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The Top Ten Botched Escapes from Gilligan's Island

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website. I am the world's biggest Gilligan's Island fan, and this was a tough list to narrow down. But, trooper that I am, I am hereby presenting my choices for the top ten botched escapes from Gilligan's Island. If the below plots seem stupid, ridiculous, and absurd to you, you're right! Welcome to the world of Gilligan's Island. For some reason, the ridiculous adventures of a goofy sailor, his skipper, a millionaire couple, a farm girl, a hot movie actress, and a professor on an uncharted island captured the hearts of countless millions of fans the world over. Not quite as subtle as Benny Hill, and not as scholarly as the Three Stooges, Gilligan's Island nevertheless, in my own humble opinion, contains all the elements for a fine show: great slapstick comedy, funny verbal comedy, incredibly gorgeous women, friendship, and excellent comedy acting performances by all seven cast members. Note: interestingly, the myth that "Gilligan kept spoiling the others' chance of rescue" is a bit of an urban legend. Of the 10 failed rescue attempts below, only the last one is directly caused by Gilligan -as we shall see. 1. The Mosquitoes It was the mid-'60s, and rock groups emulating The Beatles were everywhere. And on the island there were The Mosquitoes: Bingo, Bango, Bongo, and Irving.The four long-haired musicians came to the island for a bit of R&R, but the restless, very-anxious-to-get-off-the-island castaways just had to interfere. They dreamed up a four-man guy group (featuring Gilligan on drums) to scare The Mosquitoes into leaving. They were terrible, and flopped. But the three-woman group The Honeybees (Ginger, Mary Anne, and Mrs. Howell) really impressed them with their talent. The Mosquitoes were so impressed by The Honeybees, they fled the island, afraid of the competition. 2. Ginger's Lookalike, Eva Grubb Fed up with men and the male world (pretty much like every other woman who has ever lived, several times a year), a homely, drab woman arrives on Gilligan's Island. Knowing how unhappy drab women's lives are, Ginger, the sexy movie star, give unattractive Eva Grubb the Pygmalion once-over (makeup, a tight dress, and of course, the obligatory removal of the glasses). Lo and behold, Eva is now a sexy knockout -and a dead ringer for Ginger. She realizes that she is hot now, and can be attractive to men, so she leaves the island -alone- to take over and resume Ginger's acting career by impersonating Ginger in Hollywood. 3. The Jungle Boy A jungle boy is discovered living on the island. Holy cow -it's a young Kurt Russell! The castaways get a brainstorm: why not sew together a bunch of old raincoats and inflate them to form a hot-air balloon, one big enough to fly the jungle boy to civilization? Sure enough, their idea works, and the jungle boy is rescued. Unfortunately, he speaks no English, so he can't communicate to his rescuers about the castaways. (Interestingly, Kurt Russell was later to star in the movie Escape from New York.) 4. The Hollywood Producer

