Gilligan's Island Episode Review: Two on a Raft (1964)
Synopsis: After waking up following a violent storm and finding the S. S. Minnow has been stranded on an uncharted island, Skipper (Alan Hale, Jr) and Gilligan (Bob Denver) decide the best course of action is to build a raft and try to find help. Meanwhile, the remaining five castaways are fearful of potential headhunters.
Review: I recently was able to start watching reruns of Gilligan's Island again and decided to do so in order. This included this first episode of the series (not counting the pilot episode), which I hadn't seen in at least a couple years. After re-watching it, I realized my feelings about this particular episode are a bit mixed.
The episode does have quite a good mix of comedy in it, especially some entertaining physical comedy when Gilligan and the Skipper are trying to save their quickly disintegrating raft while surrounded by sharks. I also feel like it at least attempts to set the tone for the rest of the series by showing the viewer why they can't simply leave the island (more on that in a bit).
However, as I watched the episode again, I did realize the writers could have made things a little better had they kept a few surprises. Yes, it is funny when Gilligan and the Skipper are mistaken for headhunters after landing back on the same island and I did, admittedly, like how the episode set up some of the jokes. It's just I think the writers could have gotten away with setting up at least a little bit of suspense by waiting to reveal where Gilligan and the Skipper landed.
My bigger complaint, however, is the episode does fail in one of its primary objectives - trying to show the viewer why building a raft is a bad idea. In fact, if anything, the attempt proved, at least in my opinion, escape was much more possible than the show tried to claim. Ultimately, the only reason their mission failed was the raft fell apart. Had they done a better job with construction and Gilligan not eaten the shark repellent the Professor (Russell Johnson) made, there is no reason to believe they wouldn't have been successful. If nothing else, even if they couldn't get a raft all the way to Hawaii, you would think they would have at least been able to make it to another island, where there was potentially a better chance of being rescued.
Yes, the whole point of the series was their multiple failed attempts at rescue, I get that. I just think this episode could have done a better job of making the raft experiment look like much more of a failure than it was so, after seeing it again, I don't find myself questioning why they didn't at least try one more time.
Final Opinion: Truthfully, I feel like the pilot episode, which included things like trying to get the transmitter to work and exploring the island, would have been a much better intro to this series (recast with the show's regular actors, of course). However, despite my complaints about the failed raft experiment, I think the episode does have enough funny moments to at least set the tone for the rest of the series, something that earns it a passing grade.
My Grade: B