LAND OF THE GIANTS-Rescue, Sabotage, Shell Game,
The seven Spindrifters run in a picnic area of the forest, chased by Sergeant Gedo of the SID. He tosses a smoke bomb at them; Steve ordering the other to split up. He and Dan run right into two giant children, Tedar and Leeda, who chase them--and fall into a deep, long abandoned mine shaft well.
While a newscaster reports on the tragedy, the Spindrift travellers feel bad about the children but Steve blames Gedo--who uses their worry over the children as a distraction to attack again. This time he gets a net over Steve and Dan, who tries to help, is also caught. In the box they are put in, Steve tells Dan that one of them must fly the spaceship whenever it is repaired--and Dan's reply is "whenever..." A Lt. Emar, handling the rescue operation, tells the newscaster that they are afraid to dig past a caved in obstruction for fear it will fall into the children below. The kids are on a ledge over a subterranean river. Mark is surprised to find Barry warning he and Fitzhugh from following Gedo--he had ordered Betty, Valerie, and Barry back to the spaceship. Barry tells him the girls have a plan to save the pilot and copilot. Betty and Val climb up the park bench, trusting Mrs. Bera not to turn them in. With Betty more sympathetic than the harshly realistic Val, they convince Mrs. Bera to ask Emar to contact Kobick to ask if Steve and Dan can descend into the well to help find the children and help get them out, reporting on the area below. She agrees and the girls meet up with Mark, Fitzhugh, and Barry, going to listen as Emar calls Kobick. Val thinks the SID Inspector will go for it--Mark doesn't. When Emar gets him on the phone, Kobick says, "No."
When Kobick tells Steve and Dan to make it easy on Barry by turning them all over to his protective custody, Steve and Dan answer by telling him he isn't interested in the welfare of children. When Talph Bera, the children's father, visits Kobick's office, punching Gedo and threatening Kobick if anything happens to his children, Steve and Dan volunteer, free of charge. Kobick still refusing to grant them their freedom--"it is out of my hands" and that they belong to the state---agrees to let them try to help anyway. Steve gives Kobick a radio and he and Dan are lowered into the well on ropes attached to a pulley system. The newscaster warns viewers about having items around which children may find themselves trapped in. While Fitz and Mark go to check out shaft blueprints of the old mine, Steve and Dan approach blockage in the shaft. With tools sent down (two spoons) they dig but cause a cave in. Kobick tells Emar, "While I'm concerned about those two children down there, I don't want anything to happen to those two little people--they're part of a group--a group we want BADLY." Thanks to Fitz's slip on the giant plans of the shaft, Gedo and Kobick come to the area they are in and begin searching. They don't know it but they trap Mark and Fitzhugh, who are forced into hiding between a rock and a giant wooden crate.
Val and Betty cause a distraction which sends Gedo and Kobick their way. Mrs. Bera arrives and calls the other two giants over to the well, allowing all four of the Earth people to get away clean. Mark compliments the ladies and then sends them and Barry on their way back to the ship--with Betty and Val complaining. Mark and Fitz saw enough of the shaft to begin digging into a forgotten horizontal tunnel which intersects with the vertical area the kids are trapped in. Steve pulls Dan out of a hole he was stuck in during the cave in. The two men pass the obstruction, land on a root just above the kids, and see that the children are unconscious. Air masks are sent down and the boy child is instructed to use them by Steve. The girl wants to keep Dan since she likes him so much. The boy apologizes for chasing them--they wouldn't have hurt them. The shaft is still threatening to cave in on them and they'll have to find another way out. Mark and Fitzhugh dig into the area through a hole just above the root Dan and Steve are on. This seems to restart the cave in!
The cave in is not bad--this time. Mark relays that they can all get out through the shaft but Steve and Dan won't abandon the children. Mark tells them that they can get it clear if the boy helps them dig and the kids can get through also. The children speak to the parents by radio. Steve asks the giants to send down one oxygen mask--the masks had been removed to give them room to work. The plan: let the kids get out the horizontal shaft while they will climb up the vertical one using the oxygen mask wire as a rope. The children get out, keeping the big secret that Mark and Fitz were with them, but the plan for the Earth men to get out cannot be followed. They will have to follow the children out the same way--the way Kobick is expecting them to come out. This is because as Dan began to climb up, the whole cave wall came down, nearly burying the four men.
