A network executive wanted the castaways to escape Gilligan's Island after the first episode

Creator Sherwood Schwartz knew the island was the star of the show as much as any of the actors.

A running gag on Gilligan’s Island is that the castaways never escape the little patch of jungle they landed on during their three-hour sightseeing tour. Even though a variety of objects and visitors wash up on the island, Gilligan and crew are never able to get back to civilization.

But if an unreceptive network executive had gotten his way, the castaways would have fixed the boat and left the island after the first episode! According to a 1965 TV Guide article, creator Sherwood Schwartz pushed back, saying, “That’s an idea for a show, but it’s not my show.”

Schwartz is well-remembered as the mind behind iconic comedies like Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch. But in the early Sixties, his biggest claims to fame were the many sketches he wrote for Red Skelton.

After coming up with an ensemble comedy inspired by Robinson Crusoe, Schwartz had no trouble getting executives at CBS onboard (no pun intended) – or at least most of the CBS executives onboard.

Network president Jim Aubrey didn’t like the idea of a series stuck on a deserted island. Aubrey told Schwartz, “If you guys are in love with a deserted island, we wreck them there the first week. The second week they have a new adventure, they fix the boat and they’re off someplace else.”

When Schwartz told him that would have to be some other show, Aubrey took it literally. He turned around and greenlit The Baileys of Balboa, a sitcom about a family who gives tours on their charter boat and, wouldn’t you know it, get into different adventures every week. Except the show only lasted 26 weeks – less than a third of Gilligan’s eventual run.

Sherwood Schwartz stuck to his original vision for the show, knowing it was a winner. He told TV Guide after Gilligan’s successful first season, “Today, the network, the sponsors and the advertising agency think the star of Gilligan’s Island is – the island.”

Schwartz also reveals he picked the name Gilligan out of the phonebook because he liked how it sounded. “I wanted a name that automatically meant that it was a comedy show,” he said. “I wanted a happy name that was also funny, a name that would inspire this attitude in the viewer. I also believe in hard letters. G is a hard letter. The G’s and the L’s are crisp.”

After battling the CBS brass over other specifics (they weren’t too keen on the now-iconic theme song) and filming two different pilot episodes, Schwartz was able to get Gilligan’s Island on the airwaves. It was an immediate ratings success, even if Sherwood was almost fired from his own show early on.

One specific thing Schwartz credited for the show’s popularity? The costumes. “I’m an enormous believer in uniforms. One of the big reasons for the success of many shows is identification – the sheriff with the badge and the hat, the doctor with his white jacket, as opposed to the newspaper-reporter shows. These have failed because the actors look like other people. Whether you like my show or not, you tune into Gilligan’s Island and in one second you know what show you’re looking at.”

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Post a comment
dmarkwind 24 days ago
"The second week they have a new adventure, they fix the boat and they’re off someplace else.” Sounds like what Lost in Space turned into after a season or so.
audie65 1 month ago
Please keep your grammar comments to yourself f5twister-Colonel Klink or whatever your name is. We don't want your self righteous, holier than thow grammar comments on this page. No one cares about the grammar here dumkoff!!! I think Sargeant Shultz wants a candy bar!!
kidhickey 1 month ago
I found that sort interesting , where a person wanted the cast away for leave the Island soon after the show first started , that sort of reminded me another show that MeTv show's 2 am Monday Morning The Fugitive, i remember that series when they were selling it on VHS Video Tapes , and it included a unreleased show for the end of season one , where the Fugitive get's killed , if the show looked like it was not going to go well , now with DVD packages of the shows of The Fugitive , you will not find that show included on any DVD packages from what i can see , well at the time i didn't have enough money to buy that VHS package that contained that unreleased show of the Fugitive , well another interesting show fact , All in the family started back in the late 1960's with 2 or 3 polite shows at different times, i believe it might have been on 'abc' net. called those were days not All in the family , and Archie's Son In Law was Irish not Polish Person .
F5Twitster 1 month ago
"Except the show only lasted 26 weeks – less than a third of Gilligan’s eventual run."

You mean lasted only 26 weeks. If a sentence demands use of the word "only" (which should be placed as close as possible to what the word is meant to diminish), trust an American to put it in the wrong place in the sentence.
Devon F5Twitster 1 month ago
At least you don’t have to read it in German. You’re welcome!
RetiredNavyMan 1 month ago
There are TWO MeTV stations located in the Los Angeles viewing area. I use Zap2it as a TV Guide and I use Charter-Spectrum as my TV provider. Zap2it lists both stations under Spectrum TV. However, when I go to the Spectrum Ap on my Roku and look up MeTV I only find one. I like the shows on the other station but I can't watch them. Also, many of the good shows I like are broadcast late at night or very early in the morning like Mannix, Cannon, and Barnaby Jones. Why is that? I get tired of seeing Westerns with all the killing and shooting. What about 77 Sunset Strip or The FBI. The A-Team is OK but is that all you have? Also, what about JAG, MacGyver, Hercules, The Legendary Journeys or other shows? Sticking with westerns all afternoon is dull. I've seen enough shooting and killing on TV.
I wish shows like Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock were on afternoons and evenings instead of early am hours. Or perhaps on weekend afternoons. I would like to see Peter Gunn and Naked City on weekend afternoons. The only way I have to record TV shows is my old VCR and I'm not rigging that up again.
Big3Fan 1 month ago
May the Schwartz you. I'm glad he was.
hyppymom 1 month ago
Always cracked me up that the guys, with the exception of Mr. Howell, always wore the same thing whereas the ladies had full wardrobes. I always figured, if I were going on a boat tour, I would pack a bag of extra clothes, just in case. Lolz 😆
Michael hyppymom 1 month ago
Wasn't there a recent story about that? "Uniforms" so you could instantly recognize the characters.And I wondered at the time how that explained the women's clothing. Therewas a broad difference between the three women's clothing, but not uniforms.
NickG 1 month ago
Imagine thy also wanted Richard Kimble to find the one arm man on their first episode as wee
eddiecantorfan 1 month ago
Long Live The 🍯 Honeybees!!
eddiecantorfan 1 month ago
In the Gilligan's Island episode
about Gilligan and the diary he
was keeping Mary Ann Summers
was reading Gilligan's comments about the castaways Mary Ann
did not read Gilligan's comments about her.
Pacificsun 1 month ago
A really nicely written article, about a very articulate creator/producer. These shows become a hit because of their vision and sticking to it. I hadn't thought about the "uniforms" but he's right. Even Kolchak wears the same searsucker, faded blue suit and panama hat on his show. It's easy to remember these characters that way, even if the actor morphs into role.

