These 10 Gilligan’s Island episodes aged very poorly and feature puns that either fall flat or make no sense at all. They can’t all be hits!
Many people of a certain age remember Gilligan’s Island, but they’d probably be surprised at how many young people these days are knowledgeable about television history. Scores of people are still growing up on Gilligan’s Island — it’s a classic!
Though it only ran for three seasons in the late 1960s, this was the era of the loooong season, so there are nearly 100 episodes — 98, to be exact! With all these episodes, of course, there’s bound to be a few jokes that didn’t make it out of the 60s and make modern audiences cringe today. Here are the best of the worst.
An Island Of Spielbergs
There are a number of times that the castaways on Gilligan’s Island could have gotten off the island, but, through a series of mistakes and blunders typical of the show, by the end of the episode, they always end up exactly where they were at the beginning.
Consistency is one problem, bad jokes are another — sometimes, this is just exhausting, like when the castaways find a shipwreck full of movie equipment. Rather than repairing the ship, they then proceed to … make a movie. Which isn’t even all that good (or funny). Whoops!
Most viewers probably remember the episode of Gilligan’s Island where they host a beauty contest. Not only is this episode overall just one of the worse episodes of the show, being tragically unfunny compared to other great episodes, but the show builds up to a monumentally bland punchline.
While the castaways cast their votes for the beauty contest — the Skipper voting for Ginger, Mr. Howell voting (of course) for Mrs. Howell (“Lovey”), and the Professor voting for Mary Ann — Gilligan ends up with the deciding vote. He votes in a chimpanzee. It’s painful to watch.
The Pigeon and the Spider
Everyone knows the story of the scorpion and the frog, but what about the pigeon and the spider? Though the episode with the spider in it is technically titled “The Pigeon”, nobody ever remembers the pigeon part. Everybody, though, remembers the spider: the Black Morning Spider, as the Professor called it — a man-sized tarantula that completely takes over the plot of an already strange episode.
They may as well have called this episode “The Spider” because it’s all that people remember about it: the sequences with the huge weird spider that went on way, way too long, resulting in the tarantula just not landing as a joke anymore.
What a waste of talent! Rory Calhoun, an actor with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a number of famous Westerns under his belt, features in an episode of Gilligan’s Island as a hunter. He’s hunting the most dangerous game, in fact: Gilligan, who is the prey in this situation.
A complete departure from the rest of the show and just straight-up weirdly unfunny, “The Hunter” is not a fan-favorite episode and the “joke” of Gilligan being hunted never really lands.
Dr. Boris Balinkoff
Dr. Boris Balinkoff, a mad scientist who lives in a weird castle on a neighboring island to the castaways (apparently), makes not one, but two appearances in Gilligan’s Island. The first time, he gets his mind swapped with a cat’s mind (yes, you read that right) after he mind-swaps all the castaways.
Inexplicably, he then comes back a second time. For some reason, the castaways don’t recognize him as he tries, this time, to brainwash the castaways into becoming robots. The continuity is a mess, the joke doesn’t land — all in all, a poorly-aged joke.
Smile (If You Can)
The episode “Smile, You’re On Mars Camera” is (not-so-) fondly remembered today as being an episode many people dislike. The entire plot hinges on a crashed satellite that was heading for Mars, when the castaways get their hands on it.
The rough joke comes when Gilligan, in his usual Gilligan fashion times 10, gets all of them covered in feathers and looking like a cartoon. The good folks over at NASA then assume they’re … alien chickens and do nothing to further research. Just not funny.
On October 31st, 1966, audiences tuning in to watch Gilligan’s Island on the spookiest night of the year were in for a trick, not a treat. This episode kicks off with Gilligan’s hair going white overnight, which makes him believe he’s rapidly becoming an old man or has already become one. He then leaves the other castaways, ashamed and embarrassed. And… that’s it. That’s the plot.
The episode itself is boring and a letdown, and the joke — Gilligan with white hair thinking he’s old — lasts maybe two seconds before it all falls apart. A waste!
Old And Not So Wise
The episode titled “Meet the Meteor”, a plot that was probably only written for the joke “Meet the Meteor”, shambles along for about half an hour. While the joke in the episode title is weak, to begin with, the jokes in the episode itself are even weaker.
A meteor crashes on the island and it ages a tree inexplicably rapidly with its … cosmic space rays, or whatever nonsense the Professor is giving the audience this week. The punchline comes in a dream Gilligan has, where all of them have rapidly aged into older versions of themselves. Tragically, all that buildup doesn’t pay off — the joke just isn’t funny.
And A Merry Christmas To You?
Picture it: Boxing Day, 1966. It’s the day after Christmas. On Halloween this year, you had to watch Gilligan thinking he was old. Now, you think you’re going to get to watch a good Christmas episode of Gilligan’s Island. The problem is, you’re wrong.
“Gilligan Goes Gung-Ho” aired on December 26th, 1966, and showed what happens when Gilligan’s Island gets crossed with the Stanford Prison Experiment. The castaways become cops and Gilligan loses his mind before physically assaulting Ginger. Instant classic!
The White Goddess
Only one joke can be worse than Gilligan becoming a cop who screams at Ginger and grabs her by the arm and that’s the White Goddess. In the very last episode of Gilligan’s Island, “Gilligan, the Goddess,” natives come to the island looking for what they refer to as a “White Goddess.”
Of course, Ginger and Mary Ann are presumed to be candidates for the White Goddess. Turns out, the White Goddess is going to be … married to a volcano and sacrificed to it. The real bad part comes when Gilligan shows up and gets chosen as the White Goddess. It’s just painful.
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