Land of the Giants

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Land of the Giants
Landofgiants.gif
Genre Science fiction
Directed by Harry Harris
Sobey Martin
Starring Gary Conway
Don Matheson
Kurt Kasznar
Don Marshall
Stefan Arngrim
Deanna Lund
Heather Young
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 51 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Irwin Allen[1]
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Irwin Allen Productions
Kent Productions
Distributor 20th Century Fox Television
20th Television (current)
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format 1.33 : 1
Audio format Mono
Original run September 22, 1968 – September 6, 1970
Chronology
Preceded by local programming
Followed by The F.B.I.
External links
Irwin Allen Network's Land of the Giants website Website

Land of the Giants is an hour-long American science fiction television program lasting two seasons beginning on September 22, 1968, and ending on March 22, 1970. The show was created and produced by Irwin Allen. Land of the Giants was the fourth of Allen's science fiction TV series. The show was aired on ABC and released by 20th Century Fox Television. The series was filmed entirely in color and ran for 51 episodes. The show starred Gary Conway and Don Marshall. Author Murray Leinster also wrote three novels in 1968 and 1969 based on the television series.[2]

Show premise[edit]

The travelers are trapped for a giant's zoo.

Set in the then-future year of 1983, the series tells the tale of the crew and passengers of a sub-orbital transport spaceship called the Spindrift. In the pilot episode, the Spindrift is en route from Los Angeles to London via the ultra-fast route of a parabolic trajectory. Just beyond Earth's boundary with space, the Spindrift encounters a strange space storm and is transported to a mysterious planet where everything is twelve times larger than its counterpart on Earth. The Spindrift crew call the inhabitants "the giants". Given relative proportions shown on the show, the giants are humanoid in form and about 72 feet tall (similar to Lemuel Gulliver's situation in the second part of Gulliver's Travels, when he is in the land of Brobdingnag). Everything on their planet is built to their scale — buildings, cars, animals, etc. The Spindrift crashes on this planet and becomes inoperable.

No name has ever been established for the mysterious planet (code named Arret for this article), but the inhabitants of Arret seem to know of Earth, Venus and Mars, referring to them by name in one episode. Exactly where Arret is located is never made clear, but it can be supposed that Arret is a natural part of the Earth's solar system, but is also, by some quirk of nature, unknown to Earth. The inhabitants of Arret do not possess manned space flight, and so Earth is spared an invasion.

The only established method by which Earth people may reach Arret is some sort of high-altitude aircraft, interacting with a poorly-defined "time warp" which seems to act more as a space warp or wormhole. However, if one postulates the notion that Arret is in the same orbit as Earth, and if the time warp operates coincidentally to propel objects forward or backward six months, Arret and Earth would have exchanged positions. Although several episodes show that at least two other flights have landed on Arret, no episode shows that anyone ever successfully returned to Earth.

One continent or hemisphere is wholly dominated by an authoritarian government(or more precisely, like America at the height of 1950's McCarthyism) which, however, tolerates broad freedoms for entrepreneurs and businessmen, a capitalist system. It simply does not tolerate any effort to effect political change. Exactly what the political situation is on other continents is not known, although at least one overseas land has a despotic ruler. The Air Traffic Control will tell those who venture far out to sea that they should turn back, that nothing beyond that sea has been explored nor is there current contact; whether this is an official government line or the truth is not known.

Culturally, the society resembles in some respects that of 1960s United States of America, The Earth people find themselves able to cope at a cultural level, dealing with movie studios, musicians, hobos, nuclear families, orphanages, folklore (like Thrombeldinbar), jealousies and rivalries, law-breakers and patriots, criminals and honest people, poor and rich, sympathetic and hostile. Their efforts to get around are facilitated by the ubiquity of large drains directly from interior rooms to the pavement level at an outside wall of most buildings. The fact that English is the local language no doubt adds to these conveniences. However, few precise details are given and no governmental symbols are ever seen. The giant government has offered a reward for the capture of the tiny Earth people, presumably because of the Earth's superior technology. In spite of the authoritarianism, there are several dissident movements at work that either help other dissenters (such as the Earth people) or are actively working to unseat the ruling party. The government has established the SID, Special Investigations Department, to deal with assorted dissidence, but it also has taken the lead in dealing with the Earth people.

