Remembering Land of the Giants

By Mark Phillips

            My eyes were transfixed to the screen as a promo for a new TV series called Land of the Giants began. As the announcer grimly intoned, “A spaceliner out of control!” we saw a boy picking up the spaceship, a car roaring out of the mist over two little people, and a scientist holding a tiny, screaming woman. It ended with a scruffy, rotund man yelling, “I want to get out of here! and a heroic young captain grabbing him. “That’s just the way it’s going to be in this world.” I was thrilled to see such a unique show and I took note of the show’s day and time. I looked over at my friend, Kevin and he looked like he had just tasted a sour lemon. “That’s kinda creepy,” he said with trepidation. “My parents would never let me watch something like that!”

            I had never heard of Irwin Allen, but I had watched all of his previous shows (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Time Tunnel and Lost in Space). At that time, I didn’t know that Allen was determined to make Giants different from his past shows. No more stock footage from old movies and no more rubber-suited  monsters. “Our challenge is to write scripts that will attract the adults,” he said weeks before the show premiered.

            However, the prolific producer was aware of the dangerous transitions taking place at the network. He had suffered a rift with ABC when Time Tunnel‘s renewal was suddenly rescinded in 1967, in favor of The Legend of Custer. In a roundtable discussion of TV science fiction with Gene Roddenberry and Rod Serling, Allen claimed that Time Tunnel’s demise was due to “an unfortunate time slot.” He advertised his upcoming Land of the Giants as, “a show about a group of Americans who attempt to colonize a planet where the inhabitants are 70-feet tall.”

            The original concept for Giants was of an alien planet inhabited by human-sized “forest people” who were forced to live underground when a race of space giants invaded their planet and set up their own community. Two lost U.S. astronauts, Steve and Alex, find themselves caught between the struggle of these two civilizations. Writer Anthony Wilson felt this was too complicated and he devised a more acceptable premise - seven Earth travelers crash land on a world of giants and try to get back home. A ten minute presentation film, narrated by Dick Tufeld, was created, using storyboard art to illustrate the idea to network execs. ABC immediately bought the idea. That left the casting. One of the first line-up of actors for the roles of Captain Steve Burton, stewardess Betty Hamilton and co-pilot Dan Erickson was Sam Elliot, Barbara Hershey and Tom Simcox. The final choice, of Gary Conway, Heather Young and Don Marshall, proved the right one, with Don Matheson (Mark Wilson, tycoon), Deanna Lund (Valerie Scott, playgirl), Stefan Arngrim (Barry Lockridge, orphan) and Kurt Kasznar (Alexander Fitzhugh, conman) rounding out the charismatic cast.

            The first 13 episodes were produced during 1967-68, and scheduled to debut in January 1968, on Fridays. But ABC decided not to waste the show as a mid-season filler and instead promoted it as a big event for fall, 1968. Meanwhile, there had been another important transition that year. The President of ABC, Thomas Moore, who had always been receptive to Irwin Allen’s brand of fantasy, was replaced by another entertainment President in early 1968 and this new regime was left with a weird show about giants that they had neither solicited nor had empathy for. Allen felt pressure to make the show a hit and he announced that Giants was TVs most expensive hour ever (250,000 dollars per episode, compared to 180,000 for most hour shows) and that, “it must attract the entire family and be a big hit to survive.”

            Although Allen would go on record in 1989 as saying The Time Tunnel was his favorite TV series, in 1968 he confided that “Land of the Giants outdoes anything I’ve ever done before!” When 30 new TV shows for 1968-69 were test-screened by the Home Survey Network, Giants ranked as number 5 with audiences as “best series” and most likely to succeed.

            That’s where Land of the Giants stood when I gathered my parents and sister around the TV for its debut on September 22, 1968. I was mesmerized by the action and the creepy, giant sets. It was an immediate favorite.

