on 21 June 2008
The year was 1968 and producer Irwin Allen had already taken TV viewers on a "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," gotten them "Lost in Space," and thrown them through "The Time Tunnel." He decided that it was time now to go a journey to a "Land of the Giants."
Fans and critics alike feel that Allen was influenced by the respective films "Dr. Cyclops" (1940) and "The Incredible Shrinking Man" (1957) and that is a fair assessment. The show deals with the crew and passengers of a suborbital flight in the year 1983 that is somehow transported to a realm where they are "six inch oddities" in a land of gargantuan proportions. The setting allowed the creative staff to place the seven principal cast members in all sorts of situations/dangers, making for possibly Allen's most visually striking and "serious" endeavor. Though geared toward a young audience, the show occasionally showcased more adult themes than either of the producer's other three television efforts. Such change may have been the result of the influence of NBC's "Star Trek" which was in the last season of its three-year run when "Land of the Giants" debuted.
It also appears that some aspects of the show were more innovative than it was then perceived. One is in the casting. Don Marshall, who played co-pilot "Dan Erickson," was one of the few black Americans on network television with a pivotal role. The character was sometimes allowed to be the decision maker and shared close quarters with white female co-stars Deanna Lund ("Valerie") and Heather Young ("Betty"), something that was revolutionary in the late sixties-early seventies. Allen may not have considered that in his hiring of Marshall but it does elevate the actor to "trailblazer status."
Also, Young's real-life pregnancy was obvious in the second season, leading to speculation that her character and one of the male characters may have been doing more than just "struggling to survive." She was conveniently filmed standing behind other characters or with some prop hiding her "development" or she was conveniently absent from the story line altogether.
The "little people," as they were referred to by the inhabitants of this unusual realm, encountered friendly giants, sadistic giants, life-threatening balloon rides, hallucination-inducing mushrooms, mad scientists, diamond/jewelry thieves, as well as the usual assortment of "silver-suited" aliens common to Allen productions. The land in which the Earthlings found themselves was a police state, of sorts, and they found themselves relentlessly pursued by Inspector Kobick, well played by Kevin Hagen, a frequent performer in Allen productions.
Not only did the seven principals have to make their situation believable, they had to endure the physical challenge of running, climbing, and handling giant props and impressive set designs...and did the creative staff give them a lot with which to work. Some oversized objects included hydrants, cameras, a dog's leash, a menacing mop, test tubes, a hungry chicken, drains, a horse's rein, anything that the storyline imagined.
It is obvious that each of them, including the fifty-something Kurt Kaszner ("Commander Fitzhugh"), was in pretty good shape.
The show's production values included inspired casting in most episodes. There were actors that were in Allen's staple and they could be seen in all of the producer's series. These included John Carradine, Lee Meriweather, John Crawford, Warren Stevens, Nehemiah Persoff, Malachi Throne, Michael Ansara, Paul Fix, Jonathan Harris, and his future wife Sheila Matthews. In addition to those familiar faces, Oscar winners Broderick Crawford and Jack Albertson appear in one installment, respectively.
Boxers-turned-occasional actors Sugar Ray Robinson and Jerry Quarry find themselves featured as giants on the show, too.
Also, years before they hit it big in their signature roles, "Land of the Giants" showcased the efforts of future stars Susan Howard ("Dallas"), Vic Tayback ("Alice"), and Sam Elliott ("Lifeguard," "The Hulk," and the upcoming "The Golden Compass").
Even a certain Oscar-winning director by the name of Ron Howard pops up as a "special guest star" in one episode!
The nine-disc (four two-sided and a single) showcases the fifty-one installments with much better sound and picture than their original airings, a plus for an almost forty-year-old show. On the ninth disc are found insightful reflections from stars Gary Conway ("Steve"), Don Matheson ("Mark"), Lund, Marshall, and Stefan Arngrim ("Barry").
The Gold Key comic is a great addition, especially for those of us fortunate to have read one during its publication.
Besides the nifty carrying case, a true bonus is the addition of the UNAIRED original pilot, minus John William's outstanding score. Though the pilot featured the composer's music written for "Lost in Space," the revamped pilot, "The Crash," takes on a much more exciting dynamic with the music that he composed for the actual premiere episode.
