Having watched the whole run, it strikes me that Land of the Giants is really an elaborate Cold War metaphor. The giants themselves are like the old Soviet Empire during its heyday. At first blush they seem imposing, intimidating, seemingly impossible to overcome. Yet the giants are also clumsy and slow. Their society is like an old Marxist republic: dull, repressed, technologically backward; its denizens sullen if not malevolent. The giants are unwieldy and inefficient, like the bureaucracy of the state itself. The American "little people," thwart them time and again with Yankee ingenuity, creativity, and teamwork.
The passengers and crew of the Spindrift are a disparate group with characteristics of "western decadence," (e.g., a rich, arrogant capitalist, a spoiled, shallow socialite, an opportunistic con artist.) Yet reflecting the ideal of American democracy, everyone pulls together when it counts, though perhaps after heated--and sometimes violent--debate.
On the downside, the show often seems to be "Land of the Giant Plot-holes." At a twelfth size, the little people often seem to traverse the city impossibly fast. The Spindrift lights flash day and night, inviting investigation from any passerby. The idea of camouflage doesn't seem to occur to the little people. Maybe a canary yellow blouse and a fire engine red jumpsuit aren't the best fashion choices for avoiding notice. They're constantly hunting for food because grocery stores are hard to break into, yet they have little trouble in pharmacies when there's a need for medicine.
I'll pass no judgment on the special effects; they were the best that TV could produce at the time, and many times hold up pretty well. However, the novelty of giant props like pencils and telephones wears off after a bit. The little people are forever climbing up and down the same table legs, ducking under the same doors, hiding against the same street curbs. It seems in retrospect that whole episodes could have been devoted to the problems of basic survival at a small size. How do they cross a small stream that to little people appears a mighty river? How do they deal with a nearby ant-hill? Instead, the plots are often fantastical and surreal, stretching the belief factor in a show that is pushing that envelope in the premise already.
On the upside, the cast is a pretty good set of actors. Kurt Kaszner seems to have the most fun, and his brilliant panache at playing Fitzhugh is the only thing that makes that character tolerable. Don Matheson gets to have the next most fun as hot-headed Mark Wilson. Matheson shows great aplomb at spewing the techno-babble required of the character. It's also good to see an engineer who isn't portrayed as an awkward nerd. Kudos also to Gary Conaway for his understated hand with Captain Burton. Conaway looks like he came out of the same TV leading man factory that produced Robert Conrad and Christopher George. But I think Conaway was the better actor and it's a wonder he didn't have a more notable career.
The women are good but horribly underwritten. Heather Young as Betty does get to show off her dancing and singing talents in the marionette episode. Otherwise, the character seems a template for a bland future soccer mom. One gets the impression that being a stewardess was just a prelude to catching a handsome pilot and having babies. The writers should have written her as a trained nurse, so at least they could involve her more for medical necessity. Deanna Lund gets to hint at Valerie's inner vixen, but never fully show it. This is a shame; they should have played it up, making her a foil for the dominant Burton and Wilson.
This show is ripe for a reboot/revival. It would be cool to see the Sci-Fi Channel tackle Land of the Giants in the same way they did Battlestar: Galactica.
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