Thoughts From the Gilligan's Island Episode Where There's a Will (1966)
Synopsis: Touched by the way the other castaways cared for him while he was ill, Mr. Howell (Jim Backus) decides to add them to his will. However, after a couple near misses, Mr. Howell begins to believe the castaways are trying to kill him so they can collect on their inheritance.
I will start out by praising the execution of this episode. Ultimately, as expected, this turned out to be a big misunderstanding (the castaways were planning a surprise party). However, up until that information is revealed, those misunderstandings could legitimately be perceived as attempts on his life, especially since they came pretty close to killing him by accident on a couple different occasions.
I feel like the Professor (Russell Johnson) got a raw deal with his inheritance. Mr. Howell originally planned on giving Gilligan (Bob Denver) until Mrs. Howell (Natalie Schafer) reminded him the railroad lost about $1 million per year. So, he gives it to the Professor instead? What the heck was that about? Now I'm wondering if maybe the Professor found out and really was trying to kill Mr. Howell with that boulder.
I'm not so sure Gilligan got a great gift either. The last time Mr. Howell gave Gilligan an oil well (to settle a $3 million bet), he gave him one that had yet to produce any oil. I would like to think he wouldn't try to do that under these circumstances but, at the same time, I'd still be somewhat wary about it.
The funeral was touching but why bury Mr. Howell's hat and cane when you could have held the ceremony by the quicksand and marked his grave there? It seems like it would make a whole lot more sense to let people know where he is actually buried (or at least where you think he is buried). Of course, you could also argue they could have made more of an attempt to find his body so it could be given a proper burial. It's not like that was a bottomless pit.
So, did Mr. Howell keep them in his will? They obviously weren't trying to kill him and their symbolic gesture of tearing up their inheritances during his funeral should have proved they weren't after his money. If anything, that should have given him more reason to keep them in his will, but the episode ends without clarifying that point. I am going to assume he didn't since there is no mention of it in later episodes but, at the same time, it could have also been something he did in secret.
How lucky were the castaways to land on the "right" side of the island? It's not a big island but, apparently, one side is considerably more dangerous than the other. Imagine if their ship had crashed on the opposite side. Would all of them survived more than one night?
Final Opinion: The plot was somewhat simple, but the execution made this episode entertaining to watch. In fact, I think this might be one of the best episodes from this series.
My Grade: A