            The big question for ABC was could this fantastic show compete in a TV world that had changed radically from just one year earlier? Action shows like Rat Patrol, Man from Uncle, Tarzan and Voyage had been replaced by contemporary shows such as Laugh-In, Name of the Game and Mod Squad. To survive, a TV show had to garner at least a 16.0 rating for renewal every week and the first three episodes of Giants - “The Crash”, “Ghost Town” and “Framed” - breezed in with a 20.0, 19.5 and 21.0 rating, respectively. More importantly, the demographic were good and it became the first series of the 1968-69 season to be renewed for the full year. The reviews were generally encouraging.

            The Hollywood Reporter called it, “Allen’s most promising work, with the focus on the human element.” Newsday called it, “a visual gas” and The New York Times claimed, “It’s a winner - far out adventure!” Daily Variety didn’t care for “the juvenile” scripts but prophetically conceded that, “it will do well enough to last a couple of years.” Hal Humphrey of The Los Angeles Times marveled, “It isn’t the easiest of assignments, but you have to admit Irwin Allen has done a pretty good job of pulling off this illusion of giants.”

            I didn’t know about the reviews or the ratings. I only knew that it was an exciting show. In “Ghost Town,” the little people dodged boulders, matches and gravel, thrown at them by an unruly giant child (a scripted encounter with a giant bee was exised due to budget); in “Flight Plan” they were befriended by a lost airline pilot who turned out to be a sinister, shrunken giant who planned to steal their spaceship;  in “Weird World’ a astronaut (played by Glenn Corbett) sacrificed his life to a giant spider to save Barry; in “On A Clear Night You Can See Earth,” Steve fought off a giant Doberman with a razor and in “Deadly Lodestone,” Dan was trapped in quicksand as a monster tarantula hungrily swung over him. During the show’s two-year run, there were also encounters with a giant lobster, weasel, praying mantis, badger, bear, snake, bird, lizards, hyenas and a chicken.

            TV Guide magazine gave the series a lot of attention. There were stories on Deanna Lund, Heather Young, Kurt Kasznar, Stefan Arngrim and a cover story on Gary Conway. There was also a Cleveland Amory review, a humorous article by Isaac Asimov, and photo features on the show’s special effects and on the company that provided the giant insects for the show.

            The cast also proved to be extremely popular with movie magazines of the day. Deanna Lund was intended to be the show’s sex symbol but it was Heather Young, as Betty, who captured my heart - she was compassionate, thoughtful, brave and pretty.

            With good ratings, favorable reviews, a popular cast, and solid demographics, no one was paying attention to an ominous note of discord in TV Guide that cautioned, “Land of the Giants is a cinch for renewal but quick hits sometimes fade.”

            Strangely, almost every kid I knew preferred shows like Lassie or Disney. Most of them weren’t allowed to watch Giants in the first place. I would soon identify with that. In January 1969, our town was seized by something called Mountain Time. This meant that Giants would now start at 8pm, my bedtime. I tried to strike a deal with my folks to watch the show but no dice. I had to be up by 7am for school. However, we had a second TV in the den, right near my bedroom. Summoning up my courage every Sunday night, I would sneak to the TV and turn it on while my folks were up above listening to music or reading. I carefully adjusted the volume and watched bits and pieces of the show. I saw the earthlings befriend a sad earth woman (Celeste Yarnall) but never saw how it ended. I saw Steve and Dan chased into a cave by snarling dogs but had to run back to bed before I could see how they escaped. I watched the humans struggle to shoot a huge gun as a giant approached but didn’t see what happened next. It was a frustrating way to watch the series but these glimpses only added to its tantalizing appeal.

            My consolation was that summer reruns would soon start and I could catch up on the series again. But in May 1969, Giants was suddenly replaced by a old anthology series, Suspense Theater. It was clear, as the weeks passed, that this was a permanent change and I was baffled by how ABC could cancel such a great show after only 9 months. My other interests soon took over, such as baseball games at the local playfield, expeditions to look for western-painted turtles, gathering materials to build the neighborhood fort, but I didn’t forget my brief encounter with these lost earth travelers.

