Poor initial ratings didn't deter the cast of Gilligan's Island

Gilligan wasn't always the smash viewers remember it to be.

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Looking back now, you might think Gilligan's Island was always a hit. Since it aired, the concept and characters have gone on to become cultural touchstones. You'd be hard-presed to find anybody who doesn't recognize Gilligan by his red sweater and white bucket hat. However, this perception may just be tinted by technicolor glasses, as Gilligan wasn't always the smash viewers remember it to be. 

That red sweater, believe it or not, was not there from the very beginning. The first season of Gilligan's Island was filmed in black-and-white, and aired as such in 1964. However, those first 36 episodes were later colorized when they were re-broadcasted in syndication. Gilligan's sweater isn't the only thing fans remember differently.

Most of the folks that experienced Gilligan's Island caught the re-runs in syndication. That's becasue when the show arrived on CBS viewers' screens for the first time, it almost sank like the S.S. Minnow. In addition to some indifferent viewership numbers, the show was not exactly lauded by critics; contemporary writers often dismissed the show and its characters as one-dimensional.

"I think at first people didn't know what to make of the show," said Alan Hale (Gilligan's Skipper) to the Orlando Sentinel in 1966. "They soon caught on that it was a complete farce." In short order, the public caught onto what the series was going for, and the ratings began to steadily climb. 

Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann, echoed her co-star's sentiment. "It's a new approach," said Wells. "I think people discovered they were being entertained, which is a word that has become almost extinct." This makes sense when considering the lineup of television hits that same year Gilligan's Island debuted. Shows like Bonanza, The Fugitive, and Peyton Place drew audiences in with more, realistic, dramatic fare. When audiences were finally ready for slapstick shenanigans, Gilligan's Island was there to serve, and the historical perception of the show shifted with the times. By the time they were interviewed about it in the Orlando Sentinel in 1966, both Hale and Wells were proud of and happy with their time on Gilligan's Island, even though it really shouldn't have lasted for longer than their three hour tour.

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35 Comments

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LoveMETV22 14 months ago
" I wish that I could spend 15 Years on a tropical island"
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You would need to leave a forwarding address so your:
" AUGUST 8 1983 ISSUE OF PEOPLE MAGAZINE " would arrive. That is if you haven't already received it ? 🤔
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LoveMETV22 14 months ago
" Maybe a pigeon could deliver my copy of People Magazine for August 8, 1983"
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That is if you ordered such as you unconvincingly phrased with your Ask AI comment several weeks ago.
Even the Pony Express is faster than that. Sorry but the USPS, Fed-Ex or even UPS are not that slow.
LoveMETV22 14 months ago
Maybe a pigeon could deliver my copy of People Magazine for August
8 1983
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If you have ordered such a publication one would follow- up by now, None of the delivery methods ( US Mail, Fed-Ex or UPS are that slow.)
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Markey 14 months ago
Back in the day when I was a teenager I'd come home from school and watch Gilligan's Island, and now I'll sit down on a Sunday afternoon and still watch it.
JHP 15 months ago
Gilligan's Island was so different from other shows at that time. Society nowadays seem to love the same show/same crap on any channel. Singing shows; dancing BS shows; reality shows and crime crap shows...can't swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting one of those piece of feces.
Avie 15 months ago
"However, those first 36 episodes were later colorized when they were re-broadcasted in syndication."

When they were re-BROADCAST. The past tense of broadcast is...broadcast.
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