The technology largely resembles Mid-20th century Earth, slightly more advanced in some respects (e.g. cloning, Force fields, Androids, Radio controlled toys, Small nuclear reactors) and slightly behind in others (does not have Microelectronics or Manned space flight).

The Earth people's objectives are: (1) survival, by obtaining food and by avoiding capture by the native people or menace from small animals like cats and dogs; (2) repair of their spacecraft so they may take off and attempt a return to Earth. They largely manage survival with the help of sympathizers and the stealth of their small size, and ingenuity using the Earth's technology.

They do not achieve the second objective, however, since the primary systems of their craft, the Spindrift, are heavily damaged. The secondary systems are insufficient to allow take-off and the sub-orbital flight required. They are unable to successfully integrate Arret technology as it is bulky and less advanced; in one episode, an experimental nuclear reactor provided by an engineering student produces dangerous side effects and is prone to overload. They also cannot implicitly trust the Arret natives who might be able to offer the Earth people a ride home in exchange for technical assistance.

Episodes often have the plot of giants capturing one of the passengers or crew with the rest having to rescue him or her. The Earth people avoid capture most of the time because their spaceship is hidden in a forest outside the city. They also occasionally form alliances with individual giants to achieve some commonly beneficial purpose.

Production[edit]

The show was created by Irwin Allen. With a budget of US$250,000 per episode, Land of the Giants set a new record.[1] The actors had to be physically fit, as they had to do many stunts themselves, such as climbing giant curbs, phone cords and ropes. Don Marshall, who played the part of Dan Ericson, credited his previous football, track and pole vaulting work for helping him with the stunts required.[3]

Elements of Allen's Lost in Space series recur in Land of the Giants, notably the relationship between the foolish, greedy traitor, an on-the-run bank robber named Alexander B. Fitzhugh (Kurt Kasznar), and the young boy Barry Lockridge (portrayed by Stefan Arngrim); paralleling the relationship in Lost in Space between Doctor Zachary Smith and the young Will Robinson.

The show was set to premiere as a mid-season replacement and the first 12 episodes were shot in the fall of 1967. This was changed and Giants premiered in September 1968 for a full season. The network screened the episodes in a significantly different order to the production sequence. This caused a disconcerting lapse in continuity as at first the Giants moved slowly and hardly spoke. This changed as production continued, but for the viewer the changes were jarring. For example "Ghost Town" was the 14th episode filmed, but it was the second episode aired.

Large hand in a scene from the second season, which featured Stefan Arngrim as Barry Lockridge.

The cost of production was immense and It was more time, labor and cost effective to film one episode and then the next on the same set, so writers were probably informed about already constructed props that were available which they could incorporate into story lines. These episodes were filmed back-to-back.[4] In the first episode #2401, The Crash, the action happens in the giant's laboratory which shows a dotted floor, table legs and a green table top and drawer. In the next production episode #2402, A Weird World, the action again occurs in another giant laboratory with also a dotted floor, table legs and green table and drawer. The third episode #2403, The Trap occurs in a giant tent. The next episode #2404, The Bounty Hunter also occurs in a giant tent. In episode #2408, Framed, there is a giant photographic developing tray. In the next episode #2409, The Creed, there is also a giant developing tray. Also note that episodes #2401, 2402, 2403 & 2405 all have at least one giant scientist in a white lab coat. So that the viewer would not start noticing the same props and sets coming up each week, it is obvious the episodes needed to be shuffled, at least until more props were collected over time. Valerie and Betty got new dresses after episode #2415 Brainwash and so shuffling the shows also made it seem like they changed their outfits occasionally.

