the music, much of which was compsed by John(ny) Williams. The incidental music was quite memorable and really helped to evoke various moods to suit the needs of the show. Those various themes have stayed with me my whole life.
One particular theme keeps popping into my head when reading this thread - it's like the "big comical action" theme.

The Baron said:
Another thing I meant to remark on about this show was the music, much of which was compsed by John(ny) Williams. The incidental music was quite memorable and really helped to evoke various moods to suit the needs of the show. Those various themes have stayed with me my whole life.
The Baron said:
"Now, this is the tales of our castaways..."
Wow, so that's the whole original series. I am aware of the three TV movies. I have the first one on disk, somewhere - I'm not going to dig it out. While it has a few good moments - the castaways sailing into Honolulu, the Howells standing up for the Skipper and Gilligan - by and large, it wasn't that good, and my recollection of the other two was that they were even worse. If anybody else wants to post on them, they are welcome to do so.

I have the first one on disk, too -- I got a cheap copy from my friendly neighborhood supermarket. I'm not going to look at it again, but I have seen it recently enough that I could remark on it from memory ... but I'd rather dig up the comments we made on the old board about it. It's too late in the evening to do that now.

The Baron said:
I am also aware of the two animated series - I recall watching them when they were first broadcast. From my recollection, they were standard Saturday morning kids' fare of the time, and I'm to seeking them out, either.

Are they available on DVD? I agree with your assessment; they were no better or worse than the other stuff Filmation was putting out at the time, although I didn't watch Gilligan's Planet, because that presented not just 11 impossible things per episode, but 100.

The Baron said:
Another thing was, I was sure that somewhere in the show, Mrs. Howell's first name was given as "Eunice". But, to the best of my ability, it's not. I even went back and re-watched "Mr. & Mrs. ??" - her family name is given as Wentworth, but "Eunice" is never mentioned. I mean, I watched these pretty closely, with an eye out for details like that, but I didn't find it there.

I looked that up in The Unofficial Gilligan's Island Handbook, and it makes no mention of Mrs. Howell's name being "Eunice." The Straight Dope newspaper column, citing Snopes.com, states that her name is "Eunice Wentworth," and states that it was given by the radio announcer (see here). But the Snopes page that The Straight Dope links to doesn't say that at all (see here), and provides a clip of the radio announcer describing who was aboard the S.S. Minnow, but the clip gives her name as "Lovey Howell."

However, a different Snopes page states that the script for the episode "Mr. and Mrs. ?" gives Mrs. Howell's maiden name as "Eunice Wentworth" (see here). So that's where it comes from, although Mrs. Howell's first name -- like Gilligan's first name, if, indeed, "Gilligan" is a surname -- apparently never was said on the air.

So far as I'm concerned, she is and always will be "Lovey Howell".
The Baron said:
Once I've sat right back and disgested abit, I will be posting a few thoughts and ideas about the show as I watched it. I thnk the biggest surprise was, that "Gilligan spoiling rescues" was a much smaller part of the show than people have traditionally made it out to be - smaller than even I would've thought it was.

I look forward to it, and I want to thank you for this effort; it's been a lot of fun!
As I say, I've never seen an episode of this show, although I'd heard of it. It sounds like the sort of 1/2 hour show that would have been on in Ireland after school, just before the news and just after the kids programmes.

The set-up is interesting. I can only think of two other shows that had such a potentially limited starting point, with the cast being islolated from everyone. One is of course Lost, and the other is Red Dwarf. Watching the writers coming up with ways to get around the seeming impossibility of interactions with civilisation is part of the fun. Like Lost there seems to have been much reference to the gangs' lives before the shipwreck, and like Red Dwarf, it has plenty of dream-sequences, hallucinations, imaginary adventures. Even Robots!

Actually, having followed most of the thread, this looks like an especially 'comicbook' show. Magic amulets and potions, astronauts and robots, jetpacks, lost tribes, professors who can whip up solutions and devices at the drop of a hat etc. I had expected it to be more 'Swiss Family Robinson' than Lara Croft.

Regarding Walter the pigeon returning to the Island, my understanding of how Homing pigeons work, is that they can fly from anywhere, but always to the one place ie home. They are taken to far away places and have to race home. They only go one-way, and thus couldn't be used to pass information between two places as they are here.