            What I didn’t know was that ABC was still running Giants. Our local American affiliate had simply decided to stop carrying the show. I was also unaware of kooky production trivia: for example, Heather Young was expecting a baby in the summer of 1969 (forcing her to be written out of several year 2 episodes), so the crew presented her with a giant diaper! During filming, Don Marshall broke his toe on a giant lollipop while Deanna Lund limped around after a 40-foot long pencil fell on her foot.

            ABC also delivered a list of idicts to Irwin Allen of things they wanted changed in the series: they wanted less night-time filming, less of Captain Burton “solving” all of the problems (“make it more of a group effort!” the executives anguished), more encounters with insects and giant animals, more expeditions to other parts of the planet and they encouraged a storyline where the little people are trapped in the belly of a giant fish.

            The first season had done fairly well in the ratings, with a season average of 17.7. However, it was making its financial bonanza by being broadcast in 45 foreign countries. “Our show is primarily visual,” Irwin Allen explained, “so you don’t need to understand the dialog to follow the story.” Allen respected his cast but he believed audiences were primarily watching because of the giant props. The giant telephone had cost 1,715 dollars, the giant baseball was a bargain at 590, two giant ice cubes cost 100 and the giant shoe rang in at 1,000 dollars.

            For me, it wasn’t until the spring of 1970 that I learned Giants was still on the air. Our TV Guide began listing Giants on a new station that we didn’t receive. In reading these storylines, I saw these were new episodes - Steve and Dan going back to 1983 to prevent the Spindrift’s departure; futuristic earthlings planning to conquer the giants with advanced weaponry; and a balloon ride to the other side of the planet. And during a trip to Vancouver, I saw my first year 2 segment, a summer rerun of “Comeback,” with John Carradine as a horror actor who recruits the little people as his co-stars. It was exciting, satiric, lively and fun and it confirmed to me that Giants had indeed prospered over the past year. As the teaser began, the adults in the room were talking about baseball and politics but when John Williams’ exciting  year 2 theme kicked in, everyone hushed up and watched giant cars freeze-framing, huge cats snarling and mighty gophers tearing down cavern walls. When it was over, my Dad was impressed. “Wow, that was a fantastic introduction!” he said.

            There were many facts about the series I didn’t know about until much later. Kurt Kasznar had reluctantly done the pilot in 1967 after his agent assured him it wouldn’t sell. When it did, his agent comforted him by saying the show wouldn’t last 15 episodes. When it did, Kasznar resigned himself to playing Fitzhugh for the long run. Although Kasznar squirmed over his association with the series, he nevertheless asked his friend Rock Hudson to watch an episode with him. When it was over, Hudson leaped to his feet in mock horror and dashed towards the TV, looking for its “destruct switch!” Kurt ruefully admitted that “perhaps Giants doesn’t extend to my social circle.”

            When photographer Gene Trindl asked Gary Conway and Deanna Lund to get inside a giant glass beaker for their famous TV Guide cover portrait, Conway balked. “Come on! Isn’t that a little corny, Gene?” Trindl replied, “Have you seen your show?”

            Letters and reviews indicated mixed feelings about the series. One youngster wrote to a Florida TV Answerman and asked, ‘Is Land of the Giants a comedy or what?” to which the Answerman replied, “We really don’t know.” Daily Variety had criticized Giants during its first year but after seeing the second season, it praised the show for its lack of violence and for Kurt Kasznar’s excellent acting. “The show has done a good job of reflecting an environment where people are the size of an ant.” MAD magazine also did a satiric spoof of the series, “Land of the Giant Bores.”

