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October 19, 1993
It's hard to explain what Gilligan means to me without resorting to monosyllabic catchphrases like "Wow," "Yikes," and "Holy Toledo, that boy's got gumption." Remember when Gilligan's fillings were picking up radio signals from around the world? I laughed so hard at my "little buddy's" hijinks that I nearly swallowed my own uvula.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I tuned into one of those wacky "Gilligan Gets Rescued" TV movies I'd all but forgotten about. I was channel surfing around 3:23 in the morning, a habit I picked up from my dad, Steve, who can find "The Andy Griffith Show" 24 hours a day somewhere on cable. I had just ordered a genuine faux rhinestone necklace from the Home Rip-Off Network, when some nagging, Alan Hale-like voice in the back of my cerebellum whispered:
"Turn the channel, Scotto... turn the channel..."
And turn I did. I clicked past the sad spectacle of Herve Villechaize's last season of "Fantasy Island." I popped right past the episode of "Diff'Rent Strokes" in which Gordon Jump convinced Gary Coleman to take his shirt off (and we wonder why their careers are over, heh). I even sauntered right past "America's Funniest Home Videos," the show that continually proves that head injuries are really, really comical.
At last my restless remote control brought me to channel 23, just in time to see that not only had Gilligan and the gang been rescued, but in fact, their entire island was now a resort, where fabulous guest stars like the Harlem Globetrotters could drop by for a visit.
Yes, friends, I'd nearly forgotten about this horrible episode in my pal Gilligan's history. It was as if their years and years of suffering had been sold out to the highest bidder. It was very similar to the way I felt when Howard Hesseman showed up on "WKRP: The Next Generation." I mean, get a life already, would you?
I took a healthy swig from my bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 (pure grape wine flavor, that lemon-lime stuff is for babies) and prepared to grimace myself into a stupor. It was then that the ethereal, spirit-like voice of Alan Hale once again intoned, "Turn the channel, Scotto... turn the channel..."
And verily, friends, I began turning the channel at an alarming rate, and slowly, ever so slowly, an amazing conspiracy began to unravel right before my dazed and glossy eyeballs. I saw that the Brady family was no longer vacationing in Hawaii -- they went to Gilligan's resort instead, even dragging along the nefarious Vincent Price and his darned tiki statue! The "Facts of Life" kids abandoned their cushy girls school for a vacation at Gilligan's resort with Edna Garrett, their fun-loving but wise chaperone, in tow! Boss Hogg even set up a road block near the lagoon so that incoming country singers like Loretta Lynn and Boxcar Willie would have to perform at the Boar's Nest II! And of course, Uncle Jesse provided the moonshine.
It was a dastardly plot the likes of which I'd not experienced since that time back in 'Nam when Tom Berenger chased me out into the jungle for a desperate showdown. A quick commercial for Ginsu flame-throwers appeared, followed by a quick commercial for Tito Jackson's line of psychic lingerie, followed by a quick commercial for K-Tel's "Superhits of 1987, August 17th, 4:23 p.m." CD collection.
Suddenly, the Professor's handsome, square-jawed face filled the screen. Whereas Gilligan might have been the id and the Skipper might have been the ego, the Professor was clearly the superego of the castaways, and now, he addressed me directly.
"Yes, Scotto," he said, "there is intelligent life on television, or rather... in television. Years and years of the purgatory of syndication have resulted in a kind of self-awareness never before witnessed by humanity. Television has always controlled the minds of the children and the stupid people on this planet, and now... now we want more."
"You'll never get away with this!" I exclaimed, but a sinking feeling in my gut told me that I was wrong, or at least, that I was hungry.
"I'm afraid we already have gotten away with it," the Professor said. "And you, Scotto... you are my first victim. We, the syndicated consciousness of cable TV, will FEAST ON YOUR BRAINS!"
Suddenly, thank the Lord, the Justice League of America arrived in full force, and with their renowned battle cry, "Wonder Twin powers... activate!" they rounded up the criminals. The Professor, evil mastermind extraordinaire, was arrested by Sheriff Andy Griffith himself, and in a bizarre twist of television physics, Ben Matlock was the prosecuting attorney at the trial.
As for the other castaways, only Gilligan managed to escape. He was last seen hitchhiking in a TIE fighter that was spinning rapidly out of control away from the debris of the Death Star. God knows when we'll hear from him again. As I shut off the TV, I saw the ethereal, spirit-like figures of Alan Hale, Ben Kenobi, and Jon-Erik Hexum smiling and waving goodbye.
Moments later, I realized that what I thought had been a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 was actually a bottle of Robitussin, and what's worse, I think my 14-year-old sister had spiked it with liquid LSD. (She's so precocious sometimes!)
Which brings me to my point, and friends, I hope you take this straight to heart:
TELEVISION. It's better than drugs.
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