In the unaired pilot of The Crash, there is no end scene with the giant dog in the garbage dump. Once it had been confirmed that Land of the Giants had been picked up by the network, the pilot was reworked and production began on successive episodes; after several episodes had been filmed, the scene with the dog in the garbage dump was probably added to the pilot by Irwin Allen because by that time there were more props which could be included: a shoe from episode #2415, a battery and blue flash bulbs from #2402, an egg carton from #2413, copper cans and gauze box from #2409, thermos from episode #2406, etc.

Cast[edit]

Land of the Giants guest stars included many familiar faces from other 1950s and 1960s sci-fi/fantasy and adventure series (e.g., Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, Gilligan's Island, Lost in Space, I Dream of Jeannie). These popular, well-known character actors included Chris Alcaide, Michael Ansara, Warren Stevens, John Carradine, David Opatoshu, Charles Drake, Jonathan Harris, Jack Albertson, and Alan Hale, Jr.

Episodes[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

All 51 episodes were released on DVD in Region 1 in a limited-edition 9-disc Complete Series on July 24, 2007 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. This includes the un-aired original pilot, which has some differences (extra scenes but not others later added to the aired version) and score music familiar to Lost In Space fans and interviews with cast members.[5]

In Region 2, Revelation Films has released the entire series on DVD in the UK. Season 1 was released on March 28, 2011 and season 2 on June 13, 2011. They also released a complete series set on March 12, 2012.[6]

In Region 4, Madman Entertainment released season 1 on DVD in Australia on August 20, 2014.[7]

Merchandise & licensing[edit]

The pilot episode was the subject of a View Master reel & booklet set in 1968 (GAF Packet # B494). One notable difference between the aired episode and the reel set is an image of the Spindrift flying through the giant forest in apparent daylight. In the aired episode, the Spindrift arrives on the giants' planet during the night, and its flight through the forest also occurs that same night. Though the following is unconfirmed, either the daylight shot was a special effects sequence cut from the aired pilot, or a special set up for the View Master photographers.

In 1968, Pyramid Books published an extended novel adaptation of the pilot (Land of the Giants, Pyramid Books, X-1846), written by famed author Murray Leinster. Among notable changes or inventions is that the Spindrift is still an operational, flying ship after the initial crash, with enough "atomic power" to last as much as several months. Another invention for the novel is the knowledge that two other ships, the Anne and Marintha, disappeared via (what will turn out to be) the same mysterious phenomena which sends the Spindrift to the giants' planet. The Spindift castaways encounter a female survivor of the Anne named Marjorie, who joins the castaways in this novel. Although the TV series featured 3 episodes with other on-screen survivors from previously lost earth-flights, the novel's character Marjorie and the ships Anne and Marintha do not appear and are not mentioned in the series.

There were two further novels by Murray Leinster: The Hot Spot and Unknown Danger (Pyramid, 1969). The first two Leinster books were reprinted in the UK by World Distributors, with the first given the new title The Trap. World also published two UK only novels, Slingshot for a David and The Mean City (1969). Both were credited to James Bradwell, but as the style of the two books is so dissimilar, the name may have been a shared pen-name for two anonymous authors.

A hardback novel for children, Flight of Fear by Carl Henry Rathjen was published in the US by Whitman (1969).

Also in 1968 Gold Key Comics published a comic book version of Land of the Giants. It lasted for five issues. In 2010 all five issues were reprinted together as a hardcover book by Hermes Press.

In 1968, Aurora Plastics Company produced two plastic model kits based on the series: Land of the Giants was the title of a diorama depicting a giant snake attacking the characters Steve Burton, Dan Erickson (using a giant safety pin as a spear) and Betty Hamilton. The second kit was a model kit of the Spindrift (released as Land of the Giants Space Ship, instead of the proper name for the vehicle).

In 1975, Aurora reissued the kit, now renamed Rocket Transport Spindrift, with new box art and photos of the assembled kit. It had a front top section that could be lifted off to reveal a full interior that had to be constructed by the builder, as well as an opening door. Most of the model kit was molded in the same bright red-orange as the ship itself, while the interior was molded in a light green that could be painted.

Deanna Lund co-wrote a series of fan-fiction short stories based on the series, "Valerie in Giantland".

References[edit]

External links[edit]