I begin this week with a look at the Pilot of another Irwin Allen created tv show (he also created Lost in Space). This may be a show you have never heard of, I hadn’t until last week. It’s called Land of the Giants, and it first aired September 22, 1968. When looking at what happened in 1968 I saw this on a list of tv shows, but just ignored it. I later saw it again when I was bored online and found myself looking at the Wikipedia page for the Virgin Galactic space missions. So I decided to check it out, I hadn’t really seen anything TV wise that looked that interesting. The show is kind of like a cross between Lost in Space and The Fantastic Voyage both of which I have looked at in the past. But instead of the Jupiter 2 or the Proteus their ship is the Spindrift, and instead of being smaller or lost on another planet, they are both smaller AND lost on another planet. It is also set in the future as both those shows are.
What would you do if you suddenly found yourself in a land where you were the size of a mouse and everyone else was normal size, and there was no way of getting home?
Alright, intro over, lets get into the story. We meet the crew and party of a commercial sub orbital space ship used for faster travel around the world, the Spindrift, as they are about to land in London, but they have lost contact with the flight centre. That’s when they encounter an Star Trek type anomaly, you know the type, a big cube or, as in this case, sphere that they need to escape or destroy. They are pulled into it for a little, but then things return to normal. At least what they perceive as normal. The pilot and co-pilot are still unable to contact London, but have to land anyway as they are running low on fuel. When they do land they think everything is fine until something gigantic approaches the ship quickly. That Giant thing?…is a young child. It’s not long until they realize they are not in London, or on Earth, but in a place where they are the same size as tarantulas. Actually, even the tarantulas end up being bigger. They are attacked by a cat, and decide to use the last of the fuel to escape, ending up in a forest area. The pilot, who was played by David Bowie’s stunt double, and the stewardess take a radio and go on an excursion into the wilderness to explore. they come across a weird room with one open side and. The pilot tells the stewardess not to enter, but she is unable to keep her curiosity in check, and steps in. He goes in after, but it ends up being a trap and they get caught in it. They end up being picked up, along with several other traps, by a scientist who brings them to his lab. They attempt an escape, but the scientist finds them and tapes them down to a table.
During all of this we get to know a few of the characters. One is some kind of spy or something with a very important briefcase that needs delivering. He is masquerading as military. One is a very powerful and rich business man who suspects that this is a ploy to keep him out of doing deals in London. He offers the crew money to get him back to London, there is a child who knows a lot about the military and questions the imposter, but is quickly fooled by his answers. The rest confuse me and I don’t know much about them. But they are called on the radio and quickly make a rescue plan. they use tools that are around such as matches, string and paper clips as a variety of supplies, including axes, grappling hooks, and torches. Once inside the scientist lab, they make a diversion and save the stewardess and the pilot. On their way out, they are seen again, but this time they are able to escape the scientist. They manage to loose him and get back to the ship successfully.
I noticed as I watched the credits that brilliant composer John Williams wrote the theme music for this. I also noticed that it sounded very similar to Lost in Space’s theme. In fact, I originally thought it was the same song. I looked him up and, sure enough, he wrote both. Williams went on to write many movie themes including Jaws, E.T., Harry Potter, Home Alone, Jurassic Park, Superman, and the very well known Star Wars and Indiana Jones themes.
In comparison to other things I have viewed from this era, this show had the worst special effects. This could be attributed to Fantastic Voyage being a film and having a larger budget, and that Star Trek for sure, and possibly, Lost in Space having been remastered. There were several scenes where the poor effects took me out of the story. That is not what I want from shows like this, I want to be completely engulfed.
During the shows two year run, Gold Key produced 5 comics based on it, and 3 novels were written. I am more curious than I expected to be to see how the series continues, but I am not willing to pay the $33 for the season on iTunes or the $2 for each new episode to find out what happens. I may check out the comics though.
Anyways. Welcome to 1968! This week, I’m hoping to read the introductions of Avengers: Age of Ultron characters and MCU newbies Ultron and the Vision, and take on both the film and novel versions of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Check back for those. Thanks for reading!
Image from Wikipedia