Monday, September 26, 2005


'Gilligan's Island' is on every day at three-thirty...
Whether I watch it or not.
What's the point?
Dad, it's not on for me. It's just - on!
'Growing Pains'

I was asked as to why I had not acknowledged the passing of Bob Denver yet here at "Inner Toob".

I wanted to wait until today, which marks the anniversary of the debut for his signature show 'Gilligan's Island', because I wanted to make the tribute as special in every way possible.

Say what you will about 'Gilligan's Island'; I may even agree with you on a lot of it.

But taking a page from David Bianculli's book "Tele-Literacy", I want you to try this little experiment.......

Quote (from memory - don't cheat and look it up first!) the "To Be Or Not To Be" soliloquy from "Hamlet".

Now quote the lyrics to the 'Gilligan's Island' theme song.

For good or ill, you can't deny what an impact the show has had on our lives. Right up there with 'Star Trek' and 'The Twilight Zone', 'Gilligan's Island' is a major source of Zonk!s; blasting holes into the integrity of the TV Universe because so many TV shows make reference to it as a TV show.

Luckily, many of these Zonk!s can be splained away, since the actual shipwreck and the eventual rescue of the castaways was major news in Toobworld. It's when they refer to actual episodes of the show, or when TV characters dream of the show, that we get into Zonk!ish trouble.

To me, Gilligan is an icon of Toobworld, a true descendant of the noble tradition of the Fool. Silly, true; but the Fool can also represent situations in our lives and mirror qualities in ourselves. Although I'm no psychologist or sociologist, I think it could be argued that Gilligan does just that.

Dr. Will Miller even wrote a book about conquering personal roadblocks to achieving success and titled it "Killing Your Inner Gilligan"... which just about sums up the role Gilligan played on the island.

(In one of my favorite Zonk!s, Rebecca Howe's father is watching the show for the first time with Norm at the bar 'Cheers'. The retired Navy man was dumbfounded by what he saw, in comparison to Life as he knew it. As far as he was concerned, if only the other castaways had shot Gilligan, they would have been off the island in a week's time.)

Further proof of how much Bob Denver meant to us in the framework of Toobworld lies in the fact that he contributed two major characters of iconic stature who were totally dissimilar from each other.

Many another actor can lay claim to several different characters who proved to be giants in the pantheon of Toobworld citizens. But I think most of those would prove to be just reiterations of what the actors did before. That's the nature of the medium - as Fred Allen said, imitation is the sincerest form of Television. If it worked once, keep doing it.

But besides Gilligan, Denver also gave life to Maynard G. Krebs in 'The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis'. (The "G." stands for "Walter".)

It's been said that the perfect picture to illustrate the mid-1970s lifestyle would be of John Travolta wearing Tony Manero's white suit in "Saturday Night Fever". I think nothing sums up the Toobworld image of the Beat Generation in the 1950s better than Denver as Maynard.

Bob Denver will be one of the few actors to be represented in the TV Crossover Hall of Fame by two citizens of Toobworld. Gilligan was already inducted years ago, but Maynard will one day join the ranks as well.

In similar fashion to the pervasive effect of Gilligan, Denver's portrayal of Maynard was still felt years later in Toobworld. The undead zombie Lurch, who worked as a butler for 'The Addams Family', also used the same introductory phrase as Maynard: "You rang?".

Working within Toobworld's inner reality, the reasoning could be that in life Lurch had been Maynard's bongo-brother among the Beats. And even though "work" is a four-letter word to Mr. Krebs, this theory works for me.

Here's a rundown of Bob Denver's TV credits, courtesy of the

"Twilight Theater" (1982) TV Series .... Various Characters
"Far Out Space Nuts" (1975) TV Series .... Junior
"Dusty's Trail" (1973) TV Series .... Dusty
"The Good Guys" (1968) TV Series .... Rufus Butterworth
"Gilligan's Island" (1964) TV Series .... Willie Gilligan (1964-1967)
Gilligan's Island: Marooned (1964) (TV pilot) .... Gilligan
"The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" (1959) TV Series .... Maynard G. Krebs

Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (1988) (TV) .... Maynard G. Krebs
High School U.S.A. (1983) (TV) .... Milton Feld
The Invisible Woman (1983) (TV) .... Dr. Dudley Plunkett
Scamps (1982) (TV) .... Oliver Hopkins

