My favourite show growing up was Gilligan’s Island. As a kid, Bob Denver and crew lavished me with unbridled slapstick hilarity, amidst a setting (and predicament) that fascinated me—a deserted island. What I didn’t realize then, was that creator Sherwood Schwartz’s vision planted a seed that would germinate into a genre-fetish for me, one that continues to this day.
Storylines that revolve around humanity’s survival after a devastating or cataclysmic event, fascinate me.
For the crew and passengers of the S.S. Minnow, their devasting event began with a 3-hour tour gone awry; a shipwreck on an uncharted tropical isle. Their plight promised mystery, adventure and intrigue, in between gaffes, pratfalls and absurdity.
How would they survive?
What secrets was the island hiding?
I loved the premise and, as an impressionable young kid, imagined myself as the 8th castaway. I even (audio) tape-recorded episodes to play back later in bed (VCR’s were still science fiction in the ‘70’s), reliving the adventures while the rest of the family slept.
In later years, I happened upon the novel ‘Lord of the Flies’, an all-time favourite, one I re-read often. Similar to Gilligan’s Island in setting only, sans any comedic element, the story surrounded a group of young lads struggling to cope in a harsh landscape without adult supervision. The book was engaging and gripping, a staunch look at the breakdown of societal norms amidst a savage landscape.
Also in the mix, movies like ‘Omega Man’ and ‘Road Warrior’, further expanded my imaginative boundaries, exploiting my desires and rekindling my obsession.
Over time, not surprisingly, I evolved into an apocalyptic/dystopian mega-fan. Mix in an equal part of horror/paranormal, and my passion stew was complete. The transition from a ‘70’s kid watching Gilligan’s Island, to a young adult reading ‘The Stand’, to a middle-aged guy watching ‘The Road’ (after reading the novel), the journey was complete.
Well not entirely.
Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon the series ‘Lost’ a few years back. I’d not watched cable tv in years, but with the arrival of Netflix and later Android Boxes, I took the leap, opened Pandora’s Box, and away I went.
‘Lost’ was a binge-watcher. Eccentric heroes and villains trapped on an enigmatic island. I was in heaven.
Flash ahead to current day, and while my collection of apocalyptic/dystopian fiction and film grows, so does my appreciation of the genre. While not every candidate is a winner, I take pleasure in sorting through the pile, looking for that gem. And when I find an exceptional piece, if I’m lucky, I transform back into that ‘70’s kid again, just for a moment, reliving the magic.
I’d always wondered what precipitated my love for stories of survival in extraordinary circumstances. I’d always assumed it was ‘The Stand’ my first (and favourite) Stephen King book—but I was wrong. It was simpler than that. A simple boyhood dream, so simple even Gilligan would have figured it out.
Thanks Little Buddy.
Until next time,