A Look Back at The Land of the Giants TV Series (1968-1970) | Fanboys Anonymous

A Look Back at The Land of the Giants TV Series (1968-1970)

Posted by Graham Roberts Tuesday, August 12, 2014
The Land of the Giants is an episodic sci-fi thriller set in the future year of 1983 which charts the trials and tribulations of the ill-fated passengers and crew of The Spindrift. The Spindift is a sub-orbital passenger-liner which took off from Los Angeles bound for London using the then (and now) fictitious concept of parabolic trajectory whereby the ship was supposed to fly just above the ozone layer. Unfortunately, the ship enters a space storm and crash-lands on an inhabited planet which parallels earth in all but two ways – the people living on the planet are perhaps one to two decades behind humans in terms of contemporaneous technological development, oh and, err, they are about 72 feet tall!

sci-fi Land of the Giants logo screen

When the ship lands on the planet, the crew don't immediately realise that they are on a land inhabited by giants. Instead, given the vegetation that they have landed in (which, like every other thing on the planet is gigantic in size), they incorrectly assume that they have landed in some sort of forest or on a tropical island. Needless to say, it is not long before they encounter a giant; whilst attempting a failed take-off from the planet, a particularly unpleasant looking bespectacled specimen attempts to grab the ship and stares into the cockpit.

special effects Land of the Giants TV show
The special effects aren't great but they aren't bad either.
This sets the scene for the premise of the rest of the two series' action – our heroes, the crew and passengers of the Spindrift, through a process of exploration and conjecture manage to work out that they have indeed crash-landed on a giant planet. They also realize the 'jungle' they have landed in is actually just some undeveloped scrubland at the edge of the giants' city. From here-on-in, they scavenge for parts to repair their ship, attempting but always failing to leave the planet. All the while trying to evade capture by the giants who are aware of their presence on the planet and sets traps to catch them (it becomes clear as the action of the show progresses that numerous "little people" have arrived on the giant planet thereby suggesting that the giant world is in some sort of parallel universe). The reasons that the giants wish to catch them are many and varied: The scientific community want to carry out experiments on them or  force them to divulge information about their superior "earth technology". Also, spoiled brattish children want to keep them as pets or toys and travelling circuses want to put them in their stage acts.

Naturally, not only are the giants a problem on this planet, so too are the disproportionately large dogs, cats, spiders and all manner of other hazards. Of course, just traversing such a massive landscape causes issues. Tables, chairs, curb-stones, and telephones (objects that we consider as utilities or labor-saving devices) are an absolute nightmare for the "little people" who have to fashion tools to climb up or use them. This includes the ingeniously crafted cotton and safety pin grappling hook rope and razor blade axe, made from scavenged materials discarded by the giant society. Even empty bean cans etc provide an invaluable source of sheet metal for our heroes!

So, what makes this now rather old sci-fi show so good? Despite its age, The Land of the Giants is fantastic, not least because of the set design and "stunts" carried out by the actual main-cast of characters. Yes, some of the ginormous creatures such as cats and bugs look obviously green screened or added-in. That said,  the program has aged very well. The edge-of-seat action coupled with the feeling of apprehension as the audience thinks about "will they or won't they get caught?" is still as fresh now as it was back then. The show owes its greatness to the somewhat capricious nature of its director Irwin Allen. Despite fading into obscurity now, in the '60's through the '80's, he was famous for producing such episodic programs as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; Lost in Space; The Time Tunnel; The Swiss Family Robinson and Code Red along with such films as The Poseidon Adventure and The Swarm which gained him the moniker The Master of Disaster. However, as alluded to previously, it could be argued that he was also the master of irrational decisions, often refusing to work to smaller budgets than the massive (for the period) ones agreed –if Wikipedia is to be believed, $250,000 per episode!

first edition Land of the Giants case
The first edition DVD case, designed to look like one of
infamous traps set by the giants to catch the "little people".
In summary, whilst given the square-cube law that the premise of this show is total nonsense, there is never a dull-moment in the world of The Land of the Giants. It is definitely worth a look either if it's your first time around, or if you watched it in your youth and fancy a revisit.

It is on general release on DVD and the first edition is particularly good as the outer case is fashioned to look like one of the traps used by the giants to capture the "little people".

Do you have the box set? Were you a fan? Let us know in the comments below.
THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY A GUEST WRITER

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