Land of the Giants

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Land of the Giants
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)
Executive producer(s) Irwin Allen[1]
Running time 60 minutes
Original channel ABC
Picture format 1.33 : 1
Audio format Mono
Original run September 22, 1968 – September 6, 1970
Preceded by local programming
Followed by The F.B.I.
Related shows Lost in Space
The Time Tunnel
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
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 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.

These giants are humanoid in form, and though their society resembles in some respects that of 1960s United States of America, their government is totalitarian. 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. 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.


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. This was probably done to spread out the use of the giant props and sets so they would NOT appear one after the other as the viewer would catch on.

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 un-aired pilot of The Crash, there is no end scene with the giant dog in the garbage dump. After it was confirmed that Land of the Giants was picked up by the network, the pilot was reworked and successive episodes began production and after several episodes were filmed, the scene with the dog in the garbage dump was probably added to the pilot by Irwin Allen because now there were more props to include: 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.

Series setting[edit]

Location of and travel to the Giant planet[edit]

No one knows where to find the Giant planet. The Spindrift reaches it only by diving through a disk-like formation that could be a flaw in space-time. (One Giant calls this a "dimension lock" in the episode "Ghose Town.") In Season Two episode "Home Sweet Home" (prod. # 4715, order # 41) [5] Captain Steve Burton (Gary Conway) and passenger Alexander B. Fitzhugh (Kurt Kasznar) pass through this flaw again after leaving the Giant planet in a small space pod.[6] They return to Earth by this route and presumably must pass through this flaw a third time after they must leave Earth (because they arrived in the Earth of 1900, not 1983).

At certain isolated times, Earth is allegedly visible from the Giant planet and even to selected Giants from time to time. But whether Earth and the Giant planet even exist in the same relativistic frame-of-reference is never made clear.

Spindrift is not the first spacecraft from Earth to crash-land on the Giant planet. Whether it will be the last, no episode ever makes clear. As a result of these crash landings, the inhabitants, or Giants, know of Earth (and even of Venus and Mars; see Season 1 Episode "Target: Earth",[7] prod # 2422, order # 22).

Though the one Giant who mentioned the term "dimension lock" used the pronoun "our" to describe it, that is not conclusive evidence that the Giants built it or know how to use it. The last episode to air, "Graveyard of Fools," definitely established that aliens, having a science more advanced than either Earthman or Giant knew, once landed on that world. They might have built the "dimension lock" and then abandoned it, along with the "servo-actuator" that three modern-day Giants try to commandeer for themselves. But because that development came so late in the season, no one ever developed the ancient-alien concept further.

Although several episodes show that at least six other flights have landed on the planet, no episode shows anyone ever successfully returned to Earth. The first mention of other visitors from Earth was in episode 2 ("Ghost Town"), where another ship was described as crashing long ago without any survivors. In episode 4 ("Underground") another Earth ship is described as crashing three years prior with no survivors.

Several episodes show crews surviving the initial crash, only to be killed later. The episode "Brainwash" has a crew of little people surviving long enough to build a radio station that can communicate with Earth. They are killed shortly thereafter. The episodes "Golden Cage" and "The Lost Ones" show there have been a few survivors of other crashes. The Spindrift crew seems to have survived long term, with its party intact. The "Lost Ones" also survived with two of their party missing and presumed captured. Strikingly, the fearsome Special Investigation Department (SID) never once gives an impression even of knowing that the Lost Ones are still at large on their world.

Giant politics and geopolitics[edit]

One country or continent or hemisphere is wholly dominated by an authoritarian government – or one whose electorate stays in a near-constant state of paranoia. (But at least one episode, "The Deadly Dart," suggests that the extreme paranoia of the civilian population is beginning to give way to skepticism; witness a Giant automobile carrying a protest sign reading "Down with the SID!") The Giants in this country do not militarize their society. No one checks passports (internal or external) or otherwise asks for "your papers, please." But the ruling elite do not tolerate any effort to effect political change (sort of like an extreme version of the United States at the height of McCarthyism).

