Series: Land of the Giants
Land of the Giants
(1968-1970) was an Irwin Allen
science fiction TV series, can be summarized as the inverse of both Gulliver's Travels note
and Incredible Shrinking Man
. In the near-future (year 1983), a commercial suborbital spacecraft enters a spacewarp and is transported to a world where the people on that world are all sixty feet tall, a skyscraper is two miles high, and when they're found out, the government wants them for scientific research.
You have the pilot, the co-pilot, the pretty but spoiled jetsetter, the pretty but serious stewardess, The Smart Guy
, the Con Man
, the little boy and his dog
This crew must make their way in a world where fatal hazards
abound; a tarantula is the size of a wolf, a kitchen table requires mountain climbing gear (string and a giant safety pin) and making a phone call means using a phone the size of a wardrobe closet.
Not only that, the equivalent of Inspector Gerard sees them as seven Richard Kimbles
, with the government offering a substantial reward for the capture of any of the little people
as they are called. They end up on a series of adventures, often helping people out of jams that they get into.
- Absentee Actor: Heather Young, for part of the second season and the first season episodes "Night of Thrombeldinbar" and "Return of Inidu." Stefan Arngrim also missed "Inidu" and several episodes. Their in-universe absences were rarely explained (and when they were, usually consisted of something along the lines of "he's/she's/they're back at the ship").
- Adaptation Dye-Job: In one of the book adaptations of the series, titian-haired Valerie is described as blonde. Confusing matters even more, on the cover she still appears to have red hair.
- And Starring: Noted in Expy.
- Animated Credits Opening: In the first season.
- Art Major Physics: The premise of the show of course required ignoring the Square/Cube Law.
- Birthday Episode: Subverted with "The Creed"; it looks like this at first, but it turns out they have something more serious to worry about...
- A Birthday, Not a Break: "The Creed."
- The Chase: The title of the first season finale.
- Circular Drive: When the production could only afford to make one spark plug for an episode, it was made to look like there were actually three using this trope.
- Cloning Blues: In the aptly named "The Clones." There is a bit of What Measure Is a Non-Human? tossed in, but only for the Dan clone, who pulls a Heroic Sacrifice at the end.
- Con Artist: Alexander Fitzhugh.
- Continuity Drift: In the first few episodes, the heroes are completely unable to understand the giants (one episode features a giant putting them in a jar hooked up to a complicated listening device so he can communicate with them). The writers quickly realized how much this limited the kinds of stories they could tell, and changed the giants to be perfectly understandable with no explanation. This is the kind of thing you could get away with back then.
- Since the first season episodes are aired out of production order, this makes things very confusing.
- Cowboy Be Bop At His Computer: A review of one of the DVD releases referred to Valerie as an entertainer.
- A book written on Allen's series says that in "The Marionettes," the puppeteer injured his hand rescuing Valerie from a gorilla; he was actually saving Betty from a trap.
- Crash Course Landing: A variant in "The Creed"; not quite a literal example, as no actual plane was involved, but similarly Dr. Brulle (a giant, and thus unable to do it himself) talked Steve through the operation he had to perform on Barry. A similar trick was pulled in "Deadly Lodestone," but it wasn't for real.
- Dangerously Short Skirt: Betty's in "Panic," "The Deadly Dart," and a few other late second season episodes.
- Easy Amnesia: In "Double Cross," Fitzhugh receives a Tap on the Head, forgets who he is, and helps two Giant thieves steal a ruby. Fails to be Identity Amnesia because Fitzhugh is a criminal type in the first place.
- Everyone Meets Everyone
- Explosive Instrumentation
- Expy: Fitzhugh is an attempt to replicate Zachary Smith, the Breakout Character from Allen's previous series Lost in Space, right down to the fact that in the second season, Kurt Kasznar was billed in the opening credits as "Special Guest Star", just as Jonathan Harris was in Lost In Space.
- Barry was supposed to be the equivalent of Will Robinson.
- Face-Heel Turn: In "The Unsuspected," Steve is exposed to toxic mushroom spores and turns on his crewmates, selling them out to the giants.
- Interestingly enough, the reason he wanted to turn the others in was because the mushroom spores messed with his mind enough so he was under the impression that they were doing a Face-Heel Turn on him.
- Failure Is the Only Option: They could never get out of the land of the giants; something always went wrong.
- Fake Shemp: In "Wild Journey," it's painfully obvious that they were trying to obscure Barry's face in the scenes at the airport. Stefan Arngrim, having undergone a growth spurt, couldn't reprise his younger self, and so the production team was required to use a body double.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The travelers are from Twenty Minutes into the Future, but the giants' world resembled... modern-day America.
- Except for their teleporters. And forcefields. And magnetic stunners. And cybernetics. And androids.
- Five-Man Band:
- Forgotten Birthday: In "The Creed", someone says how Barry must think they've forgotten his birthday. Even if he did think that, it ends up being the least of his problems.
- Framed Face Opening: Used in the second season, framed by cutouts of the show title.
- Giant Spider
- Hide Your Pregnancy: Before the character was written out for part of the second season, Betty was strategically positioned behind foliage and wore baggy clothing to conceal Heather Young's pregnancy.
