The animated follow-up to Gilligan’s Island, titled The New Adventures of Gilligan, aired for only 24 episodes and two seasons on ABC. The first season was made up of 16 episodes. For the second year, the network mixed in eight new episodes amongst reruns of those from season one. (You can read how the series was created here.) The last original episode aired on October 18, 1975 and it was entitled “Moderation.” Here’s what happened.
The island is experiencing a drought because it hasn’t rained for months. The castaways have water from a natural spring and lake to drink but much of their fruit has dried up on the inside. Using his make-shift equipment, the Professor (Russell Johnson) takes photographs of the sky and determines that they won’t have rain for a long time.
Based on something that Gilligan (Bob Denver) says, the Professor comes up with the idea that they can plant gardens and create an irrigation system to water them. He cautions them that they must conserve their existing food supply until the new plants are fully developed.
Ever the competitive one, Mr. Howell (Jim Backus) plots to have the most successful garden. He secretly uses the Professor’s homemade photographic enlarging fluid to fertilize his plants. With the help of Lovey (Natalie Schafer), he also gives them lots of extra water. In the morning, the Professor tells the island-mates that the lake’s water supply is quite low and that they must use the supply wisely.
The other castaways are frustrated that their plants aren’t growing quicker so Mr. Howell offers to take over their gardens. Gilligan and Skipper (Alan Hale, Jr.) discover what Mr. Howell has been doing and decide to do the same thing. Mary Ann (Jane Webb) and Ginger (Jane Webb) see what they’re doing and follow suit.
With all of the extra water and fertilizer, the crops grow to gigantic proportions overnight. Unfortunately, they’re so big that they can’t be eaten — the fruits’ and vegetables’ skins can’t be cut. The Professor chides the group and tells them that there’s not enough water left to plant more crops. Just when it appears that all is lost, it begins to rain and the friends celebrate. End of series.
As you can tell, The New Adventures of Gilligan scripts are even sillier than those from the original sitcom. Still, it is unique to hear so many of the original castmembers reprise their roles. Few other TV shows have been resurrected so many ways.
Just as was the case with the original Gilligan’s Island, the castaways didn’t escape their “tropic island nest” on this animated series. In 1978, the group was finally rescued in a live-action TV movie called Rescue From Gilligan’s Island. It was such a huge ratings smash that two more movies followed. For various reasons, they didn’t perform as well.
In 1982, the castaways returned in a new cartoon series called Gilligan’s Planet. In that show, the group finally escaped their island but ended up stranded on a distant planet. Though the setting was more outlandish, Planet was actually better than its predecessor.
Dawn Wells returned to voice Mary Ann and provided Ginger’s voice as well. Planet marked the last time that Backus, Denver, Hale Jr., Johnson, Schafer, and Wells performed their Gilligan characters together.