Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Quick Look: RESCUE FROM GILLIGAN'S ISLAND (1978 - color)

   While critics hated Gilligan's Island, the show was always popular with viewers. When the series was unceremoniously cancelled after it's third year, fans didn't abandon the castaways. The show grew in popularity in reruns, and the early 70's saw most of the cast reunite to voice the Saturday morning cartoon series The New Adventures of Gilligan. RESCUE FROM GILLIGAN'S ISLAND was a trend-setting ground-breaker, the first reunion movie for a beloved sitcom. As the title indicates, the movie picks up some 15 years after the ill-fated cruise of the SS Minnow, to find the castaways are still living day to day on a tiny uncharted tropical island. Deliverance comes from an unlikely place, as a Russian spy satellite destructs and drops an information disk into the lagoon. Gilligan stumbles across the disk and soon the Professor has used it to repair his crude barometer, only to discover a monstrous storm is headed for the island -a storm the island won't survive. By lashing their huts together and creating a ramshackle ark, the group rides out the storm and end up on the open sea. Gilligan tries to cook dinner, but sets fire to their craft in the process. This is fortunate, because the cloud of smoke has drawn the Coast Guard right to the castaways' position. Back in civilization, Skipper tries to buy a new boat. The insurance company requires a note (clearing the Skipper of responsibility for the first wreck) be signed by all the castaways before they'll pay off. So, Skipper and Gilligan tour the country catching up with the gang as they try to adjust to real life once again. Meanwhile, Russian spies follow our heroes in an effort to recover the disk -which Gilligan is wearing as a good luck charm! A ratings bonanza when first aired, the TV movie boasted all of the original cast save one. Tina Louise, who felt her career had been crippled by the show, refused to do the movie and was replaced with Judith Baldwin. Even so, little has changed since the original run. The ensemble cast remains the heart of the product, and the moment when the rescued castaways go their separate ways is genuinely bittersweet. They get a lot of knocks because it was a sitcom, but the cast was really great. One thing that sort of hinders them is the absence of the laugh track, however. You can tell how polished the actors have become by their visible pause for the intended laugh. Minus the laugh track, though, they sound like they're bombing! The track was restored for future films. Yes, the movie was such a hit that plans were made to revive the series. THE CASTAWAYS ON GILLIGAN'S ISLAND was a pilot film in which the island was turned into a resort hotel by Mr. Howell -who cut the rest of the gang in as equal partners. This new format was to combine the formats of both Gillian's Island and current favorites The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. The Castaways Hotel was meant to host guest stars each week. Unfortunately, the network broke the movie into two halves and aired them over consecutive nights. This killed whatever audience the special would've had, and the series never developed. The castaways would have one last hurrah, however, in the form of THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS ON GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, a 1981 TV movie which marked a real high-point in the franchise. The cast also assembled to voice another Saturday morning cartoon series, Gilligan's Planet.

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