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Land of the Giants

By Wikipedia

Land of the Giants is an American television show of the late 1960s and early Super70s which tells the tale of the crew and passengers of a sub-orbital transport plane which is accidentally transported to a world in which all life forms are huge in comparison to them.

These giants are in form entirely human, but their society is a dictatorship of which not too many details are given, and which employs no symbols. Episodes often have the plot of giant scientists capturing one of the passengers or crew, with the rest having to rescue them.

It was created by Irwin Allen on the template of his Lost in Space. There is a foolish, greedy traitor in an American uniform who continually tries to deceive the boy in the cast, just like Doctor Zachary Smith. The co-pilot is notably an African-American.

With a $250,000 budget per episode Land of the Giants set a new record. The actors had to be in top shape, as they had to do many stunts themselves, such as climbing giant curbs, phone cords, ropes and such. The series ran from September 1968 to September 1970 on ABC.

Land of the Giants

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 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.

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 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 1950s and 1960s Earth, slightly more advanced in some respects (e.g. cloning, radio controlled toys, small nuclear reactors) and slightly behind in others (does not have microelectronics or manned space flight).

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 (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.

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.

The Cast

Captain Steve Burton - Gary Conway
Dan Erikson - Don Marshall
Mark Wilson - Don Matheson
Cdr. Alexander Fitzhugh - Kurt Kasznar
Barry Lockridge - Stefan Arngrim
Valerie Scott - Deanna Lund
Betty Hamilton - Heather Young
Inspector Kobrick - Kevin Hagen


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I watched all of Irwin Allens breakthrough shows. This was a great show of a small, futuristic passenger Space Craft (The Spindriff) that gets caught on it's return orbit into a "space warp" that throws them light years away to a planet filled with "giants". The series dealt with thier survival on this world from week to week. A sort of futuristic Gullivers Island, the passengers of this show, led by Capt. Steve Burton. As "little people", they were highly sought after by the giants totalitarian Gov't systems agency call SID, and constantly were dodging attempts by SID's main agent played by actor Kevin Hagen. Although the stories were very good, (special effects were "corny" by today's standards) Irwin Allen tried to bring across the political point, as this was during the time of the early Super70s, and the "Cold War" between the US and Russia was at it's strength, the "giant" society was a no-brainer to see was a type of totalitarian Russian society. I would have liked to have seen some closure to this show before it went off the air, such as them finding thier way back to Earth. But, as is typical of Irwin Allen shows, they all never quite had closure. Supposedly, the actor who played Capt. Burtons Co-pilot, Dan, wrote a new screenplay for a new series that, I heard, he was trying to sell to Hollywood. Wether that will ever happen, we'll never know, although a big screen remake of the show would be awesome with today's technology. . .


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Aired: September 22, 1968 - September 6, 1970

Cast: Gary Conway, Don Marshall, Don Matheson, Kurt Kasznar, Stefan Arngrim, Deanna Lund, Heather Young, Kevin Hagen

Network: ABC

Genre: Science Fiction

Theme song

Image courtesy of ABC

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It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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