Monday, December 26, 2016

Going Overboard

Gilligan (Bob Denver): Skipper, it's against the law to lock somebody up without telling them what they did.

Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.): Just a moment, Gilligan. Let's see here. Is that it? Yeah. It says here in the Criminal Law, Section 7, Paragraph 14, "Let it be known that any man who interferes with or causes in any way a rescue to be fouled up goes to jail for as long as the Skipper says."

Gilligan: There's no law like that in that book.

Skipper: There is now!

In the just–concluded presidential election campaign, both major nominees accused the other of being unfit for power. It was left, as it usually is, to the voters to decide who was fit for power, but Charles Percy Snow could have told them that "No one is fit to be trusted with power."

Perhaps that was the lesson the writers for Gilligan's Island wanted to teach 50 years ago.

On this night in 1966, Gilligan (Bob Denver) thought he witnessed a murder moments after stumbling on to what appeared to be a three–way love affair involving the Professor (Russell Johnson), Mary Ann (Dawn Wells) and Ginger (Tina Louise). They were actually rehearsing a murder scene in a play, but Gilligan was convinced it was real and went running off to fetch the Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.).

In this episode of Gilligan's Island"Gilligan Goes Gung–Ho" — the Skipper had been busy harvesting phosphorescent rocks the castaways might be able to use to signal for help. The plan was to signal a search plane that was due to fly overhead shortly in a publicized response to reports of people on a deserted island.

The incident convinced the Professor that some sort of law enforcement was needed on the island — even though there had been no crimes committed on the island (at least not by the castaways) — and he decided the Skipper was the logical choice to serve as sheriff. The Skipper chose Gilligan as his deputy, which put Gilligan in charge of things when the Skipper and the Professor were searching for more of those rocks.

So Gilligan was left in charge — and with a criminal law book in his hands.

And Gilligan, in a Barney Fife–esque way, went to extremes, eventually putting all the castaways in a makeshift jail cell on too–literal interpretations of statutes. The Professor, for example, returned from the search he and the Skipper had made for those rocks and showed Gilligan the rocks they had found with the use of homemade dynamite. He had a stick of that dynamite under his shirt and pulled it out to show Gilligan — who arrested him for carrying a concealed weapon.

When the Skipper returned to find the camp empty, Gilligan explained that everyone had been arrested. The Skipper shook Gilligan until the key to the cell door fell, presumably from a hole in his pocket, to the ground. The Skipper then went to the cell to free the rest of the castaways, but Gilligan locked the door behind him, telling him that he was guilty of police brutality.

Ginger told everyone that she had been in some prison movies and suggested using scenes from those movies to escape their incarceration. Gilligan, though, had seen every movie and knew the scenes. He got so wrapped up in the re–enactments that he inadvertently locked himself in the cell with the others. They all turned on him, but then they were distracted by the sound of the search plane flying overhead.

The castaways were overjoyed. Surely the pilots would see the signal and they would be rescued, but the Professor and the Skipper had bad news for them. Unfortunately, there was no signal. No one had set up a signal. Why not?

"Because some numbskull put us in jail," the Skipper replied.

The moral? Don't trust a numbskull.