Land of the Giants
"The Crash"

Original pilot airdate: never aired
Revised pilot airdate: 9/22/68

Writers: Irwin Allen and Anthony Wilson
Director: Irwin Allen
Production #: 2401

STORY SYNOPSIS:

On June 12 1983 sub-orbital flight 612, en route from New York to London encounters a spacewarp. The Spindrift and its crew and passengers crash land on a mysterious planet populated by humanoids seventy feet tall. After fighting each other as well as giants the Earthlings realize that only by working together can they survive on this, their new home.

Three different Land of the Giants pilots exist-the short presentation reel narrated by Dick Tufeld and starring Don Matheson, the one that aired on ABC-TV in September of 1968 and the unaired version, much different than the film aired in ways that will be detailed here. For simplicity's sake the unaired pilot will be called Crash 1 and the aired version will be Crash 2.

In Crash 1 Steve, Dan, and Betty are in the cockpit discussing the passengers and their various states of mind after hitting some 'space turbulence' when one of the seat belt lights flashes. These are the red and yellow lights above the cockpit hatchway that were seen but never used again. More scenes, including Betty chatting with Mark Wilson about his seat belt and with Valerie Scott about their destination were snipped as well-a pity as these added dimension to the character, something sorely needed

The green glowing spacewarp was a visual effect added long after the live scenes were finished. The original warp resembled a luminous copy of Earth's moon, complete with craters and can be seen in the Viewmaster set in all its unrestored glory.

Steve and Mark are not very convincing as they rock back and forth in the pilots' seats during the trip through the green warp. A later scene, obviously shot at the same time as this one is no more realistic. In time they and the rest of the cast learned to "rock and roll", as June Lockhart once described it.

How come the Spindrift has no visible landing gear or even landing gear doors on the bottom of the hull? Either the writers or the modelmakers should of notice this glaring error and explained it. In Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea it was at least implied if never shown that the Flying Sub had wheels to land with (the larger FS-1 model even had landing gear added but never used).

Steve can't raise anything on the radio although in later episodes like "Manhunt" it was established that the giants had radio capabilities. This was probably done since at this stage in the conception of the series no one was sure the giants would be speaking English yet...

As the pilots exit the Spindrift to explore they are almost run over by a giant 1967 Plymouth Fury! In Crash 1 the credits, complete with entirely different opening music written by Alexander Courage, roll here, a full 10 minutes into the episode. In Crash 2 the credits roll before the opening scene. Courage's theme was dropped and a more exciting song by John Williams was added before the show premeired on ABC. Almost all the music in Crash 1 was replaced by the time the revamped pilot aired.

When the ship attempts escape velocity one more time (the LAST time in the series) it is still in danger of striking giant buildings at five thousand feet in the air. This is of course impossible as the sheer density & mass of such a structure would cause it to collapse if indeed it could even be built.

Another scene lost to viewers of the aired version has Steve, Dan and Betty trying to explain to the incredulous passengers the mess that they're in. The only part remaining in Crash 2 is when Steve & Mark Wilson almost come to blows, the first but certainly not the last time in the series this would occur.

Barry and Fitzhugh bond right away a la Will & Smith in that OTHER Irwin series. They leave the ship for different reasons-Fitzhugh to escape the clutches of the law and Barry to accompany his new friend on an adventure. They quickly return, pursued by a giant cat (who, like the Cyclops in Lost in Space, was doomed to haunt most of the show-related games toys and puzzles released). Steve and Valerie on a search and rescue mission for the pair do not return.

As the cat attacks the ship there is a scene added to Crash 2-an explosion in the engine room followed by billowing (obviously toxic) gas creeping into the passengers' cabin! Mark opens the engine room door, runs in and throws the Emergency Cut-Off Switch saving the day. The engine room is never seen again in the series in this form and for good reason-it's the upper deck set of the Jupiter-2 minus the freezing tubes with a circuit breaker hastily added to the wall. Since Lost in Space was cancelled by this time it's one of the last times this set was ever used. (See the Man From the 25th Century review for more information.)

The miniature Spindrift scenes are done very well, rumored to have been supervised by Doug Trumbull later of "Silent Running'", "2001" and "Star Wars" fame. The giant props and sets are amazing, most built specifically for this episode (though later props like the enormous telephone were bought from the producers of "I Dream of Jeannie" when they no longer needed them). The photographic mattes combining humans & giants are well-done also, not to mention the two sound stages transformed into a giant jungle complete with full-sized Spindrift. The British comic book artists who drew the ship in the U.K. Annuals based their drawings on the full-sized mockup as the Spindrift flies around in the comics with no rear section at all!

The giants in Crash 1 and the next few aired episodes are slow-moving creatures who rarely speak. In fact in Crash 1 there's only one line of giant dialogue-an inaudible roar as our heroes escape the giant's lab. Crash 2 translates the roar into the words "Come back!" in English of course and adds more dialogue between the scientist and his female assistant. They would have to speak English if the series were to continue so the humans could communicate with the giants. Anthony Wilson wisely remembered this years later when he helped created the Planet of the Apes TV series and gave the humans of future Earth on that show the power of speech, unlike the mutes in the Apes movies . Even the labels on giant packaging were quickly changed to English, presumably so the little people would know what they were swiping from their towering tormentors.

The ending to Crash 1 is radically different than in Crash 2. The giant dog and garbage dump were added to the later version. In Crash 1 Fitzhugh discovers a trail of money he had lost when attacked by the cat and leads his comrades back to the relative safety of the Spindrift. Steve also discusses a more optimistic view of the future in Crash 1 including a possible return to Earth someday in the repaired ship.

With all the scenes omitted from Crash 1 before airing Irwin had lots of extra airtime to add more special effects shots in Crash 2-a giant lizard courtesy of his 1960 film "The Lost World", a giant spider and the aforementioned dog. More running and jumping at the expense of literate dialogue.

While Land of the Giants as a whole was a very entertaining series, if it had stuck to the formula established in the early episodes it would have been even more enjoyable and may not have prompted noted science fiction writer Isaac Asimov to write, poison pen in hand, a scathing review of the show in TV Guide, tearing it apart illogical bit by bit. In response, Allen wrote to Asimov and asked if the acclaimed author would be willing to quote odds on the existence of Santa Claus! Irwin rarely responded to criticism which shows how much he cared about Land of the Giants, his latest and some say greatest creation.

WHAT WERE THE WRITERS THINKING? Dept:

See the Isaac Asimov article in a 1968 TV Guide for more information. Issue date not available.

SCRIPT CHANGES:

The differences mentioned in the above article show what incredible changes were implemented in the episode between creation and final airing.

END


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