            However, time had run out. While it was an expensive show for Fox, the studio hoped for a third year so it could end up with at least 75 episodes for syndication. But the second season started out disastrously. The kick-offs, “Mechanical Man” and “Six Hours to Live,” both plunged to the bottom of the ratings, each with a 10.7 rating. TV Guide reported Giants had endured “fierce drubbings” in the ratings. The show made a slow but steady ascent, peaking with “Comeback” in November 1969 (with a 17.0 rating and the only year 2 episode to finish in the top 50). The very week that ABC was deciding Giants’ future (February 1970), the series aired its lowest rated episode ever, “The Deadly Dart” (10.3 rating).

            During its first year, Giants had contributed to the cancellations of its’ competition, Gentle Ben on CBS and the most expensive half-hour series on television, The New Adventures of Huck Finn on NBC.  Both Lassie and Walt Disney had been knocked out of the top 20. But Irwin Allen took his audience for granted and continued serving up too many repetitive stories that drove away the adult audience the show needed to survive.

            I certainly knew that my parents, Uncles and Aunts had watched the series with interest for the first several months, then permanently turned away. Many local ABC stations began to replace Giants in 1969 with reruns of I Spy or Run for Your Life to appease adult viewers. This erosion of  “affiliate clearance” began to hurt the show’s national 70-city ratings.

            Giants finished its second year with a 13.0 ratings average, and retained a demographic base of kids and adult women (the show that later replaced it, The Young Rebels, did even worse, staggering into cancellation after only 15 episodes and an 11.0 rating average).

            ABC announced the show’s cancellation in March 1970 and the response was tepid. Castle of Frankenstein magazine observed that no one was lamenting the show’s demise. “Producer Irwin Allen boasts that every episode is made for 250,000 dollars but it looks like it’s made for half of that,” the editors scoffed.

            Harlan Ellison, in his Los Angeles Free Press column, said that, “The show has had a good run for its money,” and he was happy that the show was ending. “Even though many of the Land of the Giants cast members are friends and acquaintances of mine, the show has brought a wince to anyone remotely familiar with science fiction.”

            Meanwhile, a woman in Ohio was outraged over the cancellation, writing to a TV Answerman, “This is the best show for kids ever made! Why is it being cancelled? Will it ever return?” The Answerman left no hope. “The show was cancelled due to a lack of viewer interest. It will not return for 1970-71 or for any other season.” I wonder if this TV Answerman could have one day envisioned SF conventions featuring the Giants’ actors, Spindrift models selling for hundreds of dollars on ebay or episodes released on dvd?

            One of the more interesting developments was that Don Matheson and Deanna Lund had fallen in love during the show’s run and had gotten married in the spring of 1970. They later had a daughter, Michele (who is now an actress). The other Giants cast members showed up as surprise guests at their wedding reception.

            By the time our family had moved back to the Washington State in 1970, Giants was off the schedule. All I had for momentos was a viewmaster, a few Gold Key comics and a coloring book.

            Occasionally, there were fleeting reminders of this lost series. One kid came to school with a Giants lunchbox every day. I had never seen one before and I tried to make out the colorful artwork from afar. He was not a particularly friendly kid and when other kids made fun of the lunchbox, he vigorously defended Giants as “a great show.” I had to admire his courage, his principals and his loyalty. The next day, he meekly came to school with a paper lunch bag. So much for individuality. The public school system had once again successfully assimilated another kid into passive conformity. I never saw the lunchbox again.

            However, in 1971, Giants seemed to be popping up everywhere. A magazine story related how Marc Copage, the little boy on TVs Julia, would spend his off-hours playing in the “abandoned” Land of the Giants jungle set. A TV news story did a feature on a outdoor Land of the Giants festival, which used some of the show’s over-sized props. That same year, novelist James Gunn did a critical evaluation of science fiction for TV Guide and noted, “Land of the Giants was not real science fiction. It must be judged as an adventure show instead. It didn’t take its premise seriously and didn’t expect audiences to do so.”

