Classic TV

Introduction to Gilligan’s Island

Gilligan’s Island Title Screen
Gilligan’s Island is an American TV sitcom that aired for three seasons in the CBS network from September 1964 to April 1967. The sitcom was produced and created by Sherwood Schwartz, and it had an ensemble cast that featured Tina Louise, Alan Hale Jr., Bob Denver, Natalie Schafer, Jim Backus, and Dawn Wells. The series followed the silly adventures of seven castaways as they try to survive on the Island where they were shipwrecked. The show had three seasons with a total of 98 episodes. The first thirty-six episodes of the show were filmed in black and white, which were later colorized for syndication. Gilligan’s Island’s second and third seasons, as well as the three TV movie sequels, were filmed in color.

During the show’s original run, it received solid ratings, and its popularity grew over the decades because of syndication more specifically during the ’70s and ’80s. In fact, the show was so popular that the character of Gilligan is recognized as an American cultural icon.

What is the Plot of the Show?

The sitcom follows the story of a two-man crew of the charter boat named SS Minnow as well as five passengers that are on a three-hour tour from Honolulu when they run into a typhoon. They were then shipwrecked on an uncharted island that is located in the Pacific Ocean. But, all their efforts to be rescued are usually embittered by the unintentional antics of first mate, Gilligan. But sometimes, these crazy antics would result in Gilligan saving the others from some unforeseen error in their plan. Most of the episodes of the show used variations of five recurring basic plots, and these are:

  • Life on the Island

    The show always has a running gag where the castaways can creatively come up with useful objects from gourds, bamboo, and other local materials. Sometimes, they can make cooking and eating utensils, and even an efficient lie detector machine with the use of the things around them.

  • Arrival or appearance of strange objects

    Most of the time, some items will appear out of nowhere, such as a radio that had been swallowed by a fish, a World War II naval mine, a jet pack, plastic explosives, radioactive vegetable seeds, and even a live lion.

  • Visitors to the uncharted Island

    This recurring plot s another way to challenge the viewer’s suspension of disbelief. This is because, in some episodes of Gilligan’s Island, the castaways are sometimes visited by different kinds of people who always fail to help them leave the Island.

  • Dream sequences

    This recurring plot is when one of the castaways dreams that he or she is somewhat related to the week’s storyline. In the dream, all of the castaways appear as other characters.

Who Starred in Gilligan’s Island?

The main cast of Gilligan’s Island are:

  • Alan Hale Jr., who played as Captain Jonas Grumby, the captain of the SS Minnow.
  • Tina Louise, she portrayed a Hollywood movie star named Ginger Grant.
  • Bob Denver, he played the accident-prone and inept first mate, Gilligan.
  • Jim Backus, he portrayed Thurston Howell III, who’s a Wall Street millionaire.
  • Dawn Wells, she portrayed Mary Ann Summers, who is a conservative farm-girl who came from Winfield, Kansas. She joined the SS Minnow because she won a trip and tour in a lottery.
  • Russell Johnson, he played Professor Roy Hinkley, Ph.D.

Why Did it Got Cancelled?

During the show’s 1966-1967 season, it aired during Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. Even if the show’s ratings had fallen. It went out of the top-30 programs, the series was still in the lead on its timeslot against its main competition during the last few weeks of its third season. That is why the CBS network assured Schwartz that Gilligan’s Island would definitely be renewed for a fourth season.

However, CBS gave hit that they have an intention to cancel one of their long-running Western series, Gunsmoke, which was aired late in the evening every Saturday. Pressure from CBS president William Paley and several work affiliates as well as long-time fans of Gunsmoke, CBS decide to reschedule the Western drama to an earlier time slot, and that is during Monday evenings at 7:30. That is why Gilligan’s Island got quietly canceled at the last minute and while all the cast members were all on vacation.

Spin-offs and Film Sequels

Gilligan’s Island spawned three movie sequels, namely, Rescue from Gilligan’s Island, which was released in 1978. It earned a sequel the following year entitled The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island. The sequel earned another second sequel called The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island, which was released in 1981.

Aside from the film sequels, Gilligan’s Island also had two spin-off TV shows, and one of these is a Filmation-produced animated remake entitled The New Adventures of Gilligan. It aired every Saturday mornings on ABC from September 1974 to September 1977.

The other spin-off TV show was called Gilligan’s Planet, which is an animated science-fiction version of the Filmation-produced spin-off. The show only had 12 episodes, which was aired on CBS from September 1982 to September 1983.

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