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HTF REVIEW: Gilligan's Island - The Complete First Season.

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#1 of 17 Herb Kane

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Posted January 29 2004 - 03:40 PM

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Gilligan’s Island – The Complete First Season


Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 1964-1965
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 916 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 Standard
Audio: DD Mono
Color/B&W: B&W
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
MSRP: $39.98
Package: 5 panel Digipak with slipcover case






The Feature:
If there’s one thing fans of television have to be thankful for, whether it be classic or contemporary TV, it’s the regularity to which these shows are surfacing on the DVD format. It’s become without question the fastest growing market since the inception of the format. While some of the shows continue to be released at a snail’s pace, many are being released on an almost quarterly annual basis. When I heard about Gilligan’s Island, I gotta be honest, it kind of took me by surprise. Not to say anything bad at all about the show, I just wasn’t expecting it.

Since the show debuted (September 26th, 1964) only two months before I was born, I certainly have no memories of it from its original airing, but I surely watched my fair share of episodes through the years and I looked forward to viewing many of the original episodes I knew I probably had never seen. And as an aside to that what makes this first complete season a true treasure is the chance to see the original Pilot episode which apparently never aired (at least until 1992). While the original season was filmed in B&W the remaining two seasons were shot in color.

The show was created by Sherwood Schwartz (also famous for the creation of The Brady Bunch) and stars Bob Denver as the klutzy Gilligan who is the first mate, the Skipper of the ill-fated S.S. Minnow (played by Alan Hale Jr.), Thurston Howell III (the millionaire played by Jim Backus) and his wife Lovey Howell (Natalie Schaefer), Ginger (the movie star played by Tina Louise), the professor (Russell Johnson) and the adorable Mary-Ann (played by Dawn Wells). The original Pilot has “Bunny” as Mary-Ann and while Ginger’s name is the same, she is closer to Mary-Ann’s character, however both are cast as secretaries. The professor was also replaced due to the creator thinking the young womanizer was too immature for the part. And finally the rather blasé calypso themed music that accompanied the Pilot was replaced by the popular “Three Hour Tour” theme.

Even though the show seemed almost doomed from the start and wasn’t given much of a chance, it did manage to last three seasons and some pretty noteworthy talent wound up being involved in the production of the series which included the likes of directors Ida Lupino, Jack Arnold, Christian Nyby and last but not least Richard Donner. And in Episode 19, Gilligan Meets Jungle Boy features a very young Kurt Russell.


The following episodes are included:

Pilot: Ginger, Maryann and the Professor are different people. Mary-Ann's name is Bunny and her character is more like the current Ginger. Ginger is more like Mary-Ann but still called Ginger. The Professor is very much a ladies man. Since the episode never aired, the show was drastically altered, characters were replaced and so was the now, unforgettable theme song.

Episode 1: "Two on a Raft" - This is the episode that started it all. The castaways find themselves marooned on the island. Gilligan and the Skipper set sail on a home-made raft in an attempt to find help. After sailing for days and battling obstacles such as sharks and Gilligan's unending hunger, they land back on Gilligan's island without realizing it. When they see signs of life, they assume they are unfriendly natives. When the rest of the castaways realize there are visitors on the island they also assume they are unfriendly natives. This show introduced viewers to the hilarious mayhem that only Gilligan's Island could provide.

Episode 2: "Home Sweet Hut" - A hurricane is coming, so the Castaways must quickly build one large community hut in which to weather the storm. However, they soon get on each-others nerves, so they later decide to branch out and build individual huts.

Episode 3: "Voodoo Something to Me" - The Skipper fears that the island is full of 'voodoo' when he thinks that Gilligan has been turned into a monkey.

Episode 4: "Goodnight Sweet Skipper" - The castaways hear on the radio that a plane is going to be flying over their island, but they will be unable to contact them because their transmitter is broken. Gilligan overhears the Skipper dreaming about repairing a transmitter as he sleeps. The Skipper is unable to remember how he fixed the transmitter from his Navy days, so he attempts to have the dream again, but is unable to fall asleep. Each castaway attempts to help by sneaking two tranquilizers into Skippers mango juice. When Gilligan hits the transmitter out of frustration, it suddenly works! However, when he hits it again in an effort to show the other castaways how he fixed it, it falls completely apart just as the plane flies overhead.

Episode 5: "Wrongway Feldman" - When Gilligan finds an old airplane hidden in the jungle, the Castaways discover a long-forgotten aviator living on the island.

