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Monday, August 30, 2010

TV tie-ins: Land of the Giants

Where were they? The grass was six feet high—the trees as tall as skyscrapers—insects the size of dogs—and men and women were 70-foot giants!
__Supersonic Flight 703, Los Angeles-London, had made an emergency landing in unknown territory, and the passengers and crew stared in horror at the monstrous world around them.
__When night came and they saw the stars, they knew the worst—for it was not the familiar stars of Earth's sky that shone on them...
__One of the most incredible adventures of all time is under way, as the seven castaways of Flight 703 face the shattering fact that they are prisoners in the Land of the Giants.
I loved Land of the Giants when it was on the TV. It was the last and usually considered the least of the Irwin Allen science fiction stable, the series stranding a small group of travellers on a hostile alien planet after their commercial suborbital flight falls through a spacewarp. The gimmick was that the alien planet was just like Earth, except everything was scaled up by a factor of twelve. To add to the survivor’s problems the local government was vaguely repressive, resembling cold-war America's idea of Eastern Europe; later visits to foreign countries found them ruled by mad dictators in the Ming the Merciless mould.

Technically impressive for the time, although the scripts were largely functional, doing little more than letting the regular characters take it in turns at running away from the big wobbly styrofoam hand. Some of the other special effects were not terribly special, but so what... I still loved it!

ABC (1968-70; 51 x 50m episodes). Creator and Executive Producer: Irwin Allen; Starring: Gary Conway (Steve Burton), Don Marshall (Dan Erikson), Heather Young (Betty Hamilton), Don Matheson (Mark Wilson), Kurt Kasznar (Alexander Fitzhugh), Deanna Lund (Valerie Scott), Stefan Arngrim (Barry Lockridge).

Slingshot for a David by James Bradwell. Manchester, World Distributors 7235-4408-5, 1969.
Trapped on a planet inhabited by giants, Steve Burton and his comrades are suddenly engulfed in a fantastic power struggle between security forces and a benign politician. On Earth the spacemen could easily have handled the assassination attempt but here, where everything assumes gigantic proportions, they were Davids facing a host of Goliaths. Desperate to repair their rocketship yet unable to sit back and let an unknown giant be put to death, the stranded Earth-people battle against impossible odds to safeguard their vessel and defeat a giant killer.
The Mean City by James Bradwell. Manchester, World Distributors 7235-4409-3, 1969.
With their sub-orbital spaceliner still stranded, the crew and passengers of flight 703, ant-sized in comparison with the gargantuan inhabitants of the land of the giants, struggle on with their unavailing quest to discover some means of returning to Earth.
__Their hiding place threatened with floods and ringed by giant insects, tycoon Mark Wilson, with co-pilot Don Erickson and attractive air hostess Betty Hamilton embark on a terrifying journey into the Giant's city on the slim chance of finding a Giant they can trust to help them.
__The adventure of 'the little people' in The Mean City, their betrayal and finally their escape, perched on the buffers of a colossal train, ploughing through murky flood-waters, makes a gripping story to excite and to amuse, all enthusiasts of the popular television series, Land of the Giants.
The Trap by Murray Leinster. Manchester, World Distributors 7235-4410-7, 1969.
It was a toy house, made and painted by a giant adult as if for a giant child. But it had been brought here for a specific, appalling purpose—it was a trap, designed to capture men and women of Earth, somehow displaced into this land of giants. It was baited with the appearance of a home, neat and tidy and quaint, which would rouse the hopes and the curiosity of people who did not belong on this world at all.
__And it had caught Valerie...
__As Steve and Dan struggled to pry open the barred window, they heard a monstrous, rhythmic movement—something came through the trees, huge and horrible...
The Hot Spot by Murray Leinster. Manchester, World Distributors 7235-4411-5, 1969.
The passengers and crew of flight 703 find themselves stranded on an alien planet whose gargantuan inhabitants are hostile towards their presence. Dogged by ill-luck and beset by dangers never before faced by human beings, Steve Burton and his co-pilot Dan Erickson must keep the sub-orbital spaceliner Spindrift intact if they are to have any real chance of returning to earth.
__Their dramatic adventures as they battle to stay alive against tremendous odds make a gripping tale not to be missed by followers of the popular television series Land of the Giants.
Of the four books published by World Distributors in 1969, two were original novels (James Bradwell being the pen-name of British author Arthur Kent) and two reprinted from the US series published by Pyramid Books in 1968-69. The American series ran thus:

Land of the Giants by Murray Leinster. New York, Pyramid X-1846, 1968.
Land of the Giants #2: The Hot Spot by Murray Leinster. New York, Pyramid -1921, 1969.
Land of the Giants #3: Unknown Danger by Murray Leinster. New York, Pyramid, 1969.

One further title, a juvenile, was also published in the USA:

Flight of Fear by Carl Henry Rathden. New York, Whitman, 1969.

The Land of the Giants isn't available on DVD in the UK but there has been a huge box-set of the series produced in the US, which includes the unaired original pilot show. I'm kinda tempted to get it myself... maybe when I win the lottery.

1 comment:

Mike W said...

It was a great series - aired on Friday teatimes? - but unfortunately never came to a resolution. I believe the actor who played the 'baddie' with the holdall stuffed with cash died many years ago.