What would your memories of spending time parked in the front of the television be without the abundance of famous island. They may not have all had names, but I’ll wager more people can describe the topography of these islands than any three of the most famous islands in the real world. Just trying to imagine growing up watching TV without spending time on this islands is enough to bring down a condition that can only be cured with Captibora berries.
Perhaps the most island in TV land. “Gilligan’s Island” had no name, was not to be found on any map and featured a rather suspiciously vague topography. When seen from the water, no volcanic mountain peak is anywhere to be seen, but when it suits the plot, this is a definitely a fictional island with clearly defined peaks and valleys. The nice thing about “Gilligan’s Island” is that it offers a sense of comfort. For several generations of kids, Gilligan, the Skipper and the castaways were always there come the afternoon. That warm comfort afforded by the 40th viewing of the episode where Gilligan finds the radioactive vegetables came to an atomic ending of its when afternoons started being being populated by Jerry Springer’s weirdos instead of Mary Ann and Ginger.
People tend to forget that Saturday night’s number one island destination of the 1970s actually began as a two made-for-TV movies in which Mr. Roark was a notably more shadowy figure and the fantasies had a thin patina of “Twilight Zone” style irony layered over them. The darkness of this TV island all but disappeared once Mr. Roark and Tattoo became regular weekly visitors in the wake of the “The Love Boat.”
Ranakai Island was the name of the little patch of South Pacific earth on which a platoon of Navy WAVES turned what had been one of the few islands in the region free from the thunder of war topsy turvy. The WAVES were sent to Ranakai Island to free up able-bodied men stuck in the motor pool for more important duty elsewhere. The base’s CO did not find the arrival of these attractive young women quite as delightful as the other men. Well, you know how women are, after all. That wonderful, beautiful and unexpected serenity of Ranakai Island during World War II quickly became such a thing of the past that the CO pretty much spent every episode doing little but scheming to get the WAVES returned to the homefront.
A childishly innocent game to see which round fruit can roll down the aisle of a bus the fastest leads to the stranding of kids of Springfield on an unnamed island. “Das Bus” takes its name from a German film about submarines, but this episode of “The Simpsons” is really a parody of “Lord of the Flies.” Dreams of monkey butlers and uncensored cursing leads to the reality that the lure of a deserted island runs dry pretty fast.
Supposedly a deserted island somewhere out there in the South Pacific. But some think that the island in “Lost” is can be found within the mind. Or at least the mind of J.J. Abrams and his fellow creators. But then again, aren’t quite a few of the memorable islands featured in TV shows really just archipelagos of metaphor? “Gilligan’s Island” is a microcosm of American society in the 60s before the deluge. That island in “The Simpsons” is an allegorical atoll for childhood fears.
Okay, so maybe this is one TV island nobody in their right mind recalls fondly. But we need to recall it. We need to sear the memory of “Temptation Island” into our brains in a desperate attempt to remind ourselves of just how cynical some network executives can be. Keeping thinking to yourself that you are Gilligan and though billions of people have known the island on which you are shipwrecked bears your name, it is Mr. Howell, the millionaire, who thinks he has the right to sell the island to Erika Tiffany Smith.