As far as Captain Burton and his comrades can determine, the country they "live" in has a Supreme Council, which could take the place of a single Chief Executive, and a perhaps unicameral legislature called the Senate. (How any Giant can become a Senator is never clear, for a Senator, as the history of the Roman Empire reveals, need not be elected. Indeed, never once do viewers see Giants vote, nor did Captain Burton and team ever witness a Giant election campaign.) The national judiciary appears to be a fully independent branch of government, as Captain Burton finds out when he temporarily grows to Giant size ("Genius At Work") to pose as a criminal attorney. But just how independent is not clear.

Captain Burton and company meet two Giant Senators in the course of their chronicled adventures. One of them (Obek, portrayed by Parley Baer in the episode "Sabotage") makes one effort to oppose the galloping paranoia about "The Little People" that grips his society. Obek works in active concert with Burton and crew to incriminate two ranking internal-security officers after they pull off a classic pseudo-operation. But the series never again focuses on Senator Obek, his career, or his political opinions.

The government institution with which the Earth people have the most contact is the Special Investigation Department (SID). This bears no resemblance to the Special Investigative Divisions in some metropolitan police departments in the United States. It is a full department, and seems to be an analog of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation, but with a strong odor of the Nazi Schutzstaffel attached to it. It has its own cadre of uniformed officers that look and act like city police officers. The SID takes clear precedence over the local police, in a way that is not true even of the FBI. They existed before Spindrift crash-landed, and now have taken the lead in trying to find the Earth people and eliminate them. (Oddly enough, the SID is not the same as the security force whose head lays on the false-flag operation in "Sabotage." That force, which might bear a resemblance to the wartime Gestapo, never appears again. Did Senator Obek, above, succeed in having it disbanded? Perhaps – by why the SID remains is not clear.)

In the time of the series, the SID has two fanatical head men, who carried the title of Inspector. First is Dobbs Kobick (Kevin Hagen), who appears in nine episodes. Second is a man named Swan (Willard Sage). Sorting the episodes in the order filmed, rather than the order aired, reveals that the Supreme Council removed Kobick as head of the SID and reassigned him elsewhere. Why they so acted, no episode makes clear. After this, a renegade SID sergeant (Christopher Dark) murdered Swan in his campaign to advance from "uniform" to "detective" and take Kobick's place. Kobick's eventual permanent replacement, Grayson (John Dehner), proves far less fanatical. The episode ("The Deadly Dart") in which all this takes place, also features the hint that the Giant populace is now losing patience with their government and the expense and intrusiveness of the SID. But again, because these developments happened late in the second season, no one ever developed the premise further.

In the episodes "Seven Little Indians" and "Doomsday," Giant characters mention many nations on the Giant world in addition to the main one. Exactly what the political situation is on other continents is not known, although at least one overseas land ("The Land of the Lost") has a despotic ruler. The voice of an air traffic controller 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. It should be noted that the Air Traffic Controller has behind him what appears to be a map of the giant planet.

In spite of the authoritarian government, there are several dissident movements at work that either help other dissenters (such as the Earth people) or are actively working to unseat the government. The scriptwriters never set a standard line on whether these dissidents are any better than the government. In later episodes the Earth people end up fighting with these dissidents. Their reasons seem to be twofold:

  1. To stop dissidents, or enemy spies, from committing sabotage or mass murder. No matter how many times the Giants hunt for them, Giants are people, too, and they never like to see even innocent Giants killed for no good reason.
  2. To avoid blame for any act of sabotage or mass murder that might take place. Such blame, if it ever stuck, would have had every Giant in the region sweeping the forest and town for them. This is why government pseudo-operations become the one thing they fear most by series' end.

Giant science[edit]

The technology of the planet reveals areas that are behind 1960s Earth (does not have microelectronics, hearing aids, or manned space flight), though significantly more advanced in other respects (cloning, portable nuclear reactors, force fields, teleportation devices). One long-term survivor ("The Weird World") openly says Giant science is fifty years behind the Earthly science of 1983 in some respects. That might be an exaggeration, since Irwin Allen often assumed far too rapid a pace of technological development from his time forward. To name the salient relevant example: no airline on Earth has suborbital airliners, either for the ultra-jet set to which Valerie Scott would have belonged or for the common ordinary tourist. Allen made similar leaps of faith in American technology in the other three television shows he developed.

