Hated by critics but loved by a devoted audience, ‘Gilligan’s Island’ told the story of seven castaways shipwrecked on an island in the South Pacific.
Gilligan’s Island lasted only three seasons, but it has remained on the air ever thanks to syndication. The premise was a group of five take what is supposed to be a three-hour boat tour in Hawaii until a storm forces them hopelessly off-course until their ship crashes onto a deserted, uncharted island.
The Skipper, whose character’s name was Jonas Grumby, along with his first mate, Gilligan, (series creator Sherwood Schwartz has always answered that he intended to reveal Gilligan’s first name as “Willy”), must protect the castaways and find away to get them home. The castaways include millionaire Thurston Howell III, his wife, Eunice “Lovey” Howell, movie star Ginger Grant, farm girl Mary Ann Summers, and Professor Roy Hinkley.
The first season was filmed in black and white, presumably because of budget reasons, but a program set on a tropical island begged for color film, and seasons two and three were in color.
1. ‘Not Guilty
In this second-season episode, a crate full of coconuts washes ashore on the island. But each coconut is wrapped in pages of a Honolulu newspaper and the castaways find a story about a murder and how one of the castaways may be responsible. This prompts fear and suspicion as well as an amusing attempt to recreate the scene of the crime, only to prove no one did it.
2. Pass the Vegetables Please
Gilligan finds another crate that has washed up ashore that’s full of vegetable seed packets. There’s just one problem: he misses the warning on the crate that states the seeds are radioactive.
3. The Producer
Yes, this is an absurd episode, but guest star Phil Silvers makes it a still-entertaining entry. When a famous producer shows up on the island and insults Movie Star Ginger’s acting, the castaways band together to create a big chance for her to really impress him. I wonder how William Shakespeare would have liked their rendition of Hamlet.
When the castaways hear a radio report that the Skipper is considered responsible for the presumed loss of the S.S. Minnow and all souls aboard, the castaways stage a recreation of the shipwreck to prove what really happened during the storm that landed them on their island.
5. Meet the Meteor
A meteor lands on the island and the Professor discovers its damaging radiation could age the castaways to dust in just a matter of days.
6. ‘V’ is for Vitamins
This episode centered on the Professor’s concern that the castaways aren’t getting enough Vitamin C. When they find what they believe is the last citrus fruit on the island, they panic, and it leads to an imaginative dream sequence in which Gilligan tries to steal a goose that lays golden oranges.
7. Gilligan’s Mother-In-Law
Natives arrive and decide Gilligan must marry their daughter if he can pass a marriage test. Realizing it’s a way off the island, they all agree until a rival for the girl shows up and challenges Gilligan to a fight to the death.
8. Goodbye Island
This first-season episode eliminates the most obvious tool the castaways could have eventually used to return to civilization: the S.S. Minnow itself. Sooner or later, they could have reasonably been expected to repair the boat enough to make it seaworthy again. This episode begins with that very idea, utilizing a tree-sap Gilligan found that serves as a powerful glue. Just as the castaways are ready to depart, they learn the glue’s holding power is very temporary. From there, the boat, which has been painted with the stuff to seal any possible leaks, begins to come apart board by board.
9. Waiting For Watubi
In this first-season episode, the castaways unearth an old native tiki sculpture that the Skipper recognizes as “Kona,” a god who curses anyone who disturbs his rest. He spends the rest of the episode trying to rid himself of the tiki that just won’t go away.
10. The Hunter
Despite the humor, this episode begins with a horrifying premise: a big-game hunter, played by Rory Calhoun, arrives on the island with a helper and decides he wants to try hunting the ultimate game: a fellow human being. Gilligan spends most of the episode on the run, hoping to stay alive for 24 hours in exchange for the hunter taking all seven castaways back to civilization.
Did you grow up watching Gilligan’s Island or did you find it through syndication? Would you have ever considered yourself a fan?