Kobick had the vertical shaft covered by his men--and if the four went up that way, they were sure to be caught. The men survive the cave wall collapsing with Fitzhugh hit the hardest but he recovers, thanks to Steve, who helped him and not thanks to Mark--who saw him fall. Steve fakes radio interference in the horizontal tunnel. When they get to the tunnel exit, Mark insists he and Fitzhugh stay with Steve and Dan--leaving together. He won't abandon the other two men. They make a run for it and the two giants there--Gedo and Kobick attack them, meaning to grab them up. Mr. Bera blocks the giant SID workers--and Gedo pulls a gun on him; Mrs. Bera urges the four men on and also blocks Kobick. Kobick tells Gedo not to shoot Bera and to put his gun away--they will get the little people later. The men meet the girls and Barry in the forest and they rejoice.
Another prolific story by the diverse writing team of Bob and Esther Mitchell. The contemporary plot actually happened in 1988 when a little girl fell down an abandoned well as John Peel and I discussed a long time ago. However, this has been happening to children for years unfortunately. A 1951 film called THE WELL describes what occurred to a townspeople when a little black girl feel down a well. The whites and blacks worked together to get the girl out--as do the giants and the little people in RESCUE. So, the story isn't new. The writers handle it with flair, easing the idea into LAND OF THE GIANTS while also involving further development of the characters of the series. Bob and Esther seemed to be the ONLY writers who truly knew each and every character better than any others (another who this could be said about is THE INSIDE RAIL writer Richard Shapiro). Each character maintains their personality so cleverly conceived by the previous 22 episodes that were produced. Val is more truthful in a harsher way than Betty when they talk to Mrs. Bera; Betty worries that their plan will backfire while Val thinks it will work; Mark is pessimistic about it from the beginning; the girls and Barry don't listen to Mark very well; Steve chastises Dan for not getting away while Dan's intention was for both of them to get away. Steve as a character proved fallible and that he could make mistakes is what made him human--unlike most heroes in science fiction television series and perhaps all television as a whole during the 60's and 70's.
For once Kobick's humanity seeps into the teleplay especially when comparing him to the viscous Gedo. Gedo was a loyal state employee, so loyal he could be termed a fanatic--it is more than a job to him. He is a much colder person than Kobick and he hardly ever mentions the children or their welfare at all. He only defends Emar from the worried and overbearing Mr. Bera because, like him, Emar is a state employee. Emar makes it clear to us, if not Gedo, that he couldn't stand Gedo. Emar, in contrast, was a very human, concerned giant. Many of the Mitchell's tales involve such giants (Parteg from NIGHT OF THROMBELLDINBAR, Jodar from GENIUS AT WORK, Obeck in SABOTAGE, and Dr. Brule in THE CREED). RESCUE seemed to have LOG's largest guest cast and as such, each supported the story with dramatic expertise. Everyone added something special to it. Don Collier was semi-regular the teen western drama THE YOUNG RIDERS which began in 1989.
Not for the first time, an entirely new score made this episode interesting for a change of pace from the usual John Williams music cues. Leith Stevens wrote this brooding and ominous score with had new chase music and some lighter moments--but not many since the subject was such a serious one. At times, the score is a little slow in spots but fitting with the screen's picture a great deal. The new chase music was very good and quick paced.
We also have another example of the giant's names sometimes sounding different from how they are spelled or pronounced---in this episode Tedar seems to be called Teddy by the other characters and even himself. This was also an episode that took place entirely during the day.
At night in an dead end alley behind a bank, Mark and Dan are chased by a giant car, then cornered by Security Chief Boulgar and his aide Zarken. Dan manages to get a quick call out to Steve just before the giants use some kind of vacuum cleaner to suck Dan and Mark up into it.