Oddly, two episodes involving obscure advances in Giant medicine pass almost without notice, and also seem to contradict one another.

  1. In "Flight Plan", three Giants make a preparation that lets one of them shrink to "Little Person" size so he can spy out the Spindrift camp and even "stow away" (by deception) aboard Spindrift as she returns to Earth. But this effect has a time limit, so the spy must continually take this preparation if he does not want to re-grow at an inopportune moment.
  2. In "Genius At Work", a twelve-year-old genius makes a preparation that does the opposite: lets Earth people grow to Giant size. He then prepares an antidote for it. Obviously the effect has no time limit. Otherwise, the characters who take this drug could simply wait for it to wear off to re-shrink.

Did the Giants ever develop a means to overcome the square-cube law? (Giant human beings of the size depicted on the show would otherwise not be able to exist in nature and would be crushed by their own weight). Those two episodes would suggest not. Indeed no character, regular or guest, ever discusses this issue. No reviewer has ever hinted that Irwin Allen even knew the square-cube law would present a problem.

One other problem Irwin Allen ignored completely was the musical-pitch problem. To a man, woman, or boy of Earth, a Giant's voice would necessarily sound like a talking thunderhead, and Giant musical instruments would sound like deep bass or even sub-bass instruments. Contrariwise, to a Giant, a "Little Person" would sound like a talking mouse, and an Earth-scale instrument (like Dan Erickson's trumpet) would play in an impossible treble register or even play ultrasonically, like a dog whistle. Yet people of each size can talk to the other at "normal" pitches. This leads to totally incongruous situations like Dan giving a Giant musician (Sugar Ray Robinson) jazz lessons ("Giants And All That Jazz") and Steve Burton and Mark Wilson impersonating various SID personnel and even Inspector Kobick himself ("Six Hours to Live") over the telephone.

In addition to such science as the Giants develop (either individually or collectively), one episode, as mentioned ("Graveyard of Fools"), establishes an earlier visitation to the Giant world by a very advanced race. This visit occurred in an antipodal location to the Spindrift crash site, that only in "modern" times has any Giant dared penetrate.

Giant culture[edit]

Culturally, the society resembles the United States. The Earth people find themselves able to cope at a cultural level, dealing with movie studios, musicians, hobos, nuclear families, orphanages, folklore, 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. (In the first few episodes a made-up language is used for signage but this is quickly dropped. English is spoken throughout.)

The culture clash between Giant and "Little Person" often makes for some comedic moments. Witness Alexander Fitzhugh nearly getting trampled by a Giant racehorse, and then trying to form a partnership with a racetrack bum, in "The Inside Rail." That episode ends with the bum paying Fitzhugh off – in Giant money, which of course Fitzhugh cannot even carry, much less spend. (The money resembles United States currency, but the producers deliberately blur out phrases like "United States of America" and "Federal Reserve Note." Obviously no one tried to design a unique Giant currency.) In a later episode ("Our Man O'Reilly"), Fitzhugh has learned to let a Giant buy things for him.

Objectives of the main characters[edit]

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 their ingenuity, their small size (enabling them to sneak around and hide), the occasional giant sympathizer, and, of course, their technology, which (per dialogue spoken in one of the episodes) is about fifty years ahead of most of the giants' technology.

They do not achieve the second objective, however, since the primary systems of their craft are heavily damaged, and they may have had to use precious resources in order to safeguard themselves from capture. The secondary systems are insufficient to allow take-off and the sub-orbital flight required. They are unable to successfully integrate the native 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 trust the giants who might be able to offer the Earth people a ride home in exchange for technical assistance.