            Also in 1971, I watched a children’s show where someone named Conductor Bob gave out gifts to kids while his sidekick, a puppet cat named Whiskers, watched with cue-card glee. Bob pulled out an assembled Aurora model of the Spindrift. “And here we have a spaceship from the old TV series, Land of the Giants,” Bob said proudly. “This ship will go to Johnny, our viewer in Tacoma.’ Bob placed the ship on a ledge in front of Whiskers. Now, it’s important when dealing with over-zealous puppets that you watch where you place items of value. As Whiskers clapped his paws, he accidentally struck the tail fin of the ship, sending it spiraling off the ledge and crashing onto the unseen floor below. Whiskers stopped clapping and the blood drained from Conductor Bob’s face as he surveyed the carnage at his feet. “That will have to come out of your cat allowance, Whiskers!” Bob ad-libbed gravely, as the cat thrust his paws over his ashamed face.

            I continued to look for reruns of the series but there were no re-broadcasts in the Pacific Northwest. I also looked in vain for the actors from the series. It wasn’t until the fall of 1971, while my blurry eyes were struggling to watch Frankenstein Conquers the World on the late show, that I suddenly heard a familiar voice. I opened my eyes and saw a scratchy commercial about car battery tests. The announcer was Don Matheson. It was my first post-Giants sighting of a cast member. Shortly afterward, the others began to appear - Deanna Lund was a cavegirl experiencing her first kiss on Love, American Style, Stefan Arngrim showed up as Ron Howard’s mischievous friend on The Smith Family, Kurt Kasznar had an emotional role as a immigrant in Men from Shiloh, Don Marshall co-starred in the TV movie Reluctant Heroes, Heather Young was trapped in the radioactive future on Insight and Gary Conway had the prestigious role of a murder victim on Columbo.

            Catching reruns of Giants was more elusive. Our family exchanged houses with a family in Northridge, California during the summer of 1972. I paged through the Los Angeles TV Guide and I saw that all four of Irwin’s shows were on Saturday afternoons on channel 56. But did we get 56? I checked the reception that night and it was crystal clear. So the next morning, I woke up anticipating robots, giants and spaceships. What I got was fuzz and unrelenting static. Daytime reception for 56 was impossible and that was that.

            A year later, back in Washington, Seattle’s channel 13 had great success re-running Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, so they picked up all of Allen’s shows for 1973-74 and ran them weeknites. It was big news in the local media and print ads were plastered everywhere, hyping the shows. Once again, the ratings were high. Unfortunately, we lived just outside of 13’s reception range. I had to make due with reading the Giants synopsis’s posted in TV Guide each week.

            During that year, we made four separate trips to Seattle, affording me four opportunities to see Giants. The first time, I managed to catch most of “Manhunt” (the Spindrift trapped in quicksand) but there was no picture, only sound. Another time, a baseball game ran over-time, and “Ghost Town” was joined in progress but I savored those last 20 minutes of the show. And solar interference blacked out most of “Panic” (Jack Albertson as a inventor) and I struggled to see glimpses of our heroes being menaced by cats and dogs.

            Still, it seemed unfair that every time I had the chance to see an episode, something always got in the way, whether it was poor reception, baseball games, solar flares, or affiliates dropping the show. It added a strong but frustrating allure to the show.

            In the spring of 1974, my sister and I were visiting my grandmother in Seattle and I eagerly turned on channel 13, waiting for “The Marionettes” episode of Giants. The signal was clear and strong and when the announcer shouted, “Stay tuned for an exciting episode of Land of the Giants,” I realized I had achieved the impossible. I was finally going to see the show. Nothing could possibly go wrong...go wrong...go wrong.

            Just then, the doorbell rang. My Aunt and cousins had dropped by for an unexpected visit. My grandmother, in the interest of social amenities, asked me to turn off the TV set. ‘Isn’t this wonderful, Mark?” she enthused, “Your cousins are here to play with you!”