A newsboy sees the two men and thinks they are holding little people but Boulgar chases him away. Dan and Mark are brought to Boulgar's HQ where he gets no answers from them, depositing them onto a high stool. They listen as Senator Obeck calls and find out he is a man sympathetic to the plight of the little people. Mark's shoulder was hurt on the vacuum but he urges Dan to leave without him. Dan climbs down, vowing to return and outside he calls and then meets Steve. Zarken left to get a truth serum which would cause them a lot pain. When Boulgar leaves for a conference, he puts Mark in his pocket. Steve and Dan use the now empty office to call Obeck but have to deal with his secretary, then Obeck. He tells them he will get a court order for the giants to release Mark. The two men hide as the giants return and are just about to give Mark the painful serum. Obeck knocks at the door. Boulgar drops Mark into a film developing can, covers it, and puts it in a drawer. He lets Obeck in and tells him that the little people are invaders. Obeck believes they are victims of strange accidents. But he leaves, being conned by Boulgar's smooth manner--leaving Mark to pass out in the small can.
Working fast and together, Steve and Dan get Mark out and down the from the drawer. They get out and overhear the plot of the two fanatics: they will have every giant hunting for the little people with a vengeance. When Zarken leaves to do this plan, he misses the car keys Boulgar tosses to him. This gives the three men an opportunity to hide in the shoe box Zarken was carrying. He carries them into the car for a ride to a warehouse--where he steals explosives and makes it look like the little people did it, planting evidence. Boulgar tells Zarken they can rule this planet and Earth as well! When the giants go out again, the three men, who walked back, examine the explosive in the vial--it is enough to blow up the Empire State Building. They don't have enough time to steal it from Boulgar's jacket pocket. The giant returns for it and brings the explosive to Zarken. Steve calls Obeck again but only gets the secretary. Waiting in Spindrift's control room, the girls, Barry, and Fitzhugh see a massive explosion--a bridge was blown up.
Boulgar tells Zarken to send out the prop squad to plant more evidence of little people sabotage, to spread fear by innuendo, rumors, and to discredit Obeck so that the Mr. Secretary of the Council will not support him. They even use Obeck's own secretary against him. The three men see a newboy announcing that the little people are now considered saboteurs to be hunting down. Dan figures the giants will step on them first and ask questions later. Mark suggests they hide out but Steve feels they have to clear themselves--this isn't going to go away. Obeck is blackmailed and incriminated--with the result that he is not to bother Boulgar again. Steve orders Mark and Dan to lure the giants outside and to the area he is at---so that Zarken can grab him in his fist.
Dan tells Mark they must wait until Boulgar leaves for his radio-TV broadcast, "It would just be our luck to run into him on his way out." Boulgar's speech condemns the little people and calls for all public citizens to hunt for them dead or alive and when he tells them not to panic, Boulgar hopes to instill nothing but panic. There is something about being told not to panic that induces panic, he tells Zarken. Val and Fitz argue briefly over the issue: he thinks the men blew up the bridge, Val doesn't. Pushing a pencil can off the tabletop, Steve distracts Zarken long enough to turn on a tape recorder in the drawer Mark was once in. He then coaxes Zarken into incriminating Boulgar and Zarken and to clear the little people. Then Mark distracts Zarken outside, allowing the other two to call Obeck, who is pressed to believe them. He doesn't promise anything, not even to come. When Dan asks Steve if Obeck will come, Steve says, "I don't know but I wouldn't want to give you odds." Outside, Zarken drops a handkerchief over Mark, capturing him.
Just as Zarken enters and catches Steve and Dan on the table top, Boulgar arrives. They plan to get to work on the trio using their truth serum. Obeck arrives and takes out the tape recorder, telling them that the Senate Guard are on their way. He tells them this tape will played on the floor of the Senate, freeing the Earthlings of any blame.
Original Scripted ending: Boulgar kills Obeck (and possibly Zarken) and destroys the tape recording. He then will become the regular tracker of the little people in the series.
