Land of the Giants

The cast of "Land of the Giants"

The cast of “Land of the Giants”

I recently re-connected with the TV show “Land of the Giants” through Netflix.  “Land of the Giants” was a science fiction series which ran on ABC from 1968 – 1970, which means I watched it when I was between the ages of six and eight years old, and really enjoyed it.  When I heard that “Land of the Giants” was going to be coming out on DVD, I could not wait to see it again.

Viewing “Land of the Giants” now, as an adult, not to mention a film critic, I am happy to report that it has stood the test of time.  It is still a good series if perhaps a “guilty pleasure.”  Its effects are rather homemade looking by today’s standards but, for me, that contributes to the show’s charm.

The premise of “Land of the Giants” is that a sub-orbital spaceship (kind of a cross between a space ship and an airplane) called the Spindrift has crash-landed on a strange planet.  The planet seems to be exactly like Earth except for the fact that its inhabitants are giants.  Our space crew and passengers are the “little people” who are constantly running from these giants.  Often, one, two, or all, of the little people are captured by the giants, and a rescue mission must be organized.   The show is very inventive in its use of clever sets – giant curbs over which the little people have to climb, a giant door lock through which one of them has to sneak, a piece of thread that becomes a rope, a giant cat that can potentially eat them in one gulp.

“Land of the Giants” was produced by Irwin Allen, a man known for his love of fantastic worlds.  Allen also produced the TV shows “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” (1964-1968), “The Time Tunnel” (1966-1967) and “Lost in Space” (1965-1958) among others. During the 1970s Allen was nicknamed “The Master of Disaster” for his feature films “The Poseidon Adventure”(1972), “The Towering Inferno” (1974) and, to a lesser degree, “The Swarm” (1978).

In sociological terms “Land of the Giants” is about the violation of a background assumption.  A background assumption is how we expect things to be – the way in which we define reality.  In the case of “Land of the Giants” landing on a planet that looks like Earth but has giant inhabitants who live in proportionally giant homes with giant products (for example a gigantic can of beans) certainly violates a background assumption.

I had “Land of the Giants” listed on my Netflix cue for quite some time, but Netflix always listed it with the notation “long wait.”  Finally I called Netflix and spoke to its customer service department.  Netflix has the best customer service I have ever encountered in any company anywhere.  They have never failed to locate a DVD for me and send it quickly, even if I happen to have out my quota of DVDs (which, for me, is usually the case).  Soon after this call, my “Land of the Giants” DVDs began arriving.

The picture and sound quality of the “Land of the Giants” DVDs is very good.   I can only imagine that a show  from the 1960s must have presented its share of technical problems including color fading and scratches, not to mention sound issues.  Someone really made an effort to clean up these episodes.  My only criticism of the DVD set is that there are no extras.  Modern day interviews with surviving cast members, a history of the show and commentary tracks for at least some of the episodes would have been be welcome additions.

While you can order “Land of the Giants” as DVDs by mail from Netflix, you may still see the “long wait” notation because I am not yet finished enjoying the first three discs that Netflix has sent me!

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About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on March 28, 2013, in Now on DVD and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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