Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island

The year was 1981. Gilligan's Island had been off the air for almost 20 years. In the time since the series two movies had been made. Now it was time for the greatest event in the history of television. The Harlem Globetrotters were going to arrive on Gilligan's Island to battle a team of basketball playing robots.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

After JUST three years and 98 episodes, Gilligan's Island was cancelled. Several years later the show still remained popular in reruns so it was decided to finally rescue them.

A TV movie called Rescue from Gilligan's Island was aired in 1978. In THAT film a typhoon engulfed the island sweeping the castaway's huts out to sea. There they were rescued by the Coast Guard. That film ended with the castaways taking ANOTHER three hour tour and getting RE-stranded.

A year later the cast was reassembled for a film called Castaways on Gilligan's Island. In that film the castaways find a plane on the island and use it to get rescued. This time the Howells build a resort on the island. Tom Bosley shows up and they help him overcome workaholism. I am not sure that makes any sense but I will move on anyway.

Then in 1981 THIS film was made.

Tina Louise played Ginger in the TV series, but she was the only castaway not to return for the movies. In the first two movies Judith Baldwin did the honors. She was 12 years younger than Tina. For this film Constance Forslund played Ginger Grant Constance was 4 years younger than Judith, and if Sesame Street taught me correctly, that made her 16 YEARS younger than Tina.

I hope them make a new one soon. Bob Denver can still play Gilligan and Dakota Fanning can play Ginger.

The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island opens with a new version of the theme song setting up the whole "resort destination" angle. This (and the previous film) had hoped to set up some kind of new series. Sorta like "Fantasy Island" with a dose of Gilligan.

The Globetrotters plane crashes and they end up ashore on Gilligan's Island. Meanwhile Martin Landau is hatching an evil scheme that involves buying the island, mining it for some rare energy source and ruling the world.

So Landau comes ashore and starts to trick each castaway to sign away their shares of the island. Soon the only way the world can be saved is by having the Harlem Globetrotters play a game of basketball against Landau's robots.

I know it sounds like I skipped something, but that is really how the story goes!

The first half of the game is ruled by the robots. At halftime they are up by 90+ points. Then Professor comes up with a plan. If the Globetrotters use their trick shots it will confuse the robots.

And it does.

The film concludes with Gilligan being pulled into the game and scoring the winning basket by being thrown through the hoop. Landau doesn't care because his men stole the energy source and he will soon rule the world.

But his ship blows up. Not one tear is shed for the sailors aboard.

Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III) was ill for much of the filming so a new actor joined the cast to play his son. Backus does make a cameo appearance at the end of the film.

Originally the film was supposed to star the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, but after they dropped out the script was rewritten for the Globetrotters.

I wish that instead of The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island they had done Gilligan in Harlem. That would have been funnier.


  1. Sadly this film is not available on home video. It does run on TV, occaisionally. I caught in Fox Family a few years ago.

  2. Anonymous7/06/2005

    Gilligan's Island was not real, it was a TV show. You should mention that.

  3. Anonymous7/06/2005

    I remember watching the first and third movies when they'd be rerun on Saturday afternoons, but I never saw the second. I was also confused why Ginger was always different.

    With all the shipwrecks that happen on the island I wonder if it's the same island the people from Lost are on. That would be cool. And a bit weird.

  4. Anonymous7/07/2005

    I saw this on TV one night. I almost changed the channel, but luckily I stayed on for the whole film!
    Woooo! I hit that one out of the park!