1/04/2011. Contributed by Rod MacDonald
Land Of The Giants: The Complete Season One. region 2 DVD: pub: Revelation Films Ltd. B004BFZA6Y 26 episodes with extras. Price: GBP 39.99 (UK) stars: Gary Conway, Don Marshall, Heather Young, Don Matheson, Deanna Lund, Kurt Kasznar and Stefan Arngrim
check out website: www.revfilms.com
After finishing ‘Voyage To the Bottom Of The Sea’, Irwin Allen immediately embarked on another project which was to be the most expensive Science Fiction series of that time. Costing a quarter of $1 million per episode, ‘Land Of The Giants was a spectacular in special effects. When a group of people were mysteriously transported to another planet where everyone was huge, approximately twelve times the size of normal humans, the excuse was there for an extravaganza of bigger-than-life proportions. Only this was in the 60s and computer special effects did not exist. This is all done the hard way by constructing enormous props and sets at great expense.
The scene is set when a sub-orbital flight of the Spindrift gets caught up in a maelstrom of dimensional proportions and instead of flying from Los Angeles to London, the aircraft ends up damaged but intact in a strange world, ‘The Land Of The Giants’. On board are seven characters with different natures and motives, seven people set adrift on this weird and terrifying planet. The characters are pilot Captain Steve Burton (Gary Conway), co-pilot Dan Eriksson (Don Marshall), stewardess Betty Hamilton (Heather Young), engineer Mark Wilson (Don Matheson), socialite Valerie Scott (Deanna Lund), bank robber Alexander Fitzhugh (Kurt Kasznar) and an orphan boy Barry Lockridge (Stefan Arngrim). There was also a very important character in Chipper, the boy's dog. Seven individuals, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, lost on a very dangerous world where it will take everything they have just to survive.
This DVD collection contains all of the twenty-six episodes of the first season of ‘Land Of The Giants’. It was released in the USA previously but this is the first UK edition. Additionally, there is a disc with special features, a very welcome bonus which contains lots of goodies, including the pilot episode not previously seen on TV, several interviews with cast members, stills images which focus on some of the special effects and the package also comes with a booklet. Many people don't bother about additional material with a DVD but it does add considerably to the experience of viewing, promoting understanding about the production and cast. A piece of history if truth be said.
Now, as to the series itself, from a personal point of view I found it rather dark and forbidding. There was almost a sense of claustrophobia in being on this planet where everything else was huge, menacing and dangerous. Largely (forgive the pun), the inhabitants, the giants, were not a pleasant bunch. It was a world where everything seemed to be ostensibly normal with the exception that it resembled a police state. Maybe it parodied a central European country under communism. Even at that, the people were not generally normal and most had a vicious streak running through them. Big chips on giant shoulders!
When reading articles about ‘Land Of The Giants’, many people try to piece together information concerning the planet, its people and the general situation under which they lived. They want to make a world picture with continuity and logic. Well it may be possible for ‘Star Trek’ but it's a mistake to try to do this for ‘Land Of The Giants’. There may be general themes running through the scripts where pieces of information here and there accumulate to give a rudimentary explanation of the nature of things on this planet but they are coincidental. The main reason for the existence of this series is Irwin Allen's desire to make a special effects extravaganza.
Basically, there is no continuity running through ‘Land Of The Giants’. It's a fact that the scripts were written at different times by teams of people without a proper logical order. Each episode can be viewed as a separate entity, without a great deal of knowledge of what had happened in previous episodes. That doesn't really matter in this case because what the viewers want to see are special effects where objects common to ourselves are in a huge scale of terrifying proportions. A pair of scissors, a pencil, an insect and even a mouse, let alone the cat, become something out of a ‘Gulliver's Travels’ nightmare.
However, in saying that, the episodes remain entertaining, keeping the viewer attentive throughout. The creator wanted entertainment and that's what was delivered. As mentioned, this was a large budget production in glorious colour and everything had to be literally bigger-than-life.
Generally, the stories and the scripts are very good. Each one is a complete story and as you would expect, giant props are abundant. It's unlikely that such a series could be made today in the same way. It would be too expensive, probably costing about five million dollars per episode. Additionally, the actors were very athletic. They had to be in order to manoeuvre themselves in this giant world. When looking at the episodes you say to yourself, would I survive in this world and the answer is definitely negative. This is how it must feel like to be a mouse.
The ‘Land Of The Giants’ scenario must not be taken too seriously. Trying to work out the physics of the situation is ridiculous and basically nothing would work in reality. Large people would die on Earth as would humans on the giant planet, probably instantly as soon as they arrived with gravity not the least of their problems. Everything else is beside the point but that's not what this is about. It's entertainment big style.
All things considered, this DVD package is an excellent buy. Twenty-six episodes plus all the extras make for good viewing. Although this was made back in the 60s, over forty years ago, it still stands the test of time and doesn't appear outdated. Irwin Allen at his best!
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