I simply had to share my brilliance that I posted over on the Seaview group where we're discussing 'most/least favorite IA shows'- Giants pretty much ranks at the bottom for me-- As I said- "....When you think about it- how do you make a show like Giants really compelling? I mean much of the time it's set in alleyways and drainage pipes:-)" I left out- gutters, lawns, parks,etc.
I have always had a soft spot for LOTG, I guess it is because it is one of the first shows I remember watching in first run. "Shell Game" to be specific, on and April Sunday night. I know I watched LIS and Voyage, because my family told me we did, but LOTG is my first vivid memory.
I'm not saying it didn't have it's highlights- maybe it's just the nature of the concept. They did a good job of trying to keep it fresh--but....
Yes, I liked the episodes where it was about survival of some type, but when it moved to fantasy, i.e. out of the realm of the original premise, it was a bit hard to watch. "Pay the Piper". (Forgive me Jonathan!!)
As a boy in the '70s I first saw in reruns the LOTG episode "Ghost Town" which was an entertaining story that later made me appreciate the "Stopover In A Quiet Town" episode of the original TWILIGHT ZONE that much more.
When LOTG was bad, it was what most Irwin Allen shows rarely are: boring. They would eat up minutes of air time by having us watch every aspect of a climb up a table in real time. I was impressed by the sets and the fitness of the actors, but jeez. Also watching the little people bailing giants out of trouble was just an exercise in "who cares" programming.
Yet, when it was good, it could be outstanding. The aired version of the pilot was just about the best TV work Irwin produced. It's got pace, action, well defined characters (for a change) and lots of scares. It was also John WIlliams only score for the series and it's incredible. A number of the early episodes (in production order not the screwed up airdate order) were top class. But somewhere in the back half of the first season, the show got too formulaic. Irwin must have recognized this as switched gears in the second season. At that point, more outright fantasy (beyond the concept itself) was introduced, as well as aliens and time travel. It opened up the series and made it more fun, but it also proved the original concept was a dead end. And, sadly, what maturity the series began with was pretty well lost. Not as bad as the drop in LIS or Voyage, but it was there. And again John Williams comes through with a killer theme composition. It rivals the LIS 3rd season theme as my favorite. It's certainly more complex.
Aside from the effects, the main strength of the series was the cast. They were extremely well chosen and for the most part were excellent.
Gary Conway told me that all that climbing, what some would find boring and time consuming, is what made LOTG the number one syndicated sci-fi show in the world for decades. Yup, LOTG, not Star Trek. He got into an argument with Nichelle Nichols over that statement, but it is true. Star Trek was tops in English speaking and developed nation markets, but LOTG was more popular in non-English markets, where there was little dubbing needed to explain the story. He also said it played very well in countries with dictator-like leaders. The viewers saw themselves as the "Little People" going up against and beating the totalitarian Giants. It gave them hope! One man's "trash" is another man's treasure!
I guess what was weak for me was that the 'macguffin' was so often a tepid 'Good Giant Needs Help' story. At it's best it was like 'Mission Impossible' with little people. And Kevin Hagen deserves kudos for Inspector Kobick.
Land Of The Giants was a GREAT show for a kid to watch. As kids, we were "little people" living in a "giants" world where the grown-ups had all the decision making powers, and we could relate to our miniature earthling heroes. As with LIS, Time Tunnel and Voyage, LOTG holds a very special place in my heart (except for "Graveyard Of Fools").
Oh I have no doubt that LOTG was a bigger hit than Trek in a number of markets. However, I find it easier to understand that ithe "little people vs the opressive government" storyline was a basisis for its success rather than "the climbing." You could cut it down to a bare minimum and still keep the story intact. However, if they are responding purely on a visual level, maybe they did find all that repeated climbing entertaining. Personally, I think it's kind of like watching planes taking off and landing at an airport for an hour every week. Sooner or later, those planes start looking the same.
Funny what people respond to.
Someone must have felt the show was in a rut since Irwin shook it up a bit in the second season. A lot of those episodes are really great fun.
Last Edit: Aug 3, 2011 8:42:33 GMT -5 by scottymac
It may be easier for you to believe one aspect over the other, but Gary did A LOT of research and market analysis, as he was preparing to mount an effort to produce a LOTG movie. As a business man, he had to find out what would be the films strengths and weaknesses with all film markets around the world. It was the physical action as well as the "Little Man Against the Machine" that made it popular. It was not just an idle comment, we talked late into the night about it.
Gary was VERY knowledgeable about the subject, so I yield, without question, to his research and findings.
Oh I didn't say I didn't believe it, or was disputing what he said. Only that it was hard to understand people digging the climbing so much.
I imagine for the same reason Godzilla movies were such a hit outside Japan. Was it the stories and character development we were drawn to, of the rampaging guy in a rubber suit destroying the HO train village I could only dream of!
I do recall some climbing scenes- but I guess that was my point about mainly Season One -so much time devoted to them scrounging through garbage,etc- all very mundane activities- but somehow considered 'interesting' because it involved giant props. I recently saw an episode and so much is devoted to this pedestrian idea of the boy hiding in a door lock. But I do agree the acting was good. Not too many years ago- I saw Gary Conway lounging on the grass at the park not a block away (!) from where I live. I really should have said something to him.
Interesting- no one here has mentioned that 'expandable periscope' that appeared in the premiere episode of Season Two. That saved a lot of 'rope climbing' :-)- And like the Space Pod- was magically created out of......?
And I'm glad they somehow knitted a new outfit for Mark as well as the women. But the pilots and Fitzhugh were still stuck with those uniforms-- 'Gilligan's Island Syndrome'.
Well, unlike the three hour tour on "Gilligan's Island", it make more sense that the passengers would have luggage, and thereby a change of clothes, if they were going on a trip to London. Dan and Steve would just have their uniforms, if they were returning that day. Fitzhugh was "on the lam" and only had his suitcase of money. I imagine Valerie shared some of her fashions with Betty.