The Pitch: Gilligan’s Island (Season 1)

Geoff Harris

Two people, a man and a young woman, race desperately through a jungle. They are obviously weak from hunger. The man has several bruises and open cuts. The young woman seems fine except for tears to her shirt and shorts. The pair stumble and fight their way until the young woman twists her ankle and falls. The man stops and attends to her. Her eyes are wild. His are clear and caring. He looks at the ankle and tells her she can “make it” if she goes easy. She protests and responds with complaints about the pain. The man gets stern with her and insists. The beach is only a few dozen yards from where they are. He can support her. She begrudgingly agrees. He reaches for her, but suddenly pauses. Blood drips from his lips as his eyes go dark. He falls to the side. A shadowed figure looms over the girl wielding a (now blooded) machete. She screams.

The USS Minnow sits gently in port as five figures board. The first is Thurston Howell III, multimillionaire and business mogul, quickly accompanied by “Lovey” Wentworth Howell, his aged but still attractive trophy wife. Her days may have past but she can still draw an eye or two when she wants. They are followed by Ginger Grant, top selling adult film actress. Carrying a small cluster of instruments, specimen containers, and other clumsy items is Professor Roy Hinkley, Ph. D. He almost drops half his cargo getting on board but is helped by Mary Ann Summers, who is only carrying a single suitcase. Mr. Howell protests that the Professor be allowed so much luggage and he had to limit himself to the half dozen steamer trunks in the ship’s hold. The Skipper, Captain Jonas Grumby, explains that they didn’t have the room after loading Ginger’s wardrobe and luggage. It’s only a three hour tour, after all. Before Mr. Howell can launch a counter-offer, First Mate and sole crewman Gilligan casts off the mooring rope and they begin to drift from the pier.

The tiny boat soon finds itself in a freak storm and is rocked by huge swells. The navigation goes haywire. There is no way to tell where they are or where they are going. The boat is lost at sea.

The castaways have made quite a life for themselves. They have nice huts and a well for fresh water. The Professor has used natural materials to repair the radio but it can only receive and not transmit. They have adopted well to island life. They fish and grow crops of native fruits. Life is good. They have formed a family of sorts. Connections and friendships. Yet there is something brewing under the surface. A darkness which comes out one night after dinner. Gilligan, although loyal and faithful, is a bit inept and clumsy. The Professor is working on a project he claims will help repair the boat and get them all home. It is intense and time-consuming work. Gilligan, half-paying attention to where he is walking, crashes into the Professor’s workbench. Chemicals and test tubes scatter in a cloud of powder and smoke as the workbench catches fire. The Professor, furious and fuming, verbally assaults the buffoonish clown with a tirade of idioms and twenty-five cent words far beyond Gilligan’s ability to understand. The Skipper rushes over from nearby and begins beating the culprit with his ham-sized fists. Having heard the ruckus, Mary Ann comes to Gilligan’s rescue and manages to drag him off before further harm can befall him. The Professor, still angry but oddly satisfied at this act of justice, begins to clean up what is left of his experiment. He explains to The Skipper that this was just a side-experiment. His real work is far down the beach away from prying eyes. Unseen, Mrs. Howell spies on the pair then slips away. That’s the first episode.

The story continues as episode two opens with Mary Ann tending to a beaten Gilligan. She takes pity on him and admits she has had a few bruises of her own. This begins a series of flashback scenes chronicling her time before going on the fateful trip. Mary Ann is a single girl in a small town where other young women her age are already married and have two point x kids running around. Feeling the pressure, she takes up with a seemingly charming young traveling salesman. The two fall in love and tie the knot. Life is good until her husband is in an accident and loses his ability to drive. This kills his career. He becomes angry and bitter. He starts becoming first verbally and then physically abusive. One night she leaves and doesn’t look back. She wins the ticket to the tour as a stroke of sheer luck. Figuring it would keep her mind off her plight and give her time to regroup, she sets sail.

Gilligan is attentive. He responds by explaining he is actually The Skipper’s stepson. He was taken in after his parents died while at sea. The Skipper was best friend’s with Gilligan’s father and took the loss very hard and became an alcoholic. The beatings were usually fueled by late night binges or rough days at the docks. The Skipper retired and bought a boat of his own. When Gilligan was old enough, the two stared a tour business. The USS Minnow has seen her fair share of rough weather but the storm that grounded her was something else. Neither had ever seen anything like it. The Skipper’s mood was beginning to erode as soon as his supply of “Little Buddy’s Old Time Rum” began to run low.

The B plot would feature The Professor and The Skipper talking about building a still. The Skipper is only mildly interested in The Professor’s discoveries. It would seem the coral surrounding most of the island contains minerals unlike any as yet seen by science…or so it would seem. The Professor, frustrated by his companion’s lack of interest agrees to the construction and dismisses the older man. Mrs. Howell, having followed the pair, makes her move. Her interest is manufactured but convincing. She questions The Professor about how the discovery could help get them off the island. He is quite willing to talk at length about a theory he’s had since their arrival. She listens for a good bit of time with occasional moments of flirtation. The Professor is interested but his mind is preoccupied. She makes a mental note of this and the seduction begins.

I imagine a short season, six to eight episodes.

The season ends with Mrs. Howell eventually wearing The Professor down and the two make love far from the eyes of the others. The Skipper apologies to Gilligan and makes amends in front of everyone. Life resumes its “normal” pace for the inhabitants of Gilligan’s Island…until Season Two.

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