"The Simpsons" playing "Himself" (voice) in episode: "Simpson Tide" (episode # 9.19) 29 March 1998
"Meego" playing "Gilligan" in episode: "Mommy 'n' Meego" (episode # 1.7) 1997
"Roseanne" playing "Jackie" in episode: "Sherwood Schwartz--A Loving Tribute" (episode # 7.25) 24 May 1995
"Space Ghost Coast to Coast" playing "Himself" in episode: "Gilligan" (episode # 1.2) 22 April 1994
"Herman's Head" playing "Himself" in episode: "The Herm from Ipanema" (episode # 3.17) 17 February 1994
"Evening Shade" playing "Himself" in episode: "Saint Bobby" (episode # 3.24) 17 May 1993
"Baywatch" playing "Willy Gilligan" in episode: "Now Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale" (episode # 2.16) 24 February 1992
"ALF" playing "Gilligan" in episode: "Somewhere Over the Rerun" (episode # 2.2) 28 September 1987
"The New Gidget" playing "Gilligan" in episode: "Gilligidge Island" 19 September 1987
"Fantasy Island" playing "Tim Kearns" in episode: "Love Island/The Sisters" (episode # 6.22) 14 May 1983
"The Love Boat" playing "Norman Lomax" in episode: "A Dress to Remember" (episode # 5.28) 8 May 1982
"Fantasy Island" playing "Don Winters" in episode: "The Magic Camera/Mata Hari/Valerie" (episode # 5.12) 16 January 1982
"Fantasy Island" playing "Francis Elkins" in episode: "House of Dolls/Wuthering Heights" (episode # 5.11) 9 January 1982
"Fantasy Island" playing "Morris Binstock" in episode: "Eagleman/Children of Mentu" (episode # 3.23) 17 May 1980
"The Love Boat" playing "Jason" in episode: "Disco Baby/Alas, Poor Dwyer/After the War/Ticket to Ride/Itsy Bitsy: Part 2" (episode # 2.19) 3 February 1979
"The Love Boat" playing "Jason" in episode: "Disco Baby/Alas, Poor Dwyer/After the War/Ticket to Ride/Itsy Bitsy: Part 1" (episode # 2.18) 3 February 1979
"Love, American Style" in episode: "Love and the Eat's Cafe" (episode # 5.8b) 9 November 1973
"Love, American Style" in episode: "Love and the Baby Derby" (episode # 4.20a) 16 February 1973
"Love, American Style" in episode: "Love and the Cake" (episode # 2.17a) 22 January 1971
"Love, American Style" playing "Earl" in episode: "Love and the Hitchhiker" (episode # 1.17b) 30 January 1970
"I Dream of Jeannie" playing "Harold" in episode: "My Son the Genie" (episode # 3.13) 12 December 1967
"Make Room for Daddy" playing "Herbie" in episode: "The Persistent Cop" (episode # 11.30) 27 April 1964
"The Andy Griffith Show" playing "Dud Wash" in episode: "Divorce, Mountain Style" (episode # 4.26) 30 March 1964
"The Farmer's Daughter" playing "Lieutenant Tenner" in episode: "An Enterprising Young Man" (episode # 1.4) 11 October 1963
"Dr. Kildare" playing "Dr. Paul Garrett" in episode: "If You Can't Believe the Truth..." (episode # 3.3) 10 October 1963
"Fractured Flickers" playing "Himself" (episode # 1.22)
[This probably should have fallen into the Variety Show category and thus should have been removed from consideration, but the show was such a blast and in a way his appearance would have been somewhat fictional in the "interview" with Hans Conreid, that I wanted to include it.]

"The Simpsons" playing "Himself" (voice) in episode: "Simpson Tide" (episode # 9.19) 29 March 1998
"Gilligan's Planet" (1982) TV Series (voice) .... Gilligan
"The New Adventures of Gilligan" (1974) TV Series (voice) .... Willy Gilligan

"The Simpsons" playing "Himself" (voice) in episode: "Simpson Tide" (episode # 9.19) 29 March 1998
"Space Ghost Coast to Coast" playing "Himself" in episode: "Gilligan" (episode # 1.2) 22 April 1994
[This show was a good example of the inter-action between Toobworld and the Tooniverse. Space Ghost interviewed the live-action Denver from the main TV Universe, even though he could have brought the animated actor right into the studio with him.]
"Herman's Head" playing "Himself" in episode: "The Herm from Ipanema" (episode # 3.17) 17 February 1994
"Evening Shade" playing "Himself" in episode: "Saint Bobby" (episode # 3.24) 17 May 1993
[The high school class was supposed to get John Denver to speak to the school, but through a mix-up, Bob Denver came instead.]

Let's take a closer look at the three main Toobworld characters of Bob Denver......

"Dusty's Trail" (1973) TV Series .... Dusty
The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West (1976) .... Dusty
[This was just a compilation of episodes from the TV series released as a movie.]

'Dusty's Trail' at least makes its mark in Toobworld in that a savage tribe of Indians known as the Shugs harassed the wagon train. The Shugs would also appear in at least one episode of 'F Troop', thus providing a link between the two series.

