Last week 20th Century Fox released their impressive Land of the Giants – The Full Series (The Giant Collection) (1968) DVD box set and it will undoubtedly be one of the best DVD sets to come out this year. With a list price of $229.00 (currently available from Amazon for $169.99) it’s a very pricey release, but besides getting all 51 episodes of the television show, you also get lots of DVD extras and even reproductions of the original Land of the Giants comic books, plus a booklet with cast interviews and photos, a set of Land of the Giants trading cards, a key chain and an iron-on patch, which are all contained in an impressively designed carrying case.
I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this DVD release! Irwin Allen has been one of my favorite television show creators since I was a kid and the Land of the Giants is undoubtedly one of his grooviest shows. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to afford this new DVD set myself but if I had the extra money I would snatch it up in a second. At least I can now finally see all the episodes of this terrific show and I’m really happy about that. Hopefully DVD rental places won’t shy away from the high price and make the show available to those of us who can’t afford to buy it right away.
When I was growing up in the seventies I would catch random episodes of Irwin Allen’s shows like Lost in Space (1965), The Time Tunnel (1966), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964) and Land of the Giants (1968) playing on TV and I always loved them. Thanks to the recent DVD releases of Irwin Allen’s television shows from 20th century Fox I’ve been able to finally see all the episodes I’ve missed and enjoy them without commercials.
The casts of Lost in Space and Land of the Giants
This year I’ve watched the entire Time Tunnel series and I’ve recently started watching Voyage to the Bottom of Sea but I’ve only managed to get through season one so far. I really enjoyed The Time Tunnel series since I find the concept of the show fascinating and it stars one time teen idol James “Moondoggie” Darrin. Like many red-blooded American girls, I had a crush on James Darrin when I was a kid and enjoyed watching him in all the Gidget movies. In The Time Tunnel series James Darrin plays a scientist named Tony Newman who helps run a billion dollar government time travel project deep beneath the Arizona desert with fellow scientists Dr. Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert) and Dr. Ann MacGregor (Lee Meriwether). Together they’ve invented a “time tunnel” that allows people to travel through time and space, but while testing the tunnel Dr. Newman and Dr. Phillips become trapped in time. They find themselves landing in the middle of important historic events such as the sinking of the Titanic and the bombing of Pearl Harbor but they also end up encountering space aliens and unusual characters like Merlin the Magician.
If you enjoy fantasy and science fiction from the sixties I can’t recommend The Time Tunnel series enough. It’s really entertaining and just an all-around fun all-ages show. If you’re looking for high-minded serious drama, look elsewhere. Unfortunately like Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel series was canceled before a final episode was shot which makes the show a little disappointing to watch in the end.
On the set of The Time Tunnel
Land of the Giants is a fascinating show and even a little subversive. It involves a group of travelers who crash land on an alternative version of planet earth that is run by giant humans and controlled by a totalitarian government. Our little heroes spend most of the series trying to avoid being captured or killed. I haven’t seen the show in years but I thought the cast was good and I especially liked the two female leads, Deanna Lund and Heather Young, as well as the handsome actor Don Marshall. I’m really looking forward to finally seeing all the episodes of Land of the Giants and getting more familiar with the show.
A few of Irwin Allen’s creative creatures
Today Irwin Allen is mostly remembered as being “The Master of Disaster” after making numerous disaster films in the seventies such as The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and Towering Inferno (1974), but I think he was really a master at making great low-budget science fiction and fantasy shows. He worked with some talented people who really gave their all to his productions such as composer John Williams, costume designer Paul Zastupnevich, cinematographer Winton C. Hoch, makeup supervisor Ben Nye, art director Jack Martin Smith and talented special effects experts like L.B. Abbott and Art Cruickshank among others. Allen also shamelessly used stock footage from other films, shot episodes on forgotten 20th Century Fox sets, and reused similar props and costumes in many of his productions, but his shows often contained enough imagination, excitement and humor to still keep them interesting and entertaining.
He may have won the infamous Razzie Award for “Worst Career Achievement” in 1984, but I think modern independent filmmakers interested in making fantasy and science fiction films today could probably learn a lot from the amazing Irwin Allen (pictured above directing a monster on the set of The Time Tunnel).
To learn more about Allen I recommend watching The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen, which is a lighthearted look at Irwin Allen’s career featuring interviews with the casts and crews of his most popular productions. I watched it myself this weekend and really enjoyed it.
I also recommend visiting the website The Irwin Allen News Network.
If you want to see more images and eye-candy from Irwin Allen’s shows check out the Cinebeats Flickr gallery:
– The Fantasy Worlds of Irwin Allen Gallery