They are aided in the first goal, and at least somewhat hindered in the second, by the leadership of Captain "Steve" Burton. He behaves as leader, protector to the passengers and crew and his leadership has rescued them from a number of difficulties. However, Captain Burton also functions as a guardian of the gate who tries to keep the giants from ever reaching Earth. In the episode "Brainwash", giant police officer Ashim (Warren Stevens) says "Maybe we can find the home planet of these little people. It may be a very tiny planet, but rich beyond our dreams." It is not entirely clear what that means. Nor is it entirely clear what the giants would do if they ever reached Earth. In several episodes Steve puts keeping the giants away from Earth above the need to get his people home. At the end of those episodes, he destroys devices that would get the Spindrift back to Earth, but would probably also enable the giants to journey there as well.

Relationships among the main characters[edit]

Apart from the relationship (or lack of one) between Earth people and Giants, the various relationships among the Earth people repeatedly introduce interesting plot elements in various episodes. Steve Burton and Dan Erickson are an obvious team. But Steve and passenger Mark Wilson always have an underlying tension between them. Mark is almost a rebel, and does rebel against Steve at certain isolated times. (See episodes "Brainwash", "Target: Earth", and "Nightmare" for three prominent examples of this.) Yet this same tendency means Mark is of invaluable help to Steve at other times.

Fitzhugh begins as a venal and cowardly character, and some of this venality and cowardice surface even in later episodes. In "Pay the Piper," for example, Fitzhugh makes a deal with the self-described Pied Piper of Hamelin (Jonathan Harris) that threatens the life of a Giant boy. The one person who can bring him up short is the boy, Barry Lockridge. The thought of having to explain his behavior to Barry creates enough tension in Fitzhugh's mind to bring about a progressive, though interrupted, reform of his character.

The two women in the camp, stewardess Betty Hamilton and heiress and jet-setter Valerie Scott, seem to have latent romantic interests in the men: Betty with Mark, and Valerie with Steve. Those romances never develop beyond the hints they drop in various episodes, including "Deadly Pawn" and "Graveyard of Fools."


Television series development, in the era of this show, tended not to use long story arcs. This contributed to the discontinuities, inconsistencies, and other problems in story development. For example, "The Deadly Dart" might have served to close out one "era" (that of Inspector Kobick) and introduce a "kinder, gentler" era (that of his successor, Lieutenant/Inspector Grayson). But the next episode to air ("Doomsday") featured Inspector Kobick still at his desk. This ruined any effect that "The Deadly Dart" might have had. Nor did Senator Obek ("Sabotage") ever have an episode in which he stood for re-election, or debated the issue of "Little People" in the Senate.

Neither were "cliffhanger episodes" part of series television in that era. One episode ("A Place called Earth") had a sequel ("Home Sweet Home"). But the sequel served only to introduce further adventure, not any lasting political development that might have affected Captain Burton's relationship with the Giant society. And, of course, the series ended with Burton and company no closer to returning to Earth than they were at the end of the series pilot.

Then, too, Land of the Giants was primarily an action-adventure show, not a drama show. Irwin Allen concentrated on spectacle,[8] not drama, in everything he did. Viewers discussing it today call his work "juvenile." [9] This might have been deliberate on his part, and the reason he never realized the potential this show had as political thriller in addition to science fiction.


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.


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.[10]

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.[11]

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.


  1. ^ a b Alex McNeil. "Land of the Giants." Total Television. New York: Penguin, 1996. p. 402
  2. ^ Leinster, Murray (1968). Land of the Giants. New York: Pyramid Books. 
  3. ^ Actor Database Interview with Don Marshall
  4. ^ Abbott, Jon (2009). Irwin Allen Television Productions, 1964-1970: A Critical History of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, the Time Tunnel and Land of the Giants. McFarland. p. 284. 
  5. ^ "Land of the Giants Episode Table". Irwin Allen News Network. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Ryan, Richard. "Land of the Giants Season Two Episodes". Irwin Allen News Network. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Ryan, Richard. "Land of the Giants Season One Episodes". Irwin Allen News Network. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  8. ^ "Irwin Allen Profile". Irwin Allen News Network. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  9. ^ "'Land of the Giants is the best of the worst". Internet Movie Database (Land of the Giants Message Boards). Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  10. ^ TV Shows on Land Of The Giants, Complete Series Press Release
  11. ^

External links[edit]