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Series / Land of the Giants

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Land of the Giants (1968-1970) was an Irwin Allen science fiction TV series that 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 seventy 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.


  • Character Development: Fitzhugh starts out as a near-absolute Jerkass (he even threatens the others with a gun at one point!), but his experiences over the course of the early episodes do turn him into a better person. He'll always be the Complainer and Sour Supporter, but (unlike Dr. Smith) he becomes a passably dependable asset to the team. Best exemplified in the episode where he gets amnesia and turns back into a complete jerk for a while, till his memory returns.
  • 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.
  • Con Artist: Alexander Fitzhugh.
  • Continuity Drift: Early on, the heroes are completely unable to understand the language of 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, without explanation, changed the giants to be perfectly understandable. 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.
    • Also, in the first season, the giants have alien names (in "The Flight Plan", a giant criminal named Logar poses as an Earthling by the name "Joe", and his cohorts laugh about how weird "Joe" sounds) and their own culture (for example, the "Night of Thrombeldinbar"). However, in the second season, many giants have average English-sounding names (like Joe Simmons, Bertha Fry, Doctor North), while others still have alien names (often in the same episode); and their culture is much more Earth- / American-like. For example, they use dollars as currency and elect senators (which is weird, given they live in a dictatorial state). "Our Man O'Reilly" features a "giant Irishman" by the titular name, who mistakes the Earthlings for Leprechauns.
  • 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", 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.
  • Cut Short: Just as in the case of Lost in Space and The Time Tunnel, the series was cancelled, and the Spindrift crew never made it home.
  • Dirty Communists: The giants' society is portrayed pretty much as a Soviet-type dictatorship, with the Special Investigations Department (S.I.D.) serving as a KGB-type secret police. Much like in Josef Stalin's Russia and Mao Zedong's Red China, "good citizens" are expected to report suspicious activities. An underground resistance movement also appears in a bunch of episodes. The S.I.D. offers a reward for the capture of the little people, which several giants try (and fail) to collect throughout the series.
    • However, due to inconsistent writing, especially in the second season, the giants' society has several elements clearly modeled after American culture. They use dollars as a currency, elect senators and have profit-oriented movie studios.
  • 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
  • Exact Words: In "Pay the Piper", the Pied Piper insists that he never lies, but he still can't be trusted because his "contracts" omit important details. For example, he agrees to return Fitzhugh to Earth, but he doesn't say when. Due to prior commitments on other planets, he might be able to swing by Earth sometime around... 2743 or so?
  • Explosive Instrumentation
  • Expy: Fitzhugh is an obvious copy of Dr. Smith, the Breakout Character from Allen's previous series Lost in Space. In the second season, Kurt Kasznar was billed in the Title Sequence as "Special Guest Star", just like Jonathan Harris was in Lost In Space. Barry was supposed to stand in for Will Robinson.
  • Face–Heel Turn: In "The Unsuspected," Steve is exposed to toxic mushroom spores, turns on his crewmates and sells them out to the giants. 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 20 Minutes into the Future, but the giants' world resembles... 1968-70 America, but with advanced tech when the story calls for it (including Teleportation, force fields, magnetic stunners, cybernetics and androids).
    • Really there was a lot of inconsistency with regards to this point. The point was repeatedly mentioned that Earth was "fifty years ahead" of the giants' world technologically and the giants trying to get access to our technology was often a motivation for hunting the heroes. This should place them in the 1930s. It's true that occasionally they did lack some modern technologies like reliable infrared glasses but the giants seemed to be mostly at 1960s level of technology, except when they were at futuristic (post series) technology. In some cases though, the giants even had technology not known on Earth (like the young boy who had the ability to turn an ordinary human into a giant).
  • 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.
  • Fungus Humongous: The mushrooms are normal size for their world, but humongous to the tiny Earthlings stranded there. In "The Unsuspected", exposure to giant mushroom spores cause Steve to go crazy and he captures his fellow shipmates one by one.
  • Genre Shift: The series started out as a pure survival show, however, halfway through the first season, they shifted into a whole different format, turning it into a weird sci-fi version of The Fugitive (see above).
  • Giant Spider
  • Have a Gay Old Time: The series used the term Little People long before its meaning was anything to do with dwarfism. (But then the phrase has traditionally also referred to The Fair Folk.)
