Size on “Gilligan’s Planet,” a Filmation Series from the Early 1980s

Good morning everyone,

Today, we’re going to examine two size-themed episodes taken from the early 1980’s Filmation production “Gilligan’s Planet.” This was actually the second animated continuation of the initial, more famous, live-action “Gilligan’s Island” on CBS from 1964 until 1967. The first follow-up was “The New Adventures of Gilligan” which aired for two seasons in 1974 & 1975. This was followed by Gilligan’s Planet which only had a single season in 1982. Most, but not all, of the original performers voiced their animated counterparts. However, Tina Louise, who played Ginger, did not return. Furthermore, Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann, was not available for The New Adventures of Gilligan, but did work on Gilligan’s Planet.

To put this into context, TV during the 1970s and 1980s saw several popular shows spin-off into cartoons which re-used actors as vocal performers. To give a few examples there was “Star Trek: The Animated Series” from 1973 and 1974, “Partridge Family 2200 A.D.” in 1974, “Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour” from 1982 until 1983, etc.

Personally, I was familiar with Gilligan’s Island from re-runs and appreciated the theme song. (SIDE NOTE: A new, and not as memorable, theme was used for Gilligan’s Planet.) However, even though I was born in the mid-1970s and watched Saturday morning cartoons in the early 1980s, I have no memory of Gilligan’s Planet. Instead, my childhood favorites consisted of “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero,” “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” “She-Ra: Princess of Power,” “Space Ghost,” “The Herculoids,” “Thundarr the Barbarian,” “Transformers,” etc. (NOTE: If any readers remember watching Gilligan’s Planet when it initially aired, please comment below! Barring any evidence to the contrary, I’m tempted to classify this as “forgotten” media.)

The premise for Gilligan’s Planet involves the professor (somehow) building a manned rocket capable of interstellar travel (!!!) (SIDE NOTE: Just try not to think about the Professor’s apparent decision that crafting a faster-than-light vessel, from wooden boards and coconuts, was an easier option than repairing their boat.) The ability to move from one solar system to another feels like overkill when they only needed to return to the mainland. Alas, in the middle of transit Gilligan blinded the Skipper with a discarded banana peel. So, they journeyed to an entirely different world instead of returning to civilization! (Whoops, I should have written that as “human civilization.” No disrespect to people from alien civilizations. Especially my Andorian readers, I love you guys! ❤ )

Episode 5 “Amazing Colossal Gilligan” and Episode 9 “Space Pirates” are the only instances of size-themed plots out of this 13-episode long series. In Amazing Colossal Gilligan, the Professor asked Gilligan to go out along with the Skipper and Thurston Howell III (the millionaire) to take samples from some bodies of water in the “Billion Lakes Region.” While attempting to fill a test tube, Gilligan falls into a depression full of a strange liquid that makes things grow.

After being dousing in the mysterious fluid, Gilligan wakes up the next day as a mini-giant and then continues to grow.

As his increasing height begins to cause problems, a circus owner called P.C. Barnaby (referencing the famous showman P.T. Barnum) coincidentally happened to stop on the planet and spot the gigantic first mate. P.C. Barnaby thinks a giant would draw in crowds and thus tries to take Gilligan away from his companions, whether he wants to go or not. This leads to conflict as the inhabitants of Gilligan’s Planet try to protect their super-sized friend. Fortunately, the solution to their problem was discovered with relative ease and everything ended well. Unsurprisingly the status quo, meaning that the group of people were still stranded, was reinforced during the conclusion.

In Space Pirates, Gilligan finds an assortment of items stacked in the outdoors. Included amongst the pile of stuff was a “size-transforming cube,” which looks like and can rotate like a Rubik’s Cube. While fiddling with the device, clumsy Gilligan accidentally reduces his friends and himself. Only the Professor escaped being shrunken. Afterward, the titular pirates return to reclaim their misbegotten booty and then fight with Gilligan and his friends over the miraculous device.

It was clear where this kid’s show drew some of it’s inspiration, such as in the design of a large land vehicle used by the pirates:

… which looks a lot like the Sandcrawler which first appeared about five years prior to this cartoon’s production:

The massive Jawa Sandcrawler first appeared in 1977’s “Star Wars.”

It was also an odd choice for the creators to have the Professor inadvertently enlarge an alien mushroom:

Surely, there’s no way anyone could ever consider a growing mushroom to be an inappropriate reference to penile erections 😉 To be fair, the characters called it a “tree,” but to my eyes it more closely resembled a mushroom.

Overall, having now watched these two episodes, it’s easy for me to understand why very few people discuss Gilligan’s Planet. The animation was lackluster with effort clearly made to reduce the number of required drawings. For instance, sometimes a single still background image was made and then the camera panned and zoomed around it for a few seconds. Additionally, the jokes were ineffective. In general, these episodes were uninteresting and not worth revisiting. So, these are an easy skip.

(SIDE NOTE: Although, if Gilligan super-fans exist then they might appreciate the predictable twists on Skipper’s famous habit of calling Gilligan his “little buddy.” In Amazing Colossal Gilligan, the Skipper called Gilligan his “big buddy” and in Space Pirates the Skipper called Gilligan his “tiny little buddy.”)

That’s it for today folks. Next week’s reviews will begin with some voluptuous, giant-sized vampires. Until then, keep looking for those growing lakes!

This review was written by SolomonG and is protected under Fair Use copyright law.

All Rights Reserved.

4 thoughts on “Size on “Gilligan’s Planet,” a Filmation Series from the Early 1980s

  1. Solo, did you know that Thundarr the Barbarian aired for only 1 season on ABC. It was canceled because Gerry Marshall wanted that Saturday morning time slot for his new show, “Fonzie & The Happy Days Gang”. Not cool. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh, I didn’t know that! I used to think Thundarr was a completely original concept until someone pointed out all the similarities with Star Wars. For example, the Sun Sword was basically a lightsaber, Ookla was basically Chewbacca, Thundarr’s haircut resembled Luke’s, both were friends with a princess, etc.

      Still, I loved the show and have it on DVD now. “Lords of Light!” 🙂

      Like

  2. This sent me down a rabbit-hole of old and fuzzy memories. I do remember this show, but also recalled a live action intro to this with Skipper and Gilligan working inside an actual NASA rocket. Skipper says time for lunch and Gilligan hits the button to take off. The line that sticks in my memory is the cheesy, “I SAID LUNCH NOT LAUNCH!”

    So looking on youtube it seems I combined two shows in my mind. The opening I described is actually from an older show called “Far Off Space Nuts,” that did have the same actors, but was a Sid & Marty Kroft creation.

    Here’s a link: https://thereshegrows.net/2022/03/03/size-on-gilligans-planet-a-filmation-series-from-the-early-1980s/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is poor quality, but I found the opening sequence to “Far Out Space Nuts” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TueALMuOi5Q

    Like

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