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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Gilligan's Island - The Complete Third Season
Gilligan's Island - The Complete Third Season
Warner Bros. // Unrated // July 26, 2005
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted July 7, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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"There wasn't a lot of change" between the second and third season of Gilligan's Island creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz freely admits. Indeed, about the only discernable difference between seasons is the use of a different angle of the wrecked S.S. Minnow as seen under the opening titles. But like many of the wilder sitcoms of the 1960s, the series had exhausted every reasonably plausible story situation that could be derived from its limited premise, of seven castaways shipwrecked on an uncharted island in the Pacific. As a result, the show's writers looked for any excuse to cut loose, to find new situations for its characters. Usually, and by the third season this seemed like every other episode, dream sequences became the modus operandi.

No longer content with simple stories of the castaways - inept first mate Gilligan (Bob Denver), the Skipper (Alan Hale, Jr.), millionaire Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus) and his wife (Natalie Schafer), movie star Ginger (Tina Louise), the Professor (Russell Johnson), and Mary Ann (Dawn Wells) - trying to find enough food, fix their radio, and build a raft, by Season Three the poor wretches undergo X-Men like mutations after eating freak vegetables grown from radioactive seeds, Gilligan and the Skipper go bald, everyone is hypnotized by a mad scientist, and all are menaced by a giant spider.

But as wild as things get on their little island, they're nothing compared to the oddball nightmares haunting their evenings. Gilligan dreams he's a vampire (in "Up at Bat") in one episode (with Johnson and Hale an amusing Holmes & Watson-esque pair), and a Jekyll & Hyde-type monster in another ("And Then There Were None"). One show ("The Invasion") features a dream sequence spoofing the then-current James Bond/secret agent craze, while another ("Court-Martial") sends up pirate/swashbucklers. In yet another episode ("Lovey's Secret Admirer"), Mrs. Howell dreams she's Cinderella.

As with previous seasons, at times Gilligan's Island resembles Grand Central Station, what with all the guest stars that pay a visit but inevitably leave the castaways high and dry, preventing their rescue time and again. Phil Silvers, whose company co-produced the show (a credit conspicuously absent from his entry on the IMDb), paid a visit in one of the best third season shows, "The Producer," as showman Harold Hecuba, who stages an hilarious musical version of Hamlet. Don Rickles, Strother Martin, Rory Calhoun, Harold "Oddjob" Sakata, and Sterling Holloway are among the third season guests.

Video & Audio

As with the DVD for Season 2, Gilligan's Island: The Complete Third Season is something of a revelation, a stunning presentation that's ablaze with primary colors and sharp as a tack. The full frame presentation, with 30 25-minute shows spread over five sides on three discs, is essentially flawless. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound is unusually clean and crisp, and undoubtedly sounds better than it did when the show was new. Optional subtitles in English, Spanish, and French are included.

Extra Features

As good as the transfers are it's a shame that Warner Home Video couldn't track down more supplemental material, especially in view of Sherwood Schwartz's cooperation. Though it's not exactly I, Claudius, episodes of Gilligan's Island are so ingrained in the public's consciousness that extra features more in line with Image Entertainment's Twilight Zone Ultimate Edition boxed sets would have been a major plus. Instead, what's here is rather thin.

Schwartz's Gilligan's Island: Season 3 Introduction, running a scant three minutes, is nothing to write home about, and has little to offer. Russell Johnson appears in this segment, but not the other surviving cast members: Bob Denver, Tina Louise, and Dawn Wells. Again, each side of all three discs invite viewers to "See Other Discs for Additional Special Features," but after a lot of hunting, the only other extra this reviewer found was a 12-minute featurette called Gilligan's Island: A Pop Culture Phenomenon, composed of sometimes insightful but mostly obvious observations and wisecracks from an odd sampling of "experts," including a pop culture studies professor, several comedians, game show contestants and a few industry insider types. A portion of this feature is used to promote something called The Real Gilligan's Island, a reality series.

Parting Thoughts

Gilligan's Island officially ended with the April 1967 airing of the last third season episode, "Gilligan, the Goddess," but of course Gilligan's Island has never really gone away. Some might liken this indefatigability to a virus, but at its best the show offers immensely likable characters in broadly funny situations that are, in the end, timeless.

Stuart Galbraith IV is a Kyoto-based film historian whose work includes The Emperor and the Wolf - The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune and Taschen's forthcoming Cinema Nippon. Visit Stuart's Cine Blogarama here.

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