1 9 6 8 – 1 9 7 0 (USA)
51 x 60 minute episodes
This space-age version of Gulliver’s Travels had the commercial rocket ship Spindrift entering a space warp en route from Los Angeles to London in the future (1983!) and ending up in a land where everything mirrored Earth – but was twelve times normal size.
The crew and passengers trapped in this giant land were Captain Steve Burton (Gary Conway) – an arrogant macho man in a body-hugging red jumpsuit; co-pilot Dan Erickson (Don Marshall); engineer and wealthy tycoon Mark Wilson (Don Matheson); stewardess Betty Hamilton (Heather Young); beautiful but spoiled jet-setting heiress Valerie Scott (Deanna Lund); mystery passenger Alexander B Fitzhugh (Kurt Kaznar); and orphaned boy Barry Lockridge (Stefan Arngrim), travelling with his dog Chipper
Fitzhugh, masquerading as a naval commander, is ultimately revealed to be a master thief who is being pursued by authorities for stealing one million dollars (which he is carrying with him in a briefcase).
The gang were regularly menaced by gigantic insects, cats and scientists who tried to experiment on them – and this is where my pre-pubescent fantasies about a 1:12th scale Betty or Valerie kicked in . . . and I’ll say no more.
In 1969, adolescent boys could be found sitting in front of the television captivated by the antics of red-haired, mini-skirted Valerie as she was menaced by cats, imprisoned in a dollhouse, cloned, prodded by scientists, carried off by an ape and even used as a human pawn on a giant’s chessboard.
With a mane of red hair (although the actress was naturally blonde) and clad in the shortest of mini-skirts, Deanna Lund was the first crush of many teenage boys at that time.
The castaways constantly battled to repair their craft and escape from their own little Brobdingnag, all the while hunted by Inspector Kobick (Kevin Hagen) of the SID (Special Investigations Department), a Nazi-esque police force.
One bizarre episode, ‘Pay the Piper’, featured Jonathon Harris (Doctor Smith from Lost In Space) as a pied piper who lured children away.
The biggest thing about the series was the effects budget. Costing $250,000 per episode (unprecedented at the time) Land of the Giants was the most expensive TV series made to date. This ultimately brought the downfall of the show which was cancelled because it was too expensive to produce.
The final episode, ‘Graveyard of Fools’, was broadcast on 22 March 1970 and fans were never given the chance to see the shipmates return home.
The show went on to air in syndication around the world and was a huge hit with overseas viewers.
The effects – such as a slice of bread made from a four-foot slab of rubber and a nine-foot revolver – were truly impressive, even though a viewing of the show today will reveal a few inconsistencies in scale from scene to scene.
There were many other inconsistencies, such as the fact that the little people could carry a giant D Cell battery but could not break out of a spider web!
Co-stars Don Matheson and Deanna Lund were married in 1970 but divorced in the late 70s. Matheson died on 29 June 2014, in Los Angeles from lung cancer, aged 84. Deanna Lund died on 22 June 2018 at her home in Century City, California of pancreatic cancer, aged 81.
Kurt Kasznar died on 6 August 1979, six days before his 66th birthday, in Santa Monica, California. Ten months earlier, he had been diagnosed with cancer.
Don Marshall died on 30 October 2016, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Alexander B Fitzhugh
SID Inspector Kobick
The Crash | Ghost Town | Framed | Underground | Terror-Go-Round | The Flight Plan | Manhunt | The Trap | The Creed | Double-Cross | The Weird World | The Golden Cage | The Lost Ones | Brainwash | The Bounty Hunter | On a Clear Night You Can See Earth | Deadly Lodestone | The Night of Thrombeldinbar | Seven Little Indians | Target: Earth | Genius at Work | Return of Inidu | Rescue | Sabotage | Shell Game | The Chase | The Mechanical Man | Six Hours to Live | The Inside Rail | Deadly Pawn | The Unsuspected | Giants and All That Jazz | Collector’s Item | Every Dog Needs a Boy | Chamber of Fear | The Clones | Comeback | A Place Called Earth | Land of the Lost | Home Sweet Home | Our Man O’Reilly | Nightmare | Pay the Piper | The Secret City of Limbo | Panic | The Deadly Dart | Doomsday | A Small War | The Marionettes | Wild Journey | Graveyard of Fools