In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m binge-watching Gilligan’s Island. Not only is it a highly influential classic of screwball comedy—despite unfortunate moments of cultural ignorance, due to the era—but it also has some of the most memorable incidental music in television. The main theme is an infamous earworm. I’ll show you: Just sit right back…
(Scooby Doo is also on that incidental music master list. I still hear the fade-ins from these shows in my head when I walk into a room. Read into that what you will.)
I pitched a gender-swapped reboot of the show a few weeks ago. I still think this would be a killer program, but I recently had a second idea.
The original series has been exhaustively analyzed as an examination of the Seven Deadly Sins. In my paranormal hard-boiled detective novel, On the Head of a Pin, the angel of Death taunts the narrator with this Gilligan analogy. My inspiration for the reboot is to use another typology for the characters’ personalities, a well-known system that would allow the cast to be expanded.
Using the astrological zodiac, the show could have twelve characters, genders matching the genders of the signs, of course. The original seven characters could be included, plus five new castaways. Television viewers like larger casts these days.
And, it really doesn’t matter if you believe in astrology or not. It’s a nice, comprehensive typology with lots of opportunity for character conflict!
Just like with my previous pitch, this reboot could be in a modern setting, but the one-way radio that kept the original castaways connected to the world would have to stay. Perhaps a one-way television, tapping into a satellite feed? (My main concern as a hypothetical showrunner is that such a device could be repurposed as a transmitter.) And, of course, instead of a three-hour tour our new castaways were actually moving from O’ahu to Maui, which would explain why they had so much of their stuff with them.
(Not in astrological order)
Gilligan – Sagittarius. The straightforward and optimistic character of this sign matches Gilligan’s classic personality well. They’re also known as reckless and irresponsible. A perfect fit.
The Skipper, Jonas Grumby – Aries. The impulsive anger attributed to this sign fits the Skipper’s classic personality well, originally based on Oliver Hardy.
The Movie Star, Ginger Grant – Scorpio. Still a Hollywood actress, but more of a femme fatale than a shallow starlet. A little goth touch never hurt!
Mary Ann – Cancer. This version of the classic farm girl could work hard to make a family of the castaways. And, to be a little superficial, the purported physical attributes of Cancers could also apply. (Inside star joke.)
The Professor, Roy Hinkley – Aquarius. This one is pretty self-explanatory for folks who know their astrology. He might be a little more into social sciences than the physical sciences, which would be a twist on the classic Professor, but that could help the show avoid the cultural faux pas of the original.
Thurston Howell – Gemini. The lively, nervous energy of the original Mr. Howell matches this sign, and the duality of Gemini’s fun sociability and thoughtful seriousness essentially recreates the classic Millionaire.
Lovie Howell – Taurus. The steadfast yet materialistic personality of the Bull matches well with the character’s classic personality. This would give the two Howells very different financial attitudes. I still favor Christine Baranski for the Ms. Howell role.
The Politician – Capricorn. Ambitious and practical, this woman could match the Howells’ manipulations, Ginger’s lust for popularity, and the Skipper’s insistent leadership.
The Athlete – Leo. This celebrity character would create a nice counterpart to Ginger and could commandeer some of her classic scenes as a male sex symbol who flirts with the female characters to get them to do things.
The Judge – Libra. What an interesting addition a balanced, legalistic mind would make! A lot of the detached intellectual energy of the classic Professor could be picked up by him. In one classic episode, the Professor acted as judge in a dispute over buried treasure. A natch shift of narrative function.
The Accountant – Virgo. This would be a good character to play off the Howells. Perhaps she’s their financial advisor? Or she works for a rival?
The Therapist– Pisces. A flighty, empathetic character could help illuminate the conflicts between the other characters.