‘Gilligan’s Island’: Why Bob Denver Said Cast Didn’t Care About Scathing Reviews From Critics

by Josh Lanier
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Bob Denver said the negative reviews of Gilligan’s Island never bothered him. The show was meant to be over the top and goofy. And the cast knew they weren’t trying for anything else.

So, when bad reviews would pour in, they would just ignore them. Because regardless of what critics had to say, fans turned up every week to watch the show.

Denver discussed this during a radio interview in 1994.

“Yeah, it’s interesting. The critics just killed our show. I think out of 100 reviews there were 99 bad and one good one. But it didn’t bother us because we knew we were doing something really silly and something very, very broad. You know, a lot of physical comedy. But the premise, I felt was just really hilarious. And then, I had a cast that was excellent.

You know, each person was perfect as the character. What’s happened is it picks up kids every year. I get letters. Just last week I got one from a mother who said, “the one-year-old is watching it in the highchair. Please send an autographed picture.” (laughter). Here it is 1994 and it just rolls on. I understand why a lot of the intellectuals or the elite don’t really get behind it because it’s that kind of comedy that you can put down really easy.”

Bob Denver

But most of Sherwood Schwartz’s shows dealt with this kind of slap-stick, almost childlike comedy. The point was to make a show that all ages could laugh at.

Bob Denver: ‘Gilligan Island’ Fans Are Most Polite

Bob Denver said he worried that since he was often typecast as the dumb sidekick or stupid lead, that people would believe that was who he really was. But, he said, no Gilligan Island fans have ever mistaken him for his bumbling character.

“It’s such a fantasy, the whole show is. For kids, it’s like a whole thing of frustration. He never gets off the island. Where did all those clothes come from? How did he do that? (laughter). So it’s kind of fun and they’ve always been polite. In 30 years I’ve had no one come up to me with any kind of rude remark or anything that’s weird. They just grin because I’m in their childhood. The show is stuck in their childhood and it’s a real good memory for them.”

Though some did call the U.S. Coast Guard demanding that the military do something to save those poor people stuck on the island. There were so many letters that it almost worked. The Coast Guard began sending communications to Washington about what they should do to find this island. Thankfully, one sailor saved them the embarrassment.

“One of the young sailors came up to the Captain and said, ‘Sir, I think it’s a TV show.’ And he said, ‘what, son!’ He says, ‘I think it’s a TV show, sir.’ They checked it out again and found out of course that it was. They came on the set, the Commander did, with this huge stack of memorandums and everything else that came out of Washington. We almost really got rescued.”

Outsider.com