Friday, May 08, 2015

No Such Thing as a Sure Thing

Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.): There's a table in this Navy manual that tells me how much I should weigh.

Gilligan (Bob Denver): Maybe it's under "tonnage."

The castaways on Gilligan's Island had lots of time to think about what they wanted to do when they returned to civilization — as they were almost always sure that they would.

In the episode that first aired 50 years ago tonight, the Professor (Russell Johnson) was working on a dye marker that everyone believed would be sure to bring their salvation to them — and soon — so Gilligan (Bob Denver) and the Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.) were making plans for enlisting in the Navy when they got back to civilization.

But there was a problem. According to Navy regulations, the Skipper was overweight and Gilligan was underweight. The obvious solutions were that the Skipper had to go on a diet, and Gilligan had to start eating just about anything he could get his hands on.

As usual when one of them had a problem, the rest of the castaways pitched in to help. The girls, Mary Ann (Dawn Wells) and Ginger (Tina Louise), spoon–fed Gilligan. So did the Howells (Natalie Schafer and Jim Backus) — in their blue blood sort of way.

And Ginger tried to make the Skipper's diet yield greater results by encouraging him to do some exercises that she promised would be good for his figure. She proceeded to demonstrate some of them for him.

The Skipper said he would try, but "mine will never look like yours!" I guess that was an understatement.

He gave it a pretty good shot, but while the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak when the Skipper saw Gilligan packing away food while he had to be content with practically no calories at all.

And, at first, he felt put upon when he was asked to feed Gilligan when the girls were asked to help the Professor in some way. But then he appeared to realize it was a golden opportunity for him to sample the food he had only been able to observe from a distance. Gilligan caught on, though, and took over the feeding.

In the meantime, the Professor had been making progress on the dye ("shiny junk" is what Gilligan called it). He had a delightful conversation with Ginger, as I recall, in which Ginger reminisced about mixing two chemicals together in chemistry class. "Do you know what I got?" she asked.

"Expelled," the Professor replied.

"No," Ginger said. "I got a date with the cutest young fireman."

Gilligan had become so conditioned to eating that, near the end of the episode when the castaways needed that "shiny junk" to signal to a passing plane or boat, it was revealed that they couldn't use it because Gilligan had consumed it.

Once again, Gilligan had foiled an apparently likely rescue.

Personally, I never thought the rescue was that likely. There were gaping holes in the story that even I saw when I first saw the episode at the age of 7 or 8.

But it was still entertaining, as always.