Irwin Allen went to his grave with several titles: "The Master of Disaster," "A schlockmeister," and "a visionary." Well, the labels may or may not have been warranted but one can't help but give him credit for making fare that was popular during its day.
Perhaps, "The Crash," the pilot for Allen's two-season-long "Land of the Giants" is his best effort as a director. It features the producer/director's signature television elements: lots of special effects, a cast of seven, a pretty decent, if implausible, story line, and a brilliant score from a young John Williams.
The download offered has crisp color and sound, actually better than the initial television airing back in 1969. The actors, though they would not go on to do things bigger, acquaint themselves well as Earth folk trapped in a world of gargantuan proportions.
Adventure was the mainstay of Allen productions and this one fills that bill nicely. In a time when most effects are handled in the computer, it's kind of refreshing to see the giant props that had to be manufactured to take viewers to the "land of the giants."
"Ghost Town," the second installment of "Land of the Giants" finds our band of seven earthlings making the acquaintance of an elderly inventor/builder (Percy Herbert) and his hellish granddaughter (Amber Flower). The younger delights in terrorizing the little people as they try to escape from a life-size town, constructed by the old man.
Impressive set pieces and an eerieness, reminiscent of a "Twilight Zone" episode are the highlights of this episode. Reworking John Williams score from the pilot episode elevate this one to classic status.
Other first season gems are "Weird World" with Glenn Corbett as a crazed Earthman, "Double Cross" with Kurt Kaszner's "Fitzhugh" suffering amnesia, and "Genius at Work," notable for the inspired casting of "special guest star" Ronny Howard and Vic Perrin, the voice of "The Outer Limits."
"Pay the Piper," from the show's second season, benefits from the one-time pairing of two of Allen's hammiest actors: Jonathan Harris (immortalized as "Lost in Space's" Dr. Smith) and Kurt Kasner ("Giants" Commander Fitzhugh). It seems as though both actors tried to see who could get away with the most scene chewery and it shows in their appearances together. Though the plot is not that intriguing, the two acquaint themselves nicely.
"Clones" allows cast member Don Marshall a moment to shine as his "Dan" character has doubts as to whether he is real or fake. "The Unsuspected" showcases star Gary Conway as his character deals with paranoia as the result of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
"Graveyard of Fools," the last episode of the series, is perfect for a show that started at the end of the "swinging sixties." It has a rather psychedelic quality about it, in lighting, special effects, and mood. Somewhat incoherent in plot, it's still representative of best (or worst) of Allen's creations.