IF they had left the island and attempted more adventures it would've become more like Fantasy Island (IMO). Not that their local ever changed, but that the circumstances of their predicament and fantasy did. For that to work the show has to have a very distinct identity which of course was anchored by Ricardo Montalbán and Hervé Villechaize. And IMO the show wouldn't have worked/sustained without them either.

It's so much fun reading about the thinking behind these shows! Great topic, MeTV Staff. Thank you.
justjeff 1 month ago
With the logic Jim Aubrey showed, how did he even get to be network president? Who did he bribe, or have the goods on?

Even not-the-greatest fans of the show know it's named "Gilligan's Island"... NOT "Gilligan Wrecks the Boat, and it Delays His Adventures for a Bit"... Corporate Intelligence and Government Intelligence are *both* oxymons.

Neither of those entities are famous for exuding common sense and intelligence in large amounts...
UTZAAKE justjeff 1 month ago
The career of Jim Aubrey was a horror story in itself.
LoveMETV22 justjeff 1 month ago
Perhaps Aubrey would have done better with " Fantasy Island ."
Pacificsun justjeff 1 month ago
Haven't you ever heard that people get promoted to the highest level of their incompetence! To wit, how many of the corporate network exec names do we remember (unless they're infamous) and how many producers do even us amateur TV viewers remember??

TV Guide (in the day) used to roast some of these decisions made over the coals. And while television "critics" fancied themselves with the taste and authority of Theater Critics, they failed at almost every prediction they made. Hilarious.
justjeff Pacificsun 1 month ago
Yes, that was called "The Peter Principle"...named for the author, NOT for what some might think the name meant..
McGillahooala 1 month ago
Anyone ever notice the professor can make almost anything they need on the island. Cures for tropical diseases, record players, transmitters, pedal cars, you name it. But he can’t fix a hole in a boat.
Load previous comments
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 1 month ago
Nope, put a shout out to her. Maybe a gif or short clip later. I don't think she needs to worry about Gomer going anywhere, seems to be a fan fav and promoted frequently in their MeTV commercials. Yes I hope we get some good stories today as well.
That’s a bizarre episode. They patched the holes but the whole boat fell apart as if it was built with the glue originally.
LOL. The whole series was a bit bizarre, but it was funny. Still enjoy the reruns.
McGillahooala 1 month ago
Wow. Even way back then the out of touch crowd was starting to infiltrate Hollywood. Gilligan’s Island with the castaways getting rescued before the second episode. I
Randall 1 month ago
I find it interesting that THE BRADY BUNCH had hair and costume changes throughout it's entire run, where as GILLIGAN wore the same red shirt the entire time they were marooned ! Oh, how things change!
Pacificsun Randall 1 month ago
Well not really, meaning in reference to the philosophy that's been written in the article above. Bob Denver could've very easily become "lost" among the ensemble of much stronger, more definitive character presentations due to their skilled acting! Because his job at the outset (plot device) was simply to foil every other successful attempt at escape. But they carefully built up his original innocence and incompetence into a few other character traits (curiosity, enthusiasm, kindness) doing what they could to redeem his otherwise irresponsible failures (in the shadow of another LIS Dr. Smith!). With his "Charlie Chaplain'esq" approach, and sad-sack expressions, unmistakable red shirt and simpleton hat. Denver's natural and physical humor (like DVD's) further pushed his lovable character into the hearts of the viewers!

While BB had to honor a certain degree of realism to make the "blended" family theme relatable!
Michael 1 month ago
What were they to do the second week?

Maybe they keep sinking on desserted islands, only to escape and repeat the next week?
MrsPhilHarris Michael 1 month ago
Sounds like it.
justjeff Michael 1 month ago
What flavor is A "desserted" island? Perhaps Pecan "Sandy"?
Pacificsun justjeff 1 month ago
Heeee's baaack! Every pun intended!
justjeff Pacificsun 1 month ago
Just call me the "pun"-dit of the MeTV blog...
LoveMETV22 Michael 1 month ago
LOL. If they kept sinking each week they could have done a cross-over with
" Journey to the Center of the Earth", or if they happened to enter the water table
"Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea".
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?