Another great from Bob and Esther Mitchell who wrote some of the best episodes. The acting is terrific here. Colbert is very good, much better than he ever was in THE TIME TUNNEL, although he is remembered fondly for that show by me as well. He is really into his role as a baddie--and what a baddie, "the worst" as Dan tells Steve as one point. He is a fanatic loyal to his beliefs and not necessarily the publics. Liz Rogers in this episode played Lt. Palmer in original STAR TREK episodes, taking over for Uhura when she was not working at the communications console. Keith has a bit part here, thankfully. His roles in LOST IN SPACE are not well remembered especially in the near-awful A PROMISED PLANET. He was a bit better as a bully as in RETURN FROM OUTER SPACE.
The story is prolific in a way, predating Watergate by a few years. Here, we have a crooked Security Officer, vying to become Senator who is caught at his game by the use of a tape recording AFTER trying to discredit another politician. Sound familiar? Kudos to the writers for coming up with this plot before it actually occurred in real life--THAT WE FOUND OUT ABOUT. The use of propaganda (as happened in World War One and World War Two) if frightening, much more so than any monsters, giant dogs, or aliens. It shows that we can be given false information and twisted facts that can make us fear enough into doing acts we wouldn't normally do. Steve addresses this very briefly in the latter made sequel SHELL GAME when he tells the father, "Look, I think you've heard a lot of propaganda," and that is why the normally decent man is going to turn in the friendly little people and their spaceship. This can be seen in other episodes--such as the movie producer in COMEBACK mentions them as being alien invaders (and even if he doesn't believe it himself--he uses it to his own advantage).
Despite other episodes which show us this belief in the enemy aliens theory, Obeck has sympathizers on his side who all think the little people are not enemies.
The episode is strange in that it gives us a senator, a superintendent, a senate guard, and other democratic institutions which allow for debates of issues, public opinion, and voting as part of the form of government. It would seem that the giants' form of government is closer to democracy than communism---OR IS IT MADE TO LOOK THAT WAY ? Other episodes give us the feeling that the government was more totalitarian (DEADLY LODESTONE, THE CHASE). However, it seems to be an uneven mixture of the two as well as having tenants of an oligarchy philosophy---rule by a few, not by one, not by many. This Supreme Council not yet mentioned on the show by this episode in production order only---is never really seen on the series. They could be a ruling class, perhaps like a royal family or maybe a chosen group. What they say seems to go but it remains to be seen if they were elected in fair elections or if they were elected in communistic ways (a one party election or an unfair election).
Either way, this one gave us a PRISONER like atmosphere when the prejudice and propaganda came into play. Although only Dan, Mark, and Steve are heavily involved, leaving the others very little to do, this is a strongly woven episode, very adult and entertaining. The entire segment is a night one and there are lots of shadows and darkness that look like dark nights. Many series do not have this--especially shows in the 60's--night scenes did not seem like night scenes.
Sabotage used brief cuts of LOST IN SPACE music for transitions. This episode is the last time, production wise, that we see the control room in the FIRST YEAR. After many screenings of this one, I do see one major flaw: each time the Earth people are in the room, caught by the giants, they are left alone for a short time--usually explained for many reasons--but it does seem as if the giants sometimes conveniently leave---mostly this is noticeable when Boulgar leaves the room with the explosive in his pocket. However, realism wins out: the little men cannot get it out in time before he returns and later during the very end, Boulgar and Zarken walk in and surprise Steve and Dan who are on the tabletop after calling Obeck on the phone.
During the morning, Fitzhugh goes to the waterfront village to get shrimp for eating. Talf and Osla Eckorp are two giant parents who run a stand, selling fish, crabs, lobster, and shells. Their deaf son, Dal, surprises Fitzhugh from behind a giant wood crate and scoops the tiny man into his hand.