            Holy sinister playground of cosmic injustice! I angrily shook my head and said, “Grandma, this is my favorite show! It’s one of a kind and I’ve waited years to see it. Can’t Steve and Sharon watch it with me and then we’ll play?” My grandmother was having none of this. “Mark, they’re here to play with you, not to watch TV. No television show can be that important.” I saw Channel 13s logo flashing on the screen, which was their prelude to starting the episode. It was 20 seconds and counting! I pressed my case. “Grandma, I’ll make you a deal. Let me watch this one episode and I’ll then play with Steve and Sharon forever if I have too!” It was a theatrical line, delivered with anguish and conviction. Everyone was startled by my passion. But no dice. The TV was shut off before the episode began and we were sent outside to play. We had a great time but yet another Giants opportunity smashed. My cousin Steve remained curious about “that show. What exactly is it?” he asked. I enthusiastically outlined the premise: futuristic spaceships, glowing green space warps, monster insects and animals, ground-breaking special effects, Emmy-award nominated photography, orchestra-like theme music, thrilling captures and escapes and pretty stewardesses and mischievous rich girls. He didn’t remember it. My sister helpfully chimed in, “And there’s a funny con man who gets them into trouble each week.” Suddenly, he remembered it.

            When our family moved to Seattle in 1974, I was excited over finally seeing Giants on a regular basis but the day we arrived in Seattle, Channel 13 took off all four Irwin Allen series. “The shows needed a rest,” a spokesman said to a local paper, ‘They were big hits in the ratings but we’ve played through all of the episodes.”

            A few weeks later, after a day of swimming, I was home alone watching a Star Trek episode called “The Alternative Factor”. I had seen it several times before and recall thinking that it was unfair that Star Trek, a great show, had been rerun everywhere for years but there were many Irwin Allen TV episodes I had never seen before. I quickly turned to channel 13, to see what movie they were running. But it wasn’t an old movie. My eyes widened as I saw some very familiar-looking people being catapulted down a storm drain by gale-force winds. It was Land of the Giants. Channel 13 had put the series back on five days a week. I watched the last half of  “The Clones” with fascination. For the next 3 weeks was able to see many year 2 episodes for the first time. I thrilled to the amazing second season main title sequence, the affection and loyalty between the cast and the exciting action scenes. When we moved from Seattle at the end of that summer, it would be a decade before I saw Giants again.

            Land of the Giants was essentially a forgotten show in the 1970s but sometimes the malevolent media took a swipe at it. In 1975, there was a magazine article on a TV convention where people watched “bad television shows” and Tarzan and Land of the Giants were cited as examples. A children’s guide book came out in 1976, offering tips on good TV programming for children and the author warned parents about Giants, citing it as, “a technically unimpressive, gimmick show highly objectionable for kids. Its themes are primarily about crime and violence. It is obviously subjected to budget limitations!”

            Author Bart Andrews proclaimed Giants as one of the Worst TV Shows Ever in his 1980 book, giving it six dubious pages of harsh copy, including Rex Reed’s 1968 assertion that the show’s scripts, “look like they were written in 30 minutes over a pastrami sandwich!” It was unfortunate that Andrews didn’t included Frank Sinatra’s reaction to Giants in 1968, where he raved, “What a groovy show!”

            On the other hand, when Cliff Robertson hosted a TV retrospective in 1978 called 1968 - a Year of Memories,” Robertson named the most significant events of that turbulent year and added, “It was also the premiere of TVs Land of the Giants!”

            That same year, a family friend told me about the time she and her college friends visited 20th Century Fox in 1967 and they entered the Land of the Giants. She recalled walking past giant desks and file cabinets and then into the jungle set. They stepped inside the spaceship where it was gently rocked back and forth. That was all she remembered but it was cool knowing someone who had visited the set.