Episode 6: "President Gilligan" - The castaways decide that they need someone to be the leader on the island, and so they hold elections. Both Mr. Howell and the Skipper imagine themselves to be the natural choice to lead the Castaways in their island society. However, when the votes are counted Gilligan is elected president of the island! Just as we learned in Florida, every vote counts!

Episode 7: "The Sound of Quacking" - The Castaways are faced with running out of food, when a blight threatens to destroy many of their plants. When Gilligan finds a duck in the lagoon, a difficult decision must be made. Should they eat the duck, or tie a rescue note to it and let it fly away?

Episode 8: "Goodbye Island" - Gilligan discovers a special tree sap that can be used to make a good tasting pancake syrup. Then the professor discovers that the same tree sap also makes a super glue, that may allow the castaways to repair the Minnow. Could it be that the Castaways may finally escape from the island?

Episode 9: "The Big Gold Strike" - Mr. Howell discovers a gold mine on the island. He then hires Gilligan to work in the mine. When gold fever strikes the castaways and Mr. Howell is unwilling to share the gold, they begin to charge outlandish prices for the supplies and food that Mr. Howell needs. When the professor repairs the life raft from the Minnow, they all climb in hoping to reach civilization. However, the combined weight of the gold that everyone smuggles on-board the raft causes it to sink. Another rescue foiled!

Episode 10: "Waiting for Watubi" - While digging, the Skipper uncovers a carved statue of a Tiki God. He then believes a curse has fallen on him for disturbing the resting-place of Watubi, and that his days are numbered. Gilligan dresses up as Watubi, and performs a special ritual dance that the Skipper believes will lift the curse. It is an earth-shaking experience!

Episode 11: "Angel on the Island" - Mr. Howell decides to put on a play, staring Ginger, after she begins to suffer from home sickness. Trouble begins, however, when Mrs. Howell decides she wants to play the starring role. Mel Blanc is the voice of the parrot.

Episode 12: "Birds Gotta Fly, Fish Gotta Talk" - During Christmas, the Castaways get homesick and remember the first day they were shipwrecked. When Santa Claus "appears" on the island, many suspect he is the Skipper in costume. However, just as Santa departs while wishing the Castaways a Merry Christmas, the Skipper appears from the other direction.

Episode 13: "Three Million Dollars More or Less" - Mr. Howell loses $3 million to Gilligan in a golfing contest. Mr. Howell then tricks Gilligan into trading for a worthless oil well that he owns. When the radio announces that the oil well is a gusher, Mr. Howell sets his sites on winning it back. However, just as he succeeds in wining it back, the radio announces that the gusher was a mistake!

Episode 14: "Water Water Everywhere" - Talk about a painful irony: though surrounded by water, the Castaways suddenly discover that their supply of fresh drinking water is running out. When they pool all available drinking water together and decide to ration it, they discover that they will each receive only a few drops per day. Of course, most of the castaways sneak water from the community supply when Gilligan is standing watch, but return it when the Skipper catches them. Just when all seems lost, Gilligan saves the day!

Episode 15: "So Sorry, My Island Now" - The Castaways are captured by a Japanese sailor who thinks that WWII never ended. When the other castaways are captured, it is up to Gilligan to save them.

Episode 16: "Plant You Now, Dig You Later" - While working for Mr. Howell, Gilligan unearths a chest. The castaways think it must contain a pirate's treasure. When ownership of the chest is disputed, the case goes to court, with the Professor presiding as judge

Episode 17: "Little Island, Big Gun" - A mob leader and his henchmen, fleeing from the police, land on the island.

Episode 18: "X Marks the Spot" - In a test of a deadly new missile, called "Operation Powder Keg," the Air Force chooses an "uninhabited island" which just happens to be Gilligan's Island. When the rocket lands and does not explode, Gilligan is chosen to crawl inside to defuse it, because he is the only one that can fit inside.

Episode 19: "Gilligan Meets Jungle Boy" - Gilligan discovers a jungle boy living on the island. He shows them a hole in the ground that causes objects to float, and the professor theorizes that it is expelling either helium or hydrogen. He immediately sets to work building a large balloon, with the hopes of carrying one of them back to civilization. Kurt Russell is the guest star.

Episode 20: "St. Gilligan and the Dragon" - Angry because the men haven't kept their promise to build them private houses, the women decide to move to the other side of the island in protest. Gilligan and the Skipper dress as a monster, in an attempt to frighten the girls and cause them to come running back.