And since we never learned what Dusty's last name was, why can't we make the claim that it could have been Gilligan? At the very least, based on the nature of both their characters, it could be argued that Gilligan was the reincarnation of Dusty's soul. (Reincarnation being an established concept in the TV Universe.)

"The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" (1959) TV Series .... Maynard G. Krebs
"Whatever Happened To Dobie Gillis?" (1977) TV series pilot.... Maynard G. Krebs
Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (1988) (TV) .... Maynard G. Krebs

In the 1977 pilot for a proposed revival of the 'Dobie Gillis' series, Dobie (who was now running his father's grocery store) had married Zelda and had a 16 year old son named Georgie. His buddy Maynard had become a successful businessman and Chatsworth Osborne was the town banker.

But ten years later with the TV movie sequel, Georgie (now a different actor, obviously) was still a teen-ager and practically reliving his dad's life in high school. (He's chasing the beautiful, unattainable girl while being pursued himself by a girl he deems plain and average.)

And apparently, Dobie hadn't seen Maynard in twenty years - even though it was only ten years before in which the pilot took place. The fact that Thalia Menninger no longer looked like Tuesday Weld but Connie Stevens instead wouldn't have been a problem: casting changes due to aging are always given a pass.

It's my theory that the TV pilot was the true sequel to the original series and both of those are set on Earth Prime-Time, the main Toobworld.

But "Bring Me The Head Of Dobie Gillis" - and maybe just from that title alone! - is obviously set in the evil mirror universe. (Or perhaps Earth Prime-Time Delay, because of the fact that Georgie Gillis is a teenager ten years later than he is in the main Toobworld.)

The reason Dobie had not seen his beatnik buddy for twenty years was due to Maynard being shipwrecked on a desert island all those years, until he was rescued by Thalia. It's a sign that perhaps Maynard and Gilligan shared a cosmic kinship, even across the dimensional vortex.

"Gilligan's Island" (1964) TV Series .... Willie Gilligan (1964-1967)
Rescue from Gilligan's Island (1978) (TV) .... Gilligan
The Castaways on Gilligan's Island (1979) (TV) .... Gilligan
The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981) (TV) .... Gilligan

More than any of the other castaways on the island, Gilligan was a character of the moment; nothing of his past really mattered save that he was first mate to the Skipper. As such, he lends himself easily to the Missing Links concept of Toobworld.

We never did learn much about Gilligan, not even his first name [although Sherwood Schwartz has said that he would have chosen "Willie" had he inserted it into a script early enough]. Of the few facts we have about Gilligan, we know the mighty sailing man was born in Pennsylvania and that his stateside best friend was Skinny Mulligan.

So why couldn't he have been born in 'Grand', Pennsylvania? And maybe his buddy Skinny's first name was Mickey? Mickey would move to New York City with a goal to become a success in Television. ('Hey, Mulligan!')

About five years ago or so, we learned that Gilligan's mother was still alive in a blipvert for the Snickers candy bar. (The premise was that if you're going to be stuck waiting a real long time, you might as well have a Snickers to curb your hunger.)

The way the women were dressed in the commercial suggested "Three Sisters" by Checkov more than it did 'Gilligan's Island', but maybe it was just their dress for mourning. And since the castaways were rescued back in 1978, this commercial might have been just showing us what was happening with Momma Gilligan during the 1970s while he was still missing at sea.

Of Bob Denver's TV appearances as other characters, this one stood out as a possibility for a theoretical link based on tele-genetics:

"The Andy Griffith Show" playing "Dud Wash" in episode: "Divorce, Mountain Style" (episode # 4.26) 30 March 1964
In one of the episodes of 'Gilligan's Island', Gilligan mentioned that he had a brother. So why couldn't it have been a half-brother?

Remember the old joke about the traveling salesman and the farmer with the beautiful daughter? Lots of Toobworld premises are based on old jokes....

So why can't we theorize that Dud Walsh is the son of Gilligan's father? All we know about Mr. Gilligan was that he was short and had a mustache; nothing says that he wasn't a traveling salesman. This way we can imagine him meeting up with Farmer Walsh's daughter in a barn near Mayberry, North Carolina......

As was the case with Maynard G. Krebs, Gilligan existed in several different TV dimensions. We know of his animated version from the Tooniverse who must have been eventually rescued, only to then be blasted into space with the other castaways to fend for themselves on an alien planet.

But in one of the mirror dimensions, perhaps even the evil one, Gilligan and the other six stranded castaways never did make it off the island....

An alien by the name of Meego was attempting to phone home to his maternal unit on Marmazon 4.0 when he accidentally reached Gilligan, the Professor, and Mary Ann, still stranded after 35 years. (And it's quite possible then that this should be the universe in which we find that Snickers commercial.

