When I comes to trash TV, I don’t play around. If I’m going to watch some shit entertainment, I want it to make me feel like I’ve been drowned, poisoned, and lobotomized. I want my IQ to decrease by one-half to three-quarters; I want spinal fluid to leak from my nose; I want to exhibit three or more symptoms of severe head trauma. To a person of my tolerance, an episode of The Brady Bunch is the TV equivalent of a wine cooler. I can only regard its partisans as effete, middle-class mama’s boys slumming in the lower reaches of the VHF dial, “experimenting” with brain damage. No, give me “the hard stuff”—give me Gilligan’s Island and its many authorized sequels and spinoffs.
Producer Sherwood Schwartz was not one to let go of a good thing. Following the initial three-season run of Gilligan’s Island, Schwartz sold Dusty’s Trail, a new series with Bob Denver that was just Gilligan’s Island in the Old West; a Saturday morning cartoon produced by Filmation called The New Adventures of Gilligan; and three TV movies that reunited the original Gilligan’s Island cast, minus Tina Louise, who hated the show. After all this, Schwartz knew the idea still had some life in it. You can almost feel the excitement of the original pitch as Schwartz outlines the idea for the second animated series, Gilligan’s Planet, in his revealing book, Inside Gilligan’s Island: From Creation to Syndication:
In 1982, I developed another animated series called Gilligan’s Planet, based largely on [Filmation founder] Lou Scheimer’s idea. In this series, the Professor on Gilligan’s Island manages to reconstruct a spacecraft that had been aborted by N.A.S.A. and had landed on their island. All the Castaways crowd into it, expecting to contact N.A.S.A. and return to civilization. Unfortunately, the spacecraft goes back into space and lands on an uninhabited tiny planet far removed from Earth. The Castaways are still cast away, but instead of an island somewhere in the Pacific, they are cast away on a little planet somewhere in space.
Bob Denver devoted two sentences to the animated Gilligan shows in his memoir, Gilligan, Maynard & Me. I quote them in full from my own tear-stained copy. You can almost feel the excitement in the voiceover studio as Denver reminisces:
In the 1970s, I did the voice on two animated series: The New Adventures of Gilligan and Gilligan’s Planet. All the old cast—except Tina Louise—did their character’s voices as well.
You’ll notice a few things about life on Gilligan’s Planet. There’s a laugh track. There are colorful forests of giant Stropharia cubensis fungus everywhere. And, as you’ve already guessed because you remember Glomer from the Punky Brewster cartoon and the Great Gazoo from The Flintstones, Gilligan has a mischievous alien buddy, a space lizard named Bumper.
Though “Gilligan in space” might seem like the last possible iteration of the Gilligan’s Island premise, Schwartz, writing in 1994, left the door open to further exploitation of the franchise:
Is there a possibility of another animated series? Like Twenty Thousand Leagues Under “Gilligan’s Island”?
As Mr. Howell would say, “Heavens to Jules Verne, why not?”