Episode 21: "Big Man on Little Stick" - Handsome surfer Duke Williams rides a giant tsunami to the island. At first, the castaways are excited as Duke thinks he will turn around and surf back to Hawaii (and send help). However, after seeing Mary Ann and Ginger, he decides he may want to stay for a while. The castaways must come up with a plan to make him want to leave for Hawaii.

Episode 22: "Diamonds Are an Ape's Best Friend"- A gorilla is enchanted by Mrs. Howell's perfume and kidnaps her. After Gilligan accidentally spills the perfume all over his shirt, the gorilla decides to release Mrs. Howell and exchange prisoners.

Episode 23: "How to be a Hero"- After Gilligan is unable to save Mary Ann from drowning in the lagoon, the Skipper must jump in and rescue both of them. The Castaways then devise schemes to boost Gilligan's ego, and help him feel like a hero.

Episode 24: "The Retune of Wrongway Feldman" - The castaways are revisited by 'Wrongway' Feldman.

Episode 25: "The Matchmaker" - Mrs. Howell decides to engineer a romance between Gilligan and Mary Ann.

Episode 26: "Music Hath Charm" - Mrs. Howell decides to form a symphony orchestra, to make up for the lack of culture on the island. Gilligan's drum beats, as they drift across the water, hold special meaning to angry natives on a nearby island.

Episode 27: "New Neighbor Sam" - The Castaways overhear the voices of gangsters discussing buried treasure and threatening their lives. The voices turn out to belong to a parrot, who then leads the castaways to the "treasure" .... a box of crackers!

Episode 28: "They're Off and Running" - Mr. Howell wins all of the Skipper's possessions betting on turtle races. Even when he feels bad and switches the turtles so that Skipper will finally win, he still wins!

Episode 29: "Three to Get Ready" - The Skipper insists a stone found by Gilligan will grant the finder three wishes before sundown. The professor, of course, insists it is just superstition. Two gallons of ice cream later, Gilligan has only one wish left.....and the sun is going down!

Episode 30: "Forget Me Not" -The Professor tries to cure the Skipper's amnesia by hypnotizing him and taking him through time.

Episode 31: "Diogenes, Won't You Please Go Home" - The Castaways discover that Gilligan has been keeping a secret diary. When they read it, they all seem to disagree with how certain events unfolded and tell their side of the story.

Episode 32: "Physical Fatness" - Gilligan and the Skipper plan to join the Navy when they are rescued. However, when weighing themselves, they discover that Gilligan must gain weight, while the Skipper must diet.

Episode 33: "It's Magic" - Gilligan finds a raft, oh wait, no, the Great Raftini's magic trunk. Ginger knows how to use the magical tricks and the castaways plan to use the magic to scare away angry natives if they ever got to their island again. But Gilligan overhears the castaways saying he was bad luck, so he takes advantage of the disappearing trunk trick to leave and live alone in a cave.

Episode 34: "Goodbye Old Paint" - A famous painter who has renounced civilization, Dubov, visits the island (with a short-wave radio, of course). The castaways are hopeful that Dubov will give them his transmitter, but soon discover he does not wish to go back to civilization. They must come up with a scheme to make him change his mind, and attempt to make him jealous by pretending Gilligan is an artistic genius.

Episode 35: "My Fair Gilligan" - After Gilligan saves Mrs. Howell's life, Mr. Howell decides to make him his son. He immediately puts Gilligan through basic training to be a millionaire's socialite son (dream sequence), changing the way he walks, talks and dresses. However, Gilligan and the rest of the castaways miss the "old Gilligan."

Episode 36: "A Nose By Any Other Name" - A fall from a coconut tree gives Gilligan an inflated nose and a deflated ego. When Gilligan decides he wants the Professor to perform plastic surgery on his nose, the Professor pretends to perform the surgery, and instead, relies on the recuperation time behind the bandages to allow the swelling to go down. When the bandages are finally removed, Gilligan decides he is happy with his old nose!



Video:
For the purposes of the review, I watched the Pilot and Episode #1 in their entirety and watched a dozen or so other episodes at varying points. When I inserted the first disc and started to watch the first episode, I was somewhat surprised to see the Pilot was hidden in the special features. I wound up watching Episode #1 first and I had some serious concerns, although thankfully, they were short lived.

