"Gilligan's Island" of Castaway Ideas

Just what we need: another old TV comedy headed for the big screen. Who would you cast as the castaways?

By Jere Hester
|  Wednesday, Mar 3, 2010  |  Updated 9:30 PM PDT
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Sit right back and you'll hear a tale – one that's getting old in Hollywood.

There are plans to bring the 1960s castaways sitcom "Gilligan's Island" to the big screen, Variety reports – marking the latest evidence that Tinseltown is running out of ideas and pinning its hopes on nostalgia-driven name recognition.

It's far too soon to know, of course, whether the film will float beyond the length of a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, never mind a three-hour tour. But there already is a well-populated island of failed old-TV-show movies that includes "The Beverly Hillbillies," "The Honeymooners," "Sgt. Bilko," "Bewitched," and, more recently, "Land of the Lost.”  

Some films managed to get voted off that island of shame by movie fans. The first "Brady Bunch" flick packed a good mix of camp and comedy, as did the "Addams Family" comedies. The "Star Trek" movies largely have done the TV series proud.

While the odds of success are steep, it's hard not to pull for Gilligan and the gang – perhaps a reflection of the show's infectious, absurdist sense of hope amid the futility of being stuck on the island.

If that's reading too much into what may be the silliest of the 1960s TV comedies, well, we're not the first to plumb those depths.

The show long has exercised a hold on the popular imagination that’s spurred viewers, if only tongue in cheek, to look for a greater meaning that (probably) doesn't exist. Some have posited the marooned seven each represent one of the Seven Deadly Sins (the Skipper is Gluttony, Ginger is Lust – you get the idea). More recently, some fans have found intricate parallels between “Gilligan” and “Lost.”

We'll float another theory: maybe the time is right for a "Gilligan" movie, if only because the show falls into the zeitgeist of the Reality TV era. "Survivor" clearly is the "Gilligan's Island" of reality shows. TBS even ran a show called "The Real Gilligan’s Island" with real-life counterparts of the characters left to their own devices on an island.

But let’s take this step ahead: the “Gilligan's Island" characters have become the archetypes of folks found on a variety of reality shows.

There are sailors (“Deadliest Catch”). Useless rich people ("Real Housewives" of wherever, “The Simple Life). A brainiac (“Beauty and the Geek,” “American Inventor”). A movie star (let's send her straight to "Celebrity Rehab" – Ginger must have hit rock bottom to travel with such a motley crew).

Plucky Mary Ann doesn't fit into any easy categories, though with her improvisational sewing skills, maybe she could find a spot on “Project Runway.” (While Hef would gladly welcome her, Mary Ann doesn’t belong on the misleadingly named “The Girls Next Door.”)

The “Gilligan” film, no doubt, will be filled with real actors – spurring discussions about who should play the iconic roles. Michael Cera already has been mentioned as a possible Gilligan.

We can't do any better than that – but maybe you can. Use the comments section to cast the castaways.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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