Thoughts From the Gilligan's Island Episode Our Vines Have Tender Apes (1967)
Synopsis: The castaways are surprised to discover an ape man (Denny Miller) on the island and, fearing for the safety of the women, capture him. When they discover he is actually an actor practicing for an upcoming role as Tongo the Ape Man, they see and opportunity for rescue. However, they first must rescue him from a gorilla.
Why does nobody ever believe Gilligan (Bob Denver)? When he tells the Professor (Russell Johnson) and Skipper (Alan Hale, Jr.) about Tongo, they once again chose to believe he was making things up. Isn't this the same island that also had one real jungle boy (Kurt Russell), three doppelgangers and a host of other strange things? At some point, you think people would just take him at his word based on previous experiences.
I'll say it again, Mrs. Howell (Natalie Schafer) is fierce. She's not always the most likable character on this series but she's also the one person you don't want to mess with, especially if you are threatening someone she cares about. The way she stood up to Tongo and chased him out of her hut was fantastic. He might have just been pretending, but she didn't know that at the time.
Did Tongo know they were on the island? This is one thing the episode really doesn't make clear. Did he discover them by accident, or did he know they were there before arriving? It kind of feels like it was the latter of the two since it made very little sense to go to the remote island otherwise. If that is the case, how did he learn about them? I doubt he flew his helicopter around to different islands until he happened to find one that had people on it.
Speaking of the helicopter, how did he manage to land that on the island without anyone noticing? It is a fairly loud way to travel and, even if the castaways didn't see it, you would think they would have heard it. Did he land it somewhere else and then swim to the island? That would make some sense but also seems like an awful big risk for someone who is just practicing a part.
I feel like his reason for not rescuing the castaways was flawed. Yes, his incident with the gorilla maybe would have hurt his chances for playing Tongo the Ape Man. However, the publicity he would get for rescuing seven people probably would have given his choice of just about any other role. Not to mention, if the castaways did eventually get rescued, the fact he abandoned them would be a much worse revelation than the gorilla thing.
What was Tongo's real name? We know it wasn't really Tongo since that was the part he was trying out for. However, the episode never tells us what the actor's real name is. It's probably not a huge deal, but you would think one of the castaways would have thought to ask him. Of course, to be fair, they did get distracted by the gorilla and he ran away before they really got the chance.
Final Opinion: It's an OK episode but the one with the jungle boy was a lot more entertaining, I think.
My Grade: C+