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SURVIVING GILLIGAN'S ISLAND

2001 rating: ***1/2
Sit right back and you'll hear a tale of three actors who starred in an iconic series that is to reruns what rain is to Seattle. This is a great pseudo-documentary covering the birth, life and relatively quick death of the iconic sixties sitcom GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.

Actors play the young cast members but what really makes this standout is the actual performers, Dawn Welles (also the producer), Bob Denver and Russell Johnson appearing sporadically during the reenacted story, throwing in bits of exclusive behind-the-scenes information.

In one sequence, Welles gives the girl playing herself advice on how to wear her hair, making sure it's not like Tina Louise aka Ginger, the movie's chief antagonist: viewed as a surly primadonna who not only disliked ISLAND but stirred perpetual havoc on set and off.

Russell Johnson 1924-2014
Although the actress playing Welles doesn't look much like her, the friendly down-home charm is infectious. Gilligan looks okay but seems too young; Professor is passable; the Howells are doing imitations; but the best performance is Eric Allan Kramer (who once played THOR in an INCREDIBLE HULK special), not only looking and talking like The Skipper, Alan Hale Jr., but making the Gilligan actor seem more legitimate.

The only downtime are random stories about Backus and Natalie Schafer, feeling out of place and unnecessary, distracting from what really works... The uphill battle of producer Sherwood Schwartz, played with arm-chair ease by Aaron Lustig, as he sticks firmly by his show: which was despised by the studio and critics but adored by audiences... still!
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