Posts Tagged ‘castaways’

On January 16 Russell Johnson died. Many of you will remember him as the professor on Gilligan’s Island. This was the guy who could whip up just about anything from a few bits of flotsam and jetsam, the original McGuiver. Yet, for all his genius he couldn’t seem to find a way to rescue the castaways from their tropical desert Isle. Gilligan’s Island, a classic from the sixties, is still available on syndication for anyone who spends a little effort to look for it. There is something about that thirty minute program that grabs the attention of multiple generations. Grandpas and grandsons can sit enthralled by the castaways antics  as they make the most of their fate.

Perhaps we root for the perennial underdog Gilligan, as he bumbles from one misadventure to another because each of us has been there at one time or another. Is there not something inspirational in how, over the hill, skipper manages to rally the troops each time they fall just short? The millionaire and his wife may have endless amounts of wealth and social prestige, but on this island everyone is equal.  Isolation and interdependence are great equalizers, perhaps we find comfort in how the mighty have fallen. Then of course amongst guys… is it Ginger or Mary Ann?

Gilligan’s Island is successful because people can relate to the castaways. Even though each character is a study in cliche, they are appealing. In a way, the island is a microcosm of North American society. We laugh at them,and with them, riding their weekly roller coaster. Can the things that make this sitcom work also explain why certain stories are better reads than others? If you analyze the most endearing relics from TV seasons gone by, l believe you’ll find they have  common threads. Disadvantage struggles against a common threat to get resolution, or at least uniting bonds, in shared adversity. Toss in human frailties, and a bit of sex, and there you have it… an interesting tale.

Russell Johnson was one of the last members of the cast still alive. Only Mary Ann and Ginger are left, and they are 75 and 79 respectively. Now, anyone who remembers them is thinking, boy does that ever date me.

R.I.P Russell …you made us laugh and escape, if for just a little while.

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