- Human Chess: A giant uses some of the little people as chess pieces in "Deadly Pawn."
- Instrumental Theme Tune
- It's Always Spring: The weather is always relatively temperate and mild, with no rain or snow. Fortunately for the Earthlings, since they would either founder in snow or drown in wet weather.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Fitzhugh, though it seems he leans toward the "jerk" side more.
- While Mark is usually exceedingly arrogant, annoyed and impatient (and, in his situation, who's going to blame him?) he does have some very nice, tender moments throughout the series.
- John Williams: Composer for the series. Credited in this series as "John", not Johnny like he was for Lost in Space and The Time Tunnel.
- Just Eat Gilligan: While not as offensive as Doctor Smith on Lost in Space, Fitzhugh endangers the crew through his greed and cowardice far more often then he does anything to contribute to their escape.
- Chipper is forever getting the group—especially Barry—into trouble. As Fitzhugh says, that dog really is the death of them! Not that he should talk...
- Kill It with Ice: Attempted in "Panic" via a freezing chamber.
- Limited Wardrobe: The characters are Trapped in Another World, and are passengers on a stranded flight. Still, the clothing holds up well given all the running, jumping, and climbing they do. Several characters get a costume change between seasons (Valerie and Betty got new dresses, Barry upgraded to a sweater, and Mark's formal shirt, vest and pants were replaced by a more rugged brown jacket and pants) but apparently Steve, Dan, and Fitzhugh packed no civilian clothing whatsoever.
- MacGyvering: The Earthlings make a grappling hook out of a safety pin and thread, and a hatchet out of a matchstick and razor blade.
- Macro Zone: The entire premise.
- Mouse World: Played with; in this series, humans are the mice.
- Non-Indicative Title: "The Weird World."
- One Steve Limit: Averted by the cast; there are two Dons (Marshall and Matheson). It's kind of interesting, actually—on Lost in Space there's a Don played by a Mark; on Land of the Giants, there's a Mark played by a Don.
- Proper Tights with a Skirt: Both Betty and Valerie.
- Quicksand Sucks: A criminal (of the 60-foot-tall variety) steals their ship (by picking it up and taking it with him, as to him it's about the size of a beach ball) and takes it quite a distance. He then falls into a pit of quicksand, dropping the ship and allowing them to escape. They decide, as bad as he was, that he doesn't deserve to die, and use the ship's engines to pull him out of the pit. Once he gets out of the pit, he grabs the ship again, making them believe that they committed a colossal blunder in allowing themselves to be betrayed, but they discover that the man, in gratitude, has taken the ship and put it back exactly where he had originally stolen it from.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: According to Deanna Lund, had the show gone onto a third season, it would have explored a romance between Valerie and Mark because their actors were getting married.
- Ruptured Appendix: Barry had appendicitis in "The Creed." And on his birthday, no less.
- Save the Villain: As noted above in Quicksand Sucks.
- Screen Shake: After all, this is Irwin Allen we're talking about.
- Sick Episode: "The Creed."
- Smart People Play Chess: In "Deadly Pawn," subverted with Mark—though he can play, he's not the group's best, as Fitzhugh expected.
- Smurfette Principle: Valerie, after Betty disappears for part of the second season because of actress Heather Young's pregnancy.
- Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Barry, to a certain extent. In the first season he was ten or eleven, and looked it, but by the second he already was (and looked) thirteen, which is justified in that three years actually passed over the course of the series. See here for more detail on the reason.
- Special Guest: Jonathan Harris from a certain other Irwin Allen show shows up as the Pied Piper of Hamlin in "Pay the Piper." Robert Colbert, Whit Bissell, Lee Meriwether, and John Zaremba from yet another Irwin Allen show all appear in separate episodes.
- Surprise Party: Barry's fellow castaways intended to do one of these for him on his birthday, but after the real plot is revealed, it's never mentioned again.
- Ten Little Murder Victims: Although neither is strictly a murder mystery, the Giants capture the Little People one by one in the aptly named "Seven Little Indians." In the second season in "The Unsuspected," Steve does a drug-induced Face-Heel Turn and captures his crewmates one by one.
- That's an Order: Perhaps most egregiously in "On A Clear Night You Can See Earth."
- Time Travel: "A Place Called Earth," "Home Sweet Home," and "Wild Journey."
- Token Minority: Subverted with the casting of African-American actor Don Marshall as co-pilot Dan Erickson, even though Dan is the only African-American principle in any 60s Irwin Allen production. His race has nothing to do with his characterization; he's just another character rather than the black character, quite unusual at the time.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: Aired in the 1968-1969 and 1969-1970 seasons, set in 1983.
- Twisted Ankle: Numerous examples.
- Two Girls to a Team: Valerie and Betty, until Betty was written out, and once again when she was written back in.
- Wild Mass Guessing: A theory goes that the space travelers were actually transported to an Alternate Universe- which would explain everything, even the laws of physics allowing giant humans to exist.
- Whole Costume Reference: A reuse of the fur-trimmed white dress from Snow White and the Three Stooges in the episode "Collector's Item."
- You Have to Believe Me