Though it may not go down as one of the great shows of all time, "Land of the Giants" is still a remarkable bit of television production and this GIGANTIC compilation set does it justice.
For the very first time this fantastic science fiction series comes to DVD in the UK. There were actually two seasons, season one which contains 26 episodes, and season two contains 25 episodes. Each Disc has the same "Land of the Giants" logo on it and there is a lovely booklet with interesting facts about the development of the series with some good pictures and artwork presentation. The Back of the booklet has a chart of the episode listing and original episode title, filming order, broadcast order and airdate. All of this comes in an attractive card sleeve container. There are some brief but welcome special features. The unaired version of the pilot episode doesn't differ much from the aired version but it's interesting to look at. The interviews with stars Gary Conway and Don Marshall are worth seeing and the presentation reel, special effects shots and broadcast information are also good additions. There is also cast commentary and interviews with Stefan Arngrim, Don Matheson and Deanna Lund. Stills gallery and episode photos and a Deanna Lund gallery
On 12th June 1983 a sub orbital commercial flight from America to London hits a mysterious cloud storm and crash lands on a planet just like earth. The only thing is that the people on this earth are 12 times bigger in height. The series follows the space travellers attempts to repair their space craft the "spindrift" and return home while tackling giant insects and animals or fleeing from the giants who having discovered the existence of the little people want to catch them usually to experiment on them.
The crew are Captain Steve Burton, his co pilot Dan Erickson, and stewardess Betty Hamilton. The passengers are engineering executive Mark Wilson, wealthy heiress Valerie Scott, 12 year old Barry Lockbridge and his dog chipper. Finally there is the intriguing, unscrupulous Commander Fitzhugh who is wanted by the police and carries a briefcase with a lot of money in it. This character is similar to Dr Zackary Smith in "Lost in space" in so much that it is often his greed and stupidity that gets the rest of the crew into sticky situations with the giants. Also in this series is the Giants bad guy Inspector Kobrick who works for the SIB security service. He becomes set on hunting down the "little people".
The series was noted for its elaborate special effects with giant sized props. The series was created by producer Irwin Allen who also created The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the sea and lost in space.
It is pure escapist fun in these shows and is still entertaining over 40 years after its creation.
After the success of the first series of "Land of the Giants" we were lucky enough to get this second, and final series.
This second series continues the adventures. There are some slight changes in this series but generally it is a faithful continuation of series one. The opening credits have changed with a new and different presentation using clips from the first series. The crew has slightly different clothes. This gives the series a bit of a new look. Also we see parts of the "Spindrift" space ship that we didn't see in series one. There is a new engine room and computer room and we see more of the cockpit. We also get a lot of guest appearances from famous people of the time including Boxer Sugar Ray Robinson and wrestler Mike Masurki, Broderick Crawford, Jonathan Harris (Lost in space, - Dr Smith), John Carradine and Bruce Dern. The regular character of Inspector Kobick from season one is back but does not appear as much. The stories become wackier in this season with themes that were typical of other Irwin Allen creations. There is the strange episode "pay the piper" with its pied piper type of plot. The crew travels in a Balloon in one great episode and the crew is forced into a war in another story. All of the episodes are imaginative and interesting.
I saw Land of the Giants along with all the other Irwin Allen series originally back in the very early 1970s when they were screened on ITV in my area on Thursdays around 4.45pm. i loved all of the Irwin Allen creations.
Now I have enjoyed this DVD set just as much all these years later. A great slice of American 60s Sci Fi highly recommended.
There are subtitles for the hard of hearing and the picture is in 4,3
on 8 April 2013
I think I must be going through some sort of midlife crisis as I have started watching the films and series from my youth. This is a nicely presented chunky boxset of the entire 2 series, and also includes some postcards of stills. I have only just started watching, but I am impressed with the quality, and with the production values - for me you can keep all the cgi nonsense - each episode must have taken an enormous amount of preparation by the props department and it shows in high quality settings which fire the imagination. The plot ideas are imaginative and interesting, the acting is good, and the characters are likeable - even Fitz ! I would recommend this to anyone who remembers vaguely watching the original, or to anyone of a younger age who has a liking for imaginative sci-fi. All in all this is highly recommended.