Sherwood Schwartz, who died Tuesday at the age of 94, had a long and fruitful run in radio and television before he created “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch,” the shows that earned him a place in the history of TV and the life of the people. To not know these series — to not understand the expression “three-hour tour” or what it means to prefer a Ginger to a Mary Ann, or the deep wells of frustration contained in the phrase “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” — or to be able to sing their theme songs, each co-written by Schwartz, is to be in some small but real way culturally illiterate. (…)
There is something brilliantly strange and reductive about “Gilligan’s Island,” which premiered in 1964 and was the first series to bear Schwartz’s name as creator. With its cast of symbolic characters — the Skipper, the Professor, the Movie Star, the Millionaire and His Wife — trapped together in a small, inescapable space, it might with a subtle shift of emphasis become a play by Ionesco or Sartre.