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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gilligan's Island

In the 70-odd years since the manufacture of the first cathode ray tube television sets, there have been but two Gilligans to have impacted our society via the television waves. The first was the bumbling first mate of the SS Minnow, Willy Gilligan; the other is the creator of the TV series "Breaking Bad", Vince Gilligan. While one Gilligan led five passengers and his skipper on an infamous "3-hour tour", ultimately ending in light-hearted disaster, the other led us all on a 5-season tour-de-force that has left a nation feeling empty and clamoring for more, yet ultimately satisfied with its inevitable conclusion.

I have observed that there are many similarities in these Gilligan shows, and fittingly, just as many differences between the two. For instance, the crew and passengers of the Minnow were stranded on a deserted island, with no connection to the outside world, no possibility of rescue and had to count on their wits to survive. They built a rudimentary generator invented by the ingenious professor, powered by a stationary bicycle fashioned out of bamboo, coconuts and palm fronds. Walter and Jesse, the methamphetamine manufacturing "protagonists" from Breaking Bad, also found themselves high and dry, only this time in the desert wasteland outside Albuquerque. Walter, also a dyed in the wool professor genius-type, made a battery out of nuts, bolts, sponges and carbon shavings.

While First-Mate Gilligan could often be heard shouting "I'll go tell the others!" while racing off into the teeth of adventure, Walter's "first mate", Jesse Pinkman could often be heard shouting "Yo, BITCHES!" while bumbling into his own share of mishaps, usually with wildly different results than the sitcom hero.

Gilligan had a fondness for coconut cream pie; Jesse for crystal meth. Gilligan constantly overlooked his chances to sleep with Ginger and Maryanne; Jesse triggered a relapse and subsequent overdose that allowed Jane to choke to death on her own vomit and gets Andrea shot in the back of the head by evil Todd (referred to by Vince Gilligan as "Opie Hitler"). First mates: not too smooth with the ladies.

On the other hand, on Gilligan's Island if you suffered massive head trauma (a coconut falling from above, or perhaps being smacked with a club or running into a tree), a character would usually lose his or her memory, but would fully regain the memory with a subsequent and equally traumatic head trauma. However, in Breaking Bad, if say, an ATM machine fell on a character's head, they were killed instantly, with lots of oozing blood and maybe a little twitching.

Both shows had colorful supporting characters with their own endearing hallmark phrases: Gilligan's Island with Thurston Howell III ("Lovey!!!") and Breaking Bad with Walt Junior ("Mom, that's BULLSHIT!") Both had annoying shrews in the cast: Gilligan's Island had the ever-irritating "Lovey" Howell and Breaking Bad had that shrill harpy Marie. I wished on many occasions that Lovey would stumble, fall or be flung into an active volcano or get herself chewed to death by a cartload of angry rabid chimps while taking some sun. Similarly, I often hoped Marie would have a gruesome, bloody accident while cleaning Hank's .45, or get in a gruesome, bloody accident involving a bus or an oil truck and lots of fire.

Coincidence? I think not.

Whatever the case, my childhood would not have been the same without the antics of the zany castaways in one of the worst shows ever produced, and I cannot deny being affected by the dizzyingly wild ride of Breaking Bad, questionably one of the best. They are, in my opinion, the all-time Gilligan Yin and Gilligan Yang of television and for that, we thank you Gilligans. And Yo, bitches, I'll go tell the others.

1 comment:

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