Original pilot airdate: never aired
Revised pilot airdate: 9/22/68
Writers: Irwin Allen and Anthony Wilson
Director: Irwin Allen
Production #: 2401
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
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
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
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.
The differences mentioned in the above article show what
incredible changes were implemented in the episode between creation and