One of the great things about parenthood is introducing a new generation to the things I loved as a kid, and in many cases, I still love these same things. Gilligan’s Island is one of these things, and we recently finished watching season 1 of Gilligan’s Island.
Without a doubt, Gilligan’s Island is one of the best sitcoms ever made, as well as being my favorite sitcom. My daughter loves it as well.
The season 1 DVD set for Gilligan’s Island also includes the series pilot. Some of the scenes from the pilot were reused in later episodes for the first season, especially the part with Gilligan sending the radio and the transmitter into the ocean while fishing, and then searching the fish he caught to find them again.
From the pilot to the shooting of the series, three supporting characters were changed. The high school teacher became the Professor, Bunny became Mary Ann, and Ginger went from being a secretary to a glamorous movie star. Reasons noted in various documentaries is that those three actors didn’t do well with test audiences, and after watching it, I have to agree. Sometimes actors and roles just don’t work well, and that was the case here.
Thus we were fortunate to get Tina Louise as the glamorous Movie Star, Ginger Grant, Dawn Wells as the girl next door from Kansas, Mary Ann, and Russell Johnson as the brilliant Professor.
Bob Denver and Alan Hale, Jr., were the comedic equivalent of Laurel and Hardy. These two actors had their roles down pat, and played well with each other with such chemistry that it is hard to imagine anyone successfully reproducing these roles (and in the ’70s, we saw an attempt to pair Bob Denver with Forest Tucker in the similar series, Dusty’s Trail, which I am probably one of the few people in the world who liked it, but the chemistry wasn’t there).
Jim Backus as the Millionaire, Thurston Howell, the Third, and Natalie Schafer as his wife, “Lovey”, always great, always fun.
Seven actors, seven characters, all blended together to make this a wonderful, and memorable series, that is still loved after nearly 50 years.
A few high points from season 1 – Hans Conried as Wrongway Feldman appears in two episodes, even attempting to teach Gilligan to fly. Vito Scotti shows up as a Japanese sailor in a mini-sub ( and appears later in the series as the mad scientist, Dr. Balinkoff), still fighting WW2, and a young Kurt Russell as a jungle boy.
We are also treated to the castaways learning to get along with each other, getting organized to survive, several episodes involving voodoo, greed when Gilligan stumbles into a gold mine and finds a treasure chest, gangsters, and an invasion by hostile natives from a nearby island.
Yes, I do love Gilligan’s Island, even after all these years, and am delighted that my daughter loves it as well.