Fitz defends himself with a fishing hook and runs off, literally from the boy's hand. A Mr. Derg from the bank tells Talf that unless he pays his first loan payment, the bank will foreclose. Fitz returns to Spindrift and tells Betty and Val his tale. This inspires the girls to return for the shrimp because everyone is hungry--they will prepare a seafood banquet--which Steve scoffs at when he and the others return and Fitz tells them. Steve, Dan, and Mark take off to find them. When Betty slips on the boy's toy wooden ship, the girls notice Dal didn't hear them. The boy takes out a giant lobster from a trap and carries over shells he's found. As he does, the lobster moves at the girls--with Val getting her foot tangled in a net. The men arrive to the rescue--Steve frees Val's foot and to avoid the returning Dal, carries her into the giant shell, Betty following. Dan and Mark try to distract the boy who doesn't see any of them. He does, however, pick up the giant shell the girls and Steve are in, tilting it wildly.
Dal doesn't hear a yelling Dan, who is trying to get him to put the shell down. Dal, without realizing, kicks a box Dan is very close to. Dan deduces Dal is deaf. Dal plays a shell game with Talf, showing him the biggest shell he ever found. Dal runs to the house holding the girls and Steve, who directs the women to "hold on." He puts the shell on a table in the house. Talf tells Osla about the loss of their stand if they can't pay the loans---and that Dal won't be able to go to the special school for the deaf. Despite their current trouble and Talf's doubts, the two praise each other as parents. They go outside to finish their talk, leaving Dal to clean out the big shell--with a pointed, long branch. Mark and Dan, arriving at the leg of the table, watch. Mark looks up, "He'll kill them with that thing!" Steve has to push it away before it skewers Val's neck. Dal tips the shell over and the three tumble out. They hide as the boy runs out and brings his parents inside. They know Dal doesn't lie and Talf finds the trio behind a can. Dal wants to know if he can keep them. Talf has other plans: to get the reward for their capture from the government. He calls them hostile aliens from another planet, which Val disclaims. Steve tells him he's heard a lot of propaganda--they are here by accident and only want their freedom to return home. Steve tells Talf he didn't expect him to believe that. With his parents, Steve, Val and Betty (in the shell), Dal follows Fitz's tracks. Dan and Mark follow to try to reach the ship before the giants but a titanic weasel attacks them. They make it to a gopher hole but it digs in after them. The giants find the Spindrift and Talf picks it up.
The two men use a rag and stick, lighting it on fire to escape, only to be depressed by the sight of the giants, Talf carrying the Spindrift. Mark tells Dan, "Ah, you know there have been times since we crashed here if I never saw any of you again, it would be too soon, but now with the spaceship gone...well there was always some hope before." When Dan suggests they go after them all, Mark says, "With what, our bare hands...forget it." But the arrival of Fitz and Barry, warned to abandon ship by Steve before the giants got to it, cheers them up. Fitzhugh has a walkie talkie which Dan uses to call Steve. Mark calls Dan an optimist. Talf puts the spaceship on a shelf in a large closet. Osla wants to call City Hall but Talf goes to find out how to go about turning them in. Betty thinks it is sad that the boy is deaf, Val figures it is good that the reward money will be put to good use. Steve calls the others from the radio room with a plan: Mark will build a giant hearing aide for their release and the release of the ship. Dan and Mark slip under the door, ignoring Fitzhugh's desire to tell what he thinks they should do. They get the mother to open the door to talk to Steve, "the captain of their spaceship." She looks at Steve, who calls the girls out to calm her fears and doubts about trusting them, "Take a look at us. We're exactly what you see. We're little people. We want to help your son so that we can help ourselves. Now does it look like...like we could harm you?" Osla exchanges the two men for the girls. The women run to a worrying Barry and Fitzhugh outside. Osla seems to pray to God that it will work. The first hearing aide doesn't work. Talf returns just as they discover it doesn't.