Before Steven Spielberg, before George Lucas, before Jerry Bruckheimer, there was Harold Hecuba. Played with typical panache by comic legend Phil Silvers, Harold Hecuba, the famous Hollywood producer, lands on Gilligan's Island. Hoping to impress him with her acting talent, Ginger, along with the other castaways, stage a musical version of Hamlet for Hecuba. Impressed he is, so he, like so many others, leaves the island without the castaways. He wants to put on the musical Hamlet idea into a movie and grab the concept's credit for himself! 5. The Russian Cosmonauts Ivan and Igor, two Russian cosmonauts, land on the island. They are actually going to take the castaways back to civilization with them, but no, it's never that easy, is it? The castaways somehow all get drunk on vodka and fall unconscious. Unable to rouse them awake, Ivan and Igor are forced to leave without them. 6. The Surfer Is it my imagination, or do an inordinate number of other people land on the island and somehow get off and manage to leave all seven castaways stuck there? And so we see the champion surfer, played by actor Denny Miller. Yes, he can surf off the island and get back to the mainland, but the muscular surfer has eyed the voluptuous Ginger and the innocent hottie Mary Anne. The girls respond in kind. After all, after several months of nothing but Gilligan, the skipper, and the professor, wouldn't you, ladies? But soon the ladies realize that they must act disinterested or the surfer dude will never want to leave. So Ginger and Mary Anne feign indifference to muscle boy (after initially drooling over his physique) and he decides to surf back to civilization. And he makes it -with one caveat. Surfer boy hits his head on a rock, gets amnesia, and can't remember any of the castaways or his experiences with them. 5. Wrong Way Feldman   Wrong Way Feldman, a disabused former pilot, has actually been living in seclusion (for 33 years yet!) on the island, before Gilligan and his pals arrived. The castaways finally fix up his plane and coax him to fly again. He does, and like all the others (except Gilligan and company, of course), he makes it back to the mainland. But they don't call him Wrong Way for nothing -he forgets the coordinates of the island and can't remember where it was located. 8. Wrong Way Feldman -Again! What are the odds of one person making it back to and back safely from Gilligan's Island not once, but twice? Oh, about a jillion gazillion to one, maybe? But our old pal Wrong Way Feldman, now disillusioned with civilization, flies back to the old island. Somehow, the castaways upset him so much he flies off again in his plane. Would you believe he makes it back home, and again can't help the castaways get rescued? If you don't believe it, you may be quite rational, but you are not a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Gilligan's Island. 9. Thar's Gold on That Thar Island! The castaways discover there was actually a raft hidden on the shipwrecked boat, the SS Minnow (well, fancy that)! Unfortunately, they also discover a lost gold mine on the island. The weight of the raft will only hold the castaways and their absolute essentials. But, in a scene reminiscent of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, the greedy castaways all secretly bring their gold stashes on board. The weight of the gold sinks the raft, along with their hopes of an escape. 10. The Mars Camera A satellite camera sent by NASA mistakenly lands on the island. Okay, it's simple enough. When NASA sees the images on camera of the seven stranded castaways, they will surely send someone to rescue them. But when Gilligan somehow upsets all the others, they chase him through some glue and some feathers, which stick to them. The castaways now all resemble giant birds, and of course, this is what the scientists at NASA see when the camera is activated. They assume they are seeing images of "birdmen" (and "birdwomen") on Mars. Then, to top himself off in his rescue-killing, Gilligan trips over the camera's wire and disconnects it -permanently.  


I grew up watching the show. I remember the episode when the castaways (actually the Professor) learn that U. S. astronauts will be flying directly over their island at night. They make an "SOS" sign out of tree trunks to signal for help. A few seconds before the space capsule passes overhead, Gilligan accidentally rearranges one of the flaming tree trunks. When the astronauts look down and see the signal, it says "SOL". Since that was the first name of one of the astronauts, they relay to Mission Control and the audience listening over network radio how thankful they were of the personal message. Of course the castaways listened to the whole thing on the radio and once again, Gilligan was blamed for the botched escape attempt.
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I was drawn in by the title of the article, even though I've never actually seen the show. Accidents happen, but it sounds like the gang was secretly happy to stay on the island!
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Wow... I remember watching Gilligan's Island every time it was on. I even contacted Bob Denver through the mail, wanting to start a "Bob Denver Fan Club".

He was most gracious and invited me down to the studio where they filmed Gilligan's Island, but I was only a young teenager at the time, and my Mom didn't drive and my Dad worked during the days, so I never did get the chance.

I guess I always watched GI and "vegged out" never really seeing deeply into the episodes. It's fun to read Eddie's article now. I, like Eddie, loved MaryAnn.

The one item that really stands out to me was that Kurt Russell was in an episode! Man- that guy was everywhere!!!!!!

Thanks Eddie!
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I'm waiting for the final Gilligan's Island sequel: "The Court-Martial of Gilligan's Island" Everyone who visited them and intentionally left them is tried for "Depraved Indifference". Expect a revival tie-in tour of the Mosquitoes...
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Thanks for this post. Like many, I grew up watching reruns of Gilligan's Island. I thought it would be on 'somewhere' forever, but sadly, I haven't seen it on TV in years. I've been itching to watch it for a while now. Maybe I'll buy the DVDs.
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As far as the movie producer episode with Phil Silvers, to this day I cannot hear the opening bars of "Carmen" without singing the Gilligan's Island Hamlet musical's lyrics in my head (I ask to be... Or not to be... Oh, that is the question that I ask of me...).
Eddie - - please do an article like this about The Beverly Hillbillies!
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"Fed up with men and the male world (pretty much like every other woman who has ever lived..."