What I hate about these old shows is that they often don't have a proper conclusion. The last episode here just strands the gang on the island. That's disrespect to the viewers.
There were a number of sitcoms with fantastic elements around when I was a kid - Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Addams Family, The Munsters, even stuff like Green Acres or The Beverly Hillbillies were borderline "fantastic" shows.

As for Gilligan's Island not having a proper conclusion - from what I've heard, it's not entirely the producer's fault. Towards the end of the third season, he was told there was going to be a fourth season - the show's ratings justified it - but at the last minute, one of the network executives cancelled the show to provide a place in the schedule for a favorite show of their own, and it was too late at that point to do a proper "concluding" show.

However, eleven years later, the producer, Sherwood Schwartz was able to get a made-for-TV movie produced, "Rescue from Gilligan's Island", which told the story of how they got off the island. It wasn't all that good, unfortunately, but at least we finally got to see them get home.
Allow me to congratulate you on a very well-done and thorough examination! (I particularly enjoyed reading the "Back Story" bits, myself.) The question on everyone's lips now is: "What's the Baron going to watch next?" The world (Earth-J, at least) awaits with bated breath.
Thank you, thank you. What to watch next? Good question....
ClarkKent_DC said:
The Baron said:
"Now, this is the tales of our castaways..."
Wow, so that's the whole original series. I am aware of the three TV movies. I have the first one on disk, somewhere - I'm not going to dig it out. While it has a few good moments - the castaways sailing into Honolulu, the Howells standing up for the Skipper and Gilligan - by and large, it wasn't that good, and my recollection of the other two was that they were even worse. If anybody else wants to post on them, they are welcome to do so.

I have the first one on disk, too -- I got a cheap copy from my friendly neighborhood supermarket. I'm not going to look at it again, but I have seen it recently enough that I could remark on it from memory ... but I'd rather dig up the comments we made on the old board about it. It's too late in the evening to do that now.

The Baron said:
I am also aware of the two animated series - I recall watching them when they were first broadcast. From my recollection, they were standard Saturday morning kids' fare of the time, and I'm to seeking them out, either.

Are they available on DVD? I agree with your assessment; they were no better or worse than the other stuff Filmation was putting out at the time, although I didn't watch Gilligan's Planet, because that presented not just 11 impossible things per episode, but 100.

The Baron said:
Another thing was, I was sure that somewhere in the show, Mrs. Howell's first name was given as "Eunice". But, to the best of my ability, it's not. I even went back and re-watched "Mr. & Mrs. ??" - her family name is given as Wentworth, but "Eunice" is never mentioned. I mean, I watched these pretty closely, with an eye out for details like that, but I didn't find it there.

I looked that up in The Unofficial Gilligan's Island Handbook, and it makes no mention of Mrs. Howell's name being "Eunice." The Straight Dope newspaper column, citing Snopes.com, states that her name is "Eunice Wentworth," and states that it was given by the radio announcer (see here). But the Snopes page that The Straight Dope links to doesn't say that at all (see here), and provides a clip of the radio announcer describing who was aboard the S.S. Minnow, but the clip gives her name as "Lovey Howell."

However, a different Snopes page states that the script for the episode "Mr. and Mrs. ?" gives Mrs. Howell's maiden name as "Eunice Wentworth" (see here). So that's where it comes from, although Mrs. Howell's first name -- like Gilligan's first name, if, indeed, "Gilligan" is a surname -- apparently never was said on the air.

So far as I'm concerned, she is and always will be "Lovey Howell".
The Baron said:
Once I've sat right back and disgested abit, I will be posting a few thoughts and ideas about the show as I watched it. I thnk the biggest surprise was, that "Gilligan spoiling rescues" was a much smaller part of the show than people have traditionally made it out to be - smaller than even I would've thought it was.

I look forward to it, and I want to thank you for this effort; it's been a lot of fun!

Missed your post before, CK, or I would have commented sooner. That's interesting that the script for "Mr & Mrs ???" is where "Eunice" comes from - as far as I can tell, It never made it to the air.
I think that I got the most from re-watching the series is how much the characters came to care about each other - even Mr. Howell, who supposedly only values money, shows that he cares about the other castaways. More than ever, I wish they had gotten their fourth season - or, at least, had gotten to do a proper finale at the time, rather than eleven years later.
I don't remember if we already covered this or not, but Amazing Grace can be sung to the tune of Gilligan's Island (and vice versa).

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