Plot: What’s it about?
A three hour tour, that is how this entire adventure began, as an assortment of folks boarded a tiny vessel to see the sights. But a three hour tour it wasn’t, instead Gilligan, The Skipper, and the others were shipwrecked for a long while. The S.S. Minnow was a reliable ship, but a savage storm rained down horrific downpour and wicked winds, which proved to be too much and overtook the small craft. The passengers managed to survive the chaos that followed, washing up on a beach on an unknown island. As the ship crashed on shore, the group was able to salvage some essentials, but survival will still be difficult. The Skipper (Alan Hale, Jr.) and his first mate Gilligan (Bob Denver) try to create some order on the island, though with such a diverse crowd, any kind of established order will be a miracle. A wealthy eccentric named Howell (Jim Backus), his offbeat wife (Natalie Schafer), a movie starlet named Ginger (Tina Louise) a brilliant Professor (Russell Johnson), and the cute girl next door, Mary Ann (Dawn Wells) comprise the rest of the castaways. The group is able to build primitive shelters, but with storms coming in on a regular basis, they’ll often by left with only a thin roof over their heads. Will this group be able to live together in peace and even if so, will they ever be rescued from this island?
A lot of television shows have been released on DVD, but most are newer programs, though some classic television is starting to surface. Gilligan’s Island is a welcome addition to that list, as the show is a blast to watch and has legions of loyal fans. I can understand why some folks think that syndication makes this kind of set useless, but let’s be honest, who wants to live their life around a viewing schedule? I’d much rather sit down at my leisure and view whatever episodes I wish, in whatever order I desire. In any event, Gilligan’s Island has become a cultural icon, even though it wasn’t an instant success. As you can see in the included pilot episode, the cast was shifted just before the season’s start, which was a wise idea. Bob Denver’s trademark Gilligan drives this show, but the rest of the cast is just as important. I mean, Ginger and Mary Ann have been fantasy fodder since the show debuted, a trend which still continues. As with all shows, the issue here is how often can the series be rewatched. That isn’t much of an issue here however, as the show still performs well in the syndicated scene. In other words, fans will never tire of the show’s style and of course, Gilligan’s endless antics. This first season release from Warner is excellent, as the episodes look superb and the supplements are worthwhile. So if you want to return to the island, be sure to grab Gilligan’s Island: The Complete First Season.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in full frame, as intended. I knew the episodes would look good, but I expected some obvious flaws to surface. I thought grain and debris would be evident, while the visuals would have an overall soft texture. As it turns out, I underestimated Warner this time, as these episodes look almost brand new. The prints are in great condition, with minimal grain and debris is light at worst. I have to assume some restoration work was done, unless Warner found some prints that were untouched. The image is never soft either, so detail is high throughout and the visuals have a crisp presence. I have to admit, I never thought this show could look this good, so I commend Warner’s work on this release.
Audio: How does it sound?
Aside from the well known title theme, the audio in this show is reserved and follows a simple comedic system. You have a laugh track present, which is bothersome at times, but aside from that, I have no real complaints. The audio is mono, which means depth is limited and such, but with material, dynamic sound isn’t needed. The music sounds clean, while the assorted sound effects, such as coconut bonks, come across in fine fashion. No worries in terms of dialogue either, as all the corny one-liners and other vocals are well handled. So no dialogue is washed out or muffled, which means given the materials, we couldn’t ask for much more. This release also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As I mentioned before, the elusive original pilot episode has been included, which is a treat to have in our hands. Of course, the episode pales in comparison to the final cast and execution, but fans will be delighted with its inclusion. The show’s creator, Sherwood Schwartz provides an audio commentary track for the pilot episode, which turns out to be an insightful and well worthwhile session. You can also learn about the characters before the fateful trip, view a pop up fact option on one episode, and play a Gilligan’s Island trivia contest.