"Well I'm fed up with women ... , just like every other man who ever lived.."

(gosh that sounded harsh, now that we're talking about women)

Why don't you try swapping the sexes and then reading what you've written? Check if it's insulting to you then.

Just because men ignore these casual and common sexist insults doesn't mean they're not offensive
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Oh my gosh, I loved Gilligan's Island so much. Even today, I sometimes watch the reruns. I heard that Tina Louise had thought when she signed the contract that the show would be centered around her character(Ginger) and wasn't happy when this turned out not to be the case. I think each character was interesting and each actor was fabulous in his/her role. Eddie, you would have made a great Gilligan! Love your work as a comedian and your writing here on Neatorama
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Fair points, Spocker. All valid points.

I definitely see that side of it too.

I wonder what the actual percentage is of Gilligan ruining the others' chances of a rescue.
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Eddie said: "Note: interestingly, the myth that “Gilligan kept spoiling the others’ chance of rescue” is a bit of an urban legend. Of the 10 failed rescue attempts below, only the last one is directly caused by Gilligan -as we shall see."

I can think of numerous instances of Gilligan ruining their chances of rescue that would justify the myth:

1. In the second or third episode (after the unsyndicated pilot), Gilligan goes fishing on the beach while the Skipper and the Professor try to get the two-way radio working. When they finally do, Gilligan hooks the line to the radio as he casts and the radio gets lost at sea.

2. Somehow, they are able to build a giant mirror to signal a passing plane, but Gilligan tarzans his way right into it, shattering it to a millon pieces.

3. A Bond-type jetpack lands on the island, but Gilligans takes a crazy ride and exhausts all the fuel. Also, loses jetpack.

4. Gilligan eats the Professor's phosphorous dye marker concoction, intended to signal ships, passing planes.

5. Breaks lens off Nasa's Mars probe and then trips over and disconnects probe.

6. Breaks cosmonaut's radio.

7. Though Gilligan turns hinself into a radio trasmitter with a jarred tooth, he knocks the tooth back into place a ruins the reception, just whenit was needed.

8. A trans-continental telephone washes ashore and the Professor makeshifts a telephone with color-coded vines, but Gilligans wrecks it.

9. The castaways find a robot that they intend to use to carry a message back to civilization, but Gilligan puts his lucky rabbit's foot inside and ruins the message.

10. As sheriff, locks castaways up before they can set up phospherous rocks that could lead to rescue.

I'm sure that there are others, but you see what I'm getting at. To Gilligan's credit, there were other instances where other castaways can be blamed for botched rescures.
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Holes were The Professor's weakness:

Holes in the Minnow, holes in the plots...

Actually, The Professor was no dummy - if I was stranded on an island with Ginger and Mary Ann, I'd be in no hurry to leave either - even if it meant missing the hustle and bustle of the library on a Saturday night.
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Great article Eddie. Leave it to you to write something so cool as failed escape episodes of Gilligan's Island. I used to love that the Professor could make all these cool gadgets and even manage to keep the radio running without batteries yet couldn't fix the hole in The Minnow. Go figure.
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I also remember an episode with a Japanese soldier that shows up by submarine, not realizing that the war was over... It was a super stereotypical portrayal. Anyone else remember that one? They probably haven't shown it in forever because it's so offensive...
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From Howard S.:

"In that "top ten" list of the ten most memorable botched rescues from Gilligan's Island, there appears to be an error.

In the episode regarding the two Soviet astronauts, the "getting drunk" scene where the castaways had too much to drink and passed out, took place in the episode where the BUTTERFLY COLLECTOR was on the island.

In the Soviet astronauts episode, it was the astronauts (not the castaways) who got too drunk. As far as how the castaways ended up being left on the island, it somehow had to do with a screw-up on Gilligan's part in which he got the time of day on the ISLAND confused with the time of day in the Soviet Union. To be honest, I don't recall the details, but that's how it happened."
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