There's only one problem, however. This episode of 'Meego' ("Mommy 'n' Meego" #1.7) was originally slated to air on November 21st, 1997. But the show was cancelled before it had the chance.

Something tells me that some cable outlet somewhere showed the entire run - such as it was - but I can't verify that. And one of the original tenets for Toobworld is that nothing is officially a part of the TV Universe (no matter which dimension) until it has been broadcast.

So for now, we'll just consider this adventure to be one of those never seen, rather like Pavel Chekov's introduction to Khan Noonian Singh in the 'Star Trek' episode "Space Seed".

But there is yet another incarnation of Gilligan in an alternate dimension, that of Earth Prime-Time Delay......
'The New Gidget' - "Gilligidge Island" (19 September 1987)

This alternate Gidget Lawrence and her family went on a cruise which shipwrecked them on a desert isle. There they met not only Gilligan and the Skipper (the late Alan Hale Jr.), but also the Maytag repairman as played by the late great Jesse White.

This alternate world version of the castaways could lend credence to the proposal that the unaired 'Meego' episode actually took place. And that would mean that we can send the entire series of 'Meego' out of the main Toobworld.

And who would argue with that?

(By the way, the original pilot for 'Gilligan's Island' would also be in an alternate dimension, as the Professor was played by John Gabriel.)

There are far too many regular Zonk!s concerning 'Gilligan's Island' to mention here. (The 'Cheers' one listed above was definitely the best.)

But there's a sub-category of Zonk! that should be examined because they often-times involved the original actors from the show. Dream-Zonk!s involve Toobworldlings who dream about 'Gilligan's Island' as a show - and one in which the dreamers often-times inserted themselves to interact with the castaway characters.

Perhaps, in acknowledgement of Bob Denver's widow, we should be calling these "Dreama-Zonk!s". (And I'd just like to o'bserve that "Dreama" is one of the prettiest first names I've seen in some time.)

1] "Herman's Head" playing "Himself" in episode: "The Herm from Ipanema" (episode # 3.17) 17 February 1994

According to the episode description, Herman decides to give it all up during a tropical vacation and buy a local bar on the island. Now, it's quite possible that during all of this he actually met Bob Denver. But considering the show's concept, it could also be that Denver was no more than a figment of Herman's over-active imagination.

He may even have appeared in Herman's head as Gilligan in much the same way 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' got Zonk!ed by the appearance of Buddy Sorrell and Sally Rogers among the other denizens of Herman's mind.

2] "Baywatch" playing "Willy Gilligan" in episode: "Now Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale" (episode # 2.16) 24 February 1992

After watching a marathon of 'Gilligan's Island' reruns instead of working, Eddie slipped and hit his head on the tower ramp which sent him into a dream where all of his lifeguard co-workers became characters on 'Gilligan's Island' with only Gilligan portrayed by the original actor.

3] "ALF" playing "Gilligan" in episode: "Somewhere Over the Rerun" (episode # 2.2) 28 September 1987

After becoming obsessed with 'Gilligan's Island' reruns, the Alien Life Form named Gordon Schumway built his own version of the lagoon. But during a dream in which he found himself stranded with the actual Gilligan, Skipper, Professor, and Mary Ann, "ALF" decided that Reality was better than the idyllic life he imagined from TV.

Don't listen to him! "ALF" was a furball from another planet who ate cats. What does he know?

4] "Roseanne" playing "Jackie" in episode: "Sherwood Schwartz--A Loving Tribute" (episode # 7.25) 24 May 1995

This might possibly be the best of them all, mainly because it involved the elusive Tina Louise, who had sworn off any further connections to her past as Ginger Grant on the show. (She never appeared in any of the sequel TV movies.)

Dan Conner was torn between pleasing his wife and building a boat for a future adventure. He ended up day-dreaming of his life as the Skipper, while Roseanne's boss Leon became Mr. Howell, her Mom became Lovey Howell, while her sister was transformed into Gilligan, and daughter Darlene was Mary Ann.

And Roseanne? Why, she was Ginger, of course!

But the daydream got turned on its head when the actors from 'Gilligan's Island' ended up as the characters from 'Roseanne'.

Russell Johnson - Mark, Roseanne's son-in-law
Dawn Wells - Darlene
Bob Denver returned the "favor" by cross-dressing as Jackie
and Tina Louise became Roseanne.

As an added bonus, the creator of 'Gilligan's Island', Sherwood Schwartz, appeared as himself.

"Life's like a game of marbles.
No matter how pretty yours are,
The other guy's are prettier."
'Gilligan's Island'

So long, Little Buddy. And thanks for playing the Fool.


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