“Gilligan’s Island” Turns 58–The Reason They Didn’t Make It Off the Island
"Gilligan's Island" cast member Dawn Wells, as Mary Ann Summers, prepares for filming an episode on July 21, 1964.  CBS Photo Archive

For a low-budget show that ran on the CBS television network for only three original seasons, “Gilligan’s Island” sure had legs.

It’s basically never been out of reruns.

Seven people shipwreck during a boating excursion, and despite numerous false hopes and failed Rube Goldberg-esque escape plans, they remain stranded.

Of course, the episodes have more holes than my screen door, but why do you think they never got off the island?

My take: because we didn’t want them to. It’s like “Hogan’s Heroes”, which also ran on CBS at the same time. Hogan’s men could wander all over Europe and do everything but have coffee with Hitler, but they always returned to the German prisoner of war camp, Stalag 13. Ostensibly, they stayed behind enemy lines to carry out daring operations in support of the Allied war effort. You could argue that they had more tactical value where they were, than if they had been back in their units.

But, the entertainment value and the plot situations required them to stay. Same thing with the folks from the S.S. Minnow.

With “Gilligan”, I remember as a kid being comically frustrated by their ineptitude (mostly Gilligan’s and Skipper’s), because they blew every chance they got.

Looking back later, I realized the weird truth.

The island is where we wanted them.

And, I always have to ask, who was your favorite between Ginger and Mary-Ann? I mean, c’mon, this answer is obvious.

 

 

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