Let me start by saying the opening credits to these episodes don’t look the greatest. Most noticeable is a hefty amount of artifacting and a ton of grain. There are also signs of scratches and shimmer, albeit a rather insignificant amount. When the actual episodes began, it was a whole new ballgame. Still, many of the episodes had a somewhat soft look to them, but each episode varied and for the most part, I found the set to look rather impressive.

The blacks were deep and the contrast was well defined boasting a nice grayscale. Whites were relatively crisp. As I indicated above, much of the series is a tad on the soft side, but many of the scenes depending on each episode, looked very sharp and well defined. The grain levels were what I would refer to as moderate.

While there were occasional signs of scuffs and dirt etc. I’d have to say these transfers were cleaner than I anticipated. There were also sporadic jumps and jitter but very infrequently.

All in all, I have to admit this set looks much better than I anticipated. It makes me wonder when I’m reviewing season sets of current TV shows that don’t look equally impressive and produced with behemoth budgets. Comparatively speaking Gilligan’s Island was probably shot on less than the caterers budget for some of these new shows. Hold your breath during the credits, otherwise very nice..!!



Audio:
Similar to the video presentation, the audio has a few anomalies but are particularly only noticeable during the opening credits – mainly hiss. It is fairly abundant, but disappears once the episode begins.

This DD Mono track is about as vanilla as possible. Other than the eerily haunting theme music (just sit right back….), the entire show is dialogue driven with a few zany crashes and mishaps and the track is as satisfactory as we would hope for. While there is no varying of the mid range, the track doesn’t become thin or even worse, fatiguing.

My only true complaint regarding the audio track was during the accompanying laugh track which I felt was mixed too aggressively at times. During a funny skit the track had a tendency to become more strident than the characters dialogue which I found annoying at times. It certainly could have been toned down slightly.

Other than one small nuisance regarding the laugh track, I was basically pleased with this mono track.



Special Features:
There is very little here to speak of regarding special features for this set. Really, the only noteworthy inclusion is:
[*] A Commentary for the Series Pilot which features Sherwood Schwartz. I can only assume this was produced for the pending DVD release but even though Mr. Schwartz is gaining on us, he still has it. He is non stop during the episode eliciting all kinds of interesting tidbits and anecdotes about the canned Pilot as well as the remainder of the series including his admission that Bob Denver was second pick as Gilligan. His first pick was Jerry Van Dyke but his agent dissuaded him from taking the role.
[*] The next feature is Tropical Tidbits which is comparable to an MTV pop-up video showing ballooned “factoids” of the show and its characters. These were cool.
[*] Up next is Gilligan’s Island Survival Guide. This is a trivia game that should, quite frankly, be skipped. The host is particularly annoying and this is a complete waste of time. Duration: 7:31 minutes.
[*] The final feature is entitled Before The Three Hour Tour which are very brief bios on all the cast members… very brief.



Final Thoughts:
To expound on my original statement, there are so many other huge TV shows that seemed to have been requested that I just wasn’t expecting this announcement. Having said that and having spent the past couple of hours with this set, I had a good time. The set itself is an attractive 5 panel Digipak (3 discs) case with slipcover and the entire inner theme is bamboo and banana leaves.

Considering the extremely low price of this set (which can be had for well under $30 bucks) and the quality of this presentation I’m fairly confident fan of this screwball comedy series will be delighted.

Recommended…!




Release Date: February 3rd, 2004
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#2 of 17 Casey Trowbridg

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Posted January 29 2004 - 04:16 PM

Herb, as always exelent review. I'll pick this up, but probably not on release day, which is too bad cause now I really want it.


Thanks again!

#3 of 17 Dane Marvin

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Posted January 29 2004 - 10:25 PM

Maybe I'll win a copy from TVShowsOnDVD. Bah, I never win those things. Thanks for the review, Herb. I look forward to purchasing this one in the near future. Hopefully it sells so season 2 will be released, colorized and with more special features. I'm sure Bob Denver, Dawn Wells and Russell Johnson are itching to do an audio commentary.

#4 of 17 Arnie G

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Posted January 30 2004 - 12:59 AM

Was season 2 taped in color?
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#5 of 17 DanC

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Posted January 30 2004 - 03:01 AM

From Herb's review:

Quote:
While the original season was filmed in B&W the remaining two seasons were shot in color.

Go Noles!
>>------>

Home Theater/DVD's

#6 of 17 Dave H

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Posted January 30 2004 - 06:23 AM

Gilligan's Island is probably my favorite TV Show of all time. Yes, it was silly, but it still has a certain character and adventure to it.