Steve figures they need more power for "that big ear." Talf will not let them try again. Steve suggests to Mark that they use a shell to make the aide work. Mark tells him he should have been the engineer--one of the smaller shells would do the job. It will amplify the sound. Fitz lures Talf outside and the foursome outside divert the giant father, Steve figuring Talf does love his son. Steve and Mark plead with Osla to let them try again. She agrees and puts them into the small shell. Talf captures Barry and returns to the house, dropping the small boy into the spaceship. They tell him they are not insincere about helping his son but they also want their freedom. Talf says, "They never quit trying." He will not let them use the shell-hearing aide on Dal. When Mark calls him a fool, Talf asks his wife if he is. She apologizes for going behind his back twice. As they talk, Dal picks up the shell, unnoticed. He can hear them. They rejoice over it. Mark tells them, "Believe it or not, it was our pleasure." Steve tells Talf he will make a lot of money off the patent. Talf tells him he cannot go against the law--people in town will know the little people made the hearing aide and put him in jail. Osla tells them she is sorry. She follows Talf outside to talk to him about all of this. Steve ushers Barry, Dan, and Mark back into the ship, commenting on Talf, "He's as stubborn as he is big." Dal picks up the Spindrift, takes it out of the closet, opens the door to the home, and exits with the ship.
Dal takes the ship through town, heading for the forest. The girls and Fitzhugh roll a can into his path and he falls, landing near them. He is about to grab them up but Osla intervenes. She explains that he can tell them Dal didn't understand--they won't blame him if Dal did it. He lets the trio go, "How are they going to know there are three more little people?" Fitz waves to him, thanking him. Dal puts the Spindrift in a new spot in the forest. Mark comments, "It's almost the same as the other place." They thank Dal but Dan worries that he knows their hiding spot. Steve tells him not to worry, Dal is their friend. Barry tells them, "Thanks to Mark." Steve and Dan thank Mark also, patting him on the back.
Review: This is the probably the best LAND OF THE GIANTS episode. The dialogue and script is superb, involving, human, and interesting without being too overly sentimental. Jan Shepard is believable as the mother, ably portraying caring. Larry Ward (of LOST IN SPACE'S ALL THAT GLITTERS) is almost always good, here a father harried and law abiding, if propaganda believing. The news scares from SABOTAGE must have affected him, as well as other propaganda. During times of war and even peace, propaganda causes decent people to believe untruths about others without real reason but a distorted view of the truth. Dal's actions and movements seem to bring back some of the giantism and alien-ness of previous giants in the early episodes, only because, he, like those past giants, does not talk much. The only difference is he hasn't learned yet. Unlike those giants, he has a good, warm nature. Indicative of the whole episode, Mullendore's score is sentimental but not overly so. It is completely original--dramatic and almost exotic and beautiful to listen to. It is the best of the non-traditional scores. The waterfront set looks like a location with plenty of passerby giants, large boats leaning against walls. Added to this is the sounds of gulls and the ocean. It all adds together to make a change of pace for the series. The house of the giant family is just as refreshing inside and out. It is sparsely decorated with objects and paintings relating to the sea and fishermen. The giant shell interiors and the exteriors used when we see the full scale matched to the little people look exactly like the giant shell used in the 20th Century Fox movie DOCTOR DOLITTLE for the giant snail (a great fun film by the way; also notice the jungle sound effects in it are the ones used in early GIANTS episodes and some VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA installments). In SHELL GAME, The character interplay is very good between both groups as well as each group interacts with themselves. Fitzhugh complained a bit but again, helped out when the chips were down. For once, Dan and Mark remain filthy after their encounter with the giant animal and are dirty to the end of the show. The only complaint can be the ever present gopher hole. Spindrift is featured more prominently and it was nice to have it moved to a new location even if it is the woods again. Still, the camp set was changed--the flora and fauna as well as rocks would be different. Also--at the end of the episode, the ship does not have its step stool on it and there is more foliage and dirt on the hull of the craft. Welch wrote some far out episodes for all Allen's series but this one, written also by Bob and Esther Mitchell, is a most touching, splendid one. All of the elements of LAND OF THE GIANTS came together here to make an outstanding, dramatic presentation--we even had not one, but two giant animal menaces as well as the wonderful conflict between the family and the Earthlings. SHELL GAME is an exceptional episode, worthy of the best accolades.