Saturday, January 22, 2022

LAND OF THE GIANTS - "Mini-People Playthings" (1968)

This week's Saturday Night Special is another journey down the road of "Mini-People and Their World of Giant Tormentors!"

 
There were fifty-one episodes of "Land Of The Giants" made between 1968 and 1970.
  
The first episode aired on September 22, 1968, and was titled 
"The Crash."
On a flight to L.A., an aircraft enters a warp in space and time, and ends up in another dimension where everything is much larger than what is normal to these people. Now it's up to them to figure out how and why!

 
The star of the show is Gary (I Was A Teenage Frankenstein) Conway as Captain Steve Burton.

Gary is long since retired! One of his lifelong passions has always been painting, which he is still doing today. Here's a nice sample of his work titled "Vineyard Reverie." Since retiring from acting, Gary and his beautiful wife, former Miss America Marion McKnight, have owned and run a stunningly beautiful vineyard in Paso Robles, California called Carmody McKnight Estate Wines, that is most definitely worth checking out. Carmody was Gary's real last name.

Leave it to My Editor to come up with this wine drenched episode of "Columbo" that Gary Conway was part of in 1973. Thanks to the "Columbophile" Website.

Don (The Thing With Two Heads) Marshall was the co-star, and co-pilot Dan Erickson. Truth of the matter is, Don was one of only a handful of black actors on TV in lead roles during this era.

The rest of the people on the plane include Don (Murph The Surf) Matheson as businessman Mark Wilson. Don was a decorated Korean War veteran, and was a very talented jazz drummer!

Stefan (The X-Files) Arngrim is passenger Barry Lockridge! What is it with all the crazy talented people in this cast? 
 
 Stefan is also a musician, and in 1969 he had a single called "Where Has Christmas Gone," that was produced by Kim Fowley, and in 1976 he recorded this single called "Dying In St. Louis Gonna Make You Blue. Then, in the late 80's, early 90's, he was in a pretty cool band called The Knights of The Living Dead. Stefan has also co-written songs with Warren Zevon.

Deanna (Dr. Goldfoot And The Bikini Machine) Lund is the simi-bad girl Valerie Scott.

Heather (Galactica 1980) Young is flight attendant Betty Hamilton.

And the last of the main cast is Kurt (Casino Royale) Kaznar as the bumbling Alexander B. Fitzhugh. 
 
With giant cars etc, it doesn't take long for the crew to figure out they are in the wrong place.
But what is this place?

The scenery and special effects are all pretty cool.

This is about the most classic shot you're ever going to see of a guy talking on a walkie-talkie!

 
Outside the ship, the gang has encounters with a giant lizard, a giant cat, and a giant dog.

The Captain told Valerie not to go into this box, but she didn't listen, and now they're both in trouble, because it turns out it's an insect trap used by entomologists.
 
 
Here's the part I don't understand. Why would two bug collectors who caught two miniature humans treat them so weird? You don't normally associate entomologists with being mean people, but I guess they are.

So, obviously these giant people in this other dimension are not human, or they would have attempted to talk to the little critters that look just like them.

Instead, they pin them down with Scotch tape, and poke at them. Luckily they escaped or it would have been a lot worse. Why is the big lummox poking Valerie with a pencil? That's just not right!

Fifty-four years later, this show is still so popular, you can get a "Land Of The Giants" lunchbox at Walmart for $14.95. Now, that's a deal!

"From now on, that's just the way it's gonna be in this world."
 It's starting to sound like a familiar mantra!
Here's a wallpaper I made for you using titles cards from the best of the miniature people movies and TV shows.

1 comment:

kd said...

Sunday morning ramble:

It's interesting how much the pilot of LAND OF THE GIANTS changed, before it ended up on the air for '60s kids like me to see it. The script changed, the characters changed, the giants changed, and the music changed (radically!), among other things. But once all was said and done (and re-edited!), what really put the pilot "on the map" as a terrific sci-fi series pilot from Irwin Allen, was the final choice of the great John Williams to create a high-energy, hip and jazzy music score and title theme! Among his best-ever work for television in fact. And as usual for Irwin Allen's TV shows, fine casting, superb production design, and amazing special effects. But once the series was two seasons down and in the can, the one issue that remained was the indecisive aspect of just what kind of planet, time or reality the "land of the giants" was overall portrayed to be. (Personally, I liked the early, alien-like depiction, in which it was never quite certain just how human-like or similar to earth civilization their "land" would be.) As the show progressed over all the episodes and two broadcast seasons, the cryptic alien language (printed and "grunted") of the giants changed, and it just as well could have been earth (or "urth") with typical earth-like melodrama tales, wacky scientists, and rigid eastern-european dictatorship societies.

The original (unfilmed) pilot script was a whole 'nother animal from the filmed series that LAND OF THE GIANTS became, for certain! Soon, Mr. Allen began venturing away from the boob-tube, and back into feature filmmaking in the 1970s, and two of his greatest career successes, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and THE TOWERING INFERNO. IMHO, as much as I might enjoy his later '70s and '80s stabs at tee-vee sci-fi, He might be viewed better overall today if he had stopped after those two big theatrical disaster epics.

I'm glad that I got to meet him briefly in 1980, just to say with a big ol' smile on my 25-year-old face, "Thanks for all the fun!" Mr. Allen. :)

-kd

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