I hope season one sells well enough so the remaining two seasons are released. It would be great to have all of them. However, I do think season one was the best of the three.

#7 of 17 Dane Marvin

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Posted January 30 2004 - 07:15 AM

The great thing Warner has here is a highly marketable TV series that has lasted years in syndication PLUS there are only three seasons of it, meaning that if you buy season one, you are not committing to spending hundreds of dollars on the series. You will be able to own the whole deal for under $100. An excellent price to pay for this classic series.

If the latter two color seasons are never released, I will be shocked.

#8 of 17 DaViD Boulet

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Posted January 30 2004 - 09:16 AM

Never knew season 1 had B&W!

Great review Herb. I'm embarassed to say I'm tempted to buy this!

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#9 of 17 Steve Phillips

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Posted January 30 2004 - 11:55 AM

Ted Turner colorized the entire first season for the record.

Some of those colorized shows were issued on VHS in 1997, and they aired extensively on TBS and TNT in years past as well. TV Land has always aired them in the original B/W versions though.

#10 of 17 John KB

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Posted January 30 2004 - 12:39 PM

Was supposed to get this today at work, but it is arriving late!! I can't wait to get my hands on it!! Nice review.

#11 of 17 Eugene Esterly

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Posted February 02 2004 - 08:29 AM

I will defintely purchase this show on DVD. I used to watch the reruns of Gilligan's Island everyday on TNT during the early 1990's. This is one of my favorite TV shows from the 1960's (right after The Addams Family & Green Acres).

#12 of 17 John KB

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Posted February 02 2004 - 12:36 PM

I checked this out today. I liked the audio commentary, especially the story about Skippers visit to the childrens hospital. Nice transfers too.
Too bad surviving cast members weren't involved as the rest of the extras are lame....although I do like the pop-up video extra too.

All in all, the episodes look great and what a deal for all 36 episodes.

Bring on seasons 2 and 3!!

#13 of 17 Dane Marvin

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Posted February 02 2004 - 04:39 PM

John, it is too bad about the surviving cast members not taking part in the DVDs. At least there are still two seaons left for this to happen. Perhaps Warner wanted to make certain it would be a success first before they spent the money.

The fact remains that three of the surviving cast members (Dawn Wells, Bob Denver & Russell Johnson -- Tina Louise notwithstanding) have grown to accept that this is what they will always be remembered for and love to take part in specials, interviews, and conventions that honor them and the show. It would be sad for them to not be present any future DVD bonus material.

#14 of 17 Dave H

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Posted February 05 2004 - 04:39 AM

I've watched the first four episodes and I am very impressed with the video quality. I also like the packaging, although the first disc was very hard to get out.

I really hope this sells well enough so we get the next two seasons.

#15 of 17 Steve...O

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Posted February 05 2004 - 03:36 PM

Quote:
John, it is too bad about the surviving cast members not taking part in the DVDs.


The Video business website had a picture yesterday of the surviving cast members (less Tina Louise) and Sherwood Schwartz attending the DVD release party.

Bob Denver was looking every one of his 70 years, but Dawn Wells is still quite attractive Posted Image

At this point, this show has been documentaried to death on the likes of "E True Hollywood Story", etc. that it might be just as well to secure the rights to this and put it on the DVD.

I'm still waiting for my pre-order from Amazon to ship unfortunately. Glad to hear that the A/V quality is so good though.

Steve
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#16 of 17 Mark Lx

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Posted February 09 2004 - 11:53 AM

Thanks Herb, I picked this up yesterday, but haven't had a chance to look at it yet. Great to hear there are no major concerns. This being the case, at 916 min, this must be one of the best deals yet (given that the artistic quality is a personal judgement, something that BBC America should learn, or maybe they figure that anyone who watches PBS would be offended by low cost and low frills, but I digress)). Anyway, I only paid $32.99 CANADIAN for Gilligan. Hope that's a sign of things to come.

#17 of 17 Brent Bridgeman

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Posted February 10 2004 - 01:38 AM

I picked this set up the other day and have been watching it sporatically. It makes me want to lay down on the floor (shag carpet) with a bowl of cereal (Apple Jacks) and pretend I just got home from school (back in the 70's). No, it's not the most cerebral TV show, but in this case that's what makes it so wonderful. Makes me smile, much like the Warner Brothers cartoon box set that just came out, which evokes the same nostalgic feelings. The picture quality is great, and heck, 36 episodes for $29 ain't bad! Can't wait for the last two sets.





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