Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Unofficial "Gilligan's Island" Handbook

1988, undated later edition, from Warner Books
Joey Green
The Unofficial Gilligan's Island Handbook: A Castaway's Companion to the Longest-Running Shipwreck in Television History
Bought new for $8.95
Very worn paperback

This is the first but far from the last of the TV books I have by Green, whose sense of humor, attention to detail (he calls it a "dangerously obsessive regression"), and ability to draw out the people who made the shows are all admirable.  The timing of the book is significant, since Cult TV called GI a "cult classic" in 1985, and the year after the publication of this book, Jim Backus died, followed soon after by Alan Hale, Jr., and Natalie Schafer.  And the book came out seven years after Green's favorite of the three TV-movies, the one with the Harlem Globetrotters, Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Scatman Crothers, etc.  Green's ratings (one to four life-preservers) are generally on target, as when he picks the Hamlet and Mosquitoes episodes as among the best, although I suppose it could be argued that a "best of" Gilligan's Island is a dubious concept.

I grew up watching GI and seem to have had a crush on about half the cast, most especially the Professor, which may be to blame for my dating so many geeks as an adult.  And yet, I haven't felt like buying the show on DVD.  I have a few episodes on VHS, but much of the series isn't that much fun, as Green's ratings suggest.  The Brady Bunch was a different matter, but we're a couple years off from my first Brady book.  The best Sherwood Schwartz quote here is when Green points out, as he often has cause to, something on the show that doesn't make sense.  Schwartz: "Actually, that particular sailor [who brought Zsa Zsa to the Island] had a coronary and died, if you want to know the underlying truth."  Schwartz's own Inside Gilligan's Island is mentioned towards the end, as he was then seeking a publisher.  He found one, and we'll get that "official" version in 1994....

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