Wednesday, January 27, 2016

If You Could Read My Mind ...

Gilligan's Island didn't delve into Deep Thoughts territory very often — its stock in trade was more of a slapstick variety — but it was capable of deep thoughts, and it proved it — in a manner of speaking — 50 years ago tonight with the episode "Seer Gilligan."

Gilligan (Bob Denver) found some sunflower seeds growing in the jungle, except they turned out not to be sunflower seeds at all. When he ate them, he became temporarily capable of reading other people's minds.

No one knew that at first. All anyone knew was that Gilligan inexplicably had telepathic powers. The Professor (Russell Johnson) grudgingly admitted that Gilligan could read minds when he repeated an atomic weight and a mathematical formula of which the Professor was thinking. The Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.) had been there when Gilligan discovered he could read minds and was, therefore, already convinced, but, in spite of having conceded that Gilligan could read minds, the Professor doggedly insisted that mind reading was a scientific impossibility. The Skipper and the Professor continued to debate the issue.

Mr. Howell (Jim Backus) concluded that Gilligan's strange new power was the result of his diet so he resolved to duplicate everything Gilligan consumed, and he followed Gilligan around and ate the same things Gilligan did — but all he got for his trouble was a stomachache especially after Gilligan told him that his nose told him Mary Ann (Dawn Wells) was cooking his favorite — coconut, papaya and tuna fish pie.

"Come on, Mr. Howell," Gilligan said. "It's best when it's hot!"

But Mr. Howell, who had consumed clams, oysters, lobsters, turtle eggs in the shell and warm coconut milk in a — pardon the pun — fruitless pursuit of Gilligan's telepathic secret, had had enough, and he returned to his hut, complaining, "I feel like a beached whale."

Ginger (Tina Louise) had once played a psychiatrist in a movie so she volunteered to psychoanalyze Gilligan — perhaps she stayed at a Holiday Inn Express the night before that infamous three–hour cruise?

In fact, the truth about Gilligan's newfound power was only revealed after Ginger ate some of the seeds and discovered she could read Gilligan's mind. They hurried to tell the others.

They found the Skipper and the Professor still arguing over whether mind reading was possible, and Ginger and Gilligan reported their discovery. The Professor remained skeptical, but Ginger was able to tell them that both the Skipper and the Professor had been thinking of the numbers 36, 22 and 36 — Ginger's measurements.

The Skipper tried to convince her that he had been calculating the island's longitude and latitude. The Professor said he had been thinking of the atomic weight of a chemical compound, but Gilligan and Ginger were adamant. The numbers were Ginger's measurements.

Thus, it was established that Gilligan really could read minds — with the help of those seeds. And everyone wanted some of those seeds. At one point Mrs. Howell (Natalie Schafer) remarked that Gilligan had promised to show the bush to everyone the next morning — but the castaways were greedy and didn't want to have to share that knowledge.

The Skipper wanted to get Gilligan alone so he could try to get the whereabouts of the bush from which the seeds came, and he tried to take advantage of a barely conscious Gilligan in his hammock. Mr. Howell told Mrs. Howell that he didn't trust Gilligan and paid a nocturnal visit to Gilligan's hut; he also attempted to take advantage of Gilligan's drowsiness by swearing him to a partnership in the seed deal, a partnership he was sure not to remember.

Upon leaving Gilligan's hut, Mr. Howell encountered Ginger, who was on her way to do the same thing with Gilligan as the Skipper and Mr. Howell had, and they both faked sleep walking until out of sight of each other.

And Ginger tried to con Gilligan out of the seeds, too, but she failed just as the Skipper and Mr. Howell had — for, lo, the next morning, when the rest of the castaways arose, Gilligan was nowhere to be found. And the castaways began disparaging him.

Then Gilligan showed up with bags of seeds for everyone.

And they all grabbed their bags and retreated to their individual huts.

In the Howells' hut, they tried to put the seeds to the test with each thinking something and asking the other to read his/her mind.

That led to a fight between the Howells because Mr. Howell was thinking of ways to steal seeds from his wife.

And Mrs. Howell said she didn't mind if he stole seeds from the others — but not from his wife. "Why did I ever marry you?" she asked somewhat rhetorically.

The Skipper and Gilligan had been in a thought fight as well — a "think fight," as Gilligan called it — and so had the girls.

Mary Ann and Ginger glared at each other and thought thoughts they wouldn't dare to utter out loud. As Mary Ann remarked at one point, "I'm glad you can read my mind. I'm too much of a lady to say those things."

But you could tell which one was having decidedly unladylike thoughts about the other because the offended party would scream.

And they were both guilty — because they both screamed.

Gilligan sought out the Professor to talk about the seeds. The Professor observed that, considering how long they had been on the island, those were the first real fights they had had.

Their seemingly convivial conversation eroded rather rapidly, though. Gilligan said he had hoped that they would get along better if they could read each other's minds.

The Professor agreed and said he had hoped the seeds might have benefited the cause of world peace after they were rescued. Gilligan, though, was unimpressed, and his thoughts made that all too clear to the Professor, who was insulted and stormed off.

Later, Gilligan watched as all the other castaways were gathered around their table, arguing, and he disappeared into the jungle.

The other castaways were running out of seeds, and the men went into the jungle to find the bush Gilligan had discovered. What they found was Gilligan setting fire to the bush. He explained to them, "We never fought and argued before we could read minds. And now that we can't read minds, maybe we could be friends again?"

Instead of condemning him, as he expected, Gilligan found that his friends praised him for his action, even the Skipper, who asked Gilligan, "You know what I think?"

"No, I don't," replied Gilligan.

"Well it's a shame," the Skipper said, "because, really, it was something nice."

"Thanks, Skipper," Gilligan replied.

And, thus, the episode of Gilligan's Island that dove deeply into Deep Thoughts veered back into slapstick territory at the end.