I liked Gilligan's Island when I was eight years old, but once I was older and saw the show in reruns I realized just how bad it was. Mary Ann still looked good and old pros like Jim Backus, Alan Hale Jr., and Denver did the best they could with poor material, but it was simply a lousy show. That being said, there must have been something to it for it to continue running in syndication four decades later.
That was all I knew Bob Denver for until the 1980s when Pat Robertson's CBN started running reruns of "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," the 1959-62 situation comedy that featured Denver's breakout role as beatnik Maynard G. Krebbs. After seeing him in the ridiculous slapstick of "Gilligan's Island," watching "Dobie Gillis" was a revelation. Denver had no problem stealing the show from star Dwayne Hickman, an underrated actor who had learned comic timing and the importance of having your supporting cast shine from Jack Benny and Joplin native Bob Cummings. In addition to Denver, "Dobie Gillis" featured veteran actors Frank Faylen (one of the cops in "It's a Wonderful Life") Florida Friebus (one of Bob Newhart's patients in his 1970s sitcom) and William Schallert, and it made stars of previous unknowns Warren Beatty and Tuesday Weld.
In fact, if it were not for the fact that the series was shot in black and white, it would probably be a much bigger success in syndication than "Gilligan." That's the series that Bob Denver should have been remembered for. Sadly, in most of the obituaries for him, it is barely mentioned.