1960's American television was an exciting time, especially for science fiction; in England we had `Doctor Who' from 1963-1969, and continuing beyond, The Thunderbirds from 1965-1966, which also spawned two movies and UFO 1969-1970, (three most notable) in Australia we had `Phoenix Five' in 1970, (just missing out, but included here as it was the closest series in the 1960's) and I'm sure science fiction was alive and well in Europe in one form or another (I'm guessing here, but what classics am I missing?)
If England had Gerry Anderson, (he also had other sci-fi related shows including `Captain Scarlet' a cult classic, to name just one more) America had Irwin Allen, the king of American science fiction television series, he didn't have one but four to his credit-and imagination to boot. `Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' 1964-1968, `Lost in Space' 1965-1968, Time Tunnel 1966-67 and `Land of the Giants' 1968-1970.
If Irwin had produced a show, say-entitled `The Land of the Giant Killer Plants', he would have pulled it off, that was the kind of man he was; what today's science fiction on television lacks, Irwin had and produced and proved it in the 1960's. As mentioned, all the shows are cult classics achieving cult stasis, I consider `Time Tunnel' the weakest of the four possibly classified as semi-cult, the idea was great but due to budget the show did not fulfil its potential.
The Land of the Giants.
Set in the then-future year of 1983, Land of the Giants was an hour-long American science fiction television program lasting two seasons beginning on September 22, 1968 and ending on March 22, 1970. The series tells the tale of the crew and passengers of a sub-orbital passenger 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, (a giant cosmic spaceball) and is transported to a mysterious planet inhabited by humanoid giants.
Created and produced by Irwin Allen, the show was aired on ABC and released by 20th Century Fox Television. The series was filmed entirely in colour and ran for 51 episodes. The budget for the show per episode was $250,000 and it showed, the series was thus well produced and all the episodes including the characters was well represented-no stuffing around here, as the actors and the actresses took their jobs/roles seriously, (conflicts between Steve and Mark is just one example) thus the show was very credible, and enjoyable to watch.
The `Little People':
Gary Conway as Captain Steve Burton
Don Marshall as Dan Erickson
Don Matheson as Mark Wilson
Kurt Kasznar as Alexander Fitzhugh
Stefan Arngrim as Barry Lockridge
Deanna Lund as Valerie Scott
Heather Young as Betty Hamilton
When I was a wee young lad in the early 70's I use to watch the show when it was on, and I guess you can say I had my first of two TV crush's, one on Heather Young who played Betty, I thought she was real pretty, sadly watching the series again her character was the least used, concentrating on instead the other actress Deana Lund; and the other with Marta Kristen who played Judy in Lost in Space, I thought she was a real spunk.
For the `Giants':
Kevin Hagen as Inspector Kobick (having a recurring role)
I have to confess that I really liked Kevin Hagan's performance as Inspector Kobick as the `Little People's' Nemesis, he did a great job, and was a credit to the show.
Episodes to Note:
The most interesting episode: Wild Journey - This episode should have been the last televised episode instead of `Graveyard of Fools', as it would have created a time-loop for the series (With the DVD you can view `Wild Journey' last anyway). It just goes to show that Steve and Dan actually had no control or is that control, over their fate that made them crash-land in the land of the giants in the first place.
The most unusual episode: Nightmare - This episode has a surreal touch to it, I just find it fascinating to watch, it's so out of place with the rest of the series, that's why I think it's so remarkably different.
The most boring episode: Our Man O'Reilly - This episode in my mind just wasn't going anywhere, there really wasn't any story in it-just a waste, I couldn't wait for it to finish.
The most stupid episode: A Small War - A boy and his toys against the little people-how dull is that, just another wasted episode.
Some episodes that I like: The Crash (both the `aired' and `unaired' versions), The Unsuspected, The Clones, A Place Called Earth, Land of the Lost, The Secret City of Limbo; plus all the episodes with Inspector Kobick.
DVD Limited Edition.
Okay, what are the goodies in store for you, if you get this edition?
First of all, the series of DVD's is presented to you in a wooden cage replica, with a rope handle and with the lid/opening having actual wire mesh with a paper-colour relief of the cast behind it as the `Little People', real cool!
Secondly when you open the lid-what's inside? You get the complete 51 episodes, 2-season series; this also includes an extra unaired episode of the pilot, `The Crash'. This is another version of the aired pilot, with different scenes not in the aired pilot, different music and one or two different camera angles on some scenes that are in the aired pilot. (Actually I like the unaired pilot better than the aired one-but that's just me I guess), that's 52 episodes! Not only that, but also have interviews of the actors/actresses as well.
And what makes this edition special is some extra stuff which is well worth the money.
1] Spindrift Key-Ring Chain.
2] Four Picture Postcards.
3] Spindrift Crew Patch (the ones that Steve, Dan and Betty wear on their uniforms).
4] Cast Interview Booklet.
5] A `Gold Key' miniature replica comic book of `Land of the Giants'.
This limited edition is worth getting if you are a collector and/or a sci-fi buff; in all honesty I have never seen DVD editions presented like this, a lot of thought obviously went into this, to present this series to the public-well done 20th Century Fox.
I am very happy with my copy of Land of the Giants to add to my collection. It would be good if 20th Century Fox did something special for the other Irwin Allen stuff. Here are my suggestions, naturally the DVD's would be inside these models, and thus these models would have to be big enough to encase them. (But it's just an idea, could be too expensive to produce though-just a dream)
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
A model of the Seaview with the first and second seasons, a model of the Driving Bell with the third season, and a model of the Flying Sub with the fourth season DVD's.
Lost in Space.
A model of the Jupiter 2 with the first season, a model of the Pod with the second season, and a model of the Robot with the third season DVD's.
A model of an Hourglass with the first season DVD's.
My advice is, get this limited edition of Land of the Giants before you can't or you'll be sorry, don't worry or go for other editions on the cheap, if you're going to spend the money then this edition is a must-go the extra dollar, you'll be happy in the long run.
And you never know that wooden box could come in handy if you spot some little people in your garden-you know what I mean.
Special thanks to Wikipedia for additional information to complete this review.
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