Russell Johnson, who died this week at 89, played the Professor on Gilligan’s Island. The Professor could build anything from coconut and bamboo, except a patch for the boat, writes the Los Angeles Times.”He used bamboo, the ship’s horn and radio batteries to create a lie detector; he made a battery recharger from a coconut shell and a helium balloon made from raincoats sealed with tree sap.”
The Professor was a high school science teacher with a PhD, not a university professor, writes Jon Marcus on the Hechinger Report. Long before a chemistry teacher became TV’s finest meth cook, a science teacher showed the power of knowledge,
“At a time when science became mistrusted for having brought not better lives, but pollution and the fear of nuclear annihilation, he was a rock of reason, patience, and precision, level-headed and respected,” writes Marcus.
Also he was good looking.
In recent years, TV has rediscovered smart people, writes Marcus.
There has been a television series called Eureka, about a town populated by geniuses, where the whiz kids pick on the jocks. Smart people also star or have starred in Fringe, The Mentalist, Alphas, Bones, Touch, Breaking Bad, The Big-Bang Theory, and other hits. They’re newly hot (and very, very rich) in real life, too: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg.
These people, real or imaginary, represent the promise of science and the constancy of truth.
Does popular culture value science, truth and intelligence?