Bob Denver has died at the age of 70. For most TV viewers, he was Gilligan on ''Gilligan's Island.'' But I'll remember him more fondly as the great Maynard G. Krebs, the beatnik goof-off who was the best friend of Dobie Gillis on ''The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.'' Even if Denver had never done ''Gilligan's,'' I would be feeling a little sadder today because Maynard was gone.
Part of this is based on ''Dobie Gillis'' being a much better show than ''Gilligan's Island.'' Where the latter show was just silly, ''Dobie Gillis'' had real wit and intelligence behind its tales of the life of Dobie, a very self-aware young man played by Dwayne Hickman. And, even if he was wrapped in a beatnik package, Maynard can be seen as the archetype for not only would-be hippies but the slackers of a later generation -- serene about life, unconcerned about issues of job and career, not so much dumb as philosophically disinclined to enter the rat race.
Hickman and Denver made a great combination, in a show where all the actors were razor-sharp. I watched ''Dobie'' as a kid, and I watched it again as an adult when reruns popped up on cable. It was appealing from both perspectives.