Tag Archives: Irwin Allen

Retro Saturday: Land of the Giants

Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants (ABC, 1968-1970)

TV Screenshot of opening title  (Wikipedia)
TV Screenshot of opening title
(Wikipedia)

 Land of the Giants was a show with a simple theme of adapting Gulliver’s Travels to a science-fiction theme. Suppose you landed on a planet where everyone was similar but stood 72 feet taller than you? How would you survive and get back home, if ever? Irwin Allen thought it might be a good theme for a show and crafted this show on that premise. Taking place in 1983, a sub-orbital transport named Spindrift encounters a space storm and is transported to a mysterious planet of the giants. The passengers and crew are stuck on this strange world until they can find a way home.

The world the landed on was never named but similar to Earth. Technology was both familiar and different. They did not have space travel but had advanced technology like cloning, force fields, androids and small nuclear reactors. The people were human and the world similar in many respects (similar geography, animals etc) but its location was either in a parallel universe or another dimension since access was limited by a wormhole. Other sub-orbital spacecraft have crashed on this world and the series is bleak on this regard: none of them survived. So the survivors of Spindrift, which lacks the power to leave, are going to have to survive on this planet for a while. Aside from the giant scale of everything, the inhabitants are not helpful. Some are outright hostile or cruel, others are happy to use them for some purpose and betray them. An authoritarian government wants the little people rounded up since they are a threat.

Abernathy Round Tower in Scotland is 72 feet(21.94 meters) tall. This is how tall a person from Land of the Giants would be on our planet. Photo:Lis Burke(Wikimedia Commons)
Abernathy Round Tower in Scotland is 72 foot(21.94 meters) tall. This is how tall a person from Land of the Giants would be on our planet.
Photo:Lis Burke(Wikimedia Commons)

Like all shows by Irwin Allen, one has to suspend disbelief and just go with the flow. After all 72 foot tall humans would be a problem owing to the Square Cube Law conceived by Galileo Galilei in 1638. It states that as a shape grows in size, its volume grows faster than its surface area. The result is that you would be crushed if you suddenly grew too tall and lacked the structural support for it. Animals in nature that are big develop enhanced skeletal frames and scaling so that they do not get crushed. This is why no Godzilla or King Kong can exist (unless they had evolved that way over time) by some weird radiation or genetic mutation. Only creatures that are in the sea can get enormous since the effects of this law do not apply (which is why you have huge whales, squids, and octopi) thanks to water. Humans that are exceptionally tall (caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland of the brain) suffer serious health issues in the circulatory or skeletal system.

If Irwin Allen wanted to be creative, he would have made them large but not in this way. Perhaps he would have made them more like 8 feet tall and would fit into legends of giants in mythology. Now that would have been interesting, Suppose a race of giants (exceptionally tall humans but not 72 feet  tall) had been on Earth long ago. They came into conflict with normal size humans. For whatever reason, many are wiped out (you could tie it into Biblical stories) but a few remained like Goliath that fought David. Others that did survive ended up on this other world, in a parallel dimension. Part of the story would be finding out who they were, who brought them there, and perhaps their evil intentions of wanting to return to Earth. That would be more plausible and interesting than in making them so gigantic that even with a slingshot, David would have no chance against these giants.

Free roamers like to argue that in this other dimension the laws of physics are alerted or somehow the giants altered themselves genetically be so tall. Hogwash! At any rate each week the survivors were put in peril and eventually rescued themselves or sometimes a giant might aid them. There was no resolution by the time the series ended. They were still trapped and the future on this world of giants looked bleak. At least Gulliver was able to leave Lilliput. It seems the unlucky survivors of Spindrift are marooned unless Allen had thought of a way to get them home again.


Irwin Allen Would Be Proud

Virgin Limited Edition, a U.K. company, recently announced an “underwater plane” that will dive to 36,000 feet. It is a three person submersible and looks pretty cool from the model shown in the picture. It reminds me of the flying submarine from Irwin Allen’s television show Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The show was based on the 1961 movie with Walter Pidgeon, Barbara Eden and Peter Lorre. None of the movie actors carried over to the series. Richard Basehart played Admiral Harriman Nelson and David Eddison as Captain Lee Crane. One of the nifty aspects of Seaview was its flying submarine. It could launch underwater, move to the surface and take off. It would do the same in reverse by diving under the water and then returning to its Seaview hangar underwater.

The Necker Nymph alas cannot fly except underwater. From the picture it looks pretty cool. Now for the details. Here is what the press release states (in part):

Available either when chartering Necker Belle, the luxury 105 foot catamaran, or when staying on Necker Island, underwater flight on Necker Nymph takes exploration to another level. Gliding on the water’s surface like an aeroplane on a runway, one of the three pilots will operate the joystick to smoothly dive down, and the thrilling experience begins. Uncover ancient shipwrecks, fly side-by-side with dolphins, or spyhop with whales; the options are endless. With the flexibility to glide peacefully over glorious reefs or bank adventurously in 360 degree turns, the sub is hydrobatic. Individual “wind shields” remove the pressure of slipstream, enabling comfortable speed and ranges previously unthinkable without enclosing the pilots. The open cockpits afford near ideal 360 degree viewing for occupants, creating a uniquely open experience. Dives can last up to two hours.

The press release states that it can be launched from the Necker Belle or from shore. Before you reach for the phone to make a reservation, you ought to know this is no cheap thrill. If you rent the Necker Belle for a week ($88,000 according to one report I read), you get the Necker Nymph for a weekly rate of $25,000. How much it costs just for a day and launched from shore is not listed. My guess is around $10,000-$15,000. Only the heavy wallet brigade can afford it.

Richard Branson once again makes the impossible seem possible. Irwin Allen would agree and, if alive, be one of the first to take a trip.