  • Human Chess: A giant uses some of the little people as chess pieces in "Deadly Pawn."
  • Incredible Shrinking Man:
    • In "The Flight Plan", a giant criminal uses "magic" pills to shrink himself to the size of Earthlings, and posing as one of them, gain their trust.
    • In "Pay the Piper", the Pied Piper is able to shrink himself to the size of the Earth people.
    • In "Wild Journey", Steve and Dan steal a device from two time traveling aliens, zap themselves back to Earth on the day of their departure, and try to prevent their flight taking off. However, the aliens soon find them, and desperate to prevent tampering with history, shrink them. Hence, now their own planet becomes the Land of the Giants for our heroes.
  • 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. Children seem to bring out his gold as seen in "The Creed" and "Night of the Thrombeldinbar".
    • 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.
  • 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...
  • Kids Are Cruel: Akman's very sadistic granddaughter in "Ghost Town".
  • Kill It with Ice: Attempted in "Panic" via a freezing chamber.
  • Like Reality, Unless Noted: Most of the time, the Giants' world seems very much like 20th century Earth. Over time, though, we learn they have any number of oddly advanced technologies, and that their planet has things like a lost continent and a secret subterranean civilization.
  • 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.
  • Mind-Control Music: The Pied Piper of Hamelin continues to use his go-to technique in "Pay the Piper". There's a bit of Doing In the Wizard, as Steve and Mark say that there must be a scientific explanation for this seemingly Magic Music. Besides, its power can be defeated by playing a recording of it backwards.
  • Mouse World: Played with; in this series, humans are the mice.
  • Nepotism: In "Every Dog Should Have a Boy", kindly veterinarian Dr. Howard has his son/employee Carl run his practice while he's away. Unfortunately, Carl is a Sadist who likes to sic dogs on people For the Evulz. When one of these dogs injures Chipper, a desperate Barry brings him to Ben, Dr. Howard's well-meaning assistant — which results in Carl bullying Ben while trying to turn the little people in to the S.I.D. Fortunately, Ben saves Chipper, and Dr. Howard rewards Ben and punishes Carl when he gets home.
  • 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.
  • Prisoner's Last Meal: In the episode "Six Hours to Live", a giant who has been framed for a murder he didn't commit awaits execution for the crime. While professing his innocence, the prison warden asks him if he can bring him anything to eat. Although not feeling hungry, he orders scrambled eggs with hashbrowns. When the last meal is first brought to the warden for inspection, Steve and Dan manage to sneak onto one of the giant plates before they are brought to the prisoner's cell, where Steve and Dan help the giant to escape. In the end, the giant is able to clear his name and ensure the truly guilty party is arrested for the crime.
  • 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.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune: Well, it is an Irwin Allen show. (In fact, the show went through two themes that were unused before John Williams got called in.)
  • 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.
  • Series Goal: Getting back to Earth. (Since the series was cancelled after two seasons, this was never achieved. See also: Lost in Space and The Time Tunnel.
  • 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: With a side helping of Production Posse. Jonathan Harris from a certain other Irwin Allen show shows up as The Pied Piper of Hamelin 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: Averted with the casting of African-American actor Don Marshall as co-pilot Dan Erickson, even though Dan is the only African-American principal 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.
    • Although in "Giants And All That Jazz," in which a black giant (played by Sugar Ray Robinson) in trouble with the mob is given jazz lessons by one of the little people, guess who his teacher is?
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Aired from 1968 to 1970, set in 1983.
  • Twisted Ankle: Numerous examples.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Valerie and Betty, until Betty was written out (due to the actress' pregnancy), 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 skating dress from Snow White and the Three Stooges in the episode "Collector's Item" (but used for dancing, not skating).
  • Would Hurt a Child: Fitzhugh, sort of, although he has his limits. In "Pay the Piper", he makes a Deal with the Devil with The Pied Piper of Hamelin — if he helps capture a senator's son, the Piper will take him back to Earth. Fitzhugh even cons Barry into helping him. However, due to his Jerk with a Heart of Gold ethos (and the Piper's betrayal), in the end he helps save everybody.
  • Your Size May Vary: Generally very well averted. The ordinary human to giant size ratio is well established and was normally kept very consistent. One example where this trope did apply was in "The Shell Game" with a hearing aide which was small enough to fit in the palm of an ordinary human character's hand grew significantly when a giant was holding it.