            While doing Fiddler on the Roof in Seattle in 1978, Kurt Kasznar stopped by several times on the local talk show, Seattle Tonite Tonite. The host always made a point of ribbing Kasznar about appearing on Giants as “the nasty Commander Fitzhugh,” and Kurt replied, “Yes, you rub it in every time!” But the fond twinkle of nostalgia in his eye was unmistakable. It was Kasznar’s last TV appearance, he died a year later.

            Although Giants was not as successful as Allen’s three other science fiction shows in syndication, I learned that reruns were broadcast in such states as New York, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Milwaukee, Oregon, Maryland, Ohio and Texas. It was also popular in foreign countries, including Argentina, France, England, Ireland, Germany, Russia, Canada and Australia. And when the Eisenhower administration sent over Mickey Mouse cartoons to Romania in the 1950s as an expression of good will, Romanian children were terrified by the rambunctious rodent and ran out of the theaters, screaming! Yet Romanian citizens embraced reruns of Giants, perhaps identifying with the little people’s bid for freedom on a planet of totalitarian rule.

            In 1982, Channel l3 began broadcasting Giants five days a week in Seattle. I still couldn’t get the channel but a friend in Vancouver watched it and updated me on how the series looked after all those years. He liked the effects, photography and the cast, and appreciated the sci-fi oriented storylines. However, he hated any stories dealing with thieves, hobos, circuses and carnivals. I couldn’t blame him. One day he sent me a video tape of “Panic” and “The Secret City of Limbo”. I didn’t have a VCR, so with two friends, I made an appointment at the local college to use their VCR. You had to have a legitimate excuse to use their screening room, so when they asked me what the

purpose of the video was, I said, “To examine the cultural and historical significance of a 1960s TV show.” That wasn’t too far off the mark. For the next two hours, we were enthralled as we witnessed underground civilizations, traveling mattes and blue screen effects, Dan and Betty nearly frozen alive, Mark and Valerie chased by a snarling dog and the usual array of explosions and close calls. A curious college instructor peered in at one point and when he saw Betty speaking to a giant, he said incredulously, ‘That’s a little woman talking to a giant! What is this?” When we told him, he stared at the TV for a moment and then walked off, shaking his head, trying to comprehend the visual wizardry of L.B. Abbott.

            It wasn’t until the USA Network aired the show to high ratings during 1989-1991 that I finally saw many episodes I had never seen before. There were elements of the show that still held up - the acting, the photography and sets, and the often seamless special effects. Even if a story failed (and there were a fair number of episodes that would have played better as half hours) they were still interesting from a production viewpoint, long before the days of CGI effects. The show also had a moral base, with humans who overcame overwhelming odds as they worked together for a common goal.

            On the other hand, I did lament that the Spindrift was reduced to being a jungle house. Having it fly to different locations on the planet would have given the show a much needed sci-fi dimension. Episodes such as “Double Cross” and “Our Man O’ Reilly” were terrible and from an adult perspective, I wish Allen had spent less money on giant plates, ice cubs and baseballs and instead solicited more creative scripts. However, there were many good segments, such as Ghost Town, Weird World, Nightmare, Panic, The Clones, Home Sweet Home, A Small War, Brainwash, Wild Journey and Lost Ones. The series was often at its best when the characters were reacting to each other, rather than climbing ropes.

            The late Giants producer Jerry Briskin once said that Allen’s shows were, “way ahead of their time” and that has been true. Today, there have been re-issues of the Spindrift and Seaview models, many convention appearances by the cast, and even talk of a big-screen film. I always felt that someone was missing the boat by not getting the original cast together to make an audio tape reunion,  having them recreate their characters, complete with sound effects and music. Magazines such as People have called Giants, “a landmark show” and TV shows such as Coach have mentioned the series. Celebrities like Dylan McDermott (The Practice) and director Quentin Tarantino have also expressed their fondness for Giants. With dvds hopefully on the horizon, its